First draft. Shred it.

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
FPL
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:52 am

First draft. Shred it.

Postby FPL » Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:54 pm

It's a bit lengthy and I've already picked out a few spots that need reworking but any and all help is much appreciated. If anyone wants to send me their personal statement I'd be happy to give feedback as well. Thanks.


I stood inside the small, dank phone booth with my forehead pressed against the scratched and spray-painted glass. The S7 subway pulls into the station and as people begin to get off I hide my face, hoping no one will see me crying inside the phone booth. On the other end of the line is my father, 4800 miles away, telling me that if things are so bad, he’ll cash his next paycheck and fly me home first thing tomorrow morning. I’m 19 years and have just moved from my undergrad city of Missoula, MT to Potsdam, Germany, a suburb of Berlin. Lufthansa lost my luggage somewhere on my four leg transatlantic trip, and consequently I’m wearing the same clothes I have been for the last three days. Standing with tears running down my face, I beg my father to let me come home. I’ve never lived on my own before, much less in a metropolis area of over three million people. I am absolutely miserable. My father tells me to stick it out for a week and if I still feel the same way, he and mom will fly me home. I agreed, wiped my eyes, and began the thirty-minute walk home in the cool Berlin rain to the empty apartment I was renting with three complete strangers.

I ended up spending six months in Potsdam and Berlin and completed a semester’s work at the Universität Potsdam. While my study abroad experience during my sophomore year of college may not have been everything I had hoped for, the lessons I learned have been absolutely invaluable. That first week, while I had no clothes, no friends or acquaintances, and no bus/subway pass, was rough. However, after my initial culture shock had worn off and I had received my lost luggage two weeks into my stay, I learned to adapt to living not only in a big city, but in a foreign culture as well.
I began studying German in High school and had declared German my major at the University of Montana, but I was never quite sure what I wanted to do with it. Regardless of this fact, I applied to study abroad and was accepted into the student exchange program UM participated in with the Universität Potsdam. While abroad, I began to seriously question what I was going to do with a major in German. I kicked around the idea of becoming a German teacher, or applying for a position in the State Department. Yet, I felt no passion for any of these professions. Upon returning to Missoula, I enrolled in a few Philosophy courses to see if I wanted to pursue a degree in that field as well. I figured two degrees was better than one, and that I would have better job prospects with something other than a German degree. I had done a little philosophy in High school while competing for the debate team, and had enjoyed it but never thought I could do much more with it other than convince my parents to extend my curfew for an hour. Even after winning the State Championship in debate my senior year of High school, it hadn’t dawned on me that I could make a career out of formulating rational arguments.

After returning to Missoula the following autumn, and immersing myself in philosophy courses, a career in law began to make more and more sense. My study abroad experience, coupled with my renewed love for philosophy, has led me to apply to XXX law school. While living in Postdam, Germany I not only had the opportunity to truly practice my German, but perhaps more importantly, I gained trust in my ability to adapt and excel in entirely new situations. Everyday in Potsdam and Berlin afforded me new challenges to face head on. I was young when I moved to Potsdam, maybe too young, but it was there that I gained faith in my own tenacity. By studying philosophy, I have honed and sharpened my skills not only in rational argumentation, but also in effectively communicating those arguments to the intended audience. These two factors, studying abroad and adding a philosophy major, have led me to pursue a career in law.

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afcanoe
Posts: 147
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2010 4:30 pm

Re: First draft. Shred it.

Postby afcanoe » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:05 pm

I read through the first paragraph, which seems like a great start. One thing, though - be sure to keep your tense the same. Much of your first paragraph is in historical present tense, which I think is fitting, but you shift back and forth from that to past tense. Just keep the whole paragraph in present. You can switch into a different tense in your next paragraph. Good luck!

jasonc.
Posts: 119
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:22 am

Re: First draft. Shred it.

Postby jasonc. » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:06 pm

ehhh. nothing really wrong with just a bit dry and typical. you do you self a disservice regarding your maturity.

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

Re: First draft. Shred it.

Postby FPL » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:15 pm

Should I put something in there regarding how the experiences in Berlin helped me grow? Jesus this sounds cliche.

jasonc.
Posts: 119
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:22 am

Re: First draft. Shred it.

Postby jasonc. » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:22 pm

FPL wrote:Should I put something in there regarding how the experiences in Berlin helped me grow? Jesus this sounds cliche.


yes its a bit cliche but you just showed us how you cried to you daddy so put some info on how u matured and stand out experiences

jasonc.
Posts: 119
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:22 am

Re: First draft. Shred it.

Postby jasonc. » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:22 pm

FPL wrote:Should I put something in there regarding how the experiences in Berlin helped me grow? Jesus this sounds cliche.


yes its a bit cliche but you just showed us how you cried to you daddy so put some info on how u matured and stand out experiences

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

Re: First draft. Shred it.

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:33 pm

It's a bit pedestrian.

Reminds me of my study abroad experience in China/Hong Kong when a Princeton student got homesick after a few days, returned home on another cramped 22 hour flight only to return to Asia a week later on yet a third 22 hour flight in less than two weeks. Biggest 6'2" baby ever. Created a lifelong impression of Princeton students.

Back to your essay. It does not present you in a favorable light. Somewhat boring. It may cause some readers to question your maturity level.

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

Re: First draft. Shred it.

Postby FPL » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:39 pm

Got it. Rewriting the intro now. Other than that, is there anything beyond the first paragraph that I should hit hard?

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

Re: First draft. Shred it.

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:42 pm

This was a significant growing experience for you. Let law schools know that you grew & are willing to grow further (intellectually, emotionally & in your understanding of others). Essentially this could become your main theme illustrated by your experiences already highlighted in your personal statement.

Plan2008
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:18 am

Re: First draft. Shred it.

Postby Plan2008 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:39 am

Yeah, being young and sheltered and in a foreign land can be a scary experience. It doesn't have to be minimized. But what I would do is suggest that you built this opportunity (by studying German, etc) and the road got rocky for a bit. Not what you particularly expected. But guess what, you gathered yourself and moved forward. You didnt become immobilized by the disorientation and the setbacks.

Maybe start with--With my cold wet hair plastered to my forehead, I leaned against the painted glass of the phonebooth for support as dear old dad helplessly questioned from the other end of the line. I could tell that my helplessness left him feeling helpless, and I realized I needed to do this on my own. I studied German in high school and made it my college major so I could make this moment happen-travel the world, expand my horizons. But the 4800 mile trip, the lost luggage, the trek through the rain soaked streets of Potsdam, Germany, and now the missing apartment left me feeling...

Just a thought.




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