Please critique my NEW, NEW version (hopefully its better)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
gregthomas77
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:49 am

Please critique my NEW, NEW version (hopefully its better)

Postby gregthomas77 » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:36 pm

OK, here is a NEW, NEW version. I have tried to take into account all of the comments I have gotten before. I try to talk about my past, my journey, and my goals. I also tried to remove most of the self-depricating material and add in more "bragging" on myself. Of course, I probably f'd up the grammer somewhere, but here again, I am open for comments.


When I arrived at college, I joined the debate team after having debated throughout high school, and finding success I decided to put all of my time and effort into the discipline. I convinced myself that if I worked hard and was successful at debate that I would be able to argue my way into the law school of my choice. As a result of my nearsighted overconfidence, I graduated with a great debate record, including twice making into the finals at the national championships (with one win), and a GPA that squashed, at least in the short-run, my dream of attending an Ivy League law program.

While my GPA was a setback, my experiences as an undergraduate did lead to some other important revelations. Concentrating on debate in college, I selected communication as my major so that I could learn as much as possible from my debate coach, a communication professor. In doing so, I learned how valuable the power to communicate can be and I learned from my leadership position on the team how much I enjoyed teaching others. As a result of these lessons, I decided that since my law school dream was temporarily curtailed, I would take a new path to reaching my dream by building myself up through teaching.

To this end, I have continued my education and obtained my masters degree (along with over thirty additional graduate hours in communication and fifteen doctoral hours in educational leadership), taught as a graduate assistant, and coached debate. I have also had the opportunity to gain experience in research and publication, having published chapters on Research and Ethics in a textbook on communication. Now working as a college professor and debate coach, I continue to learn more about and improve myself while helping those around me. As a faculty member, I have been able to develop my leadership abilities by serving as a Faculty Senator, Co-Chair of my departmental Grant Writing Committee, and Chair of my universities Communication Core Curriculum Advisory Committee. As an educator and mentor, I have been able to provide my students with unique opportunities like debating the agenda of President Obama on the eve of his inauguration at a public debate in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and debating the merits of Historically Black Colleges at Universities (HBCU’s) at a public debate presented at the annual conference for the White House Initiative on HBCU’s in Washington D.C. I have also sought to enrich my community through the development of a public debate series named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass that occurs on February 14th (Mr. Douglass’ birthday) and features topics related to promoting Black History awareness and a judging panel comprised of prominent members of my community. Through all of these efforts, I have discovered that I find assisting and advocating for my students, my colleagues, and my community much more rewarding than anything I achieved as a debater.

However, there is one aspect of my experiences that I find problematic. Several of my students (especially my debaters) bring to college the same dream that I did—to go to law school. Unfortunately, I have observed that many fall short of their goals; instead finding they are nearing graduation without the preparation necessary to attend and succeed in law school. As such, their dreams are quickly and frequently turning into disappointment.

Seeing this, I realize that I can do so much more, for the benefit of both myself and those around me, if I follow through on my ambition to become a lawyer. Many years after I began this journey, I find myself a wiser, more humble man who wants to return to my hometown to practice law there. I want to work to make the criminal justice system in my own community operate the way it should, and I want to come back to the university where I teach to help students better prepare to pursue their own legal dreams. In life, we sometimes end up taking a totally different path the one we anticipated, and when I began my journey to law school many years ago, this is not what I imagined. However, I find myself striving to reach the same destination, just a little bit later and with a much greater understanding of why I need to get there.
Last edited by gregthomas77 on Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:44 pm, edited 14 times in total.

rebexness
Posts: 4163
Joined: Sun Jan 09, 2011 6:24 am

Re: Please critique my NEW personal statement

Postby rebexness » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:56 pm

Last edited by rebexness on Thu Nov 06, 2014 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

gregthomas77
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:49 am

Re: Please critique my NEW personal statement

Postby gregthomas77 » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:58 pm

rebexness wrote:the phrase "lots of additional hours of graduate work" should be rephrased.

Lots= Bad descriptor. Be concrete in either quantity of hours or time spent (if not completed)


Good call - fixed.

adude
Posts: 92
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:41 am

Re: Please critique my NEW personal statement

Postby adude » Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:18 pm

if I was worked hard

sounds awkward, passive voice

so that I could spend as much time as possible with my debate coach, who was a communication professor.

"spend . . . time" is vague. what exactly did you do with your debate coach that was helpful. how did he help you grow?

Since initially gaining full time employment as a college professor and debate coach

Dash in "full-time." I would prefer more direct phrasing here. There is something weak about the words "since initially gaining." Make it more active. Just reduce to something like "After working as a full-time college professor and debate coach "

In almost five years of working with students in a role that has allowed me to gain insight into their lives and dreams, I have discovered that as a educator and mentor I have the ability to help students find direction and improve their place in life.

Large dependent clause at the beginning of the sentence, makes for slower reading. Makes the reader have to remember more. Chop the sentence up. Make the dep clauses into active independent clauses.

However, unlike my situation, a lot of my students’ lack of readiness comes not from their own failures but from the failure of their institution to properly prepare them for their intended careers.

I'm not sure if the comparison works. "my situation" is compared to "my student's lack of readiness." Also, you are implying that you have failed. Never a great thing to do on a personal statement.

Therefore, while my goal is much the same it was many years ago, my vision of how that life will be is different now having been shaped by the path my life has taken (including not only my professional experiences but also my personal role as a husband of almost ten years and a father of four).

Not sure what you mean here. I think there is a grammar problem.

More feedback:
You really put yourself down in this essay. It's the entire focus of the first paragraph and its a theme throughout. If you really need to include a personal weakness to convey that you have grown over the past few years, then do it quickly and forgivingly. I would focus more on why you want to go to law school now, than the flawed reasons you used to have.

gregthomas77
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:49 am

Re: Please critique my NEW personal statement

Postby gregthomas77 » Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:43 pm

adude wrote:
if I was worked hard

sounds awkward, passive voice

FIXED, it was a typo

so that I could spend as much time as possible with my debate coach, who was a communication professor.

"spend . . . time" is vague. what exactly did you do with your debate coach that was helpful. how did he help you grow?

FIXED somewhat, still thinking on this some

Since initially gaining full time employment as a college professor and debate coach

Dash in "full-time." I would prefer more direct phrasing here. There is something weak about the words "since initially gaining." Make it more active. Just reduce to something like "After working as a full-time college professor and debate coach "

FIXED

In almost five years of working with students in a role that has allowed me to gain insight into their lives and dreams, I have discovered that as a educator and mentor I have the ability to help students find direction and improve their place in life.

Large dependent clause at the beginning of the sentence, makes for slower reading. Makes the reader have to remember more. Chop the sentence up. Make the dep clauses into active independent clauses.

FIXED

However, unlike my situation, a lot of my students’ lack of readiness comes not from their own failures but from the failure of their institution to properly prepare them for their intended careers.

I'm not sure if the comparison works. "my situation" is compared to "my student's lack of readiness." Also, you are implying that you have failed. Never a great thing to do on a personal statement.

FIXED.

Therefore, while my goal is much the same it was many years ago, my vision of how that life will be is different now having been shaped by the path my life has taken (including not only my professional experiences but also my personal role as a husband of almost ten years and a father of four).

Not sure what you mean here. I think there is a grammar problem.

FIXED

More feedback:
You really put yourself down in this essay. It's the entire focus of the first paragraph and its a theme throughout. If you really need to include a personal weakness to convey that you have grown over the past few years, then do it quickly and forgivingly. I would focus more on why you want to go to law school now, than the flawed reasons you used to have.


I get this comment a lot. I don't know why I do this. I think I fixed it.

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

Re: Please critique my NEW personal statement

Postby Plan2008 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:49 am

Here you go.

Entering college I knew exactly what I wanted—to study law at an elite program and go on to hugely successful high-profile career in criminal defense—and I was certain I had the perfect plan for achieving that goal. I saw myself becoming a huge success, living an enviable and exciting life in a large city like New York or Boston. I was energized with confidence and promise—I had it all figured out. Experience, though, has a way of revealing that which we do not know. I knew what I wanted, and although I thought I did, I certainly did not know how to get it.

When I got to college, I made the debate team, and finding success, began to put all of my time and effort into it the discipline. I convinced myself that if I continued to work hard and be successful at debate that I would be able to argue my way into the law school of my choice. As a result of my nearsighted, dare I say, overconfidence, I graduated with a great debate record but a GPA that squashed, at least in the short-run, my dream of attending an Ivy League law program.

This seemingly disappointing experience, on the other hand, led to some other important revelations. Concentrating on debate in college, I selected communications as my major so that I could learn as much as possible from my debate coach, a communications professor. I learned how valuable the power to communicate can be and, I learned from my leadership position on the team how much I enjoyed teaching others. As a result of these lessons, I decided that since my law school dream was curtailed, I would take a new direction and go into teaching.

To this end, I continued my education and obtained my masters degree (along with over thirty additional graduate hours in communication), taught as a graduate assistant, and coached debate. Now working as a college professor and debate coach, and being able to gain insight into the lives, dreams, and choices of my students, I continue to learn more about myself. An educator and mentor, I help students find direction and avoid some of life’s pitfalls. I have also discovered that I find assisting and advocating for my students much more rewarding than anything I achieved as a debater.

I have also found that many of my students, despite my best efforts, still fall short of their goals. Several of my students (especially my debaters) bring to college the same dream that I did—to go to law school. Many, though, find themselves nearing graduation in a position that seems all too familiar, without a path necessary to attend and succeed in law school. As such, their dreams are quickly turning into disappointment.

Seeing this, I realize that I can be so much more, for the benefit of both myself and those around me, if I follow through on my ambition to become a lawyer. Gone is the dream of being the most powerful man in a big city. In its stead stands a wiser, more humble, man who wants to return to my hometown to practice law there. I want to work to make the criminal justice system in my own community operate the way it should, and I want to come back to the college where I teach to help students better prepare to pursue their own legal dreams. In life, we sometimes end up taking a totally different path the one we anticipated. My path has led me to the same destination, just a little bit later and with a much greater understanding why this is where I need to be.

gregthomas77
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:49 am

Re: Please critique my NEW personal statement

Postby gregthomas77 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:55 am

Plan2008 wrote:Here you go.

Entering college I knew exactly what I wanted—to study law at an elite program and go on to hugely successful high-profile career in criminal defense—and I was certain I had the perfect plan for achieving that goal. I saw myself becoming a huge success, living an enviable and exciting life in a large city like New York or Boston. I was energized with confidence and promise—I had it all figured out. Experience, though, has a way of revealing that which we do not know. I knew what I wanted, and although I thought I did, I certainly did not know how to get it.

When I got to college, I made the debate team, and finding success, began to put all of my time and effort into it the discipline. I convinced myself that if I continued to work hard and be successful at debate that I would be able to argue my way into the law school of my choice. As a result of my nearsighted, dare I say, overconfidence, I graduated with a great debate record but a GPA that squashed, at least in the short-run, my dream of attending an Ivy League law program.

This seemingly disappointing experience, on the other hand, led to some other important revelations. Concentrating on debate in college, I selected communications as my major so that I could learn as much as possible from my debate coach, a communications professor. I learned how valuable the power to communicate can be and, I learned from my leadership position on the team how much I enjoyed teaching others. As a result of these lessons, I decided that since my law school dream was curtailed, I would take a new direction and go into teaching.

To this end, I continued my education and obtained my masters degree (along with over thirty additional graduate hours in communication), taught as a graduate assistant, and coached debate. Now working as a college professor and debate coach, and being able to gain insight into the lives, dreams, and choices of my students, I continue to learn more about myself. An educator and mentor, I help students find direction and avoid some of life’s pitfalls. I have also discovered that I find assisting and advocating for my students much more rewarding than anything I achieved as a debater.

I have also found that many of my students, despite my best efforts, still fall short of their goals. Several of my students (especially my debaters) bring to college the same dream that I did—to go to law school. Many, though, find themselves nearing graduation in a position that seems all too familiar, without a path necessary to attend and succeed in law school. As such, their dreams are quickly turning into disappointment.

Seeing this, I realize that I can be so much more, for the benefit of both myself and those around me, if I follow through on my ambition to become a lawyer. Gone is the dream of being the most powerful man in a big city. In its stead stands a wiser, more humble, man who wants to return to my hometown to practice law there. I want to work to make the criminal justice system in my own community operate the way it should, and I want to come back to the college where I teach to help students better prepare to pursue their own legal dreams. In life, we sometimes end up taking a totally different path the one we anticipated. My path has led me to the same destination, just a little bit later and with a much greater understanding why this is where I need to be.


Nice edits. Thanks.

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

Re: Please critique my NEW personal statement w/new edits

Postby LSATclincher » Sun Jan 30, 2011 2:38 pm

I didn't read the above edits. But I had a few issues with this. It seemed to lack confidence. We learn you failed at accomplishing your dream, your GPA is not stellar, and you sometimes fail at teaching. None of us are perfect, but the PS is not an opportunity to describe yourself as average.

I'd delete para 1. The addcoms don't need to know this. Really, no one does. I like your experience in debate and a teacher. I'd be interested in your knowing how your earlier life led up to your ability/passion in oratory activities. Any parental guidance? Early memory that led to the path you chose?

I do think your oratory ability translates into the legal profession (maybe trial advocacy?) I think you can continue to talk about the oratory/debate skills. It's something that can make you stand out from the rest if you can persuade the adcomms.

gregthomas77
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:49 am

Re: Please critique my NEW personal statement w/new edits

Postby gregthomas77 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 3:16 pm

LSATclincher wrote:I didn't read the above edits. But I had a few issues with this. It seemed to lack confidence. We learn you failed at accomplishing your dream, your GPA is not stellar, and you sometimes fail at teaching. None of us are perfect, but the PS is not an opportunity to describe yourself as average.

I'd delete para 1. The addcoms don't need to know this. Really, no one does. I like your experience in debate and a teacher. I'd be interested in your knowing how your earlier life led up to your ability/passion in oratory activities. Any parental guidance? Early memory that led to the path you chose?

I do think your oratory ability translates into the legal profession (maybe trial advocacy?) I think you can continue to talk about the oratory/debate skills. It's something that can make you stand out from the rest if you can persuade the adcomms.


I guess I have been trying to use my personal statement for telling a story outside of what is on my resume. I've presented research at conferences. I've published textbook chapters on research and on ethics in communication. I've won a national championship as a debater (and come in second in another), and I've coached debaters in public debates in the Smithsonian (on the day before Obama's inauguration) and at the White House Initiative on HBCU's. I am a faculty senator, chair of my universities core curriculum communication advisory committee (long title) and co-chair of my departmental grant writing committee. I created a new public debate at my university (which will happen in February) where my students will debate black history related issues (I am at a HBCU) against a private religious school in my same town and the debates will be judged by a panel of "celebrity" judges including a state senator, a state representative, a Duke law professor, and two members of our armed forces.

I have plenty to talk about, but most of this is listed in other places. Should I rewrite the personal statement to talk about all of this stuff?

gregthomas77
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:49 am

Re: Please critique my NEW, NEW version (hopefully its better)

Postby gregthomas77 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:45 pm

New version posted.

Berdman
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 2:50 am

Re: Please critique my NEW, NEW version (hopefully its better)

Postby Berdman » Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:41 pm

I see great potential in this statement, but it ends up sounding like a restatement of a resume. You clearly have great softs and accomplishments, but I think you need to focus on one experience and how it affected you.

In addition, I think your first paragraph needs to be removed or entirely reworded. It essentially opens with "I'm great at debating, but my gpa sucked so I became a teacher." I know it's not your intention, but it's the first thing I thought when I read it.

I think if you focused purely on the teaching dynamic and how working with one particular student rekindeld your passion for law school, it would go a long way. There's great stuff here, you just need to narrow your focus.

gregthomas77
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:49 am

Re: Please critique my NEW, NEW version (hopefully its better)

Postby gregthomas77 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:47 pm

Berdman wrote:I see great potential in this statement, but it ends up sounding like a restatement of a resume. You clearly have great softs and accomplishments, but I think you need to focus on one experience and how it affected you.

In addition, I think your first paragraph needs to be removed or entirely reworded. It essentially opens with "I'm great at debating, but my gpa sucked so I became a teacher." I know it's not your intention, but it's the first thing I thought when I read it.

I think if you focused purely on the teaching dynamic and how working with one particular student rekindeld your passion for law school, it would go a long way. There's great stuff here, you just need to narrow your focus.


I have such a story, and I could certainly do that. The PS stuff kills me.

One question though, does concentrating on one event allow me to get out as much info as this though?

Berdman
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 2:50 am

Re: Please critique my NEW, NEW version (hopefully its better)

Postby Berdman » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:33 pm

Sorry, had to run to the office unexpectedly.

From the personal statements that I have read, the ones that are most effective focus on a single event or turning point that deepend the candidates interest in law school. This approach allows you to explain how that moment or time shaped you and makes you a superior candidate.

Unfortunately, it does not allow you to incorporate a lot of the achievements you mentioned, but these would have a better home in your resume anyway. I fully appreciate and understand how it's frustrating to reduce an outstanding benchmark in your life to a single line in a resume, but the current form is detracting from your personal statement.

gregthomas77
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:49 am

Re: Please critique my NEW, NEW version (hopefully its better)

Postby gregthomas77 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:38 pm

Berdman wrote:Sorry, had to run to the office unexpectedly.

From the personal statements that I have read, the ones that are most effective focus on a single event or turning point that deepend the candidates interest in law school. This approach allows you to explain how that moment or time shaped you and makes you a superior candidate.

Unfortunately, it does not allow you to incorporate a lot of the achievements you mentioned, but these would have a better home in your resume anyway. I fully appreciate and understand how it's frustrating to reduce an outstanding benchmark in your life to a single line in a resume, but the current form is detracting from your personal statement.


Yeah, I agree. Working on a new version, will post it when its ready.




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