PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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ZachOda
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PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby ZachOda » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:42 pm

Edit: PM me if you would like to read the new draft
Last edited by ZachOda on Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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billyez
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby billyez » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:56 pm

Take out that second sentence or express your shock at still being alive in a different manner. It just seems a bit too "meta" for me to refer to the opening in the opening - it draws me out of it. I couldn't say that quick enough. Now I'm going to get back to reading.

At times, it's really difficult to understand just what's going on. This is a really jumbled first draft. The good news is that I believe you have a good story that you're working with here but it's buried with some odd use of language.

It was a place where creation was mine. I was God, and the sand was my canvas. In one hour I could have a world built to my glory, in two minutes I could smite it. But that sandbox took the control out of my hands, and gave me over to fate.


I had to read this part twice in relation to what happened afterwards to understand exactly what you were talking about. I honestly think these few sentences are really melodramatic and unecessary. They simply don't contribute to the whole of the essay to me. As a matter of fact, I'd say that the story in the second paragraph is much more powerful than this one. I'd advocate just focusing on the alcoholism portion of the PS instead.

The problem here is that you reach a conclusion that seems entirely unconnected to your thesis. You want to go to law school so you can help other people and defend people who can't defend themselves? That's all fine and good, and one of the paragraphs in my PS had a very similar theme in it - I almost had deja vu here, actually - but the issue here is that there's nothing in the entire PS that validates that claim. I don't know why you want to help other folks. It just seems a bit slapped on. I'd argue that this is actually one of those times where I wouldn't see a problem with you not explaining why you want to go to law school. Your story is powerful enough and I already understand how you've developed as an individual in response to these experiences.

EDIT: I apologize. This is why I usually read a PS twice before I say anything, which I didn't do this time. I now note that there is a sentence near the end that ties your conclusion to the story you've told.


Speaking of that, I'd just take out the sentence dealing with the "thesis" altogether. A PS is a story, not a college essay.


P.S. Just my opinion of course, best to see if others agree or disagree with my assessment before you start changing anything...
Last edited by billyez on Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

J.Straw from Wichita
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby J.Straw from Wichita » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:17 pm

You've clearly overcome a lot. That means you have plenty of content to work with. The way I felt reading this was that although this is serious stuff, it's a little melodramatic, esp. last paragraph. Maybe pick one issue you've dealt with and draw out the lessons you learned/how it influenced your career choices etc a little more, just so it's a little more relevant. The conclusion does seem a little "slapped on" as Billy said. Also, I liked a lot of the imagery and style in the paragraph about your illness, as well as in other moments. For me, that's what made this PS interesting. I think some (mild) comic relief would also go a long way in a PS like this. Think about the best sad memoirs you've ever read (like Angela's Ashes or something). What makes them great is that there's some bitter humor that makes it tolerable and uplifting in the end.

Best of luck.

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billyez
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby billyez » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:22 pm

J.Straw from Wichita wrote: Also, I liked a lot of the imagery and style in the paragraph about your illness, as well as in other moments. For me, that's what made this PS interesting. I think some (mild) comic relief would also go a long way in a PS like this.


More than anything, I think this is what I might be completely wrong about. Would what I put in quotations be what you consider some of the imagery that you liked in the first paragraph? Even as I criticized it, I understood how it could appeal to others.

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ShuckingNotJiving
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby ShuckingNotJiving » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:31 pm

Speaking of that, I'd just take out the sentence dealing with the "thesis" altogether. A PS is a story, not a college high school essay.


You've been through a lot, and it's clearly evident in this draft. Perhaps too evident. I have a great portrait of the less-than fortunate parts of your life, but I know little/none about you as a person. You also have some awkward phrases that pull the reader out of your essay and into this weird, outside dimension. Phrases like: "A bit of a shocking opener" and "and this is why I write this statement." It's like in a TV show, when the actor looks in the camera and makes a witty comment about a conversation he's having while the person he's having the conversation with is just sitting there, waiting.....Basically, it's distracting and unnecessary.

I would scrap this entire and get some perspective! How does your father's alcoholism and your previous hospitalization demonstrate your strength of character? What have you done to show that you want to work to defend others? Don't just talk about it, be about it.

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camstant
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby camstant » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:49 pm

Strong stuff, no doubt. As the previous posters have said, you have a lot of emotion you are putting into your PS. Unfortunately, I think that's the biggest issue with it. There is a lot of narrative, but there needs to be more of a connection to your current ambitions, rather than just a reliance on the sympathy appeal. For the purposes of the essay, I'm wondering if concentrating on just one battle would be more effective so that you have more room to illustrate your character.

Also:
ZachOda wrote:I should be dead. A bit of a shocking opener, to say the least. But it is the truth, so many times over. I struggled for so long to find meaning in my life, one that has never seemed peaceful, never seemed to make sense. I think I found it though, and that is why I write this statement.
Of course, It goes without saying that I should explain my thesis, of sorts. How my life has been that much different from what one may consider the norm. It started out pretty normal. I grew up on the second floor of a Boston two family home, my grandparents living on the first.
From the pictures, I looked happy....


There are some wording issues in your descriptions that will need to be dealt with, as well

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Barbie
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby Barbie » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:59 pm

A few tips:

Work hard on sentence structure. Make sure each sentence has all the necessities and is clear.

Also, my PS has some similarity to yours, as in I am telling a tragic story. After a lot of revision and advice from others, I have shortened the story essentially to one paragraph. It doesn't need to be the entire PS. You need to spend most of the PS expanding on your growth and how this will make you a great law student at X law school, and how it will make you a great attorney.

Be wary of the cliche, sappy ending. I too struggled with this. It took me putting it down a few days and picking it up later to realize that the sappy stuff and short and cliche, movie like lines aren't really working. I understand it is to build emotion and show passion, but it really does come off as cliche.

Overall, maybe shorten the story some and add more of your growth, why you want to be a lawyer (more specifically-- what type of lawyer, etc) and how this will help you achieve success as one.

HTH :)

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Barbie
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby Barbie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:00 am

"My work is not yet done"

makes me feel like you're batman, preparing the audience for a sequel...

CanadianWolf
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:01 am

Very interesting. Certainly needs to be refined. Lots of material to work with. But you already know all of this because you lived it, wrote about it & specifically labeled it as a first draft.
A fundamental problem with your personal statement, however, is that it is self defeating. Your concluding remarks disaffirm the supposed strength of your life depicted in the body of your writing. You have suffered & been forced to endure hardships that no child & no young adult should be exposed to. This causes a child to take on adult like responsibilities. The reader is led through your heart- wrenching hardships expecting a certain type of conclusion. But adult children of alcoholics often become overly idealistic just as they become unfailingly responsible. These traits, ironically, retard maturation. And this is very evident in your overly idealistic almost child-like concluding remarks. Law schools seek mature students. As is this personal statement is likely to hamper your efforts to be admitted to law school.

CanadianWolf
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:05 am

Clearly you have a lot of emotional scars. Ironically you write that you want to go to law school & become a lawyer to protect & to save others when it is you that needs protecting & saving.
Before writing a final version of your personal statement you need to read a book or two about adult children of alcoholics. You are very likely to meet yourself in a book of the same or similiar title. It will be a very cathartic experience. Go to any major bookstore's section on recovery or psychology & find your life.

P.S. I apologize if I treaded into uninvited territory.

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ZachOda
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby ZachOda » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:19 am

Thank you all for your advice on my statement. It has been something that was difficult to get started on, so I really just threw it together in a few hours to get it on paper. I'm actually quite glad that while my story may be difficult, you were able to critique thoughtfully. There is definitely much more that needs to be done with this I know, but I wanted some feedback on it. Should I focus on one or many, am I being cliche, etc. I am very appreciative of everything you have all put forward, especially Canadian. I will definitely look into your suggestion. It would probably be in my best interest to recognize that I didn't get through this unscathed and I might be a little less secure than I'd like to believe, even if it means taking a cycle off. Again, thank you for this, it really does mean a great deal to me.

CanadianWolf
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:25 am

You don't need to take a cycle off. I think that you will be very surprised at the healing powers of the insights offered in some very thin, large type recovery books.

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Barbie
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby Barbie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:25 am

ZachOda wrote:Thank you all for your advice on my statement. It has been something that was difficult to get started on, so I really just threw it together in a few hours to get it on paper. I'm actually quite glad that while my story may be difficult, you were able to critique thoughtfully. There is definitely much more that needs to be done with this I know, but I wanted some feedback on it. Should I focus on one or many, am I being cliche, etc. I am very appreciative of everything you have all put forward, especially Canadian. I will definitely look into your suggestion. It would probably be in my best interest to recognize that I didn't get through this unscathed and I might be a little less secure than I'd like to believe, even if it means taking a cycle off. Again, thank you for this, it really does mean a great deal to me.


PM me if you have any specific questions. While it seems I am pretty bad at writing my own PS (hehe) I am a writing major and have a lot of experience with writing. I just posted my own PS if you wanted to take a look at it (just because it has a similar structure, of being about a story-- and you can see how I approached it. Not saying its better than yours, just another way!)

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ZachOda
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby ZachOda » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:33 am

I may take you up on that Barbie. The Psych major really doesn't help much with extending my writing skills

J.Straw from Wichita
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby J.Straw from Wichita » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:37 am

billyez wrote:
J.Straw from Wichita wrote: Also, I liked a lot of the imagery and style in the paragraph about your illness, as well as in other moments. For me, that's what made this PS interesting. I think some (mild) comic relief would also go a long way in a PS like this.


More than anything, I think this is what I might be completely wrong about. Would what I put in quotations be what you consider some of the imagery that you liked in the first paragraph? Even as I criticized it, I understood how it could appeal to others.


yes, actually. I guess I'm a sucker for style. Law school PS's tend to be very dry, and although that's what legal writing tends to be, it doesn't mean that it has to be... there apparently is a pedagogical movement towards a reclamation of "narrative" in legal writing (i learned that in a LSAT RC passage!!! LOL)

Georgetown51
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby Georgetown51 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:38 am

To be honest, I don't think this draft is very good. To solve it I would not say how X tragedy made you want to become a lawyer or go to law school. That is likely bogus and it will show. You have a lot of personal experience to work with, just choose one incident and write well about it. 50% of the PS is writing it well, so focus on that. The rest is expressing something about yourself that can't be shown in your other materials. This doesn't have to relate to law at all. I think writing about protecting your sister from the world around her would be a great basis for a PS. You don't have to tie everything to why you want to be a lawyer, as that is not how the world works, but it did likely play a role in who you are now as a person. Dive into that a little and you'll be golden. I think concluding with one line tying that to an interest in public interest law or something wouldn't hurt if you want to draw that connection.

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billyez
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby billyez » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:00 am

ZachOda wrote:Thank you all for your advice on my statement. It has been something that was difficult to get started on, so I really just threw it together in a few hours to get it on paper. I'm actually quite glad that while my story may be difficult, you were able to critique thoughtfully. There is definitely much more that needs to be done with this I know, but I wanted some feedback on it. Should I focus on one or many, am I being cliche, etc. I am very appreciative of everything you have all put forward, especially Canadian. I will definitely look into your suggestion. It would probably be in my best interest to recognize that I didn't get through this unscathed and I might be a little less secure than I'd like to believe, even if it means taking a cycle off. Again, thank you for this, it really does mean a great deal to me.


Just wanted to say that you are certainly not being cliche. You've got a good story, it just needs to be cleaned up and reorganized a bit.

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Barbie
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Re: PS first draft (probably terrible) Please give advice!

Postby Barbie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:03 am

billyez wrote:
ZachOda wrote:Thank you all for your advice on my statement. It has been something that was difficult to get started on, so I really just threw it together in a few hours to get it on paper. I'm actually quite glad that while my story may be difficult, you were able to critique thoughtfully. There is definitely much more that needs to be done with this I know, but I wanted some feedback on it. Should I focus on one or many, am I being cliche, etc. I am very appreciative of everything you have all put forward, especially Canadian. I will definitely look into your suggestion. It would probably be in my best interest to recognize that I didn't get through this unscathed and I might be a little less secure than I'd like to believe, even if it means taking a cycle off. Again, thank you for this, it really does mean a great deal to me.


Just wanted to say that you are certainly not being cliche. You've got a good story, it just needs to be cleaned up and reorganized a bit.


I was just reiterating (sp?) what a bunch of people said about mine when I used verrrrry similar sentences at the end.




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