August 7th, 2012
A personal statement is really no more than telling a story—one that illuminates the “you” a law school would be lucky to have in its student body. In this series, “Telling Your Story,” jdMission Senior Consultant Mary Adkins discusses how elements of storytelling can—and should—be applied to your personal statement.
When deciding what to write in your personal statement, do not make stuff up.
First of all, doing so is wrong. That said, I have been around long enough to realize that this basic reason is not enough to stop everyone. So here are a few more reasons why you are better off telling a real story with real facts in your personal statement.
1. Fake reads as fake. Unless you are an incredible fiction writer—in which case, you might want to rethink law school—a story you make up (or a “realization” you make up) is going to sound made up. Fabricated details are just somehow detectable. I feel like I can pick up on them, and if I can, then admissions officers, who read thousands of statements each year, definitely can.
2. Real is just as powerful. True stories are powerful. Even if little “action” happens, honestly describing how a small event affected you is as compelling as telling a dramatic story. If a minor exchange with a woman in baggage claim changed how you viewed your relationship with your mother, use that story. It could very well be more moving than an Olympic athlete talking about winning a gold medal. The plot is not what makes a personal statement good—the reflection is.
3. You do not need to make anything up. We all have plenty to work with already. Every one of us has experienced the world and in doing so, been affected by it. Your task is to pin down one of these experiences and discuss what it meant to you. The first step in doing this well—again, for the vast majority of us—is picking one that is real.
Stick with what has really happened to you and how it really affected you, and you will write a better personal statement than if you pretend it was something it was not. I am not making this up.
For even more insight on your law school personal statements, check out our free Personal Statement Guide.
Posted in Telling Your Story