PS - Looking for any and all constructive criticism!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
ATR
Posts: 1119
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:18 pm

PS - Looking for any and all constructive criticism!

Postby ATR » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:21 am

Thanks everyone!
Last edited by ATR on Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

biladtreasure2
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2010 7:45 pm

Re: PS - Looking for any and all constructive criticism!

Postby biladtreasure2 » Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:48 am

The style of prose throughout the first three paragraphs was pretty dense, and you should always elect for clarity when writing a PS. However, as soon as you get to the fourth paragraph, it really picks up. This is, overall, a strong PS. Like I said, you might spruce up the wording and definitely tighten the first three narrative paragraphs, but the analogy is well-established and I think it will resonate with an adcomm.

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

Re: PS - Looking for any and all constructive criticism!

Postby Peg » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:38 am

I will comment as I read, since I generally find that the easiest and most thorough way to critique essays.

Under the relentless glare of the artificial white light, Ms. Johnson has never felt so self-aware… and vulnerable. She contemplates how long she has been sitting in this room – for the record, 37 minutes – and how much time she has left on this planet. Not an uncommon thought, given her situation. For the third time, the air conditioner kicks in; she tugs at her hospital gown in a futile attempt to cover up her knees. She picks up the dog-eared magazine lying next to her on the examination table and mindlessly thumbs through it...


Right about here, my eyes officially glazed over. And it was a job to keep them from not glazing over as I read the preceding sentences. It's nothing against you, but more against the style you've employed. I don't think such a heavily narrative opening is effective because you want to keep in mind that the adcomm has thousands of personal statements to read, and probably not enough patience to wade through a lot of apparently unnecessary words until they reach the heart of your PS. I know a lot of emphasis is put on "being unique" and "hooking them in" by the advice articles, but in my opinion, opening with a narrative that takes a long time to make its point is not the way to express originality or hook the reader in.

To put this in another way: I, the reader, immediately want to know about you. I don't care how pretty your prose is or how dramatic this opening might turn out to be by the end of the paragraph - I immediately, without delay, want to learn about you and your abilities and whether you are a good fit for my school.

I click NEXT and start reading the next patient complaint. You see, this didn’t actually happen – well, at least not exactly how I described it. But Dr. Smith did allegedly make that insensitive comment to Ms. Johnson (names changed for anonymity). Ms. Johnson’s complaint definitely fits my criteria; I’m looking for shocking complaints to use in a presentation.


This is another example of taking a long time to make your point. The last bit here ("I'm looking for...") should have been the opening, IMO. Because in this excerpt, the second sentence and the third sentence made me impatient. I'm thinking: What is going on? Where is this going and what is the point and why are we taking so long to get there?

Actually, I think your second paragraph could be trimmed down. We want to get to the heart of the matter as fast as possible, and I found your third paragraph much more interesting. Good analogy. Good description of your work. It's your third paragraph that starts to arouse my interest.

Fourth paragraph: again, good explanation. I find myself interested and curious. I think it could be improved, however, by including something personal - don't just describe what your company does. Insert yourself in, describe yourself in this context and how others view you. I feel that the fourth paragraph is losing its focus, which should be on you. Everything you talk about should be peripheral to you.

I liked the last couple paragraphs. I think this PS really improved after paragraph 3, but the two preceding paragraphs nearly killed it for me. A strong opener needs to be as concise and snappy as possible, IMO - don't don't don't DON'T make it dramatic, verbose, narrative and densely written.

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

Re: PS - Looking for any and all constructive criticism!

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:55 am

After reading the first three paragraphs, I jumped to the final paragraph. I suspect that some admissions folks might not read as much as I did. To be candid, this is a very boring essay.

ATR
Posts: 1119
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:18 pm

Re: PS - Looking for any and all constructive criticism!

Postby ATR » Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:31 pm

biladtreasure2 wrote:The style of prose throughout the first three paragraphs was pretty dense, and you should always elect for clarity when writing a PS. However, as soon as you get to the fourth paragraph, it really picks up. This is, overall, a strong PS. Like I said, you might spruce up the wording and definitely tighten the first three narrative paragraphs, but the analogy is well-established and I think it will resonate with an adcomm.

Thank you for your input. I tried to open up with an interesting story, but from the comments in here, I guess it does everything but accomplish that goal.




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