Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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aguaman13
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Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby aguaman13 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 12:24 pm

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sparty99
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby sparty99 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:26 pm

This is too wordy and a slow read.

Also, stop with the imagery - just get to the point. "block the pungent stench assaulting my nose," "dead animals lay in piles amongst the skeletal live ones, " "tattered canvas sheets," "whipped in the putrid wind" "I peppered," "fulcrum I change"

Its unclear how you becoming a lawyer will help the people in El Milagro. Also, this sounds like a "I want to save the world essay" - rolls eyes....

CanadianWolf
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:35 pm

Consider: "...flashed back into my mind instantly magnifying the power of the experience.". There are over a dozen other phrases that need similiar refinement.

Sparty 99 summed it up well by writing that your essay is "...too wordy and a slow read."

This writing contains some serious errors--the most notable of which is that it presents a stronger case for pursuing a master's degree in public policy than for seeking a law degree despite your assertion to the contrary.

This personal statement is clearly written by one with a young, idealistic outlook. That is fine because you are young & idealistic even in the face of shocking reality. What is not fine, however, is your "young" writing style that fails to respect the reader's maturity & intellect. Subtle expressions can be more effective than sharing every thought in your head.

Try your university writing center; a good editor can easily convert this wordy diatribe into a powerful personal statement.

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aguaman13
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby aguaman13 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:35 pm

sparty99 wrote:This is too wordy and a slow read.

Also, stop with the imagery - just get to the point. "block the pungent stench assaulting my nose," "dead animals lay in piles amongst the skeletal live ones, " "tattered canvas sheets," "whipped in the putrid wind" "I peppered," "fulcrum I change"

Its unclear how you becoming a lawyer will help the people in El Milagro. Also, this sounds like a "I want to save the world essay" - rolls eyes....


Thanks for the feedback.

A few questions:

Does the experience and its impact not matter at all? The imagery is not some flowery language that I sprinkled on a sad story. There was a pungent stench, dead animals and tattered sheets...How little time should I spend explaining the conditions that moved me?

Regarding not being clear how law brings me back to El Milagro, "I will focus locally by advocating for equal access to quality education and and fair employment--two of the most important pillars of social justice that my studies in social science pointed to."Later, I hope to expand my impact to the policy level in order to shape the system in a manner that provides the maximum opportunity for people to reach their potential. Finally, I hope to take the sum of those experiences and take the effort globally."

I want to practice P.I. law, get into politics and eventually earn a level of power/influence with which I can make sustainable policy decisions aimed at reducing poverty and inequality both nationally and internationally. Is this not apparent?

Finally, is it never alright to be idealistic and in pursuit of those ideals? The tone you are criticising is precisely what I would like to convey. I sincerely would like to make the world "better" and believe that a law degree would be the most effective tool in allowing me to do so. I'm applying with the explicit desire to study and practice public interest law. Is this really a mistake?

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aguaman13
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby aguaman13 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:43 pm

Consider: "...flashed back into my mind instantly magnifying the power of the experience.". There are over a dozen other phrases that need similiar refinement.


May I ask how you would phrase this?

This writing contains some serious errors--the most notable of which is that it presents a stronger case for pursuing a master's degree in public policy than for seeking a law degree despite your assertion to the contrary.


I will attempt to trim other areas and spend more time explaining why I chose law.


This personal statement is clearly written by one with a young, idealistic outlook. That is fine because you are young & idealistic even in the face of shocking reality. What is not fine, however, is your "young" writing style that fails to respect the reader's maturity & intellect. Subtle expressions can be more effective than sharing every thought in your head.


This has been edited by three people; a professional writer and two attorneys. The attorneys appreciated the tone and the writer thought that this was a better piece of writing than another PS that I wrote, which has received fair reviews on here. May I ask how I am specifically insulting your intellect with this statement? Again, I am not attempting to sway anyone with my idealism, I am simply attempting to convey who I am, what moves me and what I plan to do about it.

BlueDiamond
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby BlueDiamond » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:45 pm

aguaman13 wrote:
sparty99 wrote:This is too wordy and a slow read.

Also, stop with the imagery - just get to the point. "block the pungent stench assaulting my nose," "dead animals lay in piles amongst the skeletal live ones, " "tattered canvas sheets," "whipped in the putrid wind" "I peppered," "fulcrum I change"

Its unclear how you becoming a lawyer will help the people in El Milagro. Also, this sounds like a "I want to save the world essay" - rolls eyes....


Thanks for the feedback.

A few questions:

Does the experience and its impact not matter at all? The imagery is not some flowery language that I sprinkled on a sad story. There was a pungent stench, dead animals and tattered sheets...How little time should I spend explaining the conditions that moved me?

Regarding not being clear how law brings me back to El Milagro, "I will focus locally by advocating for equal access to quality education and and fair employment--two of the most important pillars of social justice that my studies in social science pointed to."Later, I hope to expand my impact to the policy level in order to shape the system in a manner that provides the maximum opportunity for people to reach their potential. Finally, I hope to take the sum of those experiences and take the effort globally."

I want to practice P.I. law, get into politics and eventually earn a level of power/influence with which I can make sustainable policy decisions aimed at reducing poverty and inequality both nationally and internationally. Is this not apparent?

Finally, is it never alright to be idealistic and in pursuit of those ideals? The tone you are criticising is precisely what I would like to convey. I sincerely would like to make the world "better" and believe that a law degree would be the most effective tool in allowing me to do so. I'm applying with the explicit desire to study and practice public interest law. Is this really a mistake?


everyone here hates when people ask for criticism then complain about it.. if you like your PS as is then send it in as is

first.. it is very flowery writing.. youre using hundred dollar words where a ten dollar word suffices

second.. we can read you dont have to quote something we already saw.. the poster was simply saying it is a pretty lofty goal and that your "save the world and eradicate poverty" attitude is not likely something that you can achieve regardless of how passionate you are about it

third.. nothing wrong with idealism.. just needs to mix with something that is also realistic.. you actually think you can fix the problems of economic inequality in the world? i know i dont think you can.. stating that you want to enter public interest law because this experience brought those realities to life for you is okay.. but to say you are going to go back and fix them and then fix the rest of the world is not

sparty99
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby sparty99 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:58 pm

You need to lose the Charles Dickens writing and get to the point. Your imagery is not effective.

Your story sounds naive. I've been to many countries and seen the exact same thing you have. Also, the AdCom's have heard this story before. The American travels to a foreign country sees the horrible living conditions and decides that they alone can save the world. ROLLS EYES.

You need to come correct. You were in Greenpeace? I have no idea how long you were traveling, what countries you went to, etc, etc, etc. You waste time trying to make me see the imagery, when my focus should be on your experience at Greenpeace and how that directly ties into your interest in law. And personally, I don't see how an AMERICAN lawyer can bring about justice to people in a FOREIGN COUNTRY. Not even Obama can do that.

You should probably lose the "save the world" mantra. You sound too naive. Focus on what you actually did in these countries. Did you build a hut? Did you teach people english? Did you teach them how to run a business? Quit with this imagery. Anyone who did habitat for hummanity or the peace corp can state the same thing. You need to stand out by explaining how you contributed overseas, how that experience has translated back home (do you volunteer in america), and how that will work will translate into a law degree. I don't see how your experience abroad translates to fair employment law or better education.

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crumpetsandtea
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby crumpetsandtea » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:29 pm

sparty99 wrote: And personally, I don't see how an AMERICAN lawyer can bring about justice to people in a FOREIGN COUNTRY. Not even Obama can do that.


+1,000,000 to this. I think you're misunderstanding the work that a lawyer does. OP, I have a PS about my experience with public interest work and how it has motivated me to do law as well, but the important difference is that it discusses that I left activism for law because I considered activism and policy work to be flawed in a way law wasn't.

You have to realize that as an attorney, you will not be doing anything similar to what you've done in the past with Greenpeace. Being a lawyer is about paperwork and litigation, not about traveling to different countries or lobbying/influencing policy. Generally, lawyers work within the bounds of existing law, they do not create new laws or develop policy ideas. That's the role of a politician, activist, or lobbyist.

If you're planning to finish school and do something grandiose regarding poverty in your life (extremely commendable), please don't go to law school. I think your idealism is something this country needs, but you won't be effective if you pursue law. Just take a step back and try to answer this question: which PI groups have jobs tailored to attorneys that will let you do what you want to do? (The answer will be 'few to none', I believe). You could probably achieve your goals more effectively by pursuing a master's in policy, as someone mentioned before.

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aguaman13
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby aguaman13 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:20 pm

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CanadianWolf
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:37 pm

If two attorneys & a professional writer edited your essay in the original post, then I am surprised.

Above you asked how I would phrase a portion of your essay that I already rephrased--and you quoted--so I am unsure of what you are asking.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:42 pm

Your second essay suffers from the same problems as your first--too wordy & a slow read. I read the first two paragraphs & skimmed the rest. Consider deleting the entire first paragraph which is just a bunch of wasted words leading nowhere. The rest really needs refinement because of excess words & excessive content.

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crumpetsandtea
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby crumpetsandtea » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:14 am

Note: You requested ruthless criticism.

aguaman13 wrote:Two years ago, I left my position as a _____ andnearly three-hundred students who looked to me, their coach, for inspiration and leadership.  It was an incredibly difficult decision, but one I knew it was time to make.  We had accomplished our goals, and as fulfilling as the position was, I realized there was something missing. I needed to challenge myself.  I needed to do more. I needed to explore my heritage, and more actively combat the social problems that I have dedicated so much time to studying. Iembarked on an ongoing nine nation, twenty-three state journey spanning nine nations and twenty-three states. On this journey, I hoped to findseekingmeaningful connections to as many people, cultures, and landscapes that I could affordthat my savings account and stamina could afford me. This has resulted in a life-altering education that no number of books, lectures or documentaries could ever have given me.

Commentary - The bit about how you were an 'inspiration' and a 'leader' sounds cocky because you give nothing to back it up. Also, it's totally superfluous. Your comment 'I realized something was missing. I needed to challenge myself.' is trite, and the following comments are wordy and also superfluous. TBH this whole paragraph is sort of pointless, I have no fucking clue what the heck kind of journey you're going on, which makes your statement that iw as 'life-altering' totally meaningless to me, and probably everyone else reading it. Again, the last sentence is trite. You claim a lot of things in this first paragraph that don't elicit the reaction you intended because you haven't set up the reader to believe them yet.

The Islāmic prophet Muhammad once said, “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled.” My journey through ____/with ____ has taught me to understand the truth in his words. To be honest though the use of quotes is a tricky thing in a PS because it sounds trite and you're wasting valuable space using someone else's words when you could be using your own. The adcomms want to read your writing, not Muhammad's.I now know why. It seems as if every step of this journey has taught me a different lesson, delivered in a new and refreshing way that opens my eyes to things I could not or had not seen before.  I experienced the rewards of discipline and dedication while trekking through the Andes in search of the rare Mountain Tapir with a team of Ecuadorian biologists.  As I partnered with these same biologists to educate their community about environmental protection, they demonstrated the beauty of sincere passion and selfless commitment.  My blind, disabled and underprivileged students in both Peru and South Korea showed me the rewards of patience as I watched them progress day-by-day.  Israeli soldiers taught me about fear and courage, as well as the grief and anxiety of war as we shared falafels just prior to praying at the Western Wall.   The underlined is pretty awesome experience--too bad you skim through all of it so fast that it just feels like random words tossed out at us. If you picked ONE meaningful experience from your time abroad and focused on it, then this would be much more powerful. As it is, it sounds like "Look at all the cool things I did while I was abroad! You don't even know why I was abroad or what program I was with, so this kinda just sounds like I traveled for the hell of it and now I'm trying to pass it off as me doing something good for the world!!!!" Again, you're trying to bring out emotion in the reader that you haven't set up well enough to actually create. Just days later, I was empathizing with the "other side" when my aunt and cousins brought me to a dissertation at their Mosque about the pain and suffering being experienced by the Palestinians. Perhaps most powerfully, I came face-to-face with heartbreaking poverty.  First, when I witnessed my Latino brethren living and working in the ironically named "El Milagro" garbage dump in Peru and later in the shocking “tent cities” that sit just a short drive from Honolulu. In fact, it was the power of those experiences, and the subsequent lessons what subsequent lessons? For all we know you learned 'I want to be a corporate dick so I never end up like these po' people' I learned about what needed to be done in order to help those people ORLY?????? Holy crap we should make you an advisor to Obama then, cause I don't know that ANYONE truly knows what exactly needs to be done to help those in poverty/change their situation, except you of course., that led to my decision to attend law school. Because you realized practicing law in America was going to help people across the world how exactly?

I have laughed and cried, been well-fed and hungry, embraced and shunned and felt powerful and scared.  I even fell in love and got married along the way. lol is this a romantic comedy pitch?  My world has been forever changed, and I am a different and far stronger individual because of it.  I have grown in wisdom and maturity, now possessing a far broader perspective. again...you haven't set us p for this to be believable at all My strengths are more potent and my weaknesses have been exposed and subsequently diminished.  My talents now have direction more worthy of my potential.  Put simply, I am a better person. What strengths/weaknesses? How were they made more potent/diminished? What talents do you have? How the fuck are you a better person (this last bit especially is a totally self-absorbed thing to say without any qualification as to why, andit makes me want to dislike you purely because you think highly enough of yourself that you think witnessing poverty in another country has 'made you a better person')? Notice that you say all this stuff and you give NO PERSONAL EVIDENCE. We still don't know ANYTHING about you. Anyone and their mother could say this shit about any experience in their life. A naive graduate could even make these claims about going through college. Why should we believe that YOUR experience is any more unique/interesting/worthy of attention than that undergrad's?

A wide-range of skills and talent made me an award winning sports coach and one of the top recruiters for Greenpeace International.  lol where the hell is this coming from? random topic jump! As a coach, I developed a vision of a tight-knit familial atmosphere that would provide the optimal setting for young people to reach their goals, and worked tirelessly until that vision was realized. Our program evolved from a decaying also-ran to a national power that annually sent students to some of the nation’s finest universities. For Greenpeace, I utilized my ability to clearly communicate sincere passion for important issues to become a national leader in garnering support to advance our cause. specifics needed here. There's not enough room for you to explain your travels + this (unless they are the same thing, in which case you've done an awful job of making that clear in this PS.) Those skills have been honed while traveling and are now aimed at advancing the causes of the underprivileged and underrepresented. My experiences abroad and diverse upbringing will provide the fuel to accomplish this goal, and I will not be deterred. This whole paragraph is out of place, like a last minute addition. The previous P flows much better into the conclusion than into this one.

Leaving behind family, friends, and a fulfilling career was not easy. However, the rewards for doing so have more than justified my decision. I left in search of a challenge and found many. ...that I guess weren't interesting enough to explain to us here... I left in hope of connecting with my roots and now feel more proud of my heritage than ever. I left to fight social injustice and have not only done that, but have been inspired to continue that fight via an education and career in law. The benefits of this quest have been so profound and numerous that despite my attempts to give back along the way, I feel as if I may never be able to reciprocate what the world and its people have done for me. However, I am intent on trying. I envision utilizing my education to fiercely defend, assist and advocate for those that are in need and also, one day, shape policy You don't do that with a law degree, sorry in a manner that provides the greatest opportunity for people to flourish. Fortunately, after having been exposed to the great education that Muhammad alluded to, the person who will emerge from this journey will be better prepared for such a challenge than ever before.


Okay, so...I get that law is a means to an end for you (you want law--> politics). But for the love of god don't SAY THAT in your PS to get into law school! Adcomms don't want people in law school who are using law to get involved in politics. They want students who want to be lawyers (okay, admittedly they just want students who can raise their USNWR numbers, but generally the idea that you're using their institution as a stepping stone might be vaguely insulting). If they don't pick up on this "I want to be a politician not a lawyer" vibe, then they will just be confused as to why you think you can create policy with a JD instead of a masters in, oh, dare I say public policy?

Additionally--this PS gives me no sense of who YOU are as an individual. I could input ANY POSSIBLE combination of life experiences/characteristics/qualities into the narrator of this PS and still have it make sense. Maybe you're a tatted up ex-con who turned his life around. Maybe you were born into an upper-middle-class family and had everything handed to you. Maybe you're a 25 year old recent grad who worked for a year before deciding to quit their job and blow their savings on a trip through the world before they got tied down with adult responsibilities. I have NO IDEA. And given how many people out there travel and are 'changed' by it (myself being one), this lack of personal identity in your personal statement is not working in your favor.

You try to tell about 324320492304823 stories about 23423049329048329423 different epiphanies you had in your life during the course of this 1 PS. Narrow it down, be more specific. So many stories bouncing around in one statement is no good.

Hope this helped.

ETA: Edited for readability...

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aguaman13
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby aguaman13 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:29 am

Commentary - The bit about how you were an 'inspiration' and a 'leader' sounds cocky because you give nothing to back it up. Also, it's totally superfluous. Your comment 'I realized something was missing. I needed to challenge myself.' is trite, and the following comments are wordy and also superfluous. TBH this whole paragraph is sort of pointless, I have no fucking clue what the heck kind of journey you're going on, which makes your statement that iw as 'life-altering' totally meaningless to me, and probably everyone else reading it. Again, the last sentence is trite. You claim a lot of things in this first paragraph that don't elicit the reaction you intended because you haven't set up the reader to believe them yet.


Thanks for being "ruthless". However, I guess I need to clarify that profanity does not equate to ruthlessness. It is more a testament to a person's limited vocabulary and a lack of confidence in their ability to articulate strong opinions.

Now, my resume more than "backs-up" my statement. In fact, my credentials were so strong as a coach that this paragraph was written because those familiar with my resume believed there would be questions about how I could leave a rewarding job that I was so good at. This is not cocky. It is a fact. I was a very good leader and consequently inspired hundreds of children. This does not seem like something that I should hide or be timid in stating.

To be honest though the use of quotes is a tricky thing in a PS because it sounds trite and you're wasting valuable space using someone else's words when you could be using your own. The adcomms want to read your writing, not Muhammad's


At this point, I don't know what to think about quotes. Half of the people on here hate them , the other half sees no problem. I get that adcomms want my words, but I also believe that the use of this quote is evidence of open-mindedness as I am Jewish and most non-Islamic people are unwilling to looking to Muhammad as a source of wisdom.

The underlined is pretty awesome experience--too bad you skim through all of it so fast that it just feels like random words tossed out at us. If you picked ONE meaningful experience from your time abroad and focused on it, then this would be much more powerful. As it is, it sounds like "Look at all the cool things I did while I was abroad! You don't even know why I was abroad or what program I was with, so this kinda just sounds like I traveled for the hell of it and now I'm trying to pass it off as me doing something good for the world!!!!" Again, you're trying to bring out emotion in the reader that you haven't set up well enough to actually create.


The first statement that I posted focused on one experience, but that wasn't the correct approach to take according to those who posted earlier. I am torn between which approach is better. That being said, I disagree with your other criticism of the passage. I already explained why I began to live, volunteer and work abroad and my resume provides the details of which organizations I worked with. I'm not trying to pass anything off as "me doing something good for the world." If you were to read the entire statement and give it some thought before jumping at the opportunity to be "ruthless" you would realize that I admit to knowing that my attempts to do good have not been adequate, but I am driven to do more in the future.

what subsequent lessons? For all we know you learned 'I want to be a corporate dick so I never end up like these po' people'


I probably should elaborate on the lessons learned, but I'd also like to think that the adcomms will be able to put two and two together and realize that the lesson you refer to is not what I learned.

ORLY?????? Holy crap we should make you an advisor to Obama then, cause I don't know that ANYONE truly knows what exactly needs to be done to help those in poverty/change their situation, except you of course.


Again, I should be more specific, but this isn't the arrogant statement that you make it out to be. I don't think my background in social science is necessary to know that access to education and fair employment are the keys to helping those in poverty find a sustainable path to a better life. Is it possible to do that for everybody right now? Probably not. However, the two situations that I referred to are not as hopeless as you believe.

Because you realized practicing law in America was going to help people across the world how exactly?


Again, a more specific plan would be helpful, but I am trying to keep this to the 2-page limit. That being said, at least 23 of our current senators have law degrees, in addition to many in the House and a humber of former Presidents. American politicians, also referred to as "lawmakers" (a law degree seems as though it may be handy in making new laws), wield incredible influence and have the power to change the lives of many, many people. An American attorney has the ability to choose a select few, either in the U.S. or abroad, and advance their cause. In both situations the answer to your question is yes.

lol is this a romantic comedy pitch?


Yes, that is exactly what I was shooting for.... or I thought that this was a fairly unique experience for one to have while abroad.

again...you haven't set us p for this to be believable at all


Really? You can't see how 2 years abroad can improve a person's maturity, wisdom and perspective? I asked for you to be ruthless, not ignorant.

What strengths/weaknesses? How were they made more potent/diminished? What talents do you have?


I am pretty sure I explain those strengths and talents in the next paragraph, and I don't plan on going into detail about my weaknesses in a P.S. That just doesn't seem like a good idea.

How the fuck are you a better person (this last bit especially is a totally self-absorbed thing to say without any qualification as to why, and it makes me want to dislike you purely because you think highly enough of yourself that you think witnessing poverty in another country has 'made you a better person')?


Again, congratulations on your ability to use profanity. The power of your message is so much more powerful thanks to that clever use of a magical four-letter word.

I should say that I am worried about your future as an attorney due to your utter inability to connect the dots in a simple 2-page personal statement. Was poverty the only thing that I witnessed? No. I don't think that it is difficult to comprehend how the myriad of experiences that I have encountered have provided me with the wisdom, maturity and perspective to be a better person.

Why should we believe that YOUR experience is any more unique/interesting/worthy of attention than that undergrad's?


This seems as if it should be so abundantly obvious to anyone even slightly familiar with the positive effects of living abroad that you don't deserve an answer.

lol where the hell is this coming from? random topic jump!


Not that random (remember the skills and abilities that I was referring to in the previous paragraph, or were you too focused on where you would next have the opportunity to curse?), but I will consider reordering things.


specifics needed here. There's not enough room for you to explain your travels + this (unless they are the same thing, in which case you've done an awful job of making that clear in this PS.)


Again, there is a resume being submitted with this.


This whole paragraph is out of place, like a last minute addition. The previous P flows much better into the conclusion than into this one.


Again, I will consider reordering, but this statement is being used in response to prompts that ask the writer to touch on prior accomplishments. That being said, I honestly think that you are so insecure and self-loathing that the mere idea of somebody mentioning prior accomplishments shuts off your ability to rationally assess the statement as an entire piece.

You don't do that with a law degree, sorry


No, you don't. I will.

Additionally--this PS gives me no sense of who YOU are as an individual. I could input ANY POSSIBLE combination of life experiences/characteristics/qualities into the narrator of this PS and still have it make sense. Maybe you're a tatted up ex-con who turned his life around. Maybe you were born into an upper-middle-class family and had everything handed to you. Maybe you're a 25 year old recent grad who worked for a year before deciding to quit their job and blow their savings on a trip through the world before they got tied down with adult responsibilities. I have NO IDEA. And given how many people out there travel and are 'changed' by it (myself being one), this lack of personal identity in your personal statement is not working in your favor.


First of all, you disregarded any mention of who I am because you found it arrogant. Second, this statement is being submitted along with a deeply personal "statement of diversity" in which I lay to rest any of the theories you have thought up. I know what the general reaction to this statement has been, and while it may not be perfect, my main concern after reading your diatribe is that I have someone as self-loathing and pessimistic as you read it.

Look, I want criticism and appreciate anybody taking the time to read my statement and offer their advice. I want them to be as brutally honest as possible. However, I am not sure that is what you did. I think you saw the topic "Wanted: Ruthless Criticism" and thought "Great! For one moment I may be able to steer my dark and depressing view of humanity away from myself and direct it at someone else while I tear them to pieces!" And I must say, as somebody interested in improving the lives of everybody, no matter how naive and stupid you may find that notion, I am glad to have offered you the opportunity to do that. Thank you for your time and you are welcome.

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applepiecrust
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby applepiecrust » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:53 am

I actually think this could turn out to be a great PS (and I am guessing you still have several months to work on it? Unless you are applying SUPER late this cycle?).

What's missing for me right now is that I cannot quite make the logical connections between the different parts of your PS. The basic message I drew from it is "I traveled to different places, I saw poverty in those different places, and now I want to change the world". I don't get a sense of how you have already started to work towards that, or if you have a deeper, firmer understanding of social justice than just "I have seen this stuff happen".
As others have said, I don't see very much of <you> in the personal statement -- what makes you tick? What makes you different than other applicants?

(Disclosure: I worked with "rag pickers" in India for three months two summers ago, working on teaching them basic language and math skills, but also developing vocational training programs, and also working with counselors and mentors to prepare modules against drug abuse, for sexual health awareness etc. I ended up getting a very strong idea of structural systems that allowed the persistence of this practice amongst the children, and also the fatality of trying to callously uproot deeply entrenched practices without addressing root causes. All of this ended up being merely a line on my resume for my application, even though it was undoubtedly a meaningful experience.)

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crumpetsandtea
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby crumpetsandtea » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:12 am

BlueDiamond wrote:everyone here hates when people ask for criticism then complain about it.. if you like your PS as is then send it in as is


Don't take my cussing personally. I do it when I'm happy too. (ie: "That cat is so fucking cute!!!!") I won't take your ad hominem attacks personally either. (: If you don't like my critiques, feel free to throw 'em all out. S'all good bro, no need to get defensive.

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aguaman13
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby aguaman13 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:24 am

And just when I thought my desire for constructive criticism was yet another example of my naivete, applepiecrust reaffirmed my faith in humanity...

Thank you for your suggestions. Which of the two statements did you read?

I am applying SUPER late to some schools. I already submitted my apps and a different P.S. to the "better schools". I have a fee waiver and am submitting to a number of schools in order to increase my options. In general, these are schools that seem to place a pretty strong emphasis on public interest law, which is obviously what I am interested in. I am just trying to get a solid 2-page statement that will work for a number of schools that have prompts similar to this:

What have been your significant personal experiences thus far, what are your reasons for pursuing a legal degree, and what are your personal and career ambitions?

Regarding the following:
What's missing for me right now is that I cannot quite make the logical connections between the different parts of your PS. The basic message I drew from it is "I traveled to different places, I saw poverty in those different places, and now I want to change the world". I don't get a sense of how you have already started to work towards that, or if you have a deeper, firmer understanding of social justice than just "I have seen this stuff happen".
As others have said, I don't see very much of <you> in the personal statement -- what makes you tick? What makes you different than other applicants?


I get this completely. I guess I am relying on my statement of diversity to answer many of those questions and connect the dots. In the S.O.D. I explain how my diverse background in terms of ethnicity, socio-economic status, etc... have influenced me and shaped my world view. I am hoping to have the two statements work together to draw a picture of the whole me. I am going to work on adding some more depth to my claim of understanding what lies at the root of these issues.

Thank you for your time.

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applepiecrust
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby applepiecrust » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:29 am

aguaman13 wrote:And just when I thought my desire for constructive criticism was yet another example of my naivete, applepiecrust reaffirmed my faith in humanity...

Thank you for your suggestions. Which of the two statements did you read?

I am applying SUPER late to some schools. I already submitted my apps and a different P.S. to the "better schools". I have a fee waiver and am submitting to a number of schools in order to increase my options. In general, these are schools that seem to place a pretty strong emphasis on public interest law, which is obviously what I am interested in. I am just trying to get a solid 2-page statement that will work for a number of schools that have prompts similar to this:

What have been your significant personal experiences thus far, what are your reasons for pursuing a legal degree, and what are your personal and career ambitions?

Regarding the following:
What's missing for me right now is that I cannot quite make the logical connections between the different parts of your PS. The basic message I drew from it is "I traveled to different places, I saw poverty in those different places, and now I want to change the world". I don't get a sense of how you have already started to work towards that, or if you have a deeper, firmer understanding of social justice than just "I have seen this stuff happen".
As others have said, I don't see very much of <you> in the personal statement -- what makes you tick? What makes you different than other applicants?


I get this completely. I guess I am relying on my statement of diversity to answer many of those questions and connect the dots. In the S.O.D. I explain how my diverse background in terms of ethnicity, socio-economic status, etc... have influenced me and shaped my world view. I am hoping to have the two statements work together to draw a picture of the whole me. I am going to work on adding some more depth to my claim of understanding what lies at the root of these issues.

Thank you for your time.


I read both and have the same general criticism for both essays.
What helped me in getting feedback for my PS and DS was not having people read one on its own, but having all my reviewers read the two as a package.

And you're welcome! Good luck!

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aguaman13
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby aguaman13 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:35 am

Don't take my cussing personally. I do it when I'm happy too. (ie: "That cat is so fucking cute!!!!") I won't take your ad hominem attacks personally either. (: If you don't like my critiques, feel free to throw 'em all out. S'all good bro, no need to get defensive.



It isn't that I took the cussing personally. I just don't think it was necessary.

It isn't ad hominem if I answer your questions, address your arguments and then come to a rational and well-based reason for the nature of your criticism. My issue was with your clear failure to read through something before offering such a strong opinion.

Oh, and I'm not defensive. As I said, your criticism was too poorly thought out for me to take it as a serious threat. I am simply looking for constructive advice and replied in the manner that i did, because it just seemed as if you needed to hear it.

sparty99
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby sparty99 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:40 am

Your first and second essays are both weak. I would not submit either one. They are both long winded and wordy. The issue lies within your writing. You need to go to the library and Borders (before it shuts down) and read EVERY book that is about personal statements for graduate programs. This includes law, business, and general programs.
Once you read these books, you will see that flowery image is not the best route to a strong essay.

kublaikahn
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby kublaikahn » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:49 am

I would use the first PS as a basis to build something. I would also lay of TeaandCrumpets. She is correct in every comment she made.

If your resume talks about your travels and your public service with GP, you don't need that here. Same with the coaching. This PS should not be a brain dump of every meaningful experience you ever had. The reader cannot relive your life in these 2 pages.

Take the first PS and boil down the imagery of the dump to one paragraph. Use a second paragraph to talk about the personal impact that had on you. Use the rest to explain what you will do about it.

Tidbits like using a mohammed quote to show your openmindedness require a writing ability that few have. And the brutally honest truth is you are not a strong writer. Your story is way better than your story telling.

If you want to demonstrate your openmindedness you need to do it more directly. You might say, that you could relate to and empathize with people at the dump because you are latino, but praying with your family at the wailing wall and then going to mosque made you realize the common thread of humanity, we all are fighting a fierce battle. Show how your world view reflects someone who is openminded, don't drop names and quotes to try to impress.

Finally, when you make broad statements about your skills and talents it will always come across as arrogant. Even when it is backed up by facts in your resume or the PS for that matter. You need to show yourself doing something or someone saying sonething about you that indicates that skill without just blurting it out. Im a great leader! Check my resume for confirmation. Also, not to hurt your feellings but I don't find being a great youth sports coach as a necessarily transferrable skill to law school.

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crumpetsandtea
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Re: Wanted: Ruthless Criticism

Postby crumpetsandtea » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:44 am

aguaman13 wrote:a testament to a person's limited vocabulary and a lack of confidence in their ability to articulate strong opinions.

I asked for you to be ruthless, not ignorant.

I should say that I am worried about your future as an attorney due to your utter inability to connect the dots in a simple 2-page personal statement.

This seems as if it should be so abundantly obvious to anyone even slightly familiar with the positive effects of living abroad that you don't deserve an answer.

I honestly think that you are so insecure and self-loathing that the mere idea of somebody mentioning prior accomplishments shuts off your ability to rationally assess the statement as an entire piece.

my main concern after reading your diatribe is that I have someone as self-loathing and pessimistic as you read it.

I want them to be as brutally honest as possible. However, I am not sure that is what you did. I think you saw the topic "Wanted: Ruthless Criticism" and thought "Great! For one moment I may be able to steer my dark and depressing view of humanity away from myself and direct it at someone else while I tear them to pieces!" .


An ad hominem (Latin: "to the man"), also known as argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to link the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise.

With that said, here's a link to my PS: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=148299

I hope that the realization that we are both activists going into law can help you understand that I am not trying to attack you. (feel free to critique and be as ruthless as you want, too! :mrgreen: ) I think you have a very interesting story (like I said about the list of places you went--those are very cool, and all have potential as an individual PS) but you just aren't capitalizing on it right now because your delivery is weak. Take it or leave it, but that's all I was trying to say.

aguaman13 wrote: your criticism was too poorly thought out for me to take it as a serious threat. I am simply looking for constructive advice and replied in the manner that i did, because it just seemed as if you needed to hear it.


RE: the first part. It wasn't meant as a threat, only as an attempt to help, so I'm glad it wasn't perceived as a threat. RE: the bolded. Add 'to give' after 'simply looking' instead of 'for' and that is exactly how I feel about my critique.




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