Stratus Admissions

Three Key Elements for a Powerful Personal Statement

Editor's Note: All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. 

When a law school admissions officer reads your personal statement, what three words do you want to come to mind? Ideally, the classic triumvirate: passionate, tenacious and successful. There are multiple reasons why this traditional combination works and why it is so important to clearly establish these traits in your application to law school.

Identify Your Passion.

Everyone has something she is passionate about. If you are unsure of where or how to start your personal statement, this is a natural place. Whether your passion is in a more traditional area such as playing a musical instrument, volunteering or sports; in an emerging field like technology; or something conceptual like immigrant rights, all of us have something we love and care about, and perhaps for which we have even sacrificed. Identifying that passion, allows you to you tell your individual story and show that you possess internal drive. Telling the story well in your personal statement is what helps get you into law school.

The fact that your experiences are unique enables you to ground your essay in details that make it interesting. Sharing these experiences allows your own voice to shine through much like how a star athlete’s eyes light up when discussing her favorite game-winning play. The beauty of talking about something you love is that, in doing so, you not only demonstrate passion but the specific subject-matter expertise and perspective that you will bring to the entering law school class.

Highlight Challenges Overcome.

Everyone has encountered challenges in pursuing her passions. Not having the money, raw talent or parental support are traditional examples. Indeed, demonstrating a will and ability to overcome obstacles – whether you call it tenacity, grit, or perseverance – is fundamental to being a good law student and, ultimately, a good lawyer. As you think about the challenges and struggles you have overcome in your life, don’t steer away from more significant hurdles because they may be too personal. It may be hard to think about or discuss, but if you can, many times these deep life struggles can form a solid basis for your personal statement and their significance to your life will come through to the reader as complete sincerity.

To craft the best version of your personal statement, detail how you approached those challenges and eventually overcame them to add color and authenticity to your essay.

Share Your Strength.

When writing about your success in light of the trials and tribulations you’ve encountered, highlight your area of strength. If your success has been externally validated through awards and rankings, that is even better. If the subject-matter of your passion doesn’t lend itself to external validation, success can be defined in other ways such as number of people you helped, the exhilaration you felt (or your family felt) when you succeeded, the impact you had on an individual life, or even the profound way in which the experience fundamentally changed the way you navigate through life.

The voyage of discovery you outline in discussing your obstacles and successes in following your passion leads you to the important conclusion and purpose of the personal statement: what you learned about yourself and how that relates to the law student and lawyer you will be.

Check out our other articles regarding the personal statement and how it is used in the application process:

•    How to Write a Great Law School Personal Statement
•    Top 3 Clichés to Avoid in Your Law School Personal Statement
•    Understanding the Law School Application from a Holistic Lens – How the Personal Statement Functions in Your Application

Stratus is a premier admissions counseling firm committed to helping clients achieve their dreams of going to law school, business school and graduate school. Stratus has served thousands of clients from more than fifty countries. Our team of expert law counselors are graduates of Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Michigan, UVA and other top law schools. Stratus counselors are passionate about coaching young professionals on their application journeys. Many of our counselors have direct admissions experience from top rated schools or served as alumni or student admissions interviewers. Please visit our website for more information:

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