Law School Discussion

Challenges Personal Statement Draft

Challenges Personal Statement Draft
« on: October 31, 2010, 05:42:28 PM »
In January of 2010, I sat in a cubicle and could feel the sweat beading on the back of my neck as I dialed the German Economic Minister’s private phone number. In my first week interning with the Congressional Study Group on Germany I had repeatedly questioned my choice not to simply take an on-campus job where I could sit and get homework done while manning a desk for hours on end. Instead I was asked to decide what issues should be the focal points of a Congressional luncheon with the German ambassador, sat in as one of three people on conference calls with Congressmen, and now I was calling Berlin questioning the strength of my foreign language skills with each ring at the other end. By the time I went home Friday afternoon I was both exhausted and invigorated and knew exactly why I had chosen this internship. In the course of the past years, I have come to thrive on the opportunity to put my skills to the test and to push the limits of my own comfort. Feeling “comfortable” is no longer a part of who I am or what I strive for.
If this statement seems too bold or simply pretentious, I would like to note that for most of my life it has been far from the truth, and that getting to the point of being comfortable with discomfort—with true personal challenge—has been both the most difficult and most rewarding aspect of my undergraduate experience.
Every stage of my undergraduate experience has been marked by challenge—challenge of my beliefs, my intellect, and my skills—in my academic, social and professional environments. When I chose to come to GW I knew that as a conservative Christian I would be in a noticeable minority group, but could not have anticipated the hostility I would face or how unprepared I was to defend my views. Within weeks of beginning school I had been marked a “gay hater” by peers who knew nothing more about me than the labels “Evangelical” and “Republican.” I had been berated for my conservative stances on such issues as affirmative action and illegal immigration by professors who were more interested in pegging me as insensitive or racist than in knowing that I myself am a Hispanic minority. By the end of my first semester I was shell-shocked, and the affronts to both my beliefs and my intellect led me to the conclusion that I either had to transfer to a place more hospitable to my beliefs or form a different perspective on confrontation, uncomfortable conversations, and divisions of belief.
When I returned to GW, I delved into the questions of constitutional law and began to devote much of my free time to reading and journaling about the issues that I had been confronted about or was struggling with my position on. I also developed a timely friendship with my current best friend, who as a liberal atheist challenged me to expand my thinking on issues of religion, law, and politics without ever asking me to compromise an interpretation that I can defend, even if we will never agree. My academic interest in law and the development of this challenging relationship grew hand in hand as I allowed myself to step out of my comfort zone and sincerely engage in conversations with an opposing viewpoint about the constitutional, political, and personal divides that we struggle daily to better understand.
I am prepared to enter a new community of diverse, motivated individuals who are striving to be right, prepared to be proven wrong, and thriving on the challenge of leaving their comfort zones behind, knowing that the issues on which we differ are far too important to skim over for the sake of comfort. I am also ready to articulate my beliefs beyond social conversations and learn about the legal parameters in which these debates translate into social influence and to further engage in hands-on professional and clinical opportunities that will put my academic knowledge to the test for practical purposes. I am convinced that Northwestern’s Law and Social Policy Program will be an ideal environment in which I prepare to pursue a career as counsel within the federal government, and devote myself to never again shying away from the difficult questions that will arise there.

Re: Challenges Personal Statement Draft
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2010, 11:34:08 AM »
Please offer criticism--is it too redundant? too personal? just too much?

Re: Challenges Personal Statement Draft
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2010, 06:06:29 PM »
Hi  :),

I think your PS is very good! There are a couple of things that caught my eye.

First, try to avoid speaking in a passive voice. The second paragraph contains some passive language, i.e. "I had been berated", "I had been marked", "has been both", etc. Remember, heavy use of passive language weakens your statement.

Second, I think you should go into more detail regarding why you want to attend law school and why you think "leaving your comfort zone " makes you a desirable law school applicant. You need to explain how having such an outlook makes you more unique when compared to other law school applicants (after all, most students/people experience being out of their comfort zone so how does that make you any different?)

Third, you should find a way to relate your internship to law school (if applicable). How/why did the internship point your interest to law school? What have you learned from the internship that you can bring to law school (which other students cannot bring)? How does the internship make you any different from other applicants? There should be a relationship between your internship and your interest in law school.

That's really about it. I don't know how helpful my suggestions are. I did not think your statement was too redundant, personal or too much. I think you have a great foundation to build upon and with a little more work, you'll have a stand-out statement. Good luck to you.  :)

Re: Challenges Personal Statement Draft
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2010, 12:08:44 AM »
I am sorry to say that you are making couple big mistakes in your PS statement.

I have read "The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions."  Anna Ivey is a bxxch, but she does give very good advices on applying for law schools.

Personal statement should be something that can make the admission officers think, "I really like this person---I would love to run into her in the halls every day for the next three years."   That is how a good personal statement works. It shows your own experience that can tell the admission officers that how will you can do in law school, and what you will become after law school. 

I remember that Ivey mentions it's not a good idea to talk about religions, philosophy, and anything that are hard for the admission officers to understand are not good PS since an admission officer will only have 5 mins or less to assess if you are a qualified candidate.

Here is something straight from the book:

Bad topic #1: why you want to a law degree: If admission officers wanted to know why you're pursuing a law degree, they'd ask you expressly and you'd writing what I call a statement of purpose, not a personal statement.  Most people have lousy reason for going to law school, so many school don't even bother asking.  The only people who should be discussing their career goals in a personal statement are older applicants pursuing a career change (admission officers will want to know).  This is an especially important tip for current college students who have become disillusioned with their majors and often use their personal statements to explain why their grades were so poor until they decided to become lawyers instead of switch their majors.  that's almost never a good idea for an essay. or even an addendum.

I strongly recommend you read those books about law school application, especially you are applying for a top school. Those books will give you a very know feel of how it feels like as an applicant and what admission officers look for.

I hope that my advise help.

Re: Challenges Personal Statement Draft
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2010, 12:15:25 AM »
And 1 more thing: Ski[ artificial endings.  If your essay is truly personal, it sounds awfully strained when you slap on a concluding paragraph talking about why you want to go to that school.  If law schools ask you for a personal statement, they don't expect you to make token reference to their programs.  If you really want to talk about why that law school appeals to you, do so in a full length statement of purpose, not in a personal statement.