Getting a jump start on applications - critique final ps?

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monkeyhead817
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Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:17 pm

Getting a jump start on applications - critique final ps?

Postby monkeyhead817 » Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:58 pm

I've posted this PS on here before and am looking for some final revisions. I'm particularly worried about the transition in the third paragraph and the final paragraph. Any help is much appreciated!


Twelve months ago, I sat wedged between a Syrian gentleman to my left and a suspicious wanderer to my right. Our overcrowded van cruised at inadvisable speeds along the Euphrates in eastern Syria. The stench was bad, but my worry that the van would fall apart distracted me. The driver held a begrudging respect for me – a respect that I had earned after fifteen minutes of animated debate over what he would charge me to ride in his rickety transportation. The men in the front spoke to me with lively gestures and broken English, while the women sat silently in back. Over the previous two months of traveling through the Middle East, I had grown to love my conversations with these welcoming people, even if hands were a far better form of communication than words.

As I developed my usual rapport with the other passengers, the tone of the conversation abruptly changed. The suddenly outspoken man to my right pointed at me and exclaimed about the “Qur’an,” “America” and “Allah.” As the elderly gentleman to my left leaned over my lap and shouted furiously at the man, I realized that I was caught in the midst of a cultural feud. As the van erupted in argument, I combed their words for any indication of what was happening, but before I could discern the intentions of the frantic man, he signaled to the driver that the parched and unending desert to our right was his destination. Once he left, the man sitting in the front, almost embarrassed, turned to me and said in a heavy Syrian accent, “He’s crazy.” To my surprise, the van was on my side.

I later realized that the cultural hostilities in that battered van demonstrate the need for legal mediation to facilitate disputes. Quarrels like these are perpetuated by a lack of legal consistency between authorities and the people, where power too often presides over reason. People in Syria often fear the police not for their execution of the law, but for their ability to distort it without repercussion. This danger is extremely real, as I saw the Syrian military police threaten a man for asking them to pay for entrance into an archaeological site. They got in for free. Spending time in a society that does not assume a fair application of the law made me value a society that does.

My experiences during my travels, however, contribute only a portion of my desire to study the law. I majored in philosophy at Xavier University, which led me to an unconventional study abroad program in Rome. Rather than follow the blueprint of typical overseas study, where students live in an American subculture within a foreign country, I directly transferred to the Pontificia Università San Tommaso d’Aquino, one of Italy’s most respected institutions. After dealing with becoming a temporary citizen, finding an apartment, obtaining a visa and countless other notarized documents, I quickly realized the convenience of studying through an established program. Although endless streams of red tape convoluted seemingly simple tasks, the academic rewards for studying abroad independently were enormous.

Here my passion for philosophy and foreign languages culminated in graduate-level coursework conducted in Italian. The youngest in my classes by at least five years and the only English speaker, I immersed myself in a highly competitive intellectual environment where I was expected to produce exceptional work in a foreign language. Although taking oral exams on the philosophy of Aquinas with only two years of college courses in Italian was daunting, it forced me to scrupulously understand an argument and its parts. Furthermore, by working in a foreign language in an unfamiliar environment, I grew accustomed to performing well in uncomfortable situations. Because law is a profession that values performing well under demanding conditions, I believe these skills will be indispensable in my legal studies.

My background in philosophy and foreign cultures provides me a solid foundation to confront the challenges of law school. After experiencing the need for arbiters of the law in the Middle East and studying with great philosophical minds in Rome, I am convinced that law is the best use of my talents and experience. The need for rationality is not isolated to an overcrowded van in eastern Syria. With a background in philosophy, a legal education and a significant exposure to foreign cultures in hand, I hope to be able to contribute to a fair application of the law.

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maroonzoon
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Re: Getting a jump start on applications - critique final ps?

Postby maroonzoon » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:44 am

You have good material to work with, but the presentation isn't all there. You're just telling me stuff. Somewhere in there, you should show the reader what you mean. e.g., instead of "I immersed myself in a highly competitive intellectual environment," pull the reader into your shoes with some example, details, etc. like you did with the bus. Also, the whole bus fiasco should illustrate something about you and how you think in that situation. All I get from it is you sitting there like a bump on a log, and somehow you loosely connect it to a higher calling/need for understanding in international law. From a bus argument! That could also be a calling for diplomacy, politics, sociology, etc. If you're going to mention the law, make it specific to the law.

"I am convinced that law is the best use of my talents and experience." To me, that says "I'm a tool, and it looks like law is the best use of me." I can play piano almost at the professional level, but that doesn't mean it's what I want to do. Read your whole essay sarcastically, try to make fun of it in your head, and that will give you a worst case scenario of how an adcomm with 5000 essays might think of it.

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Relientkate
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Re: Getting a jump start on applications - critique final ps?

Postby Relientkate » Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:40 am

Once he left, the man sitting in the front, almost embarrassed, turned to me and said in a heavy Syrian accent, “He’s crazy.” To my surprise, the van was on my side.
On your side? Your account of events make it sound like your presence was simply at a catalyst for this exchange, and that you were not involved in the debate. My interpretation of your account, and please correct me if I'm wrong, was that the other passengers were arguing, and that you weren't actually involved in the "debate."

I later realized that the cultural hostilities in that battered van demonstrate the need for legal mediation to facilitate disputes.
I think you need more here. You jump from a debate in a van to the necessity for legal mediation? How would legal mediation have helped this situation?

Quarrels like these are perpetuated by a lack of legal consistency between authorities and the people, where power too often presides over reason.
How? The only substance you attributed to the debate were general "buzzwords." If you're going to make this argument, you need to provide more substance from the conversation so that you can illustrate this claim.

People in Syria often fear the police not for their execution of the law, but for their ability to distort it without repercussion. This danger is extremely real, as I saw the Syrian military police threaten a man for asking them to pay for entrance into an archaeological site. They got in for free. Spending time in a society that does not assume a fair application of the law made me value a society that does.
While this is a valuable perspective, this is a huge leap from the scenario you introduced in your personal statement. So far, it sounds like you're just trying to posting.php?mode=quote&f=18&p=3376176#impress the adcomms with your perception of the culture without a logical flow or order.

After dealing with becoming a temporary citizen, finding an apartment, obtaining a visa and countless other notarized documents, I quickly realized the convenience of studying through an established program.
I don't understand what this statement adds to your personal statement.

Although endless streams of red tape convoluted seemingly simple tasks, the academic rewards for studying abroad independently were enormous.
Okay, the rewards are enormous, but how did that experience make you a better candidate for law school? What did your success in this academic environment contribute to your ability to study law?

Here my passion for philosophy and foreign languages culminated in graduate-level coursework conducted in Italian. The youngest in my classes by at least five years and the only English speaker, I immersed myself in a highly competitive intellectual environment where I was expected to produce exceptional work in a foreign language. Although taking oral exams on the philosophy of Aquinas with only two years of college courses in Italian was daunting, it forced me to scrupulously understand an argument and its parts.
Good. This reveals more about your unique abilities and qualities that would make you a good law student.

The need for rationality is not isolated to an overcrowded van in eastern Syria.
Your remedy for the overcrowded van dispute was legal mediation, not rationality... I think there's a big difference.

I didn't edit for concise language or word choice. When you re-draft, I'd be happy to look over it again. Best of luck.

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legalease9
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Re: Getting a jump start on applications - critique final ps?

Postby legalease9 » Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:04 am

I want to hear more about Syria, and less about Italy.

For the record, I really like Italy! But your study abroad story just isn't as interesting as the Syria one. It also isn't connected directly to your desire to practice law like your Syria story is. Yet your Syria story doesn't go into enough detail. I want to know more about your experiences in Syria that made you know the importance of rule of law.

So basically, scrap everything other than Syria. Make your PS about...

A. your Syria experience.

and

B. Why this experience makes you want to practice law.

If you explain both well enough, you will have more than enough words for your whole P.S.




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