Well, we’ve reached the conclusion of this 10-part series on the law school personal statement–and now I get to talk about my favorite topic when it comes to this ever-important element of your law school application: FEAR.
Whether we like to admit it or not, a huge component of applying to law school is fear. Students come to me with a great variety of things that scare them, among them:
- Taking the LSAT
- Studying for the LSAT
- Asking for recommendations
- Choosing the right law school
- Whether their GPA is high enough
- What their chances of acceptance are
- The topic they’ll write about on their personal statement.
When it comes to the personal statement, my answer is always the same: Write about something that inspires you, something you’re passionate about, something that invokes feelings within you. Because if you write about something inspiring, passionate, and emotional, you’ll put your heart and soul into what you’re writing. And if you do that, then you’ll write a memorable essay.
It’s interesting, when it comes to the law school personal statement, how much students censor themselves because they think that no one wants to hear what they have to say, or because they feel uncomfortable talking about themselves.
Here’s the thing, though: Law schools want to hear what you have to say. They want to hear about you. They want to know your story, your likes and dislikes, your desires, your idiosyncrasies. They want to know all of these things, because what they’re looking to do is get a picture of you as a whole person, and not just a GPA/LSAT combination. They’re admitting people, not numbers.
Let’s be honest: At the end of the day, the reason you’re hesitant to write your personal statement is not because you don’t know what you want to say. It’s because you’re afraid that what you’ll say won’t be what law schools want to hear. The problem with this kind of thinking is that you’re self-censoring without any knowledge of what the other party is actually thinking or looking for. You’re giving in to your fear of not being exactly right for a particular school, when you should actually be empowered by the fact that, if you say exactly what you want to say, then you’ll be admitted to schools based on your own merits and your own words, and not the merits and words you think you should have.
To put it another way: If a school rejects you because of what you said, aren’t you better off not going there in the first place?
And another way: When a school accepts you because they love what you said (and you said exactly what you wanted to say), you’ll never have to worry about deviating from the person you presented in your applications–because the person in your applications is you, no frills or pretensions. Just you.
So, dear applicants: Discard the fear. Remember that it’s better to be rejected on your own merits than accepted on fabricated ones. When you put yourself out there, you know that–no matter what comes your way–the results are exactly as they should be, because they are based on your overall truth as a person.
And how does this work when it comes to your law school personal statement? Don’t be afraid to be unconventional! Have an unusual hobby that you are unusually passionate about? Talk about it! Have a strange personal anecdote or history that has influenced a large part of your life? Talk about it! Feel strongly about a topic that has affected you personally? Talk about it! Don’t self-censor for fear that you’ll be rejected. Instead, embrace your personality, your history, your self, and put it on paper for the world to see. Not only will it be liberating, but you will shine through the essay, making yourself memorable and distinguishing yourself from the pack.
The ten parts of this series are:
- Part 1: Take Your Time
- Part 2: Plan It Out
- Part 3: Get Personal
- Part 4: Get Specific
- Part 5: Embrace Variety
- Part 6: Step Away
- Part 7: Edit
- Part 8: Involve Others
- Part 9: Proof
- Part 10: Don’t Be Afraid (this post)