Need feedback!!! Please Critique

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Need feedback!!! Please Critique

Postby TonyBender » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:35 pm

I’m sitting at a desk situated in the corner of my classroom, a temporary T-building, which stands independently in the parking lot of a high school in Houston. It’s a neighborhood called Trinity Garden, a fact made blatantly clear by the abundance of the letters “TG” found carved into nearly every possible fixture. Of the 152 students to enter my 9th grade class, five have children of their own, eight are pregnant and several have been held back—their age’s range from 14-to 18-years-old. One student was in the 5th grade last year—only promoted to the 9th because his teacher couldn’t justify keeping a 15-year-old in the fifth grade for the 5th consecutive year. Over the next 180 days it is my job to teach, inspire and hopefully empower these students to overcome the adversity that they now face. My eyes scan the room, analyzing the decorations and words of encouragement I have meticulously posted on each wall. Adjacent to the door is a bulletin board where I’ve posted the class motto: “We Believe We Can Achieve.” If asked about the saying I would reply that it’s something I’ve always believed in, but my actions haven’t always truly embodied its essence. Interestingly, it took my brother, whose high school years resembled that of my students, to make me fully understand this motto.
I met my brother in Belize City during the winter break of my sophomore year. We spent a month backpacking nearly all of Central America. From the coasts of Belize to the mountains of Nicaragua, we had plenty of time to reflect on what led each of us to that point in our lives. My brother’s story was quite different from mine. While I was an honor roll high school student, my brother was placed into an alternative education program to ensure he could acquire all the credits he needed. After high school I went directly to college, my brother lived at my mom’s house selling cell phones by day and partying by night. One particular party landed him with an assault charge, a DUI and over two weeks in county jail. The brother I met in Central America was a different man. Nearly two years passed since I saw him last. In that time he moved to California, enrolled in a community college where he received a 4.0 GPA and transferred to UCLA as a full time student. At that time in my life I was a mediocre sophomore student at Willamette University, doing fine but not excelling. Our roles had taken a turn since high school. The transformation my brother reiterated to me was simple: “the only difference between excellence and mediocrity is the belief and desire to make it happen.” Essentially, if you believe you can achieve.
I returned to school the following spring feeling like a new man. I started each day at 6:00AM with a workout, attended every class and completed every assignment without procrastinating. I had a better understanding of the material and it showed on my performance. I was eager to apply myself. The fraternity I rushed was in bad shape and I was up for the challenge. My class inherited a burdensome $13,000 in university debt, $7,000 owed to the national organization and university sanctions that would have crippled your typical fraternity social club. The previous president commented to me as he passed me the gavel that he was happy the fraternity would be shut down on my watch and not his. I had different plans. The executive board and I put forward an ambitious campaign to change the culture within the house. We got rid of members that weren’t on board to carry us forward, we secured our budget, ensuring that we could pay down half of the university debt and all of the national debt and we emphasized the importance of abiding by the university sanctions, that one slip up would result in our banishment from campus. We successfully changed the culture within the fraternity, which resulted in recruiting the largest incoming class among all fraternities on campus. As I passed the gavel to the incoming president I was sure that the fraternity would be a continued success at Willamette.
Back in the Houston classroom two year after graduating from Willamette, students have been released for the final time. The chairs are empty and the room is quiet once again. Some of my students were resistant in the face of personal growth, but a lot of them came a long way throughout the year. I was able to teach them and, better yet, understand them like few people in their lives have taken the time to do. Ultimately, I got to see first hand how some of the decisions being made in various legislative sessions across the country are having a real impact—how a 15-year-old can be held in the 5th grade for four consecutive years or how an ESL student can be denied commencement due to her inability to pass the exit level test, one that is only offered in English. I want to study law because I want to better understand the legal world where these policies are being written and implemented. There are problems in this world that need to be fixed; I’m not sure if I can fix them, but I want to add my voice to the discussion.

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Re: Need feedback!!! Please Critique

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:39 am

I'm not sure why I should be bothered to read that if you can't even be bothered to break it up into paragraphs. I'm not just being snarky.

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Re: Need feedback!!! Please Critique

Postby AreJay711 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:28 am

blsingindisguise wrote:I'm not sure why I should be bothered to read that if you can't even be bothered to break it up into paragraphs. I'm not just being snarky.

Very true. But, I read it so ill give you my take. Just pick one of the things you wrote about and focus on it. As it is now, this PS is pretty bad. I think most promising topic would be turning your frat around. Oh wait! Maybe teaching your students would be good too! I forgot about your students because they had absolutely no purpose in this PS at all.

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Re: Need feedback!!! Please Critique

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 3:38 am

I would talk about teaching and what you've learned (or not) from the job and the students, not your brother or the frat. It's by far the more compelling topic, and yet it's the one you developed the least (after using it for both the intro and conclusion).

And for the love of everything holy, do not pluralize with an apostrophe.

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Re: Need feedback!!! Please Critique

Postby lalalawya » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:00 am

It almost seems as if you were trying to throw every expeirence you have had into once PS, meaning it reads as if the whole thing is a number of seperate essays. I was honestly really interested in your PS when I thought that you were going to be discussing your classroom, and was somewhat let down when you never mentioned it again.

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Re: Need feedback!!! Please Critique

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:26 am

I enjoyed reading your personal statement. As a second draft, it is excellent in many respects. As a final draft, it needs some revision to condense your message into a more palatable form. You write well & you have a very sincere message. Convincing tone. Interesting observations. Try to break down the material into shorter, more succinct paragraphs to make your essay more appetizing to the reader's eyes.
Try to develop a stronger opening line that reflects your theme. I think that your opening sentence is the greatest weakness in this writing.

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Re: Need feedback!!! Please Critique

Postby ShuckingNotJiving » Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:22 pm

a 15 year old can be held in the 5th grade if he wasn't meeting the standards to pass. What's worse are those who are just passed without meeting the standards, imo.

Anyhow, i agree with others who said you need to focus more on one topic and not go in so many different directions. I found the first paragraph a bit tiresome, with all the teacher-technical talk. You have all these descriptions but you aren't saying much. Also, the opening of your ps, sounds a lot like the PS:

Eighteen months ago, I was sitting at my computer, wedged between a dripping coffee maker to my left and the company’s CFO five feet to my right. Every keystroke shook the flimsy fold-out card table that served as my desk, on loan to the company from another employee’s garage. We were packed in the largest of three rooms in a 2,500 square foot space baking in the heat generated by ten co-workers in close quarters, fifteen running computers, and an abnormally warm summer. On the glass doorway was etched the ghostly lettering of the former company occupying the space, serving as a grim reminder of the ever-present possibility of failure.

that's posted in the example page, especially in terms of profession-specific detail, and the setting of scene. Perhaps that's just a coincindence.

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Re: Need feedback!!! Please Critique

Postby TonyBender » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:46 pm

ShuckingNotJiving wrote:a 15 year old can be held in the 5th grade if he wasn't meeting the standards to pass. What's worse are those who are just passed without meeting the standards, imo.

The problem wasn't that he was held back, it was that he was put through the same academic scenario for 4 consecutive years. If it didn't work the first 3 times it's probably not going to work the 4th time. The bigger problem was that he was eventually skipped through middle school to be placed directly into a 9th grade class. Keeping thirty 9th graders on task is difficult. Keeping a 9th grader with the skills of a 5th grader on task is impossible, and the other 29 students suffered as a result.

Anyways, I appreciate the feedback from everybody. I am going to revise with a better focus on the teaching aspect of the PS. I will re-post when I have an updated draft. Thanks again.

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