Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
MPeterson
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Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby MPeterson » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:03 pm

We often associate leadership with popularity. After all, how can you lead without popular support? "Leadership" conjures images of wildly popular politicians, addressing throngs of zealous supporters. Sometimes, though, real leadership comes not in popularity but in opposition to it, as I discovered early in my college career.
During my first semester, many students renewed the age-old call for a football program at my historically football-less university. The school newspaper, student government association, and even the faculty senate stood united for establishing a team. To demonstrate the student support, the student government began circulating a petition calling for a $150-per-semester fee increase to finance the new program. On my way out of class one day, I was waved down and called upon to fix my signature to that petition. When I refused, the asker was baffled, as if no one had ever rejected his request, but I was strong in my opinion. "Why can't the program pay for itself?" I asked. "If you don't expect it to sell enough tickets, then why have it?"
As I walked home that day, my opinion hardened. Most students would never sit in a bleacher for a game, nor derive an iota of benefit from it, so why should they pay for it? If enough people are not willing to give money, either through tickets or donations, to support the astronomical costs of such a program, then what kind of support did it really have? Being in favor of something is far from being willing to pay for it.
I resolved to put these arguments to the test by leading a movement against the proposal. I wrote articles criticizing it, talked to the press, and gathered other dissidents. I countered the pro-football petition with one of my own and poured time into getting my own signatures. Between classes, evenings, even weekends, all were dedicated to the petition drive. After a few months, I could boast my own respectable total: about 600 signatures.
Being against a football program in lower Alabama could not be more unpopular among the general population, though. In many newspaper accounts, I was merely labeled "the freshman." One anonymous person told the local paper "that freshman kid" was "screwing it all up" and "throwing a monkey wrench" into the program. Far from discouraging me, however, this just steeled my resolve.
The big day came near the end of the semester: The Board of Trustees were set to vote on the football program, and I was asked to address the body. With my favorite pin-stripe suit, red power tie, and high school loafers, I waited patiently in a leather chair by the long, shiny table. An unceremonious "We will now hear from Matthew Peterson" called me to address the group of skeptical faces. As I spoke, the curious looks turned to frowns. What else did I expect? They were the Board of Trustees of a 14,000-student university poised to triumphantly launch a football program. I stood as a mere freshman who had spent the last semester working to prevent that celebration.
Though that inevitable celebration came, I could celebrate the fact that I led an opposition, against impossible odds, all the way to the Board of Trustees.

Slapsgiving
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby Slapsgiving » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:32 pm

This doesn't demonstrate leadership. I'd scrap the topic. It's a minute facet of yourself, with poor development; ultimately lacking a genuine voice. Honestly, the reviewers would completely discount your top job at the Vanguard for submitting such poor writing.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:36 pm

I think that you mean "improbable" odds, not "impossible".

CanadianWolf
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:41 pm

Much better than your prior draft. Your leadership role is clear to me. You may want to add a line about your position as editor-in-chief of the university newspaper. Your first paragraph is very well done. Overall this is a good personal statement. Word selection, however, is very important. Subtlety is usually better than overt directness.
Law school admissions officers may appreciate your willingness to stand up for your beliefs even though unpopular.

MPeterson
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby MPeterson » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:51 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Much better than your prior draft. Your leadership role is clear to me. You may want to add a line about your position as editor-in-chief of the university newspaper. Your first paragraph is very well done. Overall this is a good personal statement. Word selection, however, is very important. Subtlety is usually better than overt directness.
Law school admissioms officers may appreciate your willingness to stand up for your beliefs even though unpopular.


Thanks, but I really don't know how to weave the EIC thing into this. I could mention that I was EIC when football finally took the field, but that would take too much space, as I'm at length requirement as it is. I feel like any other mention would seem like an afterthought. Do you have any ideas?

Also, do you have any examples of w/c issues other than "impossible"?

Slapsgiving
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby Slapsgiving » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:53 pm

Additionally, a review of the USA Board of Trustees published minutes for that meeting don't reflect your claimed statements. I'm not saying that it didn't occur, but this would concern me if I were a critical reviewer that was unable to verify your statement. Likely, just poor recording of the minutes as most are quite detailed. On a more helpful level, your sentences are too staccato and the transitions aren't very fluid.

MPeterson
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby MPeterson » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:05 pm

Slapsgiving wrote:Additionally, a review of the USA Board of Trustees published minutes for that meeting don't reflect your claimed statements. I'm not saying that it didn't occur, but this would concern me if I were a critical reviewer that was unable to verify your statement. Likely, just poor recording of the minutes as most are quite detailed. On a more helpful level, your sentences are too staccato and the transitions aren't very fluid.



This was the "committee of the whole" meeting, not the regular board meeting, which I did not participate in. Do you think that's worth noting for someone who, like in your case, looks to confirm the statement?

EDIT: I'm not very satisfied with the flow of it either, and I'll be working on it extensively for the next few days. Could you explain more why you don't like the topic, though? My reasoning was that it a.) is not reflected on my resume or anywhere else and is b.) pretty unique -- How many people can say they stood up to the Board of Trustees at all in their college career, much less in their freshman year?

Slapsgiving
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby Slapsgiving » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:11 pm

I may just be overly critical. It could be tricky to appropriately work in the clarification. I imagine that it would be easier for one of your recommenders to simply corroborate the event in their letter. Just make them aware that you're proud of that particular effort and that you believe it would be an important inclusion.

Slapsgiving
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby Slapsgiving » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:35 pm

I share your sentiment regarding the allocation of student service fees. Your PS may benefit from developing around that belief. As it stands, I think your PS portrays you as a stick in the mud. Modify it to further reflect how you believe the allocation of these funds are ultimately a disservice to the student community. That would portray you as a more conscientious student that is a proactive participant instead of just another voice of dissent. Be careful about this PS if you're applying to the larger law school in the state.
You'd be surprised at how many students interact with the Trustees at other universities. I've addressed mine as a graduate student. Most undergrad. and grad. SGA presidents have this interaction.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:44 pm

"astronomical" might be better stated as "unduly burdensome" &
"dissidents" might be better stated as " concerned students". Also your use of the term "pro-football" may confuse some readers since you mean "those in favor of establishing a football team" & not "professional football".
CONSIDER: "Strengthened" instead of "steeled" my resolve.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

MPeterson
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby MPeterson » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:53 pm

Slapsgiving wrote:I share your sentiment regarding the allocation of student service fees. Your PS may benefit from developing around that belief. As it stands, I think your PS portrays you as a stick in the mud. Modify it to further reflect how you believe the allocation of these funds are ultimately a disservice to the student community. That would portray you as a more conscientious student that is a proactive participant instead of just another voice of dissent. Be careful about this PS if you're applying to the larger law school in the state.
You'd be surprised at how many students interact with the Trustees at other universities. I've addressed mine as a graduate student. Most undergrad. and grad. SGA presidents have this interaction.



Here's that paragraph, redone:

As I walked home that day, my opinion crystallized. Most students would never sit in a bleacher for a game, nor derive an iota of benefit from it, so why should they pay for it? We have an easy alternative: Abolish the fee, so the people who want to pay for the program can through tickets and donations, while those that do not want to, do not have to. That way, no one would have to pay for something they have no interest in. I was not opposed to football in general, just making everyone pay for it.


Does that address it better, you think?

sandaltan
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby sandaltan » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:56 pm

"I stood...to prevent that celebration."

gj buzz mckillington. you sound fun.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:57 pm

In my opinion, your proposed paragraph is not good & is less effective.

MPeterson
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby MPeterson » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:07 am

CanadianWolf wrote:In my opinion, your proposed paragraph is not good & is less effective.



What about this?

As I walked home that day, my opinion crystallized. Most students would never sit in a bleacher for a game, nor derive an iota of benefit from it, so why should they pay for it? The burden should be allocated to those who use and benefit from the program. If there are not enough people to pay for it willingly through ticket sales and donations, then is there even enough support to warrant establishing it?

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Kchuck
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby Kchuck » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:13 am

Oh no...

If I was in Admissions and I read this statement I would certainly not be interested in admitting you. Not trying to sound douchey but you sound ridiculous. You essentially created a movement against football for the sake of being the opposition, and you're trying to con that off as showing leadership? I'd find another topic. In my opinion, the only compelling statements that base their narrative around opposition to something are those that oppose something that nearly everyone opposes (eg social injustice). Overall, I think your statement was lacking and it doesn't make you sound like a very likeable or interesting person.

MPeterson
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby MPeterson » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:21 am

Kchuck wrote:Oh no...

If I was in Admissions and I read this statement I would certainly not be interested in admitting you. Not trying to sound douchey but you sound ridiculous. You essentially created a movement against football for the sake of being the opposition, and you're trying to con that off as showing leadership? I'd find another topic. In my opinion, the only compelling statements that base their narrative around opposition to something are those that oppose something that nearly everyone opposes (eg social injustice). Overall, I think your statement was lacking and it doesn't make you sound like a very likeable or interesting person.


I definitely meant to make sure that I didn't seem like I was opposing it for the sake of opposing it. Is that how it came off?

CanadianWolf
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Re: Re-Written PS: Please Tear Apart!

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:28 am

Softening some of your word choices may help alleviate concern about offending admissions officers.




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