Critique: Draft 1.5

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
cowgirl_bebop
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Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:32 pm

Critique: Draft 1.5

Postby cowgirl_bebop » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:36 pm

Technically my first "saved" draft, but I've done so much deleting and rewording so far that its nearly a 2nd draft. I plan on cleaning up the phrasing and embellishing the language a bit later when I take a fresh look at it, but this will be my basic framework.

I awake to a rumble. I squint to see the time on the faint digital clock by the bed, but my vision is blurred by sleep and confusion. "We don’t get earthquakes like this is Maryland", I think with a clouded mind caused by lack of sleep after a long shift at work. Dazed, I reach across the mattress, through the heavy comforter and damp sheets, trying to wake my mother. I grab her shoulder, but she doesn’t respond. I stumble through the dark, bang my leg against the nightstand, and curse out into the dark. I hope against hope that my mother didn’t hear that, and reach around in the dark room for the light switch. As I adjust to the sharp light piercing my eyes, a dreadful scene comes into focus: SHE is shaking the bed, in the grip of a seizure so severe that she has bitten off the sides of her tongue. Panic causes my senses to sharpen, and everything in the room is amplified: the smell of urine, the color of the deep red blood, and the heart-stopping choking sound emitting from her mouth.

The date is March 8, 2006. That day, a day that to most was just an ordinary Wednesday, one of many to easily be forgotten, proved to be the turning point for entire life. On that day, I was called upon to be the breadwinner, the decision-maker, and the legally responsible party of my household. On that day my mother went from overworked single mother of two to cancer patient. On that day my mother nearly died.

I had always been expected to attend college. I am first generation American on my mother’s side, and as my grandmother always reminded me, she “didn’t come to America so I could get pregnant at 19 and sign up for welfare.” I had worked hard for years; I was accepted to any and every accelerated program public school could offer me. When the time came to apply for college, I sent off a grand total of 2 applications, gladly accepted my full-ride to the University of Virginia, and simply waited for my high school diploma. I was more interested in planning for prom than in sweating the application process. Education was, and is, the key to everything; it was the tool I would use to dig myself out of a life of poverty and despair. This daughter of an immigrant mother and an incarcerated father was going to become more than just a heartbreaking statistic on the next Department of Health and Human Services annual report.

But now, things were different. How could I possibly go off to school when I was needed most at home? What kind of selfish, self-serving, ungrateful child would abandon their only parent in their time of need? “The kind of child who refuses to let adversity derail their dreams,” was the answer my mother gave. To her, missing out on college was simply not an option. There were things in life that I had not yet accomplished, things I was destined to achieve, and a setback like this was not enough to deny me that destiny. Her firm faith in God, a faith that I unfortunately never shared, was enough to keep her optimistic. I hoped her faith would be enough to sustain me as well.

Most people do not know what it is to deal with the sudden and unexpected decline in a parent’s health. Even fewer know what that’s like when they are subsequently forced to take the place of an absent father and assume responsibility for the ailing parent and a younger sibling. Needless to say, it made my undergraduate academic career a tough one. Working to support a family during the summers and trying to focus on schoolwork during the academic year was a unique challenge, one my fellow students could not comprehend. But I emerged determined to succeed no matter which challenges lie before me. I was reminded that my success was directly tied to the success of my entire family, and I did not have the luxury of wallowing in my own problems and crumbling under the pressure. As I now turn my attention to the next step in my academic career, law school, I am more determined than ever to be a success. I had been reminded that I carried not only my own goals and aspirations, but those of my mother and grandmother as well, who sacrificed everything from home and country to health and well-being to see me this far. To fail now would be unpardonable.


And PLEASE, be harsh. As this is just the beginning, I have plenty of time to gut and rework it as needed.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Critique: Draft 1.5

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:56 pm

It was great until the last paragraph. After reading your last paragraph I realized that I might not like you & that you may be a bit self centered. Many readers might think that you are self absorbed & have no appreciation for the difficulties of others. Based on your final paragraph, if it were my decision, it would not be favorable because of your lack of maturity & empathy.

cowgirl_bebop
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Re: Critique: Draft 1.5

Postby cowgirl_bebop » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:59 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:It was great until the last paragraph. After reading your last paragraph I realized that I might not like you & that you may be a bit self centered. Many readers might think that you are self absorbed & have no appreciation for the difficulties of others. Based on your final paragraph, if it were my decision, it would not be favorable because of your lack of maturity & empathy.


Uh oh. Well I dont want to give that impression at all. I think I may have been a bit too factual (as in statistically) and in the process seemed to dismiss the plight of others. I'll reword it and find another way to express how I felt that the uniqueness of my personal situation made it tough for others to fully understand everything I was going through, and trust me it did.

Thanks. I'll fix that...

CanadianWolf
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Re: Critique: Draft 1.5

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 01, 2010 7:15 pm

The goal should not be to show self pity in hope that others will pity you; the goal should be to overcome hardship & mature through adversity to better understand those around you.

cowgirl_bebop
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Re: Critique: Draft 1.5

Postby cowgirl_bebop » Wed Sep 01, 2010 7:19 pm

OK, good advice. I think I'll just delete that last paragraph and go in a different direction.

cowgirl_bebop
Posts: 901
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:32 pm

Re: Critique: Draft 1.5

Postby cowgirl_bebop » Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:58 am

OK, here is the reworked version with new final "pity-party-less" final paragraph ;)

I awake to a rumble. I squint to see the time on the faint digital clock by the bed, but my vision is blurred by sleep and confusion. “We do not get earthquakes like this is Maryland”, I think with a clouded min. Dazed, I reach across the mattress, through the heavy comforter and damp sheets, trying to wake my mother. I grab her shoulder, but she doesn’t respond. I stumble through the dark, bang my leg against the nightstand, and curse out into the dark. I hope against hope that my mother didn’t hear that, and reach around in the dark room for the light switch. As I adjust to the sharp light piercing my eyes, a dreadful scene comes into focus: SHE is shaking the bed, in the grip of a seizure so severe that she has bitten off the sides of her tongue. Panic causes my senses to sharpen, and everything in the room is amplified: the smell of urine, the color of the deep red blood, and the heart-stopping choking sound emitting from her mouth.

The date is March 8, 2006. That day proved to be the turning point for entire life. On that day, I was called upon to be the breadwinner, the decision-maker, and the legally responsible party of my household. On that day my mother went from overworked single mother of two to cancer patient. On that day my mother nearly died.

I had always been expected to attend college. I am first generation American on my mother’s side, and as my grandmother always reminded me, she “didn’t come to America so I could get pregnant at 19 and sign up for welfare.” I had worked hard for years; I was accepted to any and every accelerated program public school could offer me. When the time came to apply for college, I sent off a grand total of 2 applications, gladly accepted my full-ride to the University of Virginia, and simply waited for my high school diploma. I was more interested in planning for prom than in sweating the application process. Education was, and is, the key to everything; it was the tool I would use to dig myself out of a life of poverty and despair. This daughter of an immigrant mother and an incarcerated father was going to become more than just an all too common statistic on the next Department of Health and Human Services annual report.

But now, things were different. How could I possibly go off to school when I was needed most at home? What kind of selfish, self-serving, ungrateful child would abandon their only parent in their time of need? “The kind of child who refuses to let adversity derail their dreams,” was the answer my mother gave. To her, missing out on college was simply not an option. There were things in life that I had not yet accomplished, things I was destined to achieve, and a setback like this was not enough to deny me that destiny. Her firm faith in God was enough to keep her optimistic. I hoped her faith would be enough to sustain me as well.

This life-changing experience solidified in me the determination to continue to pursue even my loftiest educational goal: a law degree. I had always been interested in law school, but over the years had concluded that it was simply unattainable. My newfound resolve, implanted in me by my mother, enabled me to once again pursue a career in law, something that I could use to not only benefit myself, but to help others who, like me, had to look adversity in the face and find a way to emerge the victor. Although my problems were not legal in nature, I know the feeling of being backed into a corner with seemingly no way out, and I look forward to assisting others to find relief the way my mother helped me.

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El_Gallo
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Re: Critique: Draft 1.5

Postby El_Gallo » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:22 am

I like it a lot. This is one of the best PS I have read on TLS. Its very precise and clear.

There are a couple of small wording issues:
cowgirl_bebop wrote:That day proved to be the turning point for entire life.
maybe "my" or "our" entire life? There are a couple of little things like this and I know you said you are going to go back and revise the whole thing so I am sure you will get them all fixed.

I think you do a very good job at switching between specific ideas yet keeping the theme constant the whole time and reverting back to the motivation that your mother gave you in the final paragraph. Sounds like a winning PS to me! Good luck!

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Marionberry
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Re: Critique: Draft 1.5

Postby Marionberry » Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:51 pm

cowgirl_bebop wrote:OK, here is the reworked version with new final "pity-party-less" final paragraph ;)


"as my grandmother always reminded me, she “didn’t come to America so I could get pregnant at 19 and sign up for welfare.”

This sentence should go I think, it lacks compassion and sounds a bit arrogant.



"gladly accepted my full-ride to the University of Virginia",

I would consider a different word choice than "full ride", that too doesn't scream humility.

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

Re: Critique: Draft 1.5

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:59 pm

Your revised version is powerful & effective. Readers should like you & understand your grit & determination. This personal statement should help your law school applications.

P.S. ADD: "my" to "...the turning point of entire life."
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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12AngryMen
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Re: Critique: Draft 1.5

Postby 12AngryMen » Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:01 pm

I will try to say this as harshly as I can: I LIKE IT 8)




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