If you're into reviewing personal statements...

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Mce252
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If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby Mce252 » Mon Aug 16, 2010 7:29 pm

It's a rather personal topic. I figured I would never meet anyone on this website so it doesn't matter. If you have constructive feedback, please post.


Five years ago, I would have never thought that I would be grateful for the justice system in the United States of America. I was arrested by a Texas Ranger -- wearing a white Stetson with a cocked .45 caliber handgun -- during a final exam of my junior year of high school. This moment began what will most likely be the most positively defining period of my life. I believe that everybody is given a second chance somewhere along the way – if you are willing to do the work to get there. From this experience, I have not only become a man that my father is proud of; but also, a man that is passionate about a future career in the law.
I grew up as the youngest of four boys. We had great parents, a stable home, and all the resources we would ever need to be successful. Unfortunately, that was not enough to keep me from my first shot of vodka at the age of 13. Soon enough, it didn’t matter what or who was surrounding me; you just knew I was not going to be sober. By the age of 17, I still did not realize that my body was allergic to anything that affected the chemical balances in my brain. I was an alcoholic and had destroyed everything around me. Once I started, I could not stop and once I stopped, all I wanted to do was start again. There were many occasions as a young teenager when I disappeared for long enough to make my mother question whether I was still breathing. During one such instance, she called the authorities. Eventually I was arrested and charged with the class C misdemeanor of attempt to file a false report. If this was not enough, my emotional instability had led me to suicidal thoughts and what seemed to be a life destined for emptiness. Within weeks, I packed my bags and left for a treatment center in Woodland Hills, California called Sober College.
I made the decision that the only way I could ever keep myself alive was to find a source of peace outside of alcohol. I learned quickly that the whole point of rehabilitation from alcoholism is to teach you to follow the program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Within a short time, I dedicated my life to the principles of the twelve steps in AA. I had been sent to programs for help in the past but I had never actually wanted sobriety. I didn’t have a choice anymore: my future contained either sobriety or what would likely be the end of my life. In my first year without alcohol, I had to completely redefine my inner being and the desires of my heart. Through the personal admission of powerlessness; the discovery of endless character defects; a multitude of amendments to those affected by my iniquities; and my commitment to a spiritual way of life, I was able to gain freedom from the prison of alcoholism.
Despite difficult obstacles, I completed my senior year of high school in California through a distant education program at Texas Tech University. I earned my diploma, a semester ahead of my peers, from the Texas Tech University High School. Unsure about what would come after I left the treatment center, I applied to several universities. I had always used school as an opportunity to get away from the perplexing world outside of the classroom. This had allowed me to manage what most would call academic success. I was granted acceptance into several colleges; among them was Texas A&M: a good school and close to Houston, where my parents call home. If I wanted to maintain their hesitant willingness to help with tuition, this is where I would go.
In January of 2007, I enrolled in classes at Texas A&M University. I was accepted into the Mays Business School and would be pursuing a degree in management. I had never been able to take care of myself, much less pick an academic pursuit – business management sounded practical. I lived alone and spent the majority of my time making coffee at the Brazos Club, the location of most of the AA meetings in a rural area with mostly older members. My parents paid for me to attend an outpatient treatment program twice a week for several hours. Only six months sober, this was one of the many stipulations of my tuition support. There I was, riding my bicycle to AA meetings and La Hacienda, the local rehab. For the first time in my life, I was at peace.
On October 12, 2010, I will have been completely sober and abstinent for four years. I will never drink again and I become more excited about my future with every day that passes. My suffering has become a blessing. I persevere academically because I have ingrained it in myself that there is no other way. I treat those around me with respect and care because these things have made all the difference for me. I aspire to greatness because of the many close friends that have lost the battle to alcohol, heroin, cocaine, or whatever their poison may have been. My future is a constant amendment to those I can never repay and a tribute to those that will never get the opportunity to taste freedom. I have dedicated myself to Alcoholics Anonymous. There is now a meeting on-campus called AAgs that I founded for students struggling with the deadly disease of alcoholism. I serve as a general service representative (GSR) to District 33 of Alcoholics Anonymous in Brazos County. Many have asked me to sponsor (or go through the 12 steps) with them in AA, and I always remember that I was not supposed to be alive today. I will forever live with a purpose that propels my extreme discipline.
Today, my life is the epitome of a second chance. That second chance stems from a Texas Ranger. I have an endless drive to contribute to a justice system that helped me hit bottom and change my life. Whether it is law enforcement, prosecution, or representing the underprivileged, I know that my future lies in the law. With a law degree, I can apply my natural abilities in reasoning, writing, and leadership to a discipline that gives me the opportunity to help shape countless individuals’ lives.

DreamShake
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby DreamShake » Mon Aug 16, 2010 7:54 pm

I sort of skimmed (too much time on the computer today), but here are a few of my thoughts:

1) Delete the part about suicide. I know it's something that many people struggle with, but you do not want adcomms to know that you were ever, at any point, suicidal. This is every adcomms greatest fear: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/ ... d_suicide/
2) You need some evidence to back up your claims. While I do not doubt that staying sober requires extreme discipline, academic discipline is another matter that requires separate support; similarly, "what most would call academic success" made me wonder what success you're alluding to. Fullbright? 4.0 GPA throughout school? Academic publication? Your resume might provide some answers, but if you rely on it for context, make sure it's before your PS in your application.
3) Don't be disingenuous/melodramatic by saying that your second chance "stems from a Texas Ranger." It doesn't; by your own implicit admission, your second chance stemmed from a desire to take control of your life.

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ArchRoark
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby ArchRoark » Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:41 pm

I didn't really have time to read this, but I will surely read it later.

Wow, what are the chances that two people would be apping to lawschool the same cycle and both having had attended the same recovery center.

if you are interested, my PS is posted:
viewtopic.php?f=18&t=126984

GL with your cycle and I will post my advice if not later tonight, tomorrow.

I guess I can forgive you for being an Aggie.

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Montevillian
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby Montevillian » Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:02 pm

I really didn't like the first two paragraphs much at all. The first one I feel you could cut out entirely, since the useful information in it is brought up in a better way later, and the second paragraph needs to be rewritten- it doesn't make much sense and appears to cram way too much information and time into a very small section. You don't have to make it longer, but you do need to execute that paragraph more fluidly. As it is, it really doesn't make much sense.
The rest of the statement works a little bit better, but it still seems to suffer overall from the same problem as the second paragraph- too much information in too small a statement. You can cut a great deal out of this and still retain the message and strength of your experiences. I honestly don't care that you made coffee, rode your bike to AA meetings, or that you applied to several universities. Though I'm sure others may disagree, none of this seems remotely important to the story you're trying to tell.
I like the idea you're trying to get at, you just need to simplify the message a little bit more. If you haven't already, I might recommend starting with an outline of the statement, one sentence or less per paragraph, then fleshing it out from there. It may help remove some of the fluff and allow you to convey the statement more clearly.

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teaadntoast
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby teaadntoast » Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:23 pm

I think you have a good start here, but could stand to do some pretty significant revising and polishing.

My biggest concern is that the overall message of your story is overwhlemed by administrative details. Names of schools, locations, etc. are all on your transcripts - so no need to spend space on them here. I disagree with Montevillain in that I think the coffee and the bike ride are useful and important, insofar as they illustrate your point rather than explaining it. Saying you work the steps is one thing, describing what it's like to actually do it is something else and lends credence to the idea that you're not just paying lip service to the program.

What I mean is, I get the impression from your statement that you're trying to express how much it means to you to have a second chance and how intensely you feel the drive to accomplish something meaningful as a result. That sort of feeling might be best captured by a series of "snapshots" depciting moments of clarity when you realized that you had a problem. When you decided you would get help. Your first steps in becoming self-sufficient and free. Structuring the statment this way - as a series of vignettes - also allows you to use the Ranger more effectively. You open with a description of the arrest (?) , go through an illustrated timeline, then end by returning to him and thanking him and criminal justice system, etc.

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Mce252
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby Mce252 » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:08 pm

the second paragraph needs to be rewritten- it doesn't make much sense and appears to cram way too much information and time into a very small section.


Good feedback. I'll work on it.

I like the idea you're trying to get at, you just need to simplify the message a little bit more.


Thanks for the encouragement. I'm going to break everything down and probably use your outline idea.

That sort of feeling might be best captured by a series of "snapshots" depciting moments of clarity when you realized that you had a problem. When you decided you would get help. Your first steps in becoming self-sufficient and free. Structuring the statment this way - as a series of vignettes - also allows you to use the Ranger more effectively.


Great idea. Thanks a bunch for really thinking about this for me. The PS as you see it was produced after a short period of work. I'm sure with ideas like this, I will be able to come up with something much better.

CanadianWolf
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:19 pm

Although writing this essay was probably a healthy, cathartic exercise for you, it is equally likely to raise unwanted concern among its readers. Claiming that you will never drink again indicates a lack of maturity & shows that you are far from recovery.
If you choose to submit this writing as your personal statement, consider deleting the final paragraph.

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Mce252
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby Mce252 » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:41 pm

So recovery is the ability to drink normally? Sounds quite delusional when I have just admitted to being an alcoholic. Thanks for chiming in.

jarofsoup
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby jarofsoup » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:58 pm

Maybe begin with you being a representative at the meetings and college and talk more about how you have helped people.

It is a bit heavy and the intro catches your attention but doesnt really get followed up on. You have good topic just needs to be refined a lot to make sure it is the message you want.

Good luck!

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ArchRoark
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby ArchRoark » Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:18 pm

Ok - let me preface my advice with saying that this is just my opinion and that I am honestly bad at critiquing other peoples work.

Paragraph One - you drop in the gun incident then never really explain why you were carrying. Just realize that many schools this is a very sensitive subject (think Vtech) or they may be in states that aren't as "gun friendly" with their laws. As a fellow Texan, I was not put off by it but I can see how it could raise MANY red flags. Also, you end the paragraph with " a man my father could be proud of", which to me seems random... like was your father not proud of you before hand? Also- the suicidal sentence has to go or at the very least you need to give it WAY more room in your PS which I am not sure you have the room to do it. Casually dropping it in that "ohh I was suicidal" sets off red flags everywhere. What have you done to prevent that today? Was it tied to your alcoholism? etc etc

Paragraph Two - Odd start... it seems almost like journal style. Not sure how important it is to tell the reader that you are the youngest of four boys. I think you can get the message across in a more concise manner.

There were many occasions as a young teenager when I disappeared for long enough to make my mother question whether I was still breathing. During one such instance, she called the authorities. Eventually I was arrested and charged with the class C misdemeanor of attempt to file a false report.


I don;'t understand this. Your mom called the parents because you were missing... and then you go into getting arrested for a filing a false report. Perhaps some of this should be relegated to a criminal history addendum. If you are trying to paint the picture of the distraught past I think you consider focusing on one or two incidents. Painting the picture vividly then segway-ing to your recovery. You want to minimize the image of the reader has of your previous life and by the end of the essay have them overwhelmed by this new "recovered" you.

Paragraph Three -
I learned quickly that the whole point of rehabilitation from alcoholism is to teach you to follow the program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Within a short time, I dedicated my life to the principles of the twelve steps in AA.


From a fellow 12-stepper... I would have to disagree with the first sentence. The whole point imho of rehabilitation from alcoholism is to learn to enjoy living a sober lifestyle but to do that we suggest following triangle (unity, recovery -- basically the 12 steps, service). I am just splitting hairs though so feel free to ignore this advice. As a person that does the same thing, I think you "tell" too much and don't rely on "showing" the reader. How did you dedicate your life? What did you do? Paint a picture and that will go much father in the readers mind.

I had been sent to programs for help in the past but I had never actually wanted sobriety. I didn’t have a choice anymore


You always have a choice. Don't discount your own willingness to get sober. I think your the sentence that follows provides ample reasons on why you "wanted" sobreity now and what changed. Perhaps make this mindset change more clear i.e. I didn't want it because XYZ ---> now I do XYZ

Paragraph Three - There isn't a whole lot of meat in this paragraph. You should be able to cut it down significantly. I don't think the adcomms are interested in a play by play of your life.
This had allowed me to manage what most would call academic success.

Again, show don't tell.

Paragraph Four -
Only six months sober, this was one of the many stipulations of my tuition support.

This makes it sound like you are doing it just so you can stay in school.

There I was, riding my bicycle to AA meetings and La Hacienda, the local rehab. For the first time in my life, I was at peace.

Ample oppurtunity to explain, how you were at peace. What did the fellowship/LaHa offer to make your life different. Show, dont tell.

Paragraph Five -
I will never drink again
I am going to have to agree with CanadianWolf with this. All we have a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual fitness. Even if this is true, just saying doesn't hold much weight.
There is now a meeting on-campus called AAgs that I founded for students struggling with the deadly disease of alcoholism. I serve as a general service representative (GSR) to District 33 of Alcoholics Anonymous in Brazos County. Many have asked me to sponsor (or go through the 12 steps) with them in AA, and I always remember that I was not supposed to be alive today.


Expand on this significantly! This is the type of stuff I am talking about. It SHOWS you are recovered. It speaks a volumes in such a small space.


Paragraph Six -

Today, my life is the epitome of a second chance. That second chance stems from a Texas Ranger.

I don't think the second chance was from the Texas Ranger. Perhaps that was the catalyst that set the ball rolling but the second chance came from within you and your willingness to go to any lengths to stay sober. I still have no clue how the gun incident played any part in you getting sober. Was it court ordered AA at first? You have a bunch of untied strings. All in all I don't personally like the format where you name a date then describe it, it just doesn't flow or feel right to me. I would second the idea of just making an outline, sum of what you want to convey in each paragraph then expound upon it. Also, your "why law" sentences are imho a bit weak. Don't feel the obligation to tie it into law. If you do, make it more profound. Make it you.


Also, your PS as it stands now is close to three pages but the bright side is I see a lot that you can cut. Narrow your focus, think what do you want the reader to know about you.

I hope my advice is of some help.

CanadianWolf
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:24 pm

No, recovery is admitting your addiction & that you are highly susceptible to its temptations. If you don't realize that you are an alcohlic for life, then....

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Mce252
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby Mce252 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:01 pm

I tried to incorporate some of the proposed revisions. Please be frank.


I was arrested by a Texas Ranger – who was wearing a white Stetson with a cocked .45 caliber handgun – during a final exam of my junior year of high school. This moment began what will most likely be the most positively defining period of my life. My experience with the consequences of bad decisions – brought about by the established justice system – allowed for my second chance in life. Through this, I have not only become an asset to the society around me; but also, a man that is passionate about a future career in the law.

Alcohol had always been a problem. I took my first drink at the age of 13, and even then, I was unable to manage my consumption. Once I started, I could not stop and once I stopped, all I wanted to do was start again. By way of the behavior associated with my alcoholism, my enemies became numerous as my mental stability became rare. There were many occasions when I disappeared for long enough to cause concern for the many that loved me. During one such instance, the police were called in a frantic effort to get me home or – much worse – to find my body. Eventually I was arrested for wasting the time of the investigators by giving them false claims to explain my absence. The demoralization I experienced had led me to the bottom of a dark well; I was done drinking. I packed my bags and left for a treatment center to begin a long tumultuous journey to recovery.

I learned quickly that the solution to my extensive problem would be found within the program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Within a short time, I dedicated my life to the principles of the twelve steps in AA. I had been sent to programs for help in the past but this was the first time that I wanted sobriety. In my first year without alcohol, I had to completely redefine my inner being and the desires of my heart. While in treatment, I clearly recall the words from my father telling me, “You are not my son anymore.” At that moment, my emotional wall of self-protection eroded. I remember vividly the kind of crying that I hated for people to see and then I knew – the process had begun. Through the personal admission of powerlessness; the discovery of my endless character defects; a multitude of amendments to those affected by my iniquities; and my commitment to a spiritual way of life, I was able to gain freedom from the prison of alcoholism.

After finishing the rest of high school in treatment, through a distance education program, I enrolled in classes at Texas A&M University. I lived alone and spent the majority of my time making coffee at the Brazos Club, the location of most of the AA meetings in a rural area with mostly older members. To ensure my continued success, I also attended an outpatient treatment program twice a week for several hours. Only six months sober, I was willing to do anything to make sure I never regressed into my old self. There I was, riding my bicycle to AA meetings and La Hacienda, the local rehab. All of my life, I had been unsatisfied anything but dangerous thrills and being the center of everyone’s attention. In reality, I had no respect and I led a life of hopelessness. I never actually realized how much I had changed until I walked out from my college graduation and my father hugged me and whispered, “you are my son and I’m very proud of you.”

On October 12, 2010, I will have been completely sober and abstinent for four years. I become more excited about my future with every day that passes. My suffering has become a blessing. I persevere academically because I have a daily gratitude for the opportunity to learn. I treat those around me with respect and care because these things have made all the difference for me. I aspire to greatness because of the many close friends that have lost the battle to alcohol, heroin, cocaine, or whatever their poison may have been. My future is a constant amendment to those I can never repay and a tribute to those that will never get the opportunity to taste freedom. I have dedicated myself to Alcoholics Anonymous. There is now a meeting on-campus called AAgs that I founded for students struggling with the deadly disease of alcoholism. I serve as a general service representative (GSR) to District 33 of Alcoholics Anonymous in Brazos County. Many have asked me to sponsor (or go through the 12 steps) with them in AA, and I always remember that I was not supposed to be alive today. I will forever live with a purpose that propels my extreme discipline.

Today, my life is the epitome of a second chance. That second chance stems from a Texas Ranger and a justice system that gave me the suffering that I needed and deserved. I have developed a passion for the rule of law and the opportunity it provides to change, encourage, and award an individual. As I watch many close friends and members of AA go back into the life of drugs and alcohol, it gives me hope that I live within a legal system that exists to provide just consequences. These consequences could mark the beginning to their recovery. Whether it is law enforcement, prosecution, or representing the underprivileged, I know that my future lies within the law. With a law degree, I can apply my natural abilities in reasoning, writing, and leadership to a discipline that gives me the opportunity to help shape countless individuals’ lives.

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Mce252
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby Mce252 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:28 pm

Anyone with any major suggestions?

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teaadntoast
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby teaadntoast » Fri Aug 20, 2010 3:50 pm

I think this is a real improvement and a much more solid peice of writing. The overall flow of the essay is clearer, and I have a better idea of your personal trajectory from reading it.

If you plan to make further revisions, I'd focus on the fourth, fifth and sixth paragraphs. These could, I think be re-worked to better incororpate your theme of bad consequences leading to good things. Instead of just bookending the essay with this idea, perhaps you could bring it up somewhere in the middle? Like, "I realized that I was happier in place X, and that I would never have experienced such a feeling had I not been forced to face the consequences of my actions." The bit about your graduation might be a good place to insert something along those lines.

I might also make your final paragraph more particular, as you run the risk of seeming a touch too general. Some people might also wonder why you chose the practice of law rather than its enforcement, and it would porbably be a good move to clarify.

JJDancer
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby JJDancer » Sat Aug 21, 2010 7:54 pm

To be honest I just skimmed but seems like a powerful topic.
First paragraph should be cut or thoroughly clarified and focused.

jarofsoup
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Re: If you're into reviewing personal statements...

Postby jarofsoup » Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:24 pm

I think you could work on the intro:

The texas ranger part could be moved.

Start with "alki has always been a problem for me" your arrest is the climax of the statment leading to your recovery.

It is very good I think you just need to mess with the order of the story and not start with the texas ranger.




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