Critique This Please!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
User avatar
Paraflam
Posts: 472
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:09 pm

Critique This Please!

Postby Paraflam » Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:16 am

EDIT: Rewrite in my post below. Let me know what you think and if it's going in the right direction. Thanks!

Alright, I just started this today so it's an extremely rough first draft. I've just hit a writer's block and need to take a break from it for a while, but I was hoping you guys could critique what I have so far to make sure it's going in the right direction. I'm already at two full pages of a maximum of three, and I've still got a bit of the story left to tell. I was having a problem with figuring out how much background info to include, so as to provide enough context for the story to both make sense and connect emotionally, but I feel like it's too drawn out currently. Here is the prompt, and then what I have written so far:

The Admissions Committee seeks a talented and diverse student body and will consider such factors as exceptional personal talents, interesting or demanding work or service experience, rigorousness of undergraduate course of study, leadership potential, ability to communicate effectively, and other factors. In addition, the Committee considers obstacles or accomplishments, including but not limited to: economic need requiring significant employment during college, social and cultural disadvantages, linguistic barriers and extraordinary family or personal responsibilities.


My best friend, Morgan, has had an extremely rough family life. One of three children adopted by Meg and Evan Sanders, Morgan was given up at birth by her 15-year-old biological mother, who had been in and out of jail for various reasons all throughout her life. When Morgan was a teenager, her adoptive father committed suicide following serious financial issues with which he was faced. In her 20s, Meg Sanders was diagnosed with bronchiectasis, a rare disease in which damage to the airways causes them to widen and become distorted. After 22 years of coughing up mucus, not being able to laugh without wheezing and major allergies, Meg received two new lungs from a young donor. Last September, however, she was diagnosed with stage III chronic rejection and her doctors told her that she would have up to 12 months to live. Basically, if another donor wasn’t found, it was questionable as to whether Meg was going to live to witness the birth of her first grandchild, Morgan’s daughter.
Since Meg’s disease causes her to get tired very quickly from even the smallest physical activity, she almost constantly requires someone around to assist her with everyday tasks. Over the past few years, I have become very close with Morgan’s now stepfather, Hank, as I have taken care of Meg and when he or anyone else at the house can’t be there. With Meg’s hospital bills accounting for a significant portion of their income, Morgan’s family isn’t entirely well off, so I have always tried to help them out in any way I can.
This past January, while at dinner with Morgan and Hank, we began brainstorming ways we could help promote organ donation. Hank is a firefighter, and he suggested that he and his group of friends might be able to start some kind of fundraiser for organ donation awareness efforts. He asked me to help him organize it, and together we began promoting the campaign. We set up an online fundraising page with a goal of raising $10,000, which we would donate to Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago to support their mission of promoting healthy lungs and fighting lung disease through research, advocacy, and education. Through promoting our fundraiser via local newspapers and the Internet, we currently have raised over $8,000 from 130 donors.
During our search for a reputable lung disease organization to which we would donate the money we raised, I came across a fundraiser organized by the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago called Hustle up the Hancock. Every February, individuals or teams register to race to the top of the John Hancock building to raise money for lung health research. Hank and I immediately decided to put a team together. We would organize a support group for Morgan’s mom, called Breathing Hard for Meg.
Twelve of Hank’s firefighter friends were eager to join the team, and we began training immediately. Since I was away at school during the time leading up to the climb, I developed a training regimen by myself, which included weight training exercises on Mondays and Thursdays and sprinting to the top of the 10-story residence hall at my school five times every Wednesday and Saturday. As my times improved, I increased the number of climbs each week. The weekend of Hustle up the Hancock, six weeks after we began training, Hank and Morgan broke the news to Meg about what we were about to do. The look on Meg’s face was unlike any other I had seen in all the time I’ve known her: a content grin accompanied with a nod as if she knew that she was not alone in her fight; as if through our support she suddenly became strengthened to fight her disease even harder. Since her diagnosis with stage III chronic rejection, Meg had been setting one goal for herself at a time. Her next goal was to witness the birth of her first granddaughter in March. After finding out about the support group for her that Hank and I organized, she said her determination to make it to her next goal was even more intensified.

I want to go on to describe the rigorousness of the climb itself, the emotional moment of meeting my friend's mother at the top, and then how all of this has made me want to become an organ donor myself and also encourage organ donation to others. My brain is fried, so feel free to tear apart anything I have written because I'm not a good critic of it right now. Thanks in advance!
Last edited by Paraflam on Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Flips88
Posts: 13509
Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2010 7:42 pm

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby Flips88 » Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:44 am

Common wisdom you'll get on TLS: Make your personal statement about YOU

You focus far too much on your friend. You don't talk about yourself until way into the essay.

User avatar
Paraflam
Posts: 472
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:09 pm

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby Paraflam » Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:06 pm

I agree with you, my problem is that I want to provide enough background so that everything that I say about myself makes sense within the context of what my friend is dealing with. I'm having a hard time finding the happy medium between that and explaining how I personally have been helping my friend through a rough time in her life.

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

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:11 pm

Write about someone else---such as yourself. Otherwise, if you submit this essay, Meg or Morgan might get admitted.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
fltanglab
Posts: 555
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:44 pm

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby fltanglab » Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:12 pm

I agree that there's too much focus on your friend. Introduce the situation, hit an emotional note, and then start talking about yourself. You shouldn't spend two out of three pages on the story of your friend. If the story was about you, it would be more effective and a different situation entirely. Even starting from the moment you get involved will shift the focus from her to you.

kublaikahn
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:47 am

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby kublaikahn » Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:22 pm

This could be a great little story that shows off your writing ability. But it will be difficult to use this story to sell your character and qualities to an AdCom. Climbing a building in honor of a friend's dying mother is sweet, but not all that much of a sacrifice or great deed.

If you do stick with the story, I would start out with the climb. Flash back to the memories of you friend and her mom, as inspiration during the climb. Resolve with seeing the mom at the top. This way you can grab the reader's attention better at the start and keep them interested with clues about you and the reason for the climb as the story progresses.

Personally, I would leave this where it is. Build an entirely new PS and then set the two side by side to pick a direction to go.

ETA: If the lady is dying for lack of lungs, you really don't need the added tragedy of the suicide, adoption, bankruptcy, etc. Just focus on the transplant rejection.

sparty99
Posts: 1433
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:41 pm

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby sparty99 » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:16 pm

A personal statement should be about YOU, not someone else. You need to start over and have the focus be 150% on you. There is little that you can salvage from this essay. A total rewrite is in order.

User avatar
Paraflam
Posts: 472
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:09 pm

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby Paraflam » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:31 pm

Any more ideas on how I can swing the focus to me? I am considering a rewrite starting at the climb and flashing back to inspirational moments throughout, like kublaikahn suggested. I feel like I can craft this story to show my compassion and desire to help people, I'm just not doing that effectively this way.

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

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:40 pm

Consider a different focus & topic for your personal statement. The focus should be on you & the topic can be anything that lets the reader understand you better.

User avatar
Paraflam
Posts: 472
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:09 pm

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby Paraflam » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:23 am

REWRITE

Here is what I have come up with as an intro for my rewrite, let me know what you think and in which general direction you might suggest it to go (would it sound better in the present tense?):

As my feet hit floor fifty, I was so out of breath that I had to start climbing the stairs one at a time. The sweat dripping into my eyes began blurring my vision so much that I could no longer cleanly land my feet on every third stair. Forty-four floors to go.
Waiting on me at the top of floor fifty-one were my teammates, as we agreed to stick together for the entire climb. Fatigue was heavily setting in for all of us, but we knew what was waiting at the top: a person who doesn’t have the luxury of being able climb to the top floor of a skyscraper, or her own house, for that matter. This climb was for Meg.
Floor seventy-five. My legs had become so physically exhausted by this point that I was probably generating more vertical lift by pushing off the hand railings. Verbal encouragement to my teammates transformed into physical assistance, mostly because I couldn’t catch my breath long enough to utter a coherent word, but also because my mind was somewhere else. Climbing each flight of stairs eventually committed to muscle memory, and I began reminiscing about memories I have had with the woman who was my motivation for this challenge.

sparty99
Posts: 1433
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:41 pm

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby sparty99 » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:10 am

It's hard to give a critique without the full body of work. Just remember this needs to be about you and this is your interview to the admissions committee. Don't feel the need to tell this story because the subject matter deals with someone trying to survive a potentially deadly disease. A lot of people write about their grandma dying of cancer or what not, because they feel that's what they need to write. If you truly feel this is a story you need to tell, then do it. But just make sure you focus on your contributions and think about what do you want the admissions committee to gather after reading your statement. You only have 2-3 pages to make an impression that will say, "Yes, we need to admit this young lady to our program," so don't waste that opportunity.

sparty99
Posts: 1433
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:41 pm

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby sparty99 » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:15 am

Also, your second paragraph needs to start getting to the point on why this is for Meg, etc....Adding more imagery is not necessary. Tell your story. Be succinct. "I was doing this running up the hancock to generate $5,000 dollars for my best friend who needed a lung transplant. Time was of the essence as she needed a donor in 3 months. I developed a campaign by securing donations at local restaurants. I visited 200 places, received 2,000 signatures, blah, blah, blah."

kublaikahn
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:47 am

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby kublaikahn » Tue Mar 08, 2011 7:46 pm

I think you may be better off selecting a new topic. Pick 3-4 and post them, so we can give feedback.

However if you stick with this topic:

1. Introduce the climb in the first paragraph.
2. Flash back to the reason for the climb (focusing on yourself): You took the initiative to raise money for transplant research based on your love and respect for Meg.
3. Paragraph three-four/five should be about your motivation to help others (why law)
4. Finish with the last pararpaph reaching the summit, and tying the whole thing out.

This PS is not really about the climb, that is just your hook. The PS is about how you want to fight for Meg and people like her.

Paraflam wrote:
Spanning three stairs per stride as I crossed the threshhold on the 50th floor, I could no longer get enough oxygen to continue the pace. Wiping the stinging sweat from my eyes, I glanced up to see my race team of trained firefighters waiting for me on the 51st landing--we agreed to stick together as we competed for Meg. As my lungs gasped for oxygen I was reminded of the daily struggle for air that Meg's life entailed....

As my feet hit floor fifty, I was so out of breath that I had to start climbing the stairs one at a time. The sweat dripping into my eyes began blurring my vision so much that I could no longer cleanly land my feet on every third stair. Forty-four floors to go.
Waiting on me at the top of floor fifty-one were my teammates, as we agreed to stick together for the entire climb. Fatigue was heavily setting in for all of us, but we knew what was waiting at the top: a person who doesn’t have the luxury of being able climb to the top floor of a skyscraper, or her own house, for that matter. This climb was for Meg. Floor seventy-five. My legs had become so physically exhausted by this point that I was probably generating more vertical lift by pushing off the hand railings.


Verbal encouragement to my teammates transformed into physical assistance, mostly because I couldn’t catch my breath long enough to utter a coherent word, but also because my mind was somewhere else. [reintroduce this or something like it deeper in the PS as a swgue to another thought or the conclusion] Climbing each flight of stairs eventually committed to muscle memory, and I began reminiscing about memories I have had with the woman who was my motivation for this challenge.

User avatar
Paraflam
Posts: 472
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:09 pm

Re: Critique This Please!

Postby Paraflam » Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:02 pm

Really appreciate the input guys, thanks a lot!




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.