Personal Statement Critique Request

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )

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Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:48 pm

Personal Statement Critique Request

Postby fw22mk » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:11 pm

Hello all. If anyone has time, I'd appreciate some feedback. I've been working on this for the last two weeks, if not my whole life. There are a few places I believe are weak and/or need further explication. I've also removed sections. I'm free this weekend to read other statements as well. Just PM me. Best, M.

The first three years of my life are neatly written, typed on a thin piece of paper. I have but a paragraph to tell me of my formative years in Korea. My adoptive family has told me that I cannot trust the memory of that time. My classmates have bullied me for the differences and often told me to “go back home.” The organization that assisted my arrival here has asked me to stop sending letters, to stop dreaming that my birth mother will suddenly remember to come check in on me. My department chair has said it is impossible to regain the sounds and words of those first few years. My dear girlfriend has said to move forward, to not stay so cemented in the past. And I have, myself, questioned if I can ever truly overcome my desire to simply know who I am.

There are words that define us, words such as smart and pretty, brave and kind. And then there are words that divide, words whose connotation cut. Before I began high school, even before I understood the intent behind such words, behind the ignorance and hatred, I would be confronted with words of whose power I knew not, words such as chink and gook, separation and divorce, adopted and fatherless.

During high school, I began sending letters to my orphanage. What I received was rather ominous. One of the letters that I received informed me that my birth mother had given birth to me in a women’s prison, that she was an orphan herself, and that she tried to raise me with the help of her mother. But all I know to be true, all I know for fact is that a man and woman existed before me. Everything else is emotional, fictional, invented.

During my undergraduate studies, I became rather obsessed with finding the truth and with finding myself. I joined a local adoptee group, wrote an article for the school’s Asian-American journal, worked to create an adoptee group on campus, volunteered at an adoptee summer camp, and participated on the panel at an international adoptee conference. The only thing left to do was to pursue Asian studies in some capacity.

Unfortunately, my school did not offer Korean as a major. But after some research on the language, I switched my major from English to Japanese. Grammatically, they are very similar. I had thought if I could learn Japanese well, Korean would be easy. But, it was not easy. Instead of internalizing irregular Japanese verbs and practicing Kanji more, I spent weeks and months and semesters writing letters to the orphanage, studying the maps in the East Asian department, searching for this prison, assuming the best and worst case scenario. I spent countless months studying Korean because I began to see the irony in learning Japanese.

With the assistance and compassion of my Japanese literature professor, I came to understand that studying Japanese and wanting to translate the literature was a false pretense, a lie. Being a Japanese major did not make me Asian. Learning the language would not get me any closer. In my mediocrity with Japanese, I realized that I might never learn, never fully understand, and therefore, never fully be Korean. I felt I had failed my culture, failed a part of me I longed to awaken.

I had surely wanted a challenge, wanted something more than the stuffiness of English literature, a reason to be with other Asians and people who also wanted to learn an Asian language. But in all honesty, I had no idea what I wanted from college, or whether I belonged there. I only knew I wanted stability; I knew for sure that I wanted to find my birth mother and ask her that fundamental question that had reverberated for so many years.

Without any regrets and much to my adoptive mother’s dismay and worry and perhaps fear that I would never come back, I boarded a flight alone, headed for the land of the morning calm, for Korea. I was bound for a place that at times seemed so familiar and so utterly like a fairytale. It proved to be both.

What I came to learn from that trip was that I could never truly or wholly be Korean or American. I would be perpetually in the middle. But I also realized the unique perspective on life that I was granted. My perspective is not the same as a Korean or Korean-American or American. I do not look anything like my Irish-German mother or my Caucasian relatives. But that is the point. I do not see color or race. I do not pass judgment so hastily.

While it was extremely disheartening that I was unable to find the prison or any more information about my birth parents, I realized I could no longer remain an extemporaneous student of life. During my undergraduate years, I learned invaluable lessons, lessons where a grade would be rather spurious.

I do not think many people spend the better part of their lives questioning the veridicality of their beginnings, their existence and essence. I do not think many adopted children face the prospect of a worse situation from which they initially came. But adoptees have all suffered that trauma. The assumption is that love will solve and conquer all. The assumption is that the law will protect the innocent, that it will right wrongs, that it will protect.

And yet, I have learned the difficulties my adoptive mother faced when my adoptive father did not pay child support because they were not legally divorced, when she worked two full time jobs to pay the mortgage, when she finally finalized the divorce papers despite her Catholic upbringing, when she apologized for a childhood that had not been normal or even fair.

I am an older applicant, someone who is weathered, but someone who believes that past experiences cannot be marginalized or ignored if one is to foster a more positive future. I understand that I cannot change the world dramatically, that life is not fair. What I can bring to your school is a profound and deep perspective on the modern American life and the relationships it entails. I can offer a thoughtful and meditative process to the study of law. And with that knowledge, I hope to be a persevering voice in public interest law, in particular family law, because children have every right to know themselves, their families, stability.


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Re: Personal Statement Critique Request

Postby WhirledWorld » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:02 pm

Last edited by WhirledWorld on Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:48 pm

Re: Personal Statement Critique Request

Postby fw22mk » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:10 pm


I really appreciate the comments and honesty. Beyond some of the grammar issues, I had suspected I needed to compress it more. Thank you again. And I will certainly try to end on a high note.


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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:22 pm

Re: Personal Statement Critique Request

Postby ck3ku » Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:28 pm

I like your conclusion the best but I think the structure needs work.

It seems to be jumping all over the place and rather than trying to tell your story chronologically, make it more of a point-by-point statement.

Like...start off with how you felt anonymous despite the identification clearly written on the piece of paper--how you felt distanced from what you were supposed to be because you simply did not have any emotional ties to your past; how it felt like you were looking through a lens as an observer, not the participant of your own life, maybe.

I'd personally delete the whole section about you becoming a Japanese major. When I read how you thought it would be easier to learn Korean because the grammar structure was similar, I literally thought, "wtf." I get what you're saying but it almost sounds idiotic, that would be like learning French to gain a better understanding of Italian because they're both derived from Latin roots ( I say French and not Spanish because Spanish is much closer to Italian than Japanese is to Korean).

In my opinion, I'd put it as something like this:

1. You were lost and felt detached because you were desperately seeking for your identity because you need to know where you come from to know where you're going, thus not only were you in search of your past, you were hoping it would lead to your future or at least that it would engender a sense of direction within you.

2. You did everything you could to try to find your roots; you went to a foreign country all by yourself without speaking the language fluently. At the end of the day, the search resulted in no tangible results or fruition of your efforts.

3. You found yourself through a different past--the one you recall experiencing. It was through your adopted family and life here that you found your belonging.

The whole time I was reading it, it reminded me of this Korean movie about a guy going through almost the same thing as you. I think it was called My Father or something. Maybe you've seen it, I don't know.

This could really be a great personal statement, just make sure you tie it in with law school somehow or come off as too valuable for the adcom to let go.

Good luck :D

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