I want your opinion on my PS

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
FuturePrez
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I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:53 pm

When I handed him my pizza, he did not ask for money, or anything else; he hugged me and said “Today is my birthday, I am 57.” Admittedly I was nervous about receiving a hug from a homeless man who had lived across the street from my Washington, D.C. apartment building for nearly a year. Prior to this moment I had never said a word to him and avoided exchanging glances whenever I returned to my apartment building. Before I moved out of the apartment I made a trip to a local pizzeria and purchased a pizza pie for him. I did not expect the reaction he gave or the impact it would have. After I shrugged off my nervousness and the adrenaline rush, I thought about what he said to me. How many birthdays had he spent homeless on the bench in front of our house? What will he do for his next birthday; more importantly will he have one? Thus, the most pivotal lesson I learned while in Washington, D.C. was not from a Georgetown professor, or a Senator on the hill, but from a 57 year old homeless man who lived on a bench across the street.

Only six years earlier my reality was quite different, and without the divorce of my parents I may have never had the opportunity to learn all that I did from that man in Washington. I have come to learn that divorces are similar to roller coasters; the steady climb up is familiar and predictable, steady confrontation and escalating arguments, but no matter the climb up, you can never predict quite how steep the drop will be on the way down. I try to look back on what that thirteen year old version of myself was thinking; if only he could imagine what was to come. Since that time roughly six years ago, my brother, sister and I, along with my mother, bounced around from rented homes, apartments and hotel rooms while watching my mom struggle with bankruptcy and the lingering fear of homelessness. My experiences with poverty as a result of my parents’ divorce gave me a greater understanding of who I am; however, it was our ability to overcome poverty that enabled me to discover who I want to be.

I arrived in Washington, D.C. at twenty one years old on a mission. It was the middle of winter and just as all of nature seemed to stagnate in the cold, so did Congress. The Healthcare Bill and Financial Reform were driving Congress into a gridlock. I quickly found myself entangled in the legislative rhetoric that filled the senate office buildings and the chamber itself. For the first time, I was able to witness the other side of the dynamic I experienced as a result of my parents’ divorce. I worked with lawyers, legislators and volunteers all attempting to right the wrongs of a system. Despite my lack of legal knowledge, the relevance of my own experiences to the legal issues at hand enabled me to be an asset to my team. I have never worked harder in my life, and often wonder if the comforts of a stable household would have kept me not only from jumping at the opportunity to test my interest in pursuit of law, but also from experiencing the pressures of a thinly budgeted lifestyle.

Eventually these experiences allowed me to cross paths with the homeless man in front of my apartment. The divorce of my parents taught me about the nature of poverty; the likelihood that it is often the result of bad luck or fate rather than poor decision making. The framework for my goals in Washington, D.C. stemmed from that experience and allowed me to witness the ways in which lawyers and legislators handle the dynamic of poverty on a national level. Although I have worked towards going to [Law School] for over four years, it was the homeless man whom I shared a pizza with that validated my legal pursuits and direction through life. He taught me the value of humility. The understanding that great degrees may land you the best jobs, but there are some things even the best degrees cannot teach you; principles essential to the practice of law: empathy, passion and dedication to a cause greater than yourself.


Let me know what you think!
Last edited by FuturePrez on Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:30 am, edited 4 times in total.

FuturePrez
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:22 pm

I have a question also, now that I read this over...is it a definite No No to mention the specific name of a senator that I worked for in DC?

He wrote me a Rec Letter and so I wasnt sure if mentioning it would have a negligible effect...

Also any other comments are much appreciated.

THANKS!

mala2
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby mala2 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:24 pm

For me it isn't very focused. I would take the ideas that you want to convey and start over.

FuturePrez
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:29 pm

What would you recommend in terms of focus? I thought it was clear in the second paragraph that my essay would be about perspective.

mala2
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby mala2 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:37 pm

I might not be the best person, I'm still struggling to write mine. From reading some others, I would say yours is average right now and if you have good numbers won't keep you out. I don't think it's great because to me the variety of experiences you cover aren't really tied together in a meaningful way (in my opinion). I like the topic of your opening lines, but you need to rework them to make it more of a hook. If it were me I would focus on 1 topic (experience) that shows your perspective. Not trying to be rude, and you might be right out of college, but to me the essay is about how you had a hard time with your parents divorce (who hasn't), solitude is good for reflection (yes), and you (along with all of Georgetown and GW) interned on the hill. I would focus more in depth on one experience so that you can show how you have unique perspective. Maybe I'm way off, just trying to be helpful:) you can tear mine up when I post it:)

FuturePrez
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:16 am

Much appreciated feedback....I am sort of banking on the motorcycling as being my shoo in :)

How many law school students ride motorcycles? I know not one lol

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bk1
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby bk1 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:30 am

It's unfocused because your first paragraph seems entirely irrelevant until a small tie in at the end. As I said in your DS, you really need to show, not tell. You are telling the reader that "A is B" when you should really be showing that "A is X, Y, and Z" which lets them come to the conclusion for themselves that because A is X, Y, and Z it is therefore B. Let the reader figure things out themselves from your details, don't just spoon feed them your conclusion.

Another thing: while you don't have blatant grammatical errors, you do have weird/awkward phrasing that makes your writing tough to read. Once you have settled on a more focused essay and have people edit for content, I suggest having someone go over it so that things flow better and are more grammatically, I can't think of the word right now, standard? I think that is the best way I can put it. For example, here are your first two sentences, unrevised and then revised:

You Wrote wrote:Honestly, when I think back on that moment I am not quite sure how I got there in the first place. Riding on the Harley Davidson motorcycle through the Mojave Desert, I was in a state mixed with serenity and disillusionment.


Instead consider (red/strikeout for changes):

My Revision wrote:Honestly, when I think back to that moment, I am never quite sure how I got there in the first place. Riding on a Harley Davidson motorcycle through the Mojave Desert, I was in a mixed state of serenity and disillusionment.


This is just off the top of my head without really altering your choice of syntax. I'm still unsure as to whether the "got" should actually be "get" or not, but I haven't thought about it too much. My point is that this writing is very rough and needs definite work to smooth it out. That is once you have edited for content and settled on a closer to final draft.

FuturePrez
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:33 am

PS will be the end of me!

Thanks for the comments, this is the closest I have gotten to a workable statement and I'm still far from sending it in.

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JenDarby
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby JenDarby » Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:24 am

Honestly, when I think back on that moment I am not quite sure how I got there in the first place. Riding on the Harley Davidson motorcycle through the Mojave Desert, I was in a state mixed with of serenity and disillusionment.

Since you haven't previously mentioned it, I wouldn't say the. Overall the last part of the sentence is phrased a bit awkwardly.

*edit: I didn't read other people's revisions to see bk1 suggested these same things.

I can admit that the comfort of a tour bus or even a rental car would have certainly made the trip easier, but I decided to trade in the static of the radio, for the roar of a motorcycle;

Even removing can, I might change the wording. "Admittedly, the..." or otherwise

Among the diverse people in the world, two types stick out in my mind.

I think with where your paragraph goes, and in general, this sounds cliche/awkward.

Thinking back, I am not positive how I grew into the person I have become, a young man who strives to walk through life maintaining a balanced perspective, but I do know where it began…

Don't use "..." to end the paragraph

I think that this overall transition to the next paragraph is a bit "campfire story" sounding.
What is "it"? I understand what you mean it to be, but don't see the noun it's taking the place of.

I read the rest just for overall content. I think the last two paragraphs are the strongest. There are too many different stories in such a short amount of space. I would personally recommend taking out either the section about the motorcycle or divorce, if not both. It doesn't seem necessary to make the point about divorce, and a lot of people write their PS about very extreme divorces. Your writing is strong, and clearly you aren't lacking in topics to write about, but I would focus on ONE. If you began with the motorcycle (expanding more on how exactly it's relevant, rather than just using it as an opening story) bit then transitioned into your work in DC and perhaps focused on a specific instance that demonstrates specifically how you've gained confidence, learned, etc. (what you mention in your concluding paragraph) I think you could write a more succinct statement.
Last edited by JenDarby on Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:30 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Deuce
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby Deuce » Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:26 am

FuturePrez wrote:Much appreciated feedback....I am sort of banking on the motorcycling as being my shoo in :)

How many law school students ride motorcycles? I know not one lol


Many more than you think, apparently.

czelede
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby czelede » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:04 am

Very disjointed essay that needs more focus and a lot of surface editing as well.

A few things:
- Go easy on the commas, please
- Too much telling, not enough showing
- Awkward sentences (as mentioned by bk)
- Quite self aggrandizing. Your second paragraph, for instance: "there are two types of people in the world" -> proceeds to imply that one kind is better than the other, then promptly labels self as the better kind. The whole paragraph is also evidence of your "Telling not showing" skills - you basically describe the kind of person you are without ever really showing us evidence of where that came from. You say that you "tenaciously seek the fullness of life"; how? By riding a motorcycle through a desert, experiencing your parents divorce, and budgeting while interning on the hill for Georgetown? Woe is the hard journey of gaining perspective through first world problems.

Also, is the best analogy you can come up with to describe the environment of the desert...a hairdryer?

FuturePrez
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:52 pm

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I will start working some of this in soon.

FuturePrez
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:57 pm

Growing up in Trenton, New Jersey exposed me to a very raw sense of perspective at a young age. A community impoverished and atrophic, Trenton is steadily slipping into a state of perpetual poverty. In a predominately African American community I was one of very few white kids in my neighborhood. Playing outside often warranted harassment because I did not look like my classmates or peers. I grew up with an understanding that I was a minority; I had very few friends. Tim was one of those few who lived next door to me. I asked him one day to come over for dinner; the cold response his mother gave to the thought of going into a “cracker’s house” is written in the stone of my memory. Even after moving away from Trenton my own experiences with racial ridicule has taught me a lot about the importance of perspective and the thirst for understanding.

What if I substitute this paragraph for the divorce statement? Does it feed into my message better, is it less than cliche?

Let me know

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bk1
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby bk1 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 4:45 pm

FuturePrez wrote:Growing up in Trenton, New Jersey exposed me to a very raw sense of perspective at a young age.


I stopped reading here because you are still telling rather than showing.

mala2
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby mala2 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:35 pm

what experience gave you the outcome you are trying to convey? If you made the leap I bet the admin people can too :)

FuturePrez
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:39 pm

There are a few that I wanted to define or highlight...

One is growing up in a poor/predominately black area and the hardships it entailed, the effect that it had on my ability to perceive the world around me in a more balanced way.

The other is my parents divorce...it forced me to accept a large amount of financial and familial responsibility at a young age.

My time in washington DC living on no income, supporting myself with savings I had allocated to give me the opportunity and what I learned while there by working and living there.

FuturePrez
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:52 am

Major Edit Bump...Opinions are appreciated!

Thanks!

czelede
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby czelede » Thu Nov 04, 2010 10:33 am

I liked the topic for your previous statement better, personally. Talking about how you are unique because you are different from those around you (the poor) makes you come off as kind of naive. Unless you are hellbent on PI and have the resume to back it up (outside of giving pizza to a homeless man and fish to poor African Americans who responded with grateful jokes and stories) there is no reason to veer towards the "I am so kind to people less fortunate than me" angle.

FuturePrez
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:46 pm

I think you totally missed the point....not sure if this is your problem or my PS. I think I made it clear that It wasnt just being different from the poor, it was living and growing up with them that made me unique. I mentioned that although the experience of Trenton came with its downsides (aka I was just as poor as my neighbors) I am thankful for it because It would not have opened my eyes to 1. the similarities between those who appear vastly different than I 2. the ability to make a difference everyday in the lives of the poor through action (I segue into D.C. to head in the direction of legislative action).

czelede
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby czelede » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:57 pm

FuturePrez wrote:I think you totally missed the point....not sure if this is your problem or my PS. I think I made it clear that It wasnt just being different from the poor, it was living and growing up with them that made me unique. I mentioned that although the experience of Trenton came with its downsides (aka I was just as poor as my neighbors) I am thankful for it because It would not have opened my eyes to 1. the similarities between those who appear vastly different than I 2. the ability to make a difference everyday in the lives of the poor through action (I segue into D.C. to head in the direction of legislative action).


Okay, I think you missed the point of my comment.

1. You say that your childhood dealt you the pivotal life lesson of living and growing up with people different than you. "Growing up in Trenton, New Jersey I was used to being surrounded by those different from me." You seem to emphasize that this all has something to do with poverty (especially given your introduction), and highlight your lessons in compassion with your fish-giving story. But:
2. If you were just as poor as your neighbors, what made you and your grandpa so different? Race? If so, this makes your first paragraph seem even more disjointed.

As for the segue into DC, you barely talk about what you really did in DC and how it really ties into the first few paragraphs except that it was legislative action or something of the sort. Oh, and that "the pressures of a thinly budged lifestyle" may or may not have contributed you to testing your interest in the pursuit of law.

This is all just the icing on the cake though. You make a lot of assertions in this PS that have no follow through. Your most important lesson in DC came from a homeless man - what was that lesson? To think about others? You will not avoid uncomfortable circumstances or hard work to attain a goal? How does your PS demonstrate this? What goals have you obtained?

FuturePrez
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:19 pm

czelede wrote:2. If you were just as poor as your neighbors, what made you and your grandpa so different? Race? If so, this makes your first paragraph seem even more disjointed.


The point is that even though we may have been different due to race or any other factor, I learned at a young age to push that aside. The Whole idea is although we appear different we really are quite similar. One of the reasons I was able to connect to the homeless man or the people in my childhood.

Also, I thought the whole point is "show dont tell". It wasnt clear from the impact that the man had on me after the whole interaction that I had in fact learned something special about the poor? The questions I raise about his comments can be inferred as a lesson in understanding and embracing the dejected people of society "the poor".

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icouldbuyu
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby icouldbuyu » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:28 pm

Truthfully, I found it a little difficult to get interested after reading the first few lines. You need to start off in dramatic fashion, so you can immediately capture the reader's attention. That doesn't mean start off with a quote or question because I think those are prolly the worse ways to start off any essay. Try to come up with some sort of creative technique that jumps off the page.

elm84dr
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby elm84dr » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:28 pm

Can someone please read my PS, I posted about 3 hours ago and still no takers. It would be greatly appreciated.

FuturePrez
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:47 pm

Just read yours now read mine.

FuturePrez
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Re: I want your opinion on my PS

Postby FuturePrez » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:19 am

Another major edit bump.




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