Thanks for the critique! :)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
jjlaw
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Thanks for the critique! :)

Postby jjlaw » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:07 pm

......
Last edited by jjlaw on Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:30 pm, edited 8 times in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:16 pm

First impression after a quick read is that your personal statement is good but too long & a bit repetitious.
Please consider adjusting two words in your next to last paragraph: Substitute "numerous" for "countless" as I do not know of anything beyond actual numbers that are, ironically, countless; and change "me" to "us" regarding negotiating.
Overall I think that you have hit on a very mature theme noting that words and tone are important.
In my opinion, this is an excellent first draft.

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vespertiliovir
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby vespertiliovir » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:22 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:First impression after a quick read is that your personal statement is good but too long & a bit repetitious.

Since it's Berkeley, OP gets four pages instead of two, so the length is fine.

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TheTopBloke
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby TheTopBloke » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:24 pm

I fell asleep halfway through the first paragraph. Boring!

jjlaw
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:39 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:First impression after a quick read is that your personal statement is good but too long & a bit repetitious.


Thanks for the feedback! Can you tell me where/how it's repetitious?

TheTopBloke wrote:I fell asleep halfway through the first paragraph. Boring!


Thanks for the honesty. How is it boring? How can I make it more interesting?

icydash
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby icydash » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:45 pm

Two comments: I'm not sure how to improve upon this because I don't know really anything about you, but I too found it boring and tuned out after the first two paragraphs. I think a lot of that had to do with my second comment which is: it's way too long. You have like two pages max (double spaced, size 12 font, Times New Roman) for a good PS. It shouldn't take more than that to grab and hold the readers attention while getting your point across. After reading through the second half of the second paragraph, I found myself saying over and over "how much more of this is there?" ....and then I'd look down, see I wasn't even a third done, and cringe.

jjlaw
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:49 pm

icydash wrote:Two comments: I'm not sure how to improve upon this because I don't know really anything about you, but I too found it boring and tuned out after the first two paragraphs. I think a lot of that had to do with my second comment which is: it's way too long. You have like two pages max (double spaced, size 12 font, Times New Roman) for a good PS. It shouldn't take more than that to grab and hold the readers attention while getting your point across. After reading through the second half of the second paragraph, I found myself saying over and over "how much more of this is there?" ....and then I'd look down, see I wasn't even a third done, and cringe.


Thanks. Do you have any suggestions on how to grab the reader earlier in the statement? Like I said though, this is for Berkeley, so it is longer. My P.S. for other schools will be 2 pages max.

xyzzzzzzzz
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby xyzzzzzzzz » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:57 pm

8)
Last edited by xyzzzzzzzz on Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jjlaw
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:01 pm

xyzzzzzzzz wrote:It is good you mention AmeriCorps, since I'm sure ad comms see personal statements like these, with no experience to back it up. Since you are going the public interest route, your ps leaves me with one question why law specifically? You could do a ton of good in other sectors. You mention public policy and social justice, are you sure a jd will help you achieve this?


Thanks for your feedback and for the question. I was hoping that the following would answer it, but maybe it is not clear enough?

jjlaw wrote:As a reading tutor, I can help improve M_____ and P______’s prospects of a better education; however, other factors, such as qualities of life and community, also affect their future successes. In law school, I hope to better understand the role and applications of law in society and to engage in constructive debate with my colleagues as we contemplate potential solutions to systemic challenges. Furthermore, I am inspired by the myriad intellectual challenges and practical opportunities afforded by a legal education, such as contributing to journals and participating in clinics. Prompted by my frustrations towards an imperfect system and the need to improve it, I will enter law school invigorated by the prospect of someday serving society in another capacity, be it providing legal assistance or influencing policies.


Should I be more specific on "systemic challenges" and "influencing policies"? Overall, I'd like to express my desire to work with individuals as well as on the policy level.

icydash
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby icydash » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:24 pm

jjlaw wrote:
icydash wrote:Two comments: I'm not sure how to improve upon this because I don't know really anything about you, but I too found it boring and tuned out after the first two paragraphs. I think a lot of that had to do with my second comment which is: it's way too long. You have like two pages max (double spaced, size 12 font, Times New Roman) for a good PS. It shouldn't take more than that to grab and hold the readers attention while getting your point across. After reading through the second half of the second paragraph, I found myself saying over and over "how much more of this is there?" ....and then I'd look down, see I wasn't even a third done, and cringe.


Thanks. Do you have any suggestions on how to grab the reader earlier in the statement? Like I said though, this is for Berkeley, so it is longer. My P.S. for other schools will be 2 pages max.

Is it -supposed- to be longer, or do they just have a higher max page limit?

CanadianWolf
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:30 pm

Even though Berkeley permits personal statements of up to 4 pages, it does not require that length. You don't have 3.5 pages of material as written. I didn't find the essay boring, just repetitious.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

blsingindisguise
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby blsingindisguise » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:30 pm

Topic is good and much of the writing is good although I'd try to aim to shorten your sentences a bit. A couple things jumped out at me in the first paragraph. First, it's awkward to redact the names. They're only first names. Either use the real first names, or if you're worried that they're too identifiable, make up fake ones.

Second, this is nitpicky, but something sounded off about calling "M" and "A" "foreign symbols" to two Spanish-speaking first graders. Both are letters in the Spanish alphabet -- in fact "m" makes the exact same sound in Spanish and English.

Third, I don't like the present tense there -- feels awkward. I understand that you're trying to set a scene, but I'm not sure it's the right approach, especially since there's no further narrative action being set up.

jjlaw
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:33 pm

icydash wrote:
jjlaw wrote:
icydash wrote:Two comments: I'm not sure how to improve upon this because I don't know really anything about you, but I too found it boring and tuned out after the first two paragraphs. I think a lot of that had to do with my second comment which is: it's way too long. You have like two pages max (double spaced, size 12 font, Times New Roman) for a good PS. It shouldn't take more than that to grab and hold the readers attention while getting your point across. After reading through the second half of the second paragraph, I found myself saying over and over "how much more of this is there?" ....and then I'd look down, see I wasn't even a third done, and cringe.


Thanks. Do you have any suggestions on how to grab the reader earlier in the statement? Like I said though, this is for Berkeley, so it is longer. My P.S. for other schools will be 2 pages max.

Is it -supposed- to be longer, or do they just have a higher max page limit?


The limit is 4 pages, and Dean Tom has mentioned that he hopes applicants take full advantage of it. By that, I assume he means that applicants should share more about their thoughts and motivations to see if they are a good fit for Boalt Hall.

CanadianWolf wrote:Even though Berkeley permits personal statements of up to 4 pages, it does not require that length. You don't have 3.5 pages of material as written.


Okay, it's more like 3.25 pages. Can you tell me how it is repetitious? I was hoping to show that my interest with languages led me to become interested in law, and that my experiences with nonprofit law (domestic violence victims) and AmeriCorps (students in poverty) made me realize why I wanted to practice law.

blsingindisguise wrote:Topic is good and much of the writing is good although I'd try to aim to shorten your sentences a bit. A couple things jumped out at me in the first paragraph. First, it's awkward to redact the names. They're only first names. Either use the real first names, or if you're worried that they're too identifiable, make up fake ones.

Second, this is nitpicky, but something sounded off about calling "M" and "A" "foreign symbols" to two Spanish-speaking first graders. Both are letters in the Spanish alphabet -- in fact "m" makes the exact same sound in Spanish and English.

Third, I don't like the present tense there -- feels awkward. I understand that you're trying to set a scene, but I'm not sure it's the right approach, especially since there's no further narrative action being set up.


Thanks for the suggestions -- really helpful. By "foreign symbols" I meant to convey the idea that learning a language -- any language -- is difficult because you're essentially learning a new code. That's why sounding out words is usually referred to as "decoding". Maybe I should clarify?
Last edited by jjlaw on Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TheTopBloke
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby TheTopBloke » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:37 pm

jjlaw wrote:
CanadianWolf wrote:First impression after a quick read is that your personal statement is good but too long & a bit repetitious.


Thanks for the feedback! Can you tell me where/how it's repetitious?

TheTopBloke wrote:I fell asleep halfway through the first paragraph. Boring!


Thanks for the honesty. How is it boring? How can I make it more interesting?


For starters, there's a lot of fluff in that first paragraph. If you got to the nitty gritty it may have stengthened my attention span. That whole first line you can pretty much chop out. There's no need to talk about the magnets for example; it doesn't really do anything for the story. The names of the two kids is another useless feature that doesn't do anything to elaborate on the story. Hope that helps.

CanadianWolf
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:38 pm

By writing that you don't have 3.5 pages of material as written, I was not referring to the actual physical length of pages; I was referring to the material in the sense that you could state everything that you have written--regardless of actual length--in less than 2 pages.
Yes, I could edit out the repetitive portions, but I am doing several tasks right now & my computer printer doesn't work so I am unable to print out a hard copy to edit.

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dlac
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby dlac » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:58 pm

Glancing through your PS, it seems your tone is extremely narrative all around. Try throwing in some different literary techniques like dialogue to give the reader better imagery of the situation.

As I sit in a small classroom with instruction books, magnetic alphabet letters, and a white board teaching two Spanish-speaking first grade students, M_____ and P_____, how to sound out the letters “M” and “A,” I am fascinated by the process through which children learn to read and the implications of language itself.


The first sentence is a bit of a run-on and too narrative in tone. It tends to sound overly general and therefore boring to some people. Instead I recommend using dialogue such as this:

“Emeh...Ehh-meh…Ahh!” Exclaimed Manuel as he sat across from me in a small classroom adorned with instruction books, magnetic alphabet letters and a whiteboard. I observed his intense struggle to master pronunciation of the letter “M” and found it a telling indicator of the implications of language.

From the get-go, you need to focus more on how this immediately impacts you on a personal level. Establish a correlation between M___ and P___'s situation and link it directly to you and how it makes you want to go to Boalt...which leads me to my next point.

You absolutely need to include more about why Boalt is where you NEED to go accomplish your goals. You mentioned journals and clinics in law school, well name them and even some publications that have influenced your decision to attend the school.

full disclosure: i'm an incoming 1L at Boalt.

jjlaw
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:06 pm

TheTopBloke wrote:
jjlaw wrote:
CanadianWolf wrote:First impression after a quick read is that your personal statement is good but too long & a bit repetitious.


Thanks for the feedback! Can you tell me where/how it's repetitious?

TheTopBloke wrote:I fell asleep halfway through the first paragraph. Boring!


Thanks for the honesty. How is it boring? How can I make it more interesting?


For starters, there's a lot of fluff in that first paragraph. If you got to the nitty gritty it may have stengthened my attention span. That whole first line you can pretty much chop out. There's no need to talk about the magnets for example; it doesn't really do anything for the story. The names of the two kids is another useless feature that doesn't do anything to elaborate on the story. Hope that helps.


Thanks for elaborating -- I appreciate it. I will definitely rework the first paragraph.

CanadianWolf wrote:By writing that you don't have 3.5 pages of material as written, I was not referring to the actual physical length of pages; I was referring to the material in the sense that you could state everything that you have written--regardless of actual length--in less than 2 pages.
Yes, I could edit out the repetitive portions, but I am doing several tasks right now & my computer printer doesn't work so I am unable to print out a hard copy to edit.


Thanks -- just a quick example/one sentence would help too.

dlac wrote:Glancing through your PS, it seems your tone is extremely narrative all around. Try throwing in some different literary techniques like dialogue to give the reader better imagery of the situation.

As I sit in a small classroom with instruction books, magnetic alphabet letters, and a white board teaching two Spanish-speaking first grade students, M_____ and P_____, how to sound out the letters “M” and “A,” I am fascinated by the process through which children learn to read and the implications of language itself.


The first sentence is a bit of a run-on and too narrative in tone. It tends to sound overly general and therefore boring to some people. Instead I recommend using dialogue such as this:

“Emeh...Ehh-meh…Ahh!” Exclaimed Manuel as he sat across from me in a small classroom adorned with instruction books, magnetic alphabet letters and a whiteboard. I observed his intense struggle to master pronunciation of the letter “M” and found it a telling indicator of the implications of language.

From the get-go, you need to focus more on how this immediately impacts you on a personal level. Establish a correlation between M___ and P___'s situation and link it directly to you and how it makes you want to go to Boalt...which leads me to my next point.

You absolutely need to include more about why Boalt is where you NEED to go accomplish your goals. You mentioned journals and clinics in law school, well name them and even some publications that have influenced your decision to attend the school.

full disclosure: i'm an incoming 1L at Boalt.


Thanks for an example of the first paragraph! That was really helpful.
I will definitely mention more about Boalt because I get the sense that Boalt really values public policy/PI work, and I am very drawn to a law school with that emphasis.

CanadianWolf
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:22 pm

The dangerous part of allowing others to edit your work is that even though the edited version may be more correct in some senses, it also might drown your voice. I would not mention more about Berkeley or its programs; let them figure it out. Subtle writing is a very mature talent & your initial version, although not perfect, did show evidence of maturity.
With or without a hard copy of your draft I could make substantial revisions, but your voice might be lost. You don't need that type of editing. Just sit down & tighten up what you have already written.
Usually the most experienced lawyers write the shortest motions, while newly minted lawyers' motions try to display everything that they learned in three years of law school & one or two years of practice.
Crisp, clear sentences presented in a concise fashion in your voice is the goal.

jjlaw
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:28 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:The dangerous part of allowing others to edit your work is that even though the edited version may be more correct in some senses, it also might drown your voice. I would not mention more about Berkeley or its programs; let them figure it out. Subtle writing is a very mature talent & your initial version, although not perfect, did show evidence of maturity.
With or without a hard copy of your draft I could make substantial revisions, but your voice might be lost. You don't need that type of editing. Just sit down & tighten up what you have already written.
Usually the most experienced lawyers write the shortest motions, while newly minted lawyers' motions try to display everything that they learned in three years of law school & one or two years of practice.
Crisp, clear sentences presented in a concise fashion in your voice is the goal.


That is really awesome advice. Thanks a lot! I'm glad this was my VERY FIRST draft and you guys took the time to give me advice. :)

Miniver
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby Miniver » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:08 pm

...
Last edited by Miniver on Tue Jul 06, 2010 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

blsingindisguise
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby blsingindisguise » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:19 pm

dlac wrote:
The first sentence is a bit of a run-on and too narrative in tone. It tends to sound overly general and therefore boring to some people. Instead I recommend using dialogue such as this:

“Emeh...Ehh-meh…Ahh!” Exclaimed Manuel as he sat across from me in a small classroom adorned with instruction books, magnetic alphabet letters and a whiteboard.



Oh god. PLEASE do not use this sentence.

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iamcutdacheck
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby iamcutdacheck » Fri Jun 25, 2010 12:01 am

The shift from Americorps to domestic violence is kinda weak. However the grammar is excellent, the first three paragraphs are a bit repetitive, going from Americorps to your thesis then back to your childhood :?: . Overall its a nice start for a rough draft, figure out what portions of your personal statement develops your theme the best and work around that.

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iamcutdacheck
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby iamcutdacheck » Fri Jun 25, 2010 12:02 am

blsingindisguise wrote:
dlac wrote:
The first sentence is a bit of a run-on and too narrative in tone. It tends to sound overly general and therefore boring to some people. Instead I recommend using dialogue such as this:

“Emeh...Ehh-meh…Ahh!” Exclaimed Manuel as he sat across from me in a small classroom adorned with instruction books, magnetic alphabet letters and a whiteboard.



Oh god. PLEASE do not use this sentence.


oh yeah +1

jjlaw
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Fri Jun 25, 2010 12:21 pm

Miniver wrote:My advice would be to take just one of the experiences you described in your PS and make it your theme. Have everything you say in some way revolve around that experience, and conclude by showing how your interest in the law either (a) connects to that experience or (b) can build upon the skills you developed throughout that experience.


iamcutdacheck wrote:The shift from Americorps to domestic violence is kinda weak. However the grammar is excellent, the first three paragraphs are a bit repetitive, going from Americorps to your thesis then back to your childhood . Overall its a nice start for a rough draft, figure out what portions of your personal statement develops your theme the best and work around that.


Thanks for the thoughtful input. My theme was that my fascination with languages drew me to studying law, but my experiences in public service helped me confirm that. I was hoping to take the AmeriCorps experience to introduce my theme. I mentioned my childhood and thesis to show my history with languages, then I moved towards my public service experiences to show how they influenced my decision to study law and gave me an idea of what kind of law I wanted to study.

I can see how some portions of the P.S. can be repetitive, but perhaps the bigger issue is that my theme is not as clearly developed as I'd hoped?

Miniver
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Re: DRAFT P.S. for Berkeley -- please be harsh!

Postby Miniver » Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:17 pm

...
Last edited by Miniver on Tue Jul 06, 2010 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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