Personal Statement Samples

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Kiersten1985
Posts: 784
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 3:36 pm

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby Kiersten1985 » Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:43 pm

I can actually do this now! Tons of thanks to everyone on TLS who gave me suggestions and comments. You guys rock. :D

3.66/169
In: Michigan, BU, BC, Texas ($$), Vanderbilt($$), Cornell, Brooklyn($$$), Cardozo($$$)
WL: Columbia, Georgetown, UVA, Duke
Out: HLS (shock), Penn, Boalt
Waiting on: NYU

Named for the Kurdish new year, the Newroz Café is a small, dingy kebab joint tucked away in Paris’ Latin Quarter. Boasting little more than two old plastic chairs and a broken Coca-Cola machine, the compact space smells like hot grease and strongly brewed tea. After recognizing the name while walking down the narrow streets one dusky evening, I was excited by the possibility of meeting Parisian Kurds. Once inside, I was indeed met with smiling Kurdish faces eager to find out what an American Kurd was doing in their tiny restaurant. We chatted for a few minutes, exchanging brief family histories and origins. They had emigrated from Iraq to France; my father from Syria to the United States. Then suddenly a young man emerged from the kitchen, his eyes dark and wild. He was palpably hostile and though I picked up the word “Turkish,” I was startled and confused by his aggressive entrance. The young man’s coworkers turned and hurriedly explained that I was Kurdish —not Turkish. Almost instantly, the young man’s wild eyes softened as he smiled. “I don’t like Turks,” he explained in broken French.

Two years earlier, as an ingenuous college freshman pouring over mountains of yellowed history text, I had begun a romance with the idea of nationalist struggle. Up until then, my Kurdish ethnicity had been an afterthought; a fact that surfaced only to explain my last name to an interested party. Now this dormant identity had found a new use. Aged but underused, the library’s books on Kurdish history engulfed my senses with a passionate irredentism. Like many students of international relations, I wanted to save the world. For me, this began with saving my fellow Kurds, or at least arguing their case.

By the time I began my junior year abroad in London, my arguments for Kurdish statehood were being recognized. That summer, papers I had written for two graduate-level courses during the previous semester were published as articles on the website KurdishMedia.com. I subsequently began a dialogue with the website’s co-founder and prominent Kurdish scholar, Dr. F---. After reading my work, Dr. F--- invited me to help edit articles in the website’s London office during my semester there. Though the time consumed by my course load and internship at a London law firm precluded me from accepting this generous offer, recognition by such a Kurdish figure crystallized my feeling of belonging to the nationalist movement. I was fully committed to supporting Kurdish statehood and denouncing those who opposed it. That was until my experience in a Parisian kebab shop.

Just as Newroz represents a new year and a new beginning in Kurdish culture, my experience in the Newroz Café represented a new beginning for my personal beliefs and academic focus. The young man’s aggressive reaction to the thought of an enemy inside his restaurant demonstrated the ethnic tension and nationalism that I had been writing about for the prior two years. This time, however, I was not in a sheltered classroom or behind a computer screen. I realized then that my obligation was not simply to advance an agenda to which I happened to be ethnically linked. Instead, I had to facilitate understanding between the ethnic fault lines. To do this, I would need to first understand these fault lines myself.

The following year in Boston, I began my senior thesis under the guidance of Professor [name]. My thesis did not focus on Kurdish nationalism, but on the country that I had taught myself to see as a foe: Turkey. As I analyzed Turkey’s strong political ideologies in reaction to its ethnically diverse population, I sought to learn how the Turks and Kurds had developed such mutual hostility when they have so much in common. Three weeks before graduation, I defended my findings before a panel of international relations experts and received acclaim for my accomplishments in the field. Though my academic pursuits had seemed fulfilling to me in the past, they did not compare with the sense of personal development that came with completing my thesis. I had used my academic opportunities and intellectual capability to look past the allure of ethnic bonds to the history and political theories that allowed nationalism to flourish unabated and unresolved.

With a basic comprehension of nationalism and international relations, I now wish to understand the practical mechanisms I can use to implement collaborative solutions to international problems. I believe in the potential of international law to be an objective tool of arbitration, but this potential needs to be nourished and groomed to ensure its realization. Studying the Kurdish Question sparked my interest in international law but it is not the only question I seek to answer. I plan to use my legal education to help unravel and resolve issues surrounding transnational ethnic movements the world over. I will always be, at heart, an international relations student who wants to save the world; but I hope to also be a lawyer with the expertise to do so.

miamiman
Posts: 1486
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:55 pm

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby miamiman » Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:19 pm

Attending: Most likely going to UChicago

With his slicked-back hair, boyish grin, and flashy faux diamond earrings, Patrick sported the kind of deceptively confident look you would not expect on someone in such dire standing. You see Patrick had the misfortune of traveling on the wrong side of not one but two sets of laws, Florida law, as enforced by the juvenile justice system, and street law, as enforced by a notorious Miami-based gang. The gang had allegedly sought retribution for some unidentified transgression, and judging by the bruising along his arms, chest, and neck, I could tell he wasn’t speaking in jest. But there was more.

His psychosocial assessment and intake impressions were, to be perfectly blunt, troubling. Single-mother home, two brothers, both in prison, multiple priors, and a laundry list of other risk factors including learning disabilities, gang involvement, and recreational drug use. Relative to the median client sent for diversion programming, Patrick’s case file was a sociological “perfect storm”. My familiarity with his file aside, I had not met Patrick. As I was going to be facilitating his anger management training over the next five weeks, I wanted to get to know him beyond the manila folder of jargon and legalese which effectively distill all of our clients into a series of Likert scales, checkboxes, and free-response fields. This was, after all, social work. I began by asking about his background, interests, and anything else of significance he wanted to share with me. An all-too-familiar quiet filled our cramped space.

Like many clients at their first face-to-face session, Patrick met my invitation for small talk with a contemptuous glare and a concomitant silence. So I preempted his snub with a discussion of videogames, a safe bet for conversation among 16-year-old males of all stripes, and a field I had worked in and actually knew quite a bit about. I then disclosed why he was receiving anger management training, what the state required of him during his three month diversion, and, more broadly, how the confluence of his many risk factors served as a strong predictor for graduated criminal offenses and a more precarious life course.

Patrick became enraged. Perhaps it was the simple matter-of-factness with which I proceeded to educate Patrick about his reality that ignited his fury. Or perhaps he was merely irritable and I had unknowingly stepped in the face of inevitability. In either case, his rebuke inadvertently provided me with an elegantly simple and lucid insight into the morally ambiguous world in which he lives:

[Spanish slang], you don’t get it. I hit [the kid] and I get sent here for three months. I don’t hit him and I have Latin Kings on me. You say ‘chemical dependence’? I got sucker punched today and I didn’t even do anything. What would you do?


I was thrown. Despite training in solutions-oriented therapy, a thesis on juvenile delinquency, and four years of education from two of the finest universities in the country … I had no clue how to answer his question. And he knew it. He had sized me up, exposed the irreparable chasm separating our worlds, and, in effect, showed me how little I really knew—or could offer him.

I left feeling hollow and defeated. Even as I recognized that Patrick had presented me with a zero-sum proposition, I could not help but feel as if the integrity of my knowledge and my competency as a counselor had been justifiably called into question. I expressed my doubts to my co-workers. They cautioned against drawing too many inferences from one session and assured me that I had met the standard of care. Their confidence aside, I fully expected Patrick would request another counselor or, more likely, be so uncooperative as to require his being kicked-back to the state attorney. I had consciously written us both off.

When Patrick showed up the following week, sat down without hesitation, and demonstrated readiness to begin the session, I decided to interpret his gesture as a pardon of my misstep. Even if I still lacked his trust, I had learned very early in this line of work to suspend judgment and always err in favor of compassion. I admitted to Patrick that although I could not relate to his situation and was wrong to indicate otherwise, I could help him graduate this program and thereby avoid any permanent juvenile record. So I proceeded to counsel Patrick to the best of my ability. I offered him unconditional positive regard, consistent eye contact, an active ear, and an open mind. I got off my soapbox entirely and kept our meetings purposeful, rarely deviating from the topic at hand and issuing opinion only when it seemed especially relevant. Over our five weeks together, I learned what set him off, what he responded to, and what he really valued. And I did my best in our limited time together to connect these insights to the tools Patrick would need to exist less violently in a violent world.

For his part, and despite all the chaos around him, Patrick generally cooperated and appeared to derive some limited benefit from our discussions. In our meetings together as in life, he continued to find some way to stay above water, never quite able to advance against the upward current, but never giving up too much ground either. And when the time came for Patrick to leave, I extended my hand in friendship, wished him well, and joked that I hoped we would not meet again—at least not professionally.

Months have passed; neither I nor the other counselors know what has become of Patrick. In truth, his many persisting risk factors foreshadow greater future legal troubles, a prediction supported by both my academic background and clinical training. But Patrick has already shown me the danger in treating these foundations as articles of faith, and, likewise, that even as our options are narrowed and indeed dwarfed by forces beyond our control, there is dignity in simply making the best of a bad situation. I can only hope that, just as before, Patrick will keep his head above water long enough to escape his troubles, and that he’ll find his way to the other end, wearing his oversized smile, slicked-back curls, and diamond stud earrings, advancing towards a better life.

My experiences working with Patrick and other youths like him naturally inform my interest in pursuing a career in the law. Even as I do not apologize for my desire to toil in the world of ideas, I realize that ideas offer little value in isolation. The law provides an ideal compromise, a field which permits journey into the abstract even as it is inexorably grounded by the practical hardships of those invoking it. It is precisely because the black letter of the law exists in a dialog with human experience that I believe I not only stand to gain tremendously from its study but will also be able to contribute much as well. Indeed, whether it has been helping draft policy papers on behalf of Katrina victims, coordinating ongoing education for California’s prisoners, or working with youths like Patrick, I have been profoundly sensitized to the suffering of ordinary people whose day-to-day struggles orient my worldview and compel my pursuit of social justice. In law school, I look to build upon, draw from, and ultimately refine my perspective and in so doing lay the foundation for a practice of law guided by humility and compassion.

Kretzy
Posts: 1431
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:11 pm

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby Kretzy » Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:43 pm

I got a ton of help from folks here on TLS this cycle, and am happy to give back a little :) I already have no anonymity due to my handle, so what's posting a PS going to hurt?

Hope it can help some people!

Stats: 170, 3.89.
Attending: Stanford
Accepted: Columbia, NYU, Chicago ($), Boalt ($), Michigan ($), UVA ($$$), etc.
Waitlisted: Yale, Harvard

As a debate teacher, I began every course with a favorite quote from Thank You For Smoking: “The beauty of argument is that if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong.” I taught many students that to play the game of debate was to fight to win, requiring a tenacity and confidence to argue any position thrown at them. I convinced myself that any argument could be won, and that victory over those viewing the world (or debate round) differently was the ultimate goal. Life, like debate, was just a game of wins and losses.

This belief changed on May 29th when I was fired for being gay. Set to move to Seoul to coach a fledgling international debate team, I received a call from the school’s Director. They had suspicions I might be gay, as a teacher had seen some pro-gay political writing I had authored. I answered yes—I was openly gay when they hired me. I was fired the next day, after the Director consulted his attorneys to determine if I had any legal recourse. I was leaving a comfortable political fellowship for the opportunity in Korea, and within those 36 hours I became jobless and speechless.

My shock soon receded into anger and disappointment. I had lost a tremendous opportunity because of this Director’s prejudice, and I knew that vitriol would get me nowhere. His decision was final. I wanted to yell. I wanted people to feel sorry for me, since the school showed no worry for the situation in which their firing put me. But my disappointment and self-pity soon turned to concern. This bigotry would permeate the school, exposing students to antigay rhetoric and belief. For some, this would mean pervasive hate, and for many others, latent homophobia. But for those students who themselves were queer and questioning, it could mean an outright disdain of their own intrinsic worth as people. A gay teacher might have made a difference for them.

After my firing, I remained determined to teach. I was invited back to my former summer program, where my role would include directing the campus’ Gay Straight Alliance. Antigay attitudes were common among the students, despite the tolerance of the faculty and administration. Taunts of “fa**ot” and “maricón” were widespread, particularly in the boys’ dorms. Gay and allied students were incensed, and responded in a way I knew all too well—they raised their voices while demeaning their opponents. My students needed a different tactic, one that would not alienate or solidify other students against them, and in turn, against their beliefs. I had my students organize a silent vigil, where they would hold signs depicting stories of antigay violence and facts about growing up as a gay teenager.

When the night came, we stood together on the quad in silence. Some students chose to mock us. Many others instead learned a great deal about the GLBTQ community and their fellow students. Those who chose to ridicule came out looking ridiculous. My GSA students exhibited a quiet bravery that made me proud, as none of us could have made this impact by screaming. I saw their inclusivity and poise as a model for my own advocacy.

I am not so naïve as to think I can simply will others in the legal community to agree with me just by maintaining decorum. I will have heated disagreements. Disparate views of the law and its proper role in society cannot simply be overcome through persuasion and tact. This diversity in thought invigorates me. I am entering a profession that has thrived based upon myriad interpretations of common principles. I see a profound respect in those who practice for alternative theories of justice. Rare zealots notwithstanding, there is an inclusivity in the legal world that betters its advocates and the people it serves. My potential school’s Director refused this level of acceptance, and I hope to never duplicate his error.

Respect and dignity do not preclude discourse or strong disagreement. I do not intend to walk silently into a classroom or a courtroom, but I intend to treat those who have chosen to serve the law and society with a respect lacking in the political world I am leaving. Screaming at my opponents does not foster understanding; it breeds divisiveness. I will enter law school as a debater, but one who understands the need to convince rather than to win and the need to fight for principles rather than fight against opponents.

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johnstuartmill
Posts: 214
Joined: Fri May 22, 2009 9:53 pm

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby johnstuartmill » Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:42 pm

3.47 LSAC GPA (3.22 UGPA), transfer student from CSU to UCLA
175 (170 retake)

In at Chicago. There are enough unusual things about my application that someone is bound to find this useful.

--

I’m very excited at the prospect of studying law at the University of Chicago next year.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve found the law intellectually captivating, and I
recognize that knowledge of it grants significant empowerment. To understand why the
law appeals to me so much, it’s necessary to start at the very beginning of my life,
because it played such an integral role in forming my personality and perspective.

I was born six weeks premature to a woman who turned 20 only three weeks earlier. My
parents married when they found out about the pregnancy, divorced when I was a year
old, remarried for a short while, separated and got back together a few times, then
divorced for good. We moved constantly, it seemed – I attended eight different schools
before the age of ten.

My parents divorced for the final time when I was in the third grade. At the time, I lived
with my mom and younger siblings in Section 8 housing (where I'd live until junior
high), and attended elementary school in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city. My
parents' physically violent divorce took a toll on me: I developed health problems, and
lashed out in class so much that I was nearly expelled. My dad was rarely around, and the
rest of my family had to live in a battered women's shelter for a month. But things
eventually got better: while we were on food stamps and subsidized housing, my mom
took community college classes, then finished her degree at the local state university.
This allowed us to move out of subsidized housing and into the suburbs.

Even in my teenage years, I was aware of the rarity of my family’s modest success story.
I puzzled over why other families in the same initial circumstances did not escape them.
This was the most important fact on my mind during the time I grew into an
understanding of how the world around me worked politically, economically, and
socially. I developed the opinion that it would be wrong for me to not work to improve
the institutions of common action that helped my family and me succeed. Perhaps not
unpredictably, this led me to express views which were far out of the mainstream in my
conservative inland California hometown. I couldn't count on much vocal support from
like-minded students in government or economics class, or in the inevitable
extracurricular discussions they generated, so I learned to place a high premium on the
ability to argue persuasively, and cultivated these skills accordingly. I suspect there
couldn't have been anything else quite like being in the intellectual minority to spark my
interest in the niceties of argument, or in the undergirding theoretical merits of differing
positions.

This instinct to think independently and forge my own values is also reflected in my
religious life. I was raised to be a fundamentalist Protestant, but soon began to question
the moral framework transmitted to me and, to my parents’ horror, became agnostic at
15. When I found myself unable to give a secular account of morality a few years later, I
became skeptical of my skepticism, and converted to the Mormon faith. Since then, I've
found a more robust secular morality, and have returned to agnosticism. My quest for
truth through religion is now expressed in an intense interest in philosophy –
epistemology and ethics especially – and in the social sciences.

In hindsight, it's thus unsurprising that the law (and jurisprudence in particular) intrigues
me, given my interest in institutions and predilection toward the theoretical. In
conversations with classmates and other people in my community, it became clear to me
that most of our differences were due to different fundamental ideals regarding
government and society. With this in mind, I took classes that explored these schools of
thought: classes in philosophy, economics, and political theory. I wasn't one to be a
passive recipient of academic knowledge, either; I've always striven to make new
connections of my own, thinking up and trying out new ways of looking at evidence and
phenomena, and linking disciplines together when appropriate. The University of
Chicago is particularly appealing to me because its small class size is more conducive to
this type of learning (I had a significantly higher GPA -- 3.68 -- at UCLA in classes of
fewer than 150 people). I also believe that the Law School’s famed intellectual
community would mate well with another aspect of my personality: as my friends,
classmates, and colleagues can attest, I have an abiding respect for creative, agreeable
argumentation as a means of discovering truth.

At first blush, it might seem odd that someone who professes such an affinity for the
theoretical would choose to get involved with the (sometimes distressingly) practical
world of electoral politics, but that's precisely what I did in the summer of 2007 when I
began volunteering with Barack Obama's presidential primary campaign. I saw in the
candidate qualities I valued and admired. He seemed to invite reasonable discourse and
thus understand the value even of positions that he does not hold. As a professor of
constitutional law, he was at ease in the realm of ideas, a trait I value highly. I saw
elements of my story in his, too: a single mother, geographic relocations, food stamps,
and the rest. I figured that even if his chances of winning the nomination were small, I
should help his campaign.

I got involved with grassroots campaign efforts in California in July of that year, and
jumped when the opportunity to intern with the campaign arose in September. This was a
rewarding experience on almost every level. I spoke to thousands of voters on the phone
and in-person, and so was exposed to even more viewpoints. I got to know volunteers
from all walks of life, and developed close bonds with my coworkers (not surprising,
given that I spent virtually all of my waking hours with them), and thus became more
rounded on an interpersonal level. I got to see the political process up close, and therefore
supplemented my classroom instruction with hands-on experience. I ultimately decided
to resign from the general election campaign (working 90-hour weeks and being stationed
in a rural area meant that I experienced an unsustainably low level of sincere social
interaction), but these experiences with the campaign nevertheless had a strong impact on
me.

The past year of my life has been instructive. For its first six months, I worked as a law
clerk for a small criminal defense firm, where I was entrusted with a surprising degree of
latitude. I briefed and analyzed dozens of cases for the firm; I also drafted a number of
motions to dismiss, a few motions to suppress evidence, and a motion to quash a
subpoena. I met with and interviewed clients and witnesses on behalf of the attorney, and
worked very closely with him in a complex civil jury trial that lasted six weeks. This
close-up look at the law strengthened my conviction that this was the field for me. In
June, however, the lawyer decided to take a break from the law to pursue religious
projects. I’ve made the most of my newfound free time, though, by doing things that I
likely wouldn’t have been able to do during or after law school. Some of these activities
are related to law, such as reading moral philosophy (I look forward to talking about Mill
with people like Professor Leiter) and reading economics. Some are not, such as reading
philosophy of biology and philosophy of religion, and starting a musical project with
friends (I play a half-dozen instruments).

I'm not yet certain what I would end up doing in the field of law -- whether I'd want to
argue individual cases in my hometown, or work in electoral politics, or (the most
attractive option) research and develop legal theories -- but I do know that all of these
options make use of the skills and prestige granted by the attainment of such a degree.
These possibilities, along with my conviction that legal and academic discourse would
benefit from a unique voice like mine, point to a clear conclusion: the University of
Chicago Law School is the natural next step for me.

tsub
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 11:36 am

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby tsub » Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:47 pm

This thread helped me out a lot, so I thought I would contribute. I originally wrote this as a DS, but I submitted it as a PS to many schools, specifically the reach schools I got into.

158/3.6x
Accepted: Iowa, Tulane ($), Missouri ($$), St. Louis ($$), Seton Hall ($$$), Houston, Ohio State ($$, Attending)
Rejected: Illinois, George Mason, SMU
Waitlisted: WUSTL, Arizona, Utah, Indiana, FSU

I’m an Okie. What does that entail? I hunt, fish, rope, and throw a football with the best of them. I can build or weld together my own furniture, and all of my summer jobs growing up involved some kind of hay. I love my family as much as I love the red-dirt tract I grew up on, even though summers under the Oklahoma sun made my skin (and resolve) as tough as convenience-store beef jerky. Although I can list numerous other reasons why I’m an authentic Okie, I have spent my life addressing the other factors some say disqualify me from such a description. Explaining my complex background, not only Oklahoman but also Thai, fostered my desire to explore my heritage and the appreciation for what it has taught me.


I grew up in the three-stoplight town of [small town], home to about 5,000 of the nicest people you will ever meet. My family constituted the only Asian presence but was not too different from the average family in our town. My father, like the majority of the town, worked in the tractor plant while my mother worked at the local McDonald’s. We didn’t have much (in my first year of teaching, I earned more than double what both of my parents make combined) but we didn’t need much.


Admittedly, I encountered some difficulties when I was younger, but these arose mostly from unawareness and a hesitancy to embrace something totally unfamiliar. My teachers used my Thai heritage as a springboard into lessons about Asian cultures. It was always awkward when teachers singled me out and asked if “my people” still rode elephants or walked around barefoot, but I realize now that they were only trying to educate my classmates, not embarrass me. By my senior year, everyone in my graduating class could present a brief synopsis of Thai culture as a result of their experiences with me. In rural Oklahoma the window into another culture I provided to the community was a rare opportunity those in other towns might never experience. [small town] rubbed off on me, as evidenced by my hog and goat farm and status as captain of the mighty [High school and mascot] football team.


Growing up in [small town] taught me that even though two things may seem worlds apart, their unique interaction enhances the experience of both. I have applied this attitude to my college experience in [college town], majoring in both Agricultural Economics and Philosophy. Teach For America has given me another chance to learn from another culture in [big city], where every student in my school is African-American. They love hearing stories about prairies, tornadoes, and how great the [college football team and mascot] are playing. Exposing my students to a state that was previously obscure to them has encouraged them to dream bigger than the confines of the city they live in. Now, they question everything and are eager to learn more about other colleges and places they could live someday. I even get to have the same conversation with them that I had with my teachers in [small town] many years before, but this time in the opposite role and with considerably less discomfort (they still ask about the elephants though).


I have finally come to realize that I am not exclusively an Okie or a Thai person. There are elements of being Thai that pervade my “Okie-ness,” and vice versa. My mother will still muse about how my Okie accent will wander into our Thai discourse like an armadillo into a Buddhist temple (which I have seen before). There are also parts that should remain distinct: Okies will tell you cream gravy goes great on everything, but they’ve obviously never had it slathered on their Pad Thai. I’m tremendously proud of who I am and the dirt roads and wheat fields I come from, and of the fact that my home state elicits a brief musical interlude from anyone who checks my ID. [Series of towns I have lived in] taught me a lot. Who knows what lessons are to be learned in [your law school's city]?

Sequoia90
Posts: 98
Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2009 1:22 pm

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby Sequoia90 » Sat May 08, 2010 9:28 pm

LSAT: 173
GPA: 3.2 (LSAC 3.3)

In: Georgtown (Attending $$$), Cornell, GW
WL: NYU, VA, Penn

Used this thread a lot, so here's my contribution. Hope this helps:

At the start of each year at XXXX Academy, every student is required to take a reading assessment. My fifth grade student, Eduardo, began with a book at a second-grade reading level. I expected that this outgoing, sociable student would have no trouble. A few minutes into the book and many pauses later, Eduardo stopped reading. He whispered letters under his breath, trying to pronounce the next word, “butterfly.” He glanced up, peered directly into my eyes and said, “I can’t do it, Mister. I give up.”

Education equality has been a passion of mine since college. Throughout my years at XYZ University, I lobbied state officials and worked with the university administration to make higher education more affordable and accessible to traditionally under-represented groups. Despite my efforts, lower-income students were applying in smaller numbers and had a lower rate of retention once enrolled in the university. I began to see that barriers to higher education start long before high school seniors fill out applications. These problems are rooted in the nation’s education achievement gap: students who never learn to adequately read have little chance of success in a rigorous high school or college curriculum. This realization motivated me to enter the classroom through Teach for America.

As a charter school, XXX does not have the resources of a traditional public school. With no standard curriculum, teachers are required to develop their own unit and lesson plans. My struggle to find adequate resources made it difficult to create engaging, informative lessons. I did my best, but by October, my students were still struggling with the material. Like Eduardo, I felt like giving up.

Things began to turn a corner in November when the class was reading a portion of our social studies textbook out loud. “Eduardo, could you read the second paragraph?” I asked. His eyes widened in fear as he looked up at me. Nevertheless, he took a deep breath and began to read. Whenever the words were too challenging, we worked through them together. Although the text was three years beyond his current reading level, he was determined to read it aloud—even if it meant asking for my help.

That day, I realized that I too needed to ask for help from those around me. I followed Eduardo’s example and reached out to my support networks to improve my curriculum. My Teach for America coordinator helped me refine my year-long unit planning, and my on-site coach provided more resources. I collaborated with my fellow fifth grade teacher to develop lesson plans that we could both use.

I implemented a challenging, yet attainable curriculum with resources that I scraped together from the Internet and various textbooks. My lesson plans were more coherent and leveraged my students’ strengths. By March, my initiative began to pay off as my students greatly improved their assessment performances. I managed to free up an hour to work with Eduardo one-on-one after school a few times a week. I pinpointed his trouble with syllabication, a skill that allows students to read chunks of words instead of letter by letter, and implemented a plan to help him master it. Eduardo’s face reflected a new-found confidence when he completed the year-end reading assessment. He left my class at a fifth grade reading level, remarkably demonstrating more than two years of progress.

I look back at this experience, grateful for an opportunity for personal growth. I learned how to flexibly approach multi-pronged problems and solve them using a variety of resources. I actively engaged a national problem at a local level by working personally with students and parents. Overall, the most fulfilling aspect of this experience was watching my students overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges; it is my great hope for them that they will approach future obstacles with similar confidence.
Last edited by Sequoia90 on Thu May 13, 2010 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jamesieee
Posts: 58
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:14 pm

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby jamesieee » Tue May 11, 2010 1:27 am

Would like to share PS to help fellow TLSers but would not like PS to be on the public Internet. PM if you would like to read. LSN link in profile for results.

User avatar
theadw
Posts: 128
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:05 pm

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby theadw » Tue May 18, 2010 8:15 pm

Like the above poster, I'm happy to share, but would rather that it not be sitting out in the open. Results are in my profile.

nygiants56
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2010 5:28 pm

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby nygiants56 » Sun May 23, 2010 7:15 pm

anyone feel like reading an essay? Really looking on how to tie this into why i am gogin to law school


As a boy I was raised to believe that money was the most important thing in the world. On many occasions my father, who grew up poor, would tell me, “Michael, money is the most important thing in life, it comes first”. These ideals drove my father to repeatedly chase the all mighty dollar through construction jobs in the Middle East. To my father, it seemed as though this was an exciting life and one which most people could only dream of. On many levels he was right; it provided my family the opportunity to live in countries like Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, immersing ourselves in different mores, and morals of many cultures throughout the world. The one real problem that he could not see was the adverse impact this transient lifestyle was having on our family and that it would eventually lead to its breakup.
After graduating from high school in 1988, I worked two jobs for a year and half to save for college. In the fall of 1990 I set off to conquer the world. My first stop was St. John’s University. I was certain of the career path I would take; Finance, Wall Street and its chance for big money was calling. But like most students, my first two semesters were ones of adjustment, of being an adult in terms of age but not in maturity. But that all changed in my third semester. That’s when I met my future wife, got engaged, and wed early because of an unexpected addition to our future. Now my father’s teachings were resonating in my ears. I needed to make money. I had bills, I had to provide for a family, no matter what else, I needed money. This need drove me to strive for better grades so I could graduate and get a good job. My grades went from a 2.7 to a 3.44, all the while working full time, and neglecting my young family.
After three and a half years at St John’s, I graduated. For the next two years, I worked at an investment bank. I worked hard, up to eighty hours a week and was soon promoted to Assistant Vice President. I felt like something was missing though, more money. After some deliberation I decided the real place for me was to be at the nexus of the finance world, the floor of an exchange. The major obstacle I was facing in obtaining the position I needed was the nepotism of the floors. You needed to know someone to get an interview. Luckily, I had an uncle who worked on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, so I set out in search of some information and advice. While spending a few days on the floor of the CBOE, I began to take notice of the names of the firms listed on the member’s jackets. One day while in Chicago, I decided to create my own opportunity by cold calling some of those firms. My desire impressed one firm enough that an interview was setup with their floor manager on the American Stock Exchange in New York. During the interview, I was informed that all floor traders must undertake a six month rigorous training course. At the end of the interview I was offered a clerk position, which paid about $30,000 less than I was already earning. But I could see the pot of gold the end of the rainbow; it was there for the taking. About two weeks after accepting the position, I was informed that there was a class already underway and that I would have to wait six months for the next class to start. For me that was unacceptable. I asked, “How long have they been attending the class”. The answer was “six weeks and that the first exam was in three days”. After some major coaxing, I got the floor manager to agree to allow me to take the exam and also agree that if I passed with an 85% or better, he would allow me to stay in the class. I spent every minute I had reading, studying, and asking seasoned trader’s questions. Finally, the night of the exam was here. The next morning the floor manager grabbed me, and told me I scored a 91%, the second highest grade in the class, and that I was in the class.
Although I found trading exciting, demanding, and most of all financially rewarding, I also found it morally challenging. As my experiences grew, I began to question Wall Street and its ethics. On occasion I had seen traders enter into verbal binding, contracts and then renege on them as trades became financial losers. Besides the legal issues, I always found it disturbing how some would trade their integrity for money. As a trader, I have always believed that my word was my bond. In all my years of being on the floor, I take pride in the fact that I was always revered as an honest, stand up trader, and had never been investigated for actions unbecoming a member.
Flash forward to November 2001. I had made it, success. I now owned my own trading firm on the American Stock Exchange. I had twelve traders trading my money. I owned a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade. I had a nice house, and nice cars, and a beautiful family. And then it happened. A phone call came in the early morning hours. The voice on the other end of the phone said “Michael your father was rushed to the hospital”. And that’s when my world stopped.
I had never given much thought to the concept of my father dying, or to the possibility of what it might mean to lose him. Suddenly, I was confronted with this very real prospect. Over the next few months I lived in a hospital room in Texas watching helplessly as my father battled for his life, all the while seeing the most influential person in my life wither away, watching him fade in and out of consciousness. During one of his times of lucidness, my father hit me with the most life altering moment I had ever experienced. He sat there with tears in his eyes and said “Michael I was wrong, everything I ever taught you about money was wrong. Life isn’t about money; it’s about your family, it’s about your boys and your wife. Please don’t make the same mistake I made, it’s not worth it. My biggest regret was losing my family”. Sadly, my father passed and I was left with utter confusion. My whole life was about his ideals, and now he was telling me they were wrong.
For the next five years, I struggled with the loss of my father. It impacted my life profoundly, I found myself asking questions. Who was I? What’s life really about? Is it that simple, family? How do I deal with this? My whole life was about money, a big house, and material goods.
In 2004, I became involved with coaching youth football. I never could have imagined that I would get anything personally out of coaching, but I did. One day while I was on the field coaching practice, I noticed some fathers screaming and yelling to their kids about playing harder, be a winner, winning is the most important thing. At that point many things started to run through my head, these children wanted to be out there predominately because of their fathers wanting them to be out there, at this age these kids don’t understand a thing about football except their father likes it and that he wants them to play. I found myself reflecting on the impact of what my father’s ideals and words had on me.
I have now coached football for 6 years and I find myself being more interested in how I am impacting these young lives, how I am not only teaching the game of football but also teaching life lessons; commitment, teamwork, and hard work. Recently, I ran and was elected the president of the Pop Warner organization in my town. I found myself running because of the inequality and lack of leadership in our program. The people who were in charge had different standards for their friends and families. The family’s who had financial problems or personal problems with the organizations board of directors were ignored or worse taunted until they quite the program. I have always felt that the organization is the parent’s organization and that the program only exists because of these families, I could no longer sit idly by and allow this to continue.
In February 2010 I turned 40 and as most men do, I have done a retrospect of my life and at this point in my life, it seems to most, that I have it all: a comfortable house in the suburbs, a happy marriage, and three beautiful sons. I could have simply continued my travel through life toward my eventual retirement. But with the soul searching I have done and my experiences in life I have now started to ask the questions, how is my life going to be measured? And I think I have figured it out. A measurement of my life is not by the material possessions I accumulate over the course of my life but rather by the number of people I touch and help during my life”. I realize I want to contribute more to the world than simply capitalizing on financial opportunities that most people don’t understand.

lsat_doobie
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Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby lsat_doobie » Mon May 31, 2010 4:44 pm

Kretzy wrote:I got a ton of help from folks here on TLS this cycle, and am happy to give back a little :) I already have no anonymity due to my handle, so what's posting a PS going to hurt?

Hope it can help some people!

Stats: 170, 3.89.
Attending: Stanford
Accepted: Columbia, NYU, Chicago ($), Boalt ($), Michigan ($), UVA ($$$), etc.
Waitlisted: Yale, Harvard

As a debate teacher, I began every course with a favorite quote from Thank You For Smoking: “The beauty of argument is that if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong.” I taught many students that to play the game of debate was to fight to win, requiring a tenacity and confidence to argue any position thrown at them. I convinced myself that any argument could be won, and that victory over those viewing the world (or debate round) differently was the ultimate goal. Life, like debate, was just a game of wins and losses.

This belief changed on May 29th when I was fired for being gay. Set to move to Seoul to coach a fledgling international debate team, I received a call from the school’s Director. They had suspicions I might be gay, as a teacher had seen some pro-gay political writing I had authored. I answered yes—I was openly gay when they hired me. I was fired the next day, after the Director consulted his attorneys to determine if I had any legal recourse. I was leaving a comfortable political fellowship for the opportunity in Korea, and within those 36 hours I became jobless and speechless.

My shock soon receded into anger and disappointment. I had lost a tremendous opportunity because of this Director’s prejudice, and I knew that vitriol would get me nowhere. His decision was final. I wanted to yell. I wanted people to feel sorry for me, since the school showed no worry for the situation in which their firing put me. But my disappointment and self-pity soon turned to concern. This bigotry would permeate the school, exposing students to antigay rhetoric and belief. For some, this would mean pervasive hate, and for many others, latent homophobia. But for those students who themselves were queer and questioning, it could mean an outright disdain of their own intrinsic worth as people. A gay teacher might have made a difference for them.

After my firing, I remained determined to teach. I was invited back to my former summer program, where my role would include directing the campus’ Gay Straight Alliance. Antigay attitudes were common among the students, despite the tolerance of the faculty and administration. Taunts of “fa**ot” and “maricón” were widespread, particularly in the boys’ dorms. Gay and allied students were incensed, and responded in a way I knew all too well—they raised their voices while demeaning their opponents. My students needed a different tactic, one that would not alienate or solidify other students against them, and in turn, against their beliefs. I had my students organize a silent vigil, where they would hold signs depicting stories of antigay violence and facts about growing up as a gay teenager.

When the night came, we stood together on the quad in silence. Some students chose to mock us. Many others instead learned a great deal about the GLBTQ community and their fellow students. Those who chose to ridicule came out looking ridiculous. My GSA students exhibited a quiet bravery that made me proud, as none of us could have made this impact by screaming. I saw their inclusivity and poise as a model for my own advocacy.

I am not so naïve as to think I can simply will others in the legal community to agree with me just by maintaining decorum. I will have heated disagreements. Disparate views of the law and its proper role in society cannot simply be overcome through persuasion and tact. This diversity in thought invigorates me. I am entering a profession that has thrived based upon myriad interpretations of common principles. I see a profound respect in those who practice for alternative theories of justice. Rare zealots notwithstanding, there is an inclusivity in the legal world that betters its advocates and the people it serves. My potential school’s Director refused this level of acceptance, and I hope to never duplicate his error.

Respect and dignity do not preclude discourse or strong disagreement. I do not intend to walk silently into a classroom or a courtroom, but I intend to treat those who have chosen to serve the law and society with a respect lacking in the political world I am leaving. Screaming at my opponents does not foster understanding; it breeds divisiveness. I will enter law school as a debater, but one who understands the need to convince rather than to win and the need to fight for principles rather than fight against opponents.


This is an excellent ps.

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DarkwingDick
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Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby DarkwingDick » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:20 am

edit
Last edited by DarkwingDick on Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

chicagodude
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Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby chicagodude » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:37 pm

Somewhat pretentious sounding but genuine and extremely well-written. Easily one of the best I've ever read. Care to post your numbers? I think this is the kind of PS that could trump low stats but if I were to guess, you probably have high numbers to begin with.


miamiman wrote:Attending: Most likely going to UChicago

With his slicked-back hair, boyish grin, and flashy faux diamond earrings, Patrick sported the kind of deceptively confident look you would not expect on someone in such dire standing. You see Patrick had the misfortune of traveling on the wrong side of not one but two sets of laws, Florida law, as enforced by the juvenile justice system, and street law, as enforced by a notorious Miami-based gang. The gang had allegedly sought retribution for some unidentified transgression, and judging by the bruising along his arms, chest, and neck, I could tell he wasn’t speaking in jest. But there was more.

His psychosocial assessment and intake impressions were, to be perfectly blunt, troubling. Single-mother home, two brothers, both in prison, multiple priors, and a laundry list of other risk factors including learning disabilities, gang involvement, and recreational drug use. Relative to the median client sent for diversion programming, Patrick’s case file was a sociological “perfect storm”. My familiarity with his file aside, I had not met Patrick. As I was going to be facilitating his anger management training over the next five weeks, I wanted to get to know him beyond the manila folder of jargon and legalese which effectively distill all of our clients into a series of Likert scales, checkboxes, and free-response fields. This was, after all, social work. I began by asking about his background, interests, and anything else of significance he wanted to share with me. An all-too-familiar quiet filled our cramped space.

Like many clients at their first face-to-face session, Patrick met my invitation for small talk with a contemptuous glare and a concomitant silence. So I preempted his snub with a discussion of videogames, a safe bet for conversation among 16-year-old males of all stripes, and a field I had worked in and actually knew quite a bit about. I then disclosed why he was receiving anger management training, what the state required of him during his three month diversion, and, more broadly, how the confluence of his many risk factors served as a strong predictor for graduated criminal offenses and a more precarious life course.

Patrick became enraged. Perhaps it was the simple matter-of-factness with which I proceeded to educate Patrick about his reality that ignited his fury. Or perhaps he was merely irritable and I had unknowingly stepped in the face of inevitability. In either case, his rebuke inadvertently provided me with an elegantly simple and lucid insight into the morally ambiguous world in which he lives:

[Spanish slang], you don’t get it. I hit [the kid] and I get sent here for three months. I don’t hit him and I have Latin Kings on me. You say ‘chemical dependence’? I got sucker punched today and I didn’t even do anything. What would you do?


I was thrown. Despite training in solutions-oriented therapy, a thesis on juvenile delinquency, and four years of education from two of the finest universities in the country … I had no clue how to answer his question. And he knew it. He had sized me up, exposed the irreparable chasm separating our worlds, and, in effect, showed me how little I really knew—or could offer him.

I left feeling hollow and defeated. Even as I recognized that Patrick had presented me with a zero-sum proposition, I could not help but feel as if the integrity of my knowledge and my competency as a counselor had been justifiably called into question. I expressed my doubts to my co-workers. They cautioned against drawing too many inferences from one session and assured me that I had met the standard of care. Their confidence aside, I fully expected Patrick would request another counselor or, more likely, be so uncooperative as to require his being kicked-back to the state attorney. I had consciously written us both off.

When Patrick showed up the following week, sat down without hesitation, and demonstrated readiness to begin the session, I decided to interpret his gesture as a pardon of my misstep. Even if I still lacked his trust, I had learned very early in this line of work to suspend judgment and always err in favor of compassion. I admitted to Patrick that although I could not relate to his situation and was wrong to indicate otherwise, I could help him graduate this program and thereby avoid any permanent juvenile record. So I proceeded to counsel Patrick to the best of my ability. I offered him unconditional positive regard, consistent eye contact, an active ear, and an open mind. I got off my soapbox entirely and kept our meetings purposeful, rarely deviating from the topic at hand and issuing opinion only when it seemed especially relevant. Over our five weeks together, I learned what set him off, what he responded to, and what he really valued. And I did my best in our limited time together to connect these insights to the tools Patrick would need to exist less violently in a violent world.

For his part, and despite all the chaos around him, Patrick generally cooperated and appeared to derive some limited benefit from our discussions. In our meetings together as in life, he continued to find some way to stay above water, never quite able to advance against the upward current, but never giving up too much ground either. And when the time came for Patrick to leave, I extended my hand in friendship, wished him well, and joked that I hoped we would not meet again—at least not professionally.

Months have passed; neither I nor the other counselors know what has become of Patrick. In truth, his many persisting risk factors foreshadow greater future legal troubles, a prediction supported by both my academic background and clinical training. But Patrick has already shown me the danger in treating these foundations as articles of faith, and, likewise, that even as our options are narrowed and indeed dwarfed by forces beyond our control, there is dignity in simply making the best of a bad situation. I can only hope that, just as before, Patrick will keep his head above water long enough to escape his troubles, and that he’ll find his way to the other end, wearing his oversized smile, slicked-back curls, and diamond stud earrings, advancing towards a better life.

My experiences working with Patrick and other youths like him naturally inform my interest in pursuing a career in the law. Even as I do not apologize for my desire to toil in the world of ideas, I realize that ideas offer little value in isolation. The law provides an ideal compromise, a field which permits journey into the abstract even as it is inexorably grounded by the practical hardships of those invoking it. It is precisely because the black letter of the law exists in a dialog with human experience that I believe I not only stand to gain tremendously from its study but will also be able to contribute much as well. Indeed, whether it has been helping draft policy papers on behalf of Katrina victims, coordinating ongoing education for California’s prisoners, or working with youths like Patrick, I have been profoundly sensitized to the suffering of ordinary people whose day-to-day struggles orient my worldview and compel my pursuit of social justice. In law school, I look to build upon, draw from, and ultimately refine my perspective and in so doing lay the foundation for a practice of law guided by humility and compassion.

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OnlyLivingBoyinNY
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Re:

Postby OnlyLivingBoyinNY » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:27 pm

AR75 wrote:3.98 / 178
In at HYS.

"As I was driving to my shitty job this morning, I realized I drive a really shitty car. This is why I want to go to your law school. I don't want to drive a shitty car anymore. See you this fall."



This isn't for real, is it?

dcchillin
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Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby dcchillin » Tue Aug 24, 2010 4:11 pm

[deleted]
Last edited by dcchillin on Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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CardozoLaw09
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Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby CardozoLaw09 » Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:54 am

pinkelephant wrote:Note from Ken: The following thread has hundreds of law school personal statement samples in many different styles all contributed by TLS readers. For more personal statement samples and an analysis of those personal statements view Personal Statement Examples. For an entire article on properly writing a law school personal statement view TLS Personal Statement Advice. For more sample essays and writing advice from the best service for personal statement editing view essayedge.com.


LSAT - 174
GPA - 4.0
Accepted: everywhere I applied


I peered over my toes at the water streaming fifty feet down to the muddy pool below me and felt a queer beat in my stomach. For half an hour I had hiked a steep incline up to the cliff in flip-flops. Clinging tenaciously to the footpads, I skipped across small creeks, pulled myself up with the aid of jutting rocks and tree roots, and swung across gaps in the path on branches. But as I stood on the cliff, barefoot now, I forgot my strenuous climb and remembered that every step was taken for one reason - to jump. So I stilled the fear bouncing in my stomach, counted to three, hurled my body into the air, and fell.

I have been climbing uphill in flip-flops all my life. While I am aware that everybody climbs hills and faces obstacles in their lives, I also believe that the success of those battles may well be based on the foundation upon which one walks - how firm and supportive it is. As I look back, I realize that the challenges I have faced have enabled me to find a strong footing within a situation that was not altogether stable.

As a ten year old I grappled with panic attacks and even ulcers, a physical manifestation of the fear, guilt, and anxiety I felt primarily as a result of my father, an alcoholic, manic depressive, and sexually abusive man. Though I do have a few positive childhood memories of our motorcycle rides and camping trips, they are unfortunately surrounded and superseded by the majority of my experiences with him. Before I attended therapy and biofeedback sessions in fifth grade, the best way I knew to cope with my intense and disturbing feelings was to imagine them away. Every night before falling asleep I would fold my body tightly together and construct a world in which my father did not exist. He disappeared in a variety of ways - a chance fire, a freak accident, an unexplainable vanishing. In his place would appear a new gentle and supportive father. With these images I wooed myself to sleep every night, but the following morning I would again awake to the reality of my life. Eventually my coping mechanism became insufficient, and I began seeing a counselor.

Quickly this woman taught me to transform my paralyzing fears into a determined drive for success. With this skill learned, my life and my feelings about it improved immeasurably. My relationship with my father changed dramatically resulting from both a change in his behaviors and a change in my responses. Now, my drive for success is no longer fueled by a need to transform my life into something more positive, but rather a desire to continue its trajectory. I am the first person in my immediate family to attend and graduate from college, which I was able to do with the assistance of various academic scholarships. Due to my 64 hour/week job working with developmentally disabled individuals, I have been financially independent from my mother since my first step onto campus. In addition I have been able to financially assist my younger sister who now attends college. Most importantly, I have developed into a woman I am proud of -thoughtful, determined, compassionate, and forgiving, even of my father. I know now that though he has left an indelibly negative imprint on my life, he has also prompted a positive one.

After so many struggles, I'm now emotionally and mentally ready for new hills to climb and new pools to jump into, one of which I hope will be law school. I believe that with my now developed determination I will be able to successfully complete law school and with my heightened sense of compassion I will be able to assist those who, like me, perhaps began life with a shoddy foundation. As for me, my footwear is finally more supportive and sturdy. I've transformed my flip-flops into hiking boots.


Wow - this is truly amazing. How long did it take you to come up with that metaphor?

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beach_terror
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Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby beach_terror » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:32 pm

Since TLS was so helpful to me, time to give back. I attribute quite a few of my reach acceptances to this PS. Disclaimer: It was an extremely difficult thing to try and write about, so this is after considerable rewrites.

Few people can say that the person they are today has been shaped by someone who is unable to talk, still wears diapers, and will always be entirely dependent on their family to care for them. My older brother, x, is twenty-four years old and suffers from a severe mental disability, which has no definitive textbook diagnosis. Even though he is unable to perform tasks that many people consider an essential part of their everyday lives, my family and I have always considered him a blessing because we have learned so much from him. The uniqueness of my home life has fostered a heightened sense of tolerance and acceptance in me, and my experiences with x have been the driving force behind my desire to pursue a legal career.
Growing up alongside x exposed me to the injustices of our society very early in my childhood. When I was in elementary school, I would repeatedly ask my parents why my brother would not talk to us. My parents would just say that he was born differently than I was, but he still loved me even though he would never be able to say it. During our annual vacations to Disney World, I stood helpless as people would stare and ridicule my brother for being different. I could not understand why people were so quick to reject my brother as a normal member of society. When I entered high school and then college, I assumed that people would have matured and be more accepting of those who are mentally disabled. Unfortunately, my assumptions proved false. Whether it was serious or just a joke, I cringed every time I heard a classmate call another student retarded. I never understood how people could use mental disabilities in such a degrading manner. I was bewildered by the ignorance of my classmates, and through these experiences I could feel my desire to fight injustice and inequality take root. I began to open dialog with students about how the jokes they consider harmless could be offensive to those with life-altering disabilities, and many of my classmates responded positively to my concerns.
As a result of these interactions, I have learned many valuable lessons that are directly applicable to a legal career. Growing up with x has taught me how to exercise self-control. Although I persuaded some students toward being more selective in their word choice when making jokes, there were also some who refused to listen to what I had to say. As frustrating as it was to have students be willfully ignorant, I learned that not everyone will agree with my particular view, whether it regards the mentally disabled or not. He also taught me how to be tolerant and patient with people. Nobody interacts with our world in the same way; whether they are a genius, mentally disabled, or just an average person. Often times I will need to be able to adapt according to other people’s needs, a skill that is not only important to the legal world, but of the world in general.
One of the most important lessons I have learned from my brother is to engage in the things that make my life enjoyable and fulfilling. The world can be unfair and cruel sometimes, but this is never a reason to give up. My brother is a very happy person overall; he finds the joy in the little things in life. Whether it is a toy that plays music or a trip to the park to play on the swings, he is able to immerse himself in what makes the world a place that he understands and enjoys. I follow his lead when it comes to how I approach my life; I wholeheartedly pursue what makes the world a fulfilling place for me. While at Ursinus, I have taken advantage of all it has to offer: I was an integral member of their varsity soccer program before my knee injury, I have excelled in my political and pre-legal courses, and I have applied my education in the professional world on a political campaign. I have also extensively volunteered at Elwyn, a school for the mentally disabled, since I was in sixth grade. Although my lessons have been primarily learned through my brother, they have been solidified by helping and developing relationships with his classmates.
As I look ahead to my legal career, I will continually call on these experiences for guidance. I strongly believe that my formal education combined with the unique qualities I have learned from x will allow me to succeed in the next chapter of my life. I have seen firsthand how societal injustices can have a negative impact on the lives of people. My concern for justice and equality is what attracted me to the legal system. Defending my brother against those who have tried to further alienate him from society has been a battle I have been fighting my entire life, and one I will not give up on. The legal world will provide me with numerous situations where I will have the opportunity to defend those who cannot wholly defend themselves, whether they are mentally disabled or not. Equipped with the knowledge from these unique and valuable experiences, I eagerly await the rewarding challenges of law school.

solo
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Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby solo » Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:01 pm

I would appreciate any comments/ feedback on my personal statement. Honesty is always appreciated. Thank you.


The breeze that day carried the scent of salt; an aroma that one comes to love when living by the Ocean. It filled me with warm memories of pleasant trips up and down the California coastline as a child. As I stood on the soft emerald green grassy knoll, I thought if there was any landscape in California that deserved to be on a postcard, it was this one. Nestled somewhere between the congestion of Los Angeles and the hills of San Francisco lay Santa Barbara, the location for this year’s Western Collegiate Model United Nations. As I exhaled, I thought to myself “This is utterly breath taking.” I figured the warm weather was a sign of things to come. “This will be an interesting conference”, I said aloud while adjusting my tie and donning my coat. The Model United Nations was here at last.

This year would be different than the last. There was always a sense of new beginnings at these conferences. Sometimes you would see a few old faces but what made the conferences exciting were seeing the new faces that walked the halls. Some faces were remarkably calm, others were stern in memorization, but the one thing they all had in common was a fearful apprehension of the events to come. I couldn’t help but laugh a little. I remembered how my first conference had fared. As the World Health Organization delegate for China, I failed to broker an agreement on increased funding against the rising threat of HIV infections. Maybe it was due to nerves. I had convinced myself later that the threat of HIV infections isn’t really a problem China faces, at least compared to other nations.

As I walked further through the conference I realized my days as a delegate were over. I had learned how to research country positions, how to negotiate and foster compromises, how to diplomatically progress on issues with opposing countries, and even how to sit still and be polite though wanting to scream aloud. This year I was preparing for a new role as a defense lawyer in our mock representation of the International Criminal Court or ICC for short. I tried to tell myself to relax; that “this would be exactly like last year” but my relaxed demeanor was a façade as I couldn’t rid myself of the creeping apprehension that sank to the bottom of my stomach as I tried to understand my role in what was the world’s first International Criminal court mock trial for a national MUN conference.

Greetings were done. The first two days would be research while the third would be the mock trial of Joseph Kony. “Joseph Kony?” I asked myself. This guy had thirty three counts of combined crimes against humanity and war crimes levied against him and my duty was to defend him against these charges. It was looking like an uphill battle. “Is there anymore coffee?” I asked while researching principles of International law relating to human rights, and searching through legal writings such as the Geneva Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Rome Statute. At this point, I was running purely on caffeine. My partner had tried to convinced me that nothing else could be done but some people can’t take no for an answer. I stayed up all night, two nights straight, looking for legal precedence that could be used as a defense but this proved difficult and elusive. As I prepared the best case I could to find my defendant acquitted, I entered the courtroom. Needless to say, Joseph Kony was found guilty on all charges.

No one likes losing and some abhor it. I am the latter but the Director of my committee Lisa Runyen, now a practicing Attorney, reminded me that the whole point isn’t about winning or losing but rather about representing my client’s interest wholeheartedly and to the best of my abilities. It was a hard lesson learned but lessons such as these have fueled my desire to attend law school.

Instead being on a grassy knoll, I now find myself on the stage of Graduation breathing in the aroma of success. The Ocean that once lay in the distance is now a sea of the future; a sea of my fellow graduates, and as I peer out into this future I do so with the knowledge that the I bring with me the hard learned lessons and skills that will enable me to succeed in law school.

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Cmoss
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Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby Cmoss » Tue Sep 28, 2010 11:18 pm

should PS be a single page? it seems like most are around 2 pages but I rather keep it simple than get long with it.

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Chris_cpb
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Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby Chris_cpb » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:18 pm

I was hoping to have Dude or some other well-known critic on here take a glance at my most recent PS draft. I've had the awesome opportunity to work with my top recommender who has helped guide me through my PS encounters but I would also like to gain insight from others. Please PM me if you want to take a brief look but remember that it is just a rough draft.

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Cmoss
Posts: 100
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:21 pm

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby Cmoss » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:24 am

Cmoss wrote:should PS be a single page? it seems like most are around 2 pages but I rather keep it simple than get long with it.


Bump!

I feel like my 1.5 page PS is short but I am not the type to fill with fluff, Is this going to hurt its effectiveness?

WayBryson
Posts: 179
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:24 pm

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby WayBryson » Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:33 pm

[Edit] Posted final draft for Yale in new post below.
Last edited by WayBryson on Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

hotshot234512
Posts: 39
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:52 am

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby hotshot234512 » Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:25 pm

WayBryson wrote:I've found this site very useful in crafting my personal statements. I'd like to pay it forward to the next generation. Below is my personal statement for Yale along with a version edited down to fit a 700 word limit. Good luck to everyone out there.

For Yale:

Kodama-sensei and I exchange a glance as Nana approaches the podium. Nana is an exceptionally talented student, but her intellectual talents have made her prone to academic laziness as well as made it difficult for her to relate to her peers. I’ve gotten to know her well during these past months of coaching her for today’s Junior High School English Speech Contest. I see in her many of the same character flaws that troubled me when I was her age, which has made mentoring her immensely rewarding. Over the past week in particular, she has truly come into her own; I have high expectations for this moment. Stepping into the spotlight, Nana’s first, superlative sentences roll across the auditorium—a triumph bridging generations and cultures. Today is a beautiful example of Papa’s maxim: “if you enjoy making your living, you will never have to work.”

Papa was my grandfather and the reason I could follow the path that led to Japan. I moved in with him when he started chemotherapy at the end of my junior year in high school. After leaving for university, I rode the Greyhound home whenever work allowed. "Bullshit! I'll be dead before I can spend it," he’d say when I tried refusing pocket money on these occasions. He knew I worked in the school kitchens, and despite chemotherapy, he had always been waiting up when I returned home from a long-summer-day working construction. His final gift altered the course of my life. "I'm giving you ten grand. Go study in Italy. You deserve it," he said. Holding my plane ticket months later, Papa’s bright eyes shone with a peculiar look of satisfaction. It was a beautiful, unspoken goodbye. He died a few weeks before I left.

I returned from Italy with open eyes but empty pockets. Unable to afford tuition without summer savings, I worked. Though I desperately missed university, this year away from academics proved fortuitous. It provided time to reflect on Papa’s passing and my experiences abroad. My horizons were expanding and with them my sense of potential. Feelings of inadequacy from the darker days of my impoverished youth faded. Papa's gift had sparked a personal renaissance.

“An honors thesis? I’m afraid we don’t offer it,” my advisor said. I wrote one anyway and paid my own way to the nation’s largest undergraduate conference, where I received honors. Beyond academics, I found outlets both in cycling and in politics, where I served the College Republicans at the state-level. This was a transformative time. I was gaining from philosophy an appreciation for intellectual rigor and the conceptual underpinnings of society, while also experiencing firsthand the power of ideas put into action through politics and my athletic pursuits. In course, I formed a broad view of the law as the practical application of philosophy; I came to define success as the inner power of a critically aware, disciplined mind. This belief in the value of critical awareness and inner fortitude led me to delay my legal education and seek further experience abroad.

Unfeigned applause greets Nana’s conclusion. Kodama-sensei raises his fist triumphantly. Nana’s performance is an obvious contender for honors, but of infinitely greater importance, it reflects inner-growth that will echo throughout her life. Making a meaningful impact in the lives of young people is just one of the many rewards of working in Japan. Life here is a culturally rich tapestry, where the experiences of my 70-plus peers, who represent twelve countries, weave in and out of the Japanese social fabric. Such diversity has left no room for any lingering remnants of my youth’s intellectual vanity. I have learned that understanding one another’s intended meanings is crucial for effective communication—that suspending judgment and paying close attention are of much greater importance than my eloquence.

However, this character development is only the outward expression of a deeper intellectual evolution. Every day here presents new challenges to my values. For example, the pride I feel as Nana receives her 3rd place trophy is accompanied by a twinge of regret for the institutional barriers constraining her remarkable potential. She has no Japanese equivalent of my quintessential American right: “the Pursuit of Happiness,” the power of which I know intimately. My father walked away from his life’s savings and enrolled as an undergraduate when he and my mother separated. At the time, he was a 43-year-old janitor whose three children were playing hopscotch on the poverty line. Today, my father is a principal; my sister is a professional flautist; my brother is a graduate student of mathematics at NYU; and I look to contribute to Yale Law’s storied tradition. My family is proof that the American Dream is a living reality, and as such I lament the institutional constraints surrounding Nana. Nonetheless there is much to admire here. Japan ensures far greater security for its citizens than America does, and though Nana’s absolute potential for success is limited, so too is her potential for failure. I came to value tolerance and critical thought as a philosophy student, but here, I’ve come to truly understand them: the open-mindedness to engage with an ideology or a culture regardless of whether it corresponds to my core values.

Nana’s parents holler, “Arigato Gozaimashita!” as I walk out the doors. Their gratitude mirrors my own—a subtle reminder that happiness, like economics, is not a zero-sum-game. Walking home, I reflect on my own happiness and good fortune. My father grew up in an orphanage. Papa, the son of Italian and Irish immigrants, did not have the five dollars a week for room and board needed to accept a football scholarship. I’ve been able to rise from poverty and earn academic honors, run a state-wide political machine, tutor the mentally gifted, work with the mentally challenged, and make lasting friendships spanning six continents. Along the journey, I achieved the critical awareness and discipline by which I define success. But my success is more than a personal triumph; it is part and parcel to my family’s legacy and our belief in the American Dream. I look to perpetuate this legacy through the study of International and Constitutional Law at Yale. In the law, I see the practical application of philosophy, and as such, I crave a pedagogy that has “designed a curriculum and a heuristic structure that is meant to bring out the unique and generative vision” of its students. Dean Post spoke those words in his convocation address to the 199th entering class. He concluded: “Distilled to its essence, we offer you the gift of trust. It is a rare and precious gift.” My life, distilled to its essence, has been dedicated to the edification of mind, body, and spirit so that one day I would earn the right to such a rare and precious gift.


Here is the 700 word version:

Kodama-sensei and I exchange a glance as Nana approaches the podium. Nana is an exceptionally talented student, but she is prone to academic laziness and has some difficulty relating to her peers. I see in her many of the same character flaws that troubled me when I was her age, which has made coaching her for today’s Junior High School English Speech Contest immensely rewarding. Stepping into the spotlight, Nana’s first, superlative sentences roll across the auditorium—a triumph bridging generations and cultures. Today is a beautiful example of Papa’s maxim: “if you enjoy making your living, you will never have to work.”
I moved in with Papa, my grandfather, when he started chemotherapy at the beginning of my senior year in high school. After leaving for university, I took the Greyhound home whenever work allowed. Papa knew I worked in the school kitchens, and despite chemotherapy, he’d always waited up during my summer days working construction. His dying wish altered the course of my life. "I'm giving you ten grand to go study in Italy. You deserve it."

I returned from Italy with open eyes but empty pockets, unable to afford school without summer savings. The following year of work and self-study hardened my resolve. “An honors thesis? I’m afraid we don’t offer it,” my advisor said. I wrote one anyway and paid my way to the nation’s largest undergraduate conference, where I won honors. Beyond academics, I found an outlet in politics, where I served the College Republicans at the state-level. I left university having gained from philosophy an appreciation for intellectual rigor while also having experienced the power of ideas put into action through politics. A desire to continue expanding my horizons led me to Japan.

Unfeigned applause greets Nana’s conclusion. Her performance is an obvious contender for honors, but more importantly, it reflects inner-growth that will echo throughout her life. Positively impacting the lives of young people is just one of the many rewards of working in Japan. Life here is a culturally-rich tapestry, where the experiences of my 70-plus peers, who come from 12 countries, weave in and out of the Japanese social fabric. Such diversity has reinforced my view that effective communication is more about suspending judgment and paying close attention than it is about eloquence.

Living here has also furthered my intellectual growth. Each day presents new challenges to my values. For example, the pride I feel as Nana receives honors is accompanied by a twinge of regret for the institutional barriers constraining her remarkable potential. She has no Japanese equivalent to my quintessential American right: “the Pursuit of Happiness,” the power of which I know intimately. My father walked away from his life’s savings and enrolled as an undergraduate when he and my mother separated. At the time, he was a 43-year-old janitor whose three children were playing hopscotch on the poverty line. Today, my father is a principal; my sister is a professional flautist; my brother is a graduate student of mathematics at NYU; and I am starting a career in law. My family is proof that the American Dream is a living reality, and as such I lament the institutional constraints surrounding Nana. Nonetheless, Japan ensures far greater security for its citizens than America does, and though Nana’s absolute potential for success is limited, so too is her potential for failure. I came to value tolerance and critical thought as a philosophy student, but here, I’ve come to truly understand them.

Nana’s parents holler, “Arigato Gozaimashita!” as I leave. Their gratitude mirrors my own—a subtle reminder that happiness, like economics, is not a zero-sum-game. Walking home, I reflect on my good fortune. My father grew up in an orphanage. Papa, the son of Italian and Irish immigrants, didn’t have the five dollars a week for room and board needed to accept a football scholarship. I’ve been able to rise from poverty and earn academic honors, run a state-wide political machine, mentor young minds, and travel the world. But this success is more than a personal triumph; it is part and parcel to my family’s legacy. I look to perpetuate that legacy through my chosen profession, law.


All in all I found this a beautiful personal statement. From what I've read the contractions have got to go, the only ones I see are "I've" used multiple times. You talk about japan ensuring far greater security for its citizens and limiting their potential to fail, but what exactly do you mean by this and where do you prove it? Adcoms might not like you asserting your opinions as facts. Also what was confusing was that your papa was alive at the same time as you, but your dad grew up in an orphanage. I'll assume this means your papa is from your mother's side, but at first this came off a little confusing. "This was a transformative time. I was gaining from philosophy an appreciation for intellectual rigor and the conceptual underpinnings of society, while also experiencing firsthand the power of ideas put into action through politics and my athletic pursuits." I think this sentence could use some work perhaps by matching the past tense of the rest of the paragraph i.e. I gained, from philosophy, an appreciation...? Just a thought. The parts with your papa stood out because of the combination of humor, emotion, and quality writing. The quality writing continued through the whole piece and made it an exceptional personal statement overall

Maynard
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:05 pm

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby Maynard » Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:23 pm

Thanks
Last edited by Maynard on Thu Nov 11, 2010 7:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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rso11
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:25 pm

Re: Personal Statement Samples

Postby rso11 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:42 pm

WayBryson wrote:I've found this site very useful in crafting my personal statements. I'd like to pay it forward to the next generation. Below is my personal statement for Yale along with a version edited down to fit a 700 word limit. Good luck to everyone out there.

For Yale:

Kodama-sensei and I exchange a glance as Nana approaches the podium. Nana is an exceptionally talented student, but her intellectual talents have made her prone to academic laziness as well as made it difficult for her to relate to her peers. I’ve gotten to know her well during these past months of coaching her for today’s Junior High School English Speech Contest. I see in her many of the same character flaws that troubled me when I was her age, which has made mentoring her immensely rewarding. Over the past week in particular, she has truly come into her own; I have high expectations for this moment. Stepping into the spotlight, Nana’s first, superlative sentences roll across the auditorium—a triumph bridging generations and cultures. Today is a beautiful example of Papa’s maxim: “if you enjoy making your living, you will never have to work.”

Papa was my grandfather and the reason I could follow the path that led to Japan. I moved in with him when he started chemotherapy at the end of my junior year in high school. After leaving for university, I rode the Greyhound home whenever work allowed. "Bullshit! I'll be dead before I can spend it," he’d say when I tried refusing pocket money on these occasions. He knew I worked in the school kitchens, and despite chemotherapy, he had always been waiting up when I returned home from a long-summer-day working construction. His final gift altered the course of my life. "I'm giving you ten grand. Go study in Italy. You deserve it," he said. Holding my plane ticket months later, Papa’s bright eyes shone with a peculiar look of satisfaction. It was a beautiful, unspoken goodbye. He died a few weeks before I left.

I returned from Italy with open eyes but empty pockets. Unable to afford tuition without summer savings, I worked. Though I desperately missed university, this year away from academics proved fortuitous. It provided time to reflect on Papa’s passing and my experiences abroad. My horizons were expanding and with them my sense of potential. Feelings of inadequacy from the darker days of my impoverished youth faded. Papa's gift had sparked a personal renaissance.

“An honors thesis? I’m afraid we don’t offer it,” my advisor said. I wrote one anyway and paid my own way to the nation’s largest undergraduate conference, where I received honors. Beyond academics, I found outlets both in cycling and in politics, where I served the College Republicans at the state-level. This was a transformative time. I was gaining from philosophy an appreciation for intellectual rigor and the conceptual underpinnings of society, while also experiencing firsthand the power of ideas put into action through politics and my athletic pursuits. In course, I formed a broad view of the law as the practical application of philosophy; I came to define success as the inner power of a critically aware, disciplined mind. This belief in the value of critical awareness and inner fortitude led me to delay my legal education and seek further experience abroad.

Unfeigned applause greets Nana’s conclusion. Kodama-sensei raises his fist triumphantly. Nana’s performance is an obvious contender for honors, but of infinitely greater importance, it reflects inner-growth that will echo throughout her life. Making a meaningful impact in the lives of young people is just one of the many rewards of working in Japan. Life here is a culturally rich tapestry, where the experiences of my 70-plus peers, who represent twelve countries, weave in and out of the Japanese social fabric. Such diversity has left no room for any lingering remnants of my youth’s intellectual vanity. I have learned that understanding one another’s intended meanings is crucial for effective communication—that suspending judgment and paying close attention are of much greater importance than my eloquence.

However, this character development is only the outward expression of a deeper intellectual evolution. Every day here presents new challenges to my values. For example, the pride I feel as Nana receives her 3rd place trophy is accompanied by a twinge of regret for the institutional barriers constraining her remarkable potential. She has no Japanese equivalent of my quintessential American right: “the Pursuit of Happiness,” the power of which I know intimately. My father walked away from his life’s savings and enrolled as an undergraduate when he and my mother separated. At the time, he was a 43-year-old janitor whose three children were playing hopscotch on the poverty line. Today, my father is a principal; my sister is a professional flautist; my brother is a graduate student of mathematics at NYU; and I look to contribute to Yale Law’s storied tradition. My family is proof that the American Dream is a living reality, and as such I lament the institutional constraints surrounding Nana. Nonetheless there is much to admire here. Japan ensures far greater security for its citizens than America does, and though Nana’s absolute potential for success is limited, so too is her potential for failure. I came to value tolerance and critical thought as a philosophy student, but here, I’ve come to truly understand them: the open-mindedness to engage with an ideology or a culture regardless of whether it corresponds to my core values.

Nana’s parents holler, “Arigato Gozaimashita!” as I walk out the doors. Their gratitude mirrors my own—a subtle reminder that happiness, like economics, is not a zero-sum-game. Walking home, I reflect on my own happiness and good fortune. My father grew up in an orphanage. Papa, the son of Italian and Irish immigrants, did not have the five dollars a week for room and board needed to accept a football scholarship. I’ve been able to rise from poverty and earn academic honors, run a state-wide political machine, tutor the mentally gifted, work with the mentally challenged, and make lasting friendships spanning six continents. Along the journey, I achieved the critical awareness and discipline by which I define success. But my success is more than a personal triumph; it is part and parcel to my family’s legacy and our belief in the American Dream. I look to perpetuate this legacy through the study of International and Constitutional Law at Yale. In the law, I see the practical application of philosophy, and as such, I crave a pedagogy that has “designed a curriculum and a heuristic structure that is meant to bring out the unique and generative vision” of its students. Dean Post spoke those words in his convocation address to the 199th entering class. He concluded: “Distilled to its essence, we offer you the gift of trust. It is a rare and precious gift.” My life, distilled to its essence, has been dedicated to the edification of mind, body, and spirit so that one day I would earn the right to such a rare and precious gift.


Here is the 700 word version:

Kodama-sensei and I exchange a glance as Nana approaches the podium. Nana is an exceptionally talented student, but she is prone to academic laziness and has some difficulty relating to her peers. I see in her many of the same character flaws that troubled me when I was her age, which has made coaching her for today’s Junior High School English Speech Contest immensely rewarding. Stepping into the spotlight, Nana’s first, superlative sentences roll across the auditorium—a triumph bridging generations and cultures. Today is a beautiful example of Papa’s maxim: “if you enjoy making your living, you will never have to work.”
I moved in with Papa, my grandfather, when he started chemotherapy at the beginning of my senior year in high school. After leaving for university, I took the Greyhound home whenever work allowed. Papa knew I worked in the school kitchens, and despite chemotherapy, he’d always waited up during my summer days working construction. His dying wish altered the course of my life. "I'm giving you ten grand to go study in Italy. You deserve it."

I returned from Italy with open eyes but empty pockets, unable to afford school without summer savings. The following year of work and self-study hardened my resolve. “An honors thesis? I’m afraid we don’t offer it,” my advisor said. I wrote one anyway and paid my way to the nation’s largest undergraduate conference, where I won honors. Beyond academics, I found an outlet in politics, where I served the College Republicans at the state-level. I left university having gained from philosophy an appreciation for intellectual rigor while also having experienced the power of ideas put into action through politics. A desire to continue expanding my horizons led me to Japan.

Unfeigned applause greets Nana’s conclusion. Her performance is an obvious contender for honors, but more importantly, it reflects inner-growth that will echo throughout her life. Positively impacting the lives of young people is just one of the many rewards of working in Japan. Life here is a culturally-rich tapestry, where the experiences of my 70-plus peers, who come from 12 countries, weave in and out of the Japanese social fabric. Such diversity has reinforced my view that effective communication is more about suspending judgment and paying close attention than it is about eloquence.

Living here has also furthered my intellectual growth. Each day presents new challenges to my values. For example, the pride I feel as Nana receives honors is accompanied by a twinge of regret for the institutional barriers constraining her remarkable potential. She has no Japanese equivalent to my quintessential American right: “the Pursuit of Happiness,” the power of which I know intimately. My father walked away from his life’s savings and enrolled as an undergraduate when he and my mother separated. At the time, he was a 43-year-old janitor whose three children were playing hopscotch on the poverty line. Today, my father is a principal; my sister is a professional flautist; my brother is a graduate student of mathematics at NYU; and I am starting a career in law. My family is proof that the American Dream is a living reality, and as such I lament the institutional constraints surrounding Nana. Nonetheless, Japan ensures far greater security for its citizens than America does, and though Nana’s absolute potential for success is limited, so too is her potential for failure. I came to value tolerance and critical thought as a philosophy student, but here, I’ve come to truly understand them.

Nana’s parents holler, “Arigato Gozaimashita!” as I leave. Their gratitude mirrors my own—a subtle reminder that happiness, like economics, is not a zero-sum-game. Walking home, I reflect on my good fortune. My father grew up in an orphanage. Papa, the son of Italian and Irish immigrants, didn’t have the five dollars a week for room and board needed to accept a football scholarship. I’ve been able to rise from poverty and earn academic honors, run a state-wide political machine, mentor young minds, and travel the world. But this success is more than a personal triumph; it is part and parcel to my family’s legacy. I look to perpetuate that legacy through my chosen profession, law.


Hey! These are both excellent personal statements, and very impressive. You are clearly accomplished, both personally and intellectually, as well as humble, drive, and open to new experiences from all quarters. I did have one point of confusion though - in the paragraph where you discuss Nan's 3rd place trophy, you use the "institutional constraints" she faces in Japan to demonstrate and bolster your appreciation for the chances you have in the States. This is a good point and well made. However, I think you need to explain what you mean, like just a line or something. I have very little background in Japanese culture; is there effectively a socio-economic caste system that dictates the kinds of opportunities she'll have, few opportunities to advance for people without money or connections, a corrupt bureaucracy, etc? I'm throwing this out here willy-nilly because I just don't know the answer. It was the only point where I frowned and needed some clarity; it sticks out especially because the rest of your writing is very clear and organized. Great job though!

thelawguru
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2010 6:06 pm

Please review personal statement. Thanks :)

Postby thelawguru » Wed Nov 03, 2010 6:45 pm

Overcoming prejudice is never an easy task. Many people spend years trying to overcome the effect of other people’s prejudices on their own lives. I, on the other hand, have spent the last several years trying to understand and eliminate the prejudices I have seen inside myself.

I was in my first year of college when I started to awaken to the reality of my prejudicial way of thinking, but initially, I only saw it in my father. It is important to note that on the surface, my father does not appear to be a man who would harbor prejudices against others. In fact, my father is what many would consider to be a “good man.” He is an honest, hardworking, middle-class man who loves his family, is a respected public figure in his community, and who admittedly lives his life by the guiding principles of the “American Dream.” As a public school teacher, my father has won awards, recognition, and the love and respect of many students, parents, and colleagues. But he is also a man driven by fears, anxieties, and insecurities, which he keeps well hidden in public, but which bleed into his private family life.

On the day I first recognized my father’s prejudices, I had spent the afternoon at Cal State Fullerton discussing with several sociology students the current role played by race in the concept of social stratification. Returning home exhilarated and challenged, I told my family at the dinner table that I thought racism still existed in “today’s culture,” as evidenced by the amount of Mexican immigrants trapped in low-paying jobs. My father came back with the remark that “those Mexicans just need to get a job and quit taking taxpayers’ money,” which he immediately followed by a proclamation denouncing the intelligence of “gays, Muslims, and low-life welfare rats.” He had said this kind of thing daily since before the time I was in elementary school, and it normally was not shocking to me, but this time, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I began to see my father’s disparaging jokes and biased social commentary as prejudiced and closed-minded, rather than as “funny” and “sadly accurate” as I had grown up believing them to be. Moving forward, I vowed to work on identifying and removing these prejudices from my own way of thinking.

But it wasn’t until a few weeks later that I realized the depths of my own prejudices. I had grown up attending a staunchly fundamentalist Christian church, which I started volunteering for heavily my freshman year in college. I spent much of my leisure time passing out tracts and proselytizing, sharing my faith with anyone who would listen. One Saturday night I was having dinner with a friend at Carl’s Jr., and an obviously malnourished, homeless man asked me for some change so that he could buy food for his children. My heart went out to him, but I still unconsciously held on to my father’s prejudiced and fearful way of thinking. So I told him that instead of giving him money, I would tell him about believing in Jesus, since in my mind the solution to his financial situation was entirely in his hands. To my surprise, he looked at me incredulously, swore at me and said “Hey, man! I don’t need Jesus, I need a goddamn hamburger for me and my kids!” At that moment, I saw the foolishness of my self-righteousness, and realized that I was in many ways still as prejudiced as my father. Though I had recognized and moved past many of the prejudices I had grown up embracing, there were others, more deeply rooted, that still remained.

From that point onward, I committed to working towards positively impacting the lives of other people, while challenging my own assumptions and stereotypes. Academics came easily to me, so I graduated at the top of my undergraduate class. With a passion for societal betterment and a desire to gain strong “real-world” experiences, I took a position as a case manager at a county-contracted agency working with CalWORKs participants, advocating for those who lacked the resources and social power to live a life of self-sufficiency and productivity. Through it, I have developed a deep understanding and a high respect for people from diverse backgrounds. I have learned to use the privileges I have as a white male in this society to empower those who are disenfranchised and marginalized, while constantly evaluating my motives to ensure that I am not acting out of a sense of racial and/or social obligation, e.g. “white guilt.”

Now, years later, I am ready to take the next step moving forward on this journey. Pursuing a career in law and being equipped with excellent skills to practice the law effectively and ethically will continue to prepare me to be a positive force and a strong advocate for the disadvantaged and those who are discriminated against. Ultimately my goal is to practice public interest law, specializing in cases involving discrimination or disability rights. I am excited about the opportunities provided by Loyola Law School to study public interest law, and I admire the faculty’s decision to institute a pro bono graduation requirement. The ethical standard exhibited by this requirement was one of the main factors influencing my decision to apply for Loyola Law School.

Due to Loyola Law School’s strong reputation as a higher learning institute and a champion of diversity and social justice, I know that it will best facilitate the furthering of my personal and professional goals. Additionally, I am confident that my fresh perspective of someone who has faced and worked through his own fears and prejudices will be an integral asset to the law program at Loyola Law School. I am looking forward to pursuing my career at Loyola Law School, and to working closely with faculty and students to develop exciting new contributions to the field of public interest law.




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