For this blog post, I chose to analyze a personal statement I wrote for English 229: Professional Writing last semester. This personal statement was written for the purpose of applying to law school. The point of a personal statement is to sell yourself to an admissions board in a unique way that does not appear on the resume or in a GPA. It provides an opportunity to distinguish one’s self from the rest of the pack and to provide exceptional reasons for why you are different. My personal statement focused on an anecdote about witnessing my own mother’s law school graduation when I was very young. I discussed the profound effect it had on me as well as how it motivated me; therefore, my “go to” sentence shape involved compound sentences that described my experiences and reactions. For example, “I vividly remember watching the procession of graduate students walk down the isle, trying to spot my mother during her graduation.” Also, “I had always wanted to match my mother’s success, and when I realized how daunting the task of earning a law degree was, I knew I had to create the right opportunity for myself and take full advantage of it.” There are multiple sentences like this scattered throughout this personal statement. In this piece, I am supposed to highlight my experience and elaborate on it affected me. This “go to” sentence shape allows me to do just that.
The diction of this piece quite powerful, as I am trying to use Pathos to evoke emotion from the admissions board. For example, instead of writing, “my mother cried tears of joy,” I wrote, “tears dripped from her eyes to a more fitting smile, it was not until years later that I realized they were tears of joy.” This is a great way to make my audience sympathize with me and truly understand my perspective as best as possible. Pathos is not the only rhetorical appeal used in this personal statement. While the statement is mostly emotional, I also talk about how it motivated me to work extremely hard in all my academics, including here at U of M, which is a subtle appeal to Ethos. Finally, my whole argument, from beginning to end, shows why I have such a strong connection with law school and the law profession, and it appears evident that I truly desire this more than anything. This appeal to Logos begins with the recounting of my story and ends with my explicit statement, saying that I wish to attend whichever Law School the statement is meant for.