PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
gregthomas77
Posts: 124
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PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby gregthomas77 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:14 pm

I have a student who has written a personal statement, and she needs to cut it by half to meet the requirements of her top school choice. She asked it I would post it on here to get opinions from people who don't know her, so I said ok.

I would also be interested in hearing opinions on content, grammer, etc.

Thanks everyone.

Here it is:

As I walked towards the podium I noticed that my hands were starting to sweat and shake. When I started to speak my coaches final words to me echoed in my ear as I froze momentarily on stage. A crowd of at least three-hundred people stared back at me in anticipation of the first words that would flow out of my mouth. For weeks we had been constantly reminded that the debate would be recorded and televised throughout the week of the inauguration of Barack Obama. Then, to add to that pressure, my debate coach William Thomas instructed me immediately before the start of the competition to thank the organizers of the inaugural debate and the Smithsonian directors for holding this event, despite the fact that such a greeting had not been a part of what we had practiced and perfected over the course of the past 72 hours. This was by far the most nervous I have ever been, but this moment would soon prove my very purpose in this competition and in life. As I stood on stage past memories began to flow throughout my mind and the thought of what brought me to this very moment emerged.
Growing up in a household of seven remarkable siblings the pressure to stand out was great in my adolescent years. I remember when I was a little girl between the ages of ten and eleven I told my mother that one day I will make history. She asked me how I was planning on accomplishing this goal, and my response was that one day I will become a model, an actor, and a Lawyer. My mother quickly brought me back down to earth when she told me that I needed more realistic goals and becoming a lawyer was out of the question. That very moment I was determined to prove her wrong. My mother did not know the potential that was already developing inside her ten year old daughter. Debating was a common practice in my household and being the baby I had to learned quickly how to hold my own in a conversation. This practice would soon prove to be a valuable trait that would follow me throughout my high school career.
Having a reputation of being; argumentative, opinionated and strong-minded had its negative connotations. I was bestowed the label of "debater" in middle school that carried over into my freshman and sophomore year. However, joining my high school debate team had never occurred to me until I met Mark Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins, my sophomore English teacher, told me that it wasn’t my reputation that made him notice me, but instead it was an encounter he witnessed the first day I attended his class. When Mr. Jenkins walked into the room on the first day of class, no one even noticed due to the uproar coming from a disagreement between another student and myself. The first words Mr. Jenkins ever said to me were “yelling only shows weakness and lack of control of the situation, and if you lose control you lose the debate.” At that time his words didn’t really make any sense, but looking back , that was the first of many lessons Mark Jenkins would teach me that semester.
Growing up in a household full of kids had both advantages and disadvantages. Being the baby I had the opportunity to learn from those who can before me, including my older brother David, and the opportunity to use that information for my own gain. My brother David was one of those boys who were born with a rock for a head. David and I were always getting into some type of trouble as kids, and as we got older our love-hate relationship turned into something more. Out of all my siblings David was the only one I could tolerate being around and looking back he was the only one I could truly relate to. While nothing could have prepared me for the next major event in my life, one lesson Mr. Jenkins taught me, with all the preparation in the world, life has a funny way of throwing a curve ball right when you think you’ve figured it all out, was proven true. The day I lost my brother was the day I lost faith in myself, the world, and my reasons for pursuing a legal career. My world was brought crashing down and I started to question everything I thought I knew about life. I tried not to let my emotions take over because it would have affected my grades, and I did not want to use his memory as a reason to fail. Losing my brother made me reevaluate every decision I had made up until that point about my future, including my choice of career. I needed to learn more about the legal field and figure out if practicing law was really wanted to do with my life. During my freshman year in college, fate stepped in to offer me that very clarification.
Villanova Law School was offering a summer program for students interested in pursuing a legal career. Students who were chosen would have the opportunity to obtain knowledge of the inner workings of a legal profession and potential contacts for future career aspirations. During the PLUS program we were informed of an organization that encourages and prepares students for a legal education called CLEO. A representative from the CLEO organization informed us of their many programs that offer insight into law school. The upcoming event CLEO was hosting was the CLEO-Womble Carlyle Road to Law School Academy held at North Carolina Chapel Hill Law School. The Sophomore Summer Institute focused on preparation for law school with intensive classes to develop analytical skills. It included classes from law school faculty following the model of first year law classes in Contracts, Criminal Law, Torts, and Property. Each week was a different professor and a new challenge we had to meet. I personally felt that the moment I knew I would thrive in law school was when I met Dr. Webking. Dr. Webking was our main professor who taught logic and analytical thinking. Our main focus was analyzing philosophical texts that would help us learn how to make rigorous arguments. I learned during those four intensive weeks that I had to open my mind to a new way of thinking in order to thrive as a lawyer and more importantly as a human being.

At the Smithsonian, I glanced at my debate partner with a smirk on my face as we stood for applause. If the audience only knew what I had to go through to get to this point, they would have understood why. A month before the Inaugural Debates, my institution held a competition to select which students would participate in the debate. I placed third and was therefore an alternate who would only compete if one of the winners were unable to perform. While I could have simply walked away from the whole thing, I instead chose to believe that if it was meant for me then some way it would work out in my favor. A week before the competition I received a phone call from my debate coach, William Thomas, stating that I was needed to represent my institution. While my debate partner had weeks to prepare and perfect her positions, I was given only three days to completely immerse myself in our topic. I was thrown into a situation that would have unravel most individuals, but this was a make or break it moment for me and I know had to step up to the challenge. I came into the competition knowing that I had to prove to myself that I could handle any situation that I am up against. For those reasons, I feel that I would enhance the legal field because of my ability to see a difficult situation as an opportunity instead of an obstacle. Furthermore, I believe that Villanova is an institution that would nurture my talents and advance my legal career. I have had first-hand experience of the exceptional faculty and staff Villanova has to offer, and when I think of the environment I would flourish and grow as a person Villanova is the only institution that fits the bill. I find Villanova to be a rare institution where the professors are genially passionate about teaching and being a crucial part of that student’s growth
.

CanadianWolf
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Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:21 pm

This essay is too long, too verbose & too full of irrelevant material. Debate should have taught this applicant to focus on pertinent material only. This personal statement--even if cut in half--is likely to hurt this student's law school applications because of the student's demonstrated inability to focus on pertinent material.
On the positive side, the writing is clear.

P.S. Much of this writing could serve as an example of what not to do in one's law school personal statement.

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

Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby gregthomas77 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:29 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:This essay is too long, too verbose & too full of irrelevant material. Debate should have taught this applicant to focus on pertinent material only. This personal statement--even if cut in half--is likely to hurt this student's law school applications because of the student's demonstrated inability to focus on pertinent material.
On the positive side, the writing is clear.

P.S. Much of this writing could serve as an example of what not to do in one's law school personal statement.


Agreed. What would you suggest she cut? The point of putting it on here is that she is too close to her essay and feels like there is nothing to let go of. I am hoping that suggestions from someone else might help validate what those of us around her are telling her.

CanadianWolf
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Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:35 pm

When I read the essay paragraph by paragraph, I thought that paragraph one could be deleted entirely, the same for paragraph two, then three until everything was deleted. Although the writing style is clear, the content is not appropriate for a law school personal statement. Additionally, the writer reveals characteristics that raise maturity concerns.
My best suggestion is that this applicant look over law school application books at Borders or Barnes & Nobles in addition to reading the personal statement section on this--TLS--website.

Law school, like debate, is in large part about making one's point in an effective manner; usually this means developing & expressing a theme in a concise fashion comprised of crisp, clear sentences.

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amers73
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Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby amers73 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:47 pm

Agreed with CanadianWolf. The writing is clear, but it isn't directed. I never get a concrete sense of what will make the writer excel at law school. I think this needs to be completely rewritten.

gregthomas77
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Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby gregthomas77 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:54 pm

amers73 wrote:Agreed with CanadianWolf. The writing is clear, but it isn't directed. I never get a concrete sense of what will make the writer excel at law school. I think this needs to be completely rewritten.


OK, what elements should she keep?

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amers73
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Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby amers73 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:03 pm

I think she needs to change how she talks about "competition" and talk more about "drive", and how she can achieve based on the drive that she has shown. I get more of a sense of hunger for competition which is off-putting. (I wrote my personal statement about competing in NCAA and individual sports so I know it can be hard to find a balance between the two).

EX. "My mother quickly brought me back down to earth when she told me that I needed more realistic goals and becoming a lawyer was out of the question. That very moment I was determined to prove her wrong."

The part about Villanova and UNC can be completely deleted, law schools want to know about her not law programs she has participated in.

She brings in Mr. Jenkins and the one of the lessons he taught her and then he abruptly leaves the story.

I might be able to decide what should be kept if this was more neat and concise.
*Edit* Basically I think she needs to more clearly and bluntly state why she will be successful in law school.

Plan2008
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Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby Plan2008 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:51 pm

gregthomas77 wrote:I have a student who has written a personal statement, and she needs to cut it by half to meet the requirements of her top school choice. She asked it I would post it on here to get opinions from people who don't know her, so I said ok.

I would also be interested in hearing opinions on content, grammer, etc.

Thanks everyone.

Here it is:

As I walked towards the podium I noticed that my hands were starting to sweat and shake. When I started to speak my coaches final words to me echoed in my ear as I froze momentarily on stage. A crowd of at least three-hundred people stared back at me in anticipation of the first words that would flow out of my mouth. For weeks we had been constantly reminded that the debate would be recorded and televised throughout the week of the inauguration of Barack Obama. Then, to add to that pressure, my debate coach William Thomas instructed me immediately before the start of the competition to thank the organizers of the inaugural debate and the Smithsonian directors for holding this event, despite the fact that such a greeting had not been a part of what we had practiced and perfected over the course of the past 72 hours. This was by far the most nervous I have ever been, but this moment would soon prove my very purpose in this competition and in life. As I stood on stage past memories began to flow throughout my mind and the thought of what brought me to this very moment emerged. I was on the debate team, and despite the fact that I get really nervous in public speaking situations, I succeeding in a really prestigious event.


Growing up in a household of seven remarkable siblings the pressure to stand out was great in my adolescent years. I remember when I was a little girl between the ages of ten and eleven I told my mother that one day I will make history. She asked me how I was planning on accomplishing this goal, and my response was that one day I will become a model, an actor, and a Lawyer. My mother quickly brought me back down to earth when she told me that I needed more realistic goals and becoming a lawyer was out of the question. That very moment I was determined to prove her wrong. My mother did not know the potential that was already developing inside her ten year old daughter. Debating was a common practice in my household and being the baby I had to learned quickly how to hold my own in a conversation. This practice would soon prove to be a valuable trait that would follow me throughout my high school career. Having seven siblings, I learned early that I needed to become skilled at making myself heard. [/color]


Having a reputation of being; argumentative, opinionated and strong-minded had its negative connotations. I was bestowed the label of "debater" in middle school that carried over into my freshman and sophomore year. However, joining my high school debate team had never occurred to me until I met Mark Jenkins. I am nasty and unpleasant to be around. Mr. Jenkins, my sophomore English teacher, told me that it wasn’t my reputation that made him notice me, but instead it was an encounter he witnessed the first day I attended his class. When Mr. Jenkins walked into the room on the first day of class, no one even noticed due to the uproar coming from a disagreement between another student and myself. Mr Jenkins noticed one such incident where I was being an idiot and left me with an indelable lesson, The first words Mr. Jenkins ever said to me were “yelling only shows weakness and lack of control of the situation, and if you lose control you lose the debate.” At that time his words didn’t really make any sense, but looking back , that was the first of many lessons Mark Jenkins would teach me that semester.


Growing up in a household full of kids had both advantages and disadvantages. Being the baby I had the opportunity to learn from those who can before me, including my older brother David, and the opportunity to use that information for my own gain. My brother David was one of those boys who were born with a rock for a head. David and I were always getting into some type of trouble as kids, and as we got older our love-hate relationship turned into something more. Out of all my siblings David was the only one I could tolerate being around and looking back he was the only one I could truly relate to. My borther David and I were two peas in a pod, and when we had nobody else, we had eachother. While nothing could have prepared me for the next major event in my life, one lesson Mr. Jenkins taught me, with all the preparation in the world, life has a funny way of throwing a curve ball right when you think you’ve figured it all out, was proven true.When David passed away--I'm not going to tell you why or how even though you really want to know--. The day I lost my brother was the dayI lost faith in myself, the world, and my reasons for pursuing a legal career. My world was brought crashing down and I started to question everything I thought I knew about life. I tried not to let my emotions take over because it would have affected my grades, and I did not want to use his memory as a reason to fail. Losing my brother made me reevaluate every decision I had made up until that point about my future, including my choice of career. I needed to learn more about the legal field and figure out if practicing law was really wanted to do with my life. During my freshman year in college, fate stepped in to offer me that very clarification. Even though I lost my faith I didnt lose my faith or give up. And even though I questioned every decision I made including practicing law, I still felt compelled to learn even more about law. (I know it sounds screwy but this is exactly what you are saying)

Villanova Law School was offering a summer program for students interested in pursuing a legal career. Students who were chosen would have the opportunity to obtain knowledge of the inner workings of a legal profession and potential contacts for future career aspirations. During the PLUS program we were informed of an organization that encourages and prepares students for a legal education called CLEO. A representative from the CLEO organization informed us of their many programs that offer insight into law school. The upcoming event CLEO was hosting was the CLEO-Womble Carlyle Road to Law School Academy held at North Carolina Chapel Hill Law School. The Sophomore Summer Institute focused on preparation for law school with intensive classes to develop analytical skills. It included classes from law school faculty following the model of first year law classes in Contracts, Criminal Law, Torts, and Property. Each week was a different professor and a new challenge we had to meet. I personally felt that the moment I knew I would thrive in law school was when I met Dr. Webking. Dr. Webking was our main professor who taught logic and analytical thinking. Our main focus was analyzing philosophical texts that would help us learn how to make rigorous arguments. I learned during those four intensive weeks that I had to open my mind to a new way of thinking in order to thrive as a lawyer and more importantly as a human being. I took a summer pre-law program that cathartically instructed me to open my mind to a new way of thinking so I could be a great lawyer and human being, whatever that means. (All the program details is a waste of your time and mine and unrelated to you coming to my law school)


At the Smithsonian, I glanced at my debate partner with a smirk wry grin on my face as we stood for applause the crowd rose in ovation. If the audience only knew what I had to go through to get to this point, they would have understood why. A month before the Inaugural Debates, my institution held a competition to select which students would participate in the debate. I placed third and was therefore an alternate who would only compete if one of the winners were unable to perform. While I could have simply walked away from the whole thing, I instead chose to believe that if it was meant for me then some way it would work out in my favor. Though I was not slotted to participate in this event, A week before the competition I received a phone call from my debate coach, William Thomas, stating that I was needed offering me the opportunity to represent my institution. While my debate partner other competitors had weeks to prepare and perfect hertheir positions, I was given only three days to prepare completely immerse myself in our topic. I was thrown into a situation that would have unravel most individuals, but this was a make or break it moment for me and I know had to step up to the challenge. I came into the competition knowing that I had to prove to myself that I could handle any situation that I am up against.For those reasons, I feel that I would enhance the legal field because of my ability to see a difficult situation as an opportunity instead of an obstacle. Furthermore, I believe that Villanova is an institution that would nurture my talents and advance my legal career. I have had first-hand experience of the exceptional faculty and staff Villanova has to offer, and when I think of the environment I would flourish and grow as a person Villanova is the only institution that fits the bill. I find Villanova to be a rare institution where the professors are genially passionate about teaching and being a crucial part of that student’s growth wrongly believe Villanova is some magical legal place.




It's an okay story but the way written, I believe a net negative to an application. PS should show you can write, not explain you are a great debater. Sorry about your brother by the way. If you want to use your brothers death as a reason for some epiphany, you will have to do a much better job of developing that. I don't think you can, so I would yank it. But if you can, fine. I put some wiseass comments in the edit bc I believe, IMHO that is what an AdCom reader will be thinking--replace this text with this summary.
Last edited by Plan2008 on Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:15 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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crumpetsandtea
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Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby crumpetsandtea » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:01 pm

I completely agree with what the people before me have said, but I'll also comment on the actual text of the PS. My comments are primarily RE: content, there were a bunch of grammar errors I didn't bother to address.

gregthomas77 wrote:As I walked towards the podium I noticed that my hands were starting to sweat and shake. When I started to speak my coaches final words to me echoed in my ear as I froze momentarily on stage. A crowd of at least three-hundred people stared back at me in anticipation of the first words that would flow out of my mouth. For weeks we had been constantly reminded that the debate would be recorded and televised throughout the week of the inauguration of Barack Obama. (This isn't particularly compelling or necessary because she doesn't explain why it's important enough that the fact that it HAPPENS to be the week before the election would mean that people would be watching or that this debate is related to the inauguration at all. For all we know, it might as well have been a random debate televised on the local city council channel. Without such qualifiers, this sentence is pointless and seems self-congratulatory) Then, to add to that pressure, my debate coach William Thomas instructed me immediately before the start of the competition to thank the organizers of the inaugural debate and the Smithsonian directors for holding this event, despite the fact that such a greeting had not been a part of what we had practiced and perfected over the course of the past 72 hours. (Okay I'm sorry but from one debater to another, if you can't handle a simple thank you before a speech because you haven't "perfected and practiced" it, you can't be a very good debater :\ This totally casts the writer in a negative light--see past comments about the PS highlighting potential immaturity issues) This was by far the most nervous I have ever been, but this moment would soon prove my very purpose in this competition and in life. As I stood on stage past memories began to flow throughout my mind and the thought of what brought me to this very moment emerged.

Growing up in a household of seven remarkable siblings the pressure to stand out was great in my adolescent years. I remember when I was a little girl between the ages of ten and eleven I told my mother that one day I will make history. She asked me how I was planning on accomplishing this goal, and my response was that one day I will become a model, an actor, and a Lawyer. My mother quickly brought me back down to earth when she told me that I needed more realistic goals and becoming a lawyer was out of the question. (LOL so her mom was like "oh yeah model/actor no problem, but LAW IS A NO GO"? I find that hard to believe. This makes the whole scene seem 1) very contrived or 2) not very spectacular or out of the ordinary...we all wanted to be ballerinas/actors/models/writers/lawyers/doctors/astronauts when we were kids. That's what kids do, they dream about the future, and usually their goals change by the week if not the day. There's no solid indication that you actually did anything that would indicate you wanted to be a lawyer. Arguing at home =/= anything even close to formal debate, much less litigation.) That very moment I was determined to prove her wrong. My mother did not know the potential that was already developing inside her ten year old daughter. Debating was a common practice in my household and being the baby I had to learned quickly how to hold my own in a conversation. This practice would soon prove to be a valuable trait that would follow me throughout my high school career.

Having a reputation of being; argumentative, opinionated and strong-minded had its negative connotations. (This sentence makes me think the writer is only pursuing law because she was stereotyped as being 'argumentative and opinionated' as a kid. That's a terrible reason for going into law. See, again, the comments RE: immaturity issues. This makes me think the writer doesn't understand what the field of law actually requires.) I was bestowed the label of "debater" in middle school that carried over into my freshman and sophomore year. However, joining my high school debate team had never occurred to me until I met Mark Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins, my sophomore English teacher, told me that it wasn’t my reputation that made him notice me, but instead it was an encounter he witnessed the first day I attended his class. When Mr. Jenkins walked into the room on the first day of class, no one even noticed due to the uproar coming from a disagreement between another student and myself. The first words Mr. Jenkins ever said to me were “yelling only shows weakness and lack of control of the situation, and if you lose control you lose the debate.” At that time his words didn’t really make any sense, but looking back , that was the first of many lessons Mark Jenkins would teach me that semester. (This might be an interesting topic to pursue--her change from associating yelling/how she argues at home to focusing on logical arguments to make her point, and the accompanying change in maturity level that would make her law school ready. Unfortunately, she drops this right away and moves back into her childhood experiences. This PS has been jumping all over the place--debate before inauguration to childhood to starting as a debater to childhood again...there's no focal point. Pick one thing and stick to it.)

Growing up in a household full of kids had both advantages and disadvantages. Being the baby I had the opportunity to learn from those who can before me, including my older brother David, and the opportunity to use that information for my own gain. My brother David was one of those boys who were born with a rock for a head. David and I were always getting into some type of trouble as kids, and as we got older our love-hate relationship turned into something more. Out of all my siblings David was the only one I could tolerate being around and looking back he was the only one I could truly relate to. While nothing could have prepared me for the next major event in my life, one lesson Mr. Jenkins taught me, with all the preparation in the world, life has a funny way of throwing a curve ball right when you think you’ve figured it all out, was proven true. (This whole paragraph thus far has read like a stream of consciousness re-telling of the writer's life story. :\) The day I lost my brother was the day I lost faith in myself, the world, and my reasons for pursuing a legal career. (Again, this COULD be an interesting point to build a PS off of, but it doesn't work here, because, 1) the writer hasn't even told us what her reasons are [because she's argumentative/her mom told her it was hard? ...these are not good reasons], so 'losing her reasons' doesn't evoke any sort of emotion, and 2) her bringing up her brother in the first place seems out of place and strange, given the 2 paragraphs that preceded this one...again, trying to do too much in too little space) My world was brought crashing down and I started to question everything I thought I knew about life. I tried not to let my emotions take over because it would have affected my grades, and I did not want to use his memory as a reason to fail. Losing my brother made me reevaluate every decision I had made up until that point about my future, including my choice of career. I needed to learn more about the legal field and figure out if practicing law was really wanted to do with my life. During my freshman year in college, fate stepped in to offer me that very clarification. (This is ANOTHER possible idea to fashion a PS on. So far, she has 3 PS's worth of stories shoved into one, and we STILL have no idea why she really wants to go to law beyond totally childish and immature moments that happened to her in grade school. Plus, in the end, none of the stories are particularly compelling because we're rushed through them and pushed into the next story with no warning. Narrow it down!)

Villanova Law School was offering a summer program for students interested in pursuing a legal career. Students who were chosen would have the opportunity to obtain knowledge of the inner workings of a legal profession and potential contacts for future career aspirations. During the PLUS program we were informed of an organization that encourages and prepares students for a legal education called CLEO. A representative from the CLEO organization informed us of their many programs that offer insight into law school. The upcoming event CLEO was hosting was the CLEO-Womble Carlyle Road to Law School Academy held at North Carolina Chapel Hill Law School. The Sophomore Summer Institute focused on preparation for law school with intensive classes to develop analytical skills. It included classes from law school faculty following the model of first year law classes in Contracts, Criminal Law, Torts, and Property. Each week was a different professor and a new challenge we had to meet. (The entire bolded part reads like something that would be on Villanova Law's 'Info About our Summer Program' website page. It tells us about the program but nothing about the person, or why she would be well-equipped for law, or why an adcomm should accept her into their school.) I personally felt that the moment I knew I would thrive in law school was when I met Dr. Webking. Dr. Webking was our main professor who taught logic and analytical thinking. (Mark this down as Potential PS Topic #4...again, 3 sentences is not enough to make us give a crap about Dr. Webking or the profound effect he had on the writer's life.) Our main focus was analyzing philosophical texts that would help us learn how to make rigorous arguments. I learned during those four intensive weeks that I had to open my mind to a new way of thinking in order to thrive as a lawyer and more importantly as a human being.

At the Smithsonian, I glanced at my debate partner with a smirk on my face as we stood for applause. If the audience only knew what I had to go through to get to this point, they would have understood why. (A smirk seems haughty/cocky/stuck up. The bolded sentence sets us up for a story about the author overcoming a hardship, when really it's just that she didn't place high enough and happened to be chosen last minute...not very compelling. Also, I appreciate her attempt to try to wrap up the PS by reflecting back on the intro, but at this point we've practically forgotten what the intro was about because NOTHING in the middle referenced back to it AT ALL, which makes this conclusion ineffective and weak.) A month before the Inaugural Debates, my institution held a competition to select which students would participate in the debate. I placed third and was therefore an alternate who would only compete if one of the winners were unable to perform. While I could have simply walked away from the whole thing, I instead chose to believe that if it was meant for me then some way it would work out in my favor. A week before the competition I received a phone call from my debate coach, William Thomas, stating that I was needed to represent my institution. While my debate partner had weeks to prepare and perfect her positions, I was given only three days to completely immerse myself in our topic. I was thrown into a situation that would have unravel most individuals, but this was a make or break it moment for me and I know had to step up to the challenge. (How was this make it or break it? What is this competition even about? Why should we care? What effect did it have on the writer's life? What does this have to do with law school? These are all questions left unanswered by every single point brought up in this PS, but if addressed, could make any one of the points in the PS into a very strong PS of its own. Take a good look at the 4-5 different topics covered in this PS and pick one, brainstorm and ask yourself questions like the ones I just tossed out, and then come up with a PS based on that.) I came into the competition knowing that I had to prove to myself that I could handle any situation that I am up against. For those reasons, I feel that I would enhance the legal field because of my ability to see a difficult situation as an opportunity instead of an obstacle. (because your decision to be part of a debate competition shows this...how? Remeber, you're going up against PS's about people overcoming poverty/being single parents during school/dealing with tragedy or abuse. While you DO NOT need any of those experiences to write an amazing PS, it comes off as cocky and disingenuous if you so blatantly try to pass off 'almost missing out on a debate competition' as an obstacle worthy of qualifying you to be a good lawyer, when you haven't even shown us why we should give a crap about the competition in the first place.) Furthermore, I believe that Villanova is an institution that would nurture my talents and advance my legal career. I have had first-hand experience of the exceptional faculty and staff Villanova has to offer, and when I think of the environment I would flourish and grow as a person Villanova is the only institution that fits the bill. I find Villanova to be a rare institution where the professors are genially passionate about teaching and being a crucial part of that student’s growth
.
(Is she trying to get the adcomms to accept her into their school, or is she trying to get them to attend Villanova's summer program?)


I'm sorry if this is a little blunt/harsh. I hope it's helpful in explaining why literally NONE of this PS can be salvaged...she should honestly start again by brainstorming ONE cohesive topic she can stick to (there are like 4 or 5 in this PS alone she could work off of) and focus more on how that topic/event changed HER and made HER prepared for law school.
Last edited by crumpetsandtea on Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

gregthomas77
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Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby gregthomas77 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:02 pm

It's an okay story but the way written, I believe a net negative to an application. PS should show you can write, not explain you are a great debater. Sorry about your brother by the way. If you want to use your brothers death as a reason for some epiphany, you will have to do a much better job of developing that. I don't think you can, so I would yank it. But if you can, fine. I put some wiseass comments in the edit bc I believe, IMHO that is what an AdCom reader will be thinking--replace this text with this summary.


The smartass comments had me rolling.

In all seriousness, I told her the part about her brother probably doesn't help her.

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crumpetsandtea
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Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby crumpetsandtea » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:10 pm

gregthomas77 wrote:
It's an okay story but the way written, I believe a net negative to an application. PS should show you can write, not explain you are a great debater. Sorry about your brother by the way. If you want to use your brothers death as a reason for some epiphany, you will have to do a much better job of developing that. I don't think you can, so I would yank it. But if you can, fine. I put some wiseass comments in the edit bc I believe, IMHO that is what an AdCom reader will be thinking--replace this text with this summary.


The smartass comments had me rolling.

In all seriousness, I told her the part about her brother probably doesn't help her.


TBF, not much in this PS does help her. :\

gregthomas77
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Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby gregthomas77 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:40 pm

Assuming she wants to work with what is in the statement (because I know she does), does this work better/worse? (Worked off of 2008's edits)


As I walked towards the podium at the Inaugural Debate Series, I noticed that my hands were starting to sweat and shake. When I started to speak my coach's final words to me echoed in my ear as I froze momentarily on stage. After weeks of being constantly reminded that the debate would be well attended by dignitaries who had come to the Smithsonian Institute on the eve of President Obama's inauguration to watch the event, my debate coach thrust onto me at the last second that I had to make substantial changes to my well rehearsed speech. At that moment I was the most nervous I have ever been, but this was my opportunity to be great. As I stood at the podium, several events that I brought me to this point began to flash through my mind.

Having seven siblings, I learned early that I needed to become skilled at making myself heard. Of course, having a reputation of being argumentative, opinionated and strong-minded had its negative connotations. I was bestowed the label of "debater" in middle school that carried over into my freshman and sophomore year. However, joining my high school debate team had never occurred to me until I met Mark Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins, my sophomore English teacher, told me that it wasn’t my reputation that made him notice me, but instead it was an encounter he witnessed the first day I attended his class. When Mr. Jenkins walked into the room on the first day of class, no one even noticed due to the uproar coming from a disagreement between another student and myself. Mr. Jenkins noticed this incident and interjected with what would be the first of many lessons he would teach me when he noted, “yelling only shows weakness and lack of control of the situation, and if you lose control you lose the debate.” Over the next couple of years, Mr. Jenkins taught me many lessons about how to be a better, more focused version of myself. Unfortunately, Mr. Jenkins also taught me another lesson that would become pertinent in the near future when he told me that, “life has a funny way of throwing a curve ball right when you think you’ve figured it all out”.

Growing up, my brother David and I were two peas in a pod, and when we had nobody else, we had each other. When David passed away unexpectedly during my freshman year in college, I lost faith in myself, the world, and my reasons for pursuing a legal career. My world was brought crashing down and I started to question everything I thought I knew about life. Even though I lost my direction, I did not lose my faith or give up. And even though I questioned every decision I made including practicing law, I still felt compelled to learn even more about law.

With that goal in mind, I took every opportunity to explore the legal profession. I attended the PLUS program at Villanova law school which led to me finding and participating in the CLEO-Womble Carlyle Road to Law School program held at UNC-Chapel Hill. That program has a huge effect on me as it cathartically instructed me to open my mind to a new way of thinking so I could be a better human being and, if I chose to pursue it, a better lawyer.

After the debate at the Smithsonian was finished, I glanced at my debate partner with a wry grin on my face as the crowd rose in ovation. If the audience only knew what I had to go through to get to this point, they would have understood why. Though I was not slotted to participate in this event, a week before the competition I received a phone call offering me the opportunity to represent my institution. While my debate partner and the other competitors had weeks to prepare and perfect their positions, I was given only three days to prepare. I was thrown into a situation that would have unravel most individuals, but this was a make or break it moment for me and I had risen to the occasion. For those reasons, I feel that I would enhance the legal field because of my ability to see a difficult situation as an opportunity instead of an obstacle.

gregthomas77
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Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby gregthomas77 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:47 pm

PS, the last part of the statement is obviously meant for the version of this statement she plans to send to Villanova.

gregthomas77
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Re: PS Needs to be cut down (by about half)

Postby gregthomas77 » Fri Feb 04, 2011 12:16 am

Thanks everyone for the input. I will share this with her tomorrow. I am also taking her to a prelaw advisor I trust (the one at our university isn't that helpful to students), so that should help too.




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