Personal Statement - rip it apart

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
ZSR10
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:59 pm

Personal Statement - rip it apart

Postby ZSR10 » Wed Nov 10, 2010 1:37 pm

Alright folks here is my statement. I have had a really hard time writing this thing as the only writing I have done for the past three years has been researched based. I am hoping it is not too cheasy or anything like that. Have a look and rip it apart. =)


Some people have a difficult time pinpointing the one moment in their lifetime that resulted in the current direction of their lives. We are all on one path or another because of these moments; however it is a very rare occurrence for us to understand what led to that moment, or for some when that moment actually took place. For myself, determining this point was actually extremely simple when I looked back over my experiences; sometimes simplicity is found in complication. Death is quite the sobering topic for most; few however experience the idea of death first hand. I never thought that I would be a member of those few and yet had I not; I would be only a shadow of who I am now.
When trying to decide on the direction of this personal statement, I thought it would be a good idea to ask the people who know me what it is that they feel sets me apart from everyone else. The answer surprised me in that every person I asked came back with some selection of drive, determination, and ambition. At hearing this, I was instantly intrigued by such consensus thus leading to my trying to figure out exactly why I have this apparent drive. In this analysis, I realized that there have been three very important factors in my life which have led up to me being who I am now: the failure of my father; the influence of my grandfather; and the time period where I wondered not where my life would go, but whether I would have a life to live.
My parents divorced when I was eight years old. Although divorce can be quite dramatic, I was lucky enough that both my mother and father understood that ensuring my well being through the process. For this reason I was never really told why the divorce took place and in a way, I think my mom wanted me to see my dad’s mistakes for myself rather than hear about them from her. After years of forgotten birthdays, lessening phone calls, and a complete inability to make the one hour drive to visit me; I came to my own conclusions. My father was not a bad man and loved me in his own way; however his being a good man did not transform into the ability to be a good father. As much as I was saddened by his lack of interest in my life, I was saddened even further to realize that it came not from emotional issues but from pure laziness. When I finally asked about my conclusions, my mother told me that often when work would come up, my father would turn it down and go fishing instead, despite the fact that we needed the money for food and clothes. Upon hearing this I decided that no matter what, I would never be a lazy person. This led me to always strive for the highest goals and to always have more than one goal in line so that I would never be without something to work towards. Never will I allow myself to be complacent with my position in life, I will always strive to be the absolute best in whatever I do no matter how difficult that may be and no matter who says I cannot do it or refuses to support me.
My father being out of the picture was not all bad as it allowed me to gain a truly unique individual as my mentor; my mother’s father. Pops as we called him, led a very intriguing life starting off as a garbage man and becoming an extremely successful Land Trader. Of all the people I have ever met, he is the hardest worker of them all without question. No matter how successful he is, Pops always has something else in the works; not due to greed but due to a genuine love for what he does and a desire to prove to himself that he can always do better. When my parents divorced Pops became the mentor and father figure I had been lacking up to that point. When my parents were still together and especially after they separated, I would go and stay with my grandparents for large portions of the summer. It was during these times that Pops really became the man I looked up to and wanted to be like. Even after my mother remarried an amazing man who has truly been the best father a boy could ask for, Pops was still always the man I strived to be like. When I was in High School grandfather moved close to us and I started spending very large amounts of time with him, both from a personal standpoint and in a business sense. I would often drive him all over Texas to meetings and business deals. This period was an extremely important time for me as I developed a focus for my drive and determination. Pops always drilled into me the idea that the most important thing a man can do is provide for; and leave a legacy for his family. I realized through his guidance that legacy has nothing to do with money. Legacy is the memory you leave for your family and those who knew you. It is the character you impress upon people that will never leave their minds. Pops taught me as much as he did and worked as hard as he did so that I, along with the other members of our family, would do our best to have an equally strong work ethic. And thus by instilling within all of us this ideal of always striving to better yourself in order to provide for your family, Pops taught us exactly what it takes to be successful in the world.
Although in my first year of college I was a driven individual, I still did not have anything specific to drive for. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer but I was not entirely sure why. I think at that point, I liked the idea of being in the courtroom and put little additional thought into it. After my freshman year however, things changed greatly. In July of 2008 I underwent an extensive jaw surgery to correct issues with my mouth. Sadly, mistakes were made with the surgery and over the next six months I had eight surgeries, spent two months on a liquid only diet, and was unable to return to Baylor for the fall semester of my sophomore year. Not only was I completely devastated by my inability to continue my college career, I was frightened by the reasoning; it was too much of a question as to whether or not the doctors would be able to clear all of the infection out. During this time off I had a lot of time to sit, or lay as it were, and think about the way my life was going and where I wanted to go. I gained a much stronger appreciation for life and for the opportunity I had before me. Hearing my doctors tell me they weren’t sure what was happening or if they could correct it made me realize just how short life can really be. It was at this moment that I decided that no matter what career I went into, I wanted it to be something where I could continue to increase my skills throughout my career. I want to be in a field where I will never be in a position to stop learning or to be satisfied with where I am. I realized then that not trying to be the best I can possibly be is a waste of a good life and that I owe it to everyone around me to do my absolute best.
And so my analysis brings me here, to the realization that I will always be driven to succeed. No matter how high I may go, there will always be another summit to be achieved, and I will do my best to achieve that. I look at law as the ultimate education opportunity, a career where no matter how long I practice; there will always be something more for me to learn. This is the most important goal I could possibly strive for; to go through a career constantly bettering myself as a person and a lawyer and to make sure that my relentless drive is put to good use.


slg123
Posts: 38
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2010 9:29 pm

Re: Personal Statement - rip it apart

Postby slg123 » Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:19 pm

This is what I'm getting:
you don't know yourself that well so you asked other people
your dad is a jerk because he's lazy (fairly unconvincing that the only reason he wasn't interested in you was because he was lazy) ----> you will not be lazy
grandfather became more important ----> focus for your drive + strong work ethic
had no focus for your drive ----> rocky jaw surgery that gave you a lot of time to be reflective ----> appreciation for life ----> no exact focus, but something that will keep you stimulated

These threads are good, but inconsistent. You had lots of time to reflect, yet you had to ask your friends what your characteristics are. Your grandpa gave you a focus for your drive/you want to be a lawyer, but you say you had no focus for your drive. A lot of this may because I can't follow it chronologically.
It needs a lot of punctuation/flow help. Read it out loud and see what changes need to be made.
I don't think you need the first two paragraphs. If you want to keep them, I would clean them up a lot. Also, did you have a few moments that changed the direction of your life? Chillin' with your grandpa and the jaw surgery? or was it when your friends told you have been determined, driven, and ambitious? That's the way it's coming out.
Hope this helps!

ZSR10
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:59 pm

Re: Personal Statement - rip it apart

Postby ZSR10 » Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:51 pm

ya that helps a lot. Like I said I have had hell writing this thing. Keep the criticism coming. I am looking for more criticism on content than grammar as this is a rough draft.

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Flips88
Posts: 13624
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Re: Personal Statement - rip it apart

Postby Flips88 » Wed Nov 10, 2010 3:26 pm

"For myself, determining this point was actually extremely simple when I looked back over my experiences; sometimes simplicity is found in complication. Death is quite the sobering topic for most; few however experience the idea of death first hand. I never thought that I would be a member of those few and yet had I not; I would be only a shadow of who I am now."

3 semi-colons in the first paragraph=not a good sign.

"Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college."-Kurt Vonnegut

EDIT: you use a semi-colon 14 times and not once do you use it correctly.
Last edited by Flips88 on Wed Nov 10, 2010 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Flips88
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Re: Personal Statement - rip it apart

Postby Flips88 » Wed Nov 10, 2010 3:27 pm

"When trying to decide on the direction of this personal statement, I thought it would be a good idea to ask the people who know me what it is that they feel sets me apart from everyone else. The answer surprised me in that every person I asked came back with some selection of drive, determination, and ambition. At hearing this, I was instantly intrigued by such consensus thus leading to my trying to figure out exactly why I have this apparent drive. In this analysis..."

All of that can be nixed. They do not want to hear about your process of deciding on what to write.

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Flips88
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Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2010 7:42 pm

Re: Personal Statement - rip it apart

Postby Flips88 » Wed Nov 10, 2010 3:44 pm

"After years of forgotten birthdays, lessening phone calls, and a complete inability to make the one hour drive to visit me; I came to my own conclusions. My father was not a bad man and loved me in his own way; however his being a good man did not transform into the ability to be a good father."

Those semicolons are misused and should be commas.

"My father being out of the picture was not all bad as it allowed me to gain a truly unique individual as my mentor; my mother’s father."

Dude. do you know what a semicolon is used for???

"I knew I wanted to be a lawyer but I was not entirely sure why. I think at that point, I liked the idea of being in the courtroom and put little additional thought into it."

Not what an AdComm wants to hear

"Not only was I completely devastated by my inability to continue my college career, I was frightened by the reasoning; it was too much of a question as to whether or not the doctors would be able to clear all of the infection out."
semicolon. 'nough said.

"to sit, or lay as it were,"

Why is this in here?



"And so my analysis brings me here, to the realization that I will always be driven to succeed."

Don't begin a paragraph with "And" let alone your conclusion.



Ok. Now for content. You make it sound like you had a near death experience in your intro, but it turns out you had a botched surgery that really just put you through some hell. I'm sure it sucked, but saying you have a firsthand account with experiencing death is stretching it.

You spend a lot of time talking about your drive to succeed, yet you never demonstrate that you have succeeded. Maybe you have an LSAT and a high GPA that demonstrate that, but from this you do a whole lot of talking without quantifying and substantiating your claim.

You're over on the length for a lot of schools, but luckily, I think you have a lot to cut. If I were you, I would retool this to talking about your upbringing and how you learned the same lessons from polar opposite figures. Your grandfather taught you how to be a hard worker through a positive demonstration and your father taught you how to be a hard worker through a negative demonstration, ie him being lazy. I think it has potential to be reworked, but right now it is too long with too many grammatical errors and too little substance.

Hope this helps. Not trying to be mean. Just trying to give you a fair assessment

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3|ink
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Re: Personal Statement - rip it apart

Postby 3|ink » Wed Nov 10, 2010 3:49 pm

Summary: Focus on specifics. Your PS is way too general.

ZSR10 wrote: Some people have a difficult time pinpointing the one moment in their lifetime that resulted in the current direction of their lives. We are all on one path or another because of these moments; however it is a very rare occurrence for us to understand what led to that moment, or for some when that moment actually took place. For myself, determining this point was actually extremely simple when I looked back over my experiences; sometimes simplicity is found in complication. Death is quite the sobering topic for most; few however experience the idea of death first hand. I never thought that I would be a member of those few and yet had I not; I would be only a shadow of who I am now.


Too many words to say: experiencing death first-hand changed my life. Do it in fewer words. Moreover, try and be more subtle. Instead of using 'death', say 'loss'.

ZSR10 wrote: When trying to decide on the direction of this personal statement,


Oh no. This has to go.

ZSR10 wrote:I thought it would be a good idea to ask the people who know me what it is that they feel sets me apart from everyone else.

This too. A moment ago, you were talking about the thing that changed your life. No you’re digressing to how you got your idea for your PS, which should never be in your PS to begin with.
ZSR10 wrote:The answer surprised me in that every person I asked came back with some selection of drive, determination, and ambition.

Corny.
ZSR10 wrote:At hearing this, I was instantly intrigued by such consensus thus leading to my trying to figure out exactly why I have this apparent drive. In this analysis, I realized that there have been three very important factors in my life which have led up to me being who I am now: the failure of my father; the influence of my grandfather; and the time period where I wondered not where my life would go, but whether I would have a life to live.

Just take this entire paragraph out. Assuming you wanted this PS to be about that first-hand experience of death, this is too much.
ZSR10 wrote: My parents divorced when I was eight years old. Although divorce can be quite dramatic, I was lucky enough that both my mother and father understood that ensuring my well being through the process. For this reason I was never really told why the divorce took place and in a way, I think my mom wanted me to see my dad’s mistakes for myself rather than hear about them from her.

What happened to first-hand experience of death?

ZSR10 wrote:After years of forgotten birthdays, lessening phone calls, and a complete inability to make the one hour drive to visit me; I came to my own conclusions. My father was not a bad man and loved me in his own way; however his being a good man did not transform into the ability to be a good father.

This doesn’t belong.

ZSR10 wrote:As much as I was saddened by his lack of interest in my life, I was saddened even further to realize that it came not from emotional issues but from pure laziness. When I finally asked about my conclusions, my mother told me that often when work would come up, my father would turn it down and go fishing instead, despite the fact that we needed the money for food and clothes. Upon hearing this I decided that no matter what, I would never be a lazy person. This led me to always strive for the highest goals and to always have more than one goal in line so that I would never be without something to work towards. Never will I allow myself to be complacent with my position in life, I will always strive to be the absolute best in whatever I do no matter how difficult that may be and no matter who says I cannot do it or refuses to support me.

It sounds cliché – like you borrowed this from Rudy or something. I have no doubt these are your real experiences, but the way you describe your motivation seems borrowed.
ZSR10 wrote: My father being out of the picture was not all bad as it allowed me to gain a truly unique individual as my mentor; my mother’s father. Pops as we called him, led a very intriguing life starting off as a garbage man and becoming an extremely successful Land Trader. Of all the people I have ever met, he is the hardest worker of them all without question. No matter how successful he is, Pops always has something else in the works; not due to greed but due to a genuine love for what he does and a desire to prove to himself that he can always do better. When my parents divorced Pops became the mentor and father figure I had been lacking up to that point. When my parents were still together and especially after they separated, I would go and stay with my grandparents for large portions of the summer. It was during these times that Pops really became the man I looked up to and wanted to be like. Even after my mother remarried an amazing man who has truly been the best father a boy could ask for, Pops was still always the man I strived to be like. When I was in High School grandfather moved close to us and I started spending very large amounts of time with him, both from a personal standpoint and in a business sense. I would often drive him all over Texas to meetings and business deals. This period was an extremely important time for me as I developed a focus for my drive and determination. Pops always drilled into me the idea that the most important thing a man can do is provide for; and leave a legacy for his family. I realized through his guidance that legacy has nothing to do with money. Legacy is the memory you leave for your family and those who knew you. It is the character you impress upon people that will never leave their minds. Pops taught me as much as he did and worked as hard as he did so that I, along with the other members of our family, would do our best to have an equally strong work ethic. And thus by instilling within all of us this ideal of always striving to better yourself in order to provide for your family, Pops taught us exactly what it takes to be successful in the world.

It sounds like you’re selling a family brand name. It may very well be the case that your pop taught you these things, but it’s better to demonstrate this by referring to specific instances. It lends credibility to your statement.

ZSR10 wrote:Although in my first year of college I was a driven individual, I still did not have anything specific to drive for. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer but I was not entirely sure why.

I wouldn’t say this.
ZSR10 wrote:I think at that point, I liked the idea of being in the courtroom and put little additional thought into it.

Some lawyers never step inside a court room. Most of a lawyers work is done outside a courtroom. These are just thoughts that might cross the readers mind while reading this.
ZSR10 wrote:After my freshman year however, things changed greatly. In July of 2008 I underwent an extensive jaw surgery to correct issues with my mouth. Sadly, mistakes were made with the surgery and over the next six months I had eight surgeries, spent two months on a liquid only diet, and was unable to return to Baylor for the fall semester of my sophomore year. Not only was I completely devastated by my inability to continue my college career, I was frightened by the reasoning; it was too much of a question as to whether or not the doctors would be able to clear all of the infection out. During this time off I had a lot of time to sit, or lay as it were, and think about the way my life was going and where I wanted to go. I gained a much stronger appreciation for life and for the opportunity I had before me. Hearing my doctors tell me they weren’t sure what was happening or if they could correct it made me realize just how short life can really be. It was at this moment that I decided that no matter what career I went into, I wanted it to be something where I could continue to increase my skills throughout my career. I want to be in a field where I will never be in a position to stop learning or to be satisfied with where I am. I realized then that not trying to be the best I can possibly be is a waste of a good life and that I owe it to everyone around me to do my absolute best.

I think your personal statement should be about this dental thing entirely. Specific instances are more credible IMO.
ZSR10 wrote: And so my analysis brings me here, to the realization that I will always be driven to succeed. No matter how high I may go, there will always be another summit to be achieved, and I will do my best to achieve that. I look at law as the ultimate education opportunity, a career where no matter how long I practice; there will always be something more for me to learn. This is the most important goal I could possibly strive for; to go through a career constantly bettering myself as a person and a lawyer and to make sure that my relentless drive is put to good use.

It just seems so borrowed.




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