Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
bbando
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:22 am

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby bbando » Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:32 am

Working on my third draft, and am unsure about my story. Is it to much of an emotional appeal? Also there are some grammar and spelling errors right now, so try to ignore, I will fix that later. I just want some critique of my overall writing, and some tips to improve it. Thanks!


Ring, ring, ring; no matter how many times I hit the ignore button my cell phone would not stop, first my dad, mother, and then all but one of my five siblings. I was focused at work, up for a promotion at the end of the month and desperately trying to finish a strong month of recruitment. I sent my mother a text letting her know I would call when I got a chance. She returned it with two words that read, “brain tumor”.

I sank in my chair in disbelief. My youngest brother Luke had just got the results back from his MRI showing a large tumor lodged in the right side of his brain. This event has had a major impact on why I want to go to law school which this essay will explain later in fuller detail.

Before this incident happened I had other reasons for going to law school. It all started in my senior year at ASU. I was playing at the top baseball school in the country and aspired one day to join the ranks of my father and uncle as a successful Major Leaguer. However, it was not looking like I was going to get a significant amount of playing time. I decided to quit the baseball team to pursue my career as a pro baseball player. I signed a small contract with a minor league baseball team located in South Carolina, got married, and literally left within three weeks of the marriage ceremony. I played well and was a top producer for the team and in the league, however the pay was terrible and living with another family while married (as we could not afford to live elsewhere) was hard for us. I knew the long road ahead of us if I was going to make it to the big leagues and that the odds were against me. I might have made it but the risk was too big if I did not. I have seen countless players spend ten or more years in the minors, and end up with no education, few job skills, and a large family with little means to support them. Becoming like the players I just mentioned was my biggest fear, so I decided to retire from baseball and do something else with my life. I was always a big dreamer and so I decided I was going to law school.

My road to law school was filled with challenges. I had a low grade point average, and now had little time to make up for it, especially because I now had to be more than just a college student. I had to support myself and my wife financially which meant working a full time job and less time for studying. My poor classroom performance and busy work schedule were going to be hard obstacles to overcome, if I was to get good grades and prepare for the LSAT, but I was determined. My motivation for going to law school at the time had to do with the pursuit of excellence, intellectual, vocational, and to perhaps have the educational background to get into the political sphere. I thought that being an attorney was one of the most respectable and best things a person could become and that the job possibilities for someone with a Juris Doctorate were endless. So I worked hard in the remaining units of my undergraduate receiving top grades in the remaining classes. Despite my strong finish my cumulative grade point average was still low. I realized that a bachelor’s degree might not be enough to get into law school so I enrolled at Grand Canyon University to get my masters of science in leadership. I took double the class load expected and refined my research and writing abilities throughout the program hoping to further prepare myself for the rigors of law school. During this period I was still working full time, had a mortgage, and was newly married. I was working a demanding sales job where I was constantly under the pressure of performing which made everything that much more challenging. However, I was unwavering and finished the two year graduate program in one year, excelled at my job receiving pay increases on two occasions while also being promoted to team leader. During this period I also took on a summer job where I was the head coach for a collegiate summer baseball team where we advanced to the playoffs. I say all this not because I believe I am special for these minor achievements but to show that I have the work ethic and resilience necessary to handle the rigors of law school. I do not claim that I will be the most brilliant student at your institution but I am capable of excelling and I am determined to.

I sat at my desk thinking about Luke and all the times we shared together. Luke had gone through a seizure a week before but the children’s hospital had given him clearance that he was fine. I thought that was strange being that they never gave him an MRI, but never the less we were happy. Apparently he was not fine because he had a second seizure three days later and was rushed off to the emergency room in an ambulance where they discovered the large tumor. I and my wife flew out the next day.

Luke’s new Physician was very upset at the doctors from Children’s hospital. He said the medical staff should have immediately given him an MRI and my mother should be ashamed for not aggressively pursuing one. He was very adamant that Luke could have died within that week, and that we were lucky there was a second seizure. The night before the surgery I was able to spend time with Luke. Luke was 17 with a younger face and knew what he was up against. They had shaved all his hair, and multiple plastic tubes were connected by needles piercing his young veins, I told him it would be okay and said a prayer for him. I gave him a hug and he started to cry, he was terrified. Despite the intense fear of brain surgery and a possible deadly brain tumor, Luke pulled through. The next day he laid in critical condition with bandages around his head, not able to speak, but he was going to be okay. The surgeon promised Luke would live to fight another day.

I sat there in the hospital room realizing that Luke could have died, and how agonizing that would have been for us. It then dawned on me that some families were not as lucky as mine was; sometimes there are “Luke’s” who do die due to the negligence of “experts”. The prospect of law school took on a whole new meaning pointing me in the direction of medical malpractice law. Because of the children’s hospitals carelessness Luke could have died instead of having a second seizure. I realized that being an attorney I would be able to help keep hospitals and doctors accountable for their actions with the hope of preventing future mistakes for the sake of other families. I now have a strong desire to leverage law to make sure that families who seek medical services get full attention. I want patients to be treated fairly and professionally regardless of status. Going to a doctor can be an intimidating process, and a process where patients sometimes feel that the words of a doctor are similar to those of a God, in that the doctor’s orders are always correct and are at all times forthright in their procedures and ethics. However, that is not always the case. I hope that becoming an attorney will allow me to keep the health professionals in check, while allowing me to be an advocate for those that are abused by the system and to help restore social justice when needed. I especially want to protect the rights for the perceived weak, defenseless, and lower privileged members of our society and Luke has inspired me to this end.

Peg
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:32 am

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby Peg » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:22 am

I'm going to critique this as I read and give a final comment at the end of it.

Ring, ring, ring; no matter how many times I hit the ignore button my cell phone would not stop, first my dad, mother, and then all but one of my five siblings. I was focused at work, up for a promotion at the end of the month and desperately trying to finish a strong month of recruitment. I sent my mother a text letting her know I would call when I got a chance. She returned it with two words that read, “brain tumor”.


This may just be me, but I instinctively didn't like this narrative sort of opening because it feels a bit clumsy, especially the second part of the first sentence when it's not clear initially whether you're talking about your family members' individual phones or your own.

The adjective "desperately" feels unnecessary and gives the impression (IMO, at least) that you are trying to sound impressive, even though I don't think that was your intention. Also, the last two sentences are definitely unnecessary - the bit about the "brain tumor" is out of place, I feel, because it feels once again too narrative/emotional/dramatic, and I feel that sort of writing doesn't have a place in these personal statements.

I sank in my chair in disbelief. My youngest brother Luke had just got the results back from his MRI showing a large tumor lodged in the right side of his brain. This event has had a major impact on why I want to go to law school which this essay will explain later in fuller detail.


The first sentence here will sound like melodrama in a law school admission essay and it's unnecessary. However, this is a good topic to introduce your PS on - you could have and should have introduced it in one, single opening paragraph. Here is an extremely rough example of what I mean:

"[Summarize the event that happened to your brother in one sentence -two at a stretch.] [Summarize the impact it had on your family.] [Explain briefly how it led you to apply for law school.]"

Don't say "this essay will explain later in full detail" which is how you ended this paragraph - in a well-organized essay, it's taken as a given that the major point in the intro paragraph will be expanded upon.

The background you give in the next paragraph (about your initial choice to pursue baseball) but is too lengthy in my opinion. It has good points (like where you show examples of success and ability) but goes off on a tangent. Also, I think it might be detrimental to imply (even unintentionally) that you chose law school because you found that a long-term baseball career was a financial risk. Perhaps you might want to think carefully about what impression you want to make sure the adcomm gets from that decision to leave baseball. My reaction is: Although I haven't read the rest of the essay thus far, I want to know more about how the crisis with your brother influenced your decision, and I thought that this baseball background was a very lengthy sidetrack.

The next paragraph in which you discuss your low grades -don't do that. I don't think you should draw their focus to anything negative. They would have already seen your transcript, and anything you say might sound like an excuse, even if you didn't mean it. Also, this sentence from that paragraph...

My motivation for going to law school at the time had to do with the pursuit of excellence, intellectual, vocational, and to perhaps have the educational background to get into the political sphere.


...sounds a bit fluffy. Especially the "pursuit of excellence" bit, which is very vague and doesn't actually say anything. Eliminate every necessary word - use words as sparingly as you would use money, but try to gain maximum effect. This paragraph, and the previous one, felt like they took too long to explain your point (although you had several useful things to say about your skills and examples of excelling), made unnecessary deviations, and didn't relate to what you said in the opening paragraph. Again, I find myself wondering why we can't get back to the topic of how your personal family crisis influenced your decisions.

However, I want to add that the content is pretty impressive - your difficulties and challenges are really hard ones, but I think you could have mentioned this after discussing the main event, and your opening paragraph implies that the main event is what happened to your brother.

You then have two paragraphs discussing your brother - while the information is interesting and moving, I once again feel that it was definitely too much of an emotional appeal and dramatic, and that you could have condensed these two paragraphs into one. Remember the focus of this essay should be on you and how this event influenced you, and why it illustrates that you have the ability to be a great lawyer, not on a larger family narrative.

The last paragraph is exactly what I was looking for throughout this essay. The earlier paragraphs about your former career ambitions and your poor college performance seem really irrelevant when you read the last paragraph - try it yourself and see. You may or may not agree with me but that is my reaction.

Final Comment: I think that overall you have an excellent subject to work with and that this could be a very effective essay if you shortened the baseball paragraph and the grades paragraph as much as possible, condensed the two paragraphs about your brother into one, and wrote more about not only how your brother's life affected your decision, but exactly what you plan to do (less idealistic, more goal-oriented), how you're going to do it, why you think X Law School is the place to do what you intend to do.

Good luck, and I hope this helps. I'm sorry if I sounded harsh, I actually enjoyed reading it. I'm just a slightly nitpicky editor. At any rate I hope you found this useful!

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AreJay711
Posts: 3406
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:51 pm

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby AreJay711 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:33 am

Overall I agree with Peg except for three points.

1.) I like your intro. It foreshadows what you were about to write about. I was expecting one of your siblings to have died. Good job foreshadowing but not giving it away completely. Maybe just take that awkward second paragraph and make the first sentence the last sentence of your first (scrapping the second).

2.) "I sank in my chair in disbelief." -- I really don't think this is melodramatic at all. Idk the average survivability of brain cancer but it can't be good.

3.)I think I have a pretty solid idea why you want to go to law school and what you want to do. You don't really need to add more or say what exactly you want to do in medical malpractice (how the hell would you know?).

bbando
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:22 am

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby bbando » Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:55 pm

Thank you both for your feedback! I appreciated both of them very much! I feel to some extent it was dramatic and emotional, even thought it was true and real feelings, so good to know. As far as my low grades, that was something that very much motivated my pursuit of a masters degree. Any tips on how to mention these poor grades as a hurdle I had to overcome without exactly saying "poor grades"? Or just simply leave out that part of the essay?

Do you think I should keep some of the baseball section or scrap the entire thing? I don't know which part to cut out, or cut short. Advice?

Also, it is challenging because Luke's story is what has inspired me to pursue one avenue of law, however, I would still be greatly motivated to practice law regardless. Should I just stick to Luke as my primary motivation, or talk about all my reasons?

What are some motivations to not mention in the essay?

Much appreciated!

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:01 pm

Your father is also your uncle ?!!! ("...and aspired one day to join the ranks of my father and uncle as a successful Major Leaguer.") I understand what you mean and realize that your wording may be seen as correct by some, but it might be better to rephrase & remove all doubt since this phrase may distract some readers.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:10 pm

This is not a good, nor an effective, personal statement. Reads like an emotional talk with an old girlfriend at a ten year high school reunuion. I do not intend to be unconstructively harsh, but if asked to paraphrase your essay I would write "Blah, blah, blah blah blah blah." Your writing trivializes the most important & influential aspects of your life by using a very poorly constructed delivery method.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

jarofsoup
Posts: 1952
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:41 am

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby jarofsoup » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:14 pm

No matter how many times I hit the ignore button my cell phone would not stop ringing. First my dad, then my mother, and then all but one of my five siblings. I was at work, and I could not answer [I am a recruiter desperately trying to...] My mother sent me a text that read, “brain tumor”.


slim it down... a ton of fluff.

bbando
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:22 am

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby bbando » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:19 pm

haha, okay, I will slim it down. I am a salesmen, that's what we do, haha.

bbando
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:22 am

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby bbando » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:27 pm

CanadianWolf,

Yeah that's harsh, but I don't mind it, just say something that would help it.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:34 pm

Delete every other sentence. Then go back & delete the rest. You really need to start over. Writing isn't about putting every thought in your head on paper. Write with a purpose & set out in a clearly defined theme. Write in crisp, clear sentences to express your theme in a succinct fashion. Hope that helps.

P.S. I really am trying to be helpful. As written, your law school personal statement is likely to hurt your applications to law schools. Too verbose, too many details, too little substance.

bbando
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:22 am

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby bbando » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:47 pm

CanadianWolf

Okay, could you be more specific as far as the topic is concerned, bad topic or just a bad way to write it?

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:53 pm

Almost any topic is fine. It's the delivery that matters most.

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ArchRoark
Posts: 1000
Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2010 2:53 pm

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby ArchRoark » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:57 pm

...which this essay will explain later in fuller detail.


I hate it when writers pull the reader intentionally out of the story. It is akin to when someone speaks directly into the camera addressing the audience acknowledging that fact that it is a show/movie/sitcom/etc. The first paragraph grips the reader... sadly that sentence pulls me back out and makes me uninterested. The reader doesn't need a narrator. I didn't bother reading past that. Don't say you are going to do something, just do it.

bbando
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:22 am

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby bbando » Wed Oct 13, 2010 2:10 pm

Updated: With more work to do

I was focused at work, up for a promotion at the end of the month and desperately trying to finish a strong month of recruitment. I sent my mother a text letting her know I would call when I got a chance. She returned it with two words that read, “brain tumor”. I sank in my chair in disbelief. My youngest brother Luke had just got the results back from his MRI showing a large tumor lodged in the right side of his brain.
Before this incident happened I had other reasons for going to law school. It all started in my senior year at ASU. I was playing at the top baseball school in the country and aspired one day to join the ranks of my father and uncle as a successful Major Leaguer. However, it was not looking like I was going to get a significant amount of playing time. I decided to quit the baseball team to pursue my career as a pro baseball player. I signed a small contract with a minor league baseball team located in South Carolina, got married, and literally left within three weeks of the marriage ceremony. I played well and was a top producer for the team and in the league, however the pay was small and the lifestyle was somewhat counterproductive to a family oriented way of living. I knew the long road ahead of us if I was going to make it to the big leagues and that the odds were against me. So after talking with my wife and other professionals I decided to stop playing and pursue law school to become a sports agent.
My road to law school was filled with challenges. I had a low grade point average, and now had little time to make up for it, especially because I now had to be more than just a college student. I had to support myself and my wife financially which meant working a full time job and less time for studying. My poor classroom performance and busy work schedule were going to be hard obstacles to overcome, if I was to get good grades and prepare for the LSAT, but I was determined. So I worked hard in the remaining units of my undergraduate receiving top grades in the remaining classes. Despite my strong finish my cumulative grade point average was still low. I realized that a bachelor’s degree might not be enough to get into law school so I enrolled at Grand Canyon University to get my masters of science in leadership. I took double the class load expected and refined my research and writing abilities throughout the program hoping to further prepare myself for the rigors of law school. During this period I was still working full time, had a mortgage, and was newly married. I was working a demanding sales job where I was constantly under the pressure of performing which made everything that much more challenging. However, I was unwavering and finished the two year graduate program in one year, excelled at my job receiving pay increases on two occasions while also being promoted to team leader. During this period I also took on a summer job where I was the head coach for a collegiate summer baseball team where we advanced to the playoffs. I say all this not because I believe I am special for these minor achievements but to show that I have the work ethic and resilience necessary to handle the rigors of law school. I do not claim that I will be the most brilliant student at your institution but I am capable of excelling and I am determined to.
There I sat at my desk thinking about Luke. He had gone through a seizure a week before but the children’s hospital had given him clearance that he was fine. I thought that was strange being that they never gave him an MRI, but never the less we were happy. Apparently he was not fine because he had a second seizure three days later and was rushed off to the emergency room in an ambulance where they discovered the tumor. I and my wife flew out the next day. Luke’s new Physician was very upset at the doctors from Children’s hospital. He said the medical staff should have immediately given him an MRI and my mother should be ashamed for not aggressively pursuing one. He was very adamant that Luke could have died within that week, and that we were lucky there was a second seizure. Despite the intense fear of brain surgery and a possible deadly brain tumor, Luke pulled through. The next day he laid in critical condition with bandages around his head, but he was going to be okay.
I sat there in the hospital room realizing that Luke could have died, and how agonizing that would have been for us. It then dawned on me that some families were not as lucky as mine was; sometimes there are “Luke’s” who do die due to the negligence of “experts”. The prospect of law school took on a whole new meaning pointing me in the direction of medical malpractice law. Because of the children’s hospitals carelessness Luke could have died instead of having a second seizure. I realized that being an attorney I would be able to help keep hospitals and doctors accountable for their actions with the hope of preventing future mistakes for the sake of other families. I now have a strong desire to leverage law to make sure that families who seek medical services get full attention. I want patients to be treated fairly and professionally regardless of status. Going to a doctor can be an intimidating process, and a process where patients sometimes feel that the words of a doctor are similar to those of a God, in that the doctor’s orders are always correct and are at all times forthright in their procedures and ethics. However, that is not always the case. I hope that becoming an attorney will allow me to keep the health professionals in check, while allowing me to be an advocate for those that are abused by the system and to help restore social justice when needed. I especially want to protect the rights for the perceived weak, defenseless, and lower privileged members of our society and Luke has inspired me to this end.

jarofsoup
Posts: 1952
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:41 am

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby jarofsoup » Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:29 pm

I think you need to focus on one topic. The major league baseball, or Luke. The transitions are all difficult to follow and the intro is kinda weird.


Like why do you need all the other crap just focus on one thing. If it is not neccesary to the essence of your idea cut it.

I was focused at work, up for a promotion at the end of the month and desperately trying to finish a strong month of recruitment. I sent my mother a text letting her know I would call when I got a chance. She returned it with two words that read, “brain tumor”. I sank in my chair in disbelief. My youngest brother Luke had just got the results back from his MRI showing a large tumor lodged in the right side of his brain.

or

My mother sen me a text message while I was at work that read, “brain tumor”. I sank in my chair in disbelief. My youngest brother Luke had just got the results back from his MRI showing a large tumor lodged in the right side of his brain.

why do we care that you were at work, a promotion awaiting, you had to call your mom back...the adcomms love brevity. You want them to read through your personal statement with out stopping, quickly and get it with out having to go back and enjoy the story.

and do not mention the LSAT or your GPA in the statement. Save it for an addendum.

bbando
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:22 am

Re: Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

Postby bbando » Wed Oct 13, 2010 6:02 pm

Thats great! Thanks




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