Another stab at a personal statement- first draft

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Bearlegdairy
Posts: 121
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:51 pm

Another stab at a personal statement- first draft

Postby Bearlegdairy » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:40 am

It's not very good, but neither were any of my other ones. Here goes.
Last edited by Bearlegdairy on Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Peg
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:32 am

Re: Another stab at a personal statement- first draft

Postby Peg » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:04 am

My thoughts are in blue.



My grandmother is very Italian. A war bride who immigrated after falling in love with an American soldier, she came to love her adopted country and became a productive and loyal member of American society. But while she lives in America, her heart, and the heart of the family, remains in Italy. [This paragraph is a good opening, but it doesn't actually fit too well with your first sentence. I think it's the "very" in the first sentence that doesn't gel with what the rest of the paragraph says: that while your grandmother is a good immigrant and a good community member, she still harbors love for Italy. Maybe you could change the first sentence to something like, "My grandmother, despite living in America for x years, remains solidly Italian." <-- It doesn't have to be exactly that, but what I'm getting at is that you want to make a connection between your grandmother's roots and her immigration in the first sentence. That way the reader doesn't expect to read about a woman who lives in Italy, or returned to Italy, or something like that.]

I was the exception to this rule. As a child, I listened intently [Don't like that adjective. I feel "intently" is overused and it doesn't really say anything about your feelings here. Try an adjective that expresses interest, curiosity or some emotion - not concentration.] as she recounted her times spent in the mountains outside of Trieste, living with the monks on the outskirts of a monastery while she recovered from anemia. [I like this description - brief, but very vivid and interesting.] Why monks were involved in treatment of an iron deficiency I will never quite understand, but that was not important. [If it's not important, don't mention it.] I heard stories of the food, the music, the weather, her experience working in a liquor distillery and why one should never mix alcohol; every week I would hear these stories, but somehow Italy was never more than a far away place where someone I knew was born.

I was told that I would understand when I was older, that I would eventually embrace my ancestral homeland and know what it meant to be Italian. But somehow I never did. I began to understand that the roots of my indifference were not born out of any particular distaste for Italy, but rather a proclivity towards distancing myself from emotional or spiritual engagement. [This is good self-reflection and exactly what a reader looks for in a PS, but you might want to elaborate on this a little bit. Why did you distance yourself from emotional attachment, for example?]

Of course, I understood the notion of a shared cultural identity and its ability to unify a people and could appreciate displays of ethnic, religious, or national pride that I saw in literature, film, and art. [Okay, no. This is meaningless drivel. I read a lot of these multicultural PS drafts - I wrote one along those lines myself - and these are a few cliched words that I keep seeing: "identity, unique, ethnic, pride, cultural, conflict, ignorance". It's overdone and does not say anything useful or original about you as a person. I feel that this opening sentence adds nothing to your PS and sounds bland, boring and - most importantly - doesn't say anything about you. It sounds like something you'd write for an Anthro class.] I never felt the emotional connection to the homeland that is common among adherents of cultural nationalism, however. [This sentence is totally redundant - you already wrote a whole paragraph about your lack of emotional connection. Delete.] Indeed, when Italy first comes to mind, I do not think of the great artists of the Renaissance or the glory of the Roman Empire, but of the popular Alka-Seltzer commercial and its “spicy meat-a-ball-a's,” a fact which has caused no shortage of grief and embarrassment for my family. [Hah, nice. This sounds more casual and genuine, and I like it. My advice is to try and maintain a less formal tone with your PS, because you want to connect with the reader. Don't write it like you'd write an undergrad essay.] As I would discover, this was not simply limited to my ethnic identity [NO "ethnic identity" CLICHE SMASH].

While I was in high school, my interest in the politics grew exponentially. By the time I entered college I was an astute politico; I eagerly devoured newspapers and the political blogs. [Wait...what? I understand that the last sentence of your previous paragraph was supposed to lead into this, but it doesn't seem to flow very naturally. We just spent 4 paragraphs discussing your background, origins and your feelings about that...and now we're talking about your interests? How does this connect and what overall theme is supposed to unify this essay? Remember, the reader should get a strong sense of where your essay is going from the first and second paragraph. You have like 800 words to write a very concise, effective and thematically unified personal statement and you cannot afford to have two themes/discussions going on unless you weave it all together very cleverly.] Every morning I would incessantly refresh Politicalwire.com, and the weekday's squeals of joy would turn to groans of agony on the weekend when, at times, there would be almost no news at all. Yet, just as I found myself lacking any emotional connection to my ancestral homeland, I never found myself particularly drawn towards any particular ideology or political party. [Okay, this is all rambling in my opinion. So far you've taken 5 paragraphs to say that you find things interesting but never get emotionally involved in them. You could have done all of this in two paragraphs and gone on to the meat of your essay which - and I'm making a prediction here, without having read further - is why law was the one thing you had an emotional attachment to. But really, five paragraphs of saying nothing is a sign that this PS is 1) waaaay too verbose, 2) does not have a tight and consistent theme, 3) is boring.]

Politically, my family is very polarized, either hailing from the far left or the very far right. Whenever we had dinner as a family, a shouting match would inevitably ensue, usually between my father and grandmother, the most ideologically motivated of the bunch. While I never shied away from entering an ideologically charged discussion, I did so due my familiarity with politics rather than an emotional investment in the issues at hand. [The sixth paragraph, and you're making the same point you made before while also adding a lot of useless information and taking up word space. Unless this concept of "doing stuff but not feeling attached to it" is going to be a the major theme of your essay, I seriously think this paragraph could be deleted entirely, and most of what you've said in the beginning.

Also, look back at your first sentence. "My grandmother is very Italian." In the light of all the information that has followed, does that sentence have any relevance to your essay anymore? Does your Italian background form the backbone of this essay? If the answer is no, then I would suggest rewriting the first paragraph.]


It was when I became cognizant of this that I began to develop an interest in entering the legal field. I am not under any delusions that I have reached some transcendent level of consciousness through my emotional detachment, nor do I harbor any particular resentment towards more ideological individuals. [This all sounds manufactured, generic, and tailored to impress, even if that was not your intention. But read that again and tell me that it could not have been written by someone else. In my opinion, it could have. This also may just be my reaction, but as a reader I don't feel that you are letting your guard down with me and talking informally, frankly and personally about yourself. I think the rule to keep in mind, also, is that the more formal your language is, the less connection you will have with the reader.] I fully understand that there were many great men and women motivated by an ideological commitment towards progress and social justice, but I believe that there are times when a more dispassionate attitude is beneficial.

I feel this is particularly the case with environmental law, which I hope to study. I strongly believe that it is imperative for humanity to protect and maintain our environment, both for ourselves and future generations. [The major thing I notice here is not your commitment to environmental law, but the fact that you haven't mentioned it till now in the essay and you haven't said anything that would lead naturally to environmental law or public interest.] Even the most die-hard industrialists would be hard-pressed to deny the dangers of a world without clean air, potable water, and healthy soil for crops and livestock. At the same time, however, we must realize that such legislation can have a major impact upon the private sector, and that in our efforts to protect our planet, we must do our best not to impinge upon the constitutionally guaranteed rights of American businesses. [While it's clear that you've thought about this and taken pains to write an informative piece, your goal with a PS should not be to showcase your knowledge but to reveal what makes you tick. I find that personal anecdotes and their impact on the writers' goals are the most effective way to do this. My suggestion would be to use some personal story to show why you are into public interest law.]

Being a student of politics, I have come to appreciate just how much of an effect regulations can have upon business and how disastrous their absence can be for the environment. I believe that I possess the proper temperament to reconcile the needs of our environment with the rights of the private sector, and to do so in a way which is not motivated by ideology, but a dedication to the letter of the law and the spirit of our legal system.[Note that your conclusion has more or less nothing to do with the first six - SIX - paragraphs of your essay.]

My main observations are that this essay lacks a theme and is way too wordy and repeats its points again and again. You need to choose something to focus on: will it be your cultural background, your search for an emotionally fufilling career/interest, or your passion for environmental law? If you can choose one and make a strong case for it with examples, anecdotes and personal stories to back it up, then I think you should be able to get a solid PS.

You also want to be wary of being too formal, too "brain-focused" rather than "heart-focused" on this essay. The only part of the essay that stood out to me was the joke about the Alka-Seltzer commercial. That sounded like I was finally hearing your voice. When you write your PS, you want to make sure that your voice is coming through loud and clear, and you don't want to sound like anyone else could have written your statement.

Good luck and I hope this helps. I'm sorry if I sounded harsh, it's all because I want you to get acceptances!

LSATclincher
Posts: 476
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:09 pm

Re: Another stab at a personal statement- first draft

Postby LSATclincher » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:55 pm

I'd didn't read the edits above, but I'm sure they will help you. The only advice I have is to move this para to the top and tweak it a bit.

"Of course, I understood the notion of a shared cultural identity and its ability to unify a people and could appreciate displays of ethnic, religious, or national pride that I saw in literature, film, and art. I never felt the emotional connection to the homeland that is common among adherents of cultural nationalism, however. Indeed, when Italy first comes to mind, I do not think of the great artists of the Renaissance or the glory of the Roman Empire, but of the popular Alka-Seltzer commercial and its “spicy meat-a-ball-a's,” a fact which has caused no shortage of grief and embarrassment for my family. As I would discover, this was not simply limited to my ethnic identity."

The joke was very funny, and the sentiments of this para are beautifully conveyed. You should use this para as motivation to write a PS centered around a break from tradition.




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