Big Family PS

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
vcuneo1
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:53 am

Big Family PS

Postby vcuneo1 » Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:01 am

My mother’s eyes rolled as she let out a sigh. I continued to protest. Sitting with my parents in the family room of our bustling home, we intensely debated the future of my education. For a short moment, the raging emotions and heated conversation almost allowed us to block out the surrounding commotion of my nine other siblings. A screeching high-pitched scream from my six-month old sister in her bouncy seat across the room directed us away from our discussion and back to reality. Upstairs, a crying wail let out from my pre-teen sister as she screamed from the banister overlooking the family room, “she stole my curling iron”. We all felt the vibration from the “thump” that hit the wall. Must have been the curling iron. Meanwhile, scampering feet ran through the kitchen and out the backdoor to the woods behind our home, as my school-aged brothers, decked out in replica medieval era armor, engaged in what appeared to be a reenactment of a Crusade from the Middle Ages. As the second oldest of ten children, this loud chaos was so familiar it had almost become calming.
Our conversation continued, as if the distractions did not exist. At fifteen, I was convinced I could succeed in a dual enrollment program at a nearby college. Far from sharing such confidence, my mother gave a list of sensible reasons that I was not ready for this endeavor; including the fact that I had not started the geometry portion of my math curriculum, and was too young to obtain a driver’s license to commute to the school. Eventually, my parents agreed that I could at least take the SAT and attempt to receive acceptance. A deep sense of determination, embedded in a fear of failure, rushed through my body and landed in my turning stomach. I was adamant to give everything I had to SAT preparation during the next six weeks leading up to the test. Walking away, I heard my mother’s ambivalent voice “I don’t think you’ll be able to do it”. Nothing could have made me more determined.
I ate, slept, and breathed the SAT for the next few weeks. Despite my best efforts, the returned score was ten paltry points lower then the score required for admissions. Defeated, I was certain my chances at attending college that term were over. An admissions officer informed me of one final internally proctored ACT. I was predisposed to give and up and avoid the turmoil of test preparation. It that moment, my mother became my biggest advocate and motivator. She challenged me to not loose my resolve, and try just one more time. Because of her newfound support, I took the exam, scored several points higher then needed, and became the youngest student to ever attend my college. My mother has since been my most faithful advisor.
It was not until I went to college that I became fully aware how much my family has shaped me. Being part of a large family is not a life I choose, but one that was chosen for me. To be honest, I probably would not have chosen it if given the choice. However, I am shockingly aware that nothing could have better prepared me for life. Years of pointing, starring, and not- so-quiet mumbling, every time my family went out in public together taught me self-confidence and the bliss of being unconcerned with the opinion of others. My parents, although actively involved in my life, were not able to hold my hand through the baby steps of every newfound responsibility and challenge of adult life. Tragic as this may appear, I am very thankful for it today. They supported and guided me, but never did my work for me. This almost forced independence. Such self-determination, leadership, and responsibility have become the blueprint for the rest of my life.
People often ask me why I have put so much effort in accelerating my education. The biographies and essays on great men and women of history have always baffled me. As I have learned about their lives, I have found a common variable: they utilize their adolescent years. Instead of deferring responsibility or waiting until their early thirties to crack down on the hard work of achieving their goals, men like George Washington and women like Clara Barton willingly took on difficult challenges and accepted responsibility generally reserved for people twice their age. Previously, I had written off many of history’s heroes and heroines as overachieving geniuses who led unattainable lives. Humbled, I discovered that their success was more due to the character and competence they dutifully built as young adults.
I aspire to follow the example of such men and women. Resolving to never defer my dreams for the future, but rather to aggressively pursue them in these potential-rich years, I strive to make my young adult years the launching pad for the rest of my life. Such a mindset led me to attend college at fifteen, graduate highschool at sixteen, and ultimately, to apply to law school at eighteen.



Tear it to pieces

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

Re: Big Family PS

Postby shoop » Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:33 am

Sorry, but this is a disjointed piece of crap. I'm from a big family, too, and was really hoping to at LEAST see numbers (six? seven? eight kids? what?) and get an idea of what people tend to think is a family size notable enough to write about. Instead, I got a paragraph about an indeterminate number of kids making racket while the writer and her mom talk about her not being ready for college (and, to be honest, I'd say THIS WRITING ITSELF isn't really ready for college, much less law school). I think applying to law school at 18 is a disadvantage as it is, and you'd be better off writing about something else... preferably something about which you have coherent thoughts.

Nitpicks:

Starring --> staring

Don't use the word "tragic." Rushing into something you're not ready for isn't tragic, just tragically stupid.

Your GW and Clara Barton references? Shit was a lot different 250/150 years ago, dude. You going to community college at 15 is by no stretch of the imagination analogous to a 15-year-old GW being apprenticed to a land surveyor. The average lifespan was 40-50 years back then... of COURSE people didn't dick around getting their educations until they were 25.

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El_Gallo
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Re: Big Family PS

Postby El_Gallo » Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:51 am

shoop wrote: I'm from a big family, too, and was really hoping to at LEAST see numbers (six? seven? eight kids? what?) and get an idea of what people tend to think is a family size notable enough to write about.


He said there are 10 kids.

I thought it was pretty good. I liked how it was down to earth and didn't try to exaggerate some small life trial and turn it into a huge crisis like many TLSers' PS seem to do. I agree with the previous poster that perhaps you could make it flow a little better, but I cant point out any specifics on how to do that.

Good job and good luck!

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saito816
Posts: 118
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Re: Big Family PS

Postby saito816 » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:09 am

shoop wrote:Sorry, but this is a disjointed piece of crap. I'm from a big family, too, and was really hoping to at LEAST see numbers (six? seven? eight kids? what?) and get an idea of what people tend to think is a family size notable enough to write about. Instead, I got a paragraph about an indeterminate number of kids making racket while the writer and her mom talk about her not being ready for college (and, to be honest, I'd say THIS WRITING ITSELF isn't really ready for college, much less law school). I think applying to law school at 18 is a disadvantage as it is, and you'd be better off writing about something else... preferably something about which you have coherent thoughts.

Nitpicks:

Starring --> staring

Don't use the word "tragic." Rushing into something you're not ready for isn't tragic, just tragically stupid.

Your GW and Clara Barton references? Shit was a lot different 250/150 years ago, dude. You going to community college at 15 is by no stretch of the imagination analogous to a 15-year-old GW being apprenticed to a land surveyor. The average lifespan was 40-50 years back then... of COURSE people didn't dick around getting their educations until they were 25.


I feel this was a bit harsh. OP does mention 9 siblings in the first paragraph. (Unless it's been edited since that, in which case... my bad). That being said, the first paragraph does not really add anything to the overall PS. I'm not really sure about the direction of the PS either. I mean on the one hand it's somewhat impressive that you went to a community college at 15, but on the other hand, depending on the community college it may not really have been much, if any harder than high school.
You do seem to have determination, but honestly you need to focus more on maturity. Do you have any Softs that would display this? If I was an Adcom, I would be concerned about admitting an 18 year old, because I know from my own personal experience, much of my personal growth has come since I was 18. I did not have nearly the maturity at 18 that I possess now, and based on your PS I did not get a sense of your maturity level. You come from a large family, maybe you could talk about how that led you to have to take on a lot of responsibility for your younger siblings? I graduated high school early, but I took a year off to work and develop myself before college. You might want to consider doing the same. Try holding down a full time job, or doing volunteer work, and in a year you can talk about how much you grew as a person and feel that you are now ready for law school. This is just my opinion, and you can take it or leave it.

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

Re: Big Family PS

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:22 am

My opinion is quite different than those offered by the above posters. Very well written. Flows easily & naturally. Nothing in your writing, either content or style, indicates that you are too young to study law; maturity evaluations are most likely addressed in your recommendations.
Many law schools are likely to suggest working for a year or two prior to entry, however.

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NayBoer
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Re: Big Family PS

Postby NayBoer » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:42 am

loose --> lose
then --> than
You use "newfound" twice close together in the essay.

I think the big family angle isn't a bad one, but it doesn't go anywhere. You introduce it in the beginning as an obstacle, and then as a valuable life experience, but I can't tell where it's headed. Is your personal statement about your big family, going to school young, your ambition - what? I'm just not sure what the main argument is. Also, your mother goes from detractor to supporter very quickly without much explanation. Your inspiration for pursuing higher education young feels awkward to me. There doesn't seem to be any connection between your historical heroes and the rest of your essay. It feels contrived, like you're making a last-ditch effort to explain why you were in such a rush to graduate high school and go to college. If you could find some way to link your desire to go to college early to your big family--and I don't have many concrete ideas on how to do this, to be honest--the essay would be stronger and more cohesive.

Your writing is good and beyond your years, I think, but just need to reflect on what points you're trying to convey. It's all over the map right now, but there's good stuff in there.

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esq
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Re: Big Family PS

Postby esq » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:03 pm

I agree with what has been said. The writing is interesting, it kept me reading, but it never really had any direction. When you get to your inspirational heroes, you lose me. It seems like an over-the-top grab at a reason to accelerate your education, and if you are waking up and thinking about how far ahead of you GW was at 18 to motivate yourself, then that's kind of creepy. BTW, you might talk about the service experiences that you have gained as a member of your church, no doubt you are a Mormon - and they do quite a bit of charitable work.

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

Re: Big Family PS

Postby shoop » Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:23 pm

El_Gallo wrote:
shoop wrote: I'm from a big family, too, and was really hoping to at LEAST see numbers (six? seven? eight kids? what?) and get an idea of what people tend to think is a family size notable enough to write about.


He said there are 10 kids.

I thought it was pretty good. I liked how it was down to earth and didn't try to exaggerate some small life trial and turn it into a huge crisis like many TLSers' PS seem to do. I agree with the previous poster that perhaps you could make it flow a little better, but I cant point out any specifics on how to do that.

Good job and good luck!


Ah, now I see it. Must have sort of skimmed over the end of the first paragraph once I realized it was just a narrative of a bunch of children making noise.

esq wrote:I agree with what has been said. The writing is interesting, it kept me reading, but it never really had any direction. When you get to your inspirational heroes, you lose me. It seems like an over-the-top grab at a reason to accelerate your education, and if you are waking up and thinking about how far ahead of you GW was at 18 to motivate yourself, then that's kind of creepy. BTW, you might talk about the service experiences that you have gained as a member of your church, no doubt you are a Mormon - and they do quite a bit of charitable work.


It could be the Catholics, too. No service requirement there.

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

Re: Big Family PS

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:22 pm

I would like to modify my comment posted above to reflect that I agree that discussion of George Washington & Clara Barton suggests a lack of real world experience & that you are too young to practice law, although not too young to study law.

vcuneo1
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:53 am

Re: Big Family PS

Postby vcuneo1 » Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:00 pm

esq wrote:
I agree with what has been said. The writing is interesting, it kept me reading, but it never really had any direction. When you get to your inspirational heroes, you lose me. It seems like an over-the-top grab at a reason to accelerate your education, and if you are waking up and thinking about how far ahead of you GW was at 18 to motivate yourself, then that's kind of creepy. BTW, you might talk about the service experiences that you have gained as a member of your church, no doubt you are a Mormon - and they do quite a bit of charitable work.


It could be the Catholics, too. No service requirement there.


We (my family and I) are not Catholic or Mormon, but it's a common thought.

Thanks for all the comments! They are very helpful and insightful

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ShuckingNotJiving
Posts: 266
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:24 am

Re: Big Family PS

Postby ShuckingNotJiving » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:00 am

shoop wrote:Sorry, but this is a disjointed piece of crap. I'm from a big family, too, and was really hoping to at LEAST see numbers (six? seven? eight kids? what?) and get an idea of what people tend to think is a family size notable enough to write about. Instead, I got a paragraph about an indeterminate number of kids making racket while the writer and her mom talk about her not being ready for college (and, to be honest, I'd say THIS WRITING ITSELF isn't really ready for college, much less law school). I think applying to law school at 18 is a disadvantage as it is, and you'd be better off writing about something else... preferably something about which you have coherent thoughts.

Nitpicks:

Starring --> staring

Don't use the word "tragic." Rushing into something you're not ready for isn't tragic, just tragically stupid.

Your GW and Clara Barton references? Shit was a lot different 250/150 years ago, dude. You going to community college at 15 is by no stretch of the imagination analogous to a 15-year-old GW being apprenticed to a land surveyor. The average lifespan was 40-50 years back then... of COURSE people didn't dick around getting their educations until they were 25.


This is unnecessarily rude. However, when you get past the unnecessary rudeness, and the statements that reveal a lack of close reading, you (OP) have to realize that he / she brings up some good points. You have too much of a focus on your mother and UG admissions exams. Those things, and others, to be sure, rid the essay of whatever sense of maturity it might have.

I think the big family theme is a good one -- having to navigate the interests of various people, I'm sure you could make a connection to law there if you really tried (who wants to really try though, right? [kidding]) Problem is the theme in this essay is plopped in random places, rather than woven throughout.

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esq
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Re: Big Family PS

Postby esq » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:53 am

Not Mormon, not Catholic? This leaves only one other logical explanation: Reality Show Family.

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

Re: Big Family PS

Postby shoop » Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:35 am

OK, so I've been called out for rudeness and missing details. I'll apologize for the rudeness, but not for missing the details. If you haven't hooked me in the first few sentences, I'm going to skim until I see something interesting, and I'm not an adcomm with a pile of 4,000 more of these to get through. Slightly kinder commentary follows.

My mother’s eyes rolled as she let out a sigh. I continued to protest. Sitting with my parents in the family room of our bustling home, we intensely debated the future of my education.

For a short moment, the raging emotions and heated conversation almost allowed us to block out the surrounding commotion of my nine other siblings. A screeching high-pitched scream from my six-month old sister in her bouncy seat across the room directed us away from our discussion and back to reality. Upstairs, a crying wail let out from my pre-teen sister as she screamed from the banister overlooking the family room, “she stole my curling iron”. We all felt the vibration from the “thump” that hit the wall. Must have been the curling iron. Meanwhile, scampering feet ran through the kitchen and out the backdoor to the woods behind our home, as my school-aged brothers, decked out in replica medieval era armor, engaged in what appeared to be a reenactment of a Crusade from the Middle Ages.
This is where you first lost me. These six sentences, especially the second and third, are not particularly well-constructed and contribute little to your overall message while consuming about a sixth of your word count. You could use that space to shore up weak spots later on. The first thing anyone thinks when they hear "ten kids" is "OMG LOUD" or "Catholic/Mormon." I appreciate the desire to paint a vivid picture of your homelife chaos, but something like "...intensely debated the future of my education, over the din of my nine siblings" would be better.

As the second oldest of ten children, this loud chaos was so familiar it had almost become calming.

Our conversation continued, as if the distractions did not exist. At fifteen, I was convinced I could succeed in a dual enrollment program at a nearby college. Far from sharing such confidence, my mother gave a list of sensible reasons that I was not ready for this endeavor; including the fact that I had not started the geometry portion of my math curriculum, and was too young to obtain a driver’s license to commute to the school. Eventually, my parents agreed that I could at least take the SAT and attempt to receive acceptance. A deep sense of determination, embedded in a fear of failure, rushed through my body and landed in my turning stomach. I was adamant to give everything I had to SAT preparation during the next six weeks leading up to the test. Walking away, I heard my mother’s ambivalent voice “I don’t think you’ll be able to do it”. Nothing could have made me more determined. You might be able to get away with this paragraph if the next one was about getting a perfect 1600 on the SAT (2400? Not sure where your attempt fell on the SAT revamp timeline), but this is not the case. What I take from this paragraph is that recently, while you were a child, you wheedled your parents into permitting you to pursue something against their better adult judgment. Other applicants are using their space to talk about work experience, living in foreign countries, interesting extracurriculars, and other things that make them unique. In this paragraph, you tell us that you were stubborn and contrary as a teen. So was every other applicant at one point or another. You are not making yourself shine or showing anyone anything especially unique or memorable.

TIME FOR SHOOP TO GO TO WORK... WILL EDIT AND FINISH THE JOB OVER LUNCH HOUR

I ate, slept, and breathed the SAT for the next few weeks. Despite my best efforts, the returned score was ten paltry points lower then the score required for admissions. Defeated, I was certain my chances at attending college that term were over. An admissions officer informed me of one final internally proctored ACT. I was predisposed to give and up and avoid the turmoil of test preparation. It that moment, my mother became my biggest advocate and motivator. She challenged me to not loose my resolve, and try just one more time. Because of her newfound support, I took the exam, scored several points higher then needed, and became the youngest student to ever attend my college. My mother has since been my most faithful advisor.


It was not until I went to college that I became fully aware how much my family has shaped me. Being part of a large family is not a life I choose, but one that was chosen for me. To be honest, I probably would not have chosen it if given the choice. However, I am shockingly aware that nothing could have better prepared me for life. Years of pointing, starring, and not- so-quiet mumbling, every time my family went out in public together taught me self-confidence and the bliss of being unconcerned with the opinion of others. My parents, although actively involved in my life, were not able to hold my hand through the baby steps of every newfound responsibility and challenge of adult life. Tragic as this may appear, I am very thankful for it today. They supported and guided me, but never did my work for me. This almost forced independence. Such self-determination, leadership, and responsibility have become the blueprint for the rest of my life.
People often ask me why I have put so much effort in accelerating my education. The biographies and essays on great men and women of history have always baffled me. As I have learned about their lives, I have found a common variable: they utilize their adolescent years. Instead of deferring responsibility or waiting until their early thirties to crack down on the hard work of achieving their goals, men like George Washington and women like Clara Barton willingly took on difficult challenges and accepted responsibility generally reserved for people twice their age. Previously, I had written off many of history’s heroes and heroines as overachieving geniuses who led unattainable lives. Humbled, I discovered that their success was more due to the character and competence they dutifully built as young adults.
I aspire to follow the example of such men and women. Resolving to never defer my dreams for the future, but rather to aggressively pursue them in these potential-rich years, I strive to make my young adult years the launching pad for the rest of my life. Such a mindset led me to attend college at fifteen, graduate highschool at sixteen, and ultimately, to apply to law school at eighteen.



Tear it to pieces[/quote]




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