Draft 3: Please be brutal!!! DISREGARD ACCIDENTLY BUMPED

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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trialjunky
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Draft 3: Please be brutal!!! DISREGARD ACCIDENTLY BUMPED

Postby trialjunky » Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:04 am

PS has been edited and changed up. Thanks!
Last edited by trialjunky on Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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WhatSarahSaid
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Re: Draft 3: Please be brutal!!!

Postby WhatSarahSaid » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:23 am

As I lie ["lay," not lie] there, bleeding profusely, [cut these two commas] in a dingy hospital in Trinidad, I realized that my past had neglected to pass before my eyes. For hours, minutes and seconds swirled by in a red tinted haze. [This is a sentence fragment. Cut the "for," probably] Eventually the specialist arrived, but I had lost a dangerous amount of blood. A cold rush of anesthesia in my veins brought about visions. These visions, however, were not from my past but from my future. In pain, wondering if I would ever use my legs again [comma right here] I saw the woman I wanted to become; [make the semicolon a colon] a better daughter; a stronger sister; a more patient aunt. [make those two semicolons commas] Some visions were far-reaching for a descendent [fix the spelling: "descendant"] of two Caribbean immigrants; a leader; a college graduate; a legal advocate. [same punctuation problems as the previous sentence]

I see what you're going for here, but I really don't like your introduction. There's some quote from a Berkeley adcomm (can't find it right now) that says that you should avoid starting your PS in median res with these kinds of tragic, dramatic situations. It's a bit cliché. I don't like your use of "far-reaching," but that's not too egregious.


After a year long [connect year-long with a hyphen] struggle to regain my life, which included three more surgeries, I came to the realization that with persistence, confidence, and hard work [probably a comma after work?] all things are possible. After a year [you just started a sentence with "after a year." This is redundant] of struggling without limbs, too often taken for granted [by whom? This is too passive and too presumptuous. It's safer to say that you had taken them for granted], I was cleared to start physical therapy. It is a strange feeling to be taught how to walk again. Your mind remembers distinctly the way one leg should extend before the other but your body firmly rejects the idea. Nothing in my life could compare to the accomplishment of walking across a hospital room floor, [no comma] after too [cut "too"] many failed attempts. Compelled by my success, I resolved to dedicate my efforts to transcending my immigrant roots. Becoming a leader, college graduate and legal advocate were now reachable possibilities.

This is a pretty cool story. Your first sentence here, though, and especially the line "all things are possible," feel really forced. You're doing an okay job of showing and not telling. Also, you didn't ever provide the reader with context. What happened? Why were you in the hospital? These are things that your reader is wondering, and you never answer.

Defeating death and regaining the ability to walk were not enough to negate my fear of being teased by fellow high school freshmen. I had a severe limp, and high school was difficult in comparison to home school. Even a simple task, such as ascending or descending a stair case [one word] was a timely endeavor. With lead shoes I conquered my three story [hyphen] high school. I kept true to my convictions and I was determined to challenge myself. I was terrified of public speaking. So, I joined the speech club. I was extremely hesitant to take on leadership roles. I formed the Literary Club and joined the executive board of my art club.

Your last five sentences here are choppy. I hate the line "I was determined to challenge myself" -- instead of saying that, just show it (which you do in the next lines). You can make your last five sentences into two good sentences; perhaps try something like "The prospect of public speaking terrified me, so I took on that challenge by joining the speech club. Similarly, I initially hesitated to seek out leadership opportunities, but I sought to better myself by forming the Literary Club, dedicated to [whatever you guys did] and by joining the executive board of my art club."

A resolution to succeed and determination to challenge myself saw me not just through high school but college as well. Financial burdens forced me to work through the majority of my college career. I have worked twenty five [hyphen] hours or more during the majority of my college career. Student organizations seemed a far-fetched idea when having to go to school and work; yet, I founded and am still presiding over both the Social Debate Club and the Pre-Law Society at the University of XXXXXX. Both organizations that I lead have over a hundred members. Additionally, acceptance into a research fellowship, [no comma] at an acclaimed research based college, [no comma] seemed unattainable. Nevertheless, I earned acceptance into the highly selective and prestigious XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX fellowship funded by the National Science Foundation. During the fellowship I was able to meet students from all corners of the United States. I also began my research on the evacuation and monitoring policies of registered sexual offenders. I am presenting my research this February at the XXXXX conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Through student organizations and academics, I have accomplished my goal of becoming a leader and endeavor to continue working on my leadership skills for the rest of my life.

Here, you're kind of stating your resume, which should probably be avoided. You've done a lot of really cool stuff. Cut the stuff about how the research fellowship seemed unattainable (it doesn't help) and instead try to show a bit more. Maybe talk more about the things you actually do as the leader of these organizations instead of just the fact that you lead them?

On December 12th, 2009, I walked across the stage and shook the hand of the president of my University [don't capitalize]. She whispered “congratulations” [this quote is a bit thorny. Just start the sentence with "she whispered her congratulations"] while my favorite teacher gave me the thumbs up [probably a hyphen] sign. I stood among my peers and had the distinct honor of moving the tassel on my cap from the right side to the left amidst the cheering from my family. ["Distinct" honor? It is, but it's just odd how you presented it alongside the fact that you were with all your peers, who presumably also moved their tassels. I might be missing something, but if I'm not, cut the thing about the peers or cut distinct] As the youngest sibling out of four, I cannot claim to be the only one to attend college. However, I am the only one to have seen it through by completing college. Now, I look forward to inspiring my siblings to continue in their education as I continue to move forward.

The mention of your siblings doesn't add anything. To me, it sounds a little bit like petty bragging, which I'm sure you didn't mean. Find some other way to wrap up your graduation.

It is said that during near death [hyphen] experiences [comma] glimpses of the life you’ve lived flash before your eyes. I cannot say I experienced such an occurrence. For me, it was the future and my potential that helped me hold on to life. Since then, it’s been hard work, determination and persistence that has [change has to have] gotten me where I am today. I have completed two of my goals and I am committed to achieving the third—becoming a legal advocate.

I just don't like the structure (having your achievements wrapped around the story of your near-death experience). I'm not sure how else you can structure it, but I think you should change it. You've got a lot of cool material to work with, though, and if you focus on showing your leadership and dedication instead of just saying that you have those things, you'll have a great PS.

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seeper
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Re: Draft 3: Please be brutal!!!

Postby seeper » Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:55 am

I like the dramatic beginning, but it leaves me frustrated because you never fill me in on the whole story. Why were you bleeding to death in a Trinidad hospital? If you are going to tease our emotions with a life-or-death situation, at least finish the story and give us some fulfillment. It will also help readers connect to you and your entire situation.

Also, the OP is correct using "lie" in the first sentence. Lay is used colloquially in that context but is incorrect. Lie = passively lying prone. Lay = having sex with. :P

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ConMan345
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Re: Draft 3: Please be brutal!!!

Postby ConMan345 » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:00 pm

Food for thought, posted on Berkeley's website:

The following was written by a member of the Berkeley Law faculty (and past member of the Admissions Committee) in response to trends they were seeing in personal statement content and tone. We offer this feedback for you to consider when developing your personal statement:

"The statement should avoid simply summarizing what is in the resume. It should avoid simply asserting how able, accomplished, and well suited for law school the applicant is. It should avoid uninformed attempts to ingratiate oneself through exaggerated claims of one’s interest in Boalt...For instance, more than a few applicants stressed how much they want to work with named individuals who are at best passingly related to a Center or the like and aren’t even members of the faculty; these claims make one doubt the applicant’s due diligence...

The statement should avoid self-absorbed autobiography. What we need is something that doesn’t simply assert, a.k.a brag about, how qualified and impressive the applicant is, but rather demonstrates it through the substance of what is said in the personal statement. If it is going to be autobiographical, I for one would prefer it to generalize a bit; that is, instead of, 'How I changed as a result of this experience and now am so special,' it should talk about how and why such experiences can affect people.

“I felt the cold, sharp edge of a knife at my neck.” “ ‘You rich Americans are all alike,’ she screamed.” “I’ve never been so scared in my life.” “The child’s belly was swollen and scabbed.” You get the picture. Start the essay with a dramatic, unexplained sentence designed to grab the startled reader’s attention. (In fact, what it does to the reader is produce a dismayed feeling of, “Oh no, not another one of these.”). Continue this dramatic episode for a short paragraph without tipping off its relevance to the application. Begin the next paragraph by switching to expository style and informing us of what you were doing in this dire situation and how it was part of the background that makes you a special applicant to law school. Develop why you are so special in the rest of the statement. Conclude with a touching statement returning to the opening gambit, about how now, after law school, you can really help that little girl in rags.

It is very clear that many applicants have been coached by someone that this is how to write a compelling personal statement...This format is transparently manipulative, formulaic, and coached. Except for the occasional novelist we admit, none of our students or graduates is going to write in this style again; none, thank goodness, is going to begin a brief with, “He stood frozen in fear as the gunman appeared out of the darkness.” So, this artifice is irrelevant to law and counter-productive: Once it ceases to surprise – and it did so more than 10 years ago – it just becomes a cliché which really ought to be held against the writer. Not only using clichés, but also having been coached ought in an ideal world to discount an application. Needless to say, however, I did not hold these statements against the writers; you don’t feel you should do that. Often the bulk of the statement does report on impressive activities that are relevant to admission. [I]t is transparent when essay formulas have been coached, and we (should) strongly advise applicants to write in their own voice and style and without trying to dramatize what they have to say in order to attract our attention."

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trialjunky
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Re: Draft 3: Please be brutal!!!

Postby trialjunky » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:38 pm

WhatSarahSaid: Thanks soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much for the input! I've changed a lot of it and used the recommendation you've given me. They have been really helpful and it's reading so much better now!

Seeper: You're right! I can't believe I left out such an essential part to the experience. I have rectified that in the new PS

ConMan345: Thanks for the article. I am having a bit of a mini breakdown and am really thinking about starting over with my ps.

What do you guys think?

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WhatSarahSaid
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Re: Draft 3: Please be brutal!!!

Postby WhatSarahSaid » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:40 pm

Is "lay" really not the past tense of "lie" anymore?

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trialjunky
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Re: Draft 3: Please be brutal!!!

Postby trialjunky » Thu Jan 07, 2010 1:00 pm

deleted
Last edited by trialjunky on Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:30 am, edited 2 times in total.

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IHaveDietMoxie
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Re: Draft 3: Please be brutal!!!

Postby IHaveDietMoxie » Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:23 pm

edit: removed for privacy!
Last edited by IHaveDietMoxie on Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

lawschooliseasy
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Re: Draft 3: Please be brutal!!!

Postby lawschooliseasy » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:34 pm

Red-tinted needs to be hyphenated.


Last bumped by trialjunky on Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:34 pm.




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