What you guys think PS. Critique will help : )

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
fdr123
Posts: 55
Joined: Sat May 01, 2010 6:23 pm

What you guys think PS. Critique will help : )

Postby fdr123 » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:51 pm

​Please critique PS


Often, in life, the shrillest voices are summarily silenced by the softest sounds emanating from inside one’s own mind.  I should know.  In my early years I was subjected to the shrill cries of both my teachers and parents who would castigate me for not working up to my full potential.  And I would defend my lack of motivation by speciously arguing that for the merely average amount of effort I put into my various projects, I would always come away with above average results.  Privately, though, an entirely different perspective had taken hold, one that refused to even consider the possibility that increased effort would indeed result in optimum performance.  To avoid my lack of performance, I wrongly reasoned that if I never tried my hardest to succeed, then I would never have to experience the pain of defeat.  But then, one day, the time came for me to depart for college, and the shrill voices were silenced forever leaving me to contend with the shrillest voice of all: the one inside my head.      

That voice inside my head thankfully forced me to confront my wrongheaded outlook, to stop accepting mediocrity, and to start challenging myself to be the best that I could be.  This process of transformation was not easy: old habits take a long time to construct; and an even longer time to de-construct.  Still, I persevered, and soon enough witnessed changes in all areas of my life that were both meteoric and astounding.  

On an academic level, I have challenged myself to acquire the best grades that I could possibly achieve.  I simply refused to accept any more cheap excuses or specious arguments from myself.  More importantly, I stopped trying to study and achieve good grades for my parents’ sake, and started acting for my own sake, and the results of my grades speak for themselves.

On a personal level, I have worked hard to transform my bravado self-confidence into an authentic self-confidence. In this regard, I delved deep inside myself to reclaim my natural forensic abilities, the same abilities that allowed me, at age twelve, to outwit my father and to stay up one hour later than my proscribed bedtime.  While I was watching a crucial World Series baseball game with my father, I saw that my proscribed bedtime was fast approaching.  I desperately wanted to stay up and watch the conclusion of the game.  I had to think quickly. With only moments to spare, I said to my father, “Dad, didn’t you say before that I should always listen to my teachers?”  My father responded, “Yes, you should always listen to your teachers because they are always right.”  Then I explained how earlier in the school day my science teacher had stated in class that humans only need an average of six to eight hours of sleep per night; and so therefore, I argued, I should be able to go to sleep one hour later.   My father conceded the argument; impressed more, I think, with how carefully I had constructed the argument than with the substance of the argument itself.

On a social level, I have successfully transformed myself into a natural leader and negotiator, one who engenders confidence and trust amongst his peers.  During my freshman year in college, for example, I participated in the annual Model United Nations Day Competition.  I was selected by my team to act as our chief negotiator for our team’s pre-designated country.  Prior to the first round of negotiations, I inherently recognized the fallacy of adopting a hard line approach to negotiating with the other teams, reasoning that few countries would be willing to negotiate with another country unless they would gain some type of value from the negotiations.  Therefore, I adopted a softer approach in my negotiations, offering to each individual nation an agreement that would benefit both my team as well as the other team.  Of course, all of the agreements provided for a greater share of the resources to inure to my team; however, the inequality was so slight that by the time any of the individual nations realized what I was doing; my team had already won the competition.

Going away to college is a momentous event, fraught with both opportunities and pitfalls.  I feel fortunate that I was able to embrace the opportunity to alter my misdirected point of view in order to reach my full potential. I have learned much about myself during these past few years, enough to know that my destiny is now my own, and that wherever my future finds me, I am proud to say, I will have arrived there not by any half-measures, but by the sheer force of my all out efforts.

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

Re: What you guys think PS. Critique will help : )

Postby Peg » Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:52 pm

Okay, I'll give you my impressions as I read, and then my final thoughts at the end.


Often, in life, the shrillest voices are summarily silenced by the softest sounds emanating from inside one’s own mind. [What's with the "s" alliteration, the needless poetic language, and onslaught of adjectives and adverbs? This is a disastrous opening sentence. It does not say anything about you, it doesn't mean anything and it sounds pretentious. Your PS is not the place for you to try poetry and creative writing. Nor is it the place for purple prose, and that sentence is full of purple prose.] I should know.  In my early years I was subjected to the shrill cries of both my teachers and parents who would castigate me for not working up to my full potential. [I would suggest changing the passive voice ("I was subjected to...") to active voice]  And I would defend my lack of motivation by speciously [Okay, easy on the adverbs. You don't need to qualify every verb with an adverb and you also don't need adjectives for every noun. It's a mark of amateur writing] arguing that for the merely average amount of effort I put into my various projects, I would always come away with above average results.  Privately, though, an entirely different perspective had taken hold, one that refused to even consider the possibility that increased effort would indeed result in optimum performance.  To avoid my lack of performance [I'm not sure what it means to avoid one's lack of performance - this is very ambiguous phrasing and you probably want to make more clear what you're saying], I wrongly reasoned that if I never tried my hardest to succeed, then I would never have to experience the pain of defeat.  But then, [unnecessary comma] one day, the time came for me to depart for college, and the shrill voices were silenced forever [this is where you do need a comma] leaving me to contend with the shrillest voice of all: the one inside my head. [The shrill voices theme isn't working for me, but that just might be my reaction. It doesn't seem to say anything meaningful or effective, and it seems like it really could be replaced with something else. I get the impression, as a reader, that it's just a gimmick.]     

That voice inside my head thankfully forced me to confront my wrongheaded outlook, to stop accepting mediocrity, [See, this voice thing is not actually revealing anything about your inner thoughts or your personality or what really drives you. I can't easily connect it back to your earlier feelings about "I never tried my best because I was afraid of defeat" and I cannot feel convinced that this voice is what made you change your outlook. If you want to keep using this, I would suggest toning down the descriptive prose and perhaps exploring two conflicting desires/goals within you, with one of them represented by the voice, or something like that. Give the voice color and personality and force, not just adjectives] and to start challenging myself to be the best that I could be.  This process of transformation was not easy: old habits take a long time to construct; and an even longer time to de-construct. [This is too detached and impersonal. Give an example of some habit you had trouble shaking off] Still, I persevered, and soon enough witnessed changes in all areas of my life that were both meteoric and astounding.  [More detached description, more over the top adjectives. I would strongly advise against using "meteoric" and "astounding" because your reader will most likely react skeptically - those adjectives should describe things like "Aliens visited our house and brought our cat back to life!"]

On an academic level, I have challenged myself to acquire the best grades that I could possibly achieve.  I simply refused to accept any more cheap excuses or specious arguments from myself.  More importantly, I stopped trying to study and achieve good grades for my parents’ sake, and started acting for my own sake, and the results of my grades speak for themselves. [Okay good, this is the way you should back up every claim you make - with examples.]

On a personal level, I have worked hard to transform my bravado self-confidence into an authentic self-confidence. In this regard, I delved deep inside myself to reclaim my natural forensic abilities, the same abilities that allowed me, at age twelve, to outwit my father and to stay up one hour later than my proscribed bedtime [I don't really understand what you mean by natural forensic abilities, and it sounds vaguely irrelevant to describe how you used them to stay up late, and I don't actually know how this links to your self-confidence].  While I was watching a crucial World Series baseball game with my father, I saw that my proscribed bedtime was fast approaching.  I desperately wanted to stay up and watch the conclusion of the game.  I had to think quickly. With only moments to spare, I said to my father, “Dad, didn’t you say before that I should always listen to my teachers?”  My father responded, “Yes, you should always listen to your teachers because they are always right.”  Then I explained how earlier in the school day my science teacher had stated in class that humans only need an average of six to eight hours of sleep per night; and so therefore, I argued, I should be able to go to sleep one hour later.   My father conceded the argument; impressed more, I think, with how carefully I had constructed the argument than with the substance of the argument itself. [Wait, how does this link back to building self-confidence? The connection has not been made here. Also, I think that since you've described how you convinced your father, the second sentence of this paragraph could be deleted.]

On a social level, I have successfully transformed myself into a natural leader and negotiator, one who engenders confidence and trust amongst his peers.  During my freshman year in college, for example, I participated in the annual Model United Nations Day Competition.  I was selected by my team to act as our chief negotiator for our team’s pre-designated country.  Prior to the first round of negotiations, I inherently [please delete "inherently" - again, the more descriptive prose, the more it kills the overall essay] recognized the fallacy of adopting a hard line approach to negotiating with the other teams, reasoning that few countries would be willing to negotiate with another country unless they would gain some type of value from the negotiations.  Therefore, I adopted a softer approach in my negotiations, offering to each individual nation an agreement that would benefit both my team as well as the other team.  Of course, all of the agreements provided for a greater share of the resources to inure to my team; however, the inequality was so slight that by the time any of the individual nations realized what I was doing; my team had already won the competition. [This is fine, neatly described, but I'm starting to wonder if this essay is really just an explanation of your resume - you've talked about your grades and your extracurricular participation and the skills it's brought you, but I haven't yet gotten a strong sense of who you are and where you come from.]

Going away to college is a momentous event, fraught with both opportunities and pitfalls. [Unnecessary. Delete the sentence.] I feel fortunate that I was able to embrace the opportunity to alter my misdirected point of view in order to reach my full potential. I have learned much about myself during these past few years, enough to know that my destiny is now my own, and that wherever my future finds me, I am proud to say, I will have arrived there not by any half-measures, but by the sheer force of my all out efforts.

Overall, these are the main issues I noticed in your essay:
- Extremely verbose
- Too much description going on
- The focus of the essay is slightly tilted towards resume stuff
- Not enough attention paid to your personality outside of academia and achievements
- Some points where you used passive voice instead of active voice
- Telling and not showing: you must back up every claim with examples

If you trim this essay heavily, organize it in a little more streamlined fashion, and focus a little more on your experiences and character outside of your scholastic life, this might become a bit more eye-catching. Remember that thousands of people will write stuff about how they rocked MUN or decided to study hard and improve their grades and thought mediocrity was lame...if you talk about that too, you're not going to stand out.

Good luck!

mala2
Posts: 225
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:39 am

Re: What you guys think PS. Critique will help : )

Postby mala2 » Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:56 pm

Agree with Peg

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

Re: What you guys think PS. Critique will help : )

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:01 pm

This is sort of a "I used to be a lazy underachiever & now I'm not" type of essay that is unlikely to help your law school applications.




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