First Draft - Please Critique !!

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First Draft - Please Critique !!

Postby cholza00 » Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:29 am

-Sorry it's a little tailored towards Emory at the bottom, but you get the idea...

“Thwack!” I moaned as the harsh sound in quiet of the early morning forced the sleep from my eyes. “Hey, sorry, I forgot to give that thing to you yesterday; came in the mail!” called my roommate as he walked back out the door. I groaned as I looked over at the clock. Glancing down, however, what I saw should have given made me ecstatic. Dropped haphazardly on my nightstand lay the accumulation of six years of hard work—the fruit of hours spent in Ancient Greek and Latin translation, the labor of analysis on countless early Christian texts, and the goal to which I was supposedly dedicated. This thick packet undoubtedly contained acceptance (plus full scholarship) into one of the nation’s top Ph.D. programs in Historical Theology.
Instead of the exultation I should have felt, something unexpected happened inside of me. There came a moment of true clarity and realization, “I do not want to do this; I can’t do this!” The weight of the decision fell off of me in the instant when it should have been most profoundly felt. Instead, I thought, “I am going to do it. I’m going to law school!”
The truth is I had been struggling with the pursuit of my Ph.D. for some time. The problem did not lay in the nature of the study. I did and still do have a passion Church history and a passion for theological study. Rather, the question on whether to attend came from both a need for personal fulfillment and the overwhelming feeling of social responsibility. Could a life of research in ancient texts, verbose writing and academic debate sate my desires to help my fellow humans? In that instant, I knew the answer was a resounding, “No.”
At first blush, it might seem odd, my jump from pure academics to law. I have found, however, that like theological doctrine emerging from historical event, an effect is never without a defined cause. My father is the senior minister in a Pentecostal church. Before that, my parents served as missionaries for years in Okinawa, Japan, the place of my birth. Even if you do not know much about our specific doctrinal beliefs, these facts mean that my upbringing was anything but liberal. Little to no television, church three times a week, etc. There were a lot of “do nots” growing up, but looking back, the “dos” seem to resonate most clearly. One of the most important things they instilled in my siblings and I was complete belief in their adage, “Do for others, for life is about others.”
In this context, law was not something that I simply stumbled upon, in a desperate hope of doing “good.” It can best be described as a seed that was planted in me. Finally, at the denouement of my master’s degree, I knew that I could no longer ignore what had grown inside of me. At the core of each theologian’s message, and what is at the core of me, can best be described in Saint Augustine’s words, “Love is no substitute for justice withheld.” In fact, the confluence of law and religion is one of the reasons Emory Law is my top choice. No where else in the country is there a program that allows me to pursue these critical issues with the support of such renowned faculty.
Should my life be about pursuit of an abstract text? Or is life about doing everything you can for the betterment of those around you? In that moment, at the crack of dawn, I knew, as I know now, that I would only be happy in this world if I was able to practically and sensibly pursue justice for those around me. It is in this vein that I desire to pursue a law degree at X University Law School and subsequently a career in public interest.

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Re: First Draft - Please Critique !!

Postby Tanicius » Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:42 am

I'm getting hung up on the first paragraph for a bunch of reasons. First, it takes way too long to get to the point. The imagery is neither that exciting nor relevant. When we hear things like "thwack," we're thinking, "Wow, maybe this PS is about someone who was beaten by his parents," and then we find out it's... a door closing? It doesn't really contribute anything to the story. The tension you build is especially misplaced because the end of the paragraph is about as anticlimactic as it can get. You build yourself up to be this committed intellectual, but then it all falls apart in literally 2 flipping seconds because you see the size of the package that arrived. It doesn't make sense to the reader, and this may sound presumptuous, but I bet it doesn't make sense to you either -- I'll bet, as the second paragraph indicates, that you were feeling significant doubts long before the package arrived.

So be honest about that. Instead of exciting tension, make it dreading tension. You see the package and realize, Oh man, here it is... I've got to decide, but I don't want to. No need to drag this thought process out too long, because again the reader will want you to get to the point, but be honest. I like the angle of your belief that your Ph.D. won't help people the same way a law degree will. You need to end the first paragraph with that realization.

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Re: First Draft - Please Critique !!

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:56 am

I agree with most of the comments posted above.
Your personal statement is okay, but unlikely to help or hurt your law school applications.

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