Law School Discussion

Patterns I've seen

Burhop

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2006, 11:38:33 AM »
I figure you're asking me about my organization o' da essay. My PS is only tangentially about me; I focused in on the idea of citizenship, and how it can be better defined, along with what I argued were some exemplary examples of citizenship today. So, the framework was kinda like this:

1) Question raised via Internship completed/class discussion question
2) Attempts to define citizenship
3) working on re-integrating the idea into the ether (consumer/ciitizen dichotomy)--subtle argument for the power of language to shape ideas
4) Concrete examples of good citizenship
5)the overlap between the responsibilities of citizen vs. those of a student
6)How this relates to my interests/why SU.

...I wanted to show the adcomms I could think deeply and broadly about (what I think) is an important topic today, as well as pose a few strong arguments. I totally ran over though--it's four pages, and I'd tinkered with the flow of the thing so carefully I was loath to remove a section.

I thought about going the more traditional story route--I would have written about attaining my TEFL certificate in Prague. But in the end I sort of felt like I had something to "prove," because I'm not that great on paper number-wise, so I felt a more academic-toned essay would better illustrate the serious consideration that went into my present candidacy.

...more than you ever wanted to know, I'm sure. ;-)

best,

dani

Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2006, 12:04:18 PM »
I generally agree that starting with childhood is all together overdone.  I did it, but I also really tried some other structures for the essay and couldn't get it to make sense or sound decent without that start.  So I gave in and did it with that order.  But I also sent a statement of purpose/diversity essay to all schools that did NOT go in that typical structure.  Honestly I would suspect that my personal statement did not set me apart expect in combo with the other essay and resume as they tie together my career plans.  Who knows though, I'm happy with how things are turning out!

Another pretty common pattern I've seen is starting with a colorful anecdote and ending with the same story (maybe the end of that story).  It's an interesting approach but tends to be sort of trite at the end. 

Mr. Balsenschaft

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2006, 01:17:49 PM »
I had a similar experience. Damn, not only was I not original with my personal statement, I wasn't even original in how I came to write it. Instead of a diversity essay, I had an addendum. And guess what, I would suspect that my personal statement did not set me apart except in combo with my addendum!

Oh well, with a mediocre score and mediocre gpa, I didn't want any one part of my application to stand out. I'm hoping the entire application will stand out by virtue of it's supreme medocrity.

Burhop

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2006, 01:41:21 PM »
I agree--I've seen that essay trick a number of times--the re-iteration of the first idea in the last paragraph. I think that strategy gets instilled pretty hardcore in Eng 101/102, and can be a hard habit to break. Still, it is a strategy I've advocated for while tutoring for those students who feel most comfortable with a traditional essay structure.

I had a GPA addendum--had to re-write a number of times because of the 'oversharing' factor, and in the end I'm sure it made me seem like a drama queen to a certain extent. My nonsense was all eight years ago, though, so at least I can pretend I've matured. ;-)

The things about the PS--they don't necessarily get an in-depth read, and probably will not. So the goal is to be memorable in a positive, easily condensed way, i.e. "remember that girl who goes skydiving and loves animal law?" or "This was that guy who helped orphans in Rwanda and is into human rights." That's why I worry about the childhood intro for some people--you don't want your only memorable attribute to condense down to "remember that kid who wrote their whole essay about being five years old?"

The goal is to stand out and write well, but being memorable is often just knowing which life story is the one most worth telling. The way we define ourselves often dictates that the 'most important' story is the most dramatic story, which is why I think I've seen so much family drama. But those aren't the stories we're often the most excited to tell--and *those* are the stories I'd argue are worth sharing--those that excite and inspire, not those that explain and defend.

dani

numbercruncher

Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2006, 03:09:31 PM »
I agree--I've seen that essay trick a number of times--the re-iteration of the first idea in the last paragraph. I think that strategy gets instilled pretty hardcore in Eng 101/102, and can be a hard habit to break. Still, it is a strategy I've advocated for while tutoring for those students who feel most comfortable with a traditional essay structure.

I had a GPA addendum--had to re-write a number of times because of the 'oversharing' factor, and in the end I'm sure it made me seem like a drama queen to a certain extent. My nonsense was all eight years ago, though, so at least I can pretend I've matured. ;-)

The things about the PS--they don't necessarily get an in-depth read, and probably will not. So the goal is to be memorable in a positive, easily condensed way, i.e. "remember that girl who goes skydiving and loves animal law?" or "This was that guy who helped orphans in Rwanda and is into human rights." That's why I worry about the childhood intro for some people--you don't want your only memorable attribute to condense down to "remember that kid who wrote their whole essay about being five years old?"

The goal is to stand out and write well, but being memorable is often just knowing which life story is the one most worth telling. The way we define ourselves often dictates that the 'most important' story is the most dramatic story, which is why I think I've seen so much family drama. But those aren't the stories we're often the most excited to tell--and *those* are the stories I'd argue are worth sharing--those that excite and inspire, not those that explain and defend.

dani

A childhood intro does not mean an entire essay about you being five. I firmly believe that you can write a PS several different ways but good writing will overshadow what you deem as cliche. There are those who are talented writers who can make those 2-3 pages seem like a brief paragraph. Your attempt to classify personal statements into categories is perhaps an attempt to just say that a few of those that you have read are just plain boring! When someone writes and each sentence is better then the last, regradless of what "pattern" they used, that is great writing.

P.S. Thanks for your concern over my PS. I see how you might of misconstrued my previous statement however it was no vent but instead a thoughtful essay regarding some serious issues.

Burhop

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2006, 03:37:51 PM »
number-cruncher--Just to clarify--my point was not that a whole essay is about being five, but that the most memorable story in an essay might be about being five, and thus is what the adcomms "remember" about an applicant.

*chuckle*--I dunno what your essay's about, I've not seen it!

best,

dani

Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2006, 11:37:25 PM »
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.

kmpnj

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2006, 12:14:31 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?

For mine, I went with the whole 9/11 angle.  I wrote how I had settled into one career field and how, because of the terrorist attacks, I completely changed my worldview and career plans.  I also mentioned how apprehensive I was going back into a classroom after 10 years out of school and, finally, closed up with a great constitution quote that I dug up.

I got into Widener with a 2.38 cumulative GPA and a 152 LSAT, so it must have been kind of good.

Burhop

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2006, 01:15:32 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

Yale College Inferno

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2006, 01:43:25 AM »
In mine I saved childhood to the second paragraph.

In the first paragraph I opened with a description of a Qing dynasty teacup.
In the next paragraphs I discussed my experience growing up Chinese-American, from childhood to teen age, and how it led me to eventually do an internship at The Palace Musuem (Forbidden City) in Beijing. I worked on cataloguing artifacts, including the teacup which was the first object for which I was really pleased with the English description I was able to write and translate by drawing upon my knowledge of China and America.

And I conclude with the end of my internship, discussing what the internship and my other travels in China on that trip (my first visit to the Chinese mainland) taught me about my bi-cultural background. I mention that I brought back with me a replica of the teacup as a gift to my parents.