Thanks for the critique! :)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
User avatar
JustDude
Posts: 354
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:07 pm

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

Postby JustDude » Sat Jun 26, 2010 6:19 pm

Overall good + (B+) grade on this one.


I think you are right about size. Berkeley allows for 4 pages and Dean said take advantage of it. Sending 2 pages would just imply that you are recycling your PS from other school. Keep size 3.5-4.0 pages, no les. They asked for this.

Boring??? Yes. Is it bad??? not so. I mean it is expected to be boring. Not any more boring then majority of other PS's. It was painful to read, but I made it through. (although I am upset about US-Ghana game)


What is good in this PS. You really tailored it to Berkeley. You adressed all the lame stuff they like. Helping immigrants, Helping them to study. Not being judjemental about their criminal parents. Understanding their illegal status and "harboring them". This was a main and very consistent theme of the PS and I am sure it will struck a cord with the Berkeley loons. ( for teh record I dont like any of that, but I am sure berkeley would).



I feel it can go as it is.


What can be improved. No structure. You wander form one peicde to another then back the somewhere again. MHave a good structure of the PS. Have some story . And while narrating it expand on this and that. But overall its OK as it is.
"Miniver's" advice is pretty solid on that one.

User avatar
fastforward
Posts: 181
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:31 pm

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

Postby fastforward » Sat Jun 26, 2010 6:45 pm

...
Last edited by fastforward on Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jjlaw
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:43 pm

Re: 2nd DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:54 pm

Bump -- Please give feedback for my 2nd draft (located in the first post)! Thanks! :)

User avatar
ArchRoark
Posts: 1000
Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2010 2:53 pm

Re: 2nd DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby ArchRoark » Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:38 pm

The topic is strong and I like how you showed that you grew through the situation.

That being said it seemed to me that the beginning is almost like the reader is being dropped "mid stream of thought" into your story. I personally wouldn't start it off with a quote but that is just my personal taste.

In the fifth paragraph you talk about how Moses was still acting up outside your class and then mention how you had an epiphany that he needed someone to believe in him. Did Moses behavior subsequently improve outside your class? If so I tie it in.

He often responded to my questions with one-word answers, if at all, leaving me frustrated and defeated.

I wouldn't use "defeated" because it seems to me that you weren't. You go on to talk about how you overcame the difficulty. I get what you are trying to convey but for some reason it seems off to me.

and would even make silly jokes.

This seemed to me as a bit redundant/fluff. I think the beginning of the sentence is built to allow for a real strong message to be conveyed and then it just ends in fluff.

Again, take my advice with a grain of salt... I am bad at editing other people's work. You definitely don't want to lose your own voice and as is I feel that the reader gets a good idea of who you are as a person. If I think of anything else I will edit this post.

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: 2nd DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby blsingindisguise » Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:33 am

I actually LOVE the opening anecdote. I actually wish you stayed with it a little longer instead of threading it right into the generalistic stuff right away.

One thing though - the way you wrote it it sounds like Moses is the one reading Mrs. Wishy Washy but it's a little unclear. I'd rewrite the sentence a little to clarify.

User avatar
verdandi
Posts: 86
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:46 pm

Re: 2nd DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby verdandi » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:15 pm

A few structural ideas:

First, some commentators have mentioned that your piece is a little dull. One way to punch it up is to think of it more like a story than a statement. I think you have done that to some degree but you might need to tell a different story. As it reads right now, I feel like I am reading a story about 1) A kid named Moses, or 2) A compassionate, wonderful teacher who learned a lot from a child about BEING A TEACHER, rather than about wanting to be lawyer. I would focus more on why you want to be a lawyer as opposed to a teacher. Your piece currently begs the question, why be a lawyer? Aren't you being fulfilled by wonderful little kids like Moses? Will being a lawyer really provide you with the same opportunity to watch little kids experience the power of an education? Probably not. One way I would fix this is to focus not only on your triumphs as a teacher, but also on the frustrating elements out of your control: the child's home life, the criminal environment he's growing up in, the injustice of the immigration system he's caught in, etc. This would allow you to pivot to talking about why you want to be a lawyer as opposed to continuing your job as a teacher.

Second, I personally prefer concrete examples over general assertions of abstract principles. For example, the last paragraph of you talk about "social justice" and what not, but no one -- including Berkeley AdComs -- knows what it means. I know that this is a very popular buzz term that generally means "doing good in the world," but concrete examples of what you want to accomplish are more powerful. Additionally, your background/work experience seems to have provided you with ample concrete examples, so I would use them.

Best of luck!

k24ginia
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2010 6:17 pm

Re: 2nd DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby k24ginia » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:24 pm

As a former AmeriCorps Alumni myself, I like the over theme of your statement and especially concluding paragraph. However, I feel like you emphasized a lot about the child's story vs. a narrative about your discovery. I think you would be better served if you take out some of the beginning and integrated it with your reflection. In addition, do you really need to mention you are interested in Public Interest? I think many people change their minds and even if you are- Cal has a great MPP program.. What other aspect of the law is thus relevant?

User avatar
gymboree
Posts: 504
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:48 am

Re: 2nd DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby gymboree » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:34 pm

"he came to see our time together as a privilege, not a punishment."

This sentence is indicative of the problem with the whole PS. You keep telling us things happen or are a certain way, yet you don't SHOW us. Don't just tell me he made this huge transformation because of you. Take me through his story. WHAT did you do to make that happen? Was there one breakthrough moment? Where's the drama? Where's the story arc?

I'm left feeling like other PPs... the statement is run-of-the-mill. It's a start, but you need to do better to stand out from the crowd.

jjlaw
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:43 pm

Re: 2nd DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:38 pm

.....
Last edited by jjlaw on Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jjlaw
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:43 pm

Re: 2nd DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:43 pm

....
Last edited by jjlaw on Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
gymboree
Posts: 504
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:48 am

Re: 2nd DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby gymboree » Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:14 am

jjlaw wrote:
gymboree wrote:"he came to see our time together as a privilege, not a punishment."

This sentence is indicative of the problem with the whole PS. You keep telling us things happen or are a certain way, yet you don't SHOW us. Don't just tell me he made this huge transformation because of you. Take me through his story. WHAT did you do to make that happen? Was there one breakthrough moment? Where's the drama? Where's the story arc?

I'm left feeling like other PPs... the statement is run-of-the-mill. It's a start, but you need to do better to stand out from the crowd.


Thanks for the feedback. I tried to "show" what I did and how I tried to help him through my 4th paragraph. I'm not sure whether a transformation always needs to be demonstrated through one "ah-ha" moment though because a child like Moses is careful to trust an unfamiliar person, and it takes time and (slow) progress to see personal and academic improvement. He doesn't just wake up one day and say "Hey, you're a nice person. I'm going to try hard for you and read really well now." It's not an After School Special.


The reader isn't looking for an after school special - but that's how it reads now... a little corny. Open up a bit more, show more of your own personality. It seems like you're writing into a stereotype. Show more of yourself. That's all I was saying. No need to get corny.

User avatar
Warhawk
Posts: 53
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:57 pm

Re: 2nd DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby Warhawk » Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:58 am

jjlaw wrote:
gymboree wrote:"he came to see our time together as a privilege, not a punishment."

This sentence is indicative of the problem with the whole PS. You keep telling us things happen or are a certain way, yet you don't SHOW us. Don't just tell me he made this huge transformation because of you. Take me through his story. WHAT did you do to make that happen? Was there one breakthrough moment? Where's the drama? Where's the story arc?

I'm left feeling like other PPs... the statement is run-of-the-mill. It's a start, but you need to do better to stand out from the crowd.


Thanks for the feedback. I tried to "show" what I did and how I tried to help him through my 4th paragraph. I'm not sure whether a transformation always needs to be demonstrated through one "ah-ha" moment though because a child like Moses is careful to trust an unfamiliar person, and it takes time and (slow) progress to see personal and academic improvement. He doesn't just wake up one day and say "Hey, you're a nice person. I'm going to try hard for you and read really well now." It's not an After School Special.


I think you're on the right track there, but my comment would be that the transformation, as described in your personal statement, feels much too abrupt. You do a good job of describing the measures you took, but even in that fifth paragraph, you're still discussing the problems Moses was having. When I read a bit into the narrative, it's more cohesive, but on a fast initial read, those last two sentences in paragraph 5:

As I gained his confidence and trust, Moses’s reading ability steadily progressed, and by the end of the school year, his competence approached second grade level. His confidence rose, and he came to see our time together as a privilege, not a punishment.


are somewhat jarring to the reader.

My suggestion would be to move the information about his disruptive behavior and home life earlier in the personal statement, and gradually shift into what you did to help him, culminating in those two previously quoted sentences. That way, his transformation would logically follow from the description of your actions, rather than abruptly break from the description of his problems.

jjlaw
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:43 pm

Re: 2nd DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Thu Jul 22, 2010 2:44 pm

......
Last edited by jjlaw on Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sandaltan
Posts: 114
Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2009 12:42 am

Re: 2nd DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby sandaltan » Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:14 pm

I think it's good. It kept my attention and showed maturity.

However, I think it's a combination of the topic (which I would imagine is somewhat common) and perhaps your writing style that really keeps this statement from sparkling.

I don't feel powerfully moved or compelled. It did not make me really think. I didn't read the last sentence and think DAMN...I want this kid.

But even though everyone wants that kind of statement, they remain very elusive.

jjlaw
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:43 pm

Re: 3RD DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:17 pm

....
Last edited by jjlaw on Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jjlaw
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:43 pm

Re: 3RD DRAFT for Berkeley -- Please Be Harsh!

Postby jjlaw » Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:24 pm

...




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.