My PS: Please Critique!

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MPeterson
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My PS: Please Critique!

Postby MPeterson » Wed Sep 29, 2010 4:43 pm

Here it is. Tear it up!

Dressed in my favorite pin-stripe suit, red power tie, and loafers, I waited anxiously in a leather chair beside the large, shining table. With a non-ceremonious "We'll hear from [My name]," I rose, trying to appear confident, to address the group of serious faces. I glanced one last time at my scrawled notes and spoke, with frowns slowly coming across the gathered faces. What else did I expect? I stood as a mere freshman. They were the Board of Trustees of a 14,000-student university and not fond of what I had to say. My university was poised to triumphantly launch a football program, and I was doing everything I could to stop it, voicing my concerns to newspapers, collecting more than 600 signatures against the program, and not holding back.
Despite my efforts, the celebration came the next day. The Board voted unanimously to establish a football program and charge each student $150 per semester to support it. My relationship with the University's administration was far from over, though.
A semester later, I took the opinion editor position at the school newspaper, after applying on a whim. This offhand decision would consume a majority of my time and have a great effect on me, even though I could not see it at the time. After spending the fall of my sophomore year throwing jabs at the administration through my column, I branched out to news writing, meaning I would have to face those same administrators I had criticized in a context in which I was supposed to be neutral. Strangely, I developed an amicable, respectful relationship with them and even count the Public Relations director as one of my recommenders.
During the spring, I decided to apply for editor-in-chief of the paper. My competition was the managing editor, the heir apparent. After preparing for the interview non-stop during the months preceding the selection, I was chosen over her. Her disappointment was only aggravated by me being younger than she was and a non-journalism major. In spite of this animosity, I needed her to stay on the paper and convinced her to do so after a long discussion. Having to make tough leadership decisions did not stop there, of course. Despite being the youngest person on staff, I had to be the leader, making the tough decisions and having the final authority over the paper. Halfway through my tenure, some problems impelled me to release four of my editors, all of whom I counted as my friends even before they took the positions. I told myself I had a job to do and let them go as respectfully as possible.
Throughout my life, I have filled roles that seemed overwhelming and succeeded despite that -- my Eagle Scout project, the movement against football, and editor of the school newspaper, to name a few. I gravitate to leadership and embrace it, even when I have to make hard decisions no one else wants to. On the Mock Trial team and even tutoring high school students for the ACT, I assumed informal leadership positions, guiding practices and leading sessions. Though leadership positions can be shown on a résumé, true leadership cannot -- One can hold a leadership position without being a leader. I have done both.

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bk1
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Re: My PS: Please Critique!

Postby bk1 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 4:52 pm

1. It is all over the place. You bounce from the anti-football speech to the newspaper to being EIC without enough time to really touch on any of them. For example the anti-football thing is woefully inadequate. Why were you against it? What lead you to giving a speech in front of 14k people? Etc, etc. Narrow it down to one topic and focus on that topic.

2. You do a lot of telling rather than showing. You say that you were a leader and say all the things you did, but you don't really show yourself being a true leader outside of the fact that you got the EIC position. The key to good writing is showing yourself and letting the reader draw the conclusion from it rather than just shoving that conclusion in their face.

3. You regurgitate your resume. Talking about all the positions you got is merely just restating what is on your resume. It gets worse when you get to the last paragraph and rattle off leadership positions. Don't do this.

I would suggest rewriting entirely.

CanadianWolf
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Re: My PS: Please Critique!

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 29, 2010 4:53 pm

You protested football in Alabama ?!!!? = Score: Alabama Football 1 Common Sense 0

Your essay typifies the difference between ordinary newspaper writing and Christian Science Monitor award winning journalism.
Unfortunately your personal statement lacks substance, cleverness & persuaviness. The writing is good, the tone needs improvement. Rather than a personal statement this is more of a written expansion of your resume telling the reader that you are a leader. Your essay might be more interesting & insightful if you related how you convinced the managing editor to stay on at the student newspaper after being passed over for the editor-in-chief position.

MPeterson
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Re: My PS: Please Critique!

Postby MPeterson » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:10 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:You protested football in Alabama ?!!!? = Score: Alabama Football 1 Common Sense 0

Your essay typifies the difference between ordinary newspaper writing and Christian Science Monitor award winning journalism.
Unfortunately your personal statement lacks substance, cleverness & persuaviness. The writing is good, the tone needs improvement. Rather than a personal statement this is more of a written expansion of your resume telling the reader that you are a leader. Your essay might be more interesting & insightful if you related how you convinced the managing editor to stay on at the student newspaper after being passed over for the editor-in-chief position.



Yeah, I may just concentrate on the football thing, since that isn't listed on my resume. I may be biting off way more than I need to be with trying to write about both football and the newspaper.

This kind of goes to bk's #1.

CanadianWolf
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Re: My PS: Please Critique!

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:13 pm

I don't think that your essay is scattered as the theme of leadership is clearly evident; it just isn't presented in a persuasive or substantive fashion. Rather than using cleverness or a soft tone, you presented your writing as a "bull in a china shop".

MPeterson
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Re: My PS: Please Critique!

Postby MPeterson » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:15 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:I don't think that your essay is scattered as the theme of leadership is clearly evident; it just isn't presented in a persuasive or substantive fashion.


Right, but this is right at two pages, so I wouldn't have time to expand on that idea, for example, without eliminating something.

CanadianWolf
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Re: My PS: Please Critique!

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:17 pm

Too many details, too little insight. Your theme regarding leadership is appropriate, but in need of refinement in its presentation. Don't approach your personal statement as a newspaper article.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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bk1
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Re: My PS: Please Critique!

Postby bk1 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:17 pm

I would start anew as I noted above. You can salvage the idea but the essay has too many parts that need removing to justify revision as opposed a new one entirely.

MPeterson
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Re: My PS: Please Critique!

Postby MPeterson » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:22 pm

bk1 wrote:I would start anew as I noted above. You can salvage the idea but the essay has too many parts that need removing to justify revision as opposed a new one entirely.

What about the first paragraph? What do you think about keeping that and going into more detail on the football thing?

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bk1
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Re: My PS: Please Critique!

Postby bk1 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:26 pm

MPeterson wrote:What about the first paragraph? What do you think about keeping that and going into more detail on the football thing?


I realized I misread it and you gave a speech to just the board, not the board and the 14k, but that's irrelevant.

Honestly I don't like the way the opening paragraph is written. It is cliche and overdone, imo. It also paints you as cliche (the clothes). The idea of talking about how you came to oppose the football program and what lead you to talking to the board via an opening that starts with that meeting is a good idea, but I would scrap the way it is written now.

CanadianWolf
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Re: My PS: Please Critique!

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:27 pm

You may be taking an ineffective approach to crafting your personal statement as suggested by your last post referring to "the football thing" instead of referring to a theme. If "leadership" is your theme, then consider starting with a more intriguing opening line such as "Leadership and popularity often are not synonymous". Or "Sometimes leadership is dressed in a blue pin-stripped suit with a red power tie and loafers and sometimes...".
As it is I like your opening lines. The essay falters after the sentence about the celebration because you stray from your theme & add too many details, thereby diluting the substance of your theme.
CONSIDER: "Despite my efforts, the inevitable celebration came the next day." and move on. "Despite" & "inevitable" tell the whole story regarding your leadership efforts & the result. The next two sentences should be deleted.
You have to write to & for your audience, your readers. In order to do this successfully you need an objective & a theme crafted in a persuavsive fashion to compel the reader to see your point, appreciate your insight & want to know more about you.




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