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Messages - kslaw

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51
Law School Applications / Re: "personal experience"
« on: February 11, 2004, 03:26:04 PM »
Well, the rattling off of personal tragedies as if it is an expected part of the application rather than an extenuating circumstance, creates the feeling that it is mandatory. That those who have no personal tragedy are missing an aspect of their application.

Which, in turn, creates a dilemna for those people who have tragedies they feel are only indirectly relevant to the application, or are too sensitive to share with nameless, faceless admissions councils. Everyone else is sharing their tragedy, do I need to as well in order to compete? it is logical, then, that the reaction will be to wish everyone could just keep their tragedy to themselves and let the quantifiably measurable factors determine the outcome. Then, you don't have to envision that scenario of the admissions officer holding your application in one hand, and the impoverished candidate in the other and saying..."well...they both look pretty good, but this guy had a rough childhood, so let's take him instead."

But I really don't think that's the way they look at it. Everyone has a personal statement, and they use it to reveal what they can about their strengths and character. To some people, that comes from their darkest moments, from others, their highest achievements, some their average day. it could go on and on.

Anyone who can say that their greatest achievement came from overcoming their darkest hours...I say that belongs in the personal statement. When I read the post by the childhood cancer survivor, my immediate reaction was "childhood? how's that relevant?", but after some thought, i discarded the notion that he was going for the sympathy vote and realized that having battled cancer is likely to be someone's crowning achievement and even more likely to have changed their life, way of thinking, and ability to handle challenges. it tells you the person is a fighter and a survivor and thus, probably has the character necessary to handle law school (provided they have the aptitude).

52
Law School Applications / Re: "personal experience"
« on: February 11, 2004, 02:46:26 PM »
Understood and i apologize for being defensive. I've been on the fence about the situation and probably reacted with sensitivity because I am afraid of sounding like I am trying to make excuses or evoke sympathy.

53
Law School Applications / Re: "personal experience"
« on: February 11, 2004, 02:40:33 PM »
one other thing...it also makes a difference how you handled the obstacle itself and how you write about it. Are you simply whining about the obstacle being there? are you saying...life has been hard for me, so you should make it easy by letting me into your law school?

or are you saying...here are some details about me or my life that will help you get a clearer picture of who i am?

I have a feeling that this thread was started as a result of my thread asking whether I should address my low GPA, so I will bring that into the discussion. From my point of view, I don't view the accident as something tragic. I did for those first few years. At this stage in my life, I feel fortunate that the events of my life have played out the way they have. that particular event changed the course of my life, led me into my current career, gave me skills I would not have otherwise had (those learning therapies are amazing). I was hesitant in addressing it because of the fact that it was not something that should be pitied at all, and I would never want someone to think that. It's simply a fact of my life. I had two years of a low GPA because I had next to no short-term memory. In the long run, it all worked out well, the only lasting negative effect was two years of low GPA.

I think many people who have had such a wrench thrown into their life plans can say sometime down the road that it changed their entire way of thinking. it can be a significant event. it does not mean that I think I deserve any more than the next guy...but it is a significant part of who I am and where I've been.


on the other hand, in my current work, I meet amazing people who have significant lifelong disabilities whose accomplishments may be considered mediocre if they had been completely able-bodied, but because of their disability, those same accomplishments are absolutely amazing. And I do think, in those cases, that the fact that they accomplished what they did in spite of their disability makes them more deserving than the next guy whose grades were less than perfect because he was lazy.

As far as the extra points given to people of minority status, I'm not really sure how i feel about that. I think there are numerous circumstances that are as common and as troublesome that are not getting points (ex. white male raised in poor neighborhood with no father who has to work from the age of 12 has it rougher than a minority whose parents are doctors and sent him to a private school with tutors to help him excel).

54
Law School Applications / Re: "personal experience"
« on: February 11, 2004, 02:14:46 PM »
As far as the racial aspect...it's really hard to say what is and isn't an obstacle in someone else's life. If the individual grew up in a house where English wasn't spoken, then I'd say they had an obstacle to overcome. If someone actually felt the effect of racism, (had racial slurs painted on their locker or crosses burning in their yard, for extreme examples), then I'd say they overcame an obstacle because they were making those achievements in a much more hostile world than the rest of us know.

on the other hand, if the person thought racism was something that only happened in history books and movies, until the time came that they were applying to law school and realized it could help them get in...then I think that's wrong.

the truth of the matter is...no one can really know how much something was an obstacle unless they've walked in that person's shoes. I don't think there should be an underlying assumption that being of a particular race has been an obstacle, but if someone can show how their life was more difficult because of their race, then I would believe them.

I do think, if I were on an admissions committee, I would be reading such personal statements pretty critically. If someone were exaggerating the effect of minor difficulties, I would actually take that as a sign of weakness rather than strength ("they think that constitues an obstacle?...they cannot handle law school".

I guess I am using a lot of generalities and not giving a definitive answer to your question. What I am trying to say is...if the person was the target of racism or truly felt that their race was an obstacle and could support that claim, then I'd say it's valid. If the person is using race or ethnicity as a trump card to help them get in, or pointing to minor or trivial examples of how their race was an obstacle, I'd say it would probably work against them.

55
Law School Applications / Re: "personal experience"
« on: February 11, 2004, 12:07:57 PM »
One thing I wanted to add. You mention that you don't want to exploit yourself by making yourself out to be a special person who deserves special consideration.

I find that comment as irritating and creepy as you find the use of personal tragedy in personal statements. If you had used examples that were trivial, I would be able to understand. But to use an example of someone who is missing a limb reveals something i find disheartening.

an individual missing a limb has to work a lot harder every day of his or her life. If he leaves that part of his life out of the application, he will be compared apples to apples to the guy who has the same LSAT score and GPA. why should he be? He has accomplished more.

If someone ran a mile in 10 minutes, you wouldn't think they were very impressive. If they ran a mile in 10 minutes carrying a Volkswagon on their back....different story. His LSAT and GPA were achieved in the midst of adversity. That's much more valuable than someone with the same exact LSAT and GPA who achieved theirs without a trouble in the world.

If the admissions committees were not in favor of hearing about these aspects of a candidate's life, they would not be requesting personal statements, but instead giving out generic essay questions.

56
Law School Applications / Re: "personal experience"
« on: February 11, 2004, 11:57:04 AM »
I'll respond because (as noted in my post), I have my own personal experiences that I will address in my personal statement.

Law school is very stressful, as we've all heard, and there are many who won't finish. GPA and LSAT scores can go so far in determining someone's ability to grasp the concepts taught, but neither are sufficient for revealing if the candidate has the character necessary to survive through those three years.

Showing the committee how you have overcome adversity in your life may give them a glimpse into your character...a breast cancer survivor, for example, is much less likely to be intimidated by law school because they have faced worse.

I believe that if the personal tragedy is relevant, it should be included. If it explains an aspect of your application that is lacking (truly explains, not just making an excuse for) or if it reveals something about your determination, ability to handle stress, ability to overcome obstacles, then it is relevant.

A rape victim who would like to be a prosecuting attorney could write an excellent personal statement about how her experience as a victim has brought her to her goal. what I would see, reading that, is that she has personal reasons for being dedicated to justice and dedicated to her goal. That would be held in her favor.


57
Law School Applications / Re: Low GPA...address this?
« on: February 11, 2004, 11:21:23 AM »
Thank you. But truly, it wasn't as bad as you may think. the lobes of the brain injured were those that control short-term memory, cognitive functioning and language (even that, I was very fortunate. it was only more advanced language skills...foreign language, reading comprehension, but not basic grammar and speech). So while I met some truly amazing people who had to relearn how to walk and talk , I just had to relearn how to learn.

Thank you, though. You just made me realize I was overlooking the obvious. I currently work with the disabled and am planning on going into public interest/health law.

thanks all.

58
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Some advice?
« on: February 10, 2004, 04:43:50 PM »
Thank you. I guess if I apply now and don't get in, I can always try again next year, right?

59
Studying for the LSAT / Re: Feb 7 LSAT
« on: February 10, 2004, 01:32:43 PM »
The housing question was awful. I had no idea how to diagram it, so I just started doing process of elimination by trying out every scenario. not sure how well that worked.

I felt pretty comfortable with the rest of the test, though I could be way off. the logical reasoning sections, it's so hard to know how well I did because eliminating three answers was always easy, and choosing between the remaining two was always hard.

60
Where should I go next fall? / Some advice?
« on: February 10, 2004, 01:14:13 PM »
I have a low GPA, (2.99) due in large part to a traumatic brain injury incurred after my freshman year. the two years that followed, I remained in school (with a 1.9, 2.2) while engaged in cognitive and learning therapies to retrain my brain how to learn. I am going to address this in my personal statement. At the tail end of the therapies (in 1998), I took the LSAT and scored a 159, having not answered the second half of the reading comprehension because I completely zoned out.

I just took the LSATs again on Saturday, so i won't know how I did until March 1. timed practice exams, I scored between 166 and 171. I felt confident after the test on Saturday (I didn't run out of time, which had been my biggest downfall in practice tests)

As far as applying, I have two choices. One...I could put my application in now to the school in my hometown. the application deadline is march 1. I would be applying with no idea of whether my LSAT is high enough to make up for my GPA. The school is ranked in the 50s. (Tier 2, I guess).

Or..I could put off applying, plan to start law school next fall (2005), carefully choosing schools based on my LSAT score.

I think I will still end up feeling that the school in my hometown is the best choice for me. Waiting until next year would allow me to choose more carefully, but if I choose any other school, it would mean uprooting my husband from his career and selling our house.

Any feedback? My instinct is that it's better to wait, but logically, I don't see any great advantage to waiting. I don't think I have any chance of getting into a better school than the one in my hometown.

thanks.

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