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(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Flips88
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Postby Flips88 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:43 am

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Last edited by Flips88 on Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Tanicius
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Re: PS is the bane of my existence. Please help.

Postby Tanicius » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:51 am

Never explicitly say: "This experience instilled in me ____." That much is obvious so long as the experience itself has been written effectively. Write a paragraph-long memory of something that moved you, and put yourself into the story, a specific moment in time - a scene. Describe what you did, not what you thought.

CanadianWolf
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Re: PS is the bane of my existence. Please help.

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:15 pm

Interesting suggestion above to "describe what you did, not what you thought". Might be better to incorporate both your thoughts & action into your personal statement.
Hard to give meaningful advice without a completed draft.

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acfair
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Re: PS is the bane of my existence. Please help.

Postby acfair » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:17 pm

I feel like the best PSs I have read are heavy in narrative. They use narrative to explain the facts, rather than just stating the facts.

JurisDoctorate
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Re: PS is the bane of my existence. Please help.

Postby JurisDoctorate » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:22 pm

My personal statement is already too long with just the facts. I couldn't imagine making it into a rich narrative; I don't think they'd be too happy with a 10 page PS.

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acfair
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Re: PS is the bane of my existence. Please help.

Postby acfair » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:26 pm

My intent in using narrative is to make my statement readable, while still being very heavy in facts.

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Flips88
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Re: PS is the bane of my existence. Please help.

Postby Flips88 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:44 pm

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Last edited by Flips88 on Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

lornarose07
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Re: PS is the bane of my existence. Please help.

Postby lornarose07 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:52 pm

Tanicius wrote:Never explicitly say: "This experience instilled in me ____." That much is obvious so long as the experience itself has been written effectively. Write a paragraph-long memory of something that moved you, and put yourself into the story, a specific moment in time - a scene. Describe what you did, not what you thought.


You're the first person I've read that doesn't suggest being explicit. In fact, after my first two drafts were ripped to shreds (although I believe some of it was justifiable) somebody suggested that I explain how an experience I'd gone through has made me stronger, more independent, etc. etc. Well I thought it might be annoying to the adcomm for me to state something that was pretty obvious. It's frustrating to get so many differing opinions on which way to go about writing this PS but I agree with your advice here.

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acfair
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Re: PS is the bane of my existence. Please help.

Postby acfair » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:02 pm

Overall, I think this is well written and gets your point across. I will leave my views about the paternalistic overtones of it to myself.

Flips88 wrote:
The fluorescent setting sun illuminated the sky with an orange glow as it dipped below a radio tower to the west. I sat atop a bell tower overlooking the cityscape of XXXX, wondering how my family was spending Christmas at my home in XXXX nearly three thousand miles away. The moment also forced me to reflect on why I had foregone my winter break from school to return to XXX for a fifth time. I was compelled to return because of the life altering experiences during my four prior trips. In the small villages surrounding the urban heart of XXXX, I was forced to experience a world I had never known, one filled with abject poverty, hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, and other realities that remain out of the purview of affluent Americans. Confronting these realities made me recognize both how lucky I am and how much inequality and injustice exists in the world. Moreover, my experiences in XXXX taught me greatly about the power of the individual and the collective to effectively produce positive social change.

My trips taught me many invaluable lessons about cherishing all that I have been given throughout my life and recognizing the common human condition that binds us all. Whenever I am upset at some trivial inconvenience, I am reminded that another world exists outside the comfortable world in which I live. There is a world where families sleep seven people in a one-bedroom home on a bed utilizing plywood instead of a mattress. There is a world where people walk miles for potable water while I can walk ten feet from my bedroom and quench my thirst without a second thought. As I sit in a clean and safe classroom, I remember that there is a world where schools must build walls so that thieves will not rob children that just wish to learn and break out of the cycle of poverty. These memories serve to keep me persistently aware of how lucky I truly am and remind me of the hardships that others face.

You must be really lucky to repeat twice how lucky you are.

Yet, I do not believe it was the social ills I witnessed that were the things that most profoundly affected me. Rather, it was that, despite being born into a world fraught with these problems, the people I encountered and have come to call my friends treat every single day as a blessing. They love unconditionally; they give of themselves while essentially having nothing. Witnessing this amazing resilience made me recognize the common humanity that unites us. It made me understand that in another life, it very well could have been me walking miles for water. Understanding this, I was filled with a great desire to fight and work for those that are struggling in this world, because if I were place in their situation, I would want someone fighting for me. My experiences also taught me that sustainable progress cannot be achieved alone, but must be born out of collective diligent action and great patience.

Performing humanitarian work in XXXX was profoundly rewarding yet immensely frustrating. The walls of XXXX are littered with government slogans that falsely promise change and enrichment for its citizens. I vividly recall one such painting alongside a road that read “XXX decided, the whole region decided, all of XXXX decided: eradicate poverty!” I had first noticed the sign in 2003; yet in 2007 the road still led to villages filled with malnourished children, gang violence, and homelessness. I came to understand that large and complex issues such as these will not be solved in a year or even a few years, but rather require a concerted effort for decades and generations to produce lasting social change. However, I never felt like my work was futilein futility. but rather Instead I discovered that each one of my actions was working to slowly change the face of the communities in which I worked for the better.

The first time that I travelled to XXXX, I was 15 years old. In a small village, we dug a hole that was to become the foundation of a church. The next year, we poured the concrete to create the foundation. The year after that, we helped lay bricks and begin construction. The last time I returned, the church was fully constructedtowering over something less paternalistic sounding the small village adorned with two bell towers and stained glass windows. It was not only a place of worship for them, but also a social hub for the community where events could be held and supplies distributed. I had witnessed a mere hole in the ground become a nexus for what for an impoverished community. I discovered that small actions can have monumental consequences; that one single building can help alter a community profoundly and give them hope. Similarly, I have seen other small actions foster tremendous change. The local school in XXXX when I first visited was decrepit, highly susceptible to robbery, and unsuitable as a place for children to learn and play. Four years later, the school was surrounded by a secure fence and featured brick classrooms filled with books and supplies, a playground, and bathrooms with functional plumbing. It had become a place where children yearned to go daily rather than a place they feared. Seeing changes such as these occur over time and more importantly being an active agent of the changes filled me with a sense of accomplishment and hope. I came to understand that with diligent work the world will become a better place and humanity will not be doomed to forever live in separate worlds of existence.

Each one of my trips was a journey that helped me better understand the world and myself. My travels taught me that I should be perpetually grateful to live a life free from want. I attempt to remind myself daily that there is no reason why I was born into a life of affluence and another child born into a world of poverty. Likewise, I remind myself that I am charged with a social responsibility to my fellow man and to the world as a whole. I understand that I alone cannot save the world from all its ills; the world’s problems are too monumental for one person. However, my life’s work can help move the world forward towards a more peaceful and egalitarian existence. Robert Kennedy once described each action for the cause of social justice, “a tiny ripple of hope” that had the capacity to “build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Each action I have performed, whether it be building a house, delivering clothes and food, or building a church, have been tiny ripples. They seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but they are where change and hope begin and where I begin to help make the world a better place.

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Flips88
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Re: PS is the bane of my existence. Please help.

Postby Flips88 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:13 pm

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Last edited by Flips88 on Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tanicius
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Re: PS is the bane of my existence. Please help.

Postby Tanicius » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:21 pm

The fluorescent setting sun illuminated the sky with an orange glow as it dipped below a radio tower to the west.


No.

Confronting these realities made me recognize both how lucky I am and how much inequality and injustice exists in the world. Moreover, my experiences in XXXX taught me greatly about the power of the individual and the collective to effectively produce positive social change.


Definitely, definitely no.

The fluorescent setting sun illuminated the sky with an orange glow as it dipped below a radio tower to the west. I sat atop a bell tower overlooking the cityscape of XXXX, wondering how my family was spending Christmas at my home in XXXX nearly three thousand miles away. The moment also forced me to reflect on why I had foregone my winter break from school to return to XXX for a fifth time. I was compelled to return because of the life altering experiences during my four prior trips. In the small villages surrounding the urban heart of XXXX, I was forced to experience a world I had never known, one filled with abject poverty, hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, and other realities that remain out of the purview of affluent Americans. Confronting these realities made me recognize both how lucky I am and how much inequality and injustice exists in the world. Moreover, my experiences in XXXX taught me greatly about the power of the individual and the collective to effectively produce positive social change.


Alright. Now relate that to what I said in the post above:

Never explicitly say: "This experience instilled in me ____." That much is obvious so long as the experience itself has been written effectively. Write a paragraph-long memory of something that moved you, and put yourself into the story, a specific moment in time - a scene. Describe what you did, not what you thought.


You pretty much did everything in that opening paragraph you don't want to do. This isn't meant to be rude - it's just a fact. You gave us a useless image of a setting sun, and then went into thoughts that have not been backed up by any kind of experience, and ended with an even more unsupported assertion about how these untold experiences have affected you.

I want an actual story here. Something you observed while you were over there, making sure to note your own position in the scene.

sarahh
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Re: PS is the bane of my existence. Please help.

Postby sarahh » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:36 pm

Personally, I think the first three paragraphs are cliche, specifically because of the
This was a life altering experience - I learned how lucky I am
Seven people in one room, walk miles for water, etc. (sounds like something someone would say after watching a Save the Children commercial)
They love unconditionally; they give of themselves while essentially having nothing (makes them sound very one-dimensional)

Your essay gets better after that when you describe what you saw and did in more detail.

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Flips88
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Re: PS is the bane of my existence. Please help.

Postby Flips88 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:47 pm

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