PS - Fourth draft, need external thoughts

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
MCRemix
Posts: 61
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:41 pm

PS - Fourth draft, need external thoughts

Postby MCRemix » Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:01 pm

I've worked up a couple different PS, this one is near final. Any thoughts are welcome, if it sucks, tell me it sucks. Here goes:


What kind of life will you leave behind when you pass on? That question has always plagued me. Will you leave a story for your grandchildren to tell or simply vanish in the night. Are you the person that goes down in history or that just reads about it? What kind of legacy will you leave when you’re gone?

I’d served the Air Force for over four years before a close friend wiser than myself asked me a question that would make me rethink my legacy and change my life forever. In the most humble way, they asked, “When does selfless service become selfish service?” Those words rang in my ears for weeks, their meaning shattering walls I’d built to justify my choices. No matter how I tried, the logic was impenetrable and all the more painful for me to grasp. I’d built a house of cards on the fact that my choices were in service to a higher cause. So how could they be wrong? How can a life of service be selfish?

The words made me rethink everything going back decades, to growing up with my father. Life seemed so simple then. We’d take long car drives listening to Lee Greenwood and discussing what it takes to be a leader, without a stray worry in my mind. We wore shirts with American flags emblazoned on the front and talked about his years in the Air Force. My father was a patriot, my grandfather was a patriot and one day I would be too.

It ran in the blood, being my father’s son meant I had somewhere to be, people to lead and responsibility to carry. There was no time to slow down and think, I had a career to begin. My grandfather had retired a Major, my father a Lieutenant Colonel; I was determined to make it to Colonel. And I was good. Four times Communications Officer of the Quarter, stratified #1 in my rank four years in a row, Communications Officer of the Year 2009, and eleven various awards and decorations. I was good. Sure I’d had to deploy twice, but that’s the sacrifice that military members make. I breathed and bled Air Force Blue, what more could be asked of me?

In all my self-sacrifice, I’d never considered the sacrifices of my family. I knew they missed me when I was gone, but didn’t they feel the nobility in our separation? Of course they knew I was out making the world a better place. Patriotism keeps you warm on lonely nights, doesn’t it?

I’d been in the service for only four and a half years, but I’d already been gone for over a year and a half to training and deployments. At this rate, I’d spend five more years apart just making it to retirement age, much less to Colonel. Even if my family stuck by me, how many birthdays, anniversaries and ‘firsts’ would I miss on the way?

I talked to retiring officers and enlisted and asked them what a career had taught them. I’d expected to hear proud tales of heroic actions and how they’re only regret was that they didn’t have more time to give the service. Instead the only regrets I heard were of lost families, estranged children and distant spouses. The families I met that survived and stuck together also had something in common; they’d learned to live without each other, as individuals. Did I want that for my family, to be a bunch of individuals only joined by a name?

Reality hurts, especially when it comes at you like a ton of bricks. The truth was that I’d never really thought about my choices, I’d just assumed that the only good life was one of service and everyone else would fall in line. I’d chased my father’s footsteps, never stopping long enough to even ask myself if that was what I wanted. No doubt I loved this country, wanted to defend the constitution, wanted to safeguard freedom too, but there was also no doubt that I’d been making decisions on auto-pilot.

So when you realize the gravity of the situation, there is only one inevitable question, where do I go now? I may not be able to serve in the military, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t make a positive difference in the world. There are other ways to be of service. There are wrongs perpetuated every day against victims that need someone to speak up for them. There are battlefields all across our nation in need of strong leaders to stand on principles. One man cannot change the world, but one man can make a positive difference in people’s lives, one at a time.

In soul searching, no matter how many rabbit holes I chased down, I came to one inevitable conclusion, there is only one career I want to pursue. I want to be a lawyer. Not for money, nor prestige, but for the challenge of the study and the work. I thoroughly enjoyed programming in my undergraduate courses. As technically oriented and frustrating as it was to some people, there was always a new challenge, something new to learn, some problem to solve. I want to study the complicated issues and understand how the underpinnings of our society work. I want to work with people to help solve unique problems in their lives. I simply want to be a lawyer.

In the beginning, I may have followed my father into the service, but my mother is my inspiration to undertake this new challenge. She was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with me and never saw my third birthday. She fought as hard as she could and she never showed the pain, but the cancer took her well before her time. I’ll never understand why she was taken from me so soon. She was an honors student in high school, undergraduate and graduate schools, never giving up, always reaching for the next higher rung. Her fight was what defined her as a person, whether it was academically, professionally, or as a wife and mother clinging to each passing breath. Her will, her drive, her determination, those are why she is my inspiration. She may not be there in person the day I stand to graduate again, but she’ll be there in spirit. I am her legacy and she’ll live on in me.

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

Re: PS - Fourth draft, need external thoughts

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:20 pm

Eleven paragraphs that could, & should, be more effectively shared in five paragraphs. Although this explains your move from the military to law, it may not be enough to help your law school appliocations because it is not well written from a legal writing viewpoint. This essay is a bit rambling & sophomoric. Legal writing calls for succinct statements written in crisp, clear sentences that offer insights rather than philosophic yearnings. However, with an LSAT score of 171, your personal statement may not come into play unless you apply to top 14 law schools.

MCRemix
Posts: 61
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:41 pm

Re: PS - Fourth draft, need external thoughts

Postby MCRemix » Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:11 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Eleven paragraphs that could, & should, be more effectively shared in five paragraphs. Although this explains your move from the military to law, it may not be enough to help your law school appliocations because it is not well written from a legal writing viewpoint. This essay is a bit rambling & sophomoric. Legal writing calls for succinct statements written in crisp, clear sentences that offer insights rather than philosophic yearnings. However, with an LSAT score of 171, your personal statement may not come into play unless you apply to top 14 law schools.


Fair enough and thank you for the honest input. My intent was to craft something counter in tone to your average PS, more story than case briefing, intending to be different from the standard 5-6 paragraph mold. However, if that backfired, I understand that.

I'm not applying to T14, so I'm not critically worried about the PS, still dont want to put up drivel though.

serdog
Posts: 302
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:21 pm

Re: PS - Fourth draft, need external thoughts

Postby serdog » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:10 pm

I think I would cut out some of the middle and add more of your passion for the law in find it fairly week,
Maybe

In Law I have found the same passion that drew me to the Air Force.... (Protect the constitution and your country your freedoms challenge duty)

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

Re: PS - Fourth draft, need external thoughts

Postby LSATclincher » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:14 pm

This has the potential to be a plus PS, but there are some flaws. The stylistic touch of asking the internal questions gets redundant, and I'd cut that technique out entirely. Keep the writing clear and simple. I did get a sense of passion in your writing. I think you have a great story. You followed in your father's footsteps. You served our country. And now you feel the need to break away from your father's tradition and undertake a new venture (while using your mother as motivation).

The problem is the story is too long and unorganized. I'd open w/ your father's background. Transition into your military background. And then transition into "why law" while using your mother as inspiration. I think you need to address exactly why you want to get into law. You don't want to sound like someone who is exiting the service, and wants to take on a new challenge just because you have a "feeling."

I'd be willing to read a tweaked version of this because this can turn into a great PS. Good luck.

MCRemix
Posts: 61
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:41 pm

Re: PS - Fourth draft, need external thoughts

Postby MCRemix » Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:49 am

Thanks for all the inputs. I tightened things up alot and reposted a new PS attempt, let me know what you guys think...thanks again!




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