Law School Discussion

Can you guys give me some input on personal statement idea?

1. I was in a domestic violence relationship from the end of Freshman year until a year after graduation.
2. During that time my grades went down.  They weren't great at first, but they weren't that bad either.  Anyway, I was put on academic probation.  When I got off my grades didn't go up significantly.  I did just enough to get by.

I want to write a statement pertaining to my experiences in that relationship, but I want to show how I overcame them.  My problem is I can't show it in my grades.  I don't really have an excuse of being depressed or anything like that, even though I may have been, since I never sought professional help.  I just kept everything to myself.

I have, however, talked to a psychologist who is a friend of my new boyfriend.  I told him about a few of my experiences, and he asked me if I had talked to a mental health professional about them.  I told them that I had not.  He said that I should still talk to someone, because I went through some seriously bad things with my old boyfriend.

I do feel like I'm a stronger and smarter person now and that I've overcome that relationship.  I don't know how to convey that to admissions committees, though, since I didn't go from making mostly C's to mostly A's.

Any suggestions?

Re: Can you guys give me some input on personal statement idea?
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2006, 09:51:07 AM »
I'd suggest finding a completely different topic for a PS. You don't yet seem to have any concrete evidence showing that you've changed yet (and just saying "I am a stronger person and won't choose another abusive person as my bf" or something is not enough to convince adcomms). Show, don't tell, should be your motto. Your PS should also be about something positive you've done. If you can't think of anything worth writing about, go talk to your mom, boyfriend, best friend, basically the person with whom you've talked to the most over hte past few years, and who knows most of what you've done. Ask them to tell you what they think are cool things you've done. I've found that most people who are having trouble thinking of personal statement topics just don't know how cool they are or how cool something they've done is, because they do it every day, or it just seems normal to them.

Anyway, back to your original topic. This is addendum fodder for sure. It will explain your bad grades and your seeing a mental health professional shows that you've grown and are getting help.

Your addendum can be: I was in a physically abusive relationship for my entire undergraduate experience. Because I didn't get out of the relationship, and kept my feelings pent up, my grades suffered. I'm currently seeking help for this experience and have since found a wonderful bf...etc.

Or something like that. The big thing is that you need to make it not sound as if you're  just trying to explain away poor grades that would have been poor anyway because you won't have grades from undergrad that reflect a length of time out of the relationship. If you've gone to graduate school, say that your transcript there is more indicative of your performance level. Or if you have a job now, make sure to get an LOR from your boss that credits a great work ethic.

Just my .02. HTH

Re: Can you guys give me some input on personal statement idea?
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2006, 12:34:38 PM »
Thanks for the input.  I wanted to put that experience in my personal statement, because I was going to also talk about being an advocate for people in similar situations once I finish law school.  Also, there's a specific issue that I've had experience with that I want to address that would lead me to explaining why this issue is controversial, because it leaves women with less protection.  I wanted to bring this issue up and express my desire to use my newfound powers as a lawyer to help women in this situation.  I guess maybe not a good idea since I haven't really shown grade-wise that I'm in a better place now.  I haven't been to grad school, but it's been 4 years since undergrad.

I should get a great recommendation from work, because I'm one of the best people who work there.  I work at my undergraduate institution, by the way.

I read at that I should tie all essays in together.  Yes, I planned on mentioning the abusive relationship in my addendum, but I was also going to focus on coming from an underprivileged area with a school system that was lacking and then having a difficult transition to an academically strong university.  I chose pre-pharm when I had to chose a major and promptly found out that I wasn't prepared to take this level of math and science courses, even though I was among the best at them at my high school.  Then I met up with my ex, which compounded my difficulties.  I was going to say that I allowed my personal life to overtake my academic life, in the end and made some bad choices that resulted in a low GPA.

Then in the diversity statement I would, again, talk about the area I'm from and my classification as an under-represented minority.

That was my original idea.

paige, I really like that addendum idea.

Anybody else have any suggestions, thoughts, comments?


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Re: Can you guys give me some input on personal statement idea?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2006, 11:48:13 AM »
If you write about how you allowed your personal life to overtake your academic life, I suggest that you are careful to show that you have learned from the experience and in future will not allow your personal relationships to overpower all other elements of your life.  It's a great opportunity to show how you've changed and grown, even if you still feel like it's work in progress.

Also, I advise you to leave the new BF out of it.  Define yourself by YOU not by the guys you are dating or have dated.  Whether or not you are currently dating a great guy is really not important for law school admissions.  Having a new boyfriend doesn't show (in and of itself) that you've changed and grown from the experience in the previous abusive relationship -- all it shows is that you have a new boyfriend.  Seeking professional help for your previous difficult relationship and recognizing how you are now stronger and smarter will be more powerful in the PS realm.

I hope this is useful to you.


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Re: Can you guys give me some input on personal statement idea?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2006, 12:03:06 PM »
Eh, yeah I'd stay away from that. If you had improved your grade and gotten more involved in school activities etc. I'd say it would be at least relevant in explaining an academic trend. As another poster said, there really isn't enough hard evidence to show you will not let your personal life overtake your academic like again (although, I do believe you're sincere about changing your outlook).

I know you want to use this to show that you want to help other women overcome this sort of thing, and that is a commendable goal, however, it's a much more common topic than you think. And most adcomms aren't looking for what you plan to do with your law degree because the majority of law students don't end up doing what they originally intended on doing.

You've got PLENTY of time, so really brainstorm about other things in your life that are significant and that you've learned from or that demonstrate good/unique personality traits. This is probably not the experience that portrays you the best.