2nd draft. Be Brutal. No Ego to Bruise.

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
shotinthedark
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:55 pm

2nd draft. Be Brutal. No Ego to Bruise.

Postby shotinthedark » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:00 pm

I was approaching the end of my sophomore year when my closest friend called and asked if I wanted to move to the Philippines and work with him at a children’s shelter. I was surprised and tempted, but hesitant to take so much time off school. However, the prospect continued to fester in my mind. My semester ended and the decision was made. After a few months waiting tables and a little help from friends and family, Ryan and I were on a plane crossing the pacific.
In Cebu, Philippines, the average salary is seventeen dollars a month. Children are often left in front of churches or shelters because their parents can’t afford to feed them. These are things I had read before I’d arrived, but didn’t prepare me for the reality I faced when I landed. We settled into our new home. It was an aging gated complex complete with barbed fencings and a lonely security guard. We were given open-air bunk beds covered with a tin awning to keep out the rain. Though given the amount of noise it made when it rained Ryan and I both agreed that we might prefer getting wet.
We spent our days organizing activities for the children, reviewing homework and losing soccer matches to nine-year-olds. There were anywhere between 30 to 35 children at once, most of whom arrived malnourished, sickly and scared. I was surprised by the amount responsibility that was handed over to me so quickly and by our ability adjust to such an unfamiliar lifestyle in such a short amount of time.
We got to know the children; they were all positive, energetic friendly kids, thankful for having a place to sleep and food to eat. Unbeatable spirits, especially in the face of such extreme poverty. I Became close friends with a boy named John-Henry. He was fourteen, and hadn’t had much schooling before he came to the shelter. The children were required to study English as well as their native Togolag. But John-Henry struggled and came to me one afternoon and asked for my help. I organized a daily English study group for the shelter, though it was often just John-Henry and myself. It was difficult for him but he was dedicated.
Every day we went over the lesson he had in school, we did endless conversation and writing exercises. Through these drill we got to know each other well. I was able to see him improve and improve quickly. I found that watching John-Henry improve and feeling like I had played a part in it was one of the most rewarding experiences during my time there.
Apart from my tutoring and soccer games, my responsibilities ranged from teaching children how to tie shoelaces to filing paperwork regarding the children’s shelter records and adoption status. The business tasks forced us to deal with government agencies and complex rules and regulations that changed arbitrarily depending on whom you were speaking with. These experiences prompted me to think more seriously about pursuing a law degree (an idea that had been adrift in the back of my mind for about a year at this point). I had always had an interest in law and government and their torturous bureaucratic system forced me to appreciate how well ours does work.
The 9 months we had allowed ourselves quickly ended, we said our goodbyes and left the children to a new group of volunteers. I returned home, ready to finish school with a newfound appreciation and motivation for the opportunities in my life. Although I was hesitant to take time off of school it was a worthwhile endeavor. When I returned to my junior year of college at XXXX University I felt more prepared and confident than ever. I decided to explore law more seriously.
I became more active in the Pre-Law Society. I took as many classes on law and its governing political philosophies as I could. I also got a job in a law firm to gain a better understanding of the practical aspect of practicing law. With all these experiences I found that my interest in the law grew on what seemed like a daily basis.
My adventure in the Philippines humbled me and inspired me to be an active part of my community. And I believe that the study of law will provide me with many different opportunities to do so. I received an invaluable education while I was there became a better student and a better person because of it. My experiences in the Philippines continue to fortify my desire to pursue the study of law and the unique perspective it brought has helped to focus my goals and improve my life.

bdepeyster
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:32 pm

Re: 2nd draft. Be Brutal. No Ego to Bruise.

Postby bdepeyster » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:18 pm

I
Last edited by bdepeyster on Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

shotinthedark
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:55 pm

Re: 2nd draft. Be Brutal. No Ego to Bruise.

Postby shotinthedark » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:27 pm

Those are good notes. I appreciate it. And yeah Tagalog, good call.

leftieash
Posts: 50
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:21 pm

Re: 2nd draft. Be Brutal. No Ego to Bruise.

Postby leftieash » Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:08 pm

My comments are in caps.
I think you have a good start, but your content is very close to the personal statement adcomms say they hate -- the privileged person in the US goes to a country, sees poverty, and it makes them feel really lucky. Sorry to be blunt, but it's true. I would kind of roll my eyes after reading this essay.
The fact you spent 9 months there says a lot, though. You weren't just volunteering for like a week--this was a serious commitment. So I would think a lot about the other things it might have taught you, other than the fact that kids can have good spirits even when they were in poverty and you are lucky to have opportunities. Do you still keep in touch with the kid you became friends with? Do you still raise money for this shelter? How did it change how you see your place in the world, besides that you are privileged?
I also feel like your connection between this experience and wanting to become a lawyer is a bit forced...
Hope this helps.

shotinthedark wrote:I was approaching the end of my sophomore year when my closest friend called and asked if I wanted to move to the Philippines and work with him at a children’s shelter. I was surprised and tempted, but hesitant to take so much time off school. However, the prospect continued to fester [CHOOSE A DIFFERENT WORD. FESTER MAKES ME THINK OF DISGUSTING, ROTTING THINGS, PROBABLY NOT WHAT YOU MEAN.] in my mind. My semester ended and the decision was made. After a few months waiting tables and a little help from friends and family, Ryan and I were on a plane crossing the pacific.
In Cebu, Philippines, the average salary is seventeen dollars a month. Children are often left in front of churches or shelters because their parents can’t afford to feed them. These are things I had read before I’d arrived, but didn’t prepare me for the reality I faced when I landed. We settled into our new home. It was an aging gated complex complete with barbed fencings and a lonely security guard. We were given open-air bunk beds covered with a tin awning to keep out the rain. Though given the amount of noise it made when it rained Ryan and I both agreed that we might prefer getting wet. [CUT THIS--YOU SOUND SPOILED AND I'M NOT SURE WHAT IT DOES FOR YOU.]
We spent our days organizing activities for the children, reviewing homework and losing soccer matches to nine-year-olds. There were anywhere between 30 to 35 children at once, most of whom arrived malnourished, sickly and scared. [ARRIVED WHERE? WHO DID YOU WORK FOR? I STILL DON'T KNOW] I was surprised by the amount OF responsibility that was handed over to me so quickly and by our ability TO adjust to such an unfamiliar lifestyle in such a short amount of time.
We got to know the children; they were all positive, energetic friendly kids, thankful for having a place to sleep and food to eat. Unbeatable spirits, especially in the face of such extreme poverty. [I DON'T KNOW, BUT I KIND OF ROLLED MY EYES AT THIS. YOU SAID I'M NOT BRUSING YOUR EGO--SO HERE GOES. I FEEL LIKE THE WHOLE ROMANTICIZATION OF POVERTY WITH THE 'BUT THEY WERE STILL SO HAPPY!' IS REALLY PROBLEMATIC AND CAN MAKE YOU LOOK LIKE YOU HAVE VERY LITTLE PERSPECTIVE. SO I WOULD RETHINK THIS AND BE VERY CAREFUL.] I Became close friends with a boy named John-Henry. He was fourteen, and hadn’t had much schooling before he came to the shelter. The children were required to study English as well as their native Togolag. But John-Henry struggled and came to me one afternoon and asked for my help. I organized a daily English study group for the shelter, though it was often just John-Henry and myself. It was difficult for him but he was dedicated.
Every day we went over the lesson he had in school, we did endless conversation and writing exercises. Through these drillS we got to know each other [INFORMAL] well. I was able to see him improve, and HE improveD quickly. I found that watching John-Henry improve [DIFFERENT WORD--THIRD TIME YOU'VE USED IT] and feeling like I had played a part in it was one of the most rewarding experiences during my time there.
Apart from my tutoring and soccer games, my responsibilities ranged from teaching children how to tie shoelaces to filing paperwork regarding the children’s shelter records and adoption status. The business tasks forced us to deal with government agencies and complex rules and regulations that changed arbitrarily depending [strike]on[/strike] WITH whom you were speaking[strike]with[/strike]. These experiences prompted me to think more seriously about pursuing a law degree [strike]([/strike] -- an idea that had been adrift in the back of my mind for about a year at this point[strike])[/strike]. I had always had an interest in law and government and [strike]their[/strike] AMBIGUOUS? THE PHILLIPINE GOVERNMENT'S? torturous bureaucratic system forced me to appreciate how well ours does work.
The 9 months we had allowed ourselves quickly ended, we said our goodbyes and left the children to a new group of volunteers. I returned home, ready to finish school with a new-found appreciation and motivation for the opportunities in my life. Although I was hesitant to take time off of school it was a worthwhile endeavor. When I returned to my junior year of college at XXXX University I felt more prepared and confident than ever. I decided to explore law more seriously.
I became more active in the Pre-Law Society. I took as many classes on law and its governing political philosophies as I could. I also got a job in a law firm to gain a better understanding of the practical aspect of practicing law. With all these experiences I found that my interest in the law grew on what seemed like a daily basis. [THIS IS TOO CURSORY AND TOO MUCH OF A SUMMARY OF YOUR RESUME. I WOULD NOT INCLUDE THIS. I THINK A PERSONAL STATEMENT CAN ONLY GIVE A VERY SHORT SNAPSHOT OF WHO YOU ARE AND THESE RESUME ITEMS DON'T DISTINGUISH YOU FROM OTHER CANDIDATES. I WOULD THINK ABOUT INCLUDING MORE DETAILS ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE PHILLIPINES AND HOW YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH THE BUREAUCRACY MADE YOU WANT TO GET A LAW DEGREE--THIS JUST SEEMS TACKED ON.]
My adventure in the Philippines humbled me and inspired me to be an active part of my community [WHY YOUR COMMUNITY? YOUR COMMUNITY IS NOT THE PHILLIPINES?]. And I believe that the study of law will provide me with many different opportunities to do so. [WHAT OPPORTUNITIES? HOW? AGAIN, THIS JUST SEEMS LIKE FILLER.] I received an invaluable education while I was there became a better student and a better person because of it. [SORRY, BUT YOU DON'T PROVE THIS TO ME. VOLUNTEERING MAY GIVE YOU A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE, BUT YOU DON'T TELL ME HOW IT MADE YOU A 'BETTER PERSON.' MAYBE THINK ABOUT HOW IT HAS CHANGED YOUR LIFE AND AFFECTED YOU IN OTHER WAYS. HAS IT GIVEN YOU A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON US FOREIGN POLICY, MAYBE? OR POVERTY? OR SOMETHING?] My experiences in the Philippines continue to fortify my desire to pursue the study of law and the unique perspective it brought has helped to focus my goals and improve my life.

shotinthedark
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:55 pm

Re: 2nd draft. Be Brutal. No Ego to Bruise.

Postby shotinthedark » Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:51 pm

I can see what you mean. Thanks for the input

User avatar
scribelaw
Posts: 771
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:27 pm

Re: 2nd draft. Be Brutal. No Ego to Bruise.

Postby scribelaw » Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:53 pm

change fester to linger

User avatar
FromRussiaWithLove
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:23 am

Re: 2nd draft. Be Brutal. No Ego to Bruise.

Postby FromRussiaWithLove » Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:56 pm

Unbeatable spirits, especially in the face of such extreme poverty.

This is a fragment, not a complete sentence.

deadatheist
Posts: 234
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 2:55 am

Re: 2nd draft. Be Brutal. No Ego to Bruise.

Postby deadatheist » Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:01 pm

i like the topic, but imho, there's something lacking in pathos the way it is written now. i'd like to see it or hear it how you would tell it like a story to a friend, possibly including dialogue and scraping stats and facts somewhat detached from your own experience (the average salary, for example seems a bit distracting). i also feel name(s) are brought on without descriptions of the individual, and those are great places to round out your story and characters by describing the people (or quoting them to give them a voice). i can provide some examples if you'd like, but it really is a great topic, i'd just try to think of it more as a colorful story than a proper essay.

also, might cut the 2nd to last paragraph, assuming all of this is evident on your application elsewhere. doesn't contribute much here.

good luck!

deadatheist
Posts: 234
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 2:55 am

Re: 2nd draft. Be Brutal. No Ego to Bruise.

Postby deadatheist » Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:02 pm

scribelaw wrote:change fester to linger


yes. better connotation.




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.