Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
jimchuck99
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:50 am

Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby jimchuck99 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 12:20 pm

Thanks.

As I stood before the Texas House Committee on Higher Education in February 2005, I was both anxious and excited. I had recently joined the Legislative Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas because of my interest in civil liberties and a desire to get more involved in politics. I was speaking for the first time on the ACLU's behalf against a bill that the ACLU feared could have unintended consequences for the students at the university and their civil rights. Although I was nervous as I spoke, I was well prepared and able to answer questions from the members on the house committee. The bill did eventually pass out of committee, but it never came up for a vote on the House floor. This was a victory.
Over the following four months, I spoke before House and Senate committees on a number of bills, always representing the ACLU of Texas. While I was one of only two students on the ACLU Legislative Committee, which was composed of lawyers and non-profit professionals, they took me seriously and trusted me to work on their behalf. My duties included reading and understanding bills which might be of interest, writing one-page fact sheets about the bills, talking with legislators and their staffers and speaking in front of committees.
We did not always win, but by the end of the legislative term, I found my voice and felt confident speaking to legislative committees. I gained a lot of knowledge about how laws are written and how the legislative system actually works. I was impressed by the openness of the Texas Legislature and the ability of people to have an impact on the laws that govern us. It was a great feeling to personally be able to affect legislation and to feel that I was influencing a positive change.
The time I spent working for the ACLU gave me a glimpse of a future in the field of law. I quickly developed an interest in the criminal justice system. I saw the Texas legislature often creates new crimes and harsher sentences for existing crimes, while very few sentences are ever rolled back. I came to understand that politicians have a lot of motivation for seeming “tough on crime,” and very little motivation to vote against these so-called “criminal enhancements”. Working with the ACLU gave me a lot of insight into this process and the problems that come with an increasingly severe criminal justice system. Many of the people tried come from the most disadvantaged parts of our societies and often can’t get good representation and end up with penalties that seem too harsh for the crime committed. I was deeply affected by this, and I knew then that I wanted to be involved in the criminal justice system in a positive way.
In July 2006, my life took a dramatic turn. Having completed the coursework for my B.A., I moved to Vienna, Austria with my Viennese girlfriend. I was sorry to leave Texas, but I was excited about the opportunity to live abroad and gain new experiences, and we were only planning to stay in Austria for one year. Almost four and a half years later, however, I am still living in Vienna with my family. I have a great job teaching English to children and plenty of time to spend with my baby daughter. Vienna is a cultured and comfortable city, and it would be easy to stay.
Yet, these past four years, my interest in law and politics has continued to grow. Living in Europe, I have gained a deep appreciation for the subtleties and gray areas of the world, and I have learned a lot about myself. I know that even with welfare states to protect people from the ups and downs of the world, life isn't perfect anywhere. I see that problems in the legal system, abuses of power and simple injustice that we read about daily in American newspapers are not just American phenomena. I have also seen that there is much to admire in the American justice system. Many of the rights granted in the United States to defendants in court, such as the right to confront one's, for example, are not part of the Austrian court system. Many other freedoms we take for granted are limited in much of Europe. Seeing this contrast with the United States has given me increased admiration for my country and driven me to take the next step and attend law school.
I want to be a defense lawyer working on behalf of those who might not have adequate counsel or who have been given a bad lot of in life. Lawyers are often viewed cynically in our society, but they have an important role to play in our nation. I've known that I wanted to work in this field since my work for the ACLU, and that goal hasn't dimmed. I am confident that it is the right choice for me, and I'm ready to take the next step.

kcdc
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Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:28 pm

Re: Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby kcdc » Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:18 pm

I think you have a couple typos:

"Many of the rights granted in the United States to defendants in court, such as the right to confront one's, for example, are not part of the Austrian court system."

"I want to be a defense lawyer working on behalf of those who might not have adequate counsel or who have been given a bad lot of in life."

Also, in second to last sentence, I would change to "working for the ACLU".


Great statement overall, though! I like the subtle (yet powerful) patriotism.

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2011L1
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Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:33 pm

Re: Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby 2011L1 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:24 pm

I think the beginning reads way too much like a resume, and could be a little more precise on your duties and appreciation for the aclu. I like the transition to your move to austria. it was very personal and intimate. it showed more of the person you are and want to be. I would try to make the beginning flow in a similar manner. great start or progress

CanadianWolf
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Re: Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:00 pm

Consider formulating a clear theme that is reflected in both the first & last paragraphs while receiving support from the remainder of your writing.
Overall this is not a well thought out, nor a well written essay. The first three paragraphs, for example, should be reduced to three concise sentences.

sparty99
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Re: Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby sparty99 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:49 pm

You still have shit that is unnecessary....Like in the "Vienna" paragraph. Also, you need to be more precise and not wordy. "We moved to vienna, it was supposed to be a year." "Four years later," "My viennanese gf" ....Does the Admissions committee really need to know her ethnicity.

jimchuck99
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:50 am

Re: Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby jimchuck99 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:51 pm

What do y'all think?

In early 2005, I joined the Legislative Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. I had been interested in the ACLU for a long time, and I respected their important work on a wide variety of civil rights issues. I decided to take action, and I became one of two students on the ACLU's legislative committee. My job was to advocate for or against bills in the Texas Legislature. Over the next few months, my knowledge and abilities grew rapidly. My experiences during that legislative session ultimately fostered within me a deep interest in the legal system.
The first time I stood in front of a legislative committee was in February 2005. I was nervous as I spoke, but I was well prepared and able to answer questions from the members on the committee. I was speaking against a bill that the ACLU feared would negatively affect the civil liberties of students at the University of Texas. The bill did eventually pass out of committee, but it never came up for a vote on the House floor. This was a victory.
Over the following four months, I began to learn the ropes of the Texas Legislature. My job was to try to defeat bills that the ACLU disliked and ensure passage of those they liked. Developing the strategy was up to me, but it generally included reading and understanding bills which might be of interest, writing one-page fact sheets about the bills, talking with legislators and their staffers and speaking in front of committees.
We did not always win, but by the end of the legislative term, I found my voice and felt confident and empowered. I gained a lot of knowledge about how laws are written and how the legislative system actually works. To this day, I am impressed by the openness of the Texas Legislature and the ability of people to have an impact on the laws that govern us. It was a great feeling to personally be able to affect legislation and to feel that I was influencing a positive change.
The time I spent working for the ACLU gave me a glimpse of a future in the field of law. I quickly developed an interest in the criminal justice system. I saw that the Texas legislature often creates new crimes and harsher sentences for existing crimes, while very few sentences are ever rolled back. I came to understand that politicians have a lot of motivation for seeming “tough on crime,” and very little motivation to vote against these so-called “criminal enhancements”. Working with the ACLU gave me a lot of insight into this process and the problems that come with an increasingly severe criminal justice system. Many of the people tried come from the most disadvantaged parts of our societies and often can’t get good representation. Others are sentenced to penalties that would have seemed far too harsh for the crime several decades ago. I was deeply affected by this, and I knew then that I wanted to be involved in the criminal justice system in a positive way.
Alternate personal statement.. what do y'all think?

In July 2006, my life took a dramatic turn. Having completed the coursework for my B.A., I moved to Vienna with my girlfriend, planning to stay for only one year. Almost four and a half years later, however, I am still living in Vienna with my family. I have a great job teaching English to children and plenty of time to spend with my baby daughter. Vienna is a cultured and comfortable city, and it would be easy to stay.
Yet, these past four years, my interest in law and politics has continued to grow. Living in Europe, I have gained a deep appreciation for the subtleties and gray areas of the world, and I have learned a lot about myself. I know that even with welfare states to protect people from the ups and downs of the world, life isn't perfect anywhere. I see that problems in the legal system, abuses of power and simple injustice that we read about daily in American newspapers are not just American phenomena. I have also seen that there is much to admire in the American justice system. Many of the rights granted in the United States to defendants in court, such as the right to confront one's accuser, for example, are not part of the Austrian court system. Many other freedoms we take for granted are limited in much of Europe. Seeing this contrast with the United States has given me increased admiration for my country and driven me to take the next step and attend law school.
I want to be a defense lawyer working on behalf of those who might not have adequate counsel or who have been given a bad lot in life. Lawyers are often viewed cynically in our society, but they have an important role to play in our nation. I have known that I wanted to work in this field since working for the ACLU, and that goal has only grown stronger. I am confident that it is the right choice for me.

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

Re: Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby sparty99 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:01 pm

The first part is good, it reads much better, although, I would have an ENGLISH TEACHER read it as well. I'd combine the statements. Find a way to talk about ACLU and Europe. GET RID OF SPENDING TIME WITH YOUR BABY DAUGHTER. Also, get rid of "I have a great job." If you have a great job, then why are you going to law school?! You talk about how you teach english, but you don't go into any detail. You also don't really talk about why you went to Austria in the first place.

You could easily write:

"I was deeply affected by this, and I knew then that I wanted to be involved in the criminal justice system in a positive way. (end of your first paragraph).

But there was one more step to be taken before I would be ready to attend law school. After extensive research on European customs and teaching English programs, I moved to Austria to teach English at _____ academy. (then talk about your experience)"

jimchuck99
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:50 am

Re: Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby jimchuck99 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:14 pm

That definitely makes a lot of sense...

jimchuck99
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:50 am

Re: Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby jimchuck99 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:36 pm

What do you think of this paragraph?


In July 2006, my life took a dramatic turn. Having completed the coursework for my B.A., I had an amazing opportunity to move to to Vienna. In that time, I have become fluent in German. I have had my first significant work experience after college, including teaching as part of a small program of the Viennese School District that exposes elementary school children to an hour of English-language instruction daily. I believe that I have become a good teacher, and the experience of being a vital part of young children's educational upbringing has been humbling. I take pride in my work.

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

Re: Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby sparty99 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:54 pm

It's a decent start. It could probably be flushed out a little bit. Not sure how you will combine it with the rest of the paragraph.

"dramatic turn" - I don't think moving to Europe is really dramatic. Losing your wife in a car accident, dramatic. Moving to Europe, not dramatic.


I have had my first significant work experience after college, including teaching as part of a small program of the Viennese School District that exposes elementary school children to an hour of English-language instruction daily. - wordy...

"this has been humbling...." - not necessary...

I'll let some other people comment as I'm not an expert and you shouldn't edit your paper on one my opinion, but just remember to be straight to the point and matter of fact.. Talking about how something was humbling or how you believe you have become a good teacher or that you take pride in your work can probably be told in a better way. It doesn't have to always be stated.

I would encourage you to read other personal statements that have been published in books. Go to your local book store and read them. You have done a decent job in your first part, I would be interested in admitting you. However, your second part can be more precise and told better.

If you are in America, I would PAY to sit down with an experienced English tutor so they can help you tell your story and make sure everything flows together (i.e. Sylvan Learning, etc).

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

Re: Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby sparty99 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:00 pm

Living in Europe, I have gained a deep appreciation for the subtleties and gray areas of the world, and I have learned a lot about myself. I know that even with welfare states to protect people from the ups and downs of the world, life isn't perfect anywhere. I see that problems in the legal system, abuses of power and simple injustice that we read about daily in American newspapers are not just American phenomena. I have also seen that there is much to admire in the American justice system. Many of the rights granted in the United States to defendants in court, such as the right to confront one's accuser, for example, are not part of the Austrian court system. Many other freedoms we take for granted are limited in much of Europe. Seeing this contrast with the United States has given me increased admiration for my country and driven me to take the next step and attend law school.

The above is a good start. There are some grammar issues, but it is a believable story and unique. Hit up that English teacher.

jimchuck99
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:50 am

Re: Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby jimchuck99 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:03 pm

Thanks again. I really get the logic of keeping it concise and showing not telling. I think I'm gonna have to hit this up again in the morning.

FPL
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:52 am

Re: Personal statement - quadrillionth draft? - please critique!

Postby FPL » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:14 pm

I think you're personal statement is pretty good, and the critiques you've incorporated into it have definitely helped. However, the beginning of it still seems weak. Nothing in those first few paragraphs reaches out and grabs the reader. If you can get something in those first few sentences that will make me want to read the rest of it, you're set.




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