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Author Topic: Someon Please Give Me Some Feedback on My Personal Statement!  (Read 743 times)

amh83

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Someon Please Give Me Some Feedback on My Personal Statement!
« on: October 13, 2008, 11:50:28 PM »
I have been working on my personal statement and wanted to get some feedback. If yall could take a look at it and tell me what you think. I haven't edited it for grammar yet.This is just my first draft and I am going to add a paragraph at the end specific to the law school I am applying.

Exerting a tremendous amount of energy I struggled to stay on my feet as the powerful Chilean winds blew against me. I had dismounted the horse I rented for the day and began to walk toward the foot of Torres Del Paines. These three towers of granite were a majestic site and were the finale of a surreal two week trip traveling through Patagonia. As I sat adjacent to the river admiring the serene natural environment around me, I began to reflect on the experiences of the past year that had led me to this moment. What started out as a catastrophe resulted in a life changing experience that allowed me to develop many new friendships with an eclectic assortment of people from many different cultural backgrounds.
It was hard to believe that only a year prior I was sitting on my cousinís couch in Jackson, Mississippi watching the news and witnessing the chaotic devastation that had befallen New Orleans. After a lifetime of constant close calls I sat helplessly as my city was battered. As the levees were breached by the surge brought on by Katrina I couldnít help but worry about many of my close friends that refused to evacuate and also what the future would hold for me. I decided to travel north through Tennessee, Kentucky, and ending in Ohio to visit aunts and uncles that I hadnít seen for many years. Since I ended up in Cincinnati at my auntís house I decided to attend Ohio State for the semester.
After three and a half months in Ohio I was eager to return to New Orleans and finish my last two semesters at Loyola. Although my expectations of the cities recovery were not unrealistic I was amazed at how little progress had been made. When I entered the house I grew up in it was in shambles and unrecognizable. Driving around with my best friend I couldnít believe how bad the damage actually was. When I returned to school I just couldnít focus on my studies resulting in my worst semester of college. Disillusioned I decided to seek employment in Buenos Aires, Argentina as an English teacher. My uncle who lived there agreed to let me stay at his house and put me in touch with some of his friends who helped me find a job.
When I arrived I was extremely nervous and unsure about my decision. I had not seen my uncle in over a decade and had no idea what to expect. I was surrounded by people who spoke a language I did not understand and a culture I knew very little about. In order to better understand my students and enable my trip to go more smoothly I enrolled in intensive Spanish classes. The classes were in a small building that was formerly the house of an Argentine opera star. The choice to attend these classes was one of the best decisions I could have possibly made. It was in these classes that I not only learned enough Spanish to survive but also received a crash course in international relations. The people I met there were so completely diverse that it was amazing to me how well we all got along. The classes included people from Iceland, Norway, England, Canada, and the Netherlands. After class many of us would get lunch together and talk about the countries we were from and practice our Spanish. Not only were these people from different cultural backgrounds but many different professions as well. Many nights we would also convene for dinner and go out to some of the local bars.
During these social outings we discussed many topics. I came to find out that four of the people I had become friends with through this school were attorneys. Two were from England, one from Buenos Aires, and one was from Wisconsin. I would listen to there conversations about the profession with intense interest. It was fascinating to hear them speak about the legal systems of these different countries and it amazed me how similar they really were. These conversations in Argentina rekindled my interest in the law. Since I was a child I had always been interested in obtaining a legal degree. My grandfather was a successful attorney for Jones Walker and I always admired his knowledge of the law and the respect he had obtained by almost everyone who encountered him. These new friendships made me absolutely certain that I wanted to obtain a legal education.
It was these five months in South America that were responsible for the reemergence of my interest in the legal field. As I sat looking up at Torres Del Paines, I could not help but be grateful for the circumstances that had brought me to this point in my life. I not only had many fond memories to look back on but I also had a renewed sense of what it was that I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

sheltron5000

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Re: Someon Please Give Me Some Feedback on My Personal Statement!
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2008, 03:52:55 AM »
I feel like you need to focus more on one topic: BE SPECIFIC!

1. I know that Katrina was a big part of your life experience, but the truth is, from what I've seen, that adcomms have had too much of katrina and 9/11. Unless you are writing about katrina herself, keep it to just a brief mention. -> 1 Sentence. "I was a student at layola. Returning in the wake of katrina the devastation disheartened me. I went to buenos Aires ..."

2. Your transitions in a few places are hard to find. Remember that adcomms will be reading these things REALLY fast, I got lost when you started talking about spanish because I missed your sentence that said you were going to south america.

3. I think you can drop the why law stuff. Adcomms read a lot of that stuff, and supposedly it all starts to look the same. instead, use the space to describe the atmosphere, the classroom, the bars to paint a picture. If you wanted to tie in the four lawyers section, I advise writing that in as more of a "I saw how law really connects everything." adcomms are smart, they can read between the lines and see how that made an impression on you about being a lawyer without you telling them that you always wanted to be a lawyer. "I have always been interested in law" is kind of a throw away line that many, many, many PSs will have. don't waste the space.

4. Finally, write more about how you felt. Try to use metaphors to connect the adcomms to the emotions and mental situation you were in. I'm sure you felt disoriented, try something like "My mind was spinning, almost like I was drunk. Everything I saw seemed distorted, very like what I knew and was comfortable with, but slightly off, too long or too colorful." Or whatever, you can make it better... The point is to tell the adcomms not just WHAT you experienced (people from many countries) but also how that affected you and what you were going through during that experience. Hopefully, you can use that to communicate to them what kind of person you are and how you think.

Remember the cocktail party analogy, they want people who have interesting experiences and interesting patterns of thought.

I hope that helps, I know it's long and disorganized, but I felt like trying to help someone and I feel your pain ;)

Sheltron
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rush the rushdie

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Re: Someon Please Give Me Some Feedback on My Personal Statement!
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2008, 04:53:22 PM »
i'm no expert on writing personal statements, but i think sheltron's advice is really (really!) good.  i definitely agree with #2 -- i think there's a lot of good material in ur essay, but it doesn't flow as well as it could (but of course, it's just a first draft, so..). Organizing the structure a bit will help tremendously, i think. 

Also, this section worried me a little: "These conversations in Argentina rekindled my interest in the law. Since I was a child I had always been interested in obtaining a legal degree. My grandfather was a successful attorney for Jones Walker and I always admired his knowledge of the law and the respect he had obtained by almost everyone who encountered him."

first, i've heard that it's a pretty bad idea to say that you're interested in law school b/c a parent or a relative is a lawyer.  (i mean, even if this is the case, it's not recommended that you actually say it, bcause it might seem as though you're going to law school "just because" your grandfather is a lawyer.)

second, if you're gonna say that X rekindled Y, then Y should have been mentioned somewhere before X... or at least implied somewhere before X.  I didn't get the impression that this essay had anything to do with law until i read "...rekindled my interest in law...".  (Which is not a bad thing, i think.) bouncing it back to sheltron's third comment, i agree, ending your PS with a "why i want to go to law school" isn't necessary. 

redcement

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Re: Someon Please Give Me Some Feedback on My Personal Statement!
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2008, 09:58:07 PM »
I have read quite a few personal statements and you would be surprised how many of them talk about a) experience teaching overseas and b) experience helping out after Katrina. Yours covers a, but your experience of Katrina is vastly different from the average story of privleged-student-assuaging-his-conscience-by-taking-a-plane-to-New Orleans-to-ladle-soup. When you begin to talk about (your own) house still being in shambles when you return to it, I began to get interested in this ps. Why don't you stretch that out, make THAT the focus of this ps? Here is an opportunity to talk about your expectations of what should be vs. what is...and about personal strength in the face of adversity. These qualities are worth covering in a ps. The overseas experience, imo, while interesting to you is from the outside kinda dull.