The Worst Personal Statement I’ve Ever Read

April 14, 2011
Bill Corwin

The law school application process is certainly not easy to navigate. After the LSAT, applicants are often most challenged while tackling their personal statement. Last month, our team of Admissions Consultants here at Kaplan share their insights on what makes for the best personal statements in our March series – “The Best Personal Statement I’ve Ever Read.” This month, we turn our attention to… well… less than the best in a series we call “The Worst Personal Statement I’ve Ever Read”. Want the team to help you with yours? Check out our personal statement review package and get unlimited access to any of our top consultants.

Admit it: there’s something perversely enjoyable if not downright entertaining about reading awful critical reviews. Critics are often inspired to great rhetorical heights when trashing a terrible movie, play or even restaurant.

Uh-oh! Since they were born to be critiqued, that definitely includes law school personal statements! Enter an occasional unofficial award ritual during the annual convention of pre-law advisors, admissions consultants and law school admissions managers. Nominations are offered for the “worst-of-the-worst” openings among the thousands of law school personal statement read during that admissions cycle. Here’s a selected sample. Enjoy:

· I have never been fond of dogs; I find their habits repulsive, their odor offensive, and I shudder to think of one living in my home. And yet, one day…

· A few snickered. Some shook their heads in obvious disapproval. The most generous attributed it to a fever that would soon pass. But…

· When taken chronologically, anyone’s life may seem to be a series of loosely connected events. Each follows the other, sometimes neatly, sometimes not, but…

· The final brush strokes in the portrait of [name], applicant for admission to the X School of Law have been completed, and I would very much appreciate your bringing them to the attention of the Committee on Admissions.

· The ball falls through the net as the buzzer sounds. [Applicant’s name] gives Cornell the victory with a last second shot. Unfortunately this never happened, but even now the dream remains.

· I am gay. There. I said it. One year ago, I would never have…

· “It is true,” the witness begins, “that my undergraduate GPA is low, but I submit to you that success, past and future, are not measured by grades alone. Mental toughness, leadership, demonstrated hard work intellectual vision should also count for something, and do, if I read my NYU Law School prospectus correctly.” Murmurs of “typical English major bluster” waft from the jury’s bench, but the witness continues…

Bill Corwin

Bill Corwin After 16 years as Princeton University’s pre-law advisor, starting in 2000 I have been privileged to help literally hundreds of Kaplan clients create strong and competitive applications to law schools throughout the United States and Canada. Although my Kaplan clients are world- wide, the internet and now remarkably inexpensive phone service makes each client a next-door neighbor and friend. I particularly enjoy the terrific variety of experience and stories each client brings to our discussions and how we can strategically use that background to create a powerful law school application. My long career prior to Kaplan includes: managing a college recruiting program for a large Wall Street bank; a twenty year reserve assignment as Deputy Commander (Lt. Col.) for the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Admissions Liaison office; a director of career services at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business; Associate Director of Admissions at the Florida Institute of Technology. I have an M.A. in career counseling from City University of New York. My wife Ann is currently Director of Graduate Career Services at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and we and our four cats live in a small rural community just north of Princeton, NJ. In my not-so-spare time I am an active commercial pilot and most recently was a “Shadow Traffic” reporter flying a Grumman AA-1 out of North Philly.

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