Critique and question (only 1 page single)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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rw2264
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Critique and question (only 1 page single)

Postby rw2264 » Fri Jan 01, 2010 1:41 pm

here's a draft of my personal statement. i'm not much for editing generally (and personal statements freak me out) but sometimes my wording is awkward so let me know what you all think. also, its a very personal topic so please don't be cruel.

also, is it a weak point that i don't specifically address why i want to be a lawyer? not everyone has an "ahah!" moment that makes them suddenly realize their calling. i have good reasons but they're all boring.

another question--length? i feel like its good, do you agree?

last thing, i realize the opening paragraph and the closing paragraph might be a little bit on the corny/gimmicky side, i would greatly appreciate any suggestions as to how to minimize that.



I always used to dream that the trajectory of my life would be similar to that of a novel—filled with dramatic twists, sudden life changes, villains and saviors. It would conclude with an exciting climax, leaving every observer stunned and awed. Clearly, this vision has not come to pass. What I was dealt was not the stuff of fantasy, but a life filled with obstacles that demanded personal drive and compassion to overcome.

I was very self-aware as a child. I knew the panic attacks and general anxiety I suffered were abnormal. I also knew the constant fighting between my parents and the invalidating atmosphere in my home were damaging to me. Only later did I learn the words needed to correctly describe the situation: my father was an alcoholic, my mother was emotionally abusive, and my home environment was completely devoid of emotional support. So I delved deeply into my schoolwork at a young age, finding refuge in books and words, and I excelled at schoolwork beyond the expectations of anyone. My motivation paid off as I succeeded academically enough to attend private school on the East Coast. Going to Barnard for me was a double-edged sword: I was away from the negative forces at home which sought to starve me of my ambition, but I was surrounded by people who couldn't seem to relate to my life's circumstances. My parents, of course, didn't understand why I needed to go to a private school so far away instead of community college or a state school in California. Neither of them went to college, and though they were proud of me, the concept was mostly lost on them.

Though I was geographically far away from home, I knew I would never escape my parents, nor my love for them despite all they had put me through. Things started to fall apart between my second and third years of college—my father, who had been sober for almost three years, began drinking again and revealed that he had a drug addiction. That winter, my father took his own life. I was devastated, but I was also filled with a sense of relief, knowing my father was finally at peace after a lifetime of unhappiness. It was a cathartic moment for me, as if the pieces of my past were falling away and leaving me free to finally walk the earth as I was meant to: freely, without fear or inhibition. I had forgiven my father for his shortcomings long before his death, but it was then that I was truly able to move on from that aspect of my past.

My family is not anything I would have wished for nor will it ever be, but my experiences have shaped me into a driven person. I have been able to accomplish what I have so far out of an often terrible sense of urgency that I no longer feel. My ambition is now an asset, not a defense mechanism, and the success I enjoy in the future will be all my own doing. My past has also taught me that the most important thing in life is to show compassion and understanding to others, because it is impossible to know where people have come from and where they are going. It is this compassion and depth of understanding that has allowed me to build my own family with all of the wonderfully supportive people who now surround me., for whom I could not be more thankful.

My past self would probably be disappointed that my life hasn't been as exciting as I'd initially hoped. My life mostly lacks harrowing twists and turns, but is instead filled with nuance and depth. No character is purely good or evil, or blameless or guilty. There is no true climax or defining moment to pinpoint. And the resolution? It is quiet and satisfying, marked only by a change in myself. And I could not be more content with the peaceful path it has laid before me.

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84Sunbird2000
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Re: Critique and question (only 1 page single)

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:56 pm

I like the writing style, and you clearly bring the paper back to the opening theme. That's good construction. In fact, it's quite positive in saying, "It hasn't been perfect, but it's helped" but with good detail. However, and I'm no expert (my PS seems to create sharp divisions in opinion), but there is really no mention of the law...at all. I don't really know if it's necessary to mention why you are going into law, but it appears that it is encouraged. As far as telling the reader about yourself and your motivations the statement is solid.

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rw2264
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Re: Critique and question (only 1 page single)

Postby rw2264 » Sat Jan 02, 2010 12:29 am

bump! anyone else?

schnauzerlover
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2010 4:42 pm

Re: Critique and question (only 1 page single)

Postby schnauzerlover » Sat Jan 02, 2010 5:59 pm

rw2264 wrote:here's a draft of my personal statement. i'm not much for editing generally (and personal statements freak me out) but sometimes my wording is awkward so let me know what you all think. also, its a very personal topic so please don't be cruel.

also, is it a weak point that i don't specifically address why i want to be a lawyer? not everyone has an "ahah!" moment that makes them suddenly realize their calling. i have good reasons but they're all boring.

another question--length? i feel like its good, do you agree?

last thing, i realize the opening paragraph and the closing paragraph might be a little bit on the corny/gimmicky side, i would greatly appreciate any suggestions as to how to minimize that.



I always used to dream that the trajectory of my life would be similar to that of a novel—filled with dramatic twists, sudden life changes, villains and saviors. It would conclude with an exciting climax, leaving every observer stunned and awed. Clearly, this vision has not come to pass. What I was dealt was not the stuff of fantasy, but a life filled with obstacles that demanded personal drive and compassion to overcome. After reading your statement, it does seem as though you've had a more or less challenging life. My mom always used to laugh and tell my sister and me that everything we witnessed in our lives (like my abusive alcoholic grandfather, her struggle with cancer and death) would provide great fodder for either a tragedy or a comedy. Many of the best stories are not simple happy tales, but stories of struggle, personal growth, and triumph. Your statement is a story-- your story, whether you see it as a novel or not. I really like your statement and everything you have to say, but I feel like this is a weak way to begin and a poor comparison. Also, referencing that your life "would conclude with an exciting climax" indicates that your life has concluded (you've got a long way to go and many things wonderful things that you'll do along the way!) so framing this particular junction as an ending doesn't seem appropriate.

I was very self-aware as a child. I knew the panic attacks and general anxiety I suffered were abnormal. I also knew the constant fighting between my parents and the invalidating atmosphere in my home were damaging to me. Only later did I learn the words needed to correctly describe the situation: my father was an alcoholic, my mother was emotionally abusive, and my home environment was completely devoid of emotional support. So I delved deeply into my schoolwork at a young age, finding refuge in books and words, and I excelled at schoolwork beyond [strike]the[/strike] anyone's expectations [strike]of anyone[/strike]. My motivation paid off as I succeeded academically enough to attend private school on the East Coast. Going to Barnard for me was a double-edged sword: I was away from the negative forces at home [strike]which[/strike] that sought to starve me of my ambition, but I was surrounded by people who couldn't seem to relate to my life's circumstances. My parents, of course, didn't understand why I needed to go to a private school so far away instead of community college or a state school in California. Neither of them went to college, and though they were proud of me, the concept was mostly lost on them.

Though I was geographically far away from home, I knew I would never escape my parents, nor my love for them despite all they had put me through. Things started to fall apart between my second and third years of college—my father, who had been sober for almost three years, began drinking again and revealed that he had a drug addiction. That winter, my father took his own life. I was devastated, but I was also filled with a sense of relief, knowing my father was finally at peace after a lifetime of unhappiness. It was a cathartic moment for me, see, here you even reference an defining characteristic of a greek tragedy! This is not a bad thing to include, I just wanted to point out how your story is a narrative with some more or less climaxes and turnsas if the pieces of my past were falling away and leaving me free to finally walk the earth as I was meant to: freely, without fear or inhibition. I had forgiven my father for his shortcomings long before his death, but it was then that I was truly able to move on from that aspect of my past.

My family is not anything I would have wished for nor will it ever be, but my experiences have shaped me into a driven person. I have been able to accomplish what I have so far out of an often terrible sense of urgency that I no longer feel. My ambition is now an asset, not a defense mechanism, and the success I enjoy in the future will be all my own doing. My past has also taught me that the most important thing in life is to show compassion and understanding to others, because it is impossible to know [strike]where people have come from and where they are going[/strike]. I don't like the wording here... something seems off... maybe something along the lines of people's circumstances and motivations?It is this compassion and depth of understanding that has allowed me to build my own family with all of the wonderfully supportive people who now surround me, for whom I could not be more thankful. I can really relate to this sentiment and I think it is a powerful thing to include. It does seem to contradict your earlier statement about the success you will enjoy in the future will be all your own doing. I understand wanting to express how your success will be a result of your own doing (without "family" support), but here you show that you've not let a lack of "family" stop you from building strong supportive relationships. My sister and I can very much appreciate this experience, as the people that we're closest to are not at all family and I'm really glad that you've been able to build a good network of support

My past self would probably be disappointed that my life hasn't been as exciting as I'd initially hoped. My life mostly lacks harrowing twists and turns, but again, your statement is a narrative of your personal growth, and appears to have climaxes, catharsis, resolution, etc but is instead filled with nuance and depth. No character is purely good or evil, or blameless or guilty. There is no true climax or defining moment to pinpoint. And the resolution? there is no resolution to your life yet! Thankfully, hopefully you'll have a long way to go!It is quiet and satisfying, marked only by a change in myself. And I could not be more content with the peaceful path it has laid before me.
Maybe here you could mention something about preparing for law school, continuing the path etc.

I think that overall you have a really great statement. I think that the comparison of your life to a novel doesn't do it justice though. I think some of the lessons you've learned (like that no character is purely good, or evil etc) is really great, but the parts that try to convince us that you haven't had a "story" worthy experience, while telling your story, really detracts from the rest (which is so strong!)

Maybe even just diving right into the second paragraph would be a stronger start. I don't really like the novel theme and I think that more or less just diving right in will help draw the reader in.

I hope my feedback helps. Honestly, you have a great statement and an impressive message that you convey well.

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rw2264
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Re: Critique and question (only 1 page single)

Postby rw2264 » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:44 pm

i've had a couple people tell me they hated the novel theme and a couple people tell me they loved it. i've changed the statement in several ways since yesterday, but i changed the ending. i now say "My life has a few harrowing twists and turns, but is mostly filled with nuance and depth." and then it continues unchanged. there is no one climax and yes, there is catharsis, but saying that is the single most cathartic moment in my life and therefore the climax is simplistic.

also, if i take the first paragraph away, the tone of the PS is significantly more depressing.

thanks for the comments!

schnauzerlover
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2010 4:42 pm

Re: Critique and question (only 1 page single)

Postby schnauzerlover » Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:05 pm

rw2264 wrote:i've had a couple people tell me they hated the novel theme and a couple people tell me they loved it. i've changed the statement in several ways since yesterday, but i changed the ending. i now say "My life has a few harrowing twists and turns, but is mostly filled with nuance and depth." that sounds like it would be betterand then it continues unchanged. there is no one climax and yes, there is catharsis, but saying that is the single most cathartic moment in my life and therefore the climax is simplistic. I wasn't implying that it was even one of the most climatic moments (or that you should say so), but rather pointing out that you talked about serious events with consequences, that are part of your personal narrative and growth. I was just trying to point out that you are telling a story (a narrative with events and consequences), which seems to contradict saying that you don't have a story to tell... that's all, I wouldn't presume to say what you would see as a climax.... You write very well and have a strong statement, but as you said I guess some people don't like the novel theme (and some really like it). In the end its up to you anyway :)

also, if i take the first paragraph away, the tone of the PS is significantly more depressing.

thanks for the comments!




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