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Personal Statement critique

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:36 pm
by Anonymous User
A few ideas for aspects to focus on:
1. Double spaced, I am on the third page. Either extraneous details or whole paragraphs that can go?
2. I tried to edit out flowery language, but let me know if I need to make more edits to avoid eyerolls.
3. Does the story cohese well enough to end on my thesis of my interest in law?

It was 3am as I walked into the nursery. Greeted by the dull whine of a ceiling fan pitifully circulating the humid summer air, I lumber over to the side of the crib, and struggle to fish around with my foot for the floor switch of my wife’s Star Trek themed ‘Borg Cube’ lamp. As the incandescent light assimilates a yellow glow across the room, my gaze is met by a recent addition to my home. Its my five and a half month old foster son, though I mentally correct myself the preferred term is “child in foster care”. He and his two older sisters have been placed with my wife and me to allow an escape from their chronic neglect and unsanitary living conditions. I’ve been waking to multiple alarms overnight since he doesn’t cry for hunger anymore, and I need to be careful with the back of his head as it had flattened from being left lying forgotten in his old crib at home. As he quietly nurses on the bottle in his grasp, I rub the sleep from my eyes and push away the gnawing anxiety of what’s to come. Today is the date scheduled for his parents to contest the allegations permitting removal that have been lodged against them at trial.

As we drove away from the house, my mind pieced together the fragments of information I had about the bio parents gathered from social media and the limited disclosure of non-confidential information from our caseworker. I thought back to the girls first walking into our home with hair filled with knots and the puzzlement of having a preschooler soil themselves solely for the attention of being cleaned. It pained to recall the blank expression in my son’s eyes as if he anticipated being confined to stare at the ceiling of his nursery for another day. My pulse rose as the courthouse came into view. The questions I had constantly heard from my friends and family began to echo in my mind, “What kind of parent would do this to a child? How do they still get weekly visitation?”. My trance was broken by the gentle touch of my wife’s hand alerting me that we had arrived. Feeling in need of divine intercession for the kid’s case, we shared a brief prayer for justice in the proceedings and a needed softening of our heart to the parents before we walked across the street into the juvenile services building.

Shortly after finding a bench in the courtroom, I watched as the parents arrived in quick succession but soon segregated and jockeyed themselves to opposing ends of the council table. Observing them both, I could sense in their icy stares the disconnection of their fractured family. The child of a divorced family, I am cognizant of the deleterious effect of a single parent homes. The simple arithmetic of a 20 year old mom having a five year old daughter exposes the likely struggle of having a teenage pregnancy to this troubled family. As court begins, I am shocked to hear that instead of fighting the allegations, both parents have formally conceded full responsibility. My notions of the parents are changed as a realization of the parents own dark childhood is revealed. The “ghost of childhood past” illuminates in my mind the parents as the very same infant I has held in my arms hours ago. Now standing in front of the judge were a flawed, misguided, confused, yet human parent asking for our legal system to rehabilitate them out of past wrongs and help them sow a better path for the benefit of their children.

Although I had had brief interactions with both parents at the bookends of visitation days, we were encouraged by the DHS attorney to speak with them after the hearing. In a few weeks time, the oldest daughter would start school again, and her mother remarked how much joy it had brought to see new friendships being made in class last year. We discussed preliminary plans to have DHS facilitate a birthday party at the park for all of us to celebrate together, and shared suggestions on how to decipher the snippets of songs the girls would sing during breakfast. While I had initially entered the building with animosity and anger, I walked away from our hallway conference with a renewed faith in the humanity of the parents. Although they have a long process to adhere to for hopeful reunification, I was encouraged to see that the legal system had succeeded that day.

Whether it is a last appeal for a judicial stay of capital punishment or, as in this case, a course correction away from permanent termination of parental rights, I have a strong draw to the legal profession as a balance against the enumerated powers of government. On that day, a harmful situation was remedied in proportion to the wrong perpetrated only after due process of law. My sincere hope is that no matter the field of law, I am a capable advocate for the least among us. Our legal system thrives when it endeavors to analyze any situation with a holistic view of circumstance before allowing the execution of our laws and statutes.

Re: Personal Statement critique

Posted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:43 am
by globalview2
I am not sure what others will think, but I think this is absolutely fantastic. It is very well written, easy to read, interesting, and unique.
The only critique I have is the last paragraph bit about the government, but even then its only one sentence. I think this is one of the very best personal statements I have read.

Re: Personal Statement critique

Posted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:01 pm
by achris1210
I really enjoyed your statement (and as a child welfare social worker/law student hopeful, I really appreciate you!)

A couple things: if you’re pressed for space, you could remove some of the unnecessary details, for example, the Star Trek lamp and the incandescent light in the first paragraph seem flowery. The term ‘foster son’ is universal and I don’t think adcoms will need the explanation of ‘child in foster care.’

Divine intercession should be divine intervention, no?

Council should be counsel, as in lawyers.

I’m not sure ‘being left lying forgotten’ makes good grammatical sense.

At the start of the second paragraph, you say ‘we’ and I immediately thought you meant you and the baby.

The third paragraph is a little confusing and frankly, most parents agree to the court process so I’m not sure why you were shocked. It’s easier than going to trial and doesn’t speak at all to their motivation to engage in ‘rehabilitation.’

I also think it’s a stretch to say ‘the legal system succeeded that day.’ Do you think the bio parents felt that way? Although I think it’s good to show that you met the parents and saw them as more human and less villain. Studies show that we have better outcomes when the foster parents and bio parents meet early on in a case and partner with each other. Often it is the foster parents who are hesitant to meet the bio parents for some of the reasons you mentioned, so this may be an area to be careful not to show your biases and prejudices.

Your last paragraph could be strengthened. The initial hearing isn’t a ‘course correction away from the termination of parental rights.’ The parents’ rights can still be terminated if they don’t complete their court-ordered services, although that is well down the road and is also a separate legal process. And what do you mean by ‘a balance against the enumerated powers of government?’ Instead of broadening your topic, keep it focused on foster care, as this is a really powerful angle.

I think you have a good story to tell. Good luck!

Re: Personal Statement critique

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:37 pm
by dogs>humans1
I agree with all the notes from the commenter above. Also I'd say work on taking out clutter from the first paragraph because it distracts and decreases the "power of the punch" of what you're trying to say. You want the admissions committee to be focused on your story; it's never good if they have to continuously look at the specific wording you used to get there.

For example:

It was 3am as I walked into the nursery. Greeted by the dull whine of a ceiling fan pitifully circulating the humid summer air, I lumber over to the side of the crib, and struggle to fish around with my foot for the floor switch of my wife’s Star Trek themed ‘Borg Cube’ lamp. As the incandescent light assimilates a yellow glow across the room,
^ that entire bolded part could be like 5-15 words max and get to the same point much quicker. Do you want them thinking about a incandescent light or about your actual (very interesting) story.

He and his two older sisters have been placed with my wife and me to allow an escape from their chronic neglect and unsanitary living conditions.
^you could be more personable in your story-telling here. i.e. "My foster son and his sisters, already a seemingly permanent part of my heart and home, had recently escaped chronic neglect in an unsafe and unsanitary living environment. As I woke up for his midnight feeding, the impact of our day weighed on me: today a judge would determine if they could stay."

Great story though! Good luck!

Re: Personal Statement critique

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 3:20 pm
by kellyjohnson
Yeah, the first paragraph reads a little like this tweet. https://twitter.com/SpiveyConsult/statu ... 1289839617
Then you kind of settle in. A little editing will take care of the length.