Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
KHM101010
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Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby KHM101010 » Sun Oct 10, 2010 10:48 pm

Hi All..This is my first (and incomplete) draft and I may have to abandon it all together. At the risk of sounding like a teenager complaining of boyfriend problems, I am weary of using this version. However, the honest truth is that it changed my life and is the only way I know how to explain my dip in grades and loss of focus. The honest details would explain the direct reasons for slipping grades (ie. stalking/avoiding class or work/fear), but I feel as though those details make it very uncomfortable for the reader, and in the end the main point is how I overcame it and the changes that came thereafter. Please help. Is this topic inappropriate? Also, please rip apart for structure/sequence/everything :)


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A lot of the paragraphs are incomplete, but I just don't want to continue developing on an idea if I am going to have to scrap the whole thing. Let me know what you guys think!
Last edited by KHM101010 on Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

KHM101010
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Re: Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby KHM101010 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:47 pm

Anyone? I'll swap!

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4for44
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Re: Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby 4for44 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:57 pm

KHM101010 wrote:Anyone? I'll swap!


See PM

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Flett
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Re: Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby Flett » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:58 pm

I think the trip and the way writing became important to you and led to more really good things is a strong starting point. However, I think I would just leave the boy out entirely.

Instead of, "I had high hopes for my freshmen year ... compelled my silence," is there anything school related that you could attribute as the cause of the Crohn's to return? I do understand your reasons for including him in these parts of the story, but the final goodbye call, with no end to the story, feels like a lose end.

KHM101010
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Re: Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby KHM101010 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:10 pm

Thanks for the comments. After reading the essay more and more, I see how it can seem to a reader who does not know the situation. I want to be able to be honest about domestic abuse, but unfortunately there is no real way around it without it potentially sounding like a love story gone wrong or something. It was a couple years of abuse and stalking and fear and it took a lot of legal action to put it to an end but that is all very personal and can become very uncomfortable for the reader. I tried to mention it as little as possible while trying to relay the intensity of it all, but it's a tough. I may have to leave it out completely or just go in the direction of Crohn's only. I hate leaving out the truth but it may be for the best.

Again, thanks for the comment. I'm in total agreement :?

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billyez
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Re: Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby billyez » Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:49 pm

EDIT: This critique was made before the above post. I believe this is important because it goes to my critique of the role of the relationship in the PS. With the above post in mind, I'd advocate scrapping the relationship aspect altogether if the OP is uncomfortable writing about it. Having read PS's about sensitive topics like this, it's rather important to attack these issues head-on. If you can't, that's okay and perfectly understandable - but I don't think it should be in a PS if that's the case.

I don't typically critique these anymore, but I saw you mentioned Gibraltar and I thought I'd throw my two cents in - with the typical refrain that this is merely my opinion and nothing more.

None of these ideas are fully developed. What is this PS about? Is it about the Crohn's disease? Is it about the abusive relationship? I sense that you were attempting to use both to demonstrate your resilence. That would be fine if both of these points were developed in a manner that didn't distract or even confuse the reader about the central point of the essay. If you're objective is to use multiple issues to demonstrate a single point then you need to make sure that you tie those issues together as tightly as possible. What you have here is a very loose connection.

This is demonstrated by the fact that you don't mention anything about the Crohn's disease in the opening paragraph. That paragraph primes the reader to believe that this is a journey about the abusive relationship and how the trip you took was symbolic of not just your rejection of that relationship but how you became a more resilient person as a result of it. Instead, we're greeted by a paragraph that completely changes the subject. Not only that, but despite the apparent importance the first paragraph places on the abusive relationship aspect you barely talk about it. I counted six sentences that explicitly mention the relationship and I see whole paragraphs dedicated to the Crohn's disease.

Note that I'm not advocating for you to scrap this. The story has weight and the potential to reveal an admirable characteristic that you possess. The point of a PS is to do precisely that - to illustrate an aspect of yourself that differentiates you from other candidates and informs the admission officers about the kind of person you are. This PS has a sense of purpose but it lacks the clarity necessary to make it truly effective. In my opinion, a decisoin must be made; what subject do you want this to be about?

If you do want to include both the Crohn's disease and the relationship in the story, then you need to tie them together in a more effective manner. This actually wouldn't be that difficult. Reconfigure the first paragraph so it mentions both stories rather than just one. Also, since both these stories go to one central aspect - your resilience - tie the theme of resilience into the climb of the Rock of Gibraltar. I mean, you climbed the Rock. The metaphor for resilience is basically crying out for a quick mention there. The journey of climbing it is a perfect metaphor for how you resolved to overcome both challenges.

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Flett
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Re: Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby Flett » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:29 am

billyez wrote: Also, since both these stories go to one central aspect - your resilience - tie the theme of resilience into the climb of the Rock of Gibraltar. I mean, you climbed the Rock. The metaphor for resilience is basically crying out for a quick mention there. The journey of climbing it is a perfect metaphor for how you resolved to overcome both challenges.


This is excellent. :D

CanadianWolf
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Re: Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:43 am

I loved reading your personal statement essay. Although there are a couple of phrases that need modification (for example: "Reluctant to failure..."), I really enjoyed getting to know you. And that may be the best compliment for one's law school personal statement.

Mildly troubling, however, is your declaration that several of the paragraphs are incomplete. Your theme is developed & effectively communicated.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

KHM101010
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Re: Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby KHM101010 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:59 am

Hi All,

Thank you all so much for your critiques. Billyez--I really appreciate the detail you went into to explain the flaws of this essay. These comments really allow me to step outside of the situation and see the essay from a different point of view.

It's not that I am uncomfortable discussing the relationship--I think it's more that I don't really know how to write about it in a way that is moving but not uncomfortable for the reader. That said, I should probably either get better at relaying the story or take it out completely. The Crohn's disease only affected me in high school (when I was diagnosed) and then again my sophomore year (triggered by the stress of the relationship). How can I explain the loss of focus between those two times? I mean I could give very general time frames regarding the illness and blame it all on that. There were many days in college I was unable to get out of bed for 2 or 3 days at a time because of short-term flare ups. I've gotten so used to the disease that I think I've lost touch with how moving/unmoving it can be to an outsider. It's just a part of my life that I have accepted and integrated into my lifestyle. The relationship, however, is certainly not--which I why I feel it is something I have truly "overcome".

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AreJay711
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Re: Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby AreJay711 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:26 pm

KHM101010 wrote:Hi All,

Thank you all so much for your critiques. Billyez--I really appreciate the detail you went into to explain the flaws of this essay. These comments really allow me to step outside of the situation and see the essay from a different point of view.

It's not that I am uncomfortable discussing the relationship--I think it's more that I don't really know how to write about it in a way that is moving but not uncomfortable for the reader. That said, I should probably either get better at relaying the story or take it out completely. The Crohn's disease only affected me in high school (when I was diagnosed) and then again my sophomore year (triggered by the stress of the relationship). How can I explain the loss of focus between those two times? I mean I could give very general time frames regarding the illness and blame it all on that. There were many days in college I was unable to get out of bed for 2 or 3 days at a time because of short-term flare ups. I've gotten so used to the disease that I think I've lost touch with how moving/unmoving it can be to an outsider. It's just a part of my life that I have accepted and integrated into my lifestyle. The relationship, however, is certainly not--which I why I feel it is something I have truly "overcome".


Why can't you just come out and say you were the victim of domestic abuse? You don't need to explain it or your relationship just that is what set off your Crohn's. There is a HUGE difference between writing about relationship problems and writing that someone you trusted (maybe even loved) assaulted you and caused an autoimmune disorder to flare up. Otherwise the stress of law school might make adcomms worry about admitting you. It could just be a passing mention -- there is no real need for explanation as to why it caused you so much stress. Moreover, it would help the reader understand WHY you went on the trip. I was wondering that as I had not read your earlier draft.

KHM101010
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Re: Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby KHM101010 » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:13 am

Hi Guys!

I know it's been some time so you may have forgotten all about what my PS was about but I had to take a break to study and since I'm desperate once more for criticism, I've posted by 2nd draft here. I've tweaked it a bit according to the criticism you guys gave me a couple months ago but I know there's still a long ways to go and unfortunately I'm trying to submit everything asap. Please critique if you can!! It would be GREATLY appreciated.

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Deleted.
Last edited by KHM101010 on Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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SMA22
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Re: Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby SMA22 » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:23 am

I'd like to make the suggestion that some of the "obstacles overcome" would work better in a diversity statement than a personal statement. Likewise with your struggles with grades and Chrohn's--you can exlpain that you were ill in an addendum. Your personal statement is a chance for you to shine--you've obviously overcome a lot, but this does not make you shine as it could.

I can tell you are a very positive person, but this does read like a Greek tragedy and will scream "I'm traumatized" to adcomms. (My first drafts were the same!) You are not the sum of all of the terrible things that have happened to you. Let your personal statement not be an explanation, but rather an introduction to the type of person you are.

Best of luck to you!

KHM101010
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Re: Sensitive Topics--Need honest criticism!!

Postby KHM101010 » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:38 am

Thanks so much for this. I may have to sit and think about whether I want to change the whole thing, but I'm a little scared to start from scratch. Perhaps I could just make it less dramatic? I could lessen the mention of my brother and shorten both the Crohns and domestic abuse to make them less sad, but rather just obstacles I overcame and then focus on the good that came thereafter? I dont know-- is my problem maybe just an imbalance of emphasis? I understand that they are fitting for an addendum but they also shaped me, were catalysts to my major change, and definitely forces in why I want to take on the challenge of law school.

What do you think?




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