Personal Statement Samples

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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personal statement

Postby haliiehead » Fri Nov 02, 2007 2:36 pm

DISCLAIMER: I haven't applied anywhere yet. Not really sure where I am applying. A couple people have said I should talk more about myself at the end....what I learned, etc. Not really sure what to add, so any help is appreciated.

“Why am I gonna listen to a white-ass cracker like her,” he mumbled under his breath.
“Excuse me?” I replied.
“Why am I gonna listen to a white-ass cracker like you?” he shot at me.

I could feel the explosion bubbling up from my stomach. My nostrils began to flare, and my chest heaved in and out. And before I knew it, in front of fifteen eighth graders, I began to cry. Tears streaming down my face, I literally ran out of the room.

Such was my introduction to teaching in September of 2005. As I stood in the hallway trying to get a grip, I wondered how I ever thought I was ready for this. I was never cut out to be a teacher. I was not responsible. When I was in eighth grade, I was caught doing jello shots in the school bathroom with my friends. Jello shots! In high school, I almost got my early decision acceptance to college rescinded because I thought I was too cool to go to school. In college, I was the queen of procrastination. The one pulling all nighters to study for tests I had ignored because I was too busy out at parties. How had I gotten myself into a situation where I was supposed to be the responsible adult in the room?

My first year of teaching was pure agony. There were more “white-ass cracker” moments than I care to count. Students ran out of my room, paper balls flew across my room, one student even threw the easel at another student in my room. Who am I kidding…it wasn’t my room, it was the students’ room. They ran the show. And I spent the better part of the year nauseous during the forty-minute drive to work. Six months unable to sleep at night for fear of what the next day might bring. Not only was I completely unprepared to be a teacher, I was completely unprepared to be an adult.

I made the mistake, far too early, of trying to be friends with my students. I did not know what rules to set up, what procedures to enforce, because I had rarely followed rules or procedures. Teaching a lesson quickly became secondary to getting my class under control and ensuring that all students were accounted for instead of roaming around the halls. I spent the greater part of the year feeling like I was one breath away from drowning under paperwork, stress, and general mistreatment by the eighth graders I never knew could be so cruel.

In August before the start of my second year at Morton Street Middle School, I vowed to myself not to go through another year of sleepless nights and nauseous days, and so I set to work creating a plan. No gum chewing, no music playing, no food eating, no late homework accepted. And come September, I implemented that plan. I stuck by every rule I created. I would not let myself be friends with my students. I called parents. Every night. And it worked, for the most part. My classes walked in the halls quietly, and teacher’s aides actually told me the students were better behaved in my classes than some of the other veteran teachers’.

But even more important than the change I saw in my students is the change I have seen in myself. I can no longer procrastinate, even if I want to. I need to finish projects I start. I need to plan out my life, just as I planned out my students’ projects. I have a spreadsheet document that tracks all of my bills. I realized that I am capable of setting a goal and achieving it. Somewhere within the past two years, I grew up. And I realized being mature doesn’t mean that I can’t have fun, it just means that I have responsibilities to people other than myself. And although that is sometimes scary, it is also extremely empowering.

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Postby condor » Fri Nov 02, 2007 5:24 pm


the "my room...their room" device you use to structure the third paragraph is forced. Too much repetition.

You overemphasize your irresponsibility a bit much. Your middle school jello shots stretch too far back to feel relevant.

Opening with dialogue is fine, but you need to establish a setting earlier. The dialogue is floating unmoored. Don't use he to describe the student. Be descriptive.

You mention that you were unprepared to be an adult. Why? because you procrastinated in college? Elaborate more about your failings in the adult world in the paragraph about irresponsibility. Not only will this resonate more with your conclusion by providing a parallel structure, it will also avoid the trap of casting doubt on your entire academic record, which is one of the primary tools used to evaluate you as a candidate.

I would also suggest "no gum, no food, no music" instead of the awkward gerunds.

Closing paragraph is weak. the first sentence is too long and it kind of insinuates that you were looking past your teaching career. Saying you can no longer procrastinate seems pathological. Never before in the essay is it mentioned that you avoided maturity because it didn't allow 'fun.' Your life lessons come off a bit hackneyed.

Just trying to give you thorough feedback. Hope I don't sound harsh.

Good luck!

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My personal statement

Postby PermanentlyOnline » Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:24 pm

Here it is- i've already applied to a bunch of schools, but if i've committed some major faux pas that you all would like to point out, i'll edit and apply to some of the ones i haven't yet.

Keep in mind, this statement is supposed to make my not too hot GPA look better

When I was a child, I knew little about my origins. Yet, by the time I entered kindergarten, certain traits were fixed: I was born in Belarus, moved to the United States as an infant and had a family that was, well, a bit eccentric. For instance, my grandma would sneak into our neighbor's yard and steal crab apples to make compote, a type of stewed fruit drink. Although few typical seven year olds ate caviar sandwiches on rye for lunch, I tried my hardest to pretend that we were an average "American" family. When I learned I was a refugee it became even harder to maintain the illusion of being ordinary. At the time, I did not understand what a refugee was, and I certainly never heard of gate-opening laws, such as Jackson-Vanik, which had offered my family asylum and a new beginning in the United States. However, as I grew older and began to inquire into my own background it stopped being just a story and developed into my passion.
My interest in international law began during my sophomore year of high school. At the suggestion of a teacher who noted my interest in current events, I joined the Model United Nations Team. During my first conference, I represented Belarus on the UN High Commission for Refugees. The more I researched this mysterious foreign nation, the more intrigued I became. Throughout the course of this academic simulation I rediscovered my origins, my family and all that I had tried to ignore as a child.
Ultimately, Model United Nations became a permanent fixture in my life. During my seven years as an active member, I have become focused, meticulous and diligent in my research on the wide variety of social, political and economic matters addressed in UN bodies. My ongoing participation in Model United Nations activities has refined my written and oral persuasive expression. As a result, my cogent rhetoric has strengthened my presentations and garnered my fellow delegates' support.
My involvement with this team has fueled my passionate interest in aiding the crisis-stricken foreign nationals, who like my family, were victimized by conflict, prejudice and corruption. Debating refugee camp conditions, repatriation, asylum, and other matters concerning refugees from places such as Rwanda, Darfur, and Afghanistan has helped me empathize with these frequently ignored victims, whose plight is only exacerbated by a complacent, or at worst, complicit bureaucracy. My studies in history have given me a thorough understanding of the strong role international law has played in various international crises; for instance, the role of the United Nations Convention on Genocide in declaring Serbian activity during the Balkans War of 1992-1995 genocide and yielding the resultant genocide tribunals at The Hague.
While pursuing my degree, I became involved in the history department's honors research project. My studies focused on defining genocide and identifying institutions that are most effective in helping societies cope with its consequences. Through my analysis, I came to a critical realization: non-governmental aid, while important, is only temporary; the Hagues' role in instilling justice, however, remains permanent. The law can provide a lasting victory, and remains the primary mechanism to assist and empower those who were wronged.
As a lawyer I will navigate the law in a way that will benefit future immigrants. Having visited Belarus and observed the living conditions of the Jews who were not fortunate enough to immigrate, I am eternally grateful to the legal avenues that facilitated my family's asylum. Helping other asylum seekers is my future. I am no longer an embarrassed five year old. I know who I am, I know where I came from, and I know where I am headed.

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Postby Zin » Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:43 am

Well it reads like a soul quest, which is great. Overall, this is hard to follow. Logical interweaving of topics could be better. The significance of some of the events and concepts is a little difficult to understand outside of cultural context. It's a nice piece of writing, but I've never seen a PS quite like it, so, difficult to judge. The editing may make all the difference in the world here.

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Postby Chelsea » Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:22 pm


I was enthralled by your story -- like Zin, I have never seen a statement quite like it either -- and for that reason alone I think you have succeeded. Your story is heartfelt and portrays all of the characteristics that will allow you to succeed in law school. Your high GPA and URM status coupled with this essay should get you in the door! Best of luck!

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Postby anchaires » Tue Nov 06, 2007 1:05 pm


your subject matter and simple straightforward style work exceptionally well here. I agree that the statement can feel a bit jumbled. The relationship with your father and stepfather is not as clear as it could be and can be a bit confusing.

Also there is a fair amount of jumping from theme to theme in the middle with the praying man and the transition into a transient lifestyle/realizations of the hardships of your people.

I think you should definitely keep all the elements but really focus on getting a good pristine editing of this PS, it has all the makings of a real knockout.

even with your LSAT being low for t14 I think with your story you have a real shot any of them.

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Postby cq » Wed Nov 07, 2007 5:24 pm

Interested in any feedback I can get on this ps.

Let me start by saying, up front, in the interest of honesty and full disclosure, that I did a fair bit of research before sitting down to write this. I earned my bachelor’s degree in the eighties, I know people with IQ’s higher than my LSAT score, and, to the best of my knowledge, I’m not related to anyone on the admissions’ committee at xyz Law. So a lot was riding on my personal statement and I wanted to ensure that mine would shimmer with perfection; that not only would I be accepted, but that my words would be so compelling as to catapult me to the top of the admissions list and that the president of the law school would be so overcome by my refined prose, the mathematical precision of my reasoning, and the ethos of my circumstances that he would host a dinner in my honor to celebrate my imminent arrival on campus -- perhaps organize a parade winding from my neighborhood to the steps of the law school.

In the course of my research I encountered an online forum in which prospective law students (a fair number of whom already had been accepted to law school, no doubt on the basis of their very well written personal statements) had posted their personal statements for people like me who had no idea how to go about writing one. I read quite a few of these and each one was carefully executed, thoughtful and compelling in its own way. Each of these people could easily write for a living based on these examples of their work. Something else many of these essays shared in common was that a fair number of them began with direct quotations, a fact that had not gone unnoticed by the forum moderator.

“Do not use this structure unless you have hit upon a blockbuster quote and can work rhetorical magic upon it,” he wrote, cautiously advising burgeoning personal statement authors that this particular literary device, while difficult to master, can be satisfying for the reader when done well.

The idea of using a direct quotation to start a personal statement – or any piece of writing for that matter -- brought to life vividly the memory of an old journalism school professor of mine who would have condemned the employment of a quote in such a way as gimmickry, quite nearly heretical, an affront to all that was good and decent.

“The only time a story should start with a direct quotation is if the quote is, ‘’I’m, back,’ said Jesus,’’’ he liked to say.

Pithy aphorisms, smoldering indignance, and, when all else failed, threats of physical harm, were the stock-in-trade of this curmudgeonly academic, a former night city editor with a major metropolitan daily newspaper -- one of the last of the hard drinking, hard living breed of newspapermen -- who eventually eschewed the comparatively languid newsroom for the life of a soldier on the front lines of literacy, fighting to teach incorrigible youngsters such as myself to think and write with vision and clarity.

Thinking back on those days these many years later, contemplating what he would have thought about my current course of life, I’m struck (thunderstruck, he might have said) by how useful the lessons I learned in his classroom have been in everything I’ve ever done. Beyond learning about commas in a series, always asking tough questions, and never splitting infinitives, he thought us skills that have proven remarkably portable and flexible; lessons intended for use in a newsroom that, as luck would have it, have seen me through a stunningly diverse range of experiences. From working as a reporter and editor on newspapers to authoring children’s literature to owning and running a restaurant and working for years as a traveling musician, I find that his words have echoed in my ears in a thousand situations. “To know one thing is to know 1,000 things," the Buddhists like to say. That certainly has been true in my experience. The skills I first learned about and really started to practice way back in undergraduate school -- critical thinking, problem solving, analytical reasoning -- pervade my experience every moment, whether I’m writing a 5,000-word personality profile or a postcard. Really, the more I think about it, my former professor was essentially a taciturn, beer-bellied Zen master, a characterization, however apt, that surely would have rendered him apoplectic.

It’s been nearly two decades since I sat in one of professor x’s lecture halls and a number of years have passed since he died, but as I move into this next phase of my life, older, grayer, hopefully wiser, seeking more challenge and personal growth, embarking in a field that calls yet again on my written skills, attention to detail, and my interpersonal communication skills, I’m grateful and thankful for his guidance. My successes in the many diverse and wide-ranging pursuits I’ve experienced up to now – experiences that will bring an extraordinarily unique perspective to a law school classroom – are due in great part to the principles and values he passed to me. I believe that these fundamental truths will help to guide me through the intellectual, mental, and emotional rigors of law school and that the career beyond is a natural and logical extension of my training, personality, and talents. In short, I think everything I need to know to be successful in law school I learned when I was 18 years old. You can quote me on that.

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Postby Kompressor » Wed Nov 07, 2007 6:28 pm

Pithy aphorisms, smoldering indignance, and, when all else failed, threats of physical harm, were the stock-in-trade of this curmudgeonly academic, a former night city editor with a major metropolitan daily newspaper -- one of the last of the hard drinking, hard living breed of newspapermen -- who eventually eschewed the comparatively languid newsroom for the life of a soldier on the front lines of literacy, fighting to teach incorrigible youngsters such as myself to think and write with vision and clarity.

See, I understand why people write like this in law school essays, but I personally think it's too much. What I believe admins are looking for are essays that have solid content (as I think yours does) but are also simple and easy to understand. I say this because that's exactly how writing is done in the courtroom. This is the type of language that reminds me of Anne Coulter talking about Democrats or of a food taster writing an article for "The New Yorker."

I really hate criticizing any of these, because I know how much effort goes into them and I hardly think mine was perfect, but this is the one constant that I find with a bunch of these that strikes me as a negative.

K.I.S.S. imo

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Postby underdawg » Thu Nov 08, 2007 5:08 am

I'd like to have some peeps read over my PS but don't want to post it here really, so send me your PS's guys, and I'll show you mine!

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Postby condor » Thu Nov 08, 2007 5:11 pm

Your intro is way too roundabout and confusing. Especially for something like Mock Trail, which will not evoke that sense of exoticism you seem to be aiming for.

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Postby Kompressor » Thu Nov 08, 2007 5:20 pm

If you are not familiar with Mock Trial

You are applying to law school, right?

imo, the tone of the essay is inappropriate. You have some nice writing skills, but I would just consider trashing the entire thing and re-writing. Again, just my opinion. I know how difficult writing this is so if you are confident go with it.

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Postby jbauer24 » Thu Nov 08, 2007 5:46 pm

Any critiques on this? Had it up before but took it down. Interested to hear if my narrative is too boring and doesn't convey the proper magnitude of the challenge I was going for... it was kind of difficult coming up with a compelling topic seeing as how I have lived a completely normal life with no real tragedies...I am Asian but this has never been an issue of adversity in my I thought I would go the work route.

Barely a year after getting hired as a server administrator, I found myself still navigating through office politics at the software company I was working- all while trying to contribute a significant impact to my department. My manager offered me a chance to do just that when I sat down in my cubicle one morning and found a yellow sticky on my computer monitor reading ‘See me in my office.’ I went to see him and he asked me if I could help out with a ‘very important project.’ It seemed the head of our department, unhappy with the lack of efficiency of our current systems, mandated a complete evaluation of our financial and project-management processes and required the development of in-house software that would completely integrate the two. While my manager was certainly capable, he just did not have the time required to drive this kind of software development. This led him to ask me if I could run the development and if I was familiar with SQL programming, C# programming, and Crystal Reports software- all required to build the new system.

I told him no- I was only familiar with SQL.
"Well…would you be willing to learn?” he asked, “On your own?"
I told him I would be.
He raised an eyebrow and threw me a curious look, "Could you pull it off in one month?"
A pause... I hesitated for a moment…

I was only a year out of college and had not coded since then. I was also completely unfamiliar with several of the development tools. The new system needed to be built completely from the ground up- scrapping our financial department's ancient Access database and requiring a systems analysis of several departments’ work-flow. Hooks needed to be put in place between formerly disconnected systems, which were themselves also of several levels of complexity. The application needed to track revenue, facilitate project work-flow, and retain searchable historical information on all past, current, and future sales orders. Detailed interviewing of our sales representatives, project managers, field engineers, and finance employees was required. Upon completion, the software application would be responsible for the accurate tracking and management of millions of dollars in revenue. The scope of the project was huge. I understood that much even without the full background required of it. A part of me was already yelling in my mind, ‘Are you nuts? One month! It took you a semester and a half back in school to pull something like that off!’ and yet…

I looked at my manager and smiled. “Sure,” I said, "no problem."

The fact is- I love to learn. To me, the creation of the new system was yet another opportunity to gain more knowledge and understanding in an interesting and innovative field. It was no small task- the only conceivable way to develop the software at no cost to my normal duties was to read, learn, and perform testing all outside of work. My normal workload was far from light and I had a steep learning curve to overcome. I was forced to spend every night from that point on learning the languages on my own and designing the new system. All my lunch breaks were scheduled for meetings and interviews with pertinent employees within the project scope, helping me gain an understanding of their work-flow to best design a program that would be of optimal use for them. Within a little over three weeks, the system that came to be dubbed 'XXXXX' was ready for beta testing. One year later it is an integral and key tool for the financial, project-planning, and records management of the company. It was arduous and challenging work that required a great amount of time and effort. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

We are all faced with challenges in life, some great and some trivial. Many of us become intimidated by these obstacles while others welcome them with eager determination. Looking back on the choices I have made, I like to think I fall in the latter category of people. Does that mean I have no fear, no self-doubt? Of course not, anyone claiming that would be lying. But I know my determination to learn and to succeed will always give me strength and support against any obstacles I face. No matter how great the odds, I know I will be able to look anything head on, smile, and accept the challenge lain before me.

This determination has allowed me to obtain a B.S. in Computer Science. My undergraduate courses have prepared me with a well-rounded understanding of industry wide principles that allow me to adapt to evolving technology. Following graduation, I have spent the past two years working for a very successful software company that has a high-profile list of customers, from federal and military agencies to privately and publicly owned corporations. During this time I have gained experience in product development, technical writing, system testing, and systems analysis. These experiences have given me a unique technical edge that serves me not only in the software industry, but can be applicable in several other fields, particularly in law.

While I am interested in software development, my professional experience has also reaffirmed a desire to comprehend not only the science behind things but also the roles, relationships, and effects they have in society. The field of law is broad and directly impacts several aspects of technology as well as those involved in technological development. I wish to pursue an education in law with a focus on intellectual property, by which I may utilize the technical principles I have gained in the professional world to help me in understanding how the law can protect, regulate, and define current and new technologies. With its great reputation and resources, XXXX University is an ideal institution for me to pursue this goal. I look forward to using my current skills and knowledge in the classroom as well as learning even more about the legalities and complexities of our judicial system as it pertains to both society and the individual. Like all substantial challenges in life, a career in law is intimidating and daunting but it is a challenge that I, with great determination, eagerly accept.

I know the 'shout out to the school' sentence seems a little forced and insincere...maybe I'll toss it. Overall I'm worried that this will sound like every other PS done by an applicant with a technical background. Does it make you zzzzzzz?

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Postby Kompressor » Thu Nov 08, 2007 5:51 pm

I think it's excellent. DrBauer. Honestly, one of the best ones that I have read on here. It's focused, easy to understand, on a relevant and important subject, and well-written.


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Postby jbauer24 » Thu Nov 08, 2007 6:10 pm

Kompressor- thanks for the quick feedback and the vote of confidence.

as for yours- I think the praise you gave me applies to your own statement as well (and I'm not just saying this because I'm interested in a kiss-butt-a-thon). The narrative is well-written and easy to follow. Only thing that sticks out to me really: I do feel that the third and fourth paragraphs could be merged into one as the third seems like a good general intro to the detail of the fourth paragraph. Other than that, good job.

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Postby Kompressor » Thu Nov 08, 2007 6:22 pm

It's funny you mentioned that because I spent probably an hour debating that very thing. To me, it came down to:

Do I want it to run a bit smoother


Do I want to put more emphasis on the deliberating someone else's freedom.

I ultimately chose the latter, but I completely understand the criticism and thank you for making it!


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Postby DreamyStar5 » Thu Nov 08, 2007 6:34 pm

Hey guys! I'm new to this site, and am in some DIRE need of proofreading. I'm not sure if my PS is too generic...ANY and ALL criticism is welcome. Please help!

When my parents and I arrived at the University of California, Santa Barbara for freshman orientation, I remember experiencing a variety of emotions: nervousness, intimidation, fear, but primarily, excitement. How could I not be excited? I was finally going to be out on my own, living in a beautiful city and getting an education at one of the most prominent universities in the state. My head was inundated with words of advice from teachers and relatives telling me to “cherish the next four years” because they were going to be “the best time of [my] life.”

But when I looked around at my future peers, I couldn’t help but hone in on one crucial difference between each of their families and my own: my mother was the only one wearing a wig. Her battle with breast cancer had required her to undergo chemotherapy, resulting in the loss of her hair. This diagnosis had left me shocked and rattled to the bone with worries of imminent death, reminiscent of other tragedies close to my heart that greatly affected my life and followed me through college. After already experiencing the loss of five friends in automobile incidents while in high school, I lost three more close friends during my years at UCSB. Each of these tragedies affected me greatly, as I began to understand that death is a fact of life, one not to be taken lightly.

Shortly after starting classes at UCSB, my mother also became involved in some legal issues. Upon completing chemotherapy and returning back to work, she found her old job was no longer available. She was placed in a position with a decreased salary, less responsibilities, and a different title. In short, she was “weeded out” of her position because of her illness, which would have cost the company a small bundle in insurance. So my mom fought back and sued her employer for wrongful termination, disability discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Little did I know that my family’s new challenges, starting with my mom’s cancer diagnosis and legal battles, would set the stage for the rest of my college career.

My mother’s illness and the deaths of my friends played a significant role in my college experience, as they helped to shape who I have become today by testing me in ways that no midterm or final exam ever could. First and foremost, I have learned to fight for what I believe in. Throughout my first two years of college, I held a steady catering job at the campus’ University Center. However, after working countless hours at this place of employment, I began to notice a few problems with its operation. The working conditions were not up to code: there was little or no ventilation, and all of the employees were exposed to numerous hazards that posed a great danger to our safety. In addition, after talking to several of my co-workers, I learned that some females, including myself, felt uncomfortable in our working environment because we were being sexually harassed by a male manager. So I did something about it. I wrote a letter to the head of the University Center and sat down to talk with him about these problems. When he didn’t do anything about it, I wrote a letter to the Chancellor of the University, who contacted me via e-mail about my concerns. Although no one else would come forward and support my concerns, the attention I got from the Chancellor essentially resulted in safer working conditions and smoother operations at the University Center.

Another important lesson I have learned through my collegiate experiences is to be strong and never give up. My mother’s cancer diagnosis and my friends’ deaths sparked some really tough times for me while in school: my grades slightly dipped, and I began to spend less time with my peers and more time alone. But I never gave up. I quickly discovered that I have the ability to push myself for as long and as far as I can go. I have spent countless nights cramming for exams or finishing homework, but no matter how exhausted I was, I would never quit until I was satisfied with the job I had done. Although it was difficult, I picked myself back up and raised my grades once again. I simply believe that I must always project my best work, no matter what personal issues I may be facing.

These experiences were also able to teach me the hard lessons about life that I would never have learned from any professor or textbook. I now also realize one very important thing: Life is precious. I understand that God has a plan for all of us…although, unfortunately, His plan for some may be shorter than for others. Unlike my friends, my mother was one of the fortunate ones, as she found the strength to fight her illness. So every single day, I wake up with a smile, for I know that I have been blessed with another day of life. And every single day, I live my life to the fullest. While the majority of my friends spend their nights out drinking and partying, I prefer more low-key activities, such as bowling or watching a movie at home with my boyfriend. I never “borrow” assignments from others as I know some people do…I work long and hard to produce the best work that I possibly can. I don’t follow the crowd; I live independently and by my own rules. I do what my gut feeling tells me to do, even if it’s not the most “popular” decision. I have also learned to live with no regrets. I constantly strive to seize each and every moment of the day, because I never know if it might be my last.

In addition to learning such valuable life lessons, these tragedies essentially helped me to realize my dream of becoming a lawyer. When I entered UCSB as a freshman, Psychology was my declared undergraduate major. However, after my mother went to trial with her employer, I had a change of heart as I decided that I wanted to practice law. Now, I dream of being able to work in a profession where I will be able to help others, just as my mother’s attorneys did for her. And because of the experiences I have been through and the events I have witnessed, I am more determined than ever to live my life to the fullest and realize my dream.

While my time in Santa Barbara did not constitute the typical “college experience” that I had imagined, I came out stronger than I ever thought possible in the end. These traumas have allowed me to show my true colors in the face of adversity, and as a result, have helped me to gain a perspective on life and an ability to persevere that most recent college graduates have yet to develop. I have already proven through these experiences that I can push myself through any difficulties I come across, which will be a huge asset in law school and will prove invaluable in my career as a lawyer. With this newfound outlook, I am ready more than ever to face any challenges I may encounter in the road ahead. Now, law school is in my future, and I am determined to do whatever it takes to succeed.

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Postby M51 » Fri Nov 09, 2007 5:36 pm

Bauer, that was excellent. Middle paragraph was slightly forced, but it didn't hurt the thrust of your statement. Very solid work. Loved it :D . Good luck w/ your cycle.

Kom, your intro was a bit long. So much inaction and so much description on something that's not mind-blowing or unique... I think you made your point well with your second paragraph, so the first one could be heavily cut down imo. Everything else was nice, low risk low reward. Reminded me of my PS. I'm not expecting anyone to read it and go "Wow!", but they shouldn't be able to find any faults with it either.

Dreamy, your intro paragraph is totally unecessary. Just start with "No one in my orientation had a wig, except my mother" (phrase it better, but that one sentence captures the entirety of what you said in a paragraph). And work on being more concise. Everything makes a louder statement when it's shorter. Think of it as putting energy under pressure, it only increases. It's a good base to start from though, and once you're done with it, I'm sure it'll turn out nicely.

Proud_Dad, I liked the second one better. It kept my interest more, whereas the first one lost me between your two short middle paragraphs. And in both, you should do less explaining. A lot of your ", blah blah blah," structure in the middle of sentences break down the flow. It's find if the "blah blah blah" is vital to our understanding, but yours often end up sounding like excuses and unnecessary explanations.

My 2cents.
Last edited by M51 on Fri Nov 09, 2007 5:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby philo-sophia » Fri Nov 09, 2007 9:40 pm

Hey y'all, posted this elsewhere (Bonfire, the Sequel) but since people seem to be hanging out here, i'll throw up on this thread as well...

Thanks again for all your help on Round I and thanks in advance for any suggestions/comments on Round II.

It was 9:13PM when the story flashed across his Bloomberg terminal. The Brazilian government, in the face of booming demand for ethanol and skyrocketing corn prices, had finally recanted on its ethical qualms and approved genetically modified seeds for sale in Brazil. The young man scrambled to publish a note, and by 10:00PM the phones were lighting up like the New York City skyline. Goldman Sachs, UBS, a smattering of hedge fund titans and, of course, Morgan Stanley’s own proprietary traders were banging down the door. And with the guidance of Wall Street’s newest darlings, they were placing buy orders eleven hours before the market open. The following evening, the champagne corks would be flying in Greenwich.

Slinking into the back seat of a black Lincoln Towncar just after midnight, the young man felt empty, guilty even. As the driver plodded through the gridlocked traffic of Times Square, the young man gazed back at the giant scrolling stock ticker zipping around Morgan Stanley’s headquarters and pondered how his would-be dream job had left him so disillusioned. Only months earlier, he’d triumphantly stepped off of the elevator at 1585 Broadway for the first time, thinking he’d finally reached the top of the world. Now the fifty-story tower of steel beams and plated glass, felt like a house of cards and he yearned for solid ground.

Stepping out of the car and into the damp summer night, he cautiously shuffled past a homeless man digging through a pile of trash and scaled the five flights of stairs to his dingy apartment. The adrenaline still surging, he resigned himself to another sleepless night. He loosened his tie, kicked off his Cole Haan loafers, cracked open an Amstel Light and mulled over the evening’s events. Reflecting in awe of the millions of shares that were preemptively spoken for long before the opening bell, he realized the true nature of his work. He was helping to perpetuate the stranglehold on market-moving information enjoyed by a small circle of insiders with means. With an army of high-priced analysts supplying information and analysis at breakneck speed, the juggernauts were moving millions of shares long before the hoi polloi had a chance to read about it in the Wall Street Journal. To the little guys, the stock market was a casino with no booze, and the cards were stacked against them.

He returned home from work late one Sunday evening and, pondering the last time and place where, in the clarity of hindsight, he truly felt like himself, he rifled through the back of his filing cabinet to find a copy of his undergraduate honors thesis, Rawls, Nozick and Respect for the Individual. Re-reading his thesis, he reminisced about a time when he had focused not on debt-to-EBITDA ratios, but on issues that truly excited him. One sentence, in particular, struck a nerve – “While the distribution of wealth and income need not be equal, it must be to everyone’s advantage.” He had always sided with Rawls on this point, but re-visiting this passage three years later put his current vocation into startling context. He had won the Rawlsian Natural Lottery. He’d come from auspicious beginnings and developed marketable skills. But he was living in complete incongruity with basic principles he’d championed and internalized three years earlier. He realized he needed to shift gears.

Reflecting on the developments of the past three years – climbing the ranks in consulting and finance – he contemplated ways of applying those experiences in new venues. Capitalism, he reasoned, wasn’t all bad. It was capitalism, after all, that brought Apple Computers out of a Silicon Valley garage and into thousands of classrooms. It was capitalism that brought Google to China. Capitalism, he realized, isn’t about modern day Gordon Gekko’s hoarding vast pools of stagnant assets. It’s about the next big idea. The entrepreneur! That, he realized, is what capitalism is supposed to be about. And he started to get excited. He envisioned a niche where he could deploy his skills in ways that are to everyone’s advantage. He would enfranchise entrepreneurs, helping them build their fledgling businesses, protect their intellectual property, negotiate contracts with vendors, expand across borders and navigate capital markets whose gatekeepers prefer to keep them in the dark.

Yawning as he closed his thesis, he switched off his desk lamp, climbed into bed and fell into a deep, restful slumber. He had realized his rightful path and was comforted by the certainty that the past three years had not been in vain. The skills honed and perspectives gained would be invaluable assets on his next journey. The following morning he resigned from Morgan Stanley. He was going to law school.

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Postby philo-sophia » Fri Nov 09, 2007 9:49 pm

Since i've sort of dumped mine on this site at will, i figure i'll pay forward some karma.

Starting with Hobbla...others to follow.

Hobbla, don't submit that PS. There are two issues, style and content. The major benefit of using a "casual style" is that it makes for easy reading, but i sort of felt like i was trying to decode this PS to even figure out the plot (something adcomms may not have the patience for). Having figured out the basic plot, i was left trying to discern what theme you were advancing. It starts off as what seems like an essay that's going to show how fun and quirky you are, then seems like maybe you're setting it up as a triumph over stage fright and then ends with you hoping to be a role model. Other than the fact that you admire trial lawyers for being great orators, i'm not sure what the take-away is.

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Postby philo-sophia » Fri Nov 09, 2007 10:05 pm


Basically a pretty solid PS. Awesome topic and theme. A couple small tweaks and I think you're there.

I think the best part of this PS starts about half way down..."We all face challenges"..."The fact is I love learning." These are good, hard-hitting sentences that connect the plot of your story with what it says about your character. If i were you, i'd drop something like that right at the beginning, so when the adcomm is going through the initial plot (your boss laying out a challenge etc) they are engaged and viewing within the context of your character...otherwise, they may see "Big software company...blah...boring" and fade out before getting to the good stuff.

I'd also shorten up the specs on the project, simply b/c they're pressed for time and you want to just quickly convey, this was a complex, difficult project. I like the long hours and lunch meetings stuff b/c i can relate to it, but when you're listing the actual specs of the system you're implementing, you're speaking Greek to me.

Finally, i'd only bother with the why XYZ school sentence for schools where you really do have a compelling reason (other than just prestige) to want to go to that school specifically...probably schools noted for their excellent IP programs.

Other than that, awesome statement that does what it needs to do! Nice work. Cheers.

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Postby proud_dad » Mon Nov 12, 2007 11:47 am

Open to any honest suggestions.


“You’ll just be another face in the crowd.” My uncle was trying to be helpful, but his words stung. He was attempting to convince me that I would be better off attending a local college rather than x. His lack of confidence hurt all the more because he knew my family well: quiet, introverted, and often struggling to make ends meet. In other words, average. In every way, my uncle truly expected I would be lost in the student body of 33,000 at x.

I thought of my uncle’s words years later as I waited to hear the results of x's student body elections. I had just finished a grueling week of campaigning to be student body vice president. As I sat with my campaign team waiting tensely to hear the outcome, fifteen minutes seemed like an eternity, and it somehow unearthed the long-forgotten memory of my uncle’s skepticism. We won the election; nevertheless, even if we hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been too worried about being lost in the crowd. Living in the UK as a service missionary for two years had taught me better.

My first area in the UK was Wembley, a suburb of north-west London. I really was just another face in the crowd in London, notwithstanding the fact that I was one of the only white faces in an area predominantly made up of Indians, Pakistanis, and Somalis. However, it was in that bustling setting that I began to understand that even crowds are made up of individuals. The week I arrived in Wembley, I was introduced to two sibling refugees from Sierra Leone. The older of the two, a girl named Bintu, had watched as her own parents were brutally murdered in front of her. However, she was determined not to give up hope of returning to her home in Sierra Leone. Her resolute face, once haunted by fear, will always stick out to me in a crowd. Bintu was not the only one to teach me to seek after viewpoints far different from my own. One of my most distinctive experiences was living and working every hour of every day for three months with a stranger from Nairobi, Kenya. To this day, my close friendship with Darius x reminds me that everyone has a unique perspective to offer.

I learned in England there is no such thing as just another face in the crowd. Not everyone has the chance to pursue their dreams in life, and some peoples’ experience is shaped more by what they’ve endured than what they’ve accomplished. However, such endurance can also produce the determination it requires to stand out in a crowd. My experience in the UK led me to believe that good public policy guided by correct principles can impact individuals all across the world for the better, and I would like to study international law for that reason. I am particularly interested in public international law, a passion that eventually led me to take my college capstone course on humanitarian intervention and write my thesis paper on the limitations of United Nations peacekeeping. I would like to study at x Law School because of its strength in public international law and its emphasis in a distinct field, comparative constitutional law.

Rising above the crowd to pursue my goal of policymaking has not been easy. I had declared a double major of International Studies as a freshman, yet felt compelled to drop it and pursue graduation as quickly as possible when it became clear that my wife and I were going to have a son. I suddenly understood how my father must have felt twenty-three years before, when he quietly abandoned his dream of studying history and geology after one year of college when his first child was born—me. Eventually one of seven children, I always watched my dad work his hardest in the difficult trade of drywall in order to support us. Now I too would have a family to support, and yet to graduate I had to complete an internship. I considered taking a break from school to work, but I knew from my dad’s experience that such a break could easily become permanent, and I wanted to fulfill a milestone for both of us by being the first person on either side of my family to graduate.

As a father, I am familiar with the sacrifice and dedication law school will require. After graduation, moving across the country, beginning a three-month unpaid internship, and having our son within a month seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. Nevertheless, I was not troubled by standing out in the crowd as a young intern with a wife and baby. Instead of living in the District like all my friends at work, we resided forty-five minutes south of D.C. because of the cost; instead of heading to the bar for happy hour when the office closed, I rushed to the Metro to make the bus at the Pentagon that would get me home in an hour-and-a-half instead of two hours of rush hour traffic; and instead of attending one of the many lavish receptions inevitably held somewhere in Washington every night, I arrived home at 8 p.m. just in time to be able to finish the night’s coursework and have some time with my tired wife and baby before going to bed, sleeping in two-and-a-half hour increments sporadically interrupted by a crying infant, and starting the day all over again.

Thanks to my experiences, I know I will bring a strong work ethic and an unfailing determination to x Law’s student body. More importantly, however, I know I will never be lost in a crowd.

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Postby meerap » Tue Nov 13, 2007 2:56 am

pleeease tear apart my PS. it is my first draft and so i still have to make a lot of changes. i feel like it might be too much of a "typical" story? HELP!

I was so hungry from all the shopping I did that I stopped off at the nearest vendor on the side of the street to pay a mere sixty rupees for a meal of old eggplant and cold hard naan, and almost found it to be quite appetizing. I had taken a few bites when I looked down at my feet to find a teenage girl in rags with dirt piled into her hair and bags under her young tired eyes; I was quite startled at first, expecting it to be the usual stray cat brushing up against my leg, and instead to find another human being clinging to my leg. She was begging me for my food and strangely at first I was reluctant to give it to her, being the selfish, possessive American that I am. Then it hit me- while I had hesitated to even buy the food, scared that it might infect me with malaria or it just might not be up to par with my standard of food, this young girl was literally begging me for just one bite and she didn’t even know what was on my plate. From that day on, my leisurely family vacation became quite different from the prior three weeks which consisted of shopping, indulging, and sightseeing. In the last of my four weeks in India, I began noticing every beggar on every street- small children with swollen bellies, mothers begging tourists for money, and fathers attempting to build shelter from cow dung and leaves before the harsh monsoon season arrived. After countless hours of searching for local organizations against hunger or shelters for homeless people, I finally heard about a small women’s shelter in Chennai known as the Banyan. I was so intrigued to find out about it that I was willing to make my way over there by any means-which eventually turned out to be the slowest, dirtiest train I could have ever imagined. When I had finally reached the shelter, I was informed at the door that I would not be allowed in unless I was mentally ill, homeless, or starving. After a few thoughts about pretending to be all three, I realized that plan would not work seeing as I was wearing ‘chic American clothes.’ I was able to speak to a woman who lived there, through her broken English and my broken Hindi, as she explained how the shelter came about when two women created it after witnessing the prevalence of hunger and homelessness in the streets of the city. I came to see that it did not take an entire community or organization or government to create a life-altering transformation for many women in that city, and that is the inspiration I took back home with me.
When I arrived back in America, my whole perspective had changed; I finally read the homeless man’s sign on Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street who I must have driven past a thousand times, I gave my box of leftovers to homeless people searching through garbage cans for a crumb of food, and I even offered a smile to those who lived under the bridge with whom I would normally avoid eye contact. I had never come to see these harsh realities that were in front of my eyes the whole time until my trip to India, and it made me realize that homelessness and starvation is something that is rarely discussed and taught in schools, and is common in so many different countries yet, as Americans, we never hear about it. However, my smiling and offering of food to these unfortunate people is not enough to change anybody else’s perspective but my own, and that is the problem that causes this vicious cycle of the unwillingness to help to occur. Action in the direction of change is the key to progress; therefore I knew it was necessary to get involved in my community and on my university campus to make an effort towards progress in eliminating hunger and homelessness.
Though I had been accepted into a guaranteed acceptance program for Pharmacy School straight out of high school, I was becoming uninterested in what it had in store for me. I found myself performing better in courses with reading, writing, and research as opposed to chemistry and math, which Pharmacy School mainly consisted of. And with my newfound interest from my trip to India, I realized that Law School might be a better place for me to serve my interests and help to solve a problem that was slowly turning into a personal mission of mine. It took some convincing, for both myself and my family, but I finally came to recognize that not only will I be more successful at pursuing a law degree but I will also be much happier with my future career, in comparison with what I would have been doing as a Pharmacist. Knowing that there was a seat in Pharmacy School with my name guaranteed behind it and still choosing to opt out of the program was a nerve-racking task, but I am confident that once accepted into Law School, I will not regret that decision.
Soon after officially changing my major and career intentions, I created an organization at my university called Feeding the Hungry, whose main purpose was to eradicate hunger in Chicago, on a small scale, by having food drives and fundraisers in order to deliver food to the less fortunate in different areas of the city. Being the founder of the organization, I was able to show my leadership skills by conducting meetings, organizing fundraisers, and networking to other organizations that also deal with these issues. Besides maintaining the organization and regularly attending classes, I devote the rest of my time to other activities that are important to me. Some of these include holding positions in the Pre-Law club and the Indian Students Association, volunteering at my local religious temple, and working part-time as a dance instructor for cultural Indian dancing known as Kathak. Though I may not dedicate equal time to all of these activities, I certainly devote equal commitment to them all. It is my loyalty and passion to these activities that allows me to build my character. I have learned commitment by allocating my time and resources to make sure that I can attend and maintain all of the activities I do outside of just my schoolwork. I learned Kathak for seven years as a young girl and now I am showing my dedication to it by teaching other young girls the grace and beauty of the dance. I have motivation from all the community projects and worldwide efforts to wipe out hunger and homelessness, which inspires me to keep up with my individual actions for the cause. Most importantly, I have ambitions and goals that I constantly set for myself to achieve, and with my strong work ethic I am confident that I can achieve them. It is all of these qualities together that make me who I am and what I stand for, and it is these qualities that make me a good candidate not only for Law School, but for future success in all of my endeavors.

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Postby logicallauren » Tue Nov 13, 2007 2:04 pm


Good start. Too many words, especially in the intro. I'm lost in the first sentence. You use "quite" too much, as in "almost found it to be quite appetizing." "Quite" is quite a useless word...

The first sentence can be rephrased entirely. It's the most important sentence of the essay, so make it powerful.

Your whole essay would be much more powerful, I think, if you mention that you started that organization right after the paragraph about india and with the paragraph about how your "perspective changed," because otherwise it seems like you are just blowing smoke.

Also, the last paragraph sounds like a resume. What does dance have to do with feeding the hungry? Arent the pre law club and the indian students association going to be on your resume? These are great things but they belong somewhere else.

If you just stick to one focus, then your statement will be more clear and powerful, considering that adcomms only have a short time to read each app.

Hope this helps!

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Postby SYNESTER » Tue Nov 13, 2007 3:42 pm

Kind of a sensitive personal statement, but please don't be afraid to critique it, I really want it to be as good as possible.

At age one, I learned to walk. At four, I learned to read. At five, I started private school, even though my parents could barely afford the rent for our home. There I learned that not everyone was Hispanic.
At nine, I was ashamed of my parents. Every time they sent me to a neighbor’s house because our electricity was cut off, I became more aware of economic disparities. And it was clear to me that we were not among the most fortunate.
At twelve, I asked my father if I could work with him the following summer. To my delighted surprise, he agreed. After the first day of “helping” my father fix dishwashers behind hot, smelly restaurants, I decided that working with my hands was not in my future. Then and there, I vowed that I would be the first person in my family to graduate high school and go to college.
At thirteen, I saw my father cry for the first and only time. My mother, six months pregnant and suffering from lupus and arthritis, had a seizure while carrying my unborn sister. “Just be strong,” was my father’s only advice from behind his poorly shielded tears. Sofia, my sister, was born weighing one pound, 15 ounces. My mother recovered and with us beside her, my sister spent the better part of her first year in the hospital. “Life may be difficult, but we have each other,“ my dad would say.
One unusually cold and bleak February day in Miami, everything changed. I came home from school to find that my father had died unexpectedly. In the days and weeks following his death, I believed that my life was over. How was I supposed to be strong, if we no longer had each other? Trying to replace the income our family lost, my mother sold our house and started working weekends and longer nights and I began my first part-time job. With my mother so busy, the responsibility of looking after my sister fell to me. My heart filled with fear as I was forced to become the man of the house at just fifteen.
At seventeen, I taught my sister how to ride a bike. “Nothing is easy,” I told her. “You might fall, Sofia, but I promise you will get back up.” I did not know it at the time, but I was giving my sister the advice that I was trying to follow myself. By doing whatever it took to make Sofia’s life as normal and happy as possible, I became the rock of our family. While my friends enjoyed the Florida beaches and immersed themselves in the college application process, I taught my sister elementary math and science and drove her to the pediatrician’s office so that my mom could be our sole breadwinner. When things got difficult, I was tempted to give up, but I realized that that would be an insult to my parents’ sacrifices. No matter how hard it was to balance my responsibilities at home, work and school, I assured myself that when graduation came, I would be registered for college.
At eighteen, I started at [college]. The idea of leaving “my two girls” and the life I helped rebuild behind wrenched me. I soon realized, though, that even though I was not there for every breakfast and mentoring task, my role as man of the house was not over. Traveling from [city] to Miami whenever I could, I juggled my two worlds. Still, I managed to seize every opportunity that the [college] has offered. From being the minority in a predominately Jewish fraternity to learning true commitment by sustaining myself these past four years, the challenges of my past prepared me well for my new adventures. The greatest fulfillment from my time at the [college] , though, came when my sister said that she could not wait to go to college. Then I knew that even though she never spent a day watching me struggle to tear apart dishwashers, my sacrifices, like my father’s, are serving a greater purpose.
This is my life, and though it has not been easy, I wouldn’t trade it for a different one. My trials have helped mold me into the strong, committed, and passionate person that I am. While I was once envious of those with more material wealth, I now know better. These experiences have helped me find my ability to not only survive, but to flourish. Where I am now, and where I want to go are the product of the road I have traveled. It has shaped my character and continues to challenge my endurance, pushing me toward my next challenge law school. I know that, like the path behind me, the one ahead will be filled with hurdles to jump and mountains to climb. Fortunately, I am confident that I am both mentally and emotionally prepared for whatever these challenges may be.
At twenty-one, I am ready.

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Postby jbauer24 » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:20 pm


I think this is a very good start. It's kind of funny that you did the whole 'At certain age' thing because I actually wrote an earlier PS that did this in almost the same exact way... I eventually decided to go with another idea but I like what you've done with it.

As for suggestions for improvement..

At age one, I learned to walk. At four, I learned to read. At five, I started private school, even though my parents could barely afford the rent for our home. There I learned that not everyone was Hispanic.

This made me think your PS was going to be focused on ethnic adversity due to this discovery that not everyone was Hispanic- I was really expecting more detail behind this statement but you kind of just threw it out there and let the reader decide for himself what kind of impact it had on you. If this discovery had any kind of signifcant impact, I think you should spell it out for us and articulate exactly what it meant to you. If you didn't mean for this to be the 'dramatic' turn statement in the whole age progression (at age one-> walk, at age four-> read, at age five-> big ethnic discovery) but rather was just another build up to age nine-> economic self-awareness, then I guess it's fine the way it is...but just letting you know as a reader I was expecting more out of that event.

I like the rest of your PS but for some reason the final statements seems lacking. I know the brevity and directness of it is all part of the power and impact you are going for...but I don't know...I felt a little cutoff. I think adding just a little more expository writing to the final statement may give it a better flow and still maintain the impact. Like possibly,

At twenty-one, I am facing the future and I am ready.

Just something as simple as that I think helps the flow...but you may not agree so it's up to you. I'm a big fan of expository writing and have often been accused of being too 'flowery' with my statements and descriptions as well, so it's just my opinion.

Other than that I like the statement a lot! Good luck!

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