Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
fenway
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Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby fenway » Thu Mar 25, 2010 12:40 pm

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LegalGENius
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby LegalGENius » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:36 am

I think this is a strong addendum, however, (and I say this with care as I have a very close friend who is manic depressive) I think you should include a few lines about how you are very functional and are prepared for the considerable amount of work and devotion that law school requires. I understand what you are trying to convey in relating all of this information (heavy stuff, btw!) but I think it should include how well-controlled your illness is and how competent you are. You would not want them to think that admitting you would be risky.

I think it should go over VERY well if you add that in! I hope this helps!

lawschoolstudent85
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby lawschoolstudent85 » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:44 am

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LegalGENius
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby LegalGENius » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:52 am

wiggsb wrote:Get rid of "elucidates"


Agreed. Kind of stilted.

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hannah87
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby hannah87 » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:56 am

fenway wrote:Dear Admissions Committee,

I wanted to elaborate on information that elucidates factors not expressed on my transcript regarding my academic performance.

Although I struggled with latent symptoms prior, I suffered my first documented manic-depressive episode starting in Spring 08’, which created an emotional instability that caused my grades to fall markedly. I was first hospitalized for psychiatric treatment in October 08’ while taking a semester off from classes to work. Upon trying to return to classes in Spring 09’, I was advised by university health staff to medically withdraw for the semester following initial assessment. After returning home to Boston, I began an extended recovery process over the next year that required three (3) additional hospitalizations for intensive treatment of Bipolar I Disorder and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

During the Spring 08’ semester, my illnesses were left untreated, and as a result, produced symptoms that I believe prevented me, beyond any reasonable expectation, from completing coursework to the best of my ability. Even after being diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder and ADHD, treatments such as ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) and cognitively dulling medications have impaired my ability to function in school. However, I have persistently worked to compose, what is in my mind, a commendable academic record given the continuous challenges that are posed by my mental illnesses.

Additional Note: My medical withdrawal in Fall 06’ was the result of a major knee injury at the beginning of the semester that required reconstructive surgery. My family and I determined that it was more prudent to have this procedure done at home.

Documentation of any above information available upon request


i think it's really good. you should have a professional scan it for grammatical errors, though. and you should write out "2008" and "2009" (the abbreviations would be '08 and '09, not 08' and 09', anyway).

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Spaceman Spiff
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby Spaceman Spiff » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:15 am

I also wrote an addendum explaining a poor semester due to, then undiagnosed, bipolar disorder. My greatest fear was not that they wouldn't understand the disorder and its effect on my GPA, but that they would see an applicant with a history of mental instability. I think the most important thing to stress, which your addendum does not, is your current state of health and the assurance of stability. Any specifics you can give regarding your success after treatment (e.g. 3.8 GPA for rest of undergraduate, etc.) would be great to demonstrate recovery and current stability. Also, you might leave out ECT. You and I know that it can be the most effective treatment for Type I bipolar disorder, but from my experience, many people see electroshock therapy and think you must be seriously crazy.

LegalGENius
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby LegalGENius » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:23 am

Spaceman Spiff wrote:I also wrote an addendum explaining a poor semester due to, then undiagnosed, bipolar disorder. My greatest fear was not that they wouldn't understand the disorder and its effect on my GPA, but that they would see an applicant with a history of mental instability. I think the most important thing to stress, which your addendum does not, is your current state of health and the assurance of stability. Any specifics you can give regarding your success after treatment (e.g. 3.8 GPA for rest of undergraduate, etc.) would be great to demonstrate recovery and current stability. Also, you might leave out ECT. You and I know that it can be the most effective treatment for Type I bipolar disorder, but from my experience, many people see electroshock therapy and think you must be seriously crazy.


This is what I was speaking about earlier, and perhaps Spaceman is more equipped to give advice on this matter. Also, I think there is definitely a misconception regarding ECT (be it from movies, media, whatever.) I, for one, do not know much about it.

fenway
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby fenway » Fri Mar 26, 2010 12:20 pm

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fenway
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby fenway » Fri Mar 26, 2010 12:28 pm

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BaiAilian2013
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Fri Mar 26, 2010 12:29 pm

Spaceman Spiff wrote:I also wrote an addendum explaining a poor semester due to, then undiagnosed, bipolar disorder. My greatest fear was not that they wouldn't understand the disorder and its effect on my GPA, but that they would see an applicant with a history of mental instability. I think the most important thing to stress, which your addendum does not, is your current state of health and the assurance of stability. Any specifics you can give regarding your success after treatment (e.g. 3.8 GPA for rest of undergraduate, etc.) would be great to demonstrate recovery and current stability. Also, you might leave out ECT. You and I know that it can be the most effective treatment for Type I bipolar disorder, but from my experience, many people see electroshock therapy and think you must be seriously crazy.

+1 on all of this. The addendum makes it sound like you never got better.

LegalGENius
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby LegalGENius » Fri Mar 26, 2010 12:57 pm

VERY strong essay. However, I would remove the quote from P1 where you say "whachu here fo..." it could be deemed insensitive.

The pop culture references: The Office, Cartman, rap songs, etc. may need revision. The Office is accessible and well-know but I'll admit you kind of lost me with the Cartman quote. Not saying I don't know what South Park is but I'm not familiar with that quote so it was lost on me, as I'm sure it will be lost of plenty of admissions committee members. The rap lyric (Clipse, yes I know the song) seems out of place, but perhaps it has a deeper meaning to you that I am missing.

Okay now for the writing style. I really enjoyed your description of the hospital facility "sterile glow", "darting eyes" -- I was able to see all of that. I especially liked you contrasting your "Joe College" appearance with that of a stereotypical "mental patient", maybe you should expand upon that.

Your writing is excellent and flows well, but the heavy use of elaborate adjectives does come off as if you are trying a bit too hard. Maybe this is genuinely how you write but for all intents and purposes you may want to cut some of those adjectives to make it a bit more accessible.

I was so moved by you detailing how your mother tried to comfort you. My favorite part in the whole essay was, "Venturing down the path since confronting my mental illnesses has given me resiliency in all of my undertakings, whether it has been re-learning how to read or providing remedial guidance for academically disenfranchised students." The part about re-learning to read is so powerful -- do not let that get lost in the shuffle. Expand upon the painful nature of the recovery process so that the admissions committee is wholly consumed by your experience.

As I said earlier, you may want to reiterate just how far you've come since the beginning. I saw flashes of you "coming out on the other side" but then you would go back to a dark place. End on a positive note! It is very important to convey your stability so the admissions committee does not see admitting you as a risk.

Use it as your PS, definitely!!!

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hannah87
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby hannah87 » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:10 pm

LegalGENius wrote:VERY strong essay. However, I would remove the quote from P1 where you say "whachu here fo..." it could be deemed insensitive.

The pop culture references: The Office, Cartman, rap songs, etc. may need revision. The Office is accessible and well-know but I'll admit you kind of lost me with the Cartman quote. Not saying I don't know what South Park is but I'm not familiar with that quote so it was lost on me, as I'm sure it will be lost of plenty of admissions committee members. The rap lyric (Clipse, yes I know the song) seems out of place, but perhaps it has a deeper meaning to you that I am missing.

Okay now for the writing style. I really enjoyed your description of the hospital facility "sterile glow", "darting eyes" -- I was able to see all of that. I especially liked you contrasting your "Joe College" appearance with that of a stereotypical "mental patient", maybe you should expand upon that.

Your writing is excellent and flows well, but the heavy use of elaborate adjectives does come off as if you are trying a bit too hard. Maybe this is genuinely how you write but for all intents and purposes you may want to cut some of those adjectives to make it a bit more accessible.

I was so moved by you detailing how your mother tried to comfort you. My favorite part in the whole essay was, "Venturing down the path since confronting my mental illnesses has given me resiliency in all of my undertakings, whether it has been re-learning how to read or providing remedial guidance for academically disenfranchised students." The part about re-learning to read is so powerful -- do not let that get lost in the shuffle. Expand upon the painful nature of the recovery process so that the admissions committee is wholly consumed by your experience.

As I said earlier, you may want to reiterate just how far you've come since the beginning. I saw flashes of you "coming out on the other side" but then you would go back to a dark place. End on a positive note! It is very important to convey your stability so the admissions committee does not see admitting you as a risk.

Use it as your PS, definitely!!!


+1, great essay. but i agree with LegalGENius about the overuse of adjectives. it seems too wordy/creative writing assignment-y. and definitely remove the Cartman quote (though highly amusing) and the rap song lyric.

fenway
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby fenway » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:27 pm

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LegalGENius
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby LegalGENius » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:37 pm

fenway wrote:unfortunately I agree that the cartman/clipse references would not fly, although I'm glad you appreciate the Cartman one--seemed too perfect

which adjectives did you guys find pedantic? I often have trouble recognizing when I am using them.


^ case in point :wink:

just try to remove some of the truly stilted/unnecessary language (ex: "dogged work ethic", "bound by the limitations of an egocentric focus", "maverick maxim spoke lucidly", "providing remedial guidance for academically disenfranchised students", "being compos mentis") to name a few instances . . .

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hannah87
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby hannah87 » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:44 pm

LegalGENius wrote:
fenway wrote:unfortunately I agree that the cartman/clipse references would not fly, although I'm glad you appreciate the Cartman one--seemed too perfect

which adjectives did you guys find pedantic? I often have trouble recognizing when I am using them.


^ case in point :wink:

just try to remove some of the truly stilted/unnecessary language (ex: "dogged work ethic", "bound by the limitations of an egocentric focus", "maverick maxim spoke lucidly", "providing remedial guidance for academically disenfranchised students", "being compos mentis") to name a few instances . . .


Perfect examples right there. Also, the paragraph where you introduce your work with the students (beginning with "Looking for an opportunity to participate civically, I decided to become an academic mentor through Boston Partners in Education.") seems to come out of no where. Is there a way you can segue or lead into it in a smoother manner? I don't see the connection to your illness at that point in the essay.

fenway
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby fenway » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:56 pm

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LegalGENius
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby LegalGENius » Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:01 pm

fenway wrote:I think this is more along the lines of PS format. The first 3 paragraphs are pretty much the same, but I completely changed the back end of the paper. I think its more direct/positively focused (and also fits in the 2 pg dbl space limit)


Taking one probing look at me, the security staffer asked, “what are you here for?” Black curved baseball cap, tattered blue jeans, wrinkled logo t-shirt—my external appearance must have seemed like that of any other Joe College mold, but beneath this outer shell, my mind had been corroded by surges of internalized Thanatos. Escorted by the security staffer, I cowered my head in shame as I was admitted to a mental hospital for the first time. At 20 years old, I felt like I had been cast off as a pariah, condemned to walk a plank off the socially accepted ship of normality. Once inside, I surveyed the all-white walls and institutional tile flooring, which under the flickering fluorescent light gave the whole room a sterile glow. Glancing incredulously at the padded walls, I wondered if I had stumbled into a time warp back to my elementary school gymnasium, and whether I might soon be called on by Nurse Ratchet to face up against McMurphy and Chief in a game of dodge ball. Numbed by sedatives, I’d watch blankly as other patients overrun with psychosis were tied down with restraints to their beds. In images branded into my memory, I can still see their wild eyes darting frantically around the room, soliciting a visceral cry for help. Withdrawing from the chaos, I slipped under the cover of a blanket, and cried in disbelief of where I had come.
My mother tried to shed a forgiving light, that our famous family friend James Taylor had gone to the same hospital, that all different kinds of people have had such problems. Three hospitalizations later, her consolation ended up offering little solace, especially after the time I received an ECT treatment and for a while could not remember my own name. Being initiated into the mental illness community took away my sense of being compos mentis—it even led me to believe I was no longer a normal person.
After finally being diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder and ADHD, I went through a motley course of medications, trying to find a combination that would alleviate my array of symptoms. Despite producing an increased stability, a number of these pharmaceuticals concurrently introduced a host of cognitively dulling side effects. Upon re-enrolling at Harvard Extension, classes functioned as experimental laboratories for restoring my cognition. I would often feel like a doped lab rat, as I went through trials of one pill to the next. Even as I was able to reach closer towards finding the right balance of medication, it was clear that I was going to have mental impairments that would present unique challenges going forward with my pursuits.
Moving at a tortoise-like pace, the early stages of restoring my academic capacity did not bear much immediate gratification. With aspirations of becoming a lawyer, I printed out a practice LSAT and sat down one Friday mourning to see where I stood. My mind still clouded, I stumbled through the test to ultimately reach what was an embarrassingly low score. I think this is where I met my crossroads: the point where each successful person finds their fear of failure and disposes of it through dogged determination. After months of wondering what had happened to my life, I stopped asking questions. I knew I wanted to go to law school, and that was simply where I was going to go. There is a concept in psychology called Learned Helplessness, which argues that feelings of depression can be sustained through what becomes a mentally constructed self-fulfilling prophecy. Regardless of how dejected I would feel during my constant struggles in working towards my goal, I refused the idea that my illnesses were going to be the definitive determinant of my life; I stopped blaming part of who I was. Channeling the energy of my frustration, I put my nose to the grindstone, and for the past year, have gone round for round fighting the mental impediments holding me back. As discouraging as this bout has been at times, my perseverance has forged a resilient sense of ambition of which I am confident will be invaluable for all my future academic and professional endeavors.
I am sure that the demands that will be posed during law school will present similar difficulties for me as I continue to grapple with my mental illnesses: I can’t wait for the challenge.


Better for the most part, but I would not use the word "grapple" when referring to your ongoing mental illness. That conveys serious struggle and I think you want to downplay that when referring to your potential performance in law school.

You are also very heavy on commas. You should have a high school English teacher look over this. No, I'm not kidding, they are the real sticklers!!

fenway
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby fenway » Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:16 pm

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fenway
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby fenway » Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:02 pm

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OmbreGracieuse
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby OmbreGracieuse » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:28 pm

fenway wrote:I think the first paragraph is a good draw but I scrapped everything else. this one is kind of simplistic but I think it follows easier--and no big words ha (but still probably poor grammar)

In images branded into my memory, I can still see their wild eyes darting frantically around the room, soliciting a visceral cry for help. Withdrawing from the chaos, I slipped under the cover of a blanket, and cried in disbelief of where I had come. This sounds more like it hurts your image than helps it, IMO
Ever since I was a child, I had always presented a front of indifference in school, which allowed me to play off that I wasn’t actually trying. I feel like this almost suggests you weren't trying.
I instantly reached for my safety net, that it was the illnesses, the medications, the ECT treatments…I mean, there’s no way I could simply not read a book, right? right?! Is it appropriate to ask a question in a personal statement? If it is, I would suggest removing the second right and definitely the ?!
There is a concept in psychology called Learned Helplessness, ... I don't think you should try to teach the adcomm.
I can now finally fulfill my potential. I feel like this suggests you weren't trying to meet it in the first place
\

Truth be told I read only your first statement and this last one. To be honest, I like the first one better. In watering it down I feel as though you lost a part of yourself. The PS doesn't seem as strong. Why you should talk about what makes you want to go to law school, I feel your first statement was so different this almost robs the idea of your PS... it seems to lose some of your 'you' identity. I know this is contradictory to what other people said, but I really think your first one was stronger.

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NALSWD
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Re: Bipolar Addendum-appreciate any input

Postby NALSWD » Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:41 pm

You've got some great stuff happening here, both in the addendum and the essay. I would just put in a small suggestion that while this is a good personal statement, it would make an even better diversity essay. I know whenever I suggest that, people groan about the idea of writing another essay, but having both makes for a stronger package. And generally, while disability themes are great for diversity essays, it's often wise to package it with a non-disability personal statement to help off-set any potential bias on the part of the adcomm.

You can find further discussion about this sort of issue here: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=103293




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