Critque of personal statement

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

Post by mountainmad » Fri Dec 14, 2018 5:26 pm

I have a 3.2 GPA (first two years were low, and second two years were straight As) / 164 LSAT / 30yo. with career unrelated to law

Columbia is my first choice, but with my stats, getting in is probably a pipe dream. I genuinely think I could succeed there as I took the LSAT while working 50+ hour weeks, but I don't think it makes sense to retake the test for a higher score given my age. If not Columbia, I'm hoping to get into a T20; I can provide a more specific list if it is helpful for the critique. Thank you for your help.

Personal Statement

I never knew my grandparents or even my parents' siblings (both of my parents were estranged from their living relatives). Still, when I was born in Chicago, IL, I was immediately thrust into a kind of dual existence: I descend, on one side, from a long line of American rebels who made their home in North Carolina after being exiled from Scotland, and on the other, a green-card carrying Canadian immigrant. Very soon after I was born, I moved for the first time to California. Then to Wisconsin, then to Switzerland (and back), to Connecticut and Vermont. By the time I reached college, I was already a dual-citizen who had lived in five very different states and two countries.

I experienced a crisis-of-identity being from so many places. I was always arriving or departing. I was always exploring a new place and people only to leave them behind a few short years later. Each new place gave me the opportunity to become a new person, and that’s what I did. I didn’t realize at the time that that being a new person and being more deeply your own person is not the same thing. I tried on various identities as I wove my way in and out of states, schools and social groups. One year, a football jock. The next, a goth. The next, a hippy. Through these transitions, I was developing the character traits that I have used to create and define my adult identity: intellectual curiosity, self-reliance, and commitment to human and environmental justice.

I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder early in high school. My mother has bipolar disorder, but, as I know now, I do not. Most cases of child & adolescent bipolar disorder are diagnosed based on the observations of a parent, however, in my case the usual narrator was unreliable. While this diagnosis was reversed when I was 20 because I lack key symptoms of the disease, for years, others around me defined me by this label; my own personal Rosenhan experiment. In their effort to help me, my parents surrounded me with people who believed I was sick. I recognize that my parents were trying sincerely to help, and I bear them no ill will. For teenagers who actually have bipolar, their support system helps them succeed, but for me, the system acted as a weight. At the time, I was too young to be strong enough to lift it alone, and I gained a deep appreciation for what it means to find yourself, without an advocate, in a complicated system over which you have no control. I learned to rely on myself and my own effort to define who I was and what I could do, and I became sensitive to other’s suffering.

When I first got to Marlboro College, I thought I would major in biology or math because, when I was in high school, I had excelled at those subjects. I realized though that was not going to be the path for me. I participated heavily in our college community. I helped found the Marlboro College Victory Garden, our college farm. I spoke regularly at and then was elected as Moderator of Town Meeting, our New England-style campus government involving students, faculty, and staff. I found I enjoyed learning and using Robert's Rules of Order as part of my responsibility as Moderator. At the same time that I was working to reverse my misdiagnosis, I found my academic footing when I changed my major to Sociology at the beginning of my Junior year. I let my work in the community, readings of classic sociology and my struggle to form my identity inform my choice to write my Plan of Concentration, a two-year senior thesis, on the environmental sociology of agriculture.

After I graduated, I felt drawn to the law as the inevitable next step, and I began the application process. However, in 2010, amid the economic uncertainty of the Great Recession, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to handle the economic commitment to law school, and I went to work. While I have developed an incredibly rewarding career since then, I keep coming back to pursuing the law, especially immigration law, as a way of helping others who find themselves, like I was, feeling trapped in a system without an advocate.

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Re: Critque of personal statement

Post by UVA2B » Fri Dec 14, 2018 5:47 pm

You already know you won't get into Columbia with your GPA/LSAT, so I won't belabor that. And focusing on getting into a T20 is fine, but realistically you should take the time and effort to retake for both admissions and cost reduction. Since this isn't a chances thread asking for whether you should retake, I won't harp on it. But if your goals are really to attend CLS or pay less for another T20 education, you should retake.

From the outset: what is the narrative you want to sell to admissions with this PS? You kind of jump from topic to topic within your own narrative without really nailing down a unifying theme. Is your statement about being transitory and experienced in the world that has led to a worldliness you can draw on in law school/your practice of law? Is it about being misdiagnosed as bipolar and the impact that diagnosis had on your life? Or maybe the interesting contrast of being falsely diagnosed with bipolar disorder because your mom had the condition? Whatever sales pitch you want to bring to admissions, it needs to be focused on a single theme, which you haven't really done here (at least in my personal opinion).

Separate from asking for a single unifying theme for your PS, I'll just ask: please reconsider your conclusion. It reads like an empty description of fitting law school into a really wide narrative. You don't have to explain why you want to go to law school, and that paragraph shows a perfect example of someone who can/should leave off "why law" from their PS.

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