⭐️How to Pick a Personal Statement Topic

Instructor: David

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Personal Statement Questionnaire

This questionnaire will help you generate a list of even more possible topics for your law school personal statement.

Just show me the short version, please.

Background

  • How will you make the incoming class more diverse? You don’t have to focus on race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. For example, you were raised by a troop of traveling acrobats, you’ve been diagnosed with a learning or physical disability, you were a professional chef, you were home-schooled, you’re a military brat, you’re an immigrant, you speak a language that’s not spoken by many people anymore, you’re a published poet, you’re a single parent, you paid for college yourself, you’re the first in your family to go to graduate school, you’re an older applicant, etc.
  • How has the geography of your home shaped you? You can think about the literal geography, or you can interpret “geography” to mean culture, tradition, and family.
  • What’s the most unusual thing about your upbringing?
  • What do people assume about your background?
    • Are they correct?
  • Which aspects of your childhood might a stranger be most surprised to learn about?
  • What was the best thing about where you grew up?
  • The worst? What did you learn from that?
  • What were your favorite and least favorite chores? Did you learn anything from them?
  • What were your favorite and least favorite rituals? Did they contribute to who you are today?

Achievements And Non-Academic Interests

  • What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever done?
  • Do you have any unusual hobbies?
  • Do you play a musical instrument or sing?
    • What have you learned about yourself from the activity?
    • In what way is music still a part of your life?
  • Do you participate in any athletic activities?
    • What have you learned about yourself from the activity?
    • In what way are athletics still a part of your life?
  • Pretend you could go back in time. Would anything you’ve accomplished surprise the you of five or ten years ago? Why? How did you accomplish it?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What are you best at?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What extracurricular activities are most meaningful to you?
  • Name three occasions on which you have been useful.

Academic Background

  • What was the best part of your college experience?
    • What was your favorite class, and why?
    • What did you read or learn that changed your outlook?
    • Did you write a thesis? What was it about? Are you still interested in the subject? What did it teach you?
    • What was the worst part of college? Why?
    • What would you have done differently?
    • What non-academic lessons did you learn at college?
  • Answer the same questions for any graduate degrees you’ve completed.
  • Who is the best teacher you've ever had?
  • What lesson or class do you remember most vividly?

Professional Background and Goals

  • What’s the best job you ever had?
    • What skills did you gain?
    • What life lessons did you learn?
    • What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • Answer the same questions for the worst job you’ve ever had.
  • Answer the same questions for the most interesting job you’ve ever had.
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • What are your short-term career goals?
  • Why do you want to go to law school?
  • Why do you want to be a lawyer?
  • What kind of research have you done about law school or the practice of law?
  • What areas of the law interest you, and why?
  • Why are you applying to law school now?

Your Personal Journey

  • Are you spiritual? What do you do to express your spirituality?
  • Pretend like you could go back in time and talk to yourself ten years ago. What would you tell yourself, and why?
  • What five seconds changed your life?
  • Who is your role model? Why?
  • Have you ever had a mentor? What did you learn?
  • Have you ever read something that changed your life? How did it change your life?
  • What are you bad at?
    • How have you learned to compensate for that weakness?
  • What’s the greatest setback you’ve ever encountered?
    • How did you overcome it?
  • What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
    • How did you do it?
  • What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever made?
    • How did you make it?
  • At what point in your life did you think, Oh my God, I can’t believe this is all up to me?
  • What was your most glorious failure?
    • What did it teach you?
  • What would people be surprised to learn about you?
  • What’s your funniest story about yourself?
    • What does it say about who you are?
  • What’s your best story about yourself?
    • What does that say about who you are?

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