Thoughtful and harsh critiques of my rough draft are welcome

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
dekscholar
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:59 pm

Thoughtful and harsh critiques of my rough draft are welcome

Postby dekscholar » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:26 pm

I'd like to get some initial responses on my first rough draft. Thanks!



I crack open the family photo album, labeled “1999-2000.” As I flip through the first few pages, I relish the memories of our family reunion at Lake Erie, the summer my brother and I started our own neighborhood lawn-mowing business, and even the amusing memories of the ubiquitous recovering addicts, like “funny” Bob, who my dad allowed to sleep on a cot in our basement. Midway through the album, there was a photo of our family doing the vacation pose at the base of the Capitol steps, each of us smiling from ear to ear. This was our first time visiting Washington, D.C., but unlike all previous vacations, this time I was in a wheel chair, looking weak and exhausted. Unable to repress it, a sinking sensation of helplessness and sadness sweeps over me at the reminder of my illness. What began as a typical flu late that summer had quickly morphed into my eighteen-month battle with an obscure and often misunderstood disease.

Anxious to obtain a diagnosis and begin treatment for the sudden onslaught of asthma, fevers, muscle pain, and profound fatigue that I was experiencing, my mom put her life on hold and dragged me everywhere looking for a cure, from general practitioners to neurologists to alternative treatment centers. Hope faded as blood test results and CAT scans kept coming back negative – while my symptoms persisted. My eventual diagnosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), was a set of loosely defined symptoms that seemed to be a common default diagnosis for indeterminate cases. While the Centers for Disease Control recognizes CFS as a legitimate medical condition, because of the lack of objective means to diagnose it, a couple of my doctors failed to recognize CFS’ severity, one even suggesting non-physiological causes. In addition to the skepticism I felt from within the medical community, I noticed that people in general seemed apprehensive and uneasy around me due to my disability. I realized that society often places disabled people in a diminished status despite their ability to contribute to society in meaningful and productive ways. However, rather than allowing myself to feel excluded and isolated by my physical limitations, I channeled my frustration into learning more about the government’s response to CFS, which led to a greater understanding of the role of government institutions in changing or maintaining the status quo in society. Soon, my interest in understanding government institutions broadened to include a variety of social and economic issues.

While my condition gradually improved, and I was completely healthy by my 14th birthday, what I learned during my illness left an indelible impression on me: government institutions play a critical role in the advancement of social and economic well-being. I finished out my high school years having been involved in a variety of government and political interests. I spent time as an intern with a state senator in Harrisburg, PA, and was preparing for the U.S. Naval Academy when I sustained major injuries, including seven broken bones, in a car accident in 2006. Despite my injuries and mounting medical bills, I was able to quickly get back on my feet while attending community college.

Majoring in business at Cal furthered my understanding of the relationship between private enterprises and government. More than ever, I am convinced that each without the other is insufficient for our needs as a society. For example, ineffective financial and healthcare systems have revealed that for far too long, the status quo has reigned in the business-government relationship, with greater society suffering as a result. As a regular attendee at the health care and economic forums at the Berkeley Center for Law, Business, and the Economy at Boalt Hall, I have gained further affirmation and inspiration to use my background in business as a stepping stone to reshape the relationship between government and business. My desire to reshape the business-government relationship and advance the social and economic well being of society has led me to apply for law school, and I believe that a legal education from XXX Law School will give me the opportunity to achieve this goal.

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Eruannon
Posts: 194
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:29 pm

Re: Thoughtful and harsh critiques of my rough draft are welcome

Postby Eruannon » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:33 pm

You take about the things you have done which give you this great insight on how the relationship between government and private enterprise is symbiotic, but you fail to show it. Spend less time trumping up your qualifications and more time giving specific examples about how you saw this relationship in action.

The essay shows good progression and growth, I thought it was done well, and with editing it will be great.

Also in the first paragraph you talk about "amusing recovering addicts", cut that; you might have an adcomm who is a recovering alcoholic that won't take kindly to that. It's okay to add humor or personality, but avoid pissing people off.

dekscholar
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:59 pm

Re: Thoughtful and harsh critiques of my rough draft are welcome

Postby dekscholar » Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:21 am

Thanks Eruannon. Anyone else? I'm happy to swap also.

athena
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat May 02, 2009 4:31 pm

Re: Thoughtful and harsh critiques of my rough draft are welcome

Postby athena » Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:59 pm

Congrats on coming this far. I would cut of quite a few sentences in the first paragraph and reduce much of the description of CFS - this is a why law school essay......The line about improving the well being of people sounds very cliche..like Sandra Bullocks ' world peace' in Miss Congeniality..:


You have a great story, and if you want to do a specific program (it appears) i would talk about why that program will help you or how you can contribute to that program..

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Island Girl
Posts: 175
Joined: Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:09 pm

Re: Thoughtful and harsh critiques of my rough draft are welcome

Postby Island Girl » Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:12 pm

Hey fellow Cal grad, your story is exceptional and with a few strategic changes will be even better. As already mentioned, try to add more specific examples. Your essay starts out vivid and colorful but trails off and begins sounding generic. Not in the sense that your story is common but I (the reader) get an increasingly diffused sense of who you are. I think this happens a lot with many personal statements out there. Applicants talk about ideas but fail to tie it all back in to the personal themes that are supposed to be running underneath the prose. So good luck! Make the whole essay taste, smell, look and feel like who you are. :)




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