Second Draft PS

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Second Draft PS

Postby AreJay711 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:40 pm

First edit since I posted it here last time... got that it was too informal and lacked a clear purpose. Let me know what you think.

In my third week of college, I was given an ultimatum: I could either come back home, enroll in community college, and take over my parents company, or I could support myself through school and return after falling on my face. My choice resulted in the primary challenges I have overcome in my undergraduate years, while giving me the ability and will to be successful in law school.
The reason I went to college was to play football, and the prospects of playing early brought me to Wagner College on Staten Island. After my second concussion in two weeks, and the discovery of many previously undiagnosed concussions in high school, I had to reconsider. At the same time, I was discovering a new world in my classes and textbooks. In high school, I had just done enough to get by, earning good grades, but never engaging with the material. In college, I wanted more and delved deeper into my studies. I began experiencing, and enjoying, a completely different set of challenges and rewards. I was no longer content with being an athlete first. Though hardly an easy decision, I chose to quit football forever.

My parents were less than supportive and called me back home. In their eyes, there was no point to college other than to continue football and I had wasted a golden opportunity. However, I was in foreign territory, attacking my studies like never before. Instead of getting up for 6:00 a.m. runs, I was staying up late to read novels by Achebe and Rushdie; instead of watching tape of opponents after lifting, I read essays by Locke and Rousseau; and instead of playing Madden Football after practice, I wrote essays comparing the assumptions of Adam Smith and Karl Marx. I did not want to give up what I had found to go back to my old life. I chose to make it myself.

Living out that choice has put many things in perspective. Though community college might have helped me to save money, back then that is not how I thought. I had to leave Wagner anyway because I could not afford tuition despite maintaining my academic scholarships. I transferred back in-state to Towson University, just north of Baltimore. After covering books, tuition, and a block meal plan with the pittance of private loans I qualified for and the majority of my savings, I found myself out of money and without a place to live. Technically, I was homeless, living out of my car, although I fortunately had friends who offered their floors and futons. At first, I kept up a lie that I just did not want to fight the heavy D.C. and Baltimore traffic every day. However, they eventually discovered that I was not welcome at home and had nowhere else to go. That first month on my own was the most humbling time of my life and at times I thought I would rather be sleeping in my car than relying strictly on the kindness of others.

The few people whom I tell about that time of my life often remark that living the way must have been very trying. In some ways it was. It certainly challenged my faith in myself. It was the first time I truly had to survive or fail on my own. Looking forward, I only saw struggle with no end in sight and was unsure. It was painful not knowing whether I was strong enough or lucky enough to make it, but I knew conditions had to change; I could not survive as I was for long. With very little money and no distractions, I had a lot of time to sit and think about my situation. Fortunately, textbooks can be entertaining and the library becomes a very attractive place when you do not have anywhere else to go. Actually, balancing right at the tipping point between making it and not is quite easy; the challenge is getting out.

I started rising to that challenge that February. I saw an advertisement for an on-campus job that fit my schedule so I applied and gave the best interview I ever have. I began working for the V.P. of Student Affairs. With my 20 hours of near-minimum-wage work, I managed to rent a place in a mostly unfinished and slightly cockroach-inhabited basement. That was the first step; looking back at that small victory, it was evident that my attitude was changing. Though I had never been lazy, I was now resolved to turn my goals into reality no matter how much effort requires. I was beginning realize and embrace the idea that hard work and dedication is usually, if not always, sufficient for success. I had a new focus to put my full effort in everything, not just what I enjoyed.

Everything that I have done since that first step has been directly to achieve my goals of getting though college and into law school. The summer after my freshman year, I swallowed my pride and went back to work for my parents, although later I discovered their idea was to make me quit. I did the hardest, most frustrating, and dirtiest work day after day with a smile, not because I liked it but because I needed money to achieve my goals. Eventually, I impressed one of the foremen enough that he pulled me on to a union-scale job, where I made enough money to rent a finished room in a house for my sophomore year. This still was not a long term solution, so I began forming connections and getting involved on campus and in January of my second year, I was hired as a resident assistant, receiving room and board as compensation, and was among the few hired back for a third year as a senior. Although these developments and my employment at Student Affairs have complicated my life further, with work and personal obligations pulling me in different directions, I have still maintained a high level of academic performance and engagement.

Dealing with the consequences of my decisions has done more than simply give me focus; it has changed my view of the world and my place in it. I now believe that the world is out there for the taking, not by the smartest or the best-connected, but by those who are willing to outwork the competition and I have seen this demonstrated repeatedly. Though it might seem unfashionable, this vital realization has changed me substantially. Whereas I once did what I was good at, now I make myself good at what I want to do. Whereas before I was unsure, now I am confident in my ability to succeed with enough effort. Whereas I once was complacent, now I will never be content with my accomplishments, knowing how fragile security is. At the same time my I have gained an interesting perspective on people at the margins of society. While I managed to improve my situation through hard work and discipline, I was always only one false step away from failure whether by not seeing an opportunity or not thinking through the consequences of my actions. My experiences and outlook on life will be valuable additions to my law class and, if you accept me into your school, you can be certain that I will not be out worked and will unfailingly strive to do my best, both in school and in the legal profession.


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Re: Second Draft PS

Postby JamesDean44 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:19 pm

Thanks for taking a look at my PS :D

I think that you have a lot of good information and a lot of good ideas. I clearly got the impression that you are an extremely hard worker and embrace challenges. I also like the transformation from pure football jock to an intellectually curious autodidact.

I like the chronological element and you pull it off without sounding too biographical or too much like you are repeating your resume. However, there is just a lot of information presented and, at times, the detail seem a little unnecessary. I think that the structure is solid, but needs to be condensed. It looks to be well over two pages when double spaced, which may be okay depending upon the specific school's requirements, but I think any ad-com would appreciate more brevity.

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