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ThunderStorm

Cussing in personal statement

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I would normally not consider cussing in a personal statement, an essay or really anything I write these days in fact. And it’s clearly out of place in a formal written piece, but I have some reasons as to why I am considering it:

1. it is a direct quote from someone else

2. including it allows me to demonstrate the point I am making and

3. to explain the term I would have to use far too many words thereby eating up my word count. 
 

I used, I intend to quote it. 

What are your thoughts on cussing in a personal statement? 

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Even if it is vital, you are better off censoring it. 

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Can you post the quote? I really don’t have an opinion on swearing in a PS but now you’ve piqued my interest and I really want to see it lol

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Absolutely nothing wrong with it as long as it is used to catch the reader's attention and demonstrate a specific point. I regularly read articles from the Economist in which they quote people verbatim, swear words and all, in order to drive home a point. 

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1 hour ago, ThunderStorm said:

3. to explain the term I would have to use far too many words thereby eating up my word count. 

I just find it hard to believe you wouldn't be able to get around this creatively. Challenge accepted on behalf of ls.ca. 

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Posted (edited)

Since you don’t know who your reader is the potential of it making them cringe is too high. What if your reader doesn’t even know who you quoted? 
 

I say don’t risk it. Be creative and find another way to make your point. 

Edited by Ichigo
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Thank you again for all of your thoughtful responses. I recognize it is a risk. I am not overly comfortable with cussing in general, especially in writing, and not with something this formal and significant. The problem is I think the gravity of how this word was used against me doesn’t translate unless I quote the word itself. I will go back to the drawing board and find a way. 

It was a derogatory word used by a more privileged person than I in an attempt to essentially put me back in my place in front of a large group of people. 
 

I will continue to think through it and avoid the use of a cuss word. 
 

Thank you!

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7 minutes ago, ThunderStorm said:

Thank you again for all of your thoughtful responses. I recognize it is a risk. I am not overly comfortable with cussing in general, especially in writing, and not with something this formal and significant. The problem is I think the gravity of how this word was used against me doesn’t translate unless I quote the word itself. I will go back to the drawing board and find a way. 

It was a derogatory word used by a more privileged person than I in an attempt to essentially put me back in my place in front of a large group of people. 
 

I will continue to think through it and avoid the use of a cuss word. 
 

Thank you!

In this context you provided, I think that you may be okay in putting it in your PS, considering that it is something derogatory used against you (rather than by you). It'd be different if you were just quoting someone saying something like "Get s**t done!" but in this context, I honestly don't see anything wrong with it. 

 

I will preface this, though, by saying I am, in general, someone who cusses frequently and is quite comfortable with reading that sort of language (obviously not derogatory language but you catch my drift), so someone not as comfortable with it may have a different perspective. 

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Posted (edited)

 

14 minutes ago, futureellewoods said:

In this context you provided, I think that you may be okay in putting it in your PS, considering that it is something derogatory used against you (rather than by you). It'd be different if you were just quoting someone saying something like "Get s**t done!" but in this context, I honestly don't see anything wrong with it. 

I agree. If the word is particularly obscene and can be recognized through the use of a few letters and some asterisks then that may be a little nicer on the eyes. But I also understand that in this case the cuss word is actually the word you're trying to emphasize, so editing it out detracts from your point. Quoting the exact word(s) used against you to help convey to the reader how it made you feels seems fair to me, particularly if it's just the one cuss word.

Edit: sorry some asshole treated you this way btw.

Edited by LawBlaw2019
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I went through this as well when writing my PS. I was trying to describe some racial slurs used against me in order to better illustrate barriers I faced. I spent a fair amount of time delberitating, trying to decide if I should spell out the most egrigous of the slurs. 

I ended up not mentoring the exact words as I felt it was simply too much. Explaining the general situation was sufficient and I didn't feel that I needed to "flaunt" the type of things people felt comfortable calling me. 

I can't say for sure if that was the right choice, but it felt right to me and it got me into my desired school so I'll call it a good decision. 

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1 hour ago, SadNWO said:

I went through this as well when writing my PS. I was trying to describe some racial slurs used against me in order to better illustrate barriers I faced. I spent a fair amount of time delberitating, trying to decide if I should spell out the most egrigous of the slurs. 

I ended up not mentoring the exact words as I felt it was simply too much. Explaining the general situation was sufficient and I didn't feel that I needed to "flaunt" the type of things people felt comfortable calling me. 

I can't say for sure if that was the right choice, but it felt right to me and it got me into my desired school so I'll call it a good decision. 

You did the right thing, for sure. If you make a reviewer uncomfortable, that's a negative feeling and likely won't bode well for you. You want them to feel positive about your application, so it's better to focus more on how you dealt with problematic situations, grew from them, fought back via the systems in place, etc. than to expatiate on the situation itself.

4 hours ago, ThunderStorm said:

I would normally not consider cussing in a personal statement, an essay or really anything I write these days in fact. And it’s clearly out of place in a formal written piece, but I have some reasons as to why I am considering it:

1. it is a direct quote from someone else

2. including it allows me to demonstrate the point I am making and

3. to explain the term I would have to use far too many words thereby eating up my word count. 
 

I used, I intend to quote it. 

What are your thoughts on cussing in a personal statement? 

As someone who reviewed entrance personal statements this year, don't. Don't do anything even remotely close to it. Don't censor it, don't dance around it. If you aren't clever enough to figure out something else to do, then you aren't getting into my law school. As I said, if you make me uncomfortable, that's not going to work in your favour. And if you'll cuss in a PS, who knows what else you might do? I don't know who you are, your PS tells me that, and profanity tells me you're not very moderated. And that's coming from someone who swears like a sailor. :D

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30 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

-snip-

I'm with you. I think go ahead with the cuss words, but be cognizant of the fact that it may (wrongly) put off some adcomm members. You shouldn't have to dilute your experience to make it palatable to others.

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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

The reason it's inadvisable for OP to include racial slurs in their personal statement is because, unfortunately, some adcomm members are going to draw this type of negative inference or are otherwise going to be unable to read past their discomfort. And the stakes for the individual are sufficiently high that it's not worth the risk, even though the problem is truly with the adcomm who is rendered so uncomfortable by the relation of someone's lived experience that they are unable to do their job. 

Exactly lol

 

  

26 minutes ago, albertabean said:

I'm with you. I think go ahead with the cuss words, but be cognizant of the fact that it may (wrongly) put off some adcomm members. You shouldn't have to dilute your experience to make it palatable to others.

Unless you really want to get into that law school. Sucks, but that's the reality of it.

Edited by FortifiedEight
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Posted (edited)

I talked about an experience that can be characterized as "uncomfortable for the reader" within the meaning of this thread in my personal statements, and tried to dance around direct language as much as I could. When I did use it, it was extremely sparingly, to contrast the more conceptual engagement style forming the majority of my discussion of the topic. And even then, it wasn't without quickly moving to a more constructive point, and refocusing the statement on personal growth, ambition, and resilience overall. 

Edited by LabouriousCorvid
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Yes, that is exactly what I am struggling with. I feel hesitant to cuss because it feels unprofessional. On the other hand, the admissions committee may feel how shocking and degrading the experience was if they can be uncomfortable upon reading the word in context. That may help them understand my point of view and well, me. Especially because I think I handled it well. 

I will continue to ponder a way around it. I agree with the statements that there should be a way to convey the message differently. I wish to be deliberate about the personal statement, rather than including a word because I couldn’t find a way not to. Then in that way, I will have two personal statements to choose from and it will be a decision I intentionally make understanding the impact and possible consequences of either choice. 

Applications are a long way away, but I will follow up with whether or not I included the cuss and what became of my application. 

Thank you again for all of your diverse takes on this. Sorry to those that were interested in the word itself. I chose not to share that part because I didn’t want this to turn into a gawker type discussion. I mean no criticism for those that were interested in the word for interest sake. I would have been as well, but I think leaving it out allowed people to think about the question more objectively. 

Appreciate the time you all have spent providing your insights. 

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I REALLY appreciated @BlockedQuebecois's response. I think they get it right in their response. The only place that I differ is that I think that you should use the statement. In quotes or italics. Dancing around the words will take up more space and doesn't carry the same punch. 

Use the word, but don't make it your whole story. You are more than what has happened to you. I actively referred to @ShirleyBeans post here for the discretionary category, and applied using their approach to my personal statement. I messaged @ShirleyBeans saying that if I get in, it is going to be because of their post and advice. I should message them to say thanks because I was successful. 

Using of foul words will depend on the circumstance of your life. Do what feels right to you. If you feel like you are not yourself by taking it out and dancing around the topic, then keep it. 

For reference, I had highly unusual and informal personal statements for my discretionary apps. For the school I have been accepted to, I would have thought "did they seriously just say that?" if I was reviewing it. For the school I want to get into and am still waiting for, I am 100% sure that the content is going to make a particular senior administrator (and likely adcomms member) raise their eyebrows. I would love to be in the room to hear the conversation that happens about my statement. If a miracle happens and I am successful there too, then I can 100% with confidence say that the only reason I got in was because of my personal statement because there is no good reason why I should have got in anywhere this year (I am not just saying this - both my GPA and LSAT are embarrassingly low - lower than those talking about their acceptances).  

I would find it refreshing to read something different. A few weeks ago at work I was reviewing a large amount of submissions for something. There were so many of the "same but different" applications. So many knew to say the right things, but didn't really sound special. The atypical stood out - even though they didn't use the key words one would think that we were expecting. I imagine adcomms goes through the same thing. Hundreds of applications. You get application fatigue. 

Also,  not every lawyer (and I would argue most aren't) stuck up people who expect formal statement. After reviewing a series of well manicured applications all day, maybe it would be good to read something different. Something with personality and character. I know I would want to. 

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