Critique--1st Draft

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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cardinals03
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Critique--1st Draft

Postby cardinals03 » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:21 pm

1st draft of my PS. I am questioning the length (a little over 2 pages double spaced--800 words). Most of what I am seeing on here seem longer. This draft is the first thing that came to mind when trying to let someone see where I have come from and what drives me.
Thanks in advance for any ideas/suggestions

I love statistics, particularly baseball statistics. In what other application can a success rate of less than forty percent be considered an overwhelming achievement? As a young child, I would spend hours pouring over my favorite players stats until I had committed them to memory. However, as much as I enjoyed statistics, I was also consumed with the notion of becoming one. Growing up in a small southern town, the options were very limited to those without family resources; strike one. Additionally, I was one of the few children in my neighborhood that did not have what was considered to be a “nuclear family”. At the risk of sounding like a sad country song, my biological father left my mother the day I was born; strike two. I believe it would have been rather easy, and honestly expected, for someone of my upbringing to simply accept the inevitable and move on, never reaching past what was expected. However, I made a promise to myself long ago to constantly be aware of that third strike, always conscious of the implications of becoming another statistic of what could have been.

I attribute much of the success I have had up to this point in my life to my determination to rise above my circumstances. For the majority of my youth, I used academia as an escape from the reality of a revolving door of physically and mentally abusive stepfathers. Often times, I would shut myself off to the plethora of screaming and beatings, an all to common occurrence at my house, by diving into the worlds laid in front of me by literature, science and mathematics. I knew that knowledge could be my great equalizer in the uphill battle to remove myself from the unhealthy lifestyle I had been subjected to. I quickly found that I fed off of academic success. I wanted to be the best. I knew that failure was always lurking around, looking for someone like me to attach to; consequently, my drive only intensified as I progressed through the years. In high school, I maintained a 4.0 GPA while working full time to help support my newly single mother. This sacrifice, although it came with a price, was one of the greatest gifts I have ever had the pleasure of giving. The rigors of getting off of work at 10 p.m. and studying until 2 a.m. paled in comparison to the assurance that I would not be coming home to a mother that had been on the wrong end of a drunken rage.

After high school, I initially went to college until family obligations once again called me home. Fortunately, I found a well paying job and have been able to provide my family with a comfortable life. Nevertheless, I knew there was something missing. After the birth of my second son, my wife and I sat down and reevaluated our life and the direction we were going in. Immediately, she and I recognized the need to continue our education. She left her job and pursued her lifelong dream of becoming an R.N.. I, not to be outdone, started work on completing my B.S. in Computer Science. Somehow, we found a way to make it work. I once again found myself studying until 2 a.m., but the benefits always outweighed the negatives. When I stand before the crowd in May and hear my name called for graduating Summa cum Laude, the smiling face of my mother will surely resonate deeply within that moment. She, more than anyone, has shared in the personal tragedies and disappointments that plagued both of us for far too long.

As I embark on the next chapter in my life, I reflect on the circumstances that have led me to this point and have made me the man that I am today. I am exited and enamored with the prospect of fulfilling my dream and practicing law. My sons need to see that unfulfilled dreams are consequences of a lack of motivation and desire. I will bring a unique and mature perspective to The University of XXXXXXX. My personal and professional goals, shapes by my values and ethics, will help me stand apart and succeed. I still love statistics. My eldest son and I often play fantasy baseball together. We enjoy using our “psychic” abilities to pour over the stats and formulate our own probabilities. However, I no longer fear of becoming a statistic, I actually look forward to it. The only difference is, that now I will be on the positive end of those numbers, at the top of my graduating law school class.

sarahh
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Re: Critique--1st Draft

Postby sarahh » Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:18 pm

I think there is a gap. When you said "After high school, I initially went to college until family obligations once again called me home." I assumed at first you meant your mother, but then you mention your wife and second son. It comes out of nowhere - maybe it would help talk briefly about getting married at a young age and initially prioritizing having a family over education. (However, remember to keep it under two pages for the schools that ask for it.)

I would also work on tightening the writing. It seems a little clunky at parts, like the strike one, strike two in the first paragraph.

Personally, I did not like the "at the top of my graduating law school class" at the end. Law school is competitive - you don't know that you will be at the top. I think you can just remove that part.

I liked how you talked about statistics at the beginning and the end. I feel that it brought the personal statement full circle.

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cardinals03
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Re: Critique--1st Draft

Postby cardinals03 » Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:27 pm

Personally, I did not like the "at the top of my graduating law school class" at the end. Law school is competitive - you don't know that you will be at the top. I think you can just remove that part.


:) Believe me, I thought about that a few times myself---I had already decided to remove it.

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TommyK
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Re: Critique--1st Draft

Postby TommyK » Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:31 pm

cardinals03 wrote: As a young child, I would spend hours pouring over my favorite players stats until I had committed them to memory. .


Change to poring. You pour a beer; you pore over statistics.

Also pour to pore in the last paragraph. I'm hopeless on offering suggestions on structure/content, though

Yours Truly,
Homophone Nazi

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cardinals03
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Re: Critique--1st Draft

Postby cardinals03 » Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:49 pm

TommyK wrote:
cardinals03 wrote: As a young child, I would spend hours pouring over my favorite players stats until I had committed them to memory. .


Change to poring. You pour a beer; you pore over statistics.

Also pour to pore in the last paragraph. I'm hopeless on offering suggestions on structure/content, though

Yours Truly,
Homophone Nazi


Thanks, never saw that for some reason...I am hoping to get some ideas on the overall PS and then edit for any mistakes.

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TommyK
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Re: Critique--1st Draft

Postby TommyK » Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:00 pm

Yeah, I figured you would, but the pour/pore is so often unknown about. Most folks don't know pore can be a verb. Funny homophone nazi has no problem ending sentences with prepositions. Anyways...

I agree with the previous poster about the need for a transition after second paragraph.

I don't love the way the last paragraph ends - particularly with fantasy baseball and psychic abilities. Maybe scrap that part. Have you thought about ending it with talking about baseball again - you could do a callback to the first paragraph about talking about stepping up to the plate. If done right, it could be a great callback. If done poorly, it could be cheesy.

If I were an adcomm, the questions I would have is why did this guy go to comp science and immediately want to go to law school. I know you want to better yourself, to provide for the family, you want to show inspiration, but why law school? I know you don't have to answer this question in the personal statement, but given your specific situation, it would be a natural move for you to leave school and get a job to provide for your family. There would almost have to be a strong reason for you not to - to go back to be a poor student. I was curious what that reason was.

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cardinals03
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Re: Critique--1st Draft

Postby cardinals03 » Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:16 pm

There would almost have to be a strong reason for you not to - to go back to be a poor student. I was curious what that reason was


May sound odd, but I wanted to learn as much as I could about technology. I knew I would always have a safety net should something happen. I thought maybe a BS in CSCI might separate me from the pack---I am sure they see a ton of Poli-Sci majors. I also did not see it becoming a reality, that is my chance to quit my job and go until see below....

To answer your question above, my wife has been offered a position at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital making 90K+ a year, so I will not be a poor student (we have 0 debt except for our living expenses--we have been blessed). I really do not want to come out and say that though. Do you really think that I should address why I want to go to law school---is this a huge issue?

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TommyK
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Re: Critique--1st Draft

Postby TommyK » Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:24 pm

I don't think it's a huge issue. But I think throwing in a sentence explaining that you're fascinated with the intersection of technology in law would proactively answer it. Maybe play with it to see if it makes it stronger? Just a thought...

TK

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sayruss11
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Re: Critique--1st Draft

Postby sayruss11 » Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:31 pm

cardinals03 wrote:

Often times, I would shut myself off to the plethora of screaming and beatings, an all too common occurrence

Hedwig
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Re: Critique--1st Draft

Postby Hedwig » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:16 pm

I'm not sure about the line, "I, not to be outdone," ... I get what you mean by it, and obviously its not meant to be taken as literally "I didn't want to be outdone by my wife so I went to school again" - it just carries that sense, still, for some reason? And suggests on a really low level (think alethiometers) that you went back to school just because you didn't want to be outdone.

Maybe that's a personal interpretation/idiosyncrasy. But eh, you never know if the adcomm's will have that same thing so I thought I'd mention it.

"always conscious of the implications of becoming another statistic of what could have been."

That sentence construction is a bit awkward.

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cardinals03
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Re: Critique--2nd Draft

Postby cardinals03 » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:43 pm

Thanks for all of the tips and constructive criticism. I have made some changes with all of the advice. Please take a look and let me know how it comes off. I tried to clear up the transition to the 3rd paragraph. Is it too broad of a range, or does it need to focus more on one specific event?


I love statistics, particularly baseball statistics. In what other application can a success rate of less than forty percent be considered an overwhelming achievement? As a young child, I would spend hours poring over my favorite players stats until I had committed them to memory. However, as much as I enjoyed statistics, I was also consumed with the notion of becoming one. Growing up in a small southern town, the options were very limited to those without family resources. Unfortunately, I fell into that category. Moreover, I was one of the few children in my neighborhood that did not have what was considered to be a “nuclear family”. My biological father left my mother when I was born, claiming that a family did not fit into his future plans. I believe it would have been rather easy, and honestly predictable, for someone of my upbringing to simply accept the inevitable and move on, never reaching past what was expected. However, I made a promise to myself long ago to constantly be aware of the implications of letting those types of negative thoughts determine my path in life.

I attribute much of the success I have had up to this point in my life to a determination to rise above my circumstances. For the majority of my youth, I used academia as an escape from the reality of a revolving door of physically and mentally abusive stepfathers. Often times, I would shut myself off to the plethora of screaming and fighting, an all too common occurrence in my home, by escaping into the worlds of literature, science and mathematics. I knew that knowledge could be my great equalizer in the uphill battle to remove myself from the unhealthy lifestyle I had been subjected to. I quickly found that I fed off of academic success, relishing in the accomplishments that neither money nor privilege could buy. My newfound release would also serve as my means of evading the constraints of my life. I knew that failure was always lurking around, looking for someone like me to attach to; consequently, my drive only intensified as I progressed through the years. In high school, I maintained a 4.0 GPA while working full time to help support my newly single mother. This sacrifice, although it came with a price, was one of the greatest gifts I have ever had the pleasure of giving. The rigors of getting off of work at 10 p.m. and studying until 2 a.m. paled in comparison to the assurance that I would not be coming home to a mother that had been on the wrong end of a drunken rage.

After high school, I initially went to college until my mother’s ongoing battle with cancer called me home. Fortunately she was able to recover and today is cancer free. During that time, I found a well paying job and met a wonderful woman who would later do the honor of becoming my wife. Nevertheless, I knew there was something missing. After the birth of our second son, my wife and I sat down and reevaluated our life and the direction we were going in. Although we had created a comfortable life for ourselves, neither of us felt like we were fulfilling our purpose. We had become complacent, all too comfortable within the confines of our own security, without taking into account what we really wanted to accomplish. Immediately, she and I recognized the need to continue our education. She left her job and began pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a registered nurse. I, in turn, diligently began work to complete my bachelor’s degree. Somehow, we found a way to make it work. I once again found myself studying until 2 a.m., but the benefits always outweighed the negatives. When I stand before the crowd in May and hear my name called for graduating Summa Cum Laude, the smiling face of my mother will surely resonate deeply within that moment. She, more than anyone, has shared in the personal tragedies and disappointments that plagued both of us for far too long.

As I embark on the next chapter in my life, I reflect on the circumstances that have led me to this point and have made me the man that I am today. I am exited and enamored with the prospect of fulfilling my dream of practicing law. I will bring a unique and mature perspective to The University of XXXXXXX. My personal and professional goals, shapes by my values and ethics, will help me stand apart and succeed. I genuinely believe that I have the drive to withstand the rigors of law school and promote the practice of law in a manner consistent with the high standards set forth by The University of XXXXXXX. I still love statistics. In fact, I have found great pleasure in helping my eldest son begin to compile his collection of baseball cards and watch his unbridled passion for the hobby. However, I no longer fear of becoming a statistic, I actually look forward to it. The only difference is that now I will be on the positive end of those numbers. It’s time to step up to the plate.




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