Although all components of a law school application are important, the most important one is the personal statement. To that end, this series explains some of the pivotal points you should keep in mind as you prepare to write your law school application personal statement. This is a 10-part series that will help get you from starting to finishing your personal statement.
We get it, it can be really hard to show your writing (be it an essay, short story, novel, etc.) to someone else and have them critique it. You’ve put a little bit of yourself into this piece of writing and the one thing you don’t want to hear is criticism, even if it’s constructive. But, when it comes to your personal statement, having others look it over before you finalize it is imperative. Why? Because, eventually, other people will actually read it. The scary part about those readers though, is that they’re the ones in charge of deciding if you do or don’t get into law school. Wouldn’t you rather someone give feedback prior to giving it to a law school admissions officer? It would definitely take much of the guessing and stressing out of things!
So, you need to steel yourselves. Now that you’ve written, re-written, and self-edited your essay, you’re going to go out and do the petrifying unthinkable. Show other people your work. Now, in Part 8 of our “Writing Your Personal Statement” series, we’re going to give you a few tips to keep in mind when seeking feedback from others.
Vary Your Audience
Ideally, you need a number of different people to read your essay! All of them should possess different levels of familiarity with you and your work. We suggest getting at least one family member, a close friend, and an acquaintance to read your essay. If you can tack on a stranger to the list, that would be even better! What stranger would even want to read your essay? All of our admissions consultants would love to read it over and give you professional and qualified feedback.
Who to Pick
Why is it important to get all of these different people to read your essay? Because they will all interpret your essay in different ways.
- A family member will probably be reading to make sure you’ve represented yourself in the best light possible. They love you and they want you to look good. Therefore, they’re more likely to point out any negatives in your essay, making sure you actually want them there. This will let you take a look at your essay from an outsider’s emotional perspective.
- A close friend will know your recent life experiences well (probably better than a family member) and, if they don’t, will ask you to tell them about the experiences in your essay after reading it. Close friends are good for catching missed details, and having you retell the story will likely let you consider it from a different perspective, making sure you’ve included all the relevant plot points.
- An acquaintance is great for catching plot holes. They don’t know you that well, and may only have vague or limited knowledge of your life experiences, so they’ll be able to tell you when something doesn’t make sense. Listen to what they have to say–if they don’t get it, neither will law school admissions officers.
- A complete stranger is the best reader of all. They don’t know you, don’t know your life experiences, and will take from the essay exactly what’s on there in black and white. Of all of your readers, their feedback is the most important, because it is very likely that the perception a stranger has of your essay is the one law schools will have, too. Of course, getting a complete stranger to look at your essay can be a difficult proposition, so consider using a critique group, an online forum, or an admissions consultant.
Have Them Look at Everything
Of course, having someone read your essay and give you their opinion on the story you’re telling is fantastic. One of the great things about having others read your essay is that you can have a fresh pair of eyes take a look at everything in your essay including topic choice to spelling, and everything in between. Remember you self-editing your essay? Ask your readers to keep all of those things in mind, too. Since they haven’t been staring at the essay endlessly for the past few weeks (or months), they are much more likely to catch any errors you may have missed.
Keep Your Ego Out of It
It’s hard to let go of the fact that, at the end of the day, every single suggestion and criticism (constructive as it may be) is aimed at something you wrote about yourself. It’s hard to not get offended and you may feel the need to justify your choices and defend your writing. However, keep in mind that these are not personal attacks. Yes, they are comments about things in which you had a direct hand, but they’re not meant to be belittling or negative. No, on the contrary. All of the feedback you’re getting will be aimed at making your essay even better, not worse! Take it in stride, smile politely, and then give each suggestion due consideration. Remember that it’s not at attack, it’s meant to help.
Remember You Have the Final Say
Don’t forget that you don’t have to take all of their suggestions! At the end of the day, implement the suggestions you agree with the most. You don’t have to agree with all of them. Heck, you don’t even have to agree with any of them! Remember, though, that the feedback coming from your readers is valuable since it will likely emulate the impressions and feelings of law school admissions readers later. The purpose of having others read your essay is to get this valuable feedback and potentially craft a better essay as a result. Don’t lose sight of that. Look at this as an exercise in humility and acceptance. Sometimes, those outside the stressful law school application bubble have a better understanding of it all than those who have been stuck inside it for months on end.
Read More in This Series
- Take Your Time
- Plan It Out
- Get Personal
- Get Specific
- Embrace Variety
- Step Away
- Involve Others (You Are Here)
- Don’t Be Afraid
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