Draft 1, critique please!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
58932ugahoige
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:23 am

Draft 1, critique please!

Postby 58932ugahoige » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:14 pm

I don't let anyone read my writing. So here I am going to stick it on the internets for some of the best minds in University to comb over. Awesome!

I'll give a pre-emptive thanks to those who do offer suggestions.

Going into the final year of my undergraduate degree I only required four classes to graduate. I viewed my options, and settled on pursuing student government. It would allow me to take the courses I needed to graduate, give me work experience, and let me partake in my passion—politics. I ran for a position on the University of ---- Students’ Union (----), and won. I was the new Vice-President External Affairs, in charge of lobbying government on student issues.
I came into the position full of expectations. I would gain valuable experience and establish some of the credibility that I am sure every young political studies major finds themselves longing for. I was right; I did learn, only not what I had expected. I anticipated that I would learn from some of the best and brightest, the most powerful, and the most accomplished. To my surprise, my knowledge did not come from spending time at the arms of the wise and powerful, hearing secrets to success; nor did I have an epiphany that would suddenly allow me to understand the real world I had heard so much about during my time in the ivory tower. Instead I began a process, a process I’m still learning.
A friend of mine told me student politics are often referred to as “The Sandbox”, where the children play. This couldn’t be a more accurate characterization. There are petty squabbles. There are hurt feelings. Instead of bruised knees, you have bruised egos. But there are also positive lessons and good times. Playing with others as a child teaches you the basics of human interaction. Student government is similar. It teaches you to get along with different people; it teaches you to work with them.
The unique thing about student government is that people aren’t thoroughly vetted politically, or tested beyond their ability to generate support amongst a small percentage of their peers. We enter out positions through a path other than experience and merit. We had no one to tell us what to do, and were masters of our destiny. We—people with different ways of thinking, values, goals, personalities, and skills—were then thrust together, forced to form a team, forced to lead. This has shown to be a trying and rewarding situation that I find myself in.
I’ve had to learn to compromise, because people won’t always agree. I’ve had to know when to walk away from a fight, and when to pick the proverbial ditch to die in. I’ve learned how to disagree and maintain respect for another person’s values and intellect. More than anything, I’ve learned that I can’t always be right, no matter how sure I am. In this role there is no right decision; everyone’s reality is different and subjective. I quickly found that not only are the means to an end debatable, the end itself is a topic of discussion.
These are basic lessons on paper. Learning to apply them, however, is slightly more challenging. I’ve now been in a position where my decisions affect other people. It wasn’t like school. For a student, academia means that your position isn’t wrong so long as you argue it correctly. Your stances and work don’t affect anyone; your work is marked independently of arguments raised in the papers of your peers. Eloquently argued and reasoned positions aren’t discarded for deviating from the majority position. At work I made decisions that impacted people’s lives. They were measured differently than any paper I’d ever written.
My fellow Executive members and I worked together. It wasn’t always smooth. We came to positions that tried to work for everyone—sometimes they didn’t. We compromised and we moved forward; I learned. I learned part of what the real world is about. It’s not what I discovered in school, where you succeed for having the best idea and arguing it forcefully. I learned that it was about recognizing that everybody has a different best idea. I learned everyone has to win once in a while, and everyone must learn to accept losing. My experience, however limited, has shown me something that I wouldn’t have seen had I not stepped outside the classroom to play in the sandbox. It showed me how to win people, not arguments—what classrooms do not teach. The lessons weren’t what I thought they would be. They were better.

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

Re: Draft 1, critique please!

Postby LSATclincher » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:38 pm

I quit reading this half-way through. This sounded much like the statement I just read on here. It's a not a unique PS, and it really does not say much about who you are. Pick a new topic, and get more "personal." There's a reason these things are called what they are.

58932ugahoige
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:23 am

Re: Draft 1, critique please!

Postby 58932ugahoige » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:39 pm

Fair enough.

I could talk about beating my depression, but that is so negative.

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

Re: Draft 1, critique please!

Postby LSATclincher » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:40 pm

I'm all about talking about overcoming obstacles, but you REALLY need to convince adcomms you're 100% transformed. I'd keep mental disease out of this considering you need to be extremely mentally tough in the profession.

58932ugahoige
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:23 am

Re: Draft 1, critique please!

Postby 58932ugahoige » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:46 pm

Before I write a new one I'll check out some other opinions. I definitely was thinking that this could be a little to cliche though. Ah, well.

58932ugahoige
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:23 am

Re: Draft 1, critique please!

Postby 58932ugahoige » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:03 pm

It was recommended to me that I axe/consolidate the first 2 paragraphs, and that the rest is good. Still feel the same, Clincher?

A friend of mine told me student politics are often referred to as “The Sandbox”, where the children play. This couldn’t be a more accurate characterization. There are petty squabbles. There are hurt feelings. Instead of bruised knees, you have bruised egos. But there are also positive lessons and good times. Playing with others as a child teaches you the basics of human interaction. Student government is similar. It teaches you to get along with different people; it teaches you to work with them.
I learned this when I spent the final year of my undergraduate living it. I ran. I won. I was the Vice-President External Affairs. I worked with a group of people who were ideologically diverse. We had different goals and were elected into different positions. My job was lobbying.
The unique thing about student government is that people aren’t thoroughly vetted politically, or tested beyond their ability to generate support amongst a small percentage of their peers. We enter out positions through a path other than experience and merit. We had no one to tell us what to do, and were masters of our destiny. We—people with different ways of thinking, values, goals, personalities, and skills—were then thrust together, forced to form a team, forced to lead. This has shown to be a trying and rewarding experience.
I’ve had to learn to compromise, because people won’t always agree. I’ve had to know when to walk away from a fight, and when to pick the proverbial ditch to die in. I’ve learned how to disagree and maintain respect for another person’s values and intellect. More than anything, I’ve learned that I can’t always be right, no matter how sure I am. In this role there is no right decision; everyone’s reality is different and subjective. I quickly found that not only are the means to an end debatable, the end itself is a topic of discussion.
These are basic lessons on paper. Learning to apply them, however, is slightly more challenging. I’ve now been in a position where my decisions affect other people. It wasn’t like school. For a student, academia means that your position isn’t wrong so long as you argue it correctly. Your stances and work don’t affect anyone; your work is marked independently of arguments raised in the papers of your peers. Eloquently argued and reasoned positions aren’t discarded for deviating from the majority position. At work I made decisions that impacted people’s lives. They were measured differently than any paper I’d ever written.
My fellow Executive members and I worked together. It wasn’t always smooth. We came to positions that tried to work for everyone—sometimes they didn’t. We compromised and we moved forward; I learned. I learned part of what the real world is about. It’s not what I discovered in school, where you succeed for having the best idea and arguing it forcefully. I learned that it was about recognizing that everybody has a different best idea. I learned everyone has to win once in a while, and everyone must learn to accept losing. My experience, however limited, has shown me something that I wouldn’t have seen had I not stepped outside the classroom to play in the sandbox. It showed me how to win people, not arguments—what classrooms do not teach. The lessons weren’t what I thought they would be. They were better.

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

Re: Draft 1, critique please!

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

The second version is better and has a better flow. I'm just not a big fan of revolving the entire PS around a school accomplishment. Certainly mention it, but the PS should be more about you as a person. In your PS, we learn about what you learned. But who you really are does not stand out. This isn't a terrible statement, but it it's merely a supplement to the rest of your application. It's not a plus piece of your app.

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

Re: Draft 1, critique please!

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:40 pm

I only read the first version & thought it was a wonderful essay offering insights that made the reader think while appreciating you and your growth.

P.S. I stopped reading the second version after your first paragraph--which seemed forced & disingenuous.

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

Re: Draft 1, critique please!

Postby LSATclincher » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:49 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:I only read the first version & thought it was a wonderful essay offering insights that made the reader think while appreciating you and your growth.

P.S. I stopped reading the second version after your first paragraph--which seemed forced & disingenuous.


One of our few times of disagreement. I guess you'll need to run this by some others :lol:

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

Re: Draft 1, critique please!

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:54 pm

Probably because it is an exact depiction of my experience which was long ago but, apparently, is still true.

58932ugahoige
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:23 am

Re: Draft 1, critique please!

Postby 58932ugahoige » Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:18 pm

I think I'm just going to put what I have in. The message in both of the versions is similar; I suspect that the big concern is style.

Also, Canadianwolf, what SU did you serve on? I'm Canadian as well.

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

Re: Draft 1, critique please!

Postby mala2 » Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:41 am

the second is better. the sandbox reference bugs me because that could also be considered Iraq or Afghanistan, which student government is not.




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