P.S. Personal statement needs love and hate in equal measure

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
nateaway
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Joined: Fri Jun 18, 2010 1:51 pm

P.S. Personal statement needs love and hate in equal measure

Postby nateaway » Sat Nov 13, 2010 6:51 pm

It's getting near the wire (penn ED) so please no suggestions to scrap unless you feel absolutely honorbound to do so. Also I should point out that my feeling on this is that with all the fairly dry supplemental essays Penn has applicants write I felt that I could take a bit of a looser feel with this as I have to explain why penn and career goals and such in other essays.

The amount of qualifications above makes me, slightly nervous...

anyway here goes enjoy and critique in health.....



It was a brisk Thursday afternoon in what passed for spring in ------- when I first found myself in the empty and acoustically dead city hall building for the first time, assuring myself that the lonely silence of the warren was in no way symbolic or meaningful. Checking my watch, I placed myself on an empty bench outside of the locked door that the city’s website had claimed would disgorge civic activity at some point in the next few minutes. With a sigh, I took out my notebook and began to notice things.
At the time of my first visit to city hall, I had been working on my novel for about eight months and was making good progress. The rigid outlines I had made for myself at the projects inception were losing more of their utility every day as characters and situations began to brace against the bounds originally set for them, like adolescents testing an indulgent parent. Consequently, I was finding myself being written into the occasional corner. Specifically, I was writing myself into meetings.
Now, I had no doubt in my ability to spin a passably taut description of some worldwide senate handing down decrees on war tribunals with a righteous fury that defied decorum. However, when it came to the smaller things I was at something of a loss. When I had to articulate the world of subcommittees and undersecretaries and people who meet on scuffed tables with legal pads rather than magisterial desks, the verisimilitude- so important to the more intimate setting- failed me.
Physical Chemistry as a field has no dramatic arc; it climaxes almost immediately with a novel idea and then commences a long math intensive denouement to failure or vindication. This last bit is generally the work of assistants, graduate students, and unloved collaborators; the work is interesting and quite subtle, but it is not a place to find recognition or glory. Perhaps because of this, practitioners of the field tend to express in their personal lives a love of the big issues and an acute, even disdainful interest in smaller things. For my part, I spent my undergraduate years as an avid book-reader, rally-goer, and letter-writer. I loved to work out elegant plans for everything from global warming to trade imbalances, which I would then mail off to senators, diplomats, and any national or international figure I had seen associated with the issue on CNN.
So it was with some trepidation, and no little skepticism, that I found myself meeting at last in the backrooms of parks and schools and police stations, smelling of the children and road salt each stored. I had no idea what these people would even talk about; I was prepared to watch very little happen for about an hour and a half. In these meetings I discovered three things that changed my outlook dramatically. The first was that, in these meetings unlike those I had always watched on television, things actually happened. Issues were discussed openly, strategies for garnering support, distributing funds, and a hundred other tasks were discussed openly and with all the sensationalism and fiery invective a novelist could wish. Secondly, there was a small group of people who made all of this possible by pointing out what the available options were for bringing about the desired changes and the likely consequences. On my second meeting I asked a man seated next to me what these people had in common; these people it turned out were lawyers. The final surprise was easily the biggest. I began to care. Before I was truly aware of it I was asking people for their research on issues and having long conversations and preparing speeches after meetings. I was helping to actually change things, and although it was not world hunger on the table, I was as excited as I have ever been.
There an apocryphal story that Cicero tells about Scipio Aemilianus that I never previously understood. The whole of the tale is a dream in which Scipio’s grandfather reveals to him, with almost alarming accuracy, that the nation he loves and has always fought for is barely the tiniest potion of the inhabited world, the whole of which he could never hope to see much less affect. He says that those dwelling south of the Ganges and beyond, most of the world in fact, will know or care of his existence. The story leaves off however, with the elder Scipio urging Aemilianus to continue to fight and strive for his people, as though this followed naturally from his description of his insignificance. This closing insistence that he continue his works regardless had always baffled me. I think I do understand it now. I think it is an admonishment to do what one can and to strive always to make things better. It is a call to save lakes before oceans and men before nations. This is what I hope to gain from a study of the law. I hope to hollow out a niche to make my own help what people I can. I hope to help the world progress. I hope to be a lawyer.

nateaway
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jun 18, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: P.S. Personal statement needs love and hate in equal measure

Postby nateaway » Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:07 pm

cough (bump)

weejonbu
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Re: P.S. Personal statement needs love and hate in equal measure

Postby weejonbu » Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:09 pm

For starters, your first sentence is 47 words long. Try to keep sentences under 25 words maximum. Let me read the rest and then get back to you...

nateaway
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Joined: Fri Jun 18, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: P.S. Personal statement needs love and hate in equal measure

Postby nateaway » Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:12 pm

touche

weejonbu
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Re: P.S. Personal statement needs love and hate in equal measure

Postby weejonbu » Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:14 pm

nateaway wrote:It's getting near the wire (penn ED) so please no suggestions to scrap unless you feel absolutely honorbound to do so.


I do. I don't know if I've ever read a personal statement that could ruin someone's application before.... until now.

Are you really a novelist? I'm sorry, not trying to be mean, but I read the first two paragraphs and I have absolutely no idea what is going on. Scrap scrap scrap... put away the dictionary and thesaurus and start over.

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The Gentleman
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Re: P.S. Personal statement needs love and hate in equal measure

Postby The Gentleman » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:15 am

A personal statement should meet two criteria. First, it should give the reader some insight into what characteristics/contributions you will bring to the law school community. And second, it should showcase your ability to write in a succinct, persuasive, and thoughtful manner.

Your essay does not meet either of these criteria. In fact, it doesn't even come remotely close. The reason for this is actually quite simple; your writing is outrageously verbose and complex. I was constantly rereading sentences and struggling to make sense of what you were trying to get across. If there happens to be a worthwhile theme in this essay, it is completely smothered by the pretentious writing.

As a personal statement, this essay fails on every level and with only one day left before Penn's ED deadline, you need come up with something completely new. Try reading some other statements to get a sense of how they are supposed to be structured/written.

Good Luck OP

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WhatSarahSaid
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Re: P.S. Personal statement needs love and hate in equal measure

Postby WhatSarahSaid » Sun Nov 14, 2010 6:11 pm

I'm going to second the point about this being way too verbose. If you do decide that you want to run with this, you also have an array of grammatical errors, which is never acceptable in the first place but is doubly unacceptable given the impression you seem to be trying to give.

On the plus side, I like the actual point of this. You just have to find a much, much better way to flesh it out.

krad
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:33 am

Re: P.S. Personal statement needs love and hate in equal measure

Postby krad » Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:00 pm

Sorry to say, but ditto to many of the previous posts :( I would recommend looking through some of these: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=4353 for ideas on how to say more using less. That's just my $.02...

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artichoke
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Re: P.S. Personal statement needs love and hate in equal measure

Postby artichoke » Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:05 pm

I find this very difficult to read. Try to be more concise.




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