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Writing an Excellent Personal Statement Eileen Doyle Crane, J.D. Prelaw Advisor Utah Valley University.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing an Excellent Personal Statement Eileen Doyle Crane, J.D. Prelaw Advisor Utah Valley University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing an Excellent Personal Statement Eileen Doyle Crane, J.D. Prelaw Advisor Utah Valley University

2 How Many People Write Personal Statements Why I want to go to law school What I’ve done to prepare Explanation of a resume Attempts to “impress” Chronological autobiographies Political or philosophical essays

3 Who is the Audience? Remember the first rule of public speaking: –KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!!! –Don’t start a PS without knowing who the audience is They are: –Deans of Admissions –Admissions Committee members Faculty Members Administrative Staff Students, in some schools Your audience reads 750-10,000 applications a year, every year!

4 The Life of a Dean Dean of Admissions –Travels every year from Labor Day to Thanksgiving recruiting students –Reads files from Thanksgiving (November) to Memorial Day (May) –Spends the summer trying to find out who is actually coming to in fall –Talks frequently to those on the Wait-List, explaining when/how/if they will take anyone off of it –Receives a weekly list of those who have deposited at more than one school

5 Who Reads Personal Statements? Admissions Committee Members –Faculty –Administrative Staff –Students, in some schools Applications are available on the web ( usually around August 15 th ; some earlier, some later Files start being read about one month or so after school starts

6 How Applications Are Read Law School Formulas ( approx. 155+ have a formula that creates an index score for each applicant; formula derived from LSAT + GPA + Constant = Score) The Applicant Pool is often divided into three categories: –Presumptive Admits –Potential Admits/Hold Category –Presumptive Denies –ALL applications get read, either in order of arrival or in order of likelihood of acceptance or both Early Application Programs: (Students often assume that applying to early-app programs heightens their likelihood of acceptance, but it is not always the case) –Binding— If you are accepted, then you MUST go –Non-Binding Early Application Pool— If not accepted in EAP, then your application is rolled over to the general application pool Rolling Admissions File Reading— Most schools start reading applications when they are complete, but many schools do not start Admissions Committee meetings till late December or after Christmas

7 Parts of An Application Master Report: A summary created by LSAC from all your transcripts and your LSAT score for the law schools Application: From the LSAC website or the law school website Transcripts: From ALL schools you’ve attended since high school Personal Statement: To show them aspects of who/what you are that are not elsewhere in the application Letters of Recommendation: What do your professors and employers or supervisors say about you? Addendums: To explain any special circumstances that surround grades, test scores, or other situations Supplemental Essays: Why Law? Why Your Law School? essays or others required by the law school

8 Role of the Personal Statement Most important part of your application AFTER test score and grades Your opportunity to become a REAL person to reader by what you say Your opportunity to tell stories about yourself not obvious ANYWHERE else in the application SHOW the readers who you are

9 What the Dean Needs Deans ask themselves two questions: –Can this student thrive in our school? –If the student can thrive here, what else does this student bring to the school? The Dean is looking for: –Interesting points of view –Interesting, broadening, and unique experiences that others may not have had –Evidence in the application (e.g. PS, Recommendations, Resume, Awards) that this student has had academic and extracurricular experiences that will add to the quality of the class

10 Recruitment Issues US News and other rankings may greatly affect the recruitment plan at law schools Deans are looking for students from many: –US states & foreign countries –Universities & colleges –Different majors, minors, graduate degrees –Work, volunteer, family backgrounds –Both genders –All ethnicities

11 Recruitment Management Weekly LSAC reports update the deans about who is in the applicant pool Updates provide data including LSAT scores, undergraduate schools, GPA’s, majors Progressive admissions decisions are made based on statistical projections of need by the same date last year Deans are looking for certain kinds of candidates the later it gets in the admission year CRS—Candidate Referral System—helps deans find certain kinds of students

12 Writing Your Personal Statement Now that you understand the audience (Deans and Admissions Committee Members), you can start to THINK about writing Ask yourself: –What does the reader need? –Who am I? –What do I have to say about my life? –How can I tell my best stories? –If this was the only thing I ever wrote about my life, does this statement tell stories that SHOW who I am?

13 Suggested Outline Theme I Theme II Academics Theme III

14 Theme I & Theme II One theme is a breath story –A story that illustrates something that you have learned, seen, done that is very different from the rest of your life experiences One theme is a depth story –Something that you’ve done a lot of The juxtaposition of Themes I & II creates the picture of a multi-faceted student After you have written the best stories, transition sentences between the two stories can be written later

15 Academics A story that SHOWS something academic about you –Your academic hero (favorite teacher, book character, public person, etc) –How an academic experience changed your life –What learning means to you –Your family history with respect to education –Anything about you that is academic

16 Theme III This is one last short, short, 4 th story A story that shows some other aspect of your life not covered by any aspect of the three previous stories, and often not anywhere in the application Another story that the reader could NOT know about you, unless you told it here

17 Step-by-Step 1)Write up as many stories about your life that you think are important stories about yourself; 2)Do not pay attention to length, just write them till you’ve told the whole story, but without all the small details; 3)Figure out which stories are most important to you to tell the Admissions Committee; 4)Figure out which stories are breadth and depth and academic stories and put them in order; 5)Then edit the stories till they are three pages in length in total.

18 Format Instructions Length –3 double-spaced pages –If LS requires 2 pages, write 3 and decrease font size and/or widen margins –If only a certain number of words or space are allowed, write this one, then cull from the long one to create a shortened version Make sure you are telling your best stories Write transitions between stories that optimally tie stories together Introductions and conclusions are not necessary

19 Supplemental Essays There ARE some committee members who DO want to know –Why you want to be a lawyer? –What you have done to prepare for that? Why Law? Why Your Law School? Essay –Write one paragraph to answer each question –The answers to why you are applying to a particular law school should address: 1) faculty; 2) curriculum; 3) special programs; and/or 4) placement, both during and after law school –Mail this essay directly to law schools unless it is possible to upload it into the electronic application

20 Timing It takes about 50 hours to write an excellent personal statement Start right after the June test or in the summer prior to taking a fall or winter LSAT Plan to send in several/many versions of your statement for feedback and editing Relax and have fun writing about your life!

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