Please review this passage from my PS

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Please review this passage from my PS

Postby WDwheatley » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:14 pm

Below is only part of my PS. I still have to tie in how this experience has altered my path in creating a desire to become a lawyer, etc, etc... but please review what I have so far and tell me if I am on the right path. I was thinking my introduction will talk a little about who I am and how experiences in our life define us as individuals. For my conclusion i was thinking about explaining how this experience and the intense therapy that followed has giving me the tools necessary and the desire to go into law in order to help others get a second chance at life...

“He’s dead, Jacob is dead,” I heard a close friend of mine screaming from the living room of Jacobs’s apartment. Time stops in moments like these. Most people panic, scream, run, are confused, or flee. It was only a matter of seconds before I was standing over my friend that we would later learn was suffering from a deadly combination of drugs in his system. It is moments such as these that define our true character. Each experience possesses a unique opportunity. With each opportunity our character, our personality, and perseverance further develops away from the abstract, defining who we are as individuals.
As Jacob laid there fighting for his life, I listened, trying not to panic, as the emergency dispatcher gave me directions. “Help is on the way,” she kept screaming as panic in the room grew loaded and loader with each essential second. I knelt beside him doing everything the dispatcher told me to do. I remember vividly the moment his eyes began to close. Eyes once full with the light of life, where barely lit. I began screaming at him, holding back tears and trying to stay poised, I dug my fist into his sternum and ground as hard as I could, his eyes opened instantly. The paramedics would eventually arrive with the proper equipment to sustain Jacob’s live and transport him to UCLA Medical Center where he would get another chance at life.

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Re: Please review this passage from my PS

Postby WhatSarahSaid » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:23 pm

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."

That's the first thing I thought of when I saw your first sentence. That's not to say that you should change it; it's just a viewpoint you might want to be aware of. The biggest problem I see is this line: "It is moments such as these that define our true character." That's a very generalized statement and it's one that you can't really prove.

There's not too much anyone can offer, though, until you work this into a full PS.

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