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Messages - Burhop

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1
Hi Amicus - this would be a more powerful PS if you focused just on the details of what you went through to rehabilitate yourself. Writing on a theme of overcoming extreme obstacles is usually a strong PS strategy. You have too much information in here currently, and it is best not to discuss grades etc. in the PS.

2
Recommendations / Re: Online Profs
« on: September 21, 2011, 05:09:48 PM »
For recommendations, the best are, ranked (if they actually know you)

Renowned professor
Full Professor
Associate Professor
Assistant Professor
Supervisor of a good job you've held who has a related background/holds a JD or LLM or graduate degree
Senior Lecturer
Visiting Lecturer of some importance
Lecturer
Postdoctoral Fellow
Graduate student TA (even if they now have their degree)

...without knowing the title of the person who taught the online class, it's hard to say. If it's someone without a PhD or title, it probably won't carry much weight, but if you haven't got anyone else, it shouldn't hurt.

That's the thing with recommendations - they rarely help, but can hurt. One bad recommendation from anyone hurts more than three glowing recommendations help - because most recommendations are usually pretty glowing, or at least generically positive. They aren't what will differentiate you as an applicant, except in the rarest of cases. - Dani

3
Personal Statement / Re: Are contractions acceptable?
« on: September 21, 2011, 04:06:53 PM »
The personal statement is not meant to be a formal piece of writing - it's meant to shed light on your character. Avoiding contractions could affect the tone of your essay in an adverse way, depending on the topic at hand. If it is a light, or friendly topic, contraction use is perfectly okay. The goal is not to sound too serious. Don't use contractions in your resume/CV, however - Dani

4
Personal Statement / Re: Critique and Suggestions Please
« on: September 21, 2011, 04:02:56 PM »
The good news is I was able to follow your prose easily - it's clean. What you eventually write will probably come across well. But yes - this is too broad, too young. You need a story where A) You're an adult and B) You come across as a leader, or hero, or caregiver, or some other "type" that is easily recognizable as a type that usually succeeds in law school. Your story should show that you are smart, strong, ambitious, thoughtful. This topic shows that you are inconstant, changeable, unsure.

best - Dani

5
You won't go wrong if you keep it to around 750 words. Schools that want you to write more, like Berkeley, will explicitly ask you to write more. - Dani

6
GPA is always an issue; check Law School Numbers to get a sense of places that are willing to take a chance on a big LSAT/GPA split. Don't throw money away on applications to places that won't take the risk. Writing an addendum is only recommended if you are able to say "everything is great now because of XYZ"; a good addendum (on any topic) doesn't just explain, it reassures. - Dani

7
Personal Statement / Re: PS - please evaluate
« on: September 21, 2011, 03:51:57 PM »
Hi! You've "buried the lede" - the reader should have a clear idea of the focus of this essay by the first paragraph. Starting in the airport doesn't add any value, IMHO. I recommend that you start your essay with the "grueling four concerts" (be sure to check yourself on adjectives and adverbs, though - too many litter this prose, which clutters its progress). Great topic, though - keep working on this - Dani

8
Personal Statement / Re: Patterns I've seen
« on: October 26, 2007, 02:53:52 PM »
Heh heh...and it'll get harder as the months wear on, for sure...if you think you're stressed now, it gets worse if you're still working on your app in December! The optimal time to send a properly polished essay is in the next 2-4 weeks, if you haven't already.

But you can do some stuff to get those endorphins up...go for a jog or something. Call an old friend who is always ridiculously funny, or read some Calvin & Hobbes. Whatever makes ya crack a smile.

Dani

Who doesn't write their PS in a funk? You're doing it during app season, you're in a funk.

9
Personal Statement / Yale 250 Parody Thread
« on: October 26, 2007, 06:57:08 AM »
I love the Yale 250. Folks get really anxious about writing this particular essay; I find it's a good exercise to write a couple parody Yale 250s. Getting creative with that format can seriously free up some brain space.

The basic idea is to choose the world's most absurd topic--a topic that would be unbelievably ridiculous to send to Yale--and write a parody "250" on it. I don't know if I've got any fellow Creatives in the house here, but I hope so, because I want to see this thread get redonk.

Two entries from me:

Yale 250: My Boyfriend's Microwave is Better than Mine

I frequently make oatmeal in the morning, from those little pre-packeted flavored pouches; I favor maple undertones, with the occasional cinnamon kicker. Sometimes I'll go for freeze-dried cranberry bits in with the oats--the tartness is a welcome wake-me-up.

I mention this because my microwave has only two options for oatmeal texture: soup or glue. I have been unable to find the sweet spot on the timer for the proper consistency.

It is possible I could boil water on the stove instead; I have heard the factoids about microwaves destroying all nutrients in everything they zap. I've tried to picture this phenomenon: beautifully-wrought double helices dissolving into a softly bubbling pool of watery muck, like the Wicked Witch of the West. Where do the nutrients go? Are the B vitamins really that delicate? Maybe they're hardy. Maybe they've evolved, and now thwart the evil zapping powers of microwaves everywhere. Of course, that makes no sense--where's the selective advantage? I don't think B vitamins mate, for instance. In any case, I eat oatmeal for fiber, which might gremlinify into six grams of radioactive evil, but should still scrape my insides clean.

Iconic movie references aside, I must admit: My boyfriend's microwave nukes more superbly than my own. (This is not meant to be a metaphor.) Oatmeal that spends two minutes in his white box emerges in the proper creamy-fluffy texture that oatmeal eaters everywhere pine for. I can guess blindly at the amount of water I ought to add, and it's like his microwave can appreciate this and adapt to my capriciousness. It's lovely.
______________________

Yale 250: On Cartoon Eyeballs

Open your newspaper to the funny pages. See all of the cartoon eyeballs? Nota Bene: They are all some form of sphere, with some sort of dot within. Let's say 90% of cartoon eyeballs get no more complex than that.

The artist can nudge the eyeball a millimeter and suddenly the wee cartoon man is angry; another nudge sends him into sadville; the next nudge might make him appear maniacal. Moving the "pupil" a smidge can take a cartoon face from genius to drooling. Sure, sure, sometimes it's the eyebrows doing the work, raised so far up they are no longer even attached to the cartoon head they are meant to modify, but instead are hanging like two lazy commas surfing the updraft of a heat register in December. But eyebrows are all hyperbole; eyeballs, subtlety and finesse. The noisy already get plenty of attention in this world. It's the eyeball's turn to shine.

To eyelid or not to eyelid?, that is the question. For here's the rub: in cartoons, we can simply bend the outer rim of the eyeball until it creates a recognizable facsimile of a human emotion. Eyelids are great for alluding to sleepiness, but otherwise can be discarded. Cartoons, after all, do not need to blink.

Eyeballs in actual human heads are sometimes pretty, sometimes alarming, sometimes mundane. But eyeballs in cartoon heads meet the sonic standard set by the word itself--eyeball, after all, is a hilarious word. Like monkey. Or: Underpants. Bubble. Wattle. Banana. Forty-two. Pickle. Llama. Well, you get the idea.


10
Personal Statement / Re: Patterns I've seen
« on: October 26, 2007, 06:36:00 AM »

These types of essays are prevalent. I think the reason is because a lot of the most powerful moments in our lives--the defining moments--are related to something that would generally be perceived as negative. The things is, I've found lots of applicants really need to write these essays. It's like exercising a demon or something. What a clever applicant does is write the essay--write it well, even--and then have the presence of mind not to send it to the admissions committees. "Pity" essays are funadementally written for the author, not the audience, and particularly not an audience one really, truly wants to impress.

I'd argue the main goals of the personal statement are to be remarkable, together, sound of mind, and most of all, likeable. You want the adcomms to *like* you, right? Who wants to toss away the app of someone they like? Likeability is surely hard to achieve in a couple pages, but if a clever applicant keeps "likeability" in the back of their mind, I think they are more likely to pick a topic that will show them in a better light. (It's really amazing how much your present mood affects the writing you produce! There's a good tip--don't try and write your personal statement when you're in a funk.)

So--if you have a horrid story that you need to get out of your system, I say, write it! Just make sure that you write a couple different essays that aren't depressing, and then think hard about which essay will impress the adcomms the most.

I thought of two more 'common' essays that make my eyes roll:

1. The 'I will survive' essay - While I think it's perfectly acceptable to talk about circumstances that tested your perseverance and will to succeed, I find that most writers who choose this topic spend SO much time focusing solely on the negativity of their experiences that I only feel pity for them.  They usually end the essay by saying that they're not a quitter or some other trite ending.   

2. The 'Pity' essay - If the above topic generated self-pity, this essay generates pity for someone else.  Whether it's a small impoverished boy, Brazilian prostitute, imprisoned orphan or whatever, these essays focus so much on the negativity (and usual recovery) of the subject that focus shifts drastically away from the writer.  Essentially, it suffers the same problems as #1.

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