Law School Discussion

Specific Groups => Minority and Non-Traditional Law Students => Topic started by: azoraraine on January 10, 2008, 05:14:33 PM

Title: addenda - too many?
Post by: azoraraine on January 10, 2008, 05:14:33 PM
Hi all,

I am getting ready to submit my app to my one and only dream school, and I'm at the 25th for LSAT, so I'm trying to dot every i.  One problem I'm having is that I'm nearly 40 and have lived a sort of non-traditional life, even for a non-trad.  I tried to be a painter for a while (supported by my my ex husband, a lawyer), I took a semester of computer courses after UG, which I totally bombed...I guess I am wondering, how many addenda should I really write for all of this?  Do they expect some blips on the resumes of people my age, and do I really have to explain every year of my life to these folks?  I am happy to provide the information, but I do not want my application to land with a thud.  My P.S. is quite strong at this point, my LORs are great, I have a high-powered part-time job that I've had for 4 years (through 3 babies in 17 months, a kid born with problems, domestic abuse, divorce - oh, my P.S. is quite juicy).  I feel like the general impression I give is of someone who had academic promise but lost their path, had kids - and then got their poo together for the common good. 

So...Do I write an addendum for the semester of computer courses?  The years of trying to paint landscapes?  The couple years of waiting tables to support my law student husband?

Thanks for any help.  I am stressed.
Title: Re: addenda - too many?
Post by: azoraraine on January 10, 2008, 06:33:26 PM
Yeah, but my PS is already full of BS;-)  I think you're right, though, if I want to address the spotty work history, that's where I'll need to do it.  Still don't know about the computer classes, though.  It obviously didn't affect my LSAC GPA, but it makes me look even flakier than I really am:(  I'm not a natural-born spinner, so this stuff is killing me.  Thanks for the help!
Title: Re: addenda - too many?
Post by: Oldguy48 on January 10, 2008, 07:45:05 PM
For what it's worth I do not have  quite as colorful a past, but have spent 25 years since my first 3 years of college and finishing (this year).  I chose to focus my PS on who I am today.  I sent one addendum which then talked about my life and how and why (and what I learned) there was a two decade hiatus between junior and senior year.  I didn't specifically address individual issues but talked about the experience of "growing up" as kind of single continuum.  Take this with a grain of salt, however, since I only recently sent in my apps and haven't gotten in anywhere yet.

Title: Re: addenda - too many?
Post by: contrarian on January 11, 2008, 05:16:35 AM
This sort of situation has to be pretty common for non-trads.  Unlike most applications right out of college, we've had a life that we've lived.  I know few people at our age who still work in a position related to the degree in the field that got their undergraduate in, and who don't have multiple jobs and growth and set backs in their lives.   

Turn your lemons into lemonade.  State that this is what you've done, and put a positive spin on it.  Then also stress how you can bring these experiences to benefit the class room and your law degree.  You have experiences that virtually none of the college grads will be able to bring to the table.  Depending on what area you wan to focus on, that can be a powerful enhancement IMHO. 

For reference, I designed my PS to be a reflection of where I've been, the right and wrong choices I've made, where I want to go, how I can bring my experiences to be beneficial to the other students, and how what I've done and where i want to go are still related to the course of law I want to study.

Of course, I haven't gotten any acceptances or rejections yet, so this approach could be completely the wrong way to go. 
Title: Re: addenda - too many?
Post by: upgrade on January 11, 2008, 07:29:36 AM
Remove the BS from your personal statement and replace it with substantive material.  I am ten years younger, but I played on my diverse interests and multiple colleges/majors (I have five on my report, although only 3 were involved in my undergraduate career, it isn't that obvious) past as a strength showing that I have pursued my interests even if they did not pan out to be a career path that I chose to follow.  Reflecting on this and then showing how I have focused on a certain aspect in the last few years, while utilizing bits of my diverse history to assist with perspective, I hope, reveals that I possess the consistency that I did not when I was 20.  I also hope it makes me look like I will add to the diversity of the school.
Title: Re: addenda - too many?
Post by: azoraraine on January 11, 2008, 08:14:58 AM
Well, I say BS, but I focused on what I am most proud of, keeping my high-stress job as the managing editor of a start up scientific journal (which is flourishing) while having 3 kids (one who was born with a disability) - while also having a husband who slid into substance/domestic abuse, divorcing, etc.  I will probably delete this in a few days, as that's TMI, but I'm having problems finessing this and could use advice...I have been told by people with some knowledge of my school's preferences that my unusual family situation would probably give me an edge, so I am sort of loathe to mess with that stuff at this point.

I have about 200 words left, where I could perhaps talk a little about my circuitous path, or I could put that stuff in an addendum or diversity statement.  Any thoughts?

Thanks so much for the help so far.  Still freaking out.  My ex has lost his job, so getting into  school means so much more - health insurance and diapers, for instance;-)
Title: Re: addenda - too many?
Post by: azoraraine on January 11, 2008, 08:53:13 PM

I grew up in Chapel Hill in the eighties, so I am familiar with that record cover;-)  Thanks for the advice - Hoping to get some time away from the kids this weekend, bc if I don't send this app in soon I will surely need to be confined to an attic.

Thanks everyone for the advice.  I was hanging out on boards with younger applicants, and there was a problem with scale.  They were worried bc they got a B+ on a paper once, and missed a frat charity breakfast or something, and I'm missing entire YEARS, lol. 

Title: Re: addenda - too many?
Post by: Moe Zhust on February 02, 2008, 02:42:15 PM
Anna Ivey's book has the best advice I've seen on addenda.

Briefly:  if you have a glaring weakness, address is straightforwardly and succinctly.  You don't want to sound like a whiner, nor do you want to call attention to multiple problems.  Raises the question, well, what CAN this person do right?

Secret to a good PS is focus.  Don't try to address too much.  Pick ONE of those life-changing struggles, challenges, and triumphs and write about it vividly and frankly.

Good luck!

"Never apologize, never explain."  -- Hunter S. Thompson.
Title: Re: addenda - too many?
Post by: azoraraine on February 02, 2008, 07:35:06 PM
Thanks, Matt.

I stuck to one addendum for something that really needed addend-ing;-).  I didn't alter my PS too much - -  just mentioned that my life had taken a few turns here and there.  Unfortunately, I found a comma splice in that part after I sent it, but what's done is done. 

Thanks for taking the time to answer!  The next month of waiting is going to kill me...