My first attempt at a personal statement

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Neidermeyer519
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My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby Neidermeyer519 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:25 am

I tried to go about this in a way that would make it different from the norm. It may be good, it may not. Any criticism would be greatly appreciated.

If you were asked to pick three exact instances in your life that best illustrated who you are as a person, do you know what would you choose? Would you go with being the first member of your family to graduate college, or perhaps winning the little league world series when you were ten? When I asked myself this question, I was admittedly surprised not only at what I chose, but also at the significance those events had on my understanding and perspective of the world.

Getting off the school bus that afternoon in September, it felt like any other day to me. I said goodbye to my friends and began the walk down my driveway. As I got close to my house I knew something was out of place. Usually my mother was waiting for me or at least had the door open, yet it was shut. Seeing that her car was still there I quickly made my way inside. I found her passed out on the kitchen floor with beer cans littered around her. I knew I had a few minutes before my sister got home to clean things up, so I cleaned as quickly as I could and put my mother to bed. The last thing I wanted was for my baby sister to see her like this.

I sat on the end of her bed for a few hours until she woke up, not sure of what I was going to say. She looked up at me sitting there and we stared at one another for what felt like hours, speaking not a word. Finally she spoke, telling me how scared she was as tears streamed down her face. Reaching over, I wiped away the tears and told her everything was going to be alright. I took her hand in mine and told her that we would get through this together, as a family. I didn’t know how we were going to do it, but I knew that regardless of what happened, I was going to do everything in my power to help my mother. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to be a son.

After the attacks on September 11th, I, like many Americans, was enraptured with feelings of patriotism. Following careful consideration, I decided that it was in my best interest to join the Armed Forces. As much as I thought I was ready for it, basic combat training was a wakeup call. I had never before been without the freedom to go places or do things that I wanted. It was during these tough times that my fellow soldiers and I relied on one another to get through the days.

A week before graduation we had our last physical fitness test. I was standing there with Garcia, a soldier I had become friends with. We had already finished the pushups and sit-ups, and all we had left to do was our two mile run. Garcia and I made meaningless small talk until the run began, at which point I distanced myself from him, as I was the better runner.

Coming around the last lap I saw a group of Drill Sergeants standing around what looked like a person on the ground. It wasn’t surprising to see someone suffering from cramps during the South Carolina summer, but when the paramedics arrived I knew something was wrong. Word had quickly spread that it was Garcia. A few hours later we were informed that Private Garcia had suffered a heart attack and had died.

A couple days later the entire company was lined up for a tribute service to Garcia. As I scanned the faces around the formation I saw everything from stone faced reluctance to accept his death to open tears at the passing of a comrade. Together we had been through hell and lost one of our own. Now we gathered to honor his memory. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to be a soldier.

The snap as the linebacker collided with my knee was deafening, at least in my mind. As I laid there writhing in pain, I couldn’t begin to imagine the repercussions that day would have. The MRI revealed cartilage and ligament damage, severe enough to leave me unable to walk for several weeks. I was entirely dependent on my roommate and family for everything from getting around the house to bathing.

For three weeks I was relegated to the couch, not capable of working or even going to class. I attempted to teach myself organic chemistry, all the while worrying about the mounting pile of medical bills that kept coming in. Without the proper instruction, I found I was unable to grasp the concepts of complex chemistry. I had never before withdrawn, but I was out of options and felt it was the only way to salvage the semester without damaging my grade point average.

I pleaded with the dean to allow me to withdraw under special circumstances. My physician even provided signed documentation detailing the extent of my injuries, but the dean informed me that it was already several weeks after the withdraw date and that it would not be allowed. As a last resort I requested to receive incompletes, but that request too was denied. Despite my best attempts, I was going to receive F’s on my transcript; something that had never happened to me before. On top of that I was going to have to pick up a second job and take time off of school to pay all the medical bills that I had accrued from my injury. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to fail.

Our lives are undoubtedly influenced and shaped, for better or worse, by the plethora of different experiences we have. It’s not only how we handle these experiences, but what we take from them that shape us into the person we become. I have ascertained many useful traits from my life experiences; compassion, respect, and humility to name only a few. These attributes will serve me well as I embark on my next great challenge, law school.

CanadianWolf
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:15 am

It's a decent start. On the positive side, you write well & are willing to share; unfortunately, your essay focuses on negatives and has a subtle tone of self-pity.

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Neidermeyer519
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby Neidermeyer519 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:33 pm

Thank you very much. I had thought about using it for a safe state school to see how it was received

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PinkCow
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby PinkCow » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:45 pm

I thought it was cool. I was very interested in it the whole time, which is a rarity with these essays. It is certainly unconventional, given that you don't concentrate on one central story, but I like that. FWIW, I'd use it. But, then again, I don't have a lot of faith in these things anyway.

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NYC_7911
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby NYC_7911 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:49 pm

Well-written and engaging, but I'd get rid of the third example. It sounds like you're using your PS to sneak in an explanation of a blemish on your transcript, but it would be better to address that directly in a GPA addendum if you feel that it's necessary. My guess is you could find a more compelling third example (or expand on the other two and play with the idea of finally learning what it means to "be" something -- a son/soldier).

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Neidermeyer519
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby Neidermeyer519 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:00 pm

Chip: Much appreciated. I thought mixing it up and having three small stories might make it more interesting. Thanks for taking the time to read.

NYC_7911: I had wondered about changing the third example because I do explain that in an addendum. It was just a big part of my life so I thought to include it. Again, I appreciate all of the comments.

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teaadntoast
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby teaadntoast » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:06 pm

I like the structure, but think you might want to do more to delineate between each memory. The transition from the son paragraph to the soldier paragraph was a bit jarring.

Maybe set each "I learned" sentence off on its own? eg:

I was going to do everything in my power to help my mother.

I understood what it meant to be a son.


Agree with PPs that your third paragraph could stand to be re-considered. You go from family trouble to death to.. GPA? It doesn't really jibe with the otherwise thoughtful and mature tone of the essay.

weejonbu
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby weejonbu » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:20 pm

It's also a bit too long... at Times New Roman 12 point it's approaching three full pages. At TNR 11 point (super small), your still bleeding about 4 lines into a third page. Probably need to shorten it a paragraph or two, since a large majority of law schools keep the page limit at two pages.

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Neidermeyer519
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby Neidermeyer519 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:26 pm

I realized how I am going to restructure the third paragraph. Thanks again so much for all the help.

The length was 2 pages exactly in Microsoft word, but once I restructure it should be a little less than two. What font and font size what you recommend that I submit?

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teaadntoast
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby teaadntoast » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:27 pm

If the application instructions are specific - do what they say.

I used Times New Roman size 11.

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FattyMcFatFat
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby FattyMcFatFat » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:17 pm

teaadntoast wrote:I like the structure, but think you might want to do more to delineate between each memory. The transition from the son paragraph to the soldier paragraph was a bit jarring.

Maybe set each "I learned" sentence off on its own? eg:

I was going to do everything in my power to help my mother.

I understood what it meant to be a son.


Agree with PPs that your third paragraph could stand to be re-considered. You go from family trouble to death to.. GPA? It doesn't really jibe with the otherwise thoughtful and mature tone of the essay.


+1

Excellent for a first draft though.

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Flips88
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby Flips88 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:46 pm

Am I the only one that finds starting with a string of rhetorical questions a bit cliche? I would suggest you start with something like "Many events have helped shape who I have become. However, there are ones that stand out as definitive moments in my life." then launch into your stories.

Ditto on the 3rd example. It sounds like a narrative form of a GPA addendum.

Also one grammar point that i saw: "A week before graduation we had our last physical fitness test. I was standing there with Garcia, a soldier I had become friends with"

should be: "A week before graduation we had our last physical fitness test. I was standing there with Garcia, a soldier with whom I had become friends"

weejonbu
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby weejonbu » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:53 pm

Flip is right.

Also, as long as the grammar police are out... NEVER EVER use the word "YOU" in a formal essay. NEVER. That is like an English 101 rule.

You could use, "If I was asked to pick three exact instances..." or "If one was asked to pick three exact instances..." and the same for the whole first paragraph.

mrwarre85
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby mrwarre85 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:01 pm

Could be tightened up and improved, but then again all writing can. I actually stayed with it the whole time. I disagree with some, I think you came off as sincere.

If the prompt is open ended, I would use it. I can't see how this would hurt you.

cubswin
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby cubswin » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:28 pm

Neidermeyer519 wrote:I tried to go about this in a way that would make it different from the norm. It may be good, it may not. Any criticism would be greatly appreciated.

If you were asked to pick three exact instances in your life that best illustrated who you are as a person, do you know what would you choose? Would you go with being the first member of your family to graduate college, or perhaps winning the little league world series when you were ten? When I asked myself this question [Schizophrenic?] , I was admittedly surprised not only at what I chose [Why are you surprised at your own answer? Do you have multiple personalities?] , but also at the significance those events had on my understanding and perspective of the world If the question you are answering is "What are the three exact instances in your life that best illustrate who you are as a person?" Why should the fact that those three events you chose shaped your understanding and perspective come as a surprise? It seems to define what answers the question, does it not?].

Getting off the school bus that afternoon in September [I have yet to read any farther than this, but I already don't like that you are discussing your pre-college existence. You are entering law school as an adult. You should focus on what little adulthood you have under your belt.], it felt like any other day to me. I said goodbye to my friends and began the walk down my driveway. As I got close to my house I knew something was out of place. Usually my mother was waiting for me or at least had the door open, yet it was shut. Seeing that her car was still there I quickly made my way inside. I found her passed out on the kitchen floor with beer cans littered around her. You are making me sad. I knew I had a few minutes before my sister got home to clean things up, so I cleaned as quickly as I could and put my mother to bed. The last thing I wanted was for my baby sister to see her like this.

I sat on the end of her bed for a few hours until she woke up, not sure of what I was going to say. She looked up at me sitting there and we stared at one another for what felt like hours, speaking not a word. Finally she spoke, telling me how scared she was as tears streamed down her face. Reaching over, I wiped away the tears and told her everything was going to be alright From Merriam Webster: Usage Discussion of ALRIGHT

The one-word spelling alright appeared some 75 years after all right itself had reappeared from a 400-year-long absence. Since the early 20th century some critics have insisted alright is wrong, but it has its defenders and its users. It is less frequent than all right but remains in common use especially in journalistic and business publications. It is quite common in fictional dialogue, and is used occasionally in other writing
Long story short: use "all right."]. I took her hand in mine and told her that we would get through this together, as a family. I didn’t know how we were going to do it, but I knew that regardless of what happened, I was going to do everything in my power to help my mother. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to be a son. You have yet to establish the cause of your mother's emotional state.

After the attacks on September 11th AHHHHH, I, like many Americans, was enraptured [Are you aware that "enraptured" means "filled with delight"? Were you delighted by September 11th? Probably not. Not to mention that "enraptured with feelings of patriotism" doesn't make sense.] with feelings of patriotism. Following careful consideration, I decided that it was in my best interest to join the Armed Forces. As much as I thought I was ready for it, basic combat training was a wakeup call . I had never before been without the freedom to go places or do things that I wanted. It was during these tough times that my fellow soldiers and I relied on one another to get through the days.

A week before graduation, we had our last physical fitness test. I was standing there with Garcia, a soldier I had become friends with. We had already finished the push-ups and sit-ups, and all we had left to do was our two mile run. Garcia and I made meaningless small talk until the run began, at which point I distanced myself from him, as I was the better runner.

Coming around the last lap I saw a group of Drill Sergeants standing around what looked like a person on the ground. It wasn’t surprising to see someone suffering from cramps during the South Carolina summer, but when the paramedics arrived I knew something was wrong. Word had quickly spreadthat it was Garcia. A few hours later we were informed that Private Garcia had suffered a heart attack and had died. There is no life in this paragraph (no pun intended). This is possibly the most boring four sentences written about a death in the history of writing.

A couple days later the entire company was lined up for a tribute service to Garcia. As I scanned the faces around the formation I saw everything from stone faced reluctance to accept his death to open tears at the passing of a comrade. Together we had been through hell and lost one of our own. Now we gathered to honor his memory. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to be a soldier.

The snap as the linebacker collided with my knee was deafening, at least in my mind. [Holy shit, no transition to this?] As I laid there writhing in pain, I couldn’t begin to imagine the repercussions that day would have. The MRI revealed cartilage and ligament damage, severe enough to leave me unable to walk for several weeks. I was entirely dependent on my roommate and family for everything from getting around the house to bathing.

For three weeks I was relegated to the couch, not capable of working or even going to class. I attempted to teach myself organic chemistry, all the while worrying about the mounting pile of medical bills that kept coming in. Without the proper instruction, I found I was unable to grasp the concepts of complex chemistry. I had never before withdrawn, but I was out of options and felt it was the only way to salvage the semester without damaging my grade point average.

I pleaded with the dean to allow me to withdraw under special circumstances. My physician even provided signed documentation detailing the extent of my injuries, but the dean informed me that it was already several weeks after the withdraw date and that it would not be allowed. As a last resort I requested to receive incompletes, but that request too was denied. Despite my best attempts, I was going to receive F’s on my transcript; something that had never happened to me before. On top of that I was going to have to pick up a second job and take time off of school to pay all the medical bills that I had accrued from my injury. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to fail.

Our lives are undoubtedly influenced and shaped, for better or worse, by the plethora of different experiences we have. It’s not only how we handle these experiences, but what we take from them that shape us into the person we become. I have ascertained [ascertain means "to make certain." this makes no sense.] many useful traits from my life experiences; semi-colons separate two complete thoughts, and are never used to introduce a list.] compassion, respect, and humility to name only a few. These attributes will serve me well as I embark on my next great challenge, law school.


Final thoughts: pick one story and tell it well instead of stringing three slapdash stories in the same statement. Consider NOT using the September the 11th idea. Ask yourself this question: how many people do you think have written their personal statements about 9/11? A lot, yes? Now you understand my confusion related to your introduction, where you claim this is an attempt to be "different from the norm."

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Neidermeyer519
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Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby Neidermeyer519 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:33 am

I took into account some of the things that were advised and modified it accordingly.

We have all experienced things in our lives that have helped to shape us into the people we have become. Among these are the definitive moments that stand out above the rest; Points in time where events influenced us in profound ways. If I was asked to pick three moments in time to best illustrate why I became the person I am today, these are the three I would choose.

Getting off the school bus that afternoon in September, it felt like any other day to me. I said goodbye to my friends and began the walk down my driveway. As I got close to my house I knew something was out of place. Usually my mother was waiting for me or at least had the door open, yet it was shut. Seeing that her car was still there I quickly made my way inside. I found her passed out on the kitchen floor with beer cans littered around her. I knew I had a few minutes before my sister got home to clean things up, so I cleaned as quickly as I could and put my mother to bed. The last thing I wanted was for my baby sister to see her like this.

I sat on the end of her bed for a few hours until she woke up, not sure of what I was going to say. She looked up at me sitting there and we stared at one another for what felt like hours, speaking not a word. Finally she spoke, telling me how scared she was as tears streamed down her face. This wasn’t the first time that she had lost to alcoholism, nor would it be the last.

Reaching over, I wiped away the tears and told her everything was going to be all right. I took her hand in mine and told her that we would get through this together, as a family. I didn’t know how we were going to do it, but I knew that regardless of what happened, I was going to do everything in my power to help my mother. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to be a son.

After the attacks on September 11th, I, like many Americans, was inspired by immense feelings of patriotism. Following careful consideration, I decided that it was in my best interest to join the Armed Forces. As much as I thought I was ready for it, basic combat training was a wakeup call. I had never before been without the freedom to go places or do things that I wanted. It was during these tough times that my fellow soldiers and I relied on one another to get through the days.

A week before graduation we had our last physical fitness test. I was standing there with Garcia, a soldier with whom I had become friends. We had already finished the pushups and sit-ups, and all we had left to do was our two mile run. Garcia and I made meaningless small talk until the run began, at which point I distanced myself from him, as I was the better runner.

Coming around the last lap I stared ahead at the finish line. My heart was pounding like a drum and sweat cascaded down my brow. I barely even noticed the group of drill sergeants standing over someone on the side of the track. The South Carolina heat had plagued us with cramps all summer, so it was no surprise to see people fall out of run. When the paramedics arrived, however, I knew something was seriously wrong. Word had quickly spread that it was Garcia. The next morning we were informed that Private Garcia had suffered a heart attack and had died.

A tribute service to Garcia was added as part of our graduation ceremony. When I scanned the faces around the formation I saw everything from stone faced reluctance to accept his death to open tears at the passing of a comrade. Together we had been through hell and lost one of our own. Now we took a moment to honor his memory. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to be a soldier.


The snap as the linebacker collided with my knee was deafening, at least in my mind. As I laid there writhing in pain, I couldn’t begin to imagine the repercussions that day would have. The MRI revealed cartilage and ligament damage, severe enough to leave me unable to walk for several weeks. I was relegated to the couch, not capable of working or even attending class.

I spent months doing extensive physical rehabilitation just so I could get around the house on my own. It was agony, but I knew I would get through it. Thankfully I was born into a generation where injuries like mine were clearly understood and the treatments were as non-invasive as possible.

By August I was able to walk again unassisted, but my absence at work had put me in debt. I had already been given all the payment extensions I could ask for, so I made the decision to forego my next semester of school and picked up a second full time job. For seven months I waited tables at a restaurant during the evenings and answered phones at a call center at night. Bit by bit I was able to pay off the debt I had accrued, and the next fall I returned to school. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to overcome adversity.


Our lives are undoubtedly influenced and shaped, for better or worse, by the plethora of different experiences we have. It’s not only how we handle these experiences, but what we take from them that shape us into the person we become. I have garnered many useful traits from my life experiences; compassion, respect, and humility to name only a few. These attributes will serve me well as I embark on my next great challenge, law school.

cngreen
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Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:05 pm

Re: My first attempt at a personal statement

Postby cngreen » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:11 pm

I think it's written well and certainly is engaging, but at the end of the day I'm left wondering - so why should I let you into my school? Your had a rough childhood (not the only one), lost a friend (again, many have), and got hurt playing football. I do not see the growth/signs that you have what it takes to handle law school or to be an attorney.

It's unique in how it's written, but I feel the space constraints may force you to choose one example instead of 3.




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