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Anonymous User wrote:Here is my second draft. It is still pretty rough but please let me know what you think of it. Thanks!
“Question. Question number 15 for 30 points.” I leaned forward in my chair as I heard the quizmaster announce the most important question in my Bible Quiz career. “8 part reference quotation question.” A lump came up in my throat as I realized the national championship was coming down to this moment. If I missed this question, we would lose. “From Acts chapter one.” As team captain I knew it was up to me. I had to interrupt and complete the question in 30 seconds; the pressure was on. “
Quote verses 15...” Beep! With the flick of my wrist I hit my buzzer before the other team had a chance to react. I quickly completed the question, “16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22” I knew just completing the question had wasted precious time. My hands were shaking as I began to answer. If I even omitted one word, repeated one syllable, or added one letter, the judges would rule my answer incorrect. I finished the quotation with half a second to spare, but had I quoted it correctly? The judges began to rule. They examined their answer sheets carefully looking to see if I had made a mistake. “That is correct for 30 points”, I heard the quizmaster call out. Even though my team lost the match in overtime, I still fondly recall it as my finest moment in Bible Quiz.
Although the two areas seem unrelated, Bible Quiz spurred my interest in pursing a legal education. During my teenage years, I was heavily involved in Teen Bible Quiz through the Assemblies of God denomination. During the course of high school, I memorized nearly half of the New Testament. Bible Quiz focuses on helping young people hone their memorization and study skills in the face of pressure, but what intrigued me the most about Bible Quiz was contesting. Contesting is something quite unique to Bible Quiz. It is not only tolerated but actually encouraged for the participants (quizzers as they are called) to argue with the judges. If a quizzer called for a contest, they were given three minutes to present their case. The opposing team was then given one minute to rebut their argument. As a quizzer, I loved to present contests. It tested my knowledge of the rules as well as my skill in presenting a cohesive impromptu argument in a short time period. I found this challenge to be quite exhilarating.
My love for contesting *LED* me into a love for the law. Even before graduating from high school, I found myself fascinated by court rulings and opinions. When I began college, I was unsure of what courses I should take. On a whim, I took an introductory criminal justice class. Reading and studying the complexity of the law aroused in me the same enjoyment I had experienced when presenting a contest. Contesting had borne in me the desire to pursue a career that was intellectually challenging and involved rules and debates regarding their application. As I began to advance in my studies, becoming an attorney seemed like an eventuality.
In the fall of 2008, I began my senior year of college while also working part-time as a runner for the Idaho Attorney General's Office. My family and I often volunteered with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). Mike and Brandi Thompson and their three year old son Colter were missionaries with MAF. During the course of the summer, our families had dinner a number of time and had grown fairly close. Mike was a pilot and had been assigned to Indonesia to provide medical evacuation and emergency aid support to the remote villages on the island. On September 12, 2008 Mike and another MAF volunteer had decided to take some boys from a local orphanage to the beach to swim. Two of the boys were caught in a riptide and, without a second's thought or hesitation, Ben jumped into the water and swam out to save them. Mike Thompson gave his life that day to save those boys.
At first, I wondered how anyone could be so foolish. Didn't he know the risks? Didn't he know he could die? Didn't he care about his family? How could he be so reckless? But then, I began to realize that these questions were born out of my self-centeredness. Subconsciously, the question I had truly been asking but unwilling to answer was “Would I have done the same thing?”. At that moment, I made my decision. No longer would I be satisfied staying on the beach, I was going to jump in the ocean. My focus would be on how I could help others who were in need even if it was not convenient or easy.
Upon graduation, I immediately began working at the Ada County Prosecutor's Office but I knew that I needed to do more to help those around me. I needed to jump in the ocean and if I was to truly help others, I needed to live up to my potential. As I began to learn more about how attorneys work and specifically the positive impact prosecuting attorneys can have on victims and defendants alike, I committed myself to attending law school and becoming an attorney myself. Becoming an attorney will allow me to succeed in a challenging profession while also fulfilling my commitment to positively affect those with whom I work. Will you help me accomplish my goal? Will you stay on the beach or will you jump in the ocean?
One correction in asterisks, but I only skimmed the rest of the PS.
I really think you should stay away from:
I'm passionate about X and X is related to the law because _____. Therefore, if I was good at X, I can be good at the law.
As silly as it may seem, they don't want to know if you have the skills to be a lawyer, or if the things that you do have to do with the law. You want to go to law school, you're not applying to be a lawyer. What they want to know is who you are and you should show your strong traits (passion, determination, etc.) through your personal statement - rather than fitting your past experience into the qualifications of a lawyer.
The entirety of my PS, with the exception of the last paragraph, never even mentioned the law. Rather, I talked about my struggle for financial independence because I thought that would broadcast my strength as a person, perseverance, and well, independence. I let my resume backed up my PS.
PM if you need more help.
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A quick argument for why you shouldn't pick the second: this story is a poor analogy for law school, so it isn't persuasive in convincing us that law school is a good fit for you. Being a lawyer does not usually require you to risk your life, so this is a weird and melodramatic comparison. It also requires much more persistence/commitment/long-term work than does a momentary heroic decision. Expecting law to be like rescuing people is naive. Most cases are more complicated. Generally, you are arguing for a position that will have both good and bad effects.
Okay, back to Bible Quiz. This has some potential, but be careful not to fall into this trap: http://blogs.law.yale.edu/blogs/admissi ... argue.aspx. (Your essay is not as bad as that example, but you need to watch out for it a bit.) To be successful with this story, you have to persuade us that contesting in Bible Quiz was a real intellectual exercise, not a chance to be petty. Right now, I'm having a hard time seeing that. If this contest is about memorization, then what exactly are you arguing for 3 minutes? If there's more to it, we need to know.
Even so, hinging an essay on 3-minute debates about a high school extracurricular is tenuous. I think you need to go deeper. Is there something broader about Bible quiz, and maybe the Bible itself that primed you for law? For example, I know that as a kid in Hebrew school, I really enjoyed Jewish law ethics debates, and the legalistic way of thinking that goes with them. What's the connection between the intellectual perspective & values of Bible quiz/Assemblies of God, the style of contesting that goes with it, and your interest in law? If you have something thoughtful to say about it, this could be a unique and interesting essay.
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I've already told you why I don't think the personal tragedy story works for these purposes, so I do not think you should make it part of your essay unless you are going to use it to make a significantly different point than the one you're trying to make currently.
For the Bible quiz story, I think that, as you've described the point you're trying to make, this is a reasonable theme for your essay: "An activity in which I participated while in high school fostered in me the love for reasoning and working through complex problems in a highly stressful environment. In college I came to realize that the legal system was similar to this activity and in this way I came to enjoy studying and working in the legal field."
The problem is that you haven't persuaded me as the reader that this activity involved reasoning and complex problems. I'm not familiar with Bible Quiz, and the main thing you told me about it was that it involved memorizing half of the New Testament (memorizing, not reasoning). So tell me more and persuade me! Even if it really was mostly about memorizing, there are interesting things you could do with that. Maybe memorizing all this material in this context influenced you to think interesting thoughts of some kind, and that inspired you to study law.
Of course, sure, feel free to start from scratch. I don't know your life, so I don't know the options that you have for a personal statement. Keep in mind that it's fine to start several drafts and pick the one that's working best. Often it's hard to predict in advance how a topic will work for you.
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