Please critque

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
gboyle138
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Please critque

Postby gboyle138 » Sat Mar 12, 2011 10:47 pm

I would appreciate any comments on my essay. I feel there are some awkward parts that still need to be polished. Thanks.


The hands that gave the rosary into mine were worn and weary with age; the knuckle hair gone white, the fingers gnarled from years of playing rugby as a youth, before he joined the order.
“Think about it,” he said, in his soft voice, with its irresistible Irish lilt. “I’ve been a Jesuit for over forty years, and taught all over the world, I know youth. You’ve had, what, four of my classes now?”
“Yes, sir.”
“So I think I know you. I’ve read your stories; I’ve read your formal papers. You’ve a good heart, and I think you would find it an incredibly fulfilling life.”
“Father, if you know me, you know that I don’t really believe in God. I’ve never been to church in my life. I honestly think it is kind of silly,” I said, shaking my head. “Please, do not think I am making light of your suggestion. It truly is incredibly flattering that you think so highly of me, that you would recommend I join the order. That you are giving me a rosary that was given to you as a child in Dublin is not lost on me, and I am deeply touched. But I do not see my self in that life. I just can’t.”
“I was once the same, you know. I was raised Catholic of course, but never really believed until I was older. There was no epiphanic moment for me, I just felt called more and more as I aged. When I was your age, all I was into was my rugby club and girls as well.”
“I guess you do know then, but you forgot alcohol.” I said, laughing. “Father, I very much admire the Jesuit’s dedication to the pursuit and promulgation of knowledge, but ‘Ad majorem Dei gloriam’? That just doesn’t work for me. I don’t think I could give my life over to something in which I do not truly believe.”
“Garrett, I didn’t say come with me and sign up this instant. I said think about it. I didn’t even begin my novitiate until I was 28. Think on it as you age, as you mature. You might find that which you are missing now, and I can see there is something missing in your life.”
I sighed, and looked out the window of his office for a moment, watching my peers walking to and from classes, then back to the eyes of a man who had given me so much over the last few years. He supported me when I flew back to Alaska for two weeks in the middle of a quarter in order to tend to a family emergency; he wrote me a letter of recommendation to graduate school, and at my urging, became the faculty sponsor of the rugby club. We had gone down to an Irish pub together to watch the rugby World Cup final and drank pints of Guinness together at nine A.M. He came to the bar where I worked on occasion and had a drink while we talked literature.
“Again, Father, I admire the mission of the order, I respect what it is dedicated to, it is very admirable, and I think I would enjoy parts of the life. But when you mention vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, that is where I get hung up. I do none of those things well. As St. Augustine said, ‘When I was young, I prayed: give me chastity and continence, O Lord, but do not give it yet.’ I haven’t even begun to pray for it yet.”
He smiled, bushy white eyebrows rising like wings, and said, “You’ve years ahead of you yet. Give it time. Perhaps you will find the need for something deeper, as did the saint, as did myself. Perhaps you will find a different way to be of service.”
“Perhaps I will,” I said standing and extending my hand. He clasped it warmly in both of his, that same smile still on his face, the wing-like eyebrows still risen. “I have to get to practice Father, thank you for the rosary. And the advice.”
As I left his cramped little office, I slung my kit bag over one shoulder, and wrapped the rosary twice around my wrist, the way I had seen it done in movies, and rubbed the crucifix between thumb and forefinger, pondering how, indeed, I might be of service.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Please critque

Postby rinkrat19 » Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:44 pm

My first reaction is that 2 pages of dialogue is not a personal statement.

MoneyBags
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Re: Please critque

Postby MoneyBags » Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:59 pm

agree with statement above

cubswin
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Re: Please critque

Postby cubswin » Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:12 pm

...is that it? And this is for your law school application?

halostarbucks
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Re: Please critque

Postby halostarbucks » Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:35 pm

You have a dialogue with no context. Thats pointless even as a stand alone essay but how on earth are you going to use that to help you get into law school?

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esq
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Re: Please critque

Postby esq » Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:46 pm

Ummm...?

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citykitty
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Re: Please critque

Postby citykitty » Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:51 pm

That's not a PS. That's going to cause someone's eyes to glaze over after reading 2 lines and toss it aside.

cartercl
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Re: Please critque

Postby cartercl » Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:52 pm

Lol. This needs some work.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Please critque

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:03 pm

Outstanding. Very creative. This personal statement is effective because it gives insight into you in the form of a mission statement which you have not yet accepted but are destined to follow.

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TommyK
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Re: Please critque

Postby TommyK » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:04 pm

Nobody talks like this.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Please critque

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:06 pm

I'll bet that you are not Catholic if you think that "nobody talks like this".

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TommyK
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Re: Please critque

Postby TommyK » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:07 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:I'll bet that you are not Catholic if you think that "nobody talks like this".


I am, actually.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Please critque

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:08 pm

Good, because I didn't bet much.

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TommyK
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Re: Please critque

Postby TommyK » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:09 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Good, because I didn't bet much.

:lol: :lol:

CanadianWolf
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Re: Please critque

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:12 pm

Reminds me of some of the dialogue in the movie "Rudy".

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TommyK
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Re: Please critque

Postby TommyK » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:22 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Reminds me of some of the dialogue in the movie "Rudy".


Yeah, that was along the lines of what I was getting at. Sounds like opening dialogue from a movie - not real dialogue.

Anyways, I guess to get back to the OP's question - I like that you're trying to make it unique, but try not to get too cute. This story doesn't have a resolution. It doesn't tell the adcomms anything about you - except that you don't believe in God. And while I wouldn't go so far as to as that's inherently a bad thing, I don't think it's reason to admit you.

Your PS will have enough space to get across one, maybe two points. I wouldn't waste so much space with character development of somebody other than you.

What I get from you is that
- You feel somehow called (whether by secular moralist reasons, or by God in whom you now believe) to do something to help people


I don't think that's a bad place to start. Now ask yourself what separates you from all the other applicants who also are probably pretty swell?

gboyle138
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Re: Please critque

Postby gboyle138 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:30 pm

OK. Thanks for the kind words. I would argue that most of you may have missed what I was trying to do there. Since many schools want to know why I'm applying to law schools, I felt this might explain it as well as giving some insight into my character, but it seems to not be clear. But I've spent the last couple days whipping up the following. Maybe it makes a better statement about who I am.


I have always disliked clichés. My father was an athlete in his youth,
and I was fortunate enough to take after him in this respect, so ever since I can recall, I have been exposed to many clichés. "Can't coach tall," was one of my dad's favorites. Beginning in tee ball at age four and continuing for twenty years, I had more coaches spout more clichés at me than I care to relate. The Olympics are the first encounter that I recall with the tired, worn-out phrase "overcoming adversity." I remember watching the summer games in Atlanta, and wondering, "Why do they have a huge story about how every athlete overcame adversity when every athlete overcame adversity?" It was boring and repetitive, like most clichés, and detracted from the athletic feats taking place. So when I first started researching what law schools were looking for in a personal statement, I wondered why overcoming adversity is so stressed on applications and in these essays, when it is something that most everyone has done.
I spent hours browsing Internet forums, reading other people's statements. I found expert criticism on what were supposedly good statements, and gathered advice on how to write my own. But while there were a few where the experience the author discussed genuinely shaped their life and made them a better person, most statements which claimed to deal with this cliché came off as whiny, self-indulgent, or something that would only be regarded seriously as adversity by the most sheltered and privileged of people.
I kept this in mind as I searched my past for an incident that I could mold into a compelling example of how I, too, like every other person alive, fulfilled this hackneyed cliché. I thought at first I should recount my years in a bush village in Alaska. There, I got my ass whipped on a regular basis by a group of older, bigger Native kids; they did not care for white people, and since I was the only white kid in town, I got whipped. No, I decided. Too whiny, and besides, who doesn’t get beat up a few times as a kid? Should I discuss the impact moving every few years had on me? Would how I wound up living in three different countries overseas and four different villages in Alaska before I graduated from high school make an enticing statement? Was this somehow, something that I had to defeat in order for me to become a good person? Again, I decided not to write about this, because I do not believe it affected me adversely. Perhaps the bad case of insomnia that I dealt with, and my attempted self-medication, which led to a brief foray into alcoholism, would do? Nope. Too self-pitying, and that whole situation was my own damn fault anyway.
I eventually realized that in the grand scheme of things, I have had a
charmed life. My parents loved me, and raised me well. I never wanted for food or shelter. I am fortunate enough to be tall, athletic, moderately intelligent and devilishly handsome. I have achieved things that only a very small portion of the world’s population has the chance to. Do the incidents I outlined above somehow make me more qualified to attend law school than someone who did not experience them? Honestly, I doubt it. I believe that most people have experienced things along those lines, and to me, these things are not adversity; these things are life. And life is to be lived and loved, not merely overcome.

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kwais
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Re: Please critque

Postby kwais » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:37 pm

I can appreciate the approach but I think it's ultimately problematic. You may have read a bunch of whiney statements on TLS before writing yours, but the adcomm might have just read a few stories of true adversity overcome. You essentially call these whiney.
Also, the whole idea of letting the reader behind the curtain of your process is really transparent. It seems self-conscious as if you can't write with conviction, honesty and reflection about how one of those events in your life shaped you.
Overall, I enjoyed reading it to a certain degree but it is too cute.

indecisive111
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Re: Please critque

Postby indecisive111 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:40 pm

you need to explain who you are as a person now. that is what your personal statement should convey. This essay concludes with you having a charmed life, but how has that affected you? what impact has having a charmed life had on who you are today. It is not necessary to overcome adversity to have a good essay or to try to be poetic. From what i have gathered, law schools generally do not like that. But rather, giving them clear and succinct insight into who you are and why you are that way through an anecdote will do the trick.. hope this helps

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esq
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Re: Please critque

Postby esq » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:48 pm

LMAO, thanks for the work you've put into this, but you've confirmed what I suspected OP.

gboyle138
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Re: Please critque

Postby gboyle138 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:09 pm

kwais wrote:I can appreciate the approach but I think it's ultimately problematic. You may have read a bunch of whiney statements on TLS before writing yours, but the adcomm might have just read a few stories of true adversity overcome. You essentially call these whiney.
Also, the whole idea of letting the reader behind the curtain of your process is really transparent. It seems self-conscious as if you can't write with conviction, honesty and reflection about how one of those events in your life shaped you.
Overall, I enjoyed reading it to a certain degree but it is too cute.


I acknowledge that there are some who have legitimately dealt with serious issues. I do not dismiss them all. Just the whiny ones. :D Thanks for the feedback.

kublaikahn
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Re: Please critque

Postby kublaikahn » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:12 pm

You were incredibly honored and encouraged by a compliment paid you by a respected mentor. So say that succinctly and explain why you were honored, and what that encouraged you to do with your life.

The dialogue thing is a valiant but unproductive effort. I would lose it. A couple of lines of dialogue to emphasize a major focus, then paraphrase the rest.

gboyle138
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Re: Please critque

Postby gboyle138 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:15 pm

indecisive111 wrote:you need to explain who you are as a person now. that is what your personal statement should convey. This essay concludes with you having a charmed life, but how has that affected you? what impact has having a charmed life had on who you are today. It is not necessary to overcome adversity to have a good essay or to try to be poetic. From what i have gathered, law schools generally do not like that. But rather, giving them clear and succinct insight into who you are and why you are that way through an anecdote will do the trick.. hope this helps


OK. Thank you.

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TommyK
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Re: Please critque

Postby TommyK » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:42 pm

Scrap both. Neither work.

The first one tells you what a priest thought of your potential at one point. This is what LORs are for - letting somebody else tell the adcomms what they think about you.

The second one is simply ineffective. Regardless what you may read on TLS, not all personal statements are about overcoming adversity. And even if they are, you probably won't garner extra points from the adcomms for dismissing other people's plights. Also, I think it's a low-reward/high-risk ratio to drop the word ass in a PS. You spent the majority of the time in the PS why you shouldn't be considered special. Don't waste space doing this. Your focus should be (again) to come up with a couple reasons why you're a compelling candidate. If that's because you demonstrated incredible amount of dedication in the face of adversity - super - that's a quality desired in law students. If it's because you competed at a high level and won - super - that's also a desirable quality.

A couple other things:
- to call yourself devilishly handsome makes you sound like an insufferable douche.
- to call yourself moderately intelligent makes you sound either disingenuously modest or not that smart. Neither is flattering enough to make an adcomm think more highly of you.

After I read your PS, I thought - yeah, you're right. He's not more qualified than x. I would admit x.

kublaikahn
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Re: Please critque

Postby kublaikahn » Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:39 pm

TommyK wrote:Scrap both. Neither work.

A couple other things:
- to call yourself devilishly handsome makes you sound like an insufferable douche.
- to call yourself moderately intelligent makes you sound either disingenuously modest or not that smart. Neither is flattering enough to make an adcomm think more highly of you.

After I read your PS, I thought - yeah, you're right. He's not more qualified than x. I would admit x.


+1. LS are looking for people who are devilishly intelligent and moderately handsome, not the other way around. Why don't you just send them your photo and a list of chicks you have banged.




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