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Messages - Burhop

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81
Personal Statement / Re: Patterns I've seen
« on: January 02, 2006, 05:37:35 PM »
Well, you *can* be creative within that framework--it just depends on the power of the story and the quality of your narrative. I think if more people knew that 80% of people were starting with "when I was five..." or "as a grade schooler..." they'd re-think the strategy, if their intro story is more cute than compelling.

best,
dani

82
Personal Statement / Re: Patterns I've seen
« on: January 02, 2006, 05:33:58 PM »
2) Complaining about parental influence. What's this about? I mean, I feel for anyone whose parents aren't supporting their educational decisions/helping pay--that sucks--but why belittle them directly in the statement? "My parents suck, see?" seems like a weird PS strategy to me.

In my hardship essay (which I weaved into a PS for the schools that wanted a 4-page one), I blamed my dad dying for a dip in grades one year. Is that belittling my parents?

I'd avoid using the word 'blame,' but an addendum explaining GPA as related to a parent's death would likely receive sympathy. It should be short and sweet, though--no need to give a blow-by-blow of personal devestation. The adcomms will surely know the loss of a parent will throw a student off their game--they don't need paragraphs of color commentary. When something truly sucks, it generally needs little explanation. And losing a parent...that's the worst, and I'm sure they know it.

best

dani

83
Personal Statement / Re: Patterns I've seen
« on: January 02, 2006, 02:30:46 PM »
I guess the childhood thing has been beat to death, so let me throw a few more on the fire:

1. "As...I've always"  I've read maybe 20 PSes this past week, and I think 17 of those started with the word "As." "As a blind Pottsylvanian refugee...I've always felt strongly about the plight of moose and squirel";"As a midget-lesbian stage performer, I've always..."  [The point is not to editorialize here, but I'm going to anyway: I can't see this ever being the best way to start. If your story is interesting, as many have been, then it can probably be started better.  If it's not (As an upper middle-class white guy, I've always felt strongly about emu export caps) it's even worse.]

2.Conclusions that use phrases like, "As I prepare to take the leap into law school..."  To be fair, I myself used one of these dumb clauses, and I admit that it seems like a fairly neccessary crutch. It does appear in everything I've read, though, and if it can be avoided (discuss: can it? How? I'm dying to know) I'd think you might want to.

3. Finding Jesus. (Figuratively).  Again, did this myself and I figure it's impossible to avoid unless you're brave enough to tackle an issues essay, but everyone writes about the turn on the dime moment that changed them into the morally-upright, driven and intellectually superior candidate they are today.   We're all, on paper, having Peter Gibbons-esque  transformations.  In as many cases as not, this comes across silly or it requires huge leaps of logic ("I was  twisting balloons into little animal shapes during my time with the circus and one burst on me, blinding a small child.  It occured to me then and there that I've always had a passion for intellectual property law.")

Anyway, that's my input.

Hee hee! Awesome--I've seen these, too. In such a short space, it's sometimes hard not to sound like a cariacature of oneself. That's why I advocate for choosing just 1-2 stories to focus on in the PS; getting the whole life story causes the 'leaps in logic,' as the quaint anecdote quantum leaps time and space to when the applicant is suddenly positive they want to lobby for elephant rights.

Your examples are hilarious, and I have read a few PS's that are just a hop-and-skip away from those gargantuan logic-leaps. The hardest thing about self-editing is having the realization that something that makes sense in your own head makes virtually no sense to anyone outside your head. Or, immediate family. ;-)

best,

dani

84
Personal Statement / Re: Patterns I've seen
« on: January 02, 2006, 04:23:56 AM »
I've also noticed the pattern of "I went whale watching" or "hiked the appalachian trail" and now I want to be a lawyer schtick.  If as many people helped saved frescos in Italy as have claimed in their PS's, then why would the still need saving?

...travel gives opportunity to be very colorful, but it also opens the door o' triteness. I find a lot of travel-based PS's sound either like shoddy travel-writing (i.e. this was beautiful, that was amazing, so much history here, the food was killer) or like an anthropologist taking notes (and then the natives did the most curious thing...).

Travel can also give way to powerful writing. I've seen it go both ways. Sometimes the tricky bit is getting that transformational feeling into words. Other times, travel might seem like the obvious thing to write about. Overall, I've found the travel-based PS's have a lot of room to work with.

best,

dani

85
Personal Statement / Re: Patterns I've seen
« on: January 02, 2006, 04:17:33 AM »
that sounds like a solid PS--gives opportunity for both descriptive narrative and to bring in interesting internship work. Doesn't sound overly focused on childhood from here.

best

dani

86
When you first open Word, does it give you that window that allows you to choose document type? For me, it's Project Gallery--Home Essentials--resume. I have a Mac, tho. If you have Word open and look under File, check to see if Project Gallery is there. That's where my built-in resume formats are. I just chose one that wasn't too garish.

dani

87
Personal Statement / Re: anyone willing to read my personal statement?
« on: January 02, 2006, 03:16:58 AM »
you can PM me as well

dani

88
Personal Statement / Re: Patterns I've seen
« on: January 02, 2006, 03:15:32 AM »
How about the generalized personalization for schools??

I did that in mine, and I truly believe it, half-heartedly that is lol.

I feel like I wrote it more for my top two choices which it works great for, and I reworded it (you read mine a few times  ;)) for the other schools.  Even though I like it the way it is because I still feel like it works for all the schools I'm applying to, I'm wondering if it's going to be like everyone elses in that sense.

I am definately guilty of #1. bringing up childhood and #2. at least somewhat criticizing my parents.  But then again, I really feel like that's what made me who I am in the last 5 years, so as generic as it is, I still feel like that's the best route for my PS.

The personalization--if it's dropped in at the very end and seems fill-in-the-blank, it's probably a wash--doesn't help or hurt much. I wrote for a bit about SU's excellent legal writing program & my own belief in the craft; I like to believe I didn't sound like I was blowing smoke, because that is one of the main reasons I'm really down with the school. One can't help worrying that they sound gushy/insincere, I suppose.

You bring up an important point--the inclusion of storylines that "make an applicant who they are." These are the stories that are most important to our own self-definition, and inevitably rise up during the PS writing process. I personally felt like I was killing a child when I extracted the paragraphs in my GPA addendum about where I grew up, and how that strongly influenced the kind of student I was at the time. But ultimately, that was something I needed to get out of my system--adcomms didn't need to see all that garment-rending, nor did they need my whole bio.

So I guess my point is: because it is important to you does not mean it will be integral to getting you into law school. In fact, the more drama, the more distraction, I find. I realized after writing my "E-town lurve" paragraphs that an adcomm would surely say "wtf--why is she writing about high school? Get to the point!"

or, more succinctly, by way of Twain-Hemingway-King (Stephen!)--"Kill your darlings."

best,

dani

89
Personal Statement / Re: Yale 250, anyone?
« on: January 01, 2006, 08:53:56 PM »
send any and all my way--PM or burhopd@yahoo.com

dani

90
Personal Statement / Re: Yale 250 from an app without a prayer...
« on: January 01, 2006, 08:50:54 PM »
sure--send 'er along

burhopd@yahoo.com or PM

dani

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