Thoughts and Critiques on my PS please.

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
bvenkat
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Thoughts and Critiques on my PS please.

Postby bvenkat » Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:56 pm

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Last edited by bvenkat on Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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robotclubmember
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Re: Thoughts and Critiques on my PS please.

Postby robotclubmember » Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:26 pm

Mind if I ask what the task was? You say "My boss came in and dropped another stack of papers to sort and put together."

That suggests that the centerpiece of your personal statement involves your perseverance in collating and stapling papers. You need to give a little more description to guard against that perception. It's kind of vague what you were doing, which is not good considering it's framing up your whole personal statement.

May want to cool it on the football analogy. If you get a female reader, she won't know what an audible is, and will read "I had now found the perfect audible" and wonder if it's a typo. Don't use football jargon unless you can say to a certainty that your reader will know what it is.

I think you could tone down the rhetoric a bit. Referring to things you do as perfect, equating yourself to a diamond, calling yourself a leader like an amazing athlete... may be a bit much. Always, always focus on SHOWING your ability, not stating it. In fact, you should never flatly state your ability. Your PS should be crafted so well, you never have to directly say "I'm great." I just mentioned in another thread, a rich man never tells people "I'm rich." He doesn't have to. He just behaves in the same way he behaved that made him rich, and it will be self-evident that he has status. Prove by example, never directly state.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Thoughts and Critiques on my PS please.

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:38 pm

I read your first proposed PS. It's sufficient to satisfy the personal statement requirement. I would delete the reference to "audibles" leading you to law school & a legal career. Everyone does, or, at least, should, understand the term "audible" as used in your essay. Unfortunately it reads as if law school was just a quick reaction to changing circumstances rather than a well thought out career path. Also troubled by your assertion that opposing counsel would throw a fit if you don't submit filings in a timely manner since opposing counsel should love that advantage.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bvenkat
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Joined: Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:47 pm

Re: Thoughts and Critiques on my PS please.

Postby bvenkat » Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:56 pm

Ok, thank you both for your time and your critiques. I truly do appreciate it and I will tweak the statement a little bit.

Does anyone else have thoughts or critiques on the statement? The more the better, Thanks again.

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artichoke
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Re: Thoughts and Critiques on my PS please.

Postby artichoke » Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:59 pm

I thought the whole football thing was a bit gimmicky. Also, you need to work on your word choice "Indian 'kid'" for example.

bvenkat
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Re: Thoughts and Critiques on my PS please.

Postby bvenkat » Thu Sep 23, 2010 3:08 am

Ok thank you for your advice so far. I have adjusted the wording of the shorter Personal Statement and here it is:


As the sweat beads dripped down my forehead, I quickly glanced up at the clock. Only 90 minutes until the deadline! Only 90 more minutes to hand these documents over to the court and the opposing counsel.

My boss came in and dropped another stack of incomplete discovery papers to complete, proofread, sort through, put together, and deliver. I thought to myself, We’re not going to make this deadline; there’s no way I can do all this by myself. Down to 60 minutes now, my despair was raging: the court will not accept these documents, and the opposing counsel is going to gain a huge advantage.

I started to hang my head down in defeat. Just then, I remembered watching Brett Favre throw a touchdown pass late in the game of the NFL Super Bowl. My dad had leaned over to me and said “See, diamonds are made in high pressure situations.” Through my lifelong love for sports and my experience as the captain of my high school basketball team, I had learned early that a leader is a resilient, strong-willed team player who rather than getting crushed by pressure, rises above it to perform at their very best when the pressure is highest. I could not give up, there had to be a more efficient way to accomplish this. I pulled the other interns together and drew up a game plan to attack this task, just like I would do in a basketball game. I delegated with perseverance, we were able to finish the documents seconds under the deadline.

How on earth did I get to this point in my life? How did a Biological Sciences major with aspirations of going to medical school and providing health care to humanity end up interning at a law firm?

I came into college with a solid game plan: get a degree in biology, go to medical school, become a medical doctor, and help my fellow man. It seemed simple enough, especially if you're from a middle-class South Asian family: your parents expect you to go into one of the big three - business, medicine, or engineering. My parents gently steered me into the medicine category, and I grew to love science. However, through high school and college, I realized I also had a passion and a knack for debate – in fact, it had led me to excel at many state debate competitions. I started feeling that there had to be another career out there that could blend both my love for science as well as my love for debate. My game plan was thrown off-track and I had to adjust my game plan on the fly.

My exploration of other opportunities led to my enrollment in an Anthropological/Political Science course called “Post Soviet Eurasia.” My professor, Dr. Paula Garb, used the Socratic Method to teach this class. I thrived in this environment of learning, with Dr. Garb asking us questions while she took the opposition’s side and made us defend our views. I also enrolled in a seminar course offered by the University of California-Irvine called Non-Health Career Decisions for Biology majors. This class opened my eyes to a wide variety of careers to choose from that would allow me to put my biological degree to use while. There were careers in biotechnology, the FDA, pharmaceutical sales, and even intellectual property law.

Working as an intellectual property lawyer really stood out to me as it offered me an opportunity to put my scientific background to use while applying the humanistic aspect that I enjoyed as well. My explorations of the possibility of a legal career have led me to intern in 3 different law firms. Each of these law firms is in a completely different field of law, which have not only allowed me to experience the lifestyle and workload of a lawyer, but also to learn legal writing and basics of certain aspects of law, such as negligence and discovery. I had now gotten my game plan back on track, albeit a slightly different path.

I have continued to challenge myself academically over the course of my undergraduate career. Even while taking challenging courses such as Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry, I managed to graduate early, been able to handle a part-time job as well as multiple internships. My academic experiences have stimulated my mind and developed my critical-thinking ability while my internships has provided me with plenty of experience in a legal setting as well as a taste of what law school has to offer.

Even though I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a lawyer, I have demonstrated the ability to adapt my game plan when pressure was at its greatest. I have become a leader just like those athletes I grew up idolizing, and I know I will continue to grow personally and professionally. I have the characteristics and the abilities to be a good law student and, ultimately, to become a good lawyer.

In a high pressure situation, I have created my diamond.

If you have any critiques for this draft, please let me know. Thank you once again.

bvenkat
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Re: Thoughts and Critiques on my PS please.

Postby bvenkat » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:33 am

Does anyone have more advice?

Steppinchoi
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Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:09 am

Re: Thoughts and Critiques on my PS please.

Postby Steppinchoi » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:32 pm

I'm not so sure that the stuff about football, high pressure situations, diamonds etc. is necessary. It seems a little tacked on for the sake of trying to make it sound more interesting. Just be simple and honest; you had a passion for science and while on that path, you discovered another passion that opened up a potentially more fulfilling career choice. Maybe talk about what aspects of your unique science background makes you stand out from other law applicants.

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bk1
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Re: Thoughts and Critiques on my PS please.

Postby bk1 » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:17 pm

bvenkat wrote:As the sweat beads dripped down my forehead, I quickly1 glanced up at the clock. Only 90 minutes until the deadline! Only 90 more minutes to hand these documents over to the court and the opposing counsel.

My boss came in and dropped another stack of incomplete discovery papers to complete, proofread, sort through, put together, and deliver. I thought to myself, We’re not going to make this deadline; there’s no way I can do all this by myself. Down to 60 minutes now2, my despair was raging3: the court will not accept these documents, and the opposing counsel is going to gain a huge advantage.

I started to hang my head down in defeat. Just then, I remembered watching Brett Favre throw a touchdown pass late in the game of the NFL Super Bowl4. My dad had leaned over to me and said “See, diamonds are made in high pressure situations.” Through my lifelong love for sports and my experience as the captain of my high school basketball team, I had learned early that a leader is a resilient, strong-willed team player who rather than getting crushed by pressure, rises above it to perform at their very best when the pressure is highest. I could not give up, there had to be a more efficient way to accomplish this. I pulled the other interns together and drew up a game plan to attack this task, just like I would do in a basketball game. I delegated with perseverance, we were able to finish the documents seconds under the deadline.5

How on earth did I get to this point in my life? How did a Biological Sciences major with aspirations of going to medical school and providing health care to humanity end up interning at a law firm?6

I came into college with a solid game plan7: get a degree in biology, go to medical school, become a medical doctor, and help my fellow man8. It seemed simple enough, especially if you're from a middle-class South Asian family9: your parents expect you to go into one of the big three - business, medicine, or engineering. My parents gently10 steered me into the medicine category, and I grew to love science. However, through high school and college, I realized I also had a passion and a knack for debate – in fact, it had led me to excel at many state debate competitions11. I started feeling that there had to be another career out there that could blend both my love for science as well as my love for debate12. My game plan was thrown off-track and I had to adjust my game plan on the fly.13

My exploration of other opportunities led to my enrollment in an Anthropological/Political Science course called “Post Soviet Eurasia.” My professor, Dr. Paula Garb, used the Socratic Method14 to teach this class. I thrived in this environment of learning, with Dr. Garb asking us questions while she took the opposition’s side and made us defend our views. I also enrolled in a seminar course offered by the University of California-Irvine called Non-Health Career Decisions for Biology majors. This class opened my eyes to a wide variety of careers to choose from that would allow me to put my biological degree to use while. There were careers in biotechnology, the FDA, pharmaceutical sales, and even intellectual property law.

Working as an intellectual property lawyer really stood out to me as it offered me an opportunity to put my scientific background to use while applying the humanistic aspect that I enjoyed as well. My explorations of the possibility of a legal career have led me to intern in 3 different law firms. Each of these law firms is in a completely different field of law, which have not only allowed me to experience the lifestyle and workload of a lawyer, but also to learn legal writing and basics of certain aspects of law, such as negligence and discovery15. I had now gotten my game plan back on track, albeit a slightly different path.16

I have continued to challenge myself academically over the course of my undergraduate career. Even while taking challenging courses such as Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry, I managed to graduate early, been able to handle a part-time job as well as multiple internships. My academic experiences have stimulated my mind and developed my critical-thinking ability while my internships has provided me with plenty of experience in a legal setting as well as a taste of what law school has to offer17.

Even though I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a lawyer, I have demonstrated the ability to adapt my game plan when pressure was at its greatest. I have become a leader just like those athletes I grew up idolizing, and I know I will continue to grow personally and professionally. I have the characteristics and the abilities to be a good law student and, ultimately, to become a good lawyer.

In a high pressure situation, I have created my diamond18.


For reference I didn't read your first PS's. I didn't really like this PS that much. It had interesting elements but it felt very cliche, kitschy, and forced overall.

1. "sweat beads dripping... quickly glanced" - This is awkward. Starting with sweat beads makes it feel like you are writing in slowtime and then the quick glance makes it feel like you have suddenly moved to fasttime. It is confusing and jarring to the reader.

2. "60 minutes" - The use of exact time here feels forced and detracts from the opening.

3. "despair... raging" - I don't think of despair as ever raging, these are two very different emotions.

4. Superbowl - Way too cliche. If you really want to make this reference, remove the specifics and just say you were watching a football game with a quarterback. Don't mention the game or the player specifically because it is not relevant and makes it even more cliche than it already is. But if you can just remove it altogether.

5. "under the deadline" - As a whole this feels absurdly dramatic for no reason. You write as if it is a life or death situation when all you told the reader is that you had a deadline, something that everybody faces.

6. Questions - I am not a fan of these introspective questions in a PS. They often hurt the flow more than anything. Show the reader, don't tell them that you are going to break into answering these questions.

7. Sports Metaphor - I just really dislike it overall. It is my general problem with the PS. As I said before, its kitschy and forced and in the end doesn't feel justified. You were the captain of a high school team and you watched the Superbowl, why is that framing your entire PS for graduate school?

8. "help my fellow man" - Doesn't fit with your PS at all, even if it was how you felt before. It seems like you are trying to persuade the reader with this mere line that you care about others and without other evidence I don't buy it. It is also too broad and general, if you keep it be specific so it doesn't just seem like an unbounded statement.

9. "middle-class South Asian family" - This doesn't add anything imo, and it feels like you are just stereotyping your own heritage (even if it is true). Try "It seemed simple enough, especially when your parents have always expected you to go into one of the big three - business, medicine, or engineering." or something similar.

10. "gently" - This seems at odds with the "expectation" set earlier. How can it be an expectation that you will go into one of the 3 without exception and yet be gentle at the same time?

11. "passion... excel" - Combine these two clauses rather than use a dash, it will help the flow.

12. "blend..." - "blend [science blah blah] with [debate blah blah]" Blend ___ as well as ____ is incorrect, you blend things with other things.

13. Cliche sports metaphor. Get rid of it.

14. "Socratic Method" - Seems like you put this in there just to show that you were aware of how law school teaches.

15. Resume regurgitation, remove it.

16. Cliche sports metaphor. Bleh.

17. Resume regurgitation, remove it. Schools can see you've graduated early via your resume.


I think you should rewrite it entirely because the diamonds and football metaphors are way too cliche.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Thoughts and Critiques on my PS please.

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:24 pm

DELETE: The two consecutive sentences about Brett Farve & your Dad's diamond analogy. Then delete your final reference to diamonds. Also you added an extra word "while" at the end of another sentence.
These few adjustments should strengthen your essay considerably.

This is a very good personal statement because it explains why you are pursuing a legal career over medicine in a well written, energetic fashion.

Steppinchoi
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:09 am

Re: Thoughts and Critiques on my PS please.

Postby Steppinchoi » Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:12 pm

bk1 wrote:
For reference I didn't read your first PS's. I didn't really like this PS that much. It had interesting elements but it felt very cliche, kitschy, and forced overall.

1. "sweat beads dripping... quickly glanced" - This is awkward. Starting with sweat beads makes it feel like you are writing in slowtime and then the quick glance makes it feel like you have suddenly moved to fasttime. It is confusing and jarring to the reader.

2. "60 minutes" - The use of exact time here feels forced and detracts from the opening.

3. "despair... raging" - I don't think of despair as ever raging, these are two very different emotions.

4. Superbowl - Way too cliche. If you really want to make this reference, remove the specifics and just say you were watching a football game with a quarterback. Don't mention the game or the player specifically because it is not relevant and makes it even more cliche than it already is. But if you can just remove it altogether.

5. "under the deadline" - As a whole this feels absurdly dramatic for no reason. You write as if it is a life or death situation when all you told the reader is that you had a deadline, something that everybody faces.

6. Questions - I am not a fan of these introspective questions in a PS. They often hurt the flow more than anything. Show the reader, don't tell them that you are going to break into answering these questions.

7. Sports Metaphor - I just really dislike it overall. It is my general problem with the PS. As I said before, its kitschy and forced and in the end doesn't feel justified. You were the captain of a high school team and you watched the Superbowl, why is that framing your entire PS for graduate school?

8. "help my fellow man" - Doesn't fit with your PS at all, even if it was how you felt before. It seems like you are trying to persuade the reader with this mere line that you care about others and without other evidence I don't buy it. It is also too broad and general, if you keep it be specific so it doesn't just seem like an unbounded statement.

9. "middle-class South Asian family" - This doesn't add anything imo, and it feels like you are just stereotyping your own heritage (even if it is true). Try "It seemed simple enough, especially when your parents have always expected you to go into one of the big three - business, medicine, or engineering." or something similar.

10. "gently" - This seems at odds with the "expectation" set earlier. How can it be an expectation that you will go into one of the 3 without exception and yet be gentle at the same time?

11. "passion... excel" - Combine these two clauses rather than use a dash, it will help the flow.

12. "blend..." - "blend [science blah blah] with [debate blah blah]" Blend ___ as well as ____ is incorrect, you blend things with other things.

13. Cliche sports metaphor. Get rid of it.

14. "Socratic Method" - Seems like you put this in there just to show that you were aware of how law school teaches.

15. Resume regurgitation, remove it.

16. Cliche sports metaphor. Bleh.

17. Resume regurgitation, remove it. Schools can see you've graduated early via your resume.


I think you should rewrite it entirely because the diamonds and football metaphors are way too cliche.



I agree with basically everything here... lose all the stuff about football, deadlines, diamonds, etc... You have some good content and you don't need any extra fluff... just expand on why you want to pursue a career in law

Don't try to make it seem more dramatic than it should be... Sometimes the best statements are the most honest, straight to the point ones




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