Personal Statement Samples

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Tear it to Pieces

Postby unctix02 » Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:13 pm

way too old
Last edited by unctix02 on Tue Jun 23, 2009 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Personal statement samples

Postby mildmannered » Sat Oct 13, 2007 5:22 pm

Without giving any really fine tuned analysis - I think this is a GREAT personal statement. Its engaging, highlights your experiences and leads perfectly into your interest in law.

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Sample personal statement

Postby anchaires » Mon Oct 15, 2007 6:55 pm

unctix.....fabulous. fabulous. fabulous.

Great tone. Excellent story. Well written. Shows your civic commitment, sense of adventure and entrepreneurial spirit. I think this helps to make you a very attractive candidate. Excellent sample personal statement.

two thumbs up.

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Personal statement samples

Postby logicallauren » Tue Oct 16, 2007 12:07 am

I think that you're off to a good start and it sounds like an interesting topic, but you'd be better off presenting this topic in a more urgent, exciting way.

I don't quite feel the excitement leaping off of the page - get me in the moment, start off with a good story, show me that you are passionate.

This could be accomplished by starting off with more of a narrative and using some more vivid language. Don't say that there were "twists and turns" - show it!

My two cents. ( = Great story! Keep writing! Good luck!

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Sample personal statement

Postby jbauer24 » Tue Oct 16, 2007 1:52 pm

Is there any kind of unwritten rule against dialogue in a Personal Statement, like if you recounting a short narrative?

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Postby phillyphanatic » Tue Oct 16, 2007 5:52 pm

logicallauren and zin, thanks so much for your comments! definitely very helpful.

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Sample personal statement

Postby logicallauren » Wed Oct 17, 2007 1:24 pm

Silly girl, why did you write the letters? What injustice were you trying to inform the president on and how does that tie in to your family life and your desire to go to law school? I would start with that, not just saying that you wrote the letter, but vividly depicting what was going on in your mind as a little girl when you put the letter in the mail box.

I would not start off with the line "As a young child..." Start off with a story, but let them know that you were young when this took place.

Also, don't make it seem like your begging or asking the officers for admission at the end. Have you been involved in any advocacy/community service since childhood? Maybe address this briefly as a way that you have been fighting injustices since you wrote those letters and show how law school is just the next step. something like: "as a lawyer, I plan on getting more than just a vague response from the president..." (that's lame, but you know, something like that). Injustice essays are very common and often unconvincing for adcomms, so you need to be as convincing as possible.

Just my opinion - hope this helps. You're off to a good start with your sample personal statement, just keep writing! :)

Oh, and by the way, here's a good sample essay that might help you about an "advocate since childhood" if you want to take that approach, hers is for women's rights, but you can spin yours for children's rights if that's your pet issue. You might even want to show how having a child has made you more passionate about this (you only mention once i think that you are a mother, but that's a big deal!): ... n/view.cgi

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Postby philo-sophia » Tue Oct 23, 2007 9:29 am


I have always been curious, always up for a debate. In [university town], I spent the better part of most days at my usual table in _____’s Coffee, the quaint study nook on _____ Street, where the proprietor said I was “like Socrates with more caffeine.” Surrounded by the texts of Rawls, Nozick, Waldron, Nagel, Dworkin…, my more contemporary intellectual role models, I was usually there with the intention of working on my honors thesis; Rawls, Nozick and Respect for the Individual, a critical exploration of governing principles that aim to respect our Kantian notions of the inviolable nature of individuals. But, like Socrates, I spent a lot more time talking than writing.

The lure of Philosophy, for me, is in the conversations. The most enjoyable aspect of studying Rawls and Nozick in such a setting – the quintessential intellectual hangout in the midst of the archetypical university town – was the steady stream of students and professors who would invariably spot Rawls’s A Theory of Justice, amid a pile of crumpled up papers and cookie crumbs, sparking up a discourse on the spot. And, if they wanted to chat, who was I to disappoint them? The impromptu meetings were a fantastic complement to my more formal interactions with the philosophy faculty and a tremendous opportunity to vet my ideas with a diverse swath of people. I often found that these exchanges led me to consider the same philosophical constructs from illuminating new angles that I never would have contemplated on my own. I sincerely hope I was able to return the favor.

My father, an entirely pragmatic individual who took great comfort in the notion that one of my two majors (economics) held “some promise for paying the rent”, used to antagonistically liken philosophy to “a mental treadmill”, a workout for the mind, but one that ultimately leaves one right where they started. I disagree. While Cartesian skepticism of reality may hold little promise for curing cancer, I argue that the sorts of conversations I had around a crumb-littered coffee table in Chapel Hill are in no way fruitless. Like individual votes in a democratic election, these chats constituted a small component of a collective discourse with weighty, real implications.

At the heart of the back-and-forth between Rawls and Nozick, and central to my caffeinated, late-night debates at [coffee shop], is a quest for understanding; not of such esoteric matters as the existence of synthetic realities, but rather, a comprehension of the proper guiding principles for a prosperous and morally upstanding societal order. I haven’t read much Xenophanes lately. I’ve been focusing on Dworkin’s Law’s Empire, The New York Times, The Drudge Report and The Economist. Social interaction, urban planning, international relations, systems of justice, politics…these are the things that interest me, the venues in which conversations have tangible impacts on society, the things I want to talk about. And that brings me here, submitting the application that I hope will be an ice-breaker to a lively, and richly-textured three-year conversation.

I view law school as an opportunity to mull over things that matter and equip myself to translate discourse into impact. As members of a free and democratic society, Rawls, Nozick, you and I are at liberty to openly discuss and collectively revise our guiding principles. And it is largely through law that these theoretical revisions affect tangible change. In order to ensure my contribution to debates on campus, I will most certainly pursue membership on a Law Review or topical journal. As for life beyond campus, I cannot yet determine whether my graduation in 2011 will find me headed into academia, a policy institute or, perhaps, protecting shareholders’ rights. But I can say with certainty that, in law school, and in all my endeavors thereafter, I will always be a part of the conversation.


any thoughts on how to strengthen this, or weaknesses that need to be addressed would be much appreciated. My debate is whether it is specific enough. I'm worried that it may seem like it isn't about me as much as it is about philosophy and politics, but my agenda was to say something about myself and what i'd bring to the table in law school by showing my interest in these things. Thoughts?

a certain ratio
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Example personal statements

Postby a certain ratio » Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:16 am

philo-sophia: my one criticism would be that for an essay about philosophy, you don't spend much time engaging with the ideas of Rawls, Nozick, et al, save for the opening sentence of the next-to-last paragraph. this stands out, because these are ideas that you presumably know well and have a great deal of interest in, since you did yr thesis on them. is there something specific in the work of those two, or one of them, that you could connect - easily, without stretching - to your discussion of philosophy as a conversation, and why that holds such an appeal for you? i'd use the space you have to flesh out this aspect and cut down the "why law school" part, as i gather that's not necessarily what adcomms care about. they'd rather see how you think and write.

also, if you're trying for anonymity, edit out the other reference to yr college town. (and if you don't really care, then out of curiosity, which coffee shop?)

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Postby philo-sophia » Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:39 am

hahaha...touche on the college town reference. Guess i'm busted but i suppose i have no huge reason to fear people knowing i went to UNC. The coffee shop was Strong's on Franklin Street, which (much to my dismay) has been closed. I was hoping my sister, who is there now, would get to inherit my study nook.

I like your advice and will try and incorporate it. I think you're probably right that i can make some room by cutting out the "why law school" portion.

I may try to include a short synopsis of Rawls and Nozick's views and describe how wrestling with this back-and-forth for a year ended up making me more liberal in my thinking. Essentially (and i'm butchering it here in the interest of brevity), Rawls believes that the best principles for governing are those that maximize the utility of the LEAST well off, b/c the majority of the benefits that the best off enjoy (extreme wealth, etc) are only possible b/c society has been set up as a system of cooperation, and so they owe a lot to the society that has allowed them these luxuries. This lends support to such redistributive measures as inheritance tax, b/c Rawls believes there's no reason for that kid to become insanely wealthy simply b/c he won the morally arbitrary "natural lottery". Nozick believes in the absolute (basically Kantian) notion of inviolability that would demand that every individual be allowed to do what he wishes with what he has (including giving it to people as gifts or in exchange for services) and whatever distribution of wealth/power that arises from this free exchange is morally justified (or at least not objectionable). Rawls believes that inequality is a necessity within society, but seeks to arrange things such that those inequalities are only permissable insofar as they actually benefit the least well off (i.e. trickle down economics that actually works as opposed to the Reaganomics cop out).

As an upper class, white male i had won the natural lottery and was therefore (perhaps selfishly) inclined to align with Nozick on these issues, but in the end, Rawls's argument was more weighty for me. Since working on that thesis, my political/social thinking has changed. I simply cannot refute the notion that any wealth my parents accumulated, and any that i may earn would be otherwise impossible without the legal/social systems of interaction that allow us to be well paid for our services. So i guess that Rawls and others like him have been catalysts for a sort of evolution in my world view and i would love to have similar conversations and breakthroughs in law school.

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Postby Kompressor » Tue Oct 23, 2007 3:44 pm

Ugh, the process of writing this is the worst thing I've had to do in a long time. What compounds the issue is that people encourage you to have 10 different people read it and that leads to 10 different responses that are often inconsistent.

I'm to the point where I think all I can do is trust myself and I'm just going to send it in. I've been brainstorming/writing this thing for months now (A TWO PAGE STATEMENT!) and I'm not sure how much more I can take, you know?

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Example personal statements

Postby TaliaT » Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:23 pm

Kompressor: I couldnt handle 10 people reading it. I gave it to my dad...the one person I trust as far as writing goes. He and I went through about fifteen rough drafts of it, argued on some aspects, and now its finalized. It is by far the toughest thing ive had to write thus far. And to think that writing about yourself would be this difficult?

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Postby xxandyxx07 » Wed Oct 24, 2007 11:06 pm

heres my PS. rip it apart and tell me the pros/cons. thanks everybody! (btw this site is awesome....a god send if u will)

Tacoma, Washington is a medium-sized urban town just south of Seattle populated by mostly middle class blue-collar families. In this sense, my childhood and adolescence there were not terribly unique. My relatively privileged upbringing gave me a variety of opportunities that I have not taken for granted. Growing up, I initially encountered language difficulties. I actually grew up speaking Korean as my first language. I learned to speak English during my early elementary school years. Although during this time, I was embarrassed by the fact that my parents couldn't speak English well, I later on grew to realize and appreciate the depth of their sacrifice. In a society in which upward mobility was a rare achievement, my parents did not want to pass on this glass ceiling to their children. They left behind everything they knew as home to build a new life in an alien land.
My parents' sacrifice inspired me to excel at school. I wanted to please them through doing well and to make them proud as my way of thanking them for their hard work. I saw my father go through countless weeks of daily 12 hour shifts in order to provide me with a private school education. This deeply affected me as a child and provided me with strong incentive to work as my parents did. My focus and approach in college has been somewhat different. Whereas in high school I focused almost exclusively on studying hard, in college, I became involved in a variety of diverse endeavors. The cumulative effect of my college experience has led me to conclude that law school is for me.
During my freshman year microeconomics class, I recognized that economics fuses the analytical power of mathematics with empirical observations to create insightful theories of human behavior. I also became fascinated with the policy implications inherent in my studies of economics. Policy interested me because of its wide-reaching implications and public service has always been a profession that I looked up to. My desire to experiment in policy led me to apply for an internship with U.S. Senator Patty Murray. I worked as an intern in one of the Senator's Washington state offices during the summer following my freshmen year. Through this internship, I was assigned a fairly large research project. I analyzed the question of contracting between federal government and minority owned businesses and made policy recommendations based on my research. It was during this internship that I realized that a strong legal background would be a natural fit for me. I realized that a legal background would be indispensable for work in policy. As part of the project, I found myself constantly referring back to various laws and their legal implications. Oftentimes, I would find myself being asked legal questions by owners of businesses or being referred to different employment laws by federal agencies. It was then that I realized that a legal background is perhaps essential for work in policy.I was also fortunate to be able to do more research as an undergraduate when I worked as a research assistant for Professor Nicola Persico in the New York University Department of Economics and School of Law. We investigated the question of racial prejudice in motor vehicle searches using data from the Florida State Patrol from 1998-2001.
Considering my interests in policy and my research background, I feel that a law degree is a natural choice for me. I am especially interested in economic analysis of legal issues. I learned about current legal/economic research through courses in money and banking, labor economics, and graduate macroeconomic theory course. Being exposed to a broad range of topics made it clear to me that my main intellectual interests include empirical legal analysis, issues in banking/finance, and game-theoretic analysis of the law. Some topics I particularly find interesting include the economics of regulation/anti-trust and applied microeconomics as applied to socio-legal phenomena. I feel that law school is the best choice that would allow me to pursue my career goal of conducting research in law and economics, while also allowing me the flexibility to work in a wide-range of different careers. I also feel that law school would be a deeply gratifying intellectual experience. Law school is the right choice for me.

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is this good?

Postby oab2 » Thu Oct 25, 2007 12:33 am

i want to go to hys this is first draft, please be nice.

“Do not what you can for your country but what you ask of yourself can you do.” said James F Kennedy. Ever since I was a newborn I knew that my passion was law. My mother gave me birth while in court for burglary charges. She told me that I came out in the judges chambers after her water broke while she was being sentenced. Clearly God wants you to make me a lawyer. I know this because he tells me this ev ery day. The fairies in my hair also say this. It is hard to not do what they say because they are very powerful, I didn’t want to caramelize my cat but they forced me. When I was 2 I argued a case before the Supreme Court. I also defended many celebrities. I also prosecuted many celebrities. I also was a judge in many famous cases, OJ, Paris, etc. I have never lost an argument anywhere in anything. In Conclsusion I already am a Lawyer so you might as well make it official and let me in. OK? I have a 190 lsat and 5.0 gpa. I am never wrong ever. If youdont accept me you lose. I have full scholarship to all other schools, even in other countries. I don’t need you, you need me. I would be doing you a favor. You owe me money for taking my time. I could be curing cancer, solving the middle east, and getting first place in the world series, and artificially inseminating myself to give birth to my clone, and proving the existence of God. Maybe I don’t even want to be a lawyer, convince me I want to, its all you baby. Im awesome and if you cant see that I don’t nned you, I ll just win the lottery and sue you to let me in. I already won the lottery. I already got into your law school, you just donet know it yet: do you? If you don’t be nice I wont either, my parents are in the mob and mafia. They know bush Clinton and everyone in jail and all police officers, ok? Is there a fee I could pay you personally to get in? I know karate.

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Please review

Postby dreday3223 » Thu Oct 25, 2007 9:34 am

Hey future law students. Could you wise people critique my first draft of my personal statement. Take it apart, make changes, add things offer suggestions. Please let me know what you think. I need to write a strong personal statement and I really would like to know what you all think.

Thanks a lot and good luck with those applications.


June 21, 1991 started as a beautiful day. I was at my grandparent’s house watching cartoons with the babysitter and my grandparents had just walked in with a box of my mother's things from the hospital. I immediately began to get excited as I thought my mother would be coming home; and then my grandfather sat me down and told me, "Bad things never happen, everything happens for a reason." My demeanor immediately began to change, as I knew, every time my grandfather said these words, bad news was sure to follow. In fact, it was one of the few things I remember from that following conversation when he told me that my mother had finally lost her battle with liver cancer and had passed her way. My life as I knew it had ended.
It is hard when you lose a mother at such an early age, especially when you lose a mother who was a single parent. It is even harder to believe in the principle that bad things never happen, when something as devastating as the loss of a loved one happens. But in retrospect, it might have been the single best thing that has happened to me, for it has shaped me and the beliefs that I value the most.
It sounds strange stating that the death of my mother is possibly the best thing that has happened to me, but I believe in that statement because it has caused me to look at life in a completely different way. First, the death of my mother was a very humbling experience. It has caused me to look at life in a completely different way than many people do. I am grateful for everday that I have, everything that I receive and every opportunity that I am presented with. In addition, her death caused me to be a more independent person. My mother raised me, with the apparent knowledge of her early death, to be dependent on no one and to always accept responsibility. This idea was furthered by me being raised by grandparents. I was forced to be independent because they were in no position to give me all the things I wanted, especially with both of them having a high school education and living off of Social Security and a bus driver's pension. They did, despite this, give me the love that I desperately need.
Now as I am older and I look back at my life to date, I never thought that my grandfathers statement when my mother passed away would continue to follow me today and become a motto I would continuously live by. This can be seen as recently as 3 years ago when a former high school classmate asked me if I wanted to work for him as an insurance agent. Because I was looking for work and having a strained relationship with my grandparents as a result of being unemployed, I decided to give it a try. I had never worked in this field but thought it would be a good experience for me and it was, just not the way I originally thought. After months of working hard and being rewarded for my efforts in terms of a hefty weekly check, things began to change. My leads began to dry up, I was working longer hours for less pay and I had become very frustrated and then it happened.
I had just finished working a 12 hour shift calling prospective clients all day. It was pay day for some, but not for me, since I did not make any sales the previous week. After coming home from a long day of "work", I decided to take a long drive in my beat up, $400, 1991 Chevy Cavalier and figure out how I was going to improve my current situation, but when I came home, my grandparents informed me that my car had been towed. It was at that moment, I knew the insurance business and I had to part ways. The quote my grandfather stated to me immediately came into my head. "Bad things never happen, everything happens for a reason." In the weeks that followed, I thought about what to do and I enrolled myself into the Paralegal Studies program at Queens College with the hopes of finding work as a paralegal and the ultimate goal of putting myself in the position to write this personal statement for your law school.
In hindsight, my grandfather’s statement has held true to this day. Not only did I find work as a paralegal working for the National Organization of Industrial Trade Unions, but I found my future wife at that organization as well. Who would have thought that not being able to pay for my towed car would allow me to find my future wife and put me in this wonderful position of attending your law school? Because of my life and work experiences I feel I am prepared to embark on my future journey without any reservations and look forward to anything that may come my way because "Bad things never happen and everything happens for a reason."

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Canadian Personal statement

Postby lsatlove » Mon Oct 29, 2007 1:15 am

Hi I'm applying to a Canadian law school but I think your comments would be very helpful. Thanks for being such a great support.

Sometimes failures are life’s greater motivators. In my case, I’ve had quite a few ‘motivators’ each one propelling me to the next milestone. One of my most poignant lessons occurred while attending high school in Antigua where I was a member of the debate team. Losing is never easy but losing to my high school rivals on national television was absolutely devastating. At 16 years old I felt like a failure and in some ways this should’ve ruined my future legal aspirations. Walking into my school’s courtyard the day after the debate aired, I had no idea what to expect but I held my head high. It was a shock to have students and teachers express admiration at my rebuttal skills and my composure after our loss. They clearly saw something in me that I had not recognized. Determined to redeem myself in the eyes of my peers I spent the rest of high school seeking out debate clubs to hone my argumentation skills. Little did I know that this false start would lead me to pursue a career in law.

Unfortunately, the confidence in my academic ability that I had built in Antigua was no match for a difficult transition to high school and university in Canada. The instability of my mother’s household and the responsibility of living on my own for the first time were all factors in a sub-par first year university performance. I learned from these mistakes in my second year, with a diligent schedule and making an effort to engage with my professors and TA’s outside class for insights on assignments as well as critiques of my papers. Now more attune to my strengths, I gravitated towards political science and communications courses which required that I challenge traditional frameworks and dominant theories, particularly in courses like Public Policy and Administration where I developed the critical skills necessary to assess policy frameworks that affect our everyday lives. At the end of second year at York not only were my grades significantly improved; reflecting a diligent approach to my studies, but in my daily life I noticed that my stature in volunteer organizations had changed. There was a new found respect for my opinion. I felt like somewhat of a political pundit on CNN constantly being called upon to present group projects, to defend my positions and to justify project outcomes.

In spite of this growth and new insight into my personality, I was still unsure about my ultimate calling so I decided to take a sometime off after graduation to travel and work. That summer I spent a month in Trois Rivieres, Quebec in a French immersion program. That too seemed like an insurmountable challenge, since my French was relatively non-existent after years of non-use. With limited French proficiency, I faced the challenges of being a young, anglo-black woman in an unfamiliar setting. Determined to succeed, before the end of the program I was at intermediate level French and my fluency had improved. On my return, I decided to work fulltime as a special project’s assistant. I also decided to attend evening classes to pursue a marketing certificate, a field that I had some interest in. While working as a special project’s assistant, I witnessed arbitrary interpretations of policy which sometimes adversely affected lives. My decisions could be the difference between failing or passing a course, or even graduating. Recognizing the potential for human error and the inefficiencies in this process, I developed a manual that streamlined everyday operations. A template of this manual was then implemented by various departments throughout the faculty. It seems like I’m constantly looking for new challenges because while pursuing these work projects I volunteered as a board member with Justice for Children & Youth, an organization that is committed to social justice initiatives. I was attracted to this organization because of their philosophy of constant change and diversity which is similar to mine. I saw immediately that this would be a testing ground for me to work on campaigns that could lead to systemic changes. JFCY gave me the power to affect change not only within my community but on a regional and sometimes international level. As a board member, I’ve had the opportunity to sit on committees responsible for street youth legal services in Toronto where on a monthly basis I am required to decide on the feasibility of funding community projects. The most gratifying aspect of this experience is watching our legal initiatives result in policy changes within schools and hearing a formerly homeless and disenfranchised youth speak confidently about his/her rights and future due in apart to the efforts of JFCY. After reflecting on my past, it was clear that there was a trend in my choices.

Determined to stay on the path for social justice I redoubled my efforts as a freelance journalist by continuing my volunteer activities with CHRY radio 105.5 fm. In this organization individuals whose opinions were typically marginalized are given a voice, it was the right environment to continue my growth. Here, I enjoyed producing and hosting a current affairs show that critiqued the conditions within my community but somehow, I felt discontented with the response. While researching and requesting interviews for a black history month show, the lack of African Canadian female contributions became glaringly apparent. Was this a true reflection of Canada or were their stories so far removed from the contemporary Canadian media landscape? I questioned whether my work, ideas and guests perspectives truly reached my audience. I had to make it my mission to give these stories greater appeal. So In attempt to reach a broader audience I joined as a freelance journalist. As a regular contributor, I’ve had the opportunity to interview prominent figures from Mayor David Miller to Premier Dalton Mcguinty. However, although I now had access to influential members of the community, I was still in no position to change the policies that were effectively silencing marginalized groups. I saw the inadequacies in a system that needed regulators and law makers from diverse backgrounds in order to represent the changing landscape.
As another year passed I began my position as a marketing administrator. This had been my goal, I should have been ecstatic yet here I was at 25 in my chosen career path and I was still restless. Why was this? Then it hit me, I wasn’t satisfied settling for just a career, I needed a career that would impact lives, influence policies and change futures, especially within my community. I yearned for something which offered new challenges every day.
I believe that my communications experience combined with a legal degree will give me a competitive advantage in a global work environment. I hope to facilitate in the development of communications regulatory policies for organizations and governments in need of alternative and creative modes of representation. Where better than the nation’s capital to pursue a legal education from a policy based perspective? Ottawa’s legal program will provide me with a strategic advantage, that is, seeing firsthand federal law makers at work, providing insight on how policies are shaped. With a law degree from Ottawa’s legal program, I will have the proximity to individuals experienced in restructuring policies. The streams in law and technology as well as social justice have also targeted the niches that are most competitive for my future goals with the law and communications. I believe that communications and social policies will play a vital role in Canada’s future and in an increasingly interconnected world, the communications industry and social organizations will need legal minds trained to think outside the box. If accepted to the common law program I plan to bring my communications and social policy background while gaining the skills necessary to become a quality legal and social representative, a citizen committed to change and affecting lives.

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Example personal statements

Postby Zin » Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:40 pm

xxandyxx07: a few problems for me

The stuff about your parents is good. It gets weaker as it goes on. What it may lack most is organization. Your discussion of your interest in economics is kind of stretched out, giving us way too much new information about it in the conclusion.

As a reader, I got confused and bored at one point where you compressed a few too many work experiences into a small space, and jumped around. It read like a laundry list that was in disarray. At one point you use the words "I realized" three times in about four sentences. You even came to the same realization twice in a row...that knowledge of law was helpful/essential for work in policy.

The conclusion is not particularly strong. It tapers off. Then, your final claim is too bold: "Law school is for me." You say it as if it's obvious, but your case isn't rock solid enough to justify that close. It would be more effective to finish building the case in a more indirect way.

Bring it full circle. The conclusion should tie together the contents. You left your parents in Korea, so to speak.

My final impression is that it is a little difficult to remember what most of the essay was about, which suggests a lot of the space is not used very efficiently. Searing the imagery into my mind is your goal.

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Postby axnguyen » Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:44 pm

GPA: 3.68
LSAT: 161 =\

With tears dripping down his chin, Ben virtually leapt over the lunch table, his lanky frame raging forward with an unrestrained, singular desire to maim the boy in front of him, to make him bleed. I grabbed him. Normally, Ben’s face would be plastered with a grin as wide as a Cadillac, infused with more spunk than any of my other mentees; it was his severe anger problem that limited him, causing others to brand him as a bad seed. And as I caught a glimpse of the fierce, disturbingly steady look in his eyes, I prayed to God my grip on him would hold.
Ben was the catalyst in my decision to pursue a career in law. Initially an aspiring high-school teacher armed with a Shakespeare textbook, I sought to teach my students about love, life, and the intricacies of the human condition – to change the way they view the world around them. But living in the heart of suburbia, I was encased in a glossy, comfortable bubble, blind to the problems that plague a majority of students living outside the frame of White middle-class America. There is more to the human condition than sonnets and soliloquies can address.
It was during my stint as a counselor for underprivileged inner-city youth that I was exposed to a bleak, humbling portrait. Most of these children came from fragmented families and violent, gang-infested neighborhoods, born into a reality much darker than the one I knew. Yet it was accepted as natural, an indisputable factor of their every-day lives. Ben, for example, was an incredibly bright child who was feared because of his vicious, bi-polar tendencies. I learned that he, like many of the others, was stuck in the foster care system for years, lending to his extreme emotional insecurity and volatility. Searching for acceptance, he joined a gang at an early age. School thus became a constant struggle, his abrasive behavior triggering frequent penalties. His casual explanation: “Back home, I gotta have my guard up.” This strikes a dark, discordant note.
How am I supposed to erase an attitude ingrained through years of negative influence? I realized that kids like Ben are social hybrids, stuck in between the cracks of definition. Their age does not signify them as adults, yet they are not truly children either, their innocence stripped by the erratic nature of their environment. How are they supposed to function positively, much less benefit from any sort of education, when the foundation of their home lives is unstable? The fact that almost half of American foster children fail to complete high school is no coincidence. It serves as a staggering reminder that in certain parts of our country, our youth’s potential is curbed before they even enter a classroom. Yet ironically, the very schools and communities that are supposed to encourage their growth are, instead, nesting grounds for the cyclical violence that permeates their existence. Gang culture is an unavoidable element. Regardless of the quality of teachers and school curricula, such a detrimental atmosphere can render the learning process obsolete. As an educator, this notion infuriated me – what impact could I realistically expect to have on students whose focus is so severely skewed by their immediate situations?
Truthfully, the influence an educator has on the circumstances that affect disadvantaged students is painfully limited; therein lies the rub, the reason I so ardently strive to become a lawyer. I am applying to law school because law is, without a doubt, the most practical, potent instrument of change, a resource that is interconnected with all facets of life, including the realms of education and social work. It is through legal precedence and policy reform, such as the tailoring of anti-gang laws and foster care standards, that a tangible impact can be made on the communities that shape students like Ben. Maybe then, he will at least have the opportunity to put full focus on a constructive education; maybe then, he can transcend the bleak culture of his youth. I am still the same ambitious young man I was before, textbook in hand. I still passionately want to change the way my students see the world. I am just going about it in a different way - by learning to address the fundamental structure of the society they are embedded in. To me, a teacher and a lawyer can essentially stand for the same thing: an agent of reform.

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Postby Rob1A » Tue Oct 30, 2007 2:45 am

unctix02 I really like your story. Please do not shortchange yourself however, and make sure to edit or have it edited for style, grammar, etc

It needs some mechanical polish but on substance, it is very interesting and original

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Postby Zin » Wed Oct 31, 2007 11:53 am

axnguyen: One key thing. You conclude the futility of solving these problems as an educator. I think it would definitely help you if you provide at least one example of how you at least tried to solve the problems. I would consider that essential, because without it, it sounds like a cop-out.

There are a few minor grammar errors, and stylistic things I would have done differently.

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Postby Sarajbj » Thu Nov 01, 2007 8:46 pm

Can anyone tell me if this essay/topic is going in the right direction? Am i focused to much on the past and not enough on the present?

thanks :)

(I posted this as its own thread also but thought people might be moer inclined to respond here)

“Shyness” seems like a very simple and easy word to define, but few people really understand the complexities behind this emotion. Being shy is not simply about a lack of confidence, or being quiet, or being reserved; it is more than that. It’s feeling like you’re trapped inside your own head; it’s over thinking and overanalyzing everything you want to say until you just don’t say anything at all, it is not knowing how to share your feelings and thoughts with the world around you. It is an inhibiting social disorder that I have dealt with and worked to overcome for the majority of my life.

Growing up, I was the “quiet girl.” I never raised my hand in class and I didn’t speak to my classmates unless they initiated the conversation. No one understood how frustrating this was for me, I wanted to make friends and participate in classroom discussions but I couldn’t. All day, every day, silence over took me until I reached the safe confines of my home. As soon as I entered through my front door it was like the difference between day and night. My mom heard about everything as I talked for hours and hours. At dinner, my family would make fun of me because I always finished about an hour after everyone else since I wouldn’t shut up long enough to put the food in my mouth. But when I went to school the following day it was as though my voice no longer worked.

As I got older, nothing scared me more then having to read aloud in class or answer questions in front of everyone else. I tried my best, but my voice was too quiet, my face would turn red and my stomach would become one big knot. This was something I knew would keep me back in life. How was I ever going to accomplish anything if I couldn’t bear to speak in a classroom filled with people I knew? Realizing that being shy was something I could work and improve on was a big step, because that’s what growing up is all about -- taking life into your own hands and changing the things about yourself that need to be changed.

The road to recovery, as you might put it, has not been easy. I’ve have had to put myself into a lot of challenging situations and test my limits in many ways, but it has been worth it. Putting myself into these challenging situations is actually how I found my passion for the law. When registering for my classes for the first year of high school, I enrolled in a class called “Intro to Law.” Essentially it was a class that taught the legal process through different Mock Trials. The thought of standing up in front of others to conduct these legal cases was so frightening that I almost didn’t sign up for the class, but at the same time the topic seemed so different and interesting that I decided to push myself into it. I ended up loving the class so much that I completed the legal sequence at my school and by my senior year I had joined the Competing Mock Trial team. I was unable to compete in a trial because my grandfather became ill that year, but just making it to that point was a groundbreaking accomplishment for me.

My love for the law has only grown throughout my college years as I am completing my course work in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies and was a founding member of the Mock Trial team at my University. Moreover, my desire to continue to grow and overcome the obstacles that my shyness has caused me is stronger then ever. Law School is going to push and challenge me in ways that I can’t even comprehend right now and that is exactly what I am looking for. I have grown up from “the quiet girl” into a young woman who has her goals set on becoming a criminal attorney. Not only does [Law School] have the program that will teach me to think as a lawyer academically, but it is a place where I know I will continue to grow and mature and provide the atmosphere needed to help me develop confidence level I will need to fulfill my aspirations.

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Postby Origin » Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:45 pm

My love for the law has only grown throughout my college years as I am completing my course work in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies and was a founding member of the Mock Trial team at my University. Moreover, my desire to continue to grow and overcome the obstacles that my shyness has caused me is stronger then ever. Law School is going to push and challenge me in ways that I can’t even comprehend right now and that is exactly what I am looking for. I have grown up from “the quiet girl” into a young woman who has her goals set on becoming a criminal attorney. Not only does [Law School] have the program that will teach me to think as a lawyer academically, but it is a place where I know I will continue to grow and mature and provide the atmosphere needed to help me develop confidence level I will need to fulfill my aspirations.

According to Anna Ivey, this is a big no no.

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Postby Sarajbj » Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:17 am

what is wrong about it? Mentioning the things I've done in school?

thank you, I'm just trying to pinpoint problems to fix them.

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Postby Origin » Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:22 am

*I* don't have a problem with it, but according to Ivey throwing on a "this is why <law school> is good for me" at the end of a PERSONAL statement almost always looks tacked on. And if law schools wanted to know why them, they'd have told you that and asked you to write a statement of purpose, not a PS.

I may be off base here.

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Postby logicallauren » Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:22 am

It depends on what law school you are applying to.

Boston University and the University of Minnesota both want to know about why you are going to law school. Duke asks about your future career aspirations, and Wisconsin wants you to demonstate how you will fit in to their school specifically.

Maybe leave the "why law" for some schools and develop how you've changed more as a person for other schools.

A lot of schools ask "open-ended" questions, but it helps to pay attention to directions.

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