PS Help!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
granger
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:35 pm

PS Help!

Postby granger » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:48 pm

Would really appreciate any feedback, harsh as it may be!

My story starts with a black Lincoln parked by a dumpster in between the two sides of Jumano Court in (removed location). Every afternoon, my friends and I would play wall-ball on the lawn behind this dumpster, uninterrupted until a fight broke out or someone was called in for dinner. That car, though. What was it doing there? Why was the man sitting in it, doing nothing? Why, when we made eye contact with him, did he ignore us? Several times someone was dared to approach the car but ultimately cowered.
Around 6:30 that night, my sister and mother left to get my father from the bus stop. The officer in the black Lincoln followed them and arrested my father at the bus stop.
Within a year, my parents filed for bankruptcy and eventually divorced; my father was sentenced to ten months in prison for misappropriation of funds; and we moved to a new state, forced by debt to sell our home.
Perhaps I should have been angry -- angry at a set of cousins who no longer spoke to my family; angry at the second cousin who, at the closing of the sale of our house on Jumano Court, ignored my sister and me for three hours; or angry at the girl who announced to my history class that she knew my dad was imprisoned.
But my parents kept me from feeling isolated or depressed, and in doing so, they helped subdue any grudges I might have otherwise held. My mom, sisters, and I would wait for my father's hilarious nightly phone calls (despite divorce, my parents remain very close friends). We went to Knicks games and concerts together. We cooked together, experimenting with new meals every Friday.
For a while though, I thought I had a difficult childhood, as if what happened to my family was a badge of toughness I wore. When friends had their own problems, I learned that whatever experiences I believed had hardened me had instead sensitized me to the problems of others.
I was a freshman in college when my friend X, who had moved from Peru at age nine, told me that his father had given away thousands of dollars to an immigration attorney who never even filed an application for renewed status. His father, afraid of deportation, did not want to talk with the police.
Weeks later, Y, another close friend, came to me in tears; his mother had unexpectedly decided to divorce his father.
Both came to me because of what my family had been through. I told them about how much love my parents gave me, how lucky I was to have my friends, how the process seemed a lot scarier than it actually was, but I felt like an impostor. Their fear was so genuine, and my words were so generic.
But I cared, and I did everything I could to help my friends. I asked my mom, an immigration attorney, to give Y advice on how to earn legal status. I told Y about how close my family became, and he has told me several times that he and his brother became much closer by being there for each other through their parents’ divorce.
My advice was really just a retelling of how lucky I was to have such a close and loyal family. In talking to my friends, though, I realized how much it helps to hear from someone with similar experience.
I am aware of how integral the legal system has been to my upbringing. It was there at the low points: the closing of our New York home, filing for bankruptcy, and my father's prison sentence. Yet it has also been there for my mother, who went to law school when my father encountered financial trouble and in eight years became a partner at her law firm. And it is there as she helps one of my closest friends gain legal status in America. I will arrive at law school next fall with appreciation of and respect for the legal system, and with a desire to use it to help. I understand that lawyers are not friends who confide in each other during difficult times. However, I have seen firsthand that an immigration attorney can provide the same sense of hope and security that my mother provided for my family. And I have seen the room for compassion and forgiveness the law provide; although agreed to serve sixteen months in prison, the presiding judge, seeing my father's remorse, sentenced him to just ten. I will bring to law school compassion and sensitivity with the hope of using the law to help others, whether through an amicable divorce, an application for legal status, or a fight to protect civil rights for all citizens. I know how important it is to provide a sense of security, support, and optimism in times of despair.



OR



Put together an alternate version. Differs from the original in the extent it discusses my parents. I thought discussing their level of care would add tighten the theme and connect my story with theirs a little bit more. I struggled with this one a bit, and if it's not worth the changes I can just scrap it.

My story starts with a man parked inside a black Lincoln parked by a dumpster between the two sides of Jumano Court in Suffern, New York. Every afternoon, my friends and I would play ball on the lawn behind this dumpster. One such afternoon, the man in the car showed up. We were enthralled by his presence. He ignored us. Several times someone was dared to approach the car and cowered.
That night, when my mother left to pick up my father, the officer in the black Lincoln followed them and arrested my father at the bus stop.
My father and his law partner had taken money from a synagogue's escrow account with the intention of helping a client display funds. They planned to immediately return the money, but the client, a con man, robbed them of the money at gunpoint. My father returned the funds in full before the synagogue knew they were withdrawn.
Within a year, my parents filed for bankruptcy and eventually divorced, and my father was sentenced to ten months in prison for misappropriation of funds.
Friends told me they could no longer speak to me. Kids in my classes would announce that they heard my father was arrested. Already selling our home, my mom decided it was best if we changed towns. At the closing of our home, a second cousin, in attendance as a creditor, sat outside across from me and my sister and ignored us.
All along, my parents kept me from feeling isolated or depressed. My mother was an incredible friend to me and my sisters. We knew nobody but each other in Connecticut. My mom, sisters, and I would wait for my father's hilarious nightly phone calls (despite divorce, my parents remain very close friends). We went to Knicks games and concerts together. We cooked together, experimenting with new meals every Friday.
My father, even from prison, was a great parent and friend to me throughout his ordeal. Today, we can talk obsessively about music or the Mets, but we can easily transition to discussing his past. He has spoken to me many times about how ashamed and embarrassed he was to have, he thought, ruined his name and his family out of greed. As recently as this August, he and I talked about what was morally and legally wrong with what he did. We talked about temptation, about the importance of honesty, doing things the right way, and respecting what is not yours. I admire the level of earnestness and care my father continues to show in making it a priority for me to learn from his mistakes.
When friends had their own problems, I learned that the experiences of my childhood -- both the adversity and the love my parents showed me throughout -- had sensitized me to the problems of others. I found myself wanting to help like my parents helped me - to take an honest interest and to say the right things to help lighten the burden of fear.
I was a freshman in college when my friend X told me that his father had given away thousands of dollars to an immigration attorney who never even filed an application for renewed status. His father, afraid of deportation, did not want to talk with the police.
Weeks later, Y, another close friend, came to me in tears; his mother had unexpectedly decided to divorce his father.
Both came to me because of what my family had been through. I told them about how much love my parents gave me, how lucky I was to have my friends, how the process seemed a lot scarier than it actually was, but I felt like an impostor. Their fear was so genuine, and my words were so generic.
But I cared, and I did everything I could to help my friends. I asked my mom, an immigration attorney, to give X advice on how to earn legal status. I told Y about how close my family became, and he has told me several times that he and his brother became much closer by being there for each other through their parents’ divorce.
In talking to my friends, I realized how much it helps to hear from someone with similar experience. I understand that lawyers are not friends who confide in each other during difficult times. However, I have seen firsthand that an immigration attorney can provide the same sense of hope and security that my mother provided for my family. And I have seen the room for compassion and forgiveness the law provide; although agreed to serve sixteen months in prison, the presiding judge, seeing my father's remorse, sentenced him to just ten. I will bring to law school compassion and sensitivity with the hope of using the law to help others, whether through an amicable divorce, an application for legal status, or a fight to protect civil rights for all citizens. I know how important it is to provide a sense of security, support, and optimism in times of despair.
Last edited by granger on Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: PS Help!

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:28 pm

The writing is okay, the message effective.

granger
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:35 pm

Re: PS Help!

Postby granger » Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:45 pm

Alright, thanks.

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moopness
Posts: 310
Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:56 pm

Re: PS Help!

Postby moopness » Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:21 pm

The writing needs some work, particularly the opening paragraph. You introduce so many new things that it becomes distracting. It's also unclear whether the car was always next to the dumpster or if it was just a one time thing.
I wouldn't just introduce things as assumption, that is, saying things like "Why was the man sitting in it, doing nothing?" force the reader to think "Oh, ok, there's a man in the car." I would clarify from the start, "There was a man in the car."
Er... I'm not sure if that was clear, so let me use an example.
[Assuming the car was parked there just the one time]
Every afternoon, my friends and I would play wall-ball [or just ball] behind the dumpster at Jumano Court. That was our spot: whether we played or fought, we always returned the next day. But one fateful afternoon, we had a guest. A black Lincoln sedan parked next to the dumpster was conspicuous enough, but the man sitting patiently inside ensured our attention. His attention, however, we could not get in return, despite our numerous attempts. He reacted only when my mother and sister left to pickup my father. He followed them and arrested my father.

It's rough but it illustrates my point. You save a lot of space (123 words -> 94), and it adds a stronger visual element to your piece (not sure if that's what you're going for). So just reread it and concentrate on word economy. I think the idea behind your piece is great, but since it's based on using the law to help others, I would concentrate a lot more on the problem your friend had. That is, go more in depth how your past makes you more sympathetic, how you felt that during your friends tribulations, and how you felt with the law being able to help him.

Just my $0.02

granger
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:35 pm

Re: PS Help!

Postby granger » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:59 am

Put together an alternate version. Differs from the original in the extent it discusses my parents. I thought discussing their level of care would add tighten the theme and connect my story with theirs a little bit more. I struggled with this one a bit, and if it's not worth the changes I can just scrap it.

My story starts with a man parked inside a black Lincoln parked by a dumpster between the two sides of Jumano Court in Suffern, New York. Every afternoon, my friends and I would play ball on the lawn behind this dumpster. One such afternoon, the man in the car showed up. We were enthralled by his presence. He ignored us. Several times someone was dared to approach the car and cowered.
That night, when my mother left to pick up my father, the officer in the black Lincoln followed them and arrested my father at the bus stop.
My father and his law partner had taken money from a synagogue's escrow account with the intention of helping a client display funds. They planned to immediately return the money, but the client, a con man, robbed them of the money at gunpoint. My father returned the funds in full before the synagogue knew they were withdrawn.
Within a year, my parents filed for bankruptcy and eventually divorced, and my father was sentenced to ten months in prison for misappropriation of funds.
Friends told me they could no longer speak to me. Kids in my classes would announce that they heard my father was arrested. Already selling our home, my mom decided it was best if we changed towns. At the closing of our home, a second cousin, in attendance as a creditor, sat outside across from me and my sister and ignored us.
All along, my parents kept me from feeling isolated or depressed. My mother was an incredible friend to me and my sisters. We knew nobody but each other in Connecticut. My mom, sisters, and I would wait for my father's hilarious nightly phone calls (despite divorce, my parents remain very close friends). We went to Knicks games and concerts together. We cooked together, experimenting with new meals every Friday.
My father, even from prison, was a great parent and friend to me throughout his ordeal. Today, we can talk obsessively about music or the Mets, but we can easily transition to discussing his past. He has spoken to me many times about how ashamed and embarrassed he was to have, he thought, ruined his name and his family out of greed. As recently as this August, he and I talked about what was morally and legally wrong with what he did. We talked about temptation, about the importance of honesty, doing things the right way, and respecting what is not yours. I admire the level of earnestness and care my father continues to show in making it a priority for me to learn from his mistakes.
When friends had their own problems, I learned that the experiences of my childhood -- both the adversity and the love my parents showed me throughout -- had sensitized me to the problems of others. I found myself wanting to help like my parents helped me - to take an honest interest and to say the right things to help lighten the burden of fear.
I was a freshman in college when my friend X told me that his father had given away thousands of dollars to an immigration attorney who never even filed an application for renewed status. His father, afraid of deportation, did not want to talk with the police.
Weeks later, Y, another close friend, came to me in tears; his mother had unexpectedly decided to divorce his father.
Both came to me because of what my family had been through. I told them about how much love my parents gave me, how lucky I was to have my friends, how the process seemed a lot scarier than it actually was, but I felt like an impostor. Their fear was so genuine, and my words were so generic.
But I cared, and I did everything I could to help my friends. I asked my mom, an immigration attorney, to give X advice on how to earn legal status. I told Y about how close my family became, and he has told me several times that he and his brother became much closer by being there for each other through their parents’ divorce.
In talking to my friends, I realized how much it helps to hear from someone with similar experience. I understand that lawyers are not friends who confide in each other during difficult times. However, I have seen firsthand that an immigration attorney can provide the same sense of hope and security that my mother provided for my family. And I have seen the room for compassion and forgiveness the law provide; although agreed to serve sixteen months in prison, the presiding judge, seeing my father's remorse, sentenced him to just ten. I will bring to law school compassion and sensitivity with the hope of using the law to help others, whether through an amicable divorce, an application for legal status, or a fight to protect civil rights for all citizens. I know how important it is to provide a sense of security, support, and optimism in times of despair.

granger
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:35 pm

Re: PS Help!

Postby granger » Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:58 am

Bump. Would really appreciate anyone telling me which version they prefer.

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egilb
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Re: PS Help!

Postby egilb » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:54 am

I like the first one better. I do think it could use some work in terms of structure and grammar--your sentences are very busy and many are difficult to follow. Maybe some work on organization. But other than some editing, I think the charm of this PS is in its simplicity, and I think the message is effective as well.

granger
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:35 pm

Re: PS Help!

Postby granger » Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:08 am

egilb wrote:I like the first one better. I do think it could use some work in terms of structure and grammar--your sentences are very busy and many are difficult to follow. Maybe some work on organization. But other than some editing, I think the charm of this PS is in its simplicity, and I think the message is effective as well.



ok, thanks. i tend to throw one clause too many in my sentences, which is a pretty bad habit.

with the 2nd one, i was trying to strengthen the theme by providing details about my father's arrest & actions thereafter. thought it might give more insight to why/how i showed care for others. do you think the PS at all benefits from that?

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2807
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Re: PS Help!

Postby 2807 » Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:31 am

They both are a work in progress. Here is my advice: Focus.

Start with this sentence (it is great, and can be half of the theme you convey): "I admire the level of earnestness and care my father continues to show in making it a priority for me to learn from his mistakes".... I recall a black Lincoln ominously parked near the area we we played ball..... Little did I know what life changing events were about to unfold.. What could have crushed my family eventually served to define my goals, integrity, and drive. Never missing a teaching moment, my parents collectively turned a devastating event into a pivotal lesson and I am a better person for it....

Now, run with that concept. It is what you are saying. I just wrapped it up for you in a few strong decalrative sentences.

Less is more.

Good job, you have the right concept and story. Now refine that sucker!

And, do not refer to the "man" in the car a few times, and then change to "officer." That was odd. Call him one or the other... or remove that part to free up room for better stuff about what an awesome family and law student are headed their way !

Dig it.

granger
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:35 pm

Re: PS Help!

Postby granger » Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:49 am

2807 wrote:They both are a work in progress. Here is my advice: Focus.

Start with this sentence (it is great, and can be half of the theme you convey): "I admire the level of earnestness and care my father continues to show in making it a priority for me to learn from his mistakes".... I recall a black Lincoln ominously parked near the area we we played ball..... Little did I know what life changing events were about to unfold.. What could have crushed my family eventually served to define my goals, integrity, and drive. Never missing a teaching moment, my parents collectively turned a devastating event into a pivotal lesson and I am a better person for it....

Now, run with that concept. It is what you are saying. I just wrapped it up for you in a few strong decalrative sentences.

Less is more.

Good job, you have the right concept and story. Now refine that sucker!

And, do not refer to the "man" in the car a few times, and then change to "officer." That was odd. Call him one or the other... or remove that part to free up room for better stuff about what an awesome family and law student are headed their way !

Dig it.


thanks. i think you can tell how helpful you were, so it's really appreciated. also, i like the positivity!

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2807
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:23 pm

Re: PS Help!

Postby 2807 » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:25 am

Cool! Hahah I just re-read and saw that I wrote "we we". Nice. Do not put we we in your PS, or your cheerios.

Also, re-write the first sentence so that you do not lead off with a passive voice. Make it say, "I admire the level of earnestness and care my father shows in making it a priority for me to learn from his mistakes".

Much better, stronger, and direct.

You can PM me if you wanna keep playing.

Cya




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