Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

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

Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

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

Alright, my first attempt was not TLS PS material, so this time I've honed my message and had several people help me refine it. Now I'm putting it out there for the masses. What can I make stronger in this?

Ex Libris

An old green bible sits on my bookshelf, the cover dinged and the pages aged, but not a sign of use about it. There are no dog ears to mark a favorite page, no underlines to mark a passage, nor breaks in the binding from late night bible study. There are no bulletins tucked under a cover or notes in the margin from the preacher’s sermon. Like a life cut short, the book shows no signs that it ever got to serve out its noble purpose. Its owner long gone, it remains a remnant of their life, cast aside and longing to be used.

Growing up, my father was my hero, I wanted to be just like him and do all the things he did, but we were always too different. No matter how hard he coached or how long we practiced, I was never going to be the star pitcher on the team. I was always the geek in my class, my head swirling with history and science, never with football plays or basketball scores. He’d take me hunting and fishing, but the library was more familiar than the field and stream. He would teach me card games, but I wore out my welcome as I mastered games as fast as people could teach them to me. I would happily delve into the rules looking for an edge, often making a ‘friendly’ game turn unfriendly very quickly. Nothing puts a damper on family night like beating your father at a game he'd been playing for years, but it underscored the differences between us that would grow as I matured.

College gave me the challenge that I had been craving and I found unexpected enjoyment in my academic pursuits. I’d plunged into computer science as a technical major that would give me positive points in my search of an Air Force commissioning and found a lifelong passion. Programming itself was just a footnote, my muse was the sheer excitement of overcoming obstacles and solving problems. I spent hours locked away in dark computer labs drawing on whiteboards in search of solutions to abstract problems and the rush of overcoming a major hurdle was exhilarating. The Air Force rewarded that drive as job after job gave me challenges and opportunities to prove myself as a leader. I led teams as small as 5 and as large as 140 in projects as diverse as disaster recovery and managing a 24,000 user network enterprise worth $52 million. Unfortunately, as much challenge as it might give me, military service has also robbed me of a year and a half of my life from deployments and training. The tragedy is that time can never be given back to my family, birthdays and anniversaries can't be replaced, and so I made the hard decision to separate from the service.

Like shredding the manuscript of your life, starting over is an unnerving experience, leaving behind the safety and accepting the risk. This risk has rewarded me with a chance to start a fresh career and define my story. Every day is a new opportunity to use my talents and leadership to make distinct impacts in peoples' lives. There are silent victims at the margins in every city needing strong voices to speak for them. There are battlefields across our nation that need leaders and I know I can be one of those leaders. I know that law is where I should have been all along and I am eager to begin my journey. Despite the challenges ahead, my experiences have prepared me for this moment at every turn and I'm ready to start this new chapter of my life.

The inside cover of that old bible has the only sign it’s ever been opened, a bookplate marked “Ex Libris: Karen Lacefield.” Karen was my mother. She never had an opportunity to serve out her life’s purpose and today I stand the only remainder of her legacy. She fought for three years and never let the pain show through her smile, but she never had the chance to make a difference in the world. She never had the opportunity to change the world, but I do. Her heart and her drive are the memories I hold of her and as much as I wish she could be here now, I know I’m going to make her proud.

dddhhh
Posts: 264
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:55 pm

Re: Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

Postby dddhhh » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:06 am

MCRemix wrote:I know that law is where I should have been all along and I am eager to begin my journey. Despite the challenges ahead, my experiences have prepared me for this moment at every turn and I'm ready to start this new chapter of my life.


I think the bible imagery stands out, and I like that you used it to begin and end. The last paragraph was especially touching.

But there is an unaswered question in your PS which I bolded: How do you know? Are you trying to show a natural progression? If you are going to say this then I would like to see you expand on the "why law" aspect.

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TIMEATELL
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:13 am

Re: Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

Postby TIMEATELL » Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:08 pm

In paragraph 3, you talk about how the Air Force rewarded your drive, but then go on to state military service robbed you? It appears as though you're contradicting yourself...not to mention, people may take offense to such commentary about military service. How could military service rob you of the time when you committed to and benefitted from the time?

tdottoker
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:23 am

Re: Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

Postby tdottoker » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:29 pm

MCRemix wrote:Alright, my first attempt was not TLS PS material, so this time I've honed my message and had several people help me refine it. Now I'm putting it out there for the masses. What can I make stronger in this?

Ex Libris

An old green bible sits on my bookshelf, the cover dinged and the pages aged, but not a sign of use about it. There are no dog ears to mark a favorite page, no underlines to mark a passage, nor breaks in the binding from late night bible study. There are no bulletins tucked under a cover or notes in the margin from the preacher’s sermon. Like a life cut short, the book shows no signs that it ever got to serve out its noble purpose. Its owner long gone, it remains a remnant of their life, cast aside and longing to be used.

Growing up, my father was my hero, I wanted to be just like him and do all the things he did, but we were always too different. No matter how hard he coached or how long we practiced, I was never going to be the star pitcher on the team. I was always the geek in my class, my head swirling with history and science, never with football plays or basketball scores. He’d take me hunting and fishing, but the library was more familiar than the field and stream. He would teach me card games, but I wore out my welcome as I mastered games as fast as people could teach them to me. I would happily delve into the rules looking for an edge, often making a ‘friendly’ game turn unfriendly very quickly. Nothing puts a damper on family night like beating your father at a game he'd been playing for years, but it underscored the differences between us that would grow as I matured.

College gave me the challenge that I had been craving and I found unexpected enjoyment in my academic pursuits. I’d plunged into computer science as a technical major that would give me positive points in my search of an Air Force commissioning and found a lifelong passion. Programming itself was just a footnote, my muse was the sheer excitement of overcoming obstacles and solving problems. I spent hours locked away in dark computer labs drawing on whiteboards in search of solutions to abstract problems and the rush of overcoming a major hurdle was exhilarating. The Air Force rewarded that drive as job after job gave me challenges and opportunities to prove myself as a leader. I led teams as small as 5 and as large as 140 in projects as diverse as disaster recovery and managing a 24,000 user network enterprise worth $52 million. Unfortunately, as much challenge as it might give me, military service has also robbed me of a year and a half of my life from deployments and training. The tragedy is that time can never be given back to my family, birthdays and anniversaries can't be replaced, and so I made the hard decision to separate from the service.

Like shredding the manuscript of your life, starting over is an unnerving experience, leaving behind the safety and accepting the risk. This risk has rewarded me with a chance to start a fresh career and define my story. Every day is a new opportunity to use my talents and leadership to make distinct impacts in peoples' lives. There are silent victims at the margins in every city needing strong voices to speak for them. There are battlefields across our nation that need leaders and I know I can be one of those leaders. I know that law is where I should have been all along and I am eager to begin my journey. Despite the challenges ahead, my experiences have prepared me for this moment at every turn and I'm ready to start this new chapter of my life.

The inside cover of that old bible has the only sign it’s ever been opened, a bookplate marked “Ex Libris: Karen Lacefield.” Karen was my mother. She never had an opportunity to serve out her life’s purpose and today I stand the only remainder of her legacy. She fought for three years and never let the pain show through her smile, but she never had the chance to make a difference in the world. She never had the opportunity to change the world, but I do. Her heart and her drive are the memories I hold of her and as much as I wish she could be here now, I know I’m going to make her proud.


Sort of seems like you are very competitve and simply want a new challenge which is law school. Are you sure this is something you really want or is it possible it might turn out like Air Force? Law doesnt exactly have the best work/life balance and you seem hesitant to give that up. Where is the proof that this is something you want to do for the rest of your life? Why can't you help people 'silent victims' through the education you already have? Nicely written though do not take my questions too harsly! :)

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

Re: Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:49 pm

Not good. You complain a lot without any reason to do so. Awkward writing style. What are you trying to accomplish with this personal statement ? You trash your father & the Air Force. Makes one wonder. This writing won't win you any friends or admirers. It's clear that you are in this for yourself.

P.S. If your mother passed away when you were three years old, how do you know that she suffered & whether or not she let pain show through ?

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

Re: Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

Postby MCRemix » Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:20 am

TIMEATELL wrote:In paragraph 3, you talk about how the Air Force rewarded your drive, but then go on to state military service robbed you? It appears as though you're contradicting yourself...not to mention, people may take offense to such commentary about military service. How could military service rob you of the time when you committed to and benefitted from the time?


I'll consider a verb change there, I didnt intend it to be so harsh, only "robbed" in the sense that I have spent over a year out of the last 2 and a half gone away from wife and child. But it was voluntary and I didnt read it as harshly as you did, so I'll work on that part. Truth is I have a love/hate relationship with the service, I've loved every moment of it, except for every moment I've had to spend away from my family at night.

tdottoker wrote:
Sort of seems like you are very competitve and simply want a new challenge which is law school. Are you sure this is something you really want or is it possible it might turn out like Air Force? Law doesnt exactly have the best work/life balance and you seem hesitant to give that up. Where is the proof that this is something you want to do for the rest of your life? Why can't you help people 'silent victims' through the education you already have? Nicely written though do not take my questions too harsly! :)


Fair as well, the difference between the long hours of military life and the long hours of law is where I get to lay my head at night. On a pillow at home, or on a cot in the middle east. I don't mind working long hours, but the deployments wreck families. (Before people out there judge me for separating, consider the divorce rate of service members, I want to keep my family together.)

I'll consider the rest of your questions though, I want to make sure its a piece that doesn't misrepresent or confuse people about who I am.

CanadianWolf wrote:Not good. You complain a lot without any reason to do so. Awkward writing style. What are you trying to accomplish with this personal statement ? You trash your father & the Air Force. Makes one wonder. This writing won't win you any friends or admirers. It's clear that you are in this for yourself.

P.S. If your mother passed away when you were three years old, how do you know that she suffered & whether or not she let pain show through ?


Alright, I'm open to listening. Several people have said the opposite of you (not just here), that it was touching or they connected with it. Why do you have such revulsion for it? I wrote honestly about who I am and what shaped me, so where did I come across as insincere?

And if it matters, i know she suffered because my father and grandmother held her hand for 3 years as she lost the battle slowly. Admittedly, my grandmother could be embellishing on details when she told me the stories. But why question my grandmother's story? Seems like everyone is much happier with it this way.

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

Re: Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:07 pm

I never wrote that you seemed insincere although I understand how you could inject that into my critique. Your essay is offensive because you discard your father & the Air Force as if they were petty obstacles in your life which you have outgrown; the implicit suggestion is that if your mom had lived longer that she too might incur your judgmental condescending attitude. (This is what inspired my earlier "Makes one wonder." comment.)

P.S. I am trying to help by offering an honest critique. I apologize if it offends you. That is not my intent, but trying to be subtle in my first response above apparently did not register.

P.P.S. I need to refine my "awkward writing style" comment made in my first response. The writing is fluid & done well, but your purpose is unclear & that renders the entire writing awkward since it can make the reader uncomfortable in being forced to judge you in an unflattering way.

Your biggest error was using the word "robbed" since you present yourself as lacking in maturity, appreciation & judgment.

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

Re: Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

Postby MCRemix » Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:15 pm

Thanks, I'm clearer now on how you perceived it. That was not at all my intent (to blast my father and service), so I will improve my word choice and refine it some to clear up the areas you mentioned. I appreciate you pointing out how you read it, as you never know how an admissions rep might read things.

I'll refine the areas you and other posters mentioned, hopefully I'll get a new draft up tonight. Thanks for your inputs!

CanadianWolf wrote:I never wrote that you seemed insincere although I understand how you could inject that into my critique. Your essay is offensive because you discard your father & the Air Force as if they were petty obstacles in your life which you have outgrown; the implicit suggestion is that if your mom had lived longer that she too might incur your judgmental condescending attitude. (This is what inspired my earlier "Makes one wonder." comment.)

P.S. I am trying to help by offering an honest critique. I apologize if it offends you. That is not my intent, but trying to be subtle in my first response above apparently did not register.

P.P.S. I need to refine my "awkward writing style" comment made in my first response. The writing is fluid & done well, but your purpose is unclear & that renders the entire writing awkward since it can make the reader uncomfortable in being forced to judge you in an unflattering way.

Your biggest error was using the word "robbed" since you present yourself as lacking in maturity, appreciation & judgment.

cincygal
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:11 pm

Re: Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

Postby cincygal » Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:49 pm

I like your 1st, 3rd and 5th paragraphs, but the others seem slightly random and unnecessary. Try developing your 3rd paragraph, and focus on your acheivements and abilities. Further, include why you think you would be good at law school and why you want to go.

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

Re: Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

Postby Plan2008 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:30 am

If it doesnt add value dont say it.


Cut the stuff about your dad, what really is the point? That you're different than he is? That you relish beating him? That your smart bc you play better cards than he does. How could that guy you describe have been your hero, you talk about him with distain.

Cut/change the stuff about starting over. If the theme is being properly used and leaving a legacy (I hope it is based on the bible/mom reference), you get side tracked with the "shredding manuscripts" stuff. Not a good analogy anyway. Most people don't think their life is pre-written any, plus are you destroying your past?

If you want to talk about the AF experience, talk about the legacy you left, talk about the well worn pages and years well spent, not about how the US goverment robbed you by forcing you to enlist (we dont have a draft anymore).

If you are going to bring your mom up in the end, the reference to the book owner in the beginning should be a little stronger, I had to go back to find it. IMO only.

Cut the stuff about the unwashed masses living on the margins. That is just flowery rhetoric and mean nothing. If you actually have an experience in helping these people, put it in. Perhaps in the AF you did some work with these folks. Maybe that's why law.

My sense is you have a gap between discharge and now? If that is correct, I wouldnt explain the separation as family oriented, then talk about pursuing law. It is either/or.
Last edited by Plan2008 on Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

Postby MCRemix » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:57 am

Plan, thanks for the inputs.

I realized a tad late that my parts about my father and the AF came across as far harsher than I had ever intended, so I've rewritten those. I'm about to post the revised version in a new thread and would appreciate you taking a look.

And to answer your question, no gap between service and law, I separate in June (honorably in case ppl were thinking otherwise) and start school in the fall. Bottom line is that since I am leaving the service, I want to do something else with my life to make a difference in the world. People may mock it, but I joined to serve my country, I want to keep doing that in a different way now.

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

Re: Second PS - Need review help/suggestions

Postby Plan2008 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:59 am

MCRemix wrote:Plan, thanks for the inputs.

I realized a tad late that my parts about my father and the AF came across as far harsher than I had ever intended, so I've rewritten those. I'm about to post the revised version in a new thread and would appreciate you taking a look.

And to answer your question, no gap between service and law, I separate in June (honorably in case ppl were thinking otherwise) and start school in the fall. Bottom line is that since I am leaving the service, I want to do something else with my life to make a difference in the world. People may mock it, but I joined to serve my country, I want to keep doing that in a different way now.


I would frame it as, you love what you do and get a lot out of it, but you are willing to let go of something good to reach for something bigger. Try to tie it into the legacy theme.




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