Free College Admissions Essays: Notes on Writing a Personal Statement

Free College Admissions Essays: Notes on Writing a Personal Statement
In Writing Your Personal Statement, DO

1. Write about yourself, not about legal philosophy or theory

2. Stress your strengths without being obnoxious

3. Deal with your weaknesses without being defensive

4. Talk about activities, work, or life experiences you are proud of
5. Be confident, but not arrogant

6. Keep it brief

7. Check carefully for grammatical errors and misspelled words

8. Treat your personal statement as your chance to sell yourself

9. Think of the personal statement as a substitute for an interview

In Writing Your Personal Statement, DON?T

1. Do all the stuff warned against above, i.e.,

o Write about generalities rather than about yourself

o Be obnoxious, defensive, or arrogant

o Be verbose

o Allow mistakes to get into your final product

2. Whine, plead or be cynical

3. Sound like a thesaurus in an effort to impress

4. Assume that your statement won?t be read; it will be

Clearly writing a good personal statement is an art, not a science. The general rule is to tell the admissions committee something about yourself and to do it in an interesting manner. Being too creative may backfire, however. We seem to be seeking some sort of Aristotelian Golden Mean here. You need to sell yourself without appearing to be a huckster. One commentator suggests that you view this assignment as arguing your first case; your task is to convince the court (i.e., admissions committee) that your side of the case is the stronger one (i.e., that they should admit you rather than turn you down).

One note of caution: be very careful of mechanics (spelling, grammar, etc.) Some of the personal statements have errors circled on them. Admissions officers also noted the misuse of words on some of the statements when they were discussing them at the workshop where I obtained these samples. Writing is very important to the law schools and their concern with your writing ability starts with the personal statement. Be sure it is well written.

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