The Admissions Essay: What NOT to Say


hey it’s angel with Harvard in hardship or the past academic excellence shouldn’t be a secret this week we’re going to talk about what not to talk about in your admissions essay or what is known in law school in law school applications as the personal statement and it was inspired by myth living like Lucia forgive me if I’ve mispronounced your name but she’s on YouTube and she just asked me to talk about this so we are going to jump right in number one do not make excuses so I know in the first video I did it was a while ago it was like how I got into Harvard Law School the personal statement or something to that effect and even when I consult and counsel my current students or clients about what to put in their admissions essays in their personal statements I use the strategy to take the weak area of your application and flip it so I use that strategy to talk about that and reframe how the admissions how the admissions committee sees you however there’s a fine line between talking about your week that week areas of your application and making excuses for it so for instance some common issues are low GPA or a low standardized test score or a bad semester or maybe you’ve gotten gone on academic probation or like actual involvement in the criminal legal system or something of that nature so whatever the case may be there’s different different weaknesses or different insecurities that people have about their college or their law school applications and so I encourage people and I show them how to flip that to their advantage however what you don’t want to do is just to use your personal statement and say my GPA is low but I was going through a really traumatic traumatic event in my life like it can’t be that simple and clear-cut like it can’t be that blunt or direct because at that it just looks like you’re making an excuse for your low GPA however the way it does require this is a bit more of an art than a science so it does require a bit of a little bit of skill but typically what I do is I encourage my students and my clients to instead of just making an excuse you flip that weakness or you flip that insecurity about your application by pulling out what you learned from it so talk about what you learned from your mistake or how you overcame it or you know what good came out of it there’s um a scripture that says all things work together for the good of those who love God and who are called according to his purpose and so definitely I’m not saying I mean if you want to but I’m done I don’t tell my clients to put that in their personal statement that’s not what I’m saying or in their college admissions essay that’s not what I’m saying I’m saying that’s just kind of the theory if you will behind how you can flip a weakness and and make sure that it’s not just making and make sure that when you talk about your weakness in your personal statement that you’re not just giving an excuse but you’re pulling the good out of it and what you learned and how you overcame and you talked about that so for practical instance I wish and so in my personal statement and I was going to say I wish I could I can’t just like read it to you on the vlog because that would just be boring and take too long but it’s in the book Harvard in hardship but so in my personal statement I talked about Teach for America and so that was my story I thought I was gonna go to Teach for America and I would be like this bright and shining star and then encourage these kids kids and mentor these kids and be like hey you know I came from a low-income background like you would come from a similar ethnic background and look I went to college like I thought I was going to be like that type of like motivational encouragement to the students and it didn’t work out like I felt that it miserably it’s all in the book but so I used I talked about that and my personal statement and my law school personal statement and I didn’t say I felt that Teach for America because I didn’t have the support I needed and I Teach for America didn’t do this and oh yeah and I didn’t do this and the teacher like I didn’t make excuses but instead I flipped it by saying you know even though I felt at that area in my life look I was able to use some of the learning the teaching techniques that I learned at Teach for America and apply those to my family members who were struggling academically another way that I flipped it and I did all of this within the to the the two page requirement or the two page maximum I also said yeah I felt that Teach for America but hey I also I learned as a result of that failure you know that things in life happened and that you still have to keep pushing and so that’s just a practical example of how not to make excuses but to you if you’re going to talk about the weak areas of your application in your personal statement to flip it and talk about the good and talk about how you overcame number two don’t let on to the fact that hey I’m applying to a lot of colleges and this really isn’t the college that I want to attend or this is just my fallback school like don’t do that I know you know maybe one one way you may be thinking of that is like oh if I let them know that they’ll want to take me because they’ll know that you know I can get into any school that I want to get into know like they can see your numbers they can see how competitive you are you don’t have to clue them in on hey I’m a I’m applying to a lot of different other colleges as well don’t do that it will leave a bad taste in their mouth you come off as arrogant and and prideful and you know admissions readers are people like yes they’re looking at the quantitative factors like your GPA and LSAT score LSAT or SAT or a CT or whatever standardized test GRE that you had to take but they’re people and you don’t want to come off as obnoxious so don’t say that or say anything like that in your admissions essay or your personal statement and just very quickly I remember and I think I told the story before or I might I may have wrote about it in one of my blogs on Harvard and hardship llc.com but I remember I was sitting at lunch talk and this one was hosted by the Dean of Harvard Law School admissions and some kind of way it came up that someone had put in their application to Harvard Law School in their personal statement something to the effect of you know being admitted into a school like Yale Law School but they were applying to Harvard Law School and to make a long story short was very clear that she was offended she was like because when she said that that student had did that of course she didn’t mention the student’s name she was just giving an anecdotal advice and everyone was like oh like it was just this collective like oh my goodness I can’t believe you did that and she was just like yeah and I made it easier for that person to get into Yale so of course she was giving that advice in the context of you know being careful about submitting your applications and making sure you’re sending the right application to the right school but it also applies so this one like if if that offends an admission officer and she in like that was someone who you know I’m pretty sure she knew that it was a mistake and that that person just mistakenly sent their Yale application materials to Harvard how much more offensive would it be to put in your admissions essay or your a personal statement oh yeah I’m also applying to Stanford and yell or this state school in that state school you know so it’s offensive so don’t don’t don’t let onto that and number three is more so more so geared towards law school or even like medical school or what have you but don’t mention that law school is just a fallback for you even if it’s true so I know that some people especially liberal arts majors go to law school because it’s like that’s just what you do I don’t want it I’m not good at math and science I’m not gonna go to med school I don’t want to get a PhD you know law I won’t be I’ll be a lawyer that’s good like the best professional route for me don’t let them know that don’t say that don’t say something to the effect of the only reason I applied to law school is because I did really well on the LSAT no like I know you know there may be an inclination there to kind of your own horn and you know let them know that I did good on the LSAT you want me but you don’t have to do that like if you’ve done well on the LSAT they have eyes okay they can see that you did well you don’t have to toot your own horn in that manner because if you do that what they might do is give your seats to someone who is applying to law school because they really want to be there whereas your personal statement is saying I’m just applying to law school because I did welcome the LSAT someone else’s personal statement is gonna say I’m applying to law school because I want to make a difference in my community because I want to serve the government because I have all of these innovative business ideas and strategies and I want to learn the legalities behind them so that’s what you’ll be competing with I do want to give a quick ha VI if you do say something to the effect of you know I I originally only applied to law school because I did well on the LSAT if you do mention that you need to round it off real quick and let them know that you had some kind of epiphany or you had some kind of change of heart or you know something traumatic traumatic has kind of a negative connotation so maybe something traumatic or life-changing or something even good happen to you that brought that helped you to see the the usefulness of obtaining a law degree so if you’re going to say that you need to flip it and flip it really well and like cancel out what you just said but that’s difficult to do it can be done but I would just suggest just not mentioning that don’t do it at all and so those are my three tips for what not to say or do on your admissions essay or your law school personal statement if you need just more one-on-one guidance through the college or law school admissions process be sure to check out Harper and hardship LLC com make sure you subscribe to the channel and I will see you all next week [Music]

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