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Need advice on "civil twilight" phrase in personal Statement

Hi all, I need some impartial, non-attorney advice.

I've had my personal statement proofread by 3 individuals (two are attorneys and one is my husband (non-attorney, but works at a law firm) and they love the statement but have trouble with the phrase "civil twilight" at the beginning of my statement.

My PS begins as follows:

"It was the beginning of civil twilight when my eyes opened and without much thought I made a very simple decision. I was barely 16 years old when I walked out and decided that I was never coming back. I recall looking down at the clear vials with different color tops littering the elevator floor worrying about the unlocked door, but not much else. As I disappeared down --------- Avenue on that quiet morning, there was no one to witness the beginning of my metaphorical descent into my life."

One person did not know what it meant and did not bother to look up and wondered why didn't I use just twilight. Another person had to look up and said that if it comes natural then use it, but if I'm using the phrase to sound good, the use "just before dawn" or something like it. The third person said it sounded like I was trying too hard.

The use civil twilight is not unusual to me because I'm a lit major and I read a lot (I mean really read a lot!). I'm tempted to just go with it...but I also don't want to be stubborn about it and not heed advice. I'm also relunctant to change it because it ties in with my last line of my essay: ("However, I have never taken the worn path and I have never minded the possibility of an unruly dusk.")

What do you guys think?


  • AlejandroAlejandro Member Inactive ⭐
    edited January 2017 2424 karma
    hey @G6LsatQueen thanks for your post! I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I don't think you should put the term "civil twilight" in your personal statement. While your initial paragraph does show that you read a lot of literature, we are not applying to Lit or Journalism school. We are applying to law school; and clear & concise is favored over wordiness. I'd also advise you to get to your point quicker instead of describing the situation like the beginning of a novel. I'm actually guilty of this. When I came to the U.S., I would try to channel the spirit of Garcia Marquez with my writing all the time. Then I realized that was a very bad idea. Anyways, I'm not an expert but hopefully you find my opinion helpful! Best of luck with your application process :)
  • AlejandroAlejandro Member Inactive ⭐
    2424 karma the way. I had to google what "civil twilight" means before posting. But I'm sure you appreciate due diligence ;)
  • G6_1L_QueenG6_1L_Queen Alum Member
    81 karma
    Thank you Alejandro, I really appreciate your comments!

    I'm so stuck ... between what feels right to me and what might be a potential negative reaction. I've never been one to care so much for doing what is expected or taking the safe route... could I change it? yes I can...but it kills me to do it because of what might be.... Am I making sense? Or just being stubborn.
  • AlejandroAlejandro Member Inactive ⭐
    2424 karma
    I totally understand where you are coming from. It may be natural, but when you become a lawyer you are going to start writing differently. Might as well start practicing with your personal statement! I encourage you to read the advice from Berkeley Law school admission committee. Cheers!
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Monthly + Live Member Sage 🍌 7Sage Tutor
    27590 karma
    I didn't know what it meant either and I'm a fellow prolific reading lit major and science enthusiast. Having never heard of it, it comes across as a vague attempt at being poetic. I'm also a little confused because I'm assuming this is a story of redemption and our metaphors seem to be moving into darkness--"twilight" and "descending." (I know twilight is the term for both morning and night, but colloquially, twilight is typically associated with sunset and that was my reading until you stated that it was morning. Far from clarifying, I was just confused at that point until I could get my science straight. It took me a minute and really interrupted the narrative. This is more work than you want to put your reader through.) Maybe just go with the more familiar "dawn." It's technically inaccurate, but it will paint the scene much more clearly. It's hard to say without context, but I'd also consider whether "ascent" maybe wouldn't be a better choice. You also need an "and" between "elevator floor ____ worrying about" unless it's the vials doing the worrying:)

    Other than those quick edits, I actually really like it. Your voice comes through in a really clear and powerful way. I found myself disappointed that the following text wasn't a continuation, and that is a great sign for a compelling intro.
  • G6_1L_QueenG6_1L_Queen Alum Member
    81 karma
    Alejandro - Thank you! Really appreciate the link.

    Can't get Right...thank you for the advice and the nits! I will change it to dawn. And I believe you're right...ascent will work better.....and sorry for the disappointing :-)

    You are both correct, I'm not writing a novel so I shouldn't make the reader work too hard. I guess I had to get that out of my system.

    Thank you both again!
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