PS 4th Draft - Should I give up?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
beatrock
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PS 4th Draft - Should I give up?

Postby beatrock » Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:44 pm

[Deleted] - Thanks for all the input!
Last edited by beatrock on Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:22 am, edited 14 times in total.

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Tanicius
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Re: Personal Statement First Draft - Criticism welcome

Postby Tanicius » Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:07 pm

The vocabulary is so dense and abstract that I couldn't follow the scene or understand the emotions you were feeling in the first paragraph. Lighten up on the thesaurus and just explain what's going on. If the scene is tense, we will be able to perceive that for ourselves -- there is no need and there is no benefit to telling the reader what to think.

In regards to the essay itself, I am left wondering how this is supposed to convince the reader that you are empowered for law school. You are essentially saying that debate tricks you into seeing the world as a black and white world, and somehow (not explained at all) you have become aware of the fact that it is not really like this. You may tell us that debate prepares you for an objective look at "the law," some nebulous concept with which you apparently have no emotional attachment or passion, but suffice it to say this leaves the reader wondering why you are even interested in the subject.
Last edited by Tanicius on Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Personal Statement First Draft - Criticism welcome

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:09 pm

Not good. Not even a 5 out of 10 possible points.

kearsarge
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Re: Personal Statement First Draft - Criticism welcome

Postby kearsarge » Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:28 am

Hundreds of pieces of paper strewn about the room form the canvas. Pens, timers, and laptops fill the foreground. The four subjects, separated by a podium, stare in the same direction with faces full of anxiety. “I vote affirmative.” These three words shatter the picture and jar the competitors back to reality. The verdict hangs in the air, infused with disappointment and elation, further divorcing the two sides from a shared goal. The impression fades as a second image gradually displaces the first. The setting is the same but the words are different. The competitors have switched places and the negative team reigns victorious. Necessarily divided by a line so thin that middle ground does not exist, collegiate policy debate as a competition encourages polarization of issues. And as an intellectual activity that emphasizes switch side debating, it colors its participants’ perceptions of the world with uncertainty.


This first paragraph reads like some kind of dream or hallucination. The words "canvas" and "foreground" in the first two sentences create this strange painting metaphor. I initially pictured a room with papers covering the walls and roof, with the pens, timers, and laptops floating before them. Also, referring to a person as a "subject" has this weird effect of making you sound like a scientist who performs experiments on human "subjects". The utterance "I vote affirmative" then seems to come out of nowhere; is it the judge rendering his decision? Assuming that "I vote affirmative" is "the verdict", it then doesn't make sense to speak of a verdict itself being infused with "disappointment and elation". Only people can experience those or at most, only the utterances they make can have or express feelings. You might want to consider that a verdict can *invite* disappointment and elation. You refer to "two sides" and while it's obvious to anyone acquainted with debate that you're refering to the aff/neg teams, nothing explains that to a reader who doesn't know anything about debate: all they know is that there are four guys separated by the podium. Then this picture metaphor comes back and you say "the words are different." While it's clear later on what you mean, it's vague at that point to just say that they're "different", as opposed to saying like "the judge's verdict goes the other way".

To make it more clear that your first paragraph presents a mental picture as opposed to a dream, hallucination or surrealist metaphor, try starting with "Imagine ..." and then just stick with concrete language. When you want to switch pictures, then you can try saying "Now picture ...". Don't try to push the 'picture' metaphor so far that it falls apart with details like a canvas and foreground.

Your second paragraph makes a weak case for the idea that debating both sides of an issue created an "existential crisis". Instead of talking about the structure of debate events, focus more directly on the debating itself---for example, someone could make your point by saying that she entered debate with deeply held personal convictions on a subject and had to force herself to take the opposing side that she thought was morally deplorable and keep a straight face about it the whole time (sort of like criminal defense lawyers - everybody has a right to be represented, even murderers).

This undergraduate research thing then seems to come out of nowhere. You get so little space in a 2-page personal statement to begin with so I wouldn't advise further splitting that space between multiple topics. Personally I would leave this subject in a resume. Details about academic work, especially if they require too much specialist knowledge to be able to understand, are better left out of your personal statement (e.g. your reader won't gain much from a sentence of two about your senior thesis on a truth-functional account of indexical terms, or your research project on how the performative interpellation of the subject within ideology shapes the temporality of gender).

beatrock
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Re: Personal Statement Second Draft - Criticism welcome

Postby beatrock » Sat Sep 04, 2010 9:03 pm

bump

beatrock
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Re: Personal Statement Second Draft - Criticism welcome

Postby beatrock » Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:09 pm

POWER BUMP!!

GettingReady2010
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Re: Personal Statement Second Draft - Criticism welcome

Postby GettingReady2010 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:56 pm

I don't know if your PS will hurt you, but I don't think it's enjoyable. A PS should read very easy and require very little work by the reader.

beatrock
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Re: Personal Statement Third Draft - Please critique

Postby beatrock » Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:36 am

Posted new PS

cartercl
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Re: Personal Statement Third Draft - Please critique

Postby cartercl » Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:09 am

Hmm... very disjointed. You're talking about two different things here and, honestly, you fail to make a solid connection between the two. I mean, I get it, but it's just not very convincing (to me anyway). You actually made one of the same mistakes as I did in one of the earlier drafts of my PS: making your criminal history a sub-topic. To make matters worse you introduce this incident very abruptly, which is jarring to the reader.

Personally I would advise you to choose one topic -- debate or your criminal history doing something great for your perception of the world -- to write about. However, if you are hard set on writing about both you need to find a better way to link the two together because as the situation stands, it's just not meshing. You also need to find a better way to get from A (debate) to B (criminal history) so that C (why these two are together in your PS) makes much more sense.

Also: This is some very dense prose. I believe someone above mentioned that it was difficult to read. I'd have to second that. You can demonstrate your intelligence without saying things in the most complicated way possible. Good luck.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Personal Statement Third Draft - Please critique

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:49 pm

The revised version of your personal statement is as unconvincing & as confusing as the earlier posted version. The message is as unclear as your method of expression which is ironic because successful debaters need to be able to communicate effectively. Overall this writing is awkward & the theme is a bit muddled. Clarity of thought succinctly expressed in crisp, clear sentences should be one goal of a personal statement for law schools.

beatrock
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Re: Personal Statement Third Draft - Please critique

Postby beatrock » Mon Sep 06, 2010 5:30 pm

Thanks for the input, looks like I still have alot of work to do.

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maroonzoon
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Re: Personal Statement Third Draft - Please critique

Postby maroonzoon » Mon Sep 06, 2010 7:43 pm

Disconnected and unclear. I have no idea what you're talking about or your central thought/thesis.

Also, I wouldn't talk about your arrest unless you can convincingly show how this made you a better person, and someone to admit to law school. A PS, under most circumstances, should be completely positive. It's your one chance to show yourself in the best light. Schools will ask about criminal records in the app, and you could attach an addendum describing it anyway.

beatrock
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Re: PS 4th Draft - Should I give up?

Postby beatrock » Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:52 am

Bump. I semi-scratched my previous personal statements and attempted to work a new angle into it. Thoughts?

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Tanicius
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Re: PS 4th Draft - Should I give up?

Postby Tanicius » Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:29 am

beatrock wrote:Bump. I semi-scratched my previous personal statements and attempted to work a new angle into it. Thoughts?


I like the new theme.

But dude, what is with crap like this:

"It was the photograph itself which provided the clairvoyance with which to approach my question."

Huh?? What does this ****ing mean? "Clairvoyance"? "With which"? "Question"? What? If the reader has to pause and think about a sentence there is something seriously wrong with it.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Equally important: Eliminate sentences like the one above not just because they're wordy, but because they don't actually contribute anything to the essay. You don't need to tell the reader that something enhances the plot of your essay -- that's something they will either agree with or they won't, and telling them that it does will not change their minds. It's telling instead of showing, and it detracts from the imagery and flow. Get rid of anything that looks like it's introducing a paragraph. When you're writing something with an emotional touch (which most PS's are), going the route of the 9th Grade Five Paragraph Essay and starting everything off with "Here's what you're about to learn," is not helpful whatsoever.

Another example of this:

"Policy debate has been and will continue to be a transformative experience in my life."

Trash that stuff. That's a conclusion the reader can reach on their own.


Fix those two problems and this is a good personal statement.




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