Feedback on my personal statement

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
FuturePrez
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Feedback on my personal statement

Postby FuturePrez » Tue Aug 10, 2010 4:36 pm

Can anyone give me feedback on my personal statement?

PM me and I will send it over to you and use this forum to discuss feedback.


As I stood in front of a hushed crowd of a few hundred parents, students and Georgetown Faculty in the Raeburn Congressional Building, the only thing I could feel was my heart pounding. Anything short of a perfectly delivered speech was not an option at that point. After months of watching our nation’s lawmakers testify and debate, I finally got to employ some of the tactics of public speaking that I had picked up as an intern. I had labored for weeks ensuring that the choreography of my delivery matched the voice in my head; EVERY word must mean something. If my fate was to someday end up in the same building, I wanted to make sure that my first impression would be a lasting one, if not for my professors and fellow peers, then for the marble columns and embroidered walls that would be a witness to my march toward destiny. Regardless of how others may think back on the day that we graduated from the Capital Semester Program as Georgetown students and DC interns, I will always consider that day my first bona fide step to realizing my dream. The preparation for that first step began nearly three years ago.

It was my freshman year of college and it was one of the most exhilarating times of my life, it was also one of the most frightening. Whenever I had thought of my own success, by and large, I imagined the paths that were the most regimented would offer the most promise. But when I applied to my institution, I was given free reign with my future. Something I was somewhat familiar with living in a single parent household, in conjunction with the fact that neither of my parents had gone to college. The person I often looked to for guidance, my father, didn’t even finish high school, but went back for his GED a few years later. So, my educational future was up to me. Granted, it came with the pressure to exceed or meet my father’s expectations considering his lack of education and abundance of success despite the fact. He always told me the most important thing was a plan, “without goals, it is hard to score” he would say to me. So I began my plan in the spring of my freshman year when I sought after and was offered a summer internship at Johnson and Johnson. Despite the fact that the job would be in information technology, I proudly took the offer. I remember a few things very clearly when I first began working there. One particular occasion, which reared its abrasive presence more than once, was the question about why I was working in IT as a history major. At first it was embarrassing for me to answer. People assumed, that I was clearly wasting my time, that if I thought I would want to pursue law, what am I doing working on computers? Although it was unintended, to me it was a jeer at my future and my confidence.

My attitude drastically changed, however, only a few short months later. It was in the middle of winter, and just as all of nature seemed to stagnate in the cold, so did one of our company’s projects. The initiative was designed to swap all user systems to an entirely new operating system, while complying with document retention policies and keeping all associate data in tact through the transfer. It was literally a company-wide transfer that would impact every individual from top to bottom. I took a leap of faith in a board room full of IT architects, DBA’s, managers, directors and the CIO when I proposed a new way to market our project to the company and ensure minimal loss of user data. Looking back, the feelings running through me in that board room were the same that I would feel three years later at the podium in the congressional building. I was nervous, shocked at my own ability to help direct a room full of individuals at a renowned global corporation like Johnson and Johnson as an intern. When I spoke, although not as eloquent as my future speech, I felt the same feeling run through me. My heart beat with timidity, but a burst of confidence allowed me to subjugate the fear with a burning necessity to rise to the occasion. I would have never guessed that my input at that meeting would have had a sizeable impact.
Until a month later, to my astonishment, less my idea was being blasted to every associate branded with our project logo! I still have the flash drive that I helped design and issue; when I remember that time, I can tangibly feel the excitement of having produced something that had an impact on thousands of associates in a corporation. I was never embarrassed again when people asked what a history major was doing working in information technology, because from then on, I always knew the answer, and continue to give it confidently as I have continued to work at that location full time now for the past 2 years.

More than a year later, when I was convinced that my hopes of law school could be filled with my work at Johnson and Johnson, I applied to study at Georgetown University for a spring semester. I owed it to myself to give my curiosity an honest shot. Considering, I rarely had the opportunity to take unpaid work in a congressional office while at home, I figured I would take a crack at it in Washington, D.C. Fully cognizant of how valuable my time actually was, I decided to follow a more unorthodox schedule by taking on a full-time, rather than the recommended part-time, internship along with a full course load. I applied for an internship at Senator Menendez’s Capitol Hill office and was accepted as a full-time intern. If I had any previous doubts about what my experience with Johnson and Johnson was going to provide my interest in law, they were expunged within the first couple of weeks.

When I first arrived on The Hill, I immediately doubted my ability to compete with students from institutions of such caliber as Georgetown or George Washington. As I made my way through the office running errands and writing constituent letters, I quickly caught on to the major issues and the rhetoric surrounding them. My previous work in the healthcare industry allowed me to swiftly navigate tasks that, at the time were brimming with healthcare discussions, reform debates and thousands of constituent letters, lobbyist meetings and Capitol Hill rallies. Unlike many of the other students my age, from much better universities, I quickly became savvy with the key policy issues of a higher caliber than the back and forth talking points. While in Washington, D.C. I have never worked harder in my life.

Before all of this, my desire to go to law school had been an abstract hope. Never had I worked on anything explicitly requiring a JD or the skills of a law student, until I began, still only a brief, journey that eventually placed me in Washington, D.C. Many of my friends and peers give me blank stares when I explain to them the abuse I put up with from constituents in the Senator’s Office, but instead of the complaints that many people hear when I tell the stories, I heard pleas and desperation. They are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who are displeased with the promises their government or legal system is failing to uphold. Working hard for those constituents has been the most enlightening work experience thus far because it showed me exactly what being a lawmaker or legal advocate is like, long hours, often minimal financial incentive and the brunt of many individuals anger. As an individual, my understanding of the legal system, and the skill set I will acquire in law school will enable me to continue my journey of shaping policy areas that have dramatic effects on the lives of individuals in our country, areas such as healthcare and information technology. Both are fields which I have an intricate understanding from my enjoyment and experience within those fields. Coupling this with my work experience and eventually my law career, I am committed to impacting the evolving legal atmosphere around these fields. My desire is rooted, not in power or wealth, but in the fact that areas such as healthcare are ubiquitously important to all citizens; it is a common thread between left and right, liberal and conservative. And so, my focus for the future is the same as the focus of the speech I gave in the congressional building earlier this spring, that “despite the many differences we may have, our common humanity matters much, much more.”

FuturePrez
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby FuturePrez » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:57 pm

Anyone?

Bump

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2807
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby 2807 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:17 pm

Ok, i did not read the whole thing because I do not feel I can help with content comments. However, I read the beginning enough to barf out the same advice I have given 2 other times in the last day or two...

Grammar: Your comma abuse is fantastic! And you are a victim of passive voice.

Correct both of those ASAP and whatever your content is will be delivered in a much more professional, powerful, and correct manner.

Comma rules: Remember this, "FANBOYS" (for, and nor, but, or, yet, so). If one of those does not follow your comma-- you better have a good reason (rule) for it. Each side of the comma should be able to stand on its own as a complete sentence unless you are adhering to a rule that allows a variance (a list, an introductory clause, or eh-- other stuff...) Here is the trick: learn the basic FANBOYS rule and the intro-clause, and then only write sentences that way. If you are unsure of the comma usage, RE-WRITE the sentence in a manner you are sure. Keep it simple.

Passive voice: two classic examples in your first paragraph:

1. "I had labored for weeks ensuring that the choreography of my delivery matched the voice in my head; " -- make this: "I labored for weeks and ensured that the....."

2. " I finally got to employ some of the tactics of public speaking that I had picked up as an intern..."
-- make this: " I finally was able to employ useful tactics I learned during public speaking opportunities as an intern"

NEVER use "Got". ugh. And, no contractions ever...

The passive voice is a killer and we all do it. We really do it when we are unsure of what we are writing. You never do it when you are arguing. I guarantee it. haha. Somehow we all know how to make clear, concise, and declarative statements when we argue. Keep that in mind! ha, that is funny, but true. I just made that up.

Go read your own PS and look ONLY for passive voice. Change everything to declarative statements.

Then go comma hunting. Your PS will thank you.

cya :)

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ShuckingNotJiving
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby ShuckingNotJiving » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:40 pm

This is hard to comment on because it's bulky, and quite frankly, it leaves a lot to be desired. You need to narrow your focus a bit. Figure out the thread that ties all these achievements /experiences together. A couple of more specific suggestions:

I find the second paragraph to be a bit superfluous.
You need to take the capital "EVERY" out of the first paragraph.

I really like this sentence:

It was in the middle of winter, and just as all of nature seemed to stagnate in the cold, so did one of our company’s projects.


You have the elements of a good writer coming through with that description, I think. Don't drown it by trying to expound on your resume because it takes the personality out of the essay. I don't find the commas as offensive as the above poster seems to -- however I tend to overuse them myself. :)

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2807
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby 2807 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:48 pm

ShuckingNotJiving wrote:This is hard to comment on because it's bulky, and quite frankly, it leaves a lot to be desired. You need to narrow your focus a bit. Figure out the thread that ties all these achievements /experiences together. A couple of more specific suggestions:

I find the second paragraph to be a bit superfluous.
You need to take the capital "EVERY" out of the first paragraph.

I really like this sentence:

It was in the middle of winter, and just as all of nature seemed to stagnate in the cold, so did one of our company’s projects.


You have the elements of a good writer coming through with that description, I think. Don't drown it by trying to expound on your resume because it takes the personality out of the essay. I don't find the commas as offensive as the above poster seems to -- however I tend to overuse them myself. :)



Ugh. I cannot believe I am becoming the comma guy. This is so unfair. hahaha. But, I have to say: it is hilarious that the sentence quoted has not one-- but two comma mistakes ! HAHA classic!..

Shuckingnotjiving: You are my hero with that name. I am giving you a standing ovation. Fantastic. and the picture too.. im crackin up..

FuturePrez
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby FuturePrez » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:50 pm

Gah the dreaded passive voice monster is back! He hasn't reared his ugly head in any of my college essays, but my high school AP history teacher used to murder my papers with red ink because of it.

Thanks a lot to the above posters for the comments I will continue to post edits.

All further insight is welcomed. :)

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2807
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby 2807 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:53 pm

anything for a future prez

google: The OWL at purdue. (Online Writing Lab). Great, free, easy help. When in doubt you can check your comma rules and things.... very handy.

Yes, the teachers beat me down and humiliated me into a passive voice and comma hunter. I am only trying to help..... :)


Ha: check out my passive voice in my own post! What a tard. "advice.... I have given": should be "advice I gave".

Damn, time for bed.
Last edited by 2807 on Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:58 pm

Refine your thoughts. A personal statement is not intended as a means to share every thought that you have ever had.
Your writing suggests that you may have a difficult time in law school since you seem unable to focus on relevant material.

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ShuckingNotJiving
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby ShuckingNotJiving » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:01 am

You are definitely becoming the comma guy, which isn't all that terrible. One might even say it's needed.

The sentence quoted produces a wonderful image, one that I don't think is lessened by the possibly-awkward comma.

OP: work out your content issues (get some focus) then get rid of all gratuitous commas to appease the comma guy. :)

FuturePrez
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby FuturePrez » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:06 am

CanadianWolf wrote:Refine your thoughts. A personal statement is not intended as a means to share every thought that you have ever had.
Your writing suggests that you may have a difficult time in law school since you seem unable to focus on relevant material.


This is an interesting comment considering in a personal statement all things personal can be made relevant.

My objective is to show that I am more than just a student with some random ambition. I have goals that are realistic, and I accomplish them not only through good test grades, but with action. Emphasis of maturity and experience is what I am aiming for.

This might help: 170 LSAT, 3.9 GPA. I am aiming for top tier schools and want a PS that reflects my ability to produce things of business value/communal value.

Thanks

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billyez
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby billyez » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:08 am

Packing for UVA, so I'm not able to read all of it...but my C-SPAN experience, along with my knowledge of Texas history, made an alarm begin to go off when I read the first sentence. You sure you're not referring to the Rayburn building, not Raeburn?

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2807
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby 2807 » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:10 am

What is wrong with me? --- why do commas mock me? ---

I like that sentence too. It is cute. And there are exceptions to rules that may allow it to work. But, in this environment I would error on the side of caution and not try to flaunt my creative writing skill.

:)
Last edited by 2807 on Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

FuturePrez
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby FuturePrez » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:10 am

Rayburn is correct, interesting typo lol good looking out.

Congrats on UVA should be a great time.

Hmm...has anyone ever sent in the recording of a speech they gave as their personal statement?

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ShuckingNotJiving
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby ShuckingNotJiving » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:14 am

Canadian Wolf was just trying to maintain that your essay lacked focus. He chose an abrasive way to do this, but that's his MO. I mean, you have to realize that you're covering a lot of ground in this essay -- speaking about your credentials, quoting your father, quoting your friends, mentioning the speech, the internships, etc, etc. If you look at the PS samples, many of the strong ones cover one event and still do a good job at demonstrating maturity, experience.

2807, I disagree and think one can attempt to show their creative writing skills in the PS. If not, then what would separate the quality PS's from the mediocre ones? How would one distinguish a PS from a resume?

FuturePrez
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby FuturePrez » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:20 am

I agree, it does cover a lot of ground....agh I hate this stuff lol.

I agree, I think that the creative aspect helps make it not seem so superficial...just my .02$.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:40 am

Okay, but just do it in a more focused fashion. If you want me to write something nice about your personal statement, then it appears that your pen sure had a lot of ink in it. Or, for the refined version, you're a prolific writer.
On a more serious note, I do think that your personal statement contains too much irrelevant material.

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2807
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby 2807 » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:54 am

ShuckingNotJiving wrote:Canadian Wolf was just trying to maintain that your essay lacked focus. He chose an abrasive way to do this, but that's his MO. I mean, you have to realize that you're covering a lot of ground in this essay -- speaking about your credentials, quoting your father, quoting your friends, mentioning the speech, the internships, etc, etc. If you look at the PS samples, many of the strong ones cover one event and still do a good job at demonstrating maturity, experience.

2807, I disagree and think one can attempt to show their creative writing skills in the PS. If not, then what would separate the quality PS's from the mediocre ones? How would one distinguish a PS from a resume?



Just when I thought I was out--- they puuulllll me back in,..

For the record: Be creative. Just be careful with grammar rules. I would hate for nice folks with great potential to get stung by a reader of the PS who is unfamiliar with the loophole used as a work-around to a comma (or any grammar) rule in the name of creativity.

Or, more simpler: Be creative with content, NOT with grammar rules.
-- you know, even Maverick was not allowed to go below the hard-deck. Even though it worked, he was outside the rules. Goose told him not to do it.

Show how you can follow the rules but still stand out.

Now we can all be friends. :)

FuturePrez
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby FuturePrez » Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:34 am

So I need to focus, any suggestions or opinions on what part of my PS has the most potential to turn into a more honed personal statement?

I could write about my time in Washington, D.C. forever, but to me it seems out of place without describing why I went or how I got there. BUT I will certainly take your opinions on what part should be gleaned out and used a PS with more depth on that topic.

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ShuckingNotJiving
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby ShuckingNotJiving » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:08 pm

I think what's better is if you list these experiences and decide which is more important to you / more evident of your qualities and potential as a law student.

If you decide focus on DC, you can describe how you got there but just do it succinctly. It shouldn't be a play-by-play of every action, feeling, epiphany leading up to the event. Expound on the experience, give insight to how it shaped you, tie it to your desire to pursue law. Keep in mind that many of the qualities you're attempting to convey (maturity, experience) will come through by showing not telling. If you do that, you should be headed in the right direction.

czelede
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Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby czelede » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:28 pm

As I stood in front of a hushed crowd of a few hundred parents, students and Georgetown Faculty in the Raeburn Congressional Building, the only thing I could feel was my heart pounding. Anything short of a perfectly delivered speech was not an option at that point. After months of watching our nation’s lawmakers testify and debate, I finally got to employ some of the tactics of public speaking that I had picked up as an intern.
Got? Why would you EVER use "got" such a context within a professional essay?

I had labored for weeks ensuring that the choreography of my delivery matched the voice in my head; EVERY word must mean something.
Nix the all-caps. You aren't trying to express vehemence to an online community.

If my fate was to someday end up in the same building, I wanted to make sure that my first impression would be a lasting one, if not for my professors and fellow peers, then for the marble columns and embroidered walls that would be a witness to my march toward destiny.
The inclusions of fate and destiny are a little histrionic, in my opinion. It's great that you have conviction and passion for your goals, but to describe such as a "march towards destiny" just makes you seem arrogant...and possibly a little delusional. Not to say that you can't get where you want to go, but to make such an assertion in an admissions essay conveys a sense of self-importance you should really try to avoid.

Regardless of how others may think back on the day that we graduated from the Capital Semester Program as Georgetown students and DC interns, I will always consider that day my first bona fide step to realizing my dream.
Such an awkward sentence and way too long. It seems like you're just trying to cram in the detail of what the program was (comprised of Georgetown students and DC interns!)

The preparation for that first step began nearly three years ago.
Obvious transitional sentence. Try to make it flow more.

It was my freshman year of college and it was one of the most exhilarating times of my life, it was also one of the most frightening.
Whoo comma splice.

Whenever I had thought of my own success, by and large, I imagined the paths that were the most regimented would offer the most promise.
I get that by and large may afford you more commas, but "on the whole" or "overall success" is probably more succinct and appropriate in this instance. Watch your word choice in this entire sentence - you imagined that the most ordered path would result in the most promise? Do you believe it or are you just imagining? Promise of what?

But when I applied to my institution, I was given free reign with my future.
Are we talking about applying to undergraduate here? Be more clear.

Something I was somewhat familiar with living in a single parent household, in conjunction with the fact that neither of my parents had gone to college.
This is a fragment. Complete sentences when demonstrating your written abilities. Also, living with a single parent or having parents that did not go to college do not strongly correlate to "being familiar with having free reign of your future". If you want to assert such a correlation, support it.

The person I often looked to for guidance, my father, didn’t even finish high school, but went back for his GED a few years later. So, my educational future was up to me. Granted, it came with the pressure to exceed or meet my father’s expectations considering his lack of education and abundance of success despite the fact. He always told me the most important thing was a plan, “without goals, it is hard to score” he would say to me.
Okay so...overall what I'm getting from these few sentences...you were given free reign of your future while applying to college because your parents did not have experience with college. But you were familiar with having free reign of your future anyhow because your parents are single parents and also did not go to college. Your educational future was entirely in your hands except for the fact that you were pressured by your parents success. Why did you just spend six sentences describing your freedom to choose your own college? Are you under the impression that most parents choose their children's colleges? If the lesson of this paragraph is your father's advice about having a plan, make it the point, not the byproduct.

So I began my plan in the spring of my freshman year when I sought after and was offered a summer internship at Johnson and Johnson.
So let me get this straight...in choosing a college, your dad's only advice was to have a plan. But you didn't enact that plan until after college? If going to the college you chose was part of the plan, maybe allude to that before this sentence.

Despite the fact that the job would be in information technology, I proudly took the offer.
But why? I thought your destiny was to end up in the Congressional Building.

I remember a few things very clearly when I first began working there.
Grammar...try rephrasing this into a participle clause to see it it makes sense: "When I first began working htere, I remember a few things very clearly." If you're trying to convey that a few things stick out in your mind, this isn't the right way to do it.

One particular occasion, which reared its abrasive presence more than once, was the question about why I was working in IT as a history major. At first it was embarrassing for me to answer. People assumed, that I was clearly wasting my time, that if I thought I would want to pursue law, what am I doing working on computers? Although it was unintended, to me it was a jeer at my future and my confidence.
The first sentence is so awkward. "One particular occasion reared its presence more than once?" I'm also not sure "rear" is the best word to use here. Also, you really don't answer WHY you're working in IT as a history major, especially since this is part of your master plan. In the following paragraph you imply that after a few months your attitude changes; in the previous paragraph you state that this was part of your plan. Clearly, if you were embarrassed by it, it couldn't have been a very well thought out path.

My attitude drastically changed, however, only a few short months later. It was in the middle of winter, and just as all of nature seemed to stagnate in the cold, so did one of our company’s projects. The initiative was designed to swap all user systems to an entirely new operating system, while complying with document retention policies and keeping all associate data in tact through the transfer. It was literally a company-wide transfer that would impact every individual from top to bottom. I took a leap of faith in a board room full of IT architects, DBA’s, managers, directors and the CIO when I proposed a new way to market our project to the company and ensure minimal loss of user data. Looking back, the feelings running through me in that board room were the same that I would feel three years later at the podium in the congressional building. I was nervous, shocked at my own ability to help direct a room full of individuals at a renowned global corporation like Johnson and Johnson as an intern. When I spoke, although not as eloquently as my future speech, I felt the same feeling run through me.
The looseness of this paragraph! The commas! There are a lot of extraneous details as well as a lot of necessary ones missing. Why did the project stagnate? Was it for J&J or a client? Who did the boardroom need to market the project to? Also pay attention to your last few sentences: the feelings running through you were the same you'd feel three years later; you were nervous; when you spoke you felt the same feeling run through you. What...?

My heart beat with timidity, but a burst of confidence allowed me to subjugate the fear with a burning necessity to rise to the occasion.
This is what my high school English teacher would label "purple prose"

I would have never guessed that my input at that meeting would have had a sizeable impact.
Until a month later, to my astonishment, less my idea was being blasted to every associate branded with our project logo!
Again, believe in the power of complete sentences. Save the exclamation points for internetz chats.

I still have the flash drive that I helped design and issue; when I remember that time, I can tangibly feel the excitement of having produced something that had an impact on thousands of associates in a corporation.
What does a flash drive have to do with anything? And what does tangibly feeling excitement entail? Is it fuzzy?

I was never embarrassed again when people asked what a history major was doing working in information technology, because from then on, I always knew the answer, and continue to give it confidently as I have continued to work at that location full time now for the past 2 years.
And...what was the answer?

More than a year later, when I was convinced that my hopes of law school could be filled with my work at Johnson and Johnson, I applied to study at Georgetown University for a spring semester. I owed it to myself to give my curiosity an honest shot. Considering, I rarely had the opportunity to take unpaid work in a congressional office while at home, I figured I would take a crack at it in Washington, D.C.
Curiosity for what? Take a crack at it? Not a good choice of words. Also, your hopes of law school seem to magically materialize in this paragraph.

Fully cognizant of how valuable my time actually was, I decided to follow a more unorthodox schedule by taking on a full-time, rather than the recommended part-time, internship along with a full course load. I applied for an internship at Senator Menendez’s Capitol Hill office and was accepted as a full-time intern. If I had any previous doubts about what my experience with Johnson and Johnson was going to provide my interest in law, they were expunged within the first couple of weeks.
Why do you keep having doubts about your IT work if it was all part of your plan towards destiny?

When I first arrived on The Hill, I immediately doubted my ability to compete with students from institutions of such caliber as Georgetown or George Washington. As I made my way through the office running errands and writing constituent letters, I quickly caught on to the major issues and the rhetoric surrounding them. My previous work in the healthcare industry allowed me to swiftly navigate tasks that, at the time were brimming with healthcare discussions, reform debates and thousands of constituent letters, lobbyist meetings and Capitol Hill rallies. Unlike many of the other students my age, from much better universities, I quickly became savvy with the key policy issues of a higher caliber than the back and forth talking points. While in Washington, D.C. I have never worked harder in my life.
Do not, I repeat, do NOT compare yourself to other people. I don't care how much savvier you are than students from much better universities, your personal statement is about what YOU'VE done, not what you've done relative to other people. This sentence comes across reeking of arrogance and a deep-seeded insecurity about the apparent lack of caliber (in your opinion) of your institution. You also really don't connect how your J&J job helped you out here.

Before all of this, my desire to go to law school had been an abstract hope.
Again, what happened to your plan?

Never had I worked on anything explicitly requiring a JD or the skills of a law student, until I began, still only a brief, journey that eventually placed me in Washington, D.C. Many of my friends and peers give me blank stares when I explain to them the abuse I put up with from constituents in the Senator’s Office, but instead of the complaints that many people hear when I tell the stories, I heard pleas and desperation.
Instead of the complaints people hear from your stories you heard pleas and desperation? This is a very confusing sentence, although I think I know what you're trying to say. And really, abuse? Either elaborate on what this 'abuse' entails (apparently stories?) or don't use such a strong word.

They are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who are displeased with the promises their government or legal system is failing to uphold. Working hard for those constituents has been the most enlightening work experience thus far because it showed me exactly what being a lawmaker or legal advocate is like, long hours, often minimal financial incentive and the brunt of many individuals anger. As an individual, my understanding of the legal system, and the skill set I will acquire in law school will enable me to continue my journey of shaping policy areas that have dramatic effects on the lives of individuals in our country, areas such as healthcare and information technology. Both are fields which I have an intricate understanding from my enjoyment and experience within those fields. Coupling this with my work experience and eventually my law career, I am committed to impacting the evolving legal atmosphere around these fields. My desire is rooted, not in power or wealth, but in the fact that areas such as healthcare are ubiquitously important to all citizens; it is a common thread between left and right, liberal and conservative. And so, my focus for the future is the same as the focus of the speech I gave in the congressional building earlier this spring, that “despite the many differences we may have, our common humanity matters much, much more.”
Really? You're ending your personal statement by quoting yourself?

---

Okay. Overall comments.

- WOW, the commas.
- Completely unfocused, for the following reasons:

1) You try to establish why you are interested in healthcare and the law. While the DC experiences justify the latter, working in the IT sector of a healthcare manufacturer does not in any way show that you had actual hands on experience related to healthcare (instead, designing flash drives and migrating servers?). Therefore, nobody is inclined to believe that your J&J experiences had anything to do with your interest in healthcare.

2) You spend an entire paragraph talking about your father and your choice of going to college. You mention that he has no good direction to offer you, having never gone, except for: aha! having a plan! Yet your plan, which apparently entails some kind of hopes for a JD, does not materialize until the summer after your Freshman year - when you, a history major, takes a job in IT and feels embarrassed defending it to everyone. A few months later, you find purpose in your work. If you're trying to sell yourself as somebody who knows where he's going (fate, apparently) and knows how to get there, that section about IT certainly detracts from it.

3) You bring up a lot of ideas without support and you fail to connect them to one another. This is basically how the essay reads:

You are giving a speech in the same place you are destined to be in the future.

This started three years ago, when you were given control of your future by being able to choose a college. You knew what it was like to have control of your future because your parents were single parents and did not go to college. But your dad is still very successful, thus pressuring you, all the while imparting the wisdom to have a plan.

So you wait until the end of your freshman year to start this plan, by taking a job in a (seemingly) irrelevant field (by the way, you still never demonstrate the relevance). You are embarrassed about this job but somehow find validation by making a difference. You got a rush from speaking in front of a lot of people.

You aimed for an internship on Capitol Hill where you demonstrated savvy and compassion above all your "better university attending" peers despite all your insecurities and doubts. Apparently working in IT helped you do this, though you really don't explain how. You want to help people by working in healthcare and the law because health is universal (basically you want to be a congressman).



You have a lot of potential for good material. My advice is to focus on your experiences in DC and how that impacted who you are. Trim the fat on your sentences: like your voice was telling you before your speech, make every word count. And lay off of the comma key.

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Calla Lily
Posts: 242
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:50 pm

Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby Calla Lily » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:59 pm

Passive voice: two classic examples in your first paragraph:

1. "I had labored for weeks ensuring that the choreography of my delivery matched the voice in my head; " -- make this: "I labored for weeks and ensured that the....."

2. " I finally got to employ some of the tactics of public speaking that I had picked up as an intern..."
-- make this: " I finally was able to employ useful tactics I learned during public speaking opportunities as an intern"



Actually, those are examples of the past perfect tense, not passive voice. The past perfect tense is used to differentiate times in the past, showing that something in the past occurred before something else in the past. In these cases, the usage is correct, since the OP is saying he "had labored" before he gave his speech and that he had previously "picked up" skills before later employing them.

A traditional example of the passive voice is something like this:

I was hit by the ball.

The active voice would be this:

The ball hit me.

An example of passive voice from the OP's essay is the following:

But when I applied to my institution, I was given free reign with my future.

An example of a rewrite of this sentence using active voice would be this:

But when I applied to my institution, my parents gave me free reign over my future.

The original sentence is an example of agentless passive voice, since we do not who gave the OP free reign. Although the construction is grammatically correct, writers tend to shun it stylistically for the most part.

shoop
Posts: 327
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:52 pm

Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby shoop » Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:03 pm

You realize this is 5 pages when correctly spaced and margin'ed, right?

FuturePrez
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2010 4:31 pm

Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby FuturePrez » Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:57 pm

czelede,

That has to be the BEST breakdown of my piss poor statement. It is good to see what this actually displays and by no means is it what I want to show!

People may think your breakdown was abrasive, but I am very appreciative of what you pulled out for me in my essay. I think my problem is I have TOO much that I can write about, and I think, for whatever reason, that it is all relevant or important...

THANKS

Also, shoop, what is correct spacing, margins etc...I thought it varied based on the institution...

More comments are appreciated, expect an update in the coming days.

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Anastasia Dee Dualla
Posts: 1165
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:03 am

Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby Anastasia Dee Dualla » Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:59 pm

You spelled Rayburn wrong. Just fyi.

FuturePrez
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2010 4:31 pm

Re: Feedback on my personal statement

Postby FuturePrez » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:00 pm

Already mentioned above, good looking out though :).




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