How's my intro paragraph?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Flips88
Posts: 13513
Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2010 7:42 pm

Re: How's my intro paragraph?

Postby Flips88 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:16 pm

JoeShmoe11 wrote:Hello all, I'd like you to rape, pillage, burn, maim, and violate my opening paragraph to help me in my pursuit of the perfect essay. Well not literally but as long as you have a constructive contribution I'm down with however you do so. It's been fudged a bit because I still haven't come to trust forums full of total strangers. Sorry, TLS! D:

Laboring to pull myself away from the warmth of my cozy bed, I squinted at the iridescent light of my alarm clock: six-oh-two. The pitched shrills of a two-year old somehow penetrate the deepest recesses of the human mind; even the strongest cup of coffee pales in comparison. As her caretaker for the weekend I stumbled frantically to Sophia’s crib and cries were soon replaced by giggles; her toothy smile always lifted my spirits. Cradling her in my arms I made my way to the kitchen where the two of us momentarily enjoyed a quiet breakfast - toast and eggs for me and vomit-colored baby mush for Sophia. As we ate I felt the slightest tug and saw the sleepy blue eyes of my younger sister Giavonna looking up at me. Her small hand rubbed her face, “The babies are awake Michael.” To complete the cavalcade, the cries of Max and Sophia echoed through the empty house. I secretly wondered if my mother had only birthed me to have a built-in babysitters for her future children.


THANKS!



This is the most dramatic representation of a typical day I've read on TLS I think. Words and phrases you don't need: "iridescent", "Pitched shrills", "cavalcade"

"The pitched shrills of a two-year old somehow penetrate the deepest recesses of the human mind"<-This whole sentence is melodramatic. It's a crying toddler. Children cry; They don't penetrate your psyche.

You write well, but you need to resist the temptation to write in an overly flowery narrative voice. I figured this out after writing 3 or 4 drafts of my PS, but simpler language is better. Don't get bogged down in minutiae. What you and your niece had for breakfast is irrelevant to saying anything about you and is wasting precious space in the 2 pages you are limited to for most schools. I hate this phrase that is lobbed around on TLS, but you need to "show, not tell". You could reduce that whole paragraph you wrote to a couple sentences about how your parents have made you a caretaker for your siblings.

My advice: dial it back. Make it simpler. Let your numbers speak about your intellect, and your PS speak about who you are and what you're interested in.

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JoeShmoe11
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Re: How's my intro paragraph?

Postby JoeShmoe11 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:49 pm

Flips88 wrote:
JoeShmoe11 wrote:Hello all, I'd like you to rape, pillage, burn, maim, and violate my opening paragraph to help me in my pursuit of the perfect essay. Well not literally but as long as you have a constructive contribution I'm down with however you do so. It's been fudged a bit because I still haven't come to trust forums full of total strangers. Sorry, TLS! D:

Laboring to pull myself away from the warmth of my cozy bed, I squinted at the iridescent light of my alarm clock: six-oh-two. The pitched shrills of a two-year old somehow penetrate the deepest recesses of the human mind; even the strongest cup of coffee pales in comparison. As her caretaker for the weekend I stumbled frantically to Sophia’s crib and cries were soon replaced by giggles; her toothy smile always lifted my spirits. Cradling her in my arms I made my way to the kitchen where the two of us momentarily enjoyed a quiet breakfast - toast and eggs for me and vomit-colored baby mush for Sophia. As we ate I felt the slightest tug and saw the sleepy blue eyes of my younger sister Giavonna looking up at me. Her small hand rubbed her face, “The babies are awake Michael.” To complete the cavalcade, the cries of Max and Sophia echoed through the empty house. I secretly wondered if my mother had only birthed me to have a built-in babysitters for her future children.


THANKS!



This is the most dramatic representation of a typical day I've read on TLS I think. Words and phrases you don't need: "iridescent", "Pitched shrills", "cavalcade"

"The pitched shrills of a two-year old somehow penetrate the deepest recesses of the human mind"<-This whole sentence is melodramatic. It's a crying toddler. Children cry; They don't penetrate your psyche.

You write well, but you need to resist the temptation to write in an overly flowery narrative voice. I figured this out after writing 3 or 4 drafts of my PS, but simpler language is better. Don't get bogged down in minutiae. What you and your niece had for breakfast is irrelevant to saying anything about you and is wasting precious space in the 2 pages you are limited to for most schools. I hate this phrase that is lobbed around on TLS, but you need to "show, not tell". You could reduce that whole paragraph you wrote to a couple sentences about how your parents have made you a caretaker for your siblings.

My advice: dial it back. Make it simpler. Let your numbers speak about your intellect, and your PS speak about who you are and what you're interested in.


Thank you for your advice. This seems to be the consensus so I will definitely work on my flowery language - I guess I got caught up in writing a narrative and it all kinda came pouring out. I'm having a hard time properly balancing between a persuasive personal statement and an outright narrative.

Can you give me an example of how I might "show, not tell"? Like a specific sentence, net necessarily relevant to me but just so I can get an exact idea of what you mean.

Thanks you again.

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birdlaw117
Posts: 2167
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Re: How's my intro paragraph?

Postby birdlaw117 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:05 pm

JCougar wrote:
birdlaw117 wrote:Also, you are coming from the WashU (per your profile) perspective. WashU is one of the most formulaic schools in their admissions, so I understand why you would have these opinions.


It's not just Wash U. NYU, Northwestern, Virginia, Georgetown, GW, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and Emory are literally all about medians. You can look for yourself on LSN and you won't be able to find more than 5 people at each school with numbers above the medians that have been rejected...and in some cases, you will find none.

And Cornell, USC, UCLA, BU, BC, Vandy, Iowa, Texas, Duke, and Columbia are almost all about their admissions index, and you can see the same result.

You have to get to Michigan and Berkeley before there's any real amount of rejections of people with otherwise decent numbers. Even at Harvard, if your numbers are impeccable, you're unlikely to get rejected for any reason.

So maybe if you're applying to Berkeley, Michigan, Yale, Stanford or Chicago, make sure it's about a topic that's germane to a career as a successful lawyer. Otherwise, there's just no objective evidence that anything other than numbers substantially make the decision for you, unless you are right on the border, and I mean right on it. That's not a reason to slack off with the PS, as a bad one can still harm you. But you shouldn't dwell on what to write about for weeks upon weeks. It's not rocket science, and a good writer could literally turn any topic into a successful PS.


Your analysis only applies to roughly half of an admitted class. Since you are only talking about applicants above the medians (I don't know if you are talking about either or both, so that makes it either more than or less than half the class) half the class is excluded. What about applicants below medians? How do they get in? It clearly isn't because their numbers are raising medians. These are the situations where a PS can help you get in.

At this point in the cycle, the delay caused by applying later is far more likely to be harmful to you than writing your PS on the wrong topic.

I agree. Although I saw OP in the Columbia thread, so perhaps he/she is planning on reapplying for next year, making this very early and plenty of time to decide on a great topic to write about.

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Flips88
Posts: 13513
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Re: How's my intro paragraph?

Postby Flips88 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:07 pm

JoeShmoe11 wrote:
Flips88 wrote:
JoeShmoe11 wrote:Hello all, I'd like you to rape, pillage, burn, maim, and violate my opening paragraph to help me in my pursuit of the perfect essay. Well not literally but as long as you have a constructive contribution I'm down with however you do so. It's been fudged a bit because I still haven't come to trust forums full of total strangers. Sorry, TLS! D:

Laboring to pull myself away from the warmth of my cozy bed, I squinted at the iridescent light of my alarm clock: six-oh-two. The pitched shrills of a two-year old somehow penetrate the deepest recesses of the human mind; even the strongest cup of coffee pales in comparison. As her caretaker for the weekend I stumbled frantically to Sophia’s crib and cries were soon replaced by giggles; her toothy smile always lifted my spirits. Cradling her in my arms I made my way to the kitchen where the two of us momentarily enjoyed a quiet breakfast - toast and eggs for me and vomit-colored baby mush for Sophia. As we ate I felt the slightest tug and saw the sleepy blue eyes of my younger sister Giavonna looking up at me. Her small hand rubbed her face, “The babies are awake Michael.” To complete the cavalcade, the cries of Max and Sophia echoed through the empty house. I secretly wondered if my mother had only birthed me to have a built-in babysitters for her future children.


THANKS!



This is the most dramatic representation of a typical day I've read on TLS I think. Words and phrases you don't need: "iridescent", "Pitched shrills", "cavalcade"

"The pitched shrills of a two-year old somehow penetrate the deepest recesses of the human mind"<-This whole sentence is melodramatic. It's a crying toddler. Children cry; They don't penetrate your psyche.

You write well, but you need to resist the temptation to write in an overly flowery narrative voice. I figured this out after writing 3 or 4 drafts of my PS, but simpler language is better. Don't get bogged down in minutiae. What you and your niece had for breakfast is irrelevant to saying anything about you and is wasting precious space in the 2 pages you are limited to for most schools. I hate this phrase that is lobbed around on TLS, but you need to "show, not tell". You could reduce that whole paragraph you wrote to a couple sentences about how your parents have made you a caretaker for your siblings.

My advice: dial it back. Make it simpler. Let your numbers speak about your intellect, and your PS speak about who you are and what you're interested in.


Thank you for your advice. This seems to be the consensus so I will definitely work on my flowery language - I guess I got caught up in writing a narrative and it all kinda came pouring out. I'm having a hard time properly balancing between a persuasive personal statement and an outright narrative.

Can you give me an example of how I might "show, not tell"? Like a specific sentence, net necessarily relevant to me but just so I can get an exact idea of what you mean.

Thanks you again.


PM'd you.

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JoeShmoe11
Posts: 355
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:16 pm

Re: How's my intro paragraph?

Postby JoeShmoe11 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:21 pm

birdlaw117 wrote:I agree. Although I saw OP in the Columbia thread, so perhaps he/she is planning on reapplying for next year, making this very early and plenty of time to decide on a great topic to write about.


I rushed to ED at Columbia and despite having decent numbers I was deferred, I am now hoping that since my stats are at/above both medians that by sprucing up my app I might be one of the lucky few who make it in after getting deferred.

I've been involved in a law-relevant EC (something my app was missing), my GPA has gone up a teeny-tiny bit and put me right at their 75th, and I'm overhauling/reworking my PS, adding a DS, and will be sending a LOCI. But since they say that a decision on deferred candidates is not reached until April I figure I have at least the rest of winter break.

As for my other applications those need to be sent out ASAP and to be honest I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Probably scramble to get them out ASAP while making sure I avoid the same mistakes I made on my Columbia app.

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verklempt
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Re: How's my intro paragraph?

Postby verklempt » Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:30 pm

Tell:

I take on a lot of different tasks at my job, and at the end of the day, I'm tired!

Show:

On a typical work day, I'll write a press release, put together a powerpoint for the board of directors, figure out the logistics for our next client conference, meet with at least two different vendors, and reassure my boss that she's not on the verge of getting fired. By the time I get home, it's close to 10 p.m. and I can barely keep my eyes open long enough to brush my teeth.

(Sorry about the niece thing...my LSAT-ravaged brain could somehow not wrap itself around the idea that a law school applicant might have a baby sibling!)

sparty99
Posts: 1433
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:41 pm

Re: How's my intro paragraph?

Postby sparty99 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:04 pm

verklempt is on point. That is nicely written and a more effective approach.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: How's my intro paragraph?

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:18 pm

I haven't read all of the comments, but your writing style is risky for a law school personal statement. Seems as if you are trying too hard to impress readers. I had trouble making it through the first paragraph. Definitely the opposite of what constitutes good legal writing: succinct statement written in crisp,clear sentences.




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