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Author Topic: PLEASE CRITIQUE THIS PERSONAL STATEMENT  (Read 2918 times)

Spank2798

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PLEASE CRITIQUE THIS PERSONAL STATEMENT
« on: January 28, 2010, 01:28:25 PM »
Personal Statement of XXXXX                  January 2010

“I believe in America because we have great dreams - and because we have the opportunity to make those dreams come true.” ~Wendell L. Wilkie


This quote encapsulates why I desire to study the law.  The essence of America is its great democratic institutions, and it is our great democracy that makes these dreams possible.  Now, more than any other time in our history, they are under attack from forces seen and unseen. And it is lawyers who are at the vanguard of the fight to preserve the democratic fundamentals and freedoms we take for granted.
Throughout my life, I have always wanted to give back to my family and my country.  One of the most effective ways to give back is by obtaining a law degree to promote and preserve the privileges we enjoy.  These privileges were not always available, especially for the six generations of XXXXX before me.  In July, 1776, my ancestor John XXXXX enlisted in the Continental Army soon after the heralding of the Declaration of Independence.  He fought the British at the Battle of Brooklyn and the Battle of Fort Washington.  Three generations later, Marshall XXXXX smelted iron in one of the oldest blast furnaces in New Jersey to make rails for our newly adopted railroads that would propel our economy into the next century.  My grandfather protected our shores in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, and currently my father has the same national pride working as a federal agent with the Environmental Protection Agency after serving 13 years in the Marine Corps.
   But it was while working as an intern with the U.S. Probation Office that I saw firsthand why there is such a great need for protecting the poor and downtrodden.  During my internship, I witnessed people of color receiving longer sentences than whites and those of affluence, even when, from a victim impact perspective, the sentences should have been reversed. This racial unfairness in the courtroom is most grievous, yet ever present, in our criminal justice system.  I have the passion to fight this injustice, and feel impelled to do so, as I fear that ideals like “justice for all” and “democracy” will mean nothing to the victims of these prejudices, and will inevitably undermine all confidence in our systems of government in general, and in our criminal “justice” system in particular.  To the victims of this injustice, their perception is that the system is broken, so why maintain it?  And just like the former Soviet Union eventually imploded because its systems were so fundamentally unfair, only a fool would believe that could not happen here.
   Democracy is America’s most prized possession. We must be vigilant to protect its fundamentals, and to advance its goals in our daily life, lest we lose it.  As a lawyer, I know I will be uniquely qualified and able to preserve it for future generations.  I humbly ask you for the opportunity to obtain the education I need to do my part.  Thank you for your consideration.


czarevich

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Re: PLEASE CRITIQUE THIS PERSONAL STATEMENT
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2010, 03:12:58 PM »
I suggest you read Ann Ivey's book on getting into law school...that will give you great info about a personal statement.

With regards to your actual PS, I would omit that pithy quote at the beginning.  Also, I get no sense as to who you are...only that your family has a long lineage of patriotism in this country and that you are as passionate about "democracy" and other noble attributes.  To be honest, this whole PS seems cliche and trite.  You would be better off talking about a particular experience in greater detail and leave to the reader's imagination what you gleaned from it.  I wrote mine about spending a year in Siberia and the comfort I gained from reading a book about a cloistered nun who seemed to have an analagous situation to my own.  Something like that is unique...what you have written is not at all. 

I am not trying to be overly critical of your PS...you just need to be more original because that is the only thing that will make your PS memorable and thus, actually help you in the process (Personal statements generally are not going to make or break your application by the way). 

Spank2798

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Re: PLEASE CRITIQUE THIS PERSONAL STATEMENT
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2010, 03:39:32 PM »
I do understand where you come from...but, I feel that this PS is original...I am applying to not so great law schools and as you said this PS will not make or break me...Thanks for your input...

Spank2798

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Re: PLEASE CRITIQUE THIS PERSONAL STATEMENT
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2010, 03:50:57 PM »
Oh...By the way...I really think this statement made by you is very comical..


"I got in with a 3.4/159...Here are some of the other factors:  I had my application in by October, visited the school twice, had great recommendations, speak 3 languages, had a kick-ass personal statement and have had dinner a few times with the woman who is chairing the SMU Law School steering committee.  It also helps that I have a body like Adonis and a movie star smile"
 
PS: You forgot to mention to the woman who is chairing that steering committee what brand of eye brow tweezers you use...

llsatt1

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Re: PLEASE CRITIQUE THIS PERSONAL STATEMENT
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2010, 10:35:32 PM »
Personal Statement of XXXXX                  January 2010

“I believe in America because we have great dreams - and because we have the opportunity to make those dreams come true.” ~Wendell L. Wilkie


This quote encapsulates why I desire to study the law.  The essence of America is its great democratic institutions, and it is our great democracy that makes these dreams possible.  Now, more than any other time in our history, they are under attack from forces seen and unseen. And it is lawyers who are at the vanguard of the fight to preserve the democratic fundamentals and freedoms we take for granted.
Throughout my life, I have always wanted to give back to my family and my country.  One of the most effective ways to give back is by obtaining a law degree to promote and preserve the privileges we enjoy.  These privileges were not always available, especially for the six generations of XXXXX before me.  In July, 1776, my ancestor John XXXXX enlisted in the Continental Army soon after the heralding of the Declaration of Independence.  He fought the British at the Battle of Brooklyn and the Battle of Fort Washington.  Three generations later, Marshall XXXXX smelted iron in one of the oldest blast furnaces in New Jersey to make rails for our newly adopted railroads that would propel our economy into the next century.  My grandfather protected our shores in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, and currently my father has the same national pride working as a federal agent with the Environmental Protection Agency after serving 13 years in the Marine Corps.
   But it was while working as an intern with the U.S. Probation Office that I saw firsthand why there is such a great need for protecting the poor and downtrodden.  During my internship, I witnessed people of color receiving longer sentences than whites and those of affluence, even when, from a victim impact perspective, the sentences should have been reversed. This racial unfairness in the courtroom is most grievous, yet ever present, in our criminal justice system.  I have the passion to fight this injustice, and feel impelled to do so, as I fear that ideals like “justice for all” and “democracy” will mean nothing to the victims of these prejudices, and will inevitably undermine all confidence in our systems of government in general, and in our criminal “justice” system in particular.  To the victims of this injustice, their perception is that the system is broken, so why maintain it?  And just like the former Soviet Union eventually imploded because its systems were so fundamentally unfair, only a fool would believe that could not happen here.
   Democracy is America’s most prized possession. We must be vigilant to protect its fundamentals, and to advance its goals in our daily life, lest we lose it.  As a lawyer, I know I will be uniquely qualified and able to preserve it for future generations.  I humbly ask you for the opportunity to obtain the education I need to do my part.  Thank you for your consideration.



This essay needs major work.  The beginning sounds so cliche I cringed.  Using law as a way to give back to your country is a huge stretch.  Well maybe I should become an investment fund manager to give back to America because it preserves the financial security of everyone.  If you submit this essay as is you will not get in.  I guarantee it.

czarevich

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Re: PLEASE CRITIQUE THIS PERSONAL STATEMENT
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2010, 10:40:29 PM »
Oh...By the way...I really think this statement made by you is very comical..


"I got in with a 3.4/159...Here are some of the other factors:  I had my application in by October, visited the school twice, had great recommendations, speak 3 languages, had a kick-ass personal statement and have had dinner a few times with the woman who is chairing the SMU Law School steering committee.  It also helps that I have a body like Adonis and a movie star smile"
 
PS: You forgot to mention to the woman who is chairing that steering committee what brand of eye brow tweezers you use...

Sorry, I don't get it.  Were you trying to take a jab at me for putting my input in about your personal statement?  It looks like someone seconded my interpretation of your "cliche" PS. 

gdeurance

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Re: PLEASE CRITIQUE THIS PERSONAL STATEMENT
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2010, 10:35:07 PM »
What I found most interesting about this essay, your legacy. That is bad. You want the focus to be on you, not your ancestors. Honestly, do any of us have a story like "fighting British at the Battle of Brooklyn and the Battle of Fort Washington?" You are talking about the defining years of our country. Anything you write about yourself after that is going to seem trite. You seem like you have a fascinating military legacy, but leave it out (unless you want to simply say you come from five generations of serving your country--your ancestors chose to do so by enlisting in the military, you want to do so through law). Does that make sense?

"As a lawyer, I know I will be uniquely qualified and able to preserve it for future generations." If you feel this is the case, show me how. I never really saw this to be the case. I am not saying it is not the case, you essay simply did not demonstrate this. I think your time working in the probation office is your ticket to an "individual" essay. Really, how many people are going to write about that? What did you learn from that experience? How is it going to shape the type of lawyer you are going to be? Also, if you want to begin with a narrative, describe a wild scene at the office (make one up if you want) and use it to introduce yourself. Talk about how hard you fought for victims rights while working there and how you will utilize the skills you gained in continuing the fight in front of the gavel.

Definitely get rid of the quote. Unless you are going to use the quote as your overarching theme and continually refer back to the central premise it presented, the reader will forget the line within a paragraph--this just has the effect of making you appear a worse writer than you might be.

And like I tell everyone, do not talk about what you want to do, demonstrate how you have done it. You want to give back to your country, how are you going to do it? What have you learned from your experiences that will enable you to do this? Be specific, devote at least 5-10 sentences (if not more) throughout your paper to establish this as fact. Then you will not need to state it, I will infer it--this is much more powerful writing.

Lastly, a word to the wise, do not lash out at people who took the time to write something. If you disagree, do so politely and the ask them to respond. You will get a lot more out of an honest discussion about your personal statement. After all, your goal here is critique right, not to win an argument. good luck