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Messages - Burhop

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for me, 'funny' in a PS works when it's an aside that fits in with the general narrative. This reads like a transcript for a stand up show--thus, it does read as if it is trying a bit too hard. The set up is so elaborate, I wasn't surprised--I could tell what you were up to and let out a little groan.

Probably not the best impression to leave a reader with--IMHO.



This is curious. I'm sensing a divide between explicitly stating for the reader "why law?" and showing an aptitude for challenge and writing and critical thinking.

I think one of the reason pre-law advisors don't emphasize "why law" for the PS is because a great deal of recent undergrads who apply  directly to law school may not have much that is concrete to discuss. Trying to create a "why law" essay out of a few marginally related experiences would likely result in an unnecessarily weak essay. Also, I have heard adcomms note that often what a pre-1L thinks their law path will be is so warped from the reality of law school that there is no point in writing a whole essay of what essentially amounts to rabid speculation. (All those trendy 1L books reiterate this point--that law school is never as one imagines it will be.) Though, if an application asks for a 'why law' response, it should be touched upon, I agree. Though, I muse that this prompt is really to weed out the rabid speculators. ;-)

I would argue that it is valid to discuss a topic that shows one's ability to surmount challenge--starting a business, doing something significant for the community, overcoming a large obstacle with grace and vigor--that may not directly relate to the law. Indeed, the strong, holistic essays I've seen have subject matter that is handily extrapolated to indicate an aptitude for great challenge. I've seen a number of strong essays this season, and a few standouts. I'd say overall that 50% of the essays I've read accomplish what they ought to--leaving the reader with a strong, positive, action-oriented impression of the candidate (bonus points for extreme memorability/genuinely unique topic).

Getting multiple opinions on one's essay from a source such as this (as opposed to a writing center or a professor) will probably result in multiple opinions, some of which are divergent. At this point in our education, I imagine we're pretty good at figuring out what advice 'sticks'--so you take what you need from what you get, I suppose. I wouldn't dissuade anyone from putting forth their honest opinions here (especially those that volunteer their time), but it is worth noting that the essay writer will have to contextualize the opinions they get. The onus is on the writer in this instance--the readers here all have varied experience with editing and feedback--that's just how it is. To ask for "comments one can use," then, isn't asking for anything concrete--the reader gives what they can, and you take what you need. Discard what you do not.

The edict "be nice?" I suppose I've had that trained out of me during workshopping, so I may be guilty of a somewhat surly aside at times.  ;) But, I also keep in mind that we value personal feelings and self esteem to a great degree more in the US educational system than is asked for in most other countries. This could be to our detriment--I've heard arguments on both sides (some claim we learn more when we feel positive, and some claim we assume we've learned something if we 'feel good' about it). Suffice to say, one can say "gee, this isn't making much sense to me--maybe you should rephrase?" or "Man, this sucks" and the information is essentially the same--something in that section simply isn't working for that particular reader. The writer just has to interpret around the personality of the individual readers to divine the needed information.

glad to see the discussion alive and well! I hope this thread has helped a few folks during this nutty process.


send stuff my way if need be--PM or

The opening paragraph makes you seem like you're probably quite interesting--the tone is a bit manic, and the amount of information thrown at the reader is like drinking out of a firehose. This is not necessarily a bad thing, if this is your intention--just be super honest with yourself about what your goals are re: tone and impression.

 It's not uber-personal yet, but some of the subject matter does seem as if it could veer into "overshare" mode. Remember: There are truths, and then there are truths that will get you into law school. It's not enough to pen a super-truthful memoir--your energy should be focused on building some sort of profile that makes you a clearly desirable candidate. So, any colorful anecdote that makes you seem curious and quirky but *does not* make you seem law-ready should be summarily chucked out the window. ;-) I've not seen the development of the essay, so I won't presume to know whether anything you write will fall into the latter categories.

 I find there's a good question to ask oneself at the end of each paragraph: "how does the information here help sell me to adcomms?" It you cannot immediately think of a reason, reassess. It's just a good framing mechanism for the PS process.

best of luck,


I believe in show over tell as well. ;-) No need to thread 'me, me, me' stuff in there--that's when things get all abstract on the reader (i.e. "I think this, I feel this, I believe this" statements are best kept to a minimum). Glad to hear you're taking strides to slim 'er down! Keep at it, and the revision process should reward you with a more succinct (but still colorful and memorable) piece. Feel free to PM further revisions my way.



Justified looks much better.  I justified all of my essays.  They look much more polished when justified.

That polished look is the same polished look magazines/newspapers have--you'll often see right justification in mass media (but not always!) It isn't objectively easier to read, though--it can stretch words and spaces out, thus ruining the look of individual lines and paragraphs. The page may look prettier as a whole, but don''t mistake that for ease of use.


walking through Spain

Lucky you!

I know--we'll see! I could be one big blister when I return. My buddy I'm traveling with is super on it--she's already gotten Pilgrim status for us, so we get all the amenities--the best spots on the floor in the primo monasteries, you know, that stuff. ;-)

~Dani, official pilgrim

Writing Center conferences are events that gather directors, coordinators and tutors from around a specified geographical area for purposes of cross-pollination. Anyone who plans to be involved can create a proposal, and if granted, you get to teach your topic to those that sign up for your conference. I dunno how often 'personal statements' are a topic--our center's specialties are online tutoring sessions and the SNO method. There are usually loads of pedagogicals...lots of strategy stuff, like modified socratic, working with non-native speakers, reasonable expectations, building relationships, teacher/tutor relationships...stuff like that.

I'll unfortunately be walking through Spain (well, not unfortunately) when the PNW conference takes place, so I'm teaching all the folks in my writing center what I've learned, so those that venture to Corvallis in April can cross-pollinate in my stead.


The cutable stuff in an essay is almost always in the intro and conclusion. The conclusion esp--we tend to go on and on, when it could be 2-3 sentences and be just as effective. Short-and-sweet is my mantra!


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