Law School Discussion

Patterns I've seen

Burhop

  • ****
  • 175
  • Editor and freelance Writer
    • View Profile
    • I Edit Stuff.
Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2006, 02:17:33 AM »
that sounds like a solid PS--gives opportunity for both descriptive narrative and to bring in interesting internship work. Doesn't sound overly focused on childhood from here.

best

dani

Burhop

  • ****
  • 175
  • Editor and freelance Writer
    • View Profile
    • I Edit Stuff.
Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2006, 02:23:56 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?

...travel gives opportunity to be very colorful, but it also opens the door o' triteness. I find a lot of travel-based PS's sound either like shoddy travel-writing (i.e. this was beautiful, that was amazing, so much history here, the food was killer) or like an anthropologist taking notes (and then the natives did the most curious thing...).

Travel can also give way to powerful writing. I've seen it go both ways. Sometimes the tricky bit is getting that transformational feeling into words. Other times, travel might seem like the obvious thing to write about. Overall, I've found the travel-based PS's have a lot of room to work with.

best,

dani

kmpnj

  • ****
  • 464
    • View Profile
    • law school numbers
    • Email
Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2006, 02:45:47 AM »
I agree.  Travel can provide opportunities for solid writing topics.  My comments were based on ones that I have seen in the "50 successful law school essay" books that litter the reference shelf at Borders.

Barney

  • ****
  • 480
  • 1L who should have better things to do
    • View Profile
    • LSN
    • Email
Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2006, 10:19:50 AM »
I guess the childhood thing has been beat to death, so let me throw a few more on the fire:

1. "As...I've always"  I've read maybe 20 PSes this past week, and I think 17 of those started with the word "As." "As a blind Pottsylvanian refugee...I've always felt strongly about the plight of moose and squirel";"As a midget-lesbian stage performer, I've always..."  [The point is not to editorialize here, but I'm going to anyway: I can't see this ever being the best way to start. If your story is interesting, as many have been, then it can probably be started better.  If it's not (As an upper middle-class white guy, I've always felt strongly about emu export caps) it's even worse.]

2.Conclusions that use phrases like, "As I prepare to take the leap into law school..."  To be fair, I myself used one of these dumb clauses, and I admit that it seems like a fairly neccessary crutch. It does appear in everything I've read, though, and if it can be avoided (discuss: can it? How? I'm dying to know) I'd think you might want to.

3. Finding Jesus. (Figuratively).  Again, did this myself and I figure it's impossible to avoid unless you're brave enough to tackle an issues essay, but everyone writes about the turn on the dime moment that changed them into the morally-upright, driven and intellectually superior candidate they are today.   We're all, on paper, having Peter Gibbons-esque  transformations.  In as many cases as not, this comes across silly or it requires huge leaps of logic ("I was  twisting baloons into little animal shapes during my time with the circus and one burst on me, blinding a small child.  It occured to me then and there that I've always had a passion for intellectual property law.")

Anyway, that's my input.

Burhop

  • ****
  • 175
  • Editor and freelance Writer
    • View Profile
    • I Edit Stuff.
Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2006, 12:30:46 PM »
I guess the childhood thing has been beat to death, so let me throw a few more on the fire:

1. "As...I've always"  I've read maybe 20 PSes this past week, and I think 17 of those started with the word "As." "As a blind Pottsylvanian refugee...I've always felt strongly about the plight of moose and squirel";"As a midget-lesbian stage performer, I've always..."  [The point is not to editorialize here, but I'm going to anyway: I can't see this ever being the best way to start. If your story is interesting, as many have been, then it can probably be started better.  If it's not (As an upper middle-class white guy, I've always felt strongly about emu export caps) it's even worse.]

2.Conclusions that use phrases like, "As I prepare to take the leap into law school..."  To be fair, I myself used one of these dumb clauses, and I admit that it seems like a fairly neccessary crutch. It does appear in everything I've read, though, and if it can be avoided (discuss: can it? How? I'm dying to know) I'd think you might want to.

3. Finding Jesus. (Figuratively).  Again, did this myself and I figure it's impossible to avoid unless you're brave enough to tackle an issues essay, but everyone writes about the turn on the dime moment that changed them into the morally-upright, driven and intellectually superior candidate they are today.   We're all, on paper, having Peter Gibbons-esque  transformations.  In as many cases as not, this comes across silly or it requires huge leaps of logic ("I was  twisting balloons into little animal shapes during my time with the circus and one burst on me, blinding a small child.  It occured to me then and there that I've always had a passion for intellectual property law.")

Anyway, that's my input.

Hee hee! Awesome--I've seen these, too. In such a short space, it's sometimes hard not to sound like a cariacature of oneself. That's why I advocate for choosing just 1-2 stories to focus on in the PS; getting the whole life story causes the 'leaps in logic,' as the quaint anecdote quantum leaps time and space to when the applicant is suddenly positive they want to lobby for elephant rights.

Your examples are hilarious, and I have read a few PS's that are just a hop-and-skip away from those gargantuan logic-leaps. The hardest thing about self-editing is having the realization that something that makes sense in your own head makes virtually no sense to anyone outside your head. Or, immediate family. ;-)

best,

dani

Terabithia

  • ****
  • 711
  • Wondering and Wishing
    • View Profile
Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2006, 02:25:18 PM »
I have read numerous essay's about bad childhoods, poor parents and immigration. Honestly, it could have been the same person in many of them as the issues and stories all seemed the same. Yes, they seemed sucky and this lead to them doing great things but it just seemed so sameish.

redemption

Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #26 on: January 02, 2006, 02:39:38 PM »

There is something of a Soviet Union feel to this whole PS experience. I've read, now, 30 to 35 of them and many feel as though they were written under duress, for the all-important privilege of joining the Party.  Under those circumstances, the transitions from "here's a story" to "and this is why I want to go to law school" or "this is why you should take me" seem stiff and unnatural.

I am as firm a believer now as I was at the beginning of this process that it doesn' matter what you write about - it should just be written well.

numbercruncher

Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2006, 02:52:36 PM »

There is something of a Soviet Union feel to this whole PS experience. I've read, now, 30 to 35 of them and many feel as though they were written under duress, for the all-important privilege of joining the Party.  Under those circumstances, the transitions from "here's a story" to "and this is why I want to go to law school" or "this is why you should take me" seem stiff and unnatural.

I am as firm a believer now as I was at the beginning of this process that it doesn' matter what you write about - it should just be written well.

agreed. good honest writing that does not come across as pompous or overbearing is hard to come by in PS's

magnumalv

Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #28 on: January 02, 2006, 03:14:38 PM »
1) Important/colorful childhood anecdote
2) maybe something about the parents
3) how this "changed me"
4) How I made life decisions from that point on
5) where I'm at today--lemme in law school!

 :o Mind reader!!!

*sigh* So much for my aspirations of creative glory. Oh well. My only hope is that I did it well enough to stand on the merit of my writing, rather than the organization... and at least they won't get lost... they can just follow your handy map. :)

Maggs

Burhop

  • ****
  • 175
  • Editor and freelance Writer
    • View Profile
    • I Edit Stuff.
Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #29 on: January 02, 2006, 03:33:58 PM »
2) Complaining about parental influence. What's this about? I mean, I feel for anyone whose parents aren't supporting their educational decisions/helping pay--that sucks--but why belittle them directly in the statement? "My parents suck, see?" seems like a weird PS strategy to me.

In my hardship essay (which I weaved into a PS for the schools that wanted a 4-page one), I blamed my dad dying for a dip in grades one year. Is that belittling my parents?

I'd avoid using the word 'blame,' but an addendum explaining GPA as related to a parent's death would likely receive sympathy. It should be short and sweet, though--no need to give a blow-by-blow of personal devestation. The adcomms will surely know the loss of a parent will throw a student off their game--they don't need paragraphs of color commentary. When something truly sucks, it generally needs little explanation. And losing a parent...that's the worst, and I'm sure they know it.

best

dani