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(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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speedyj88
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Postby speedyj88 » Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:33 pm

I wrote this in a few sittings, so I'm not sure if it's entirely cohesive. If you guys could comment on the content, style, grammar, word choice, execution, and anything else that you think needs work. I'm sure there are parts that I should entirely eliminate and parts that I should elaborate on. PLEASE help me, I'm pretty stuck right now. Thank you in advance for the help.

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Last edited by speedyj88 on Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ArchRoark
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Re: Medical Struggle Personal Statement - PLEASE tear it apart

Postby ArchRoark » Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:02 am

Captivated my attention... imho well done.

Few things:
how one must truly carpe diem, seize the day


Very cliche. Personally, I wouldn't use latin. However, if you are set on it, you need to italicize non-english words.

The only other suggestion is I am not sure if I would weave in the addendum. I would just build on how it made your more determined/responsible/etc... and then leave the GPA to it's own addendum with dry facts.

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speedyj88
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Re: Medical Struggle Personal Statement - PLEASE tear it apart

Postby speedyj88 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:49 pm

Tiva wrote:Captivated my attention... imho well done.

Few things:
how one must truly carpe diem, seize the day


Very cliche. Personally, I wouldn't use latin. However, if you are set on it, you need to italicize non-english words.

The only other suggestion is I am not sure if I would weave in the addendum. I would just build on how it made your more determined/responsible/etc... and then leave the GPA to it's own addendum with dry facts.

Thank you so much for your help!

With response to leaving out the GPA part, would you recommend eliminating the part about receiving the grades which led to the commitment as well as the concrete results, or just leave out the fact that I raised my grades?

Let me know if I'm off-base here, but I was thinking that if I could show a concrete change, it would show my change/determination more so than if I just stated I had said determination. Additionally, I was planning on writing a separate GPA addendum that outlined specific GPA numbers before and after my treatment.

Any other help would be extremely welcome, thanks.

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Excellence = a Habit
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Re: Medical Struggle Personal Statement - PLEASE tear it apart

Postby Excellence = a Habit » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:18 pm

I think you've got great content to work with here. I noticed one structural thing that sort of jarred me as a reader: You open with the hospital scene, which seems to be the "all's well that ends well, we can reflect backwards from here" moment - but then it turns out to have been the middle. One potential reason for doing this would be to hammer home the sense of how long and arduous the process of treatment was - you thought you were out of the woods, and instead you had to summon the strength to keep going through radiation. This is definitely a powerful narrative. But from the reader's perspective, telling it in this order ends up making me feel like the story is uneven: Seeming victory, flashback to the beginning of the challenge, another description of the seeming victory, then the news that the victory was hollow or incomplete, then quickly a resolution of the new challenge (radiation), and on to the lessons learned. The narrative would be smoother and more satisfying if the conflict were expressed as one chunk in this case. I think starting with the beginning of the challenge - hearing the news from your dad - would be a powerful intro. Maybe describe in a little greater detail the feeling of your world crashing down - how the news changed you. I might eliminate the paragraph about your mentally preparing for the talk with your dad because you sound a little like a sullen teenager.

I agree with the previous poster that the "seize the day" message is a little worn. But almost any cliche can be improved upon by adding personal details. The reader has a powerful reason to believe that you value life more than the average applicant. But I feel like that point isn't really driven home yet - I'm not totally convinced. Perhaps a snapshot of a moment when you really came to the realization that you had to put your all into everything you did - with specific images and descriptive words - would help. Good luck!

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Excellence = a Habit
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Re: Medical Struggle Personal Statement - PLEASE tear it apart

Postby Excellence = a Habit » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:20 pm

Oh yes, and I don't think that the anecdote of you telling the joke when you wake up in the hospital bed is good enough to spend so much time on it. I could be wrong here, of course, but it comes off as corny without really giving me a satisfying glimpse at your personality.

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speedyj88
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Re: Medical Struggle Personal Statement - PLEASE tear it apart

Postby speedyj88 » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:49 pm

Excellence,

Thank you so much for your response. That was extremely helpful. I was actually struggling with my execution of the story (picking the middle of the story to start telling it) and I just wanted to see if anyone else thought it was weird that I did it that way. I actually had another version, in which I started telling the story from the beginning. I'll rework that one with the updates I had in this one and repost a second draft.

Regarding the joke, I guess my intent with it was to keep it as a light hearted story because I really didn't want it to become a sob-story with an adcomm thinking I was just trying to gain their sympathy to get into their school. I also thought that maybe it'd give a little glimpse into my personality of staying positive in a rough time, I'm not sure, I guess I didn't execute it correctly.

I'll try again and see what I can do. Maybe I was doing the wrong thing but I wanted to show my immaturity at the time of finding out the news and then the change of tone when I was ready to accept my challenge and move on with my life. The more I think about it, it could be a mistake to make myself sound immature at any point in the personal statement, even though it was before my experience.

Thanks again, I'll post up a new version in the next couple of days. If anyone else has any other advice, I'd love to hear it to work it into my new draft.

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Excellence = a Habit
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Re: Medical Struggle Personal Statement - PLEASE tear it apart

Postby Excellence = a Habit » Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:06 pm

Sweet. Reading over your statement, I can see what you were going for with the immaturity --> maturity thing. It could be worth keeping in some form to help demonstrate your "personal transformation" case. Perhaps if you make it a little more explicit that part of your transformation was away from the attitude demonstrated by that anecdote?

Re the joke -- gotcha on the light-heartedness. You've probably put a lot more thought into people's perceptions of your illness than I have, so you're in a better position to know what the pitfalls might be of presenting the story purely seriously. But from my outsider's perspective, I don't think there's anything wrong with treating the story solemnly. It doesn't come off as a sob story at all -- but you have a earned the right to take it seriously, and that's obvious. If you want to stick with the joke anecdote, expressing it in a way that sounds less Pollyanna-ish would help a lot.




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