VERY Rough PS First Draft

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ivantheterbl
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VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby ivantheterbl » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:04 am

So I decided to do a very rough draft of my PS-- I just worked on it today, and it is a little long. Any feedback would be appreciated, right now I am focusing more on the overall theme/structure/essential points, but any general grammatical feedback is more than welcome. Thanks for the help in advance!

“Right by file into line, MARCH!” The order echoed loudly across the rolling hills of western Maryland, piercing through the darkness of an early September morning. Thousands of men lay before my eyes, coalescing themselves into units, shouldering rifles, and preparing themselves for an extremely singular and monumental event. Briefly, if only for a second, I was transported to a time 140 years in the past and became a participant in one of the most significant events in American history, the battle of Antietam. While that feeling lasted for only a fleeting moment, it is something I will never forget and always cherish. I was fourteen at the time, and was one of approximately 10,000 reenactors gathered to try and recreate the battle of Antietam, the single bloodiest day in American history, on its 140th anniversary. While the event was not the first or the last reenactment I ever participated in, it is one that I will certainly never forget.
Since I was in fourth grade, I have had one unwavering, complete, and pure passion: The American Civil War. From reading books to driving 500 miles in order to dress up in a wool uniform and wake up at 4:30 am to march around, I have dedicated countless hours not only to a pursuit of knowledge about the war, but more significantly to a pursuit of understanding.
At first, in its infancy, my passion was nothing more than a way to spend idle time. When I was younger, my family would move from state to state, all over the country, as my dad was in the Air Force and was constantly relocated to different bases. I never even went to the same school two years in a row until I reached the seventh and eighth grade. Due to this, I generally had a lot of spare time on my hands as it was hard to make many friends and establish roots in any one location. With all of this time, I generally turned to reading, and one topic always came to the forefront: the Civil War. Now, in retrospect, I could probably offer some form of analysis about why I gravitated to that one event particularly over other topics, how my family situation and personality most likely contributed, but at the time all I thought about was how fascinated I was with the people, events, and stories that I kept reading about.
As I grew older, my fascination turned to passion as I discovered other unique ways to explore the Civil War. I currently have an ever expanding collection of artifacts from the time period in addition to a bookcase dedicated solely to the war. As previously mentioned, I reenacted for many years, traveling to states as far away as Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee to educate others about my passion. I have visited battlefields, museums large and small, and even cemeteries in order to immerse myself in the topic. I have donated to various Civil War charities, and even donated my time to the Ohio Historical Society as a volunteer in order to educate others about Ohio’s role in the war. Now, as I begin my senior year of college, more than ten years since I first became hooked on the topic, and after countless changes to both me personally and to my life generally, I intend to write my honors thesis on a topic pertaining to the Civil War.
Obviously the Civil War has had a profound effect on me. It has greatly developed my intellectual curiosity as a scholar, has caused me to contemplate a variety of contemporary issues using a unique historical lens, and has illustrated to me the beauty of immersing one’s self in a topic. I consider myself an extremely knowledgeable student of the subject, and have been able to use that knowledge in an endless array of areas, from geography to medicine to even mathematics. Still, I am sure that you as the reader are asking yourself the one question everyone who knows me asks, a question I have heard from countless friends, family members, teachers, and most importantly myself : Why the Civil War, why this one particular area of study above all others?
After much thought I have determined that the answer to this question, which may seem convoluted or even somewhat ironic, is that I study the Civil War so greatly because I can never truly understand it. As a prospective lawyer, my personality is one of logic, of reason, and also one of compromise. The Civil War, ultimately, was a colossal failing of these three pillars that I hope my future career will rest on. There is no logic, no real reason, and no need for the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of people. A nation that was built on its ability to compromise failed horribly, allowing itself to break into sections and murder its own sons and daughters. The Civil War, as an event, at its core, simply doesn’t make sense to me.
I view my study of the war not simply as a passion, but more as a journey for myself. I will never be done, never know everything that I want to know, actually understand the war in a meaningful way. In the end I will always question what went wrong, what could have been done differently, and what I can learn from what did occur.
I view my study of law in much the same way, as a journey, as something that will never officially end, even when I graduate from school or retire from work. The prospect is thrilling to me, as I have been equally enamored with my brief studies of law as I have been with the Civil War. I know that I will put an equal effort into the great task of not simply learning, but truly trying to understand law much as I have with the Civil War. Thankfully my numerous experiences with the Civil War have helped me become the scholar that I am today, and have laid the foundation for my continued success in any endeavor that I attempt.

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billyez
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby billyez » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:37 am

Since it's so late, I'm not going to spend the time giving a long review this. I'm just going to say I liked it, but mention that I have the bias of a History Major, so take my opinion as you will.

What was really important was making sure that this wasn't a PS about the Civil War, but instead a PS about what your study of the Civil War has taught you about yourself. I thought you did a great job doing that. At first, I thought, maybe he shouldn't say that he won't ever actually understand the war "in a meaningful way" - maybe that undermines what he's attempting to say in regards to his scholarly interest. But that's not right at all - it's the nature of history that we can't really ever understand it fully. All we have our little peeks into the past.

There are folks here that are much more skilled in the grammar department than me, so I'm going to leave that to them. But in terms of the thematic progression, I thought it was rather strong. There was a clear focus on demonstrating how your interest transformed into a fascination and then into a passion - you did a good job of showing how these different stages affected your life and led you into the kind of scholarly practice that you do now. I like this. It boasts a rather unique subject and it's rather interesting.

Were you by any chance the person who asked us about the possible three PS subject they wanted to write about a while ago?

Spykuh
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby Spykuh » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:45 am

I like the topic itself--it's unique and you are clearly very passionate about it.

However, I got really hesitant when I was reading towards the end about the Civil War being a "colossal failing." The lawyers on the adcomms will think of a lot of reasons, many of them based on the Constitution itself, regarding how to justify it. When I read it more carefully, I was able to see what you really meant by it, but people who are just skimming your essay may miss the sentence where you say "allowing itself to break into sections and murder its own sons and daughters." And even if they do read that, there again will be a lot of counterpoints people can think up.

I think you should ask other people about their opinion on what I said, but I would advise you to stay away from any potentially sticky topics just to be safe.

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billyez
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby billyez » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:18 pm

I'd disagree with Spykuh's assessment. I don't believe you've portrayed the Civil War in a manner that's really controversial.

CanadianWolf
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:12 pm

Borderline terrible/palatable.
DELETE: The words "generally" & "countless".
The first two paragraphs are fine.
DELETE: "As previously mentioned".
"me, personally" ???
Too many "I"s & "me"s.
This is a very rough first draft in need of refinement. After the first 2.5 paragraphs it becomes too conversational. This probably should not be submitted in its present form.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:24 am, edited 4 times in total.

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12AngryMen
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby 12AngryMen » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:15 pm

The Canadian is right. It dont resonate right with me either.

ivantheterbl
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby ivantheterbl » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:48 am

Thanks for the help everyone, and yes billyez I was the one that posted a few weeks ago about possible topics.

CanadianWolf-- Is your main problem with the piece its topic/material or just the writing itself? I know one of my weaknesses as a writer is writing informally, but at least initially I wanted to just get my ideas out and see if they are workable/might stand out to prospective adcons.

Spy-- I understand that its certainly possible to justify the war through a variety of means, and anyone who has studied the war could easily do it, but do you feel that someone examining the essay will disregard my opinion because of the different excerpts from the essay you mentioned? I used the language I did more to illustrate facts about me than to discuss the war itself, so I didn't know if you still felt someone reading might see that phrasing as a detriment to me or my credibility?

My next question as I work on refining the piece is what is usually an acceptable length for a PS? Right now its 941 words and around 2.5 pages with Times New Roman 12 double spaces-- I'm thinking I'll probably have to cut it down... Thanks again to everyone for the help and please keep the comments coming!

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GoodToBeTheKing
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby GoodToBeTheKing » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:54 am

“Right by file into line, MARCH!” The order echoed loudly across the rolling hills of western Maryland, piercing through the darkness of an early September morning. Thousands of men lay before my eyes, coalescing themselves into units, shouldering rifles, and preparing themselves for an extremely singular and monumental event"


Stop right here! This is horrible. You are trying way too damn hard. "echoed loudly across rolling hills" "piercing though the darkness" "lay before my eyes" "coalescing themselves" .... the list goes on and on.... This is a horrible try at sounding like you are trying way too hard to sound like you learned a lot of new words in college. Is this how you talk in real life?

Less is more!

Cut out the bullshit and write a PS about yourself and not about the scenery. In the end, adcomms don't give a shit about this stuff. They care to know who you are, why you want to go to law school, and why they should accept you.

ivantheterbl
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby ivantheterbl » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:04 am

And one more thing real quickly-- Is it a problem to use I/me a lot in the PS?? Maybe I went overboard, but I was hoping that by using it I could continually tie the topic back to myself.

King-- I understand what the adcons are looking for in the essay, but I used the first paragraph more as a unique intro as opposed to just diving right in-- Do people think the first paragraph is fine, or would you recommend just starting with the second paragraph and going from there?

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12AngryMen
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby 12AngryMen » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:19 am

Yes, to much of this is bad.

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ArchRoark
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby ArchRoark » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:34 am

ivantheterbl wrote:My next question as I work on refining the piece is what is usually an acceptable length for a PS? Right now its 941 words and around 2.5 pages with Times New Roman 12 double spaces-- I'm thinking I'll probably have to cut it down... Thanks again to everyone for the help and please keep the comments coming!


Most schools call for 2page double space limit 11/12pt+ font. Others don't give you a limit or a more lenient one. I believe Berkley is 4pages.

Anyways here you go:
--LinkRemoved--

Spykuh
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby Spykuh » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:03 am

This essay is a "passion" essay, and it shows that you will contribute to the law school's community through your unique interest. I think that if there is any chance of people seeing any of it as controversial, regardless of your intentions, it's safer just to take it out.

I think that this could be much stronger if you left out the entire bit about "why." Maybe focus more on teaching others about it? Did you display leadership qualities/work in a team? You could also talk more about in-depth research that you did. There are a lot of skills and qualities required of a lawyer that you could [subtly] display here, and I feel like that would make the entire essay much stronger.

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Hannibal
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby Hannibal » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:01 am

Personally, I didn't like it. I'm a history major as well, so that's not the issue. For one, it's more about the civil war than you. Second, what you say about the civil war is both controversial and a bit stereotypical. War! Uh! Whaat is it good for?

I agree about taking out the part about "why".

CanadianWolf
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:12 am

Deteriorates from the phrase "As previously mentioned...", which is the beginning of your informal writing style.

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GoodToBeTheKing
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Re: VERY Rough PS First Draft

Postby GoodToBeTheKing » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:40 am

Take out the first paragraph so you can then leave more room to talk about yourself and why you want to be a lawyer. I honestly don't see any legit reasons in your essay for why you want to be a lawyer and not a scholar in Civil War...

In my PS, I touched briefly on my passion for political philosophy, the constitution, and our founding fathers' love of freedom but, like I said, it was very brief (a few sentences). Your whole PS seems to be on your passion for the Civil War. At first glance, it seems as if you should become a Civil War scholar.




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