40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
JohnnyDarko
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40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby JohnnyDarko » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:49 pm

First post of a personal statement, this is a preliminary draft. thanks for the help

My uncle Tony has a tendency to take things apart to see how they work. Brand new things, right out of the box: thousand dollar electronics, computers, cars, anything really. Its not that he doesn’t trust the manufacture or that he wants to upgrade the internals of a computer, he simply claims that “its fun”. When I asked what was so fun as to justify the risk of ruining thousands of dollars in electronics, he thought for a minute, his head tilted back a little, his right hand wrapped around his left wrist, “I like to see each part by itself and then I like to see how they all work together when I put all the parts back”.

The character of a man is developed the same way electronics are. That is, numerous individual experiences contribute to the whole. Our experiences enhance each other, must adapt to each other, and must make room for the integration of new parts. Parts are continually being added and modified and, because this happens gradually as we grow, by the time one looks back and asks “what defines me?” it is often intimidating to look at each of the parts that constructed the whole. Though I would never dare take apart a laptop, the many parts that make my character have been taken apart, examined, and reassembled.

On August 4th 2008 I found my Cousin, my best friend, Lizzie, dead in our backyard from an unintentional overdose. The CPR I administered while waiting for the paramedics was not effective. Approximately 17 minutes went by until I was ushered to the sidelines when the paramedics arrived. Their CPR was much more forceful and violent, though after another half hour even they were convinced there was nothing left to do. Lizzie was 6 years older than me and had been a roommate, cousin, best friend, mother, and mentor to me since age 16 when I graduated high school and moved out from my parents house. This was the first death I had ever experienced and finding her body was the start of my deconstruction. As I grieved intensely, the factors that I believed contributed to my strength as a person were removed and tested.

Hope and ambition, developed by growing up in a poor family, were hard to come by. Discipline, developed as a gymnast on the U.S. national team, was worthless without hope and ambition. Work ethic and responsibility, developed in college classes and internships, were rendered unusable without discipline. Convinced that the ultimate component that allowed all these things to work together was Lizzie, I left my life in pieces for the next 9 months.

I wish I had some dramatic change to speak of here; it didn’t work that way though. Starting small, ambition started to come back and, like putting together electronics, once you have one piece in place it becomes easier to see where the others go. Slowly but surely things were coming together, discipline to attend classes led to an internship and work ethic, work ethic and responsibility led me to start a scholarship in Lizzie’s memory. As I mentioned earlier, it is the responsibility of the things that make us to adapt for new characteristics and values, Lizzie’s death introduced a new element of commitment to others that had not been part of my character before. This new commitment to others well being subsequently drove me to form a coalition to educate doctors of the very mistakes that contributed to Lizzie’s death and the measures that can be implemented to protect from them. My parts were back in place. Though never in the same condition as they were before her death, my new experiences and character filled in the gaps.

On my journey through my first 23 years I have made sure to keep walking forward, keep making progress, with every step planned to achieve the most gain for the effort. I now know that taking two or three steps backwards is not always a bad thing. On my two steps backwards, the deconstruction of my character, I learned the value of each step, and the value each step has in the momentum building process. The beauty of taking two steps backwards is you can follow your footsteps back to where once you were, assuming one has the strength to try again. I will always find that strength, and I’m not afraid of making new footprints.

I hope to one day be able to use my ambition, discipline, work ethic, and commitment to others to advocate for, represent, and assist those that need a guide through the justice system. I am confident that by admitting me to your JD program I will add diversity of thought, perspective, energy, and ambition to discussions, exercises, and conceptualizations of law. I’ve learned that the sum of my whole is greater than the sum of my individual parts; I suspect the same is true regarding the make up of a law school student body. I’d love an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the student body at XXXXXXXXXXX.

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summerstar
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby summerstar » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:30 pm

First off, I can't believe no one has responded to you. You offered a sincere personal essay and made yourself vulnerable and were not acknowledged. You are owed an apology.

I liked your essay. It showed a sense of maturity and wisdom resulting from personal tragedy. I went through something similar...My life was never the same after my mother died, and my academic life was shot. I was numb for a long time because something fundamental was missing. Just like your machines, a crucial part was gone so it couldn't function. People who have been through this destruction of normal life are never the same, and have to take a few steps back for every few steps forward to re-asses and re-strengthen. Very few people understand this unless they have been through it themselves.

Take heart, and best wishes in Law School. You will have what it takes to understand the brokenness of your clients and represent them with conviction. May your steel be strengthened.
Last edited by summerstar on Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ConMan345
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby ConMan345 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:39 pm

I liked it very much as well.

I think you deal very well with an extremely heavy topic by not alienating your reader. It's a heartfelt story, not a sob story.

I honestly don't have many comments, other than your use of the word "deconstruction" caught me off guard a bit. Thanks to the intellectual movement, I think the word is inextricably tied to taking apart by analysis, not falling or breaking apart, as you seem to use it. I'd suggest trying out some different wordings; your reader is smart, they'll see the extended metaphor without the word "deconstruction."

Best of luck. For what it's worth, I'd admit you.
Last edited by ConMan345 on Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dlee975
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby dlee975 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:44 pm

Overall I really liked what I read. You tell a very compelling story. I did have to focus quite a bit to get through reading as you do offer quite a bit of detail, and also b/c I've read so many PS. But I do think that is a valid point b/c they say that adcomms have to read so many PS that maybe its a good idea to simplify as much as possible without sacrificing the meat of the essay.

Hope and ambition, developed by growing up in a poor family, were hard to come by. Discipline, developed as a gymnast on the U.S. national team, was worthless without hope and ambition. Work ethic and responsibility, developed in college classes and internships, were rendered unusable without discipline. Convinced that the ultimate component that allowed all these things to work together was Lizzie, I left my life in pieces for the next 9 months.

This paragraph was a bit confusing me to esp the part about hope and ambition. If possible try to make it a bit more reader friendly.

Good luck with your endeavors.

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S de Garmeaux
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby S de Garmeaux » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:45 pm

JohnnyDarko wrote:Hope and ambition, developed by growing up in a poor family, were hard to come by. Discipline, developed as a gymnast on the U.S. national team, was worthless without hope and ambition. Work ethic and responsibility, developed in college classes and internships, were rendered unusable without discipline. Convinced that the ultimate component that allowed all these things to work together was Lizzie, I left my life in pieces for the next 9 months.

I wish I had some dramatic change to speak of here; it didn’t work that way though. Starting small, ambition started to come back and, like putting together electronics, once you have one piece in place it becomes easier to see where the others go. Slowly but surely things were coming together, discipline to attend classes led to an internship and work ethic, work ethic and responsibility led me to start a scholarship in Lizzie’s memory. As I mentioned earlier, it is the responsibility of the things that make us to adapt for new characteristics and values, Lizzie’s death introduced a new element of commitment to others that had not been part of my character before. This new commitment to others well being subsequently drove me to form a coalition to educate doctors of the very mistakes that contributed to Lizzie’s death and the measures that can be implemented to protect from them. My parts were back in place. Though never in the same condition as they were before her death, my new experiences and character filled in the gaps.


good overall, a couple things though

the top quoted paragraph is worded a bit oddly IMO, the flow is kind of off from the rest of the ssay.

In the second paragraph, i dont know, i am just kind of put off by "ambition started to come back"

other than that, pay attention to the comments from users above and make sure you obey page limits

holborn
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby holborn » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:47 pm

I really liked it. It was compelling and let me see who you were as a person. Too often stories about tragic events focus too much on the tradgedy and not its effect on you. yours did not make this mistake.

Only comment: this sentence "As I mentioned earlier, it is the responsibility of the things that make us to adapt for new characteristics and values, Lizzie’s death introduced a new element of commitment to others that had not been part of my character before." was confusing to me. The bolded part doesnt make sense. Maybe you the "to" isnt supposed to be there?

Flanker1067
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby Flanker1067 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:47 pm

Hey,

So this is obviously a great piece of writing and a heartfelt story. In order to help you however I want to point that while you mention hard work and ambition as qualities of yours, the statement doesn't demonstrate any of that. The statement does a great job illiciting feelings of compassion and empathy but I think fails to answer the questions of why you would make a good lawyer or student. I imagine from the mention of your gymnastic experience, that you probably have shown qualities that make you this, but chose not to write about them. These leaves questions unanswered.

Now, I am not a great writer myself and I don't claim to know how admissions will respond to this. I am just trying to help my giving you what I feel may be a legit criticism. Anyways, good luck.
Last edited by Flanker1067 on Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Flanker1067
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby Flanker1067 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:49 pm

Oh, and maybe a little more about the advocacy part could solve the issue.

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gdane
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby gdane » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:57 pm

This was a great story, but I dont think the beginning is really all that necessary. I see what you're trying to say, but it just seems so irrelevant. You can start off with your dead neighbor and insert some of the electrical equipment analogy somewhere in between.

isaiah6v8
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby isaiah6v8 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:00 pm

I really liked it, very moving. I disagree with the above poster though, I think the use of the word deconstruction fits with what you are truly saying as a chef deconstructs a dish, so you are your character.

glacierfrost
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby glacierfrost » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:05 pm

Awesome. Maybe not capitalize "Cousin"?

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Anastasia Dee Dualla
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby Anastasia Dee Dualla » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:14 pm

Fantastic. I would have to agree with the cousin comment and the re-read of paragraph one. There are some words that my eyes clumsily tripped over.

hds2388
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby hds2388 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:30 pm

gdane5 wrote:This was a great story, but I dont think the beginning is really all that necessary. I see what you're trying to say, but it just seems so irrelevant. You can start off with your dead neighbor and insert some of the electrical equipment analogy somewhere in between.


I disagree with this comment and it does not quite evidence that he/she read the whole thing. I think this is incredibly well written and is one of the better PS drafts I have read on TLS. I think that you use an effective and clear structure that is valuable and not-gimmicky (which it may well have been had you handled the writing differently). I think that you could improve by trimming it down a bit. Not necessarily for content, just for streamlined reading (like the last two paragraphs serve the same purpose and could be combined and say all the same stuff, minus two or so sentences). My only other idea is that your use of developed in the fourth paragraph is a little repetitive. You may have been trying to have some sort of parallel structure to build upon your point, but it didn't really do it for me. Give it a read through out loud and just make the word choice a little more clear and streamlined (which it is, for the most part). After that, I think you'll have a well above average PS.

athena
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby athena » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:46 pm

While it is well written essay, don't they look at like why you would make a good law student or something like that? I mean you should perhaps focus on what attributes you bring as a student of law. You have plenty of experiences in your essay. The deconstuction theory is good but I think when you are limited to like 700 wrods and 2 pages, use each of your experience to bring about a quality in you. I liked that you started a scholarship for Lizzie. I think you should use this point to bring out that you were effected by tragedy but were able to make something out of it and move on positively in your life.

JohnnyDarko
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby JohnnyDarko » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:56 pm

Wow, lots of great responses and great critique. Firstly, thank you for the compliments....I am a biology major and I've written nothing but lab reports since freshman year---so this is great to hear and will silence some of the self-doubt I've had going on regarding writing.

I made some corrections, mostly wording, and many of the corrections you all pointed out I also noticed and fixed. I will post a second draft tomorrow.

As for the inevitable "why law school?" or "demonstrate why you would make a good law student" critiques, I am playing for a few ideas in the essay but am not sure as of yet. My first PS was filled with accomplishments and strong attributes that have led to success....it landed in the garbage because it felt hollow and wasn't my truest and deepest "voice". As I mentioned, I understand where the thought is coming from and I will play with it a bit. At the end of the day, I'd rather be denied on the basis of not speaking about the "right" things than to be admitted by speaking in a voice that's not mine.

This is great, guys. I am so thankful for the kind words and helpful reviews. Many thanks.

J-

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Cupidity
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby Cupidity » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:58 pm

I would strongly suggest you change the beggining to "I have an uncle Tony".

I can't tell you how many times I read a PS where the author talks about someone else for all their PS. Obviously you aren't doing that, but when I read the first line I thought "Oh here we go again" and I'm sure some addcomms might to. Include the I, so its more about you.

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usuaggie
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby usuaggie » Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:26 am

in the first paragraph, you use its instead of it's twice.

"Brand new things, right out of the box: thousand dollar electronics, computers, cars, anything really"
this is technically a sentence fragment. there is no verb. however, if you are doing it on purpose, and you know why you are doing it, then go ahead and do it, the rules of english are flexible.

“I like to see each part by itself and then I like to see how they all work together when I put all the parts back”.
the period should go inside of the "quote." Also, the description about the hand and wrist is a little confusing. consider rewording.

The character of a man is developed the same way electronics are. That is, numerous individual experiences contribute to the whole.
maybe change to this: The character of a man is developed the same way electronics are; numerous individual experiences contribute to the whole.

Our experiences enhance each other, must adapt to each other, and must make room for the integration of new parts.
I don't know how well this fits into your argument. machines are designed to work perfectly the first time and to work the same way every time. your keyboard doesnt need to adapt to your monitor as time goes. the enhancement point works well though. we can each contribute a function to make a product greater than the sum of the individual parts.

On August 4th 2008
this should read On August 4th, 2008, I found my cousin, Lizzie, dead in our backyard from an unintentional overdose.
the best friend part is confusing, but it is important. Maybe add a sentence that basically says not only was she family, she was my best friend.

Lizzie was 6 years older than me
Lizzie was 6 years older than I. the trick to this is to replace lizzie with I or me. I am 6 years younger than lizzie (not Me am six years younger).

As I grieved intensely, the factors that I believed contributed to my strength as a person were removed and tested.
maybe prodded and tested?

Discipline, developed as a gymnast on the U.S. national team, was worthless without hope and ambition.
Discipline, which I developed........

Starting small, ambition started to come back and, like putting together electronics, once you have one piece in place it becomes easier to see where the others go.
Slowly, ambition started to seep back in, and, like putting together electronics, once you have one piece in place, it becomes easier to see where the others go.
if you dont like the rewording, the comma at least has to go between "back" and "and" because you would say "started to come back, and once you have one piece in place........." the english mumbo jumbo is that two independent clauses put together go like this: clause 1-comma-conjunction(and if but or)-clause 2. hope that helps explain? probably didnt.

at this point, I am thinking is Lizzie your uncle's daughter? the uncle who took apart everything? not needed or anything, but it would be a good tie in possibly if he is.

This new commitment to others well being subsequently
should be: This new commitment to others' well being subsequently

On my journey through my first 23 years I have made sure to keep walking forward, keep making progress, with every step planned to achieve the most gain for the effort. I now know that taking two or three steps backwards is not always a bad thing. On my two steps backwards, the deconstruction of my character, I learned the value of each step, and the value each step has in the momentum building process. The beauty of taking two steps backwards is you can follow your footsteps back to where once you were, assuming one has the strength to try again. I will always find that strength, and I’m not afraid of making new footprints.

maybe use this paragraph to tie together the machine theme, but with a twist.
Machines are designed to do very specific functions. When my uncle took them apart, he could see how each piece contributed to the overall function of the whole. However, I have realized humans are not machines. We feel. We learn. We adapt and depend and are affected by our fellow "machines."

obviously not this specifically, it is just there to get some ideas flowing.

I’ve learned that the sum of my whole is greater than the sum of my individual parts;
I said that earlier, before reading through the whole thing. I think it is a very good point. see where I put it earlier and consider where you like it best!

I’d love an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the student body at XXXXXXXXXXX.
finally, this might seem to whoever reads your statement that you just through that in at the end to make them feel sympathetic. I would tailor it throughout a tiny bit more, at least for the schools you really want to get accepted to, or the schools that are not fo sho' things.

I hope this helps. Please PM me with any questions, or to tell me I'm an idiot and repeated other suggestions or that I misread your sentence, whatev.

arewhyaen
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Re: 40 views and nothing?!? Prove to me TLS will help a new guy.

Postby arewhyaen » Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:27 pm

On my journey through my first 23 years I have made sure to keep walking forward, keep making progress, with every step planned to achieve the most gain for the effort. I now know that taking two or three steps backwards is not always a bad thing. On my two steps backwards, the deconstruction of my character, I learned the value of each step, and the value each step has in the momentum building process. The beauty of taking two steps backwards is you can follow your footsteps back to where once you were, assuming one has the strength to try again. I will always find that strength, and I’m not afraid of making new footprints.


I like what this paragraph does for your PS, but the purpose of the paragraph isn't as clear as it could be. In fact, it's kind of confusing--lots of steps backwards, forward, new steps, old steps. Perhaps making it more clear, that taking two steps back is not only necessary, it is what prompts you to want to be a lawyer (i.e. making new footprints), would help this particular paragraph alot and tie your whole PS together.




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