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(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
WhirledWorld
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[Please delete]

Postby WhirledWorld » Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:10 pm

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Last edited by WhirledWorld on Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:24 pm, edited 6 times in total.

WhirledWorld
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby WhirledWorld » Sat Oct 30, 2010 3:07 am

bump

darjeelingdarling
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby darjeelingdarling » Sat Oct 30, 2010 4:15 am

I think the reason that you've gotten a lot of views of this topic and no comments is that your essay is strong, well-written, but not great. My biggest critique: no wow factor. In fact, even though I just read your essay two seconds ago I remember very little. As a adcom I think your essay would come across as something of a snooze. Especially the 250. The 250 is where you get to wow with your literary writing prowess. This is where you say, I am Yale material. But I don't get this from your 250. I get: standard I was poor and now I want to work in economic equality essay.

I'm not saying your essays aren't good, they are. But they are not memorable. If you have the numbers for Yale then maybe this is the best thing you can do.

antonin
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby antonin » Sat Oct 30, 2010 12:53 pm

I have no real hope to go to Yale, and as such have not conducted enough research to know what they want.
In general, I think that your first essay is very, very strong. I also think it is as memorable as such an essay can be. Your Yale 250, I found it a little weaker. If I was you, I would focus on the Yale 250, the other one is pretty good.

I found your 250 a little arrogant, not because of your ability to get out of poverty, that is something positive to keep on your essay, but because you seem to reach conclusions about a larger social issue using yourself as evidence. When I came to this country, I had to learn English, and I was able to do that very quickly. I think it is "inappropriate" for me to say that looking at how I was able to learn English so quickly, and knowing many students who struggled more than me, has really increased my interest in understanding inequalities in the time it takes to learn english. I might be seeing something that is not there, but it is one in my opinion one of the reasons why your 250 is not as accomplished as your personal essay.

WhirledWorld
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby WhirledWorld » Sat Oct 30, 2010 2:05 pm

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Last edited by WhirledWorld on Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby DoubleChecks » Sat Oct 30, 2010 2:18 pm

antonin makes a good point about the 250; it came off as a tad arrogant to me as well, and near the end a bit disjointed...but maybe that isnt a critical point.

the wow factor, however, IS crucial for these things, esp. if your numbers are under...or else you have very little chance (unless your resume is a wow factor by itself).

a white male w/o any superpowers can still make a paper memorable. you're confusing a wow factor in writing w/ a wow factor in experience. i dont think darjeeling believes you need to fabricate an experience, but show more of yourself. let them get to know you and WANT to get to know you.

to be fair, ill point out something specific that would help in the wow factor -- your first sentence. make it something that GRABS the reader. use eloquent wording; not necessarily long, complex sentences that force the reader to stumble over myriad punctuation and grammatical hurdles. make it a story about yourself so that adcomms feel invested in you and want to admit you. people love stories.

also, in a second read through, i feel as if your first essay and 250 suffer similar flaws. they have hints of condescension, and none of it flows. it isnt painting a picture -- they are detailed facts that, somehow, point to the conclusion, but in such a way that the reader would have to make a leap of faith to reach it.

i personally do not believe the PS (or even 250 possibly) is supposed to be a retelling of your resume...more introspection, fewer factual details.

WhirledWorld
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby WhirledWorld » Sat Oct 30, 2010 5:42 pm

[See later revisions of 250.]
Last edited by WhirledWorld on Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby DoubleChecks » Sat Oct 30, 2010 5:54 pm

WhirledWorld wrote:The point about the 250 is well taken. Here is another one:

Let me let you in on an embarrassing secret: I can yodel. Everyone has heard me sing pop, jazz, Gregorian chant – you name it – but almost no one has heard me yodel. You might think that after eight years of voice training, traveling internationally in a choir, a number of musicals, and a few barbershop quartets, my friends might begin to suspect something, but my yodeling skills remain a secret.

As a singer and as a student, I cannot help but try to learn everything: from singing Latin polyphonic motets to screaming hard rock in a band, from critiquing Keynesian business-cycle theory to reading Dante in the original Italian. Between my two majors, all my electives, earned by taking the maximum number of classes every semester of my undergraduate experience, are in the hard sciences and in upper-level math classes. I read Scientific American everyday, and I have half of T. S. Eliot’s entire poetic oeuvre memorized. My friends poke fun at me and call me an egghead – until, of course, they need someone for their intramural soccer team or to help fix up their car.

My English professors would like to see me pursue a PhD or at least an MFA; my biology professor would have loved to see me pursue an MD; my voice coach would love to see me pursue a singing career. But I would love to see myself teaching law. Nonetheless, I’d be happy put on a yodeling performance sometime while I pursue that career at Yale.


full disclosure: my following comments are not sugar coated

the first paragraph was perfect. you grabbed my attention w/ the first sentence. you kept me interested for the whole paragraph, and you definitely made me curious.

but it went downhill after that. your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs dont capitalize on the novelty of your first one. once again, it feels disjointed. each paragraph is only barely tied to the one before it so that i dont feel like it is going A -> B -> C but rather A -> C -> E.

finally, dont take this the wrong way, but you sound like an arrogant person lol. thats all well and fine, but dont let it show in your writing! it is a fine line between self-adulation mixed w/ humility and outright arrogance. much of your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs read as if you're trying to say, "hey look at all the hard and amazing things i do! my friends dont (or cant) do them, but they always need me to come to the rescue." saying your professors all want you to get these different degrees ends up sounding like your choice in YLS and law itself is a gift to the world. instead of merely accepting you, YLS should be thanking you for entering the field lol.

maybe YLS adcomms wont feel that way when they read it, but why risk it? personally, id keep the first paragraph and scrap the other two. you should sound more thankful; thankful you've had the opportunity to learn these various things, or rather that you jumped on opportunities to learn when they appeared and they have made you a better person...or developed x trait. even better if you can relate x trait to your yodeling skills. seriously, i have no idea why you don't tell your friends you can yodel...and i am even more clueless as to why you even brought it up. dont waste a great beginning that way.

WhirledWorld
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby WhirledWorld » Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:27 pm

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Last edited by WhirledWorld on Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby DoubleChecks » Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:40 pm

WhirledWorld wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote: ...it went downhill after that. your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs dont capitalize on the novelty of your first one. once again, it feels disjointed. each paragraph is only barely tied to the one before it so that i dont feel like it is going A -> B -> C but rather A -> C -> E.

finally, dont take this the wrong way, but you sound like an arrogant person lol. thats all well and fine, but dont let it show in your writing! it is a fine line between self-adulation mixed w/ humility and outright arrogance. much of your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs read as if you're trying to say, "hey look at all the hard and amazing things i do! my friends dont (or cant) do them, but they always need me to come to the rescue." saying your professors all want you to get these different degrees ends up sounding like your choice in YLS and law itself is a gift to the world. instead of merely accepting you, YLS should be thanking you for entering the field lol.


You're very right. It was just a rough draft, so here's a more put together version. I think you'll at least enjoy the story.

Let me let you in on an embarrassing secret: I can yodel. Everyone has heard me sing pop, jazz, Gregorian chant – you name it – but, up until recently, almost no one had ever heard me yodel. You might think that after eight years of voice training, traveling internationally in a choir, a number of musicals, and a few barbershop quartets, my friends might begin to suspect that I can do more than cite read Latin polyphonic motets, but my yodeling skills remained a closely-guarded secret – until recently.

Every year at my college, we put on a charity week event where students participate in all sorts of activities to raise money for charity, culminating in a final talent show where people auction off their talents to the entire student body. In the history of the event, there have been many singers singing all different kinds of songs, but this year, as I walked on the stage in front of my university’s entire student body, I knew I would be the first to yodel. And when I opened my mouth and began to yodel, I ended up raising more money than any other act that night.

I never thought my yodeling talents would help me pursue my path to becoming a law professor, but in retrospect, I suppose that if I can handle yodeling in front of my university’s entire student body, I can probably handle whatever law students can throw at me. And now that my yodeling talent is not so much of a secret, perhaps I can put on a performance sometime at Yale.


i like how you went in a completely different direction, but now it is a bit too far haha. too much fluff, not enough substance. personally, i dont like the small edit you did in the first paragraph -- too much detail lumped together. the original way was probably better because it was a way of showing off a few things you've done...but in the context of a humorous comment (that your friends still dont suspect anything?!). thats the trick really, to talk yourself up w/o seeming like you're talking yourself up.

2nd and 3rd paragraphs are now a bit too elementary, but you've only been working on it for what...an hour? lol obviously extremely rough -- try to find the middle ground now between substance and story. once again, i really like your first paragraph...if your other 2 can resemble it, you'd be golden in my book at least haha.

also, you dont have a strong direction. what is the POINT of your 250? that you can stand in front of a crowd now? eh. you say you never thought your yodeling talents would help you pursue a path to becoming a law prof...well, tell me how they DID help you...

and saying you want to be a law professor because they stand in front of crowds (and you had to do the same thing once in front of a crowd while yodeling) is a pretty weak reason lol. is your PS even about being a law prof? your original one certainly wasnt.

if your PS isnt about becoming a law prof, just stick to the general field of law. tbh, id cut the 2nd paragraph down to a line about how you recently had to yodel in front of a large crowd, but devote the meat of the 250 to how yodeling has taught you or given you traits that either (1) have made you passionate about pursuing law or (2) prepared you to go into law. i dont know, im mulling over these thoughts in my head as i go along as well haha.

WhirledWorld
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby WhirledWorld » Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:18 pm

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Last edited by WhirledWorld on Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

tortuga28
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby tortuga28 » Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:29 pm

Watch out for repetitive language. In your first post the first couple of sentences use identical phrases (look for the word "always" if you don't see what I mean). It is always good to vary both syntax and specific word choice.

WhirledWorld
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby WhirledWorld » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:50 am

tortuga28 wrote:Watch out for repetitive language. In your first post the first couple of sentences use identical phrases (look for the word "always" if you don't see what I mean). It is always good to vary both syntax and specific word choice.


Good point. I caught that and made it much smoother in the final draft above.

WhirledWorld
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby WhirledWorld » Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:49 pm

bump

CanadianWolf
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Nov 02, 2010 6:12 pm

Not as good as it should be due to some reasoning flaws contained in the body of your essay. Reads as if you have not thoroughly thought out your work before putting it into writing. The most obvious assumption error is that you assume that those who teach, can, yet you fail to adequately support your belief.
The first & second paragraphs are well done (except for readers who may find your position in the first paragraph amusing due to a lack of relevant experience).

"Yet I know..." & "So this past summer..." should be combined into one sentence.

"...I needed to be able to communicate effectively...".

The last two sentences of the third paragraph are awkward.

The sentence about developing a "specialty" is a bit hard to swallow & it confuses the reader because the next sentence suggests that you will have developed a "specialty" by law school graduation when the prior sentence focuses on placement, presumably, after graduation so that you can develop a specialty.
CONSIDER: "When I graduate from Chicago, I should be equipped for many paths including teaching." (I know that this suggestion is a bit awkward, but you should consider refining your concluding sentence.)

Consider using "should" instead of "will".

"Its unparalleled academic influence" may not be a reasonable or justifiable statement.

The first sentence of your final paragraph is laughable. Try "My experience..." rather

than "My success...".

DELETE: "...with both lawyers and corporations...".

"passion" is too strong of a word for one with no law school teaching experience. Try "interest", "curiosity", "desire", "enthusiasm", etc.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

heyguys
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby heyguys » Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:00 pm

Just thought I'd echo DoubleChecks on your 250: the first paragraph about yodeling was awesome. After that, you come across as an arrogant ass.....

Remember who is going to be reading this: a law professor. They're people who are talented in multiple fields, but they know that they don't know it all. And they know that you don't know it all.

I think that the YLS 250 should be approached like this: really consider that a professor is reading it. It's a professor who knows that he or she has slightly less than a 10% chance of having to spend a lot of time with you next year--reading your legal writing, being in a small seminar with you, etc. Whether or not this professor teaches you, he or she knows that someone is going to have to deal with you for that long. The prof asks him- or herself: does this person offer something interesting? Is this person ready to learn? Do I want this person in my class?

Answer those questions through your prose.

Law school can be a humbling experience. Your 250 doesn't say "I have a lot to learn." It says "I know it all." One of the best things about YLS is meeting people who are really just either way beyond you or have an expertise that is wildly different from your own. A professor is going to read a 250 like yours and say, "Yeah, this person might be talented. Maybe very talented. Probably not, but maybe. But this person definitely does not seem like he or she is humble enough to learn from classmates or from me. And that's a problem."

heyguys
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby heyguys » Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:06 pm

just thought I'd also mention--scrap that whole PS. Write about yourself. After reading your PS, I have no idea who you are. All I know is that you are someone that firmly believes that you want to be a law professor despite knowing very little about the law and never having attended the institution in which you purportedly want to spend the entirety of your career.

Tell about yourself. And stop coming across like you think you are so great--it's not "practically impossible" to get published as an undergrad. What's more, a ton of YLS students have their PhDs and are already well-published. Just scrap the whole idea.

WhirledWorld
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby WhirledWorld » Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:25 pm

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Last edited by WhirledWorld on Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:55 pm

You are missing something, however, the tone is easily corrected by substituting softer words for those that are too self-important.

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theadw
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby theadw » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:07 pm


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fastforward
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby fastforward » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:12 pm

I like it. :D

heyguys
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby heyguys » Wed Nov 03, 2010 6:18 am

WhirledWorld wrote:
After that, you come across as an arrogant ass.....


Haha, yeah, don't give the 250 too much thought; I whipped it up in about 30 minutes just as a brainstorming project (the yodeling one, not the one in the first post). I'll keep the first paragraph; I just have no idea how to tie in the fact that I can yodel into the law school experience.

And the PS will get some editing, but I'd like to know where specifically it comes off as arrogant (I changed the beginning of the third paragraph to sound humble about my prospects for law review). My professor actually did tell me that it's more or less impossible to get published in English journals as an undergrad, but I don't want to come across as embellished (which is what I think you might be getting at.) So I wonder if it's my PS that comes off as arrogant, or whether you got that from my 250 (which I wouldn't put too much weight on). Re-reading my PS, it doesn't sound too arrogant to me. Maybe a little preemptively determined, but not arrogant. But maybe I'm wrong and I'm missing something.



What I'm saying is that if you read over what you wrote and don't find it arrogant, then you're arrogant. Nothing personal, but being full of yourself really shows through in your prose in general. For example, writing "I don't want to come across as embellished." Embellished isn't the right word there, and it makes you come across as straining or reaching to use words that will make people think that you're part of the "club" of intelligent folks.

One thing to bear in mind about law professors and law students: we pay very close attention to words. The mode of expression tells you a lot about a person and how well thought out an idea is. Particularly in your PS (and in your posts), your prose tells me as much about you as your narrations do.

As far as where specifically it comes across as arrogant, just to name a few:
1) You are a 0L, and yet you're already writing about law review. What's more, you clearly know nothing about law review. Profs would find that whole discussion to be ridiculous.
2) Getting published is not a big deal. I'm sorry. It's great, but it's not huge. Not "nearly impossible."
3) Don't present anything as "look at how great I am." That's basically what your whole PS is at this point. It makes you come across as not only an ass, but as someone who pursues things not for the pleasure of them, but because they look good to others. If something you did was truly great, then just talking about it will get across how impressive it is--not talking about it as impressive. You don't come across as humble at all, and you don't apologize for that. It at least *seems* to show a total lack of life experience.

And frankly, the very fact that you would even think to write such things shows that you either think very little about or don't really understand the process of presenting an argument. The PS is an argument, the topic of which is "This is why you should let me into your law school." Your prose style doesn't reflect someone who is thoughtfully presenting an option to someone--you're coming across as a used-car salesman, hoping to bludgeon your reader with "Look at how great this car is!!! Buy it now!!!" Thoughtful people don't respond to that because they know that there might be lurking problems under the hood.

I guess I would just encourage you to step back from the PS and 250 you wrote and ask yourself those questions; but more importantly, I would ask myself "Is this really who I am at this point?" "Do I really feel like I have this much figured out already?" You just don't come across in either of them as a thoughtful person--you come across as someone who "has everything figured out." Profs know you don't, and they aren't looking for people who think they do. On that note, if this is something that you can't surmount, I would encourage you to either think about deferring for a few years to get some real experience, or to think about a different avenue than the law. Law is human, and law is extremely broad--people who go in with an arrogance about them almost never come away from it enriched.

The average age of incoming students at YLS is 25. There's a reason for that: YLS wants focused people, but they don't want people to pretend they're focused and on top of everything at 22, because it's almost certainly not true.

heyguys
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby heyguys » Wed Nov 03, 2010 6:19 am

Just to say: I'm sorry if that came across as too much of a lecture. I just see a lot of people on TLS who have the same sort of approach to presenting themselves as you, and I feel that a) they are doing themselves a disservice and b) writing in such a way evinces a need to really get away from the academy walls and to get some life experience.

WhirledWorld
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby WhirledWorld » Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:28 pm

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Last edited by WhirledWorld on Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

letsgetitstarted
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Re: Please help critique my Yale 250 and Yale PS

Postby letsgetitstarted » Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:35 pm

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Last edited by letsgetitstarted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.




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