Help me with my personal statement please

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
migster24
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Help me with my personal statement please

Postby migster24 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:56 pm

I have written most of the statement, but I can't think of how to close it out. Can you please help me. Also any critique of what I have written would also be greatly appreciated.

Moving out of my grandparents home, starting a new chapter in their lives, finally being reunited after months of being apart, my father in Indio and my mother in Los Angeles, getting their own two bedroom apartment was a big step for the two of them. The day was turned into a horrible memory with their son being hit by an oncoming Chevy Astro Van. A couple weeks in the hospital and months of legal battles changed my life forever, even if I was too young to realize it. By the age of 8, I knew what I wanted to do with my life; I wanted to practice law in one way or another.

Coming from a poor family in downtown Los Angeles, nothing ever came easy to us. My parents have had to work hard for everything, be it food, property, or fighting the demon of addiction. As a young child my parents both fought the demons of heroin addiction. Addiction is a large part of my family history. My grandfather and two aunts were alcoholics and two of my uncles and one aunt were cocaine addicts. I have seen first hand what addiction can do to a person and how hard it is for a person to fight off those demons to not only become clean, but stay clean as well. I have had to witness the look of a man that dies from his addiction and the pain that a family must endure to deal with his addiction. My parents were some of the lucky few that have been able to comeback from the hold that heroin can have over an individual until it completely ruins ones life. They have been able to provide for my two younger sisters and I no matter what they had to suffer in order to do so. They traveled 1 ½ hours each way to work for 5 years to pull their children out of a bad neighborhood that would surely have ruined one of our lives in a one way or another. They showed me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

Having taken this life lesson with me wherever I go, I have been able to put myself through college and achieve one of my life goals. Coming from a family with more high school drop outs then college graduates, being part of the elite college graduate group was a dream of mine. Hopefully I will lead by example and tilt the table in favor of college graduates for my family.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:01 pm

You don't really need to add anything else as your current ending is good (unless there is a specific length requirement). The first sentence of the first paragraph needs to be rewritten, however.

DELETE: "...in one way or another." The sentence should end with "...I wanted to practice law."

Overall this is a very powerful personal statement that is overflowing with sincerity & hardened, yet optimistic, experience.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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paratactical
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby paratactical » Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:12 pm

This writing has some grammatical problems and the theme seems to drift from one topic to the next.

Moving out of my grandparents home, starting a new chapter in their lives, finally being reunited after months of being apart, my father in Indio and my mother in Los Angeles, getting their own two bedroom apartment was a big step for the two of them.


This first bit isn't really a sentence and is awkward. It took more than one read for me to understand what you were trying to say.

Coming from a poor family in downtown Los Angeles, nothing ever came easy to us.


Starting sentences with gerunds is generally a bad idea; using the word again, albiet as a different part of speech, makes the sentence choppy. Rephrase this.


My parents have had to work hard for everything, be it food, property, or fighting the demon of addiction. As a young child my parents both fought the demons of heroin addiction. Addiction is a large part of my family history. My grandfather and two aunts were alcoholics and two of my uncles and one aunt were cocaine addicts. I have seen first hand what addiction can do to a person and how hard it is for a person to fight off those demons to not only become clean, but stay clean as well. I have had to witness the look of a man that dies from his addiction and the pain that a family must endure to deal with his addiction. My parents were some of the lucky few that have been able to comeback from the hold that heroin can have over an individual until it completely ruins ones life.


The beginning makes it sound like this PS is going to be about the time you got hit by a car and were hospitalized. This is a totally different subject and doesn't fit with the car accident theme. Further, phrases like "demon of addiction" or "demons of heroin addiction" might be okay to use once, but repeating it with variations is a bad idea. One and done or not at all.

They have been able to provide for my two younger sisters and I no matter what they had to suffer in order to do so.


This sentence is a mess.

They traveled 1 ½ hours each way to work for 5 years to pull their children out of a bad neighborhood that would surely have ruined one of our lives in a one way or another.


Traveling 1.5 hrs each way for work is not really a phenominal sacrifice to a lot of people and it doesn't make sense given the other numerous themes already mentioned here. It's completely out of left field and a totally unnecessary detail.

Coming from a family with more high school drop outs then college graduates, being part of the elite college graduate group was a dream of mine.


This sentence is also awkward and should be rewritten.

Beyond the sentence level issues, you need to hone in on what you want to write about. Are you writing about your parents and their poverty and addiction? Are you writing about a car accident that inspired you to be a lawyer? You need to pick a single direction and follow it. You could try writing two different statements (one about each topic) and see which one works out better in the end.

Good luck.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:15 pm

"Coming from a poor family in Los Angeles, nothing ever came easy to us.", is a very powerful, mature & effective statement conveyed in a subtle manner. Please don't change it.
CONSIDER: "They provided for my two younger sisters and I no matter what they had to suffer to do so."

migster24
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby migster24 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:19 pm

Thank you for your replies. Rereading my PS it did sound a bit off. I'm most definitely going to work on the sentence structure a lot more. Thanks!

@CanadianWolf what do you think of the opening sentence? Any suggestions on how to rewrite it?

CanadianWolf
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:59 pm

Yes, the first sentence does need to be rewritten. CONSIDER: Deleting the phrase about "...my father in Indio and my mother in Los Angeles...". This may help to make the sentence clearer.

migster24
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby migster24 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:19 pm

Ya I thought so too I added a few thing to it. Here is my second draft. Can you tell me some more. Anyone else is welcome to as well. All feedback is good help. Thanks

Getting their own two-bedroom apartment was a big step for the two of them. It was a combination of moving out of her parents’ home, starting a new chapter in their lives, and finally being reunited after months of being apart. The day was turned into a horrible memory with their son being hit by an oncoming Chevy Astro Van. A couple weeks in the hospital and months of legal battles changed his life forever, even if he was too young to realize it. By the age of 8, he knew what he wanted to do with his life; he wanted to practice law.

From the legal battle that ensued following the accident allowed me to witness first hand that contrary to what people in my neighborhood may say, the law can actually help those that have been injured or wronged. I was able to grow an appreciation for lawyers that would push me towards this goal for the rest of my life. As a child my friends wanted to be sport stars like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Mark McGuire, and I wanted to be like Johnny Cochrane. With my family history I was more likely to be a laborer than a lawyer. Achieving goals that required higher education was not in the realm of possibilities.

Coming from a poor family in downtown Los Angeles, nothing ever came easy to us. My parents have had to work hard for everything, be it food, property, or fighting addiction. As a young child my parents both fought the demons of heroin addiction. Addiction is a large part of my family history. My grandfather and two aunts were alcoholics and two of my uncles and one aunt were cocaine addicts. I have seen first hand what addiction can do to a person and how hard it is for a person to fight off those demons to not only become clean, but stay clean as well. I have had to witness the look of a man that dies from his addiction and the pain that a family must endure to deal with his addiction. My parents were some of the lucky few that have been able to comeback from the hold that heroin can have over an individual until it completely ruins ones life. They have worked hard to provide for my sisters and I, to ensure that we would not have to suffer as they did. They pulled their children out of a bad neighborhood that would surely have ruined one of our lives. They showed me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

Having taken this life lesson with me wherever I go, I have been able to put myself through college and achieve one of my life goals. As the oldest of three children, and the oldest male grandchild, it was my part to set an example. I have taken this responsibility seriously and have done all I can to succeed at whatever I do, something that would not of happened if it weren’t for my goal of practicing law. As part of a family with more high school drop outs then college graduates, being part of the elite college graduate group was a dream I have aspired towards for a decade. Hopefully I will lead by example and tilt the table in favor of college graduates for my family. Looking back at the accident now I see exactly how much that course of events really did change my life.


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paratactical
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby paratactical » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:32 pm

I can't go through sentence by sentence right now, but I think this is a great improvement!

CanadianWolf
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:49 pm

Much better but the second paragraph needs revision.

DELETE: "...contrary to what people in my neighborhood may say,...".

DELETE: The word "From..." in the first sentence of the second paragraph.

migster24
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby migster24 » Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:49 pm

Thanks for those tips CanadianWolf. It flows better now. This is what the second paragraph looks like now...
The legal battle that ensued following the accident allowed me to witness first hand everything that the law can do for someone. Contrary to what people in my old neighborhood may say, the law can actually help those that have been injured or wronged. I was able to grow an appreciation for lawyers that would push me towards this goal for the rest of my life. As a child my friends wanted to be sport stars like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Mark McGuire, and I wanted to be like Johnny Cochrane. With my family history I was more likely to be a laborer than a lawyer. Achieving goals that required higher education was not in the realm of possibilities.


Any more suggestions from anyone would be great. Thanks in advance

mb87
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby mb87 » Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:03 pm

Just my opinion, but paragraphs 1-2 and 3-4 still sound like two entirely different essays. Also, maybe it's just me, but I think the 3rd person thing comes across as a little melodramatic, to be honest. At first I thought it was maybe a brother who got hit by the van. Not gonna lie, really don't like the Johnnie Cochran reference, but if you keep it, note his name is spelled 'ie'. I have no idea why I know that, but yeah. Double check for other small errors, too-- "From" doesn't really make sense in the first sentence of the 2nd paragraph, "then" should be "than" in the last paragraph, etc. Oh, one other thing- I'm sure you didn't mean for it to come across this way, and I'm also sure a few people will think I'm being overly sensitive by saying this, but I'd be careful with "As the oldest of three children, and the oldest male grandchild, it was my part to set an example." My immediate (again, perhaps overly sensitive) reaction to that was "what, the oldest female grandchild didn't have to set an example?" I'm sure that wasn't your intention, but it's just so easy to avoid something like that.

That said, I do think you have a really good idea here.

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philosoraptor
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby philosoraptor » Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:05 pm

Some basic editing issues ...

Getting their own two-bedroom apartment was a big step for the two of them. It was a combination of moving out of her parents’ home, starting a new chapter in their lives [cliche], and finally being reunited after months of being [rephrase to avoid a second "being" -- or, better yet, to avoid both of them] apart. The day was turned into a horrible memory with their son being hit by an oncoming Chevy Astro Vvan. [it'd be tough to find a more awkward way to say this. use the active voice, and avoid "with X <verb>ing" as a way to connect clauses.] A couple of weeks in the hospital and months of legal battles changed his life forever, even if he was too young to realize it. By the age of 8, he knew what he wanted to do with his life;: he wanted to practice law. [the pronouns and the timeline in this graf are both confusing. don't try to inflate the drama artificially. just tell your story.]

From t The legal battle that ensued following after the accident allowed me to witness first hand firsthand ["witness firsthand" is kind of redundant] that contrary to what people in my neighborhood may say, the law can actually help those that have been injured or wronged [umm ... ok.]. I was able to grow developed an appreciation for lawyers that would push pushed me towards this goal for the rest of my life. As a child children, my friends wanted to be sport stars like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Mark McGuire McGwire, and ; [some people don't like semicolons, but this is the perfect place for one.] I wanted to be like Johnny Johnnie Cochrane. With my family history, I was more likely to be a laborer than a lawyer. Achieving goals that required higher education was not in the realm of a possibilityies.

Coming from a poor family in downtown Los Angeles, nothing ever came easy to us. [sorry, you have to revise this -- it's grammatically incorrect. "coming" is modifying "nothing," which is not what you mean.] My parents have had to work hard for everything, be it food, property, or fighting addiction. [i'd strike the foregoing sentence. believe it or not, most people's parents work hard. you don't need an introductory sentence to tell the addiction story.] As a young child my parents [see sentence 1 in this graf. same problem: "as a young child" is modifying "parents." you mean "When I was a young child, ..."] both fought the demons of heroin addiction. Addiction is a large part of my family history. [unnecessary] My grandfather and two aunts were alcoholics and two of my uncles and one aunt were cocaine addicts. I have seen first hand [<- one word] what addiction can do to a person and how hard it is for a person to fight off those demons to not only become clean, but stay clean as well. I have had to witness the look of a man that who dies from his addiction, and the pain that a family must endure to deal with his addiction. My parents were some of the lucky few that who have been able to comeback [<- two words] from the hold that heroin can have over an individual until it completely ruins ones life [no need to explain that heroin ruins lives.]. They have worked hard to provide for my sisters and I me, to ensure that we would not have to suffer as they did. They pulled their children out of a bad neighborhood that would surely have ruined one of our lives. They showed me that anything is possibleif you set your mind to it. [whenever you use a cliche, make absolutely sure you need it. not sure you do in this case (whole sentence).]

Having taken this life lesson with me wherever I go, [how about something like "Inspired by their example, ..."?] I have been able to put myself through college and have achieved one of my life goals. As the oldest of three children, and the oldest male grandchild [bringing up grandchildren sounds a little random] , it was my part to set an example. I have taken this responsibility seriously and have done all I can to succeed at whatever I do, something that would not of happened if it weren’t for my goal of practicing law. [this sentence is a mess. put a period after "seriously." then make the rest more active. are you trying to say that your goal of practicing law was the main motivation for your success?]As part of a family with more high school drop outs [<- one word] then than college graduates, being part of the elite college graduate group was a dream I have aspired towards for a decade I have aspired for more than a decade to graduate from college. Hopefully I will lead by example and tilt the table in favor of college graduates for my family. [what does this even mean? you're single-handedly going to change the numerical balance of college grads in your family by setting a good example?] Looking back at the accident now, I see exactly how much that course of events really did change my life. [weak conclusion. i know it's tough, but play around with it -- write a bunch of different endings and pick one that's more powerful.]


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Excellence = a Habit
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby Excellence = a Habit » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:37 pm

philosoraptor wrote:Some basic editing issues ...

Getting their own two-bedroom apartment was a big step for the two of them. It was a combination of moving out of her parents’ home, starting a new chapter in their lives [cliche], and finally being reunited after months of being [rephrase to avoid a second "being" -- or, better yet, to avoid both of them] apart. The day was turned into a horrible memory with their son being hit by an oncoming Chevy Astro Vvan. [it'd be tough to find a more awkward way to say this. use the active voice, and avoid "with X <verb>ing" as a way to connect clauses.] A couple of weeks in the hospital and months of legal battles changed his life forever, even if he was too young to realize it. By the age of 8, he knew what he wanted to do with his life;: he wanted to practice law. [the pronouns and the timeline in this graf are both confusing. don't try to inflate the drama artificially. just tell your story.]

From t The legal battle that ensued following after the accident allowed me to witness first hand firsthand ["witness firsthand" is kind of redundant] that contrary to what people in my neighborhood may say, the law can actually help those that have been injured or wronged [umm ... ok.]. I was able to grow developed an appreciation for lawyers that would push pushed me towards this goal for the rest of my life. As a child children, my friends wanted to be sport stars like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Mark McGuire McGwire, and ; [some people don't like semicolons, but this is the perfect place for one.] I wanted to be like Johnny Johnnie Cochrane. With my family history, I was more likely to be a laborer than a lawyer. Achieving goals that required higher education was not in the realm of a possibilityies.

Coming from a poor family in downtown Los Angeles, nothing ever came easy to us. [sorry, you have to revise this -- it's grammatically incorrect. "coming" is modifying "nothing," which is not what you mean.] My parents have had to work hard for everything, be it food, property, or fighting addiction. [i'd strike the foregoing sentence. believe it or not, most people's parents work hard. you don't need an introductory sentence to tell the addiction story.] As a young child my parents [see sentence 1 in this graf. same problem: "as a young child" is modifying "parents." you mean "When I was a young child, ..."] both fought the demons of heroin addiction. Addiction is a large part of my family history. [unnecessary] My grandfather and two aunts were alcoholics and two of my uncles and one aunt were cocaine addicts. I have seen first hand [<- one word] what addiction can do to a person and how hard it is for a person to fight off those demons to not only become clean, but stay clean as well. I have had to witness the look of a man that who dies from his addiction, and the pain that a family must endure to deal with his addiction. My parents were some of the lucky few that who have been able to comeback [<- two words] from the hold that heroin can have over an individual until it completely ruins ones life [no need to explain that heroin ruins lives.]. They have worked hard to provide for my sisters and I me, to ensure that we would not have to suffer as they did. They pulled their children out of a bad neighborhood that would surely have ruined one of our lives. They showed me that anything is possibleif you set your mind to it. [whenever you use a cliche, make absolutely sure you need it. not sure you do in this case (whole sentence).]

Having taken this life lesson with me wherever I go, [how about something like "Inspired by their example, ..."?] I have been able to put myself through college and have achieved one of my life goals. As the oldest of three children, and the oldest male grandchild [bringing up grandchildren sounds a little random] , it was my part to set an example. I have taken this responsibility seriously and have done all I can to succeed at whatever I do, something that would not of happened if it weren’t for my goal of practicing law. [this sentence is a mess. put a period after "seriously." then make the rest more active. are you trying to say that your goal of practicing law was the main motivation for your success?]As part of a family with more high school drop outs [<- one word] then than college graduates, being part of the elite college graduate group was a dream I have aspired towards for a decade I have aspired for more than a decade to graduate from college. Hopefully I will lead by example and tilt the table in favor of college graduates for my family. [what does this even mean"? you're single-handedly going to change the numerical balance of college grads in your family by setting a good example?] Looking back at the accident now, I see exactly how much that course of events really did change my life. [weak conclusion. i know it's tough, but play around with it -- write a bunch of different endings and pick one that's more powerful.]



Kudos to philosoraptor for the sweet editing job. I would only add one thing - little, but could be an issue if it made it into your PS - "I have taken this responsibility seriously and have done all I can to succeed at whatever I do, something that would not of have happened if it weren’t for my goal of practicing law."

Also, in contrast to some others, I think the 1.5 hour commute each way is a nice detail. It's not like you were spending a paragraph on it. The average American's commute to work is 26 minutes each way, so I do think it helps to illustrate their commitment to getting you and your siblings out of a bad neighborhood - especially when it's coupled with a brief reference to the importance of getting you out of that neighborhood, which it was. I would consider putting it back in, though I think what you've got now is fine. Good luck!

edited for html fail.

migster24
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby migster24 » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:04 am

philosoraptor and Excellence = a Habit thank you very much for your help. I will definitly rework my paper. I never thought a year out of school would make my grammar and writing decline so much. Any other comments would be greatly appreciated

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philosoraptor
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Re: Help me with my personal statement please

Postby philosoraptor » Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:28 am

Excellence = a Habit wrote:I would only add one thing - little, but could be an issue if it made it into your PS - "I have taken this responsibility seriously and have done all I can to succeed at whatever I do, something that would not of have happened if it weren’t for my goal of practicing law."
Yeah, I recommended rewriting that whole sentence, but OP, if for some reason you want to leave it as is, be sure to fix this major error.




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