PS/Essay critique

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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ademska
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PS/Essay critique

Postby ademska » Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:33 pm

So man do I wish I had discovered TLS this time last year. I've decided to prep like mad, retake my LSAT (159) in Oct, actually work hard and apply earrrlyyyy to make myself way more competitive for decent schools and schollys. This includes updating my low TT application, including PS.

Some of my schools I'm looking at for next cycle and applied to this past cycle require essays in addition to PS, and I'm not sure if this... thing I put together in a couple of days this cycle works better as a PS, essay, or furnace fuel. I'd guess 2 or 3.

Please be honest. I know it's sub-par, and I'm perfectly willing to take advice.


The successful practice of law is contingent upon a fundamental willingness to understand what humanity, with all its triumphs and flaws, truly is. The human element of legal philosophy is intrinsic; mankind creates law so to govern and regulate mankind. Cold retention of procedure and substance is certainly a superlative aspect of law, but prospective attorneys can all too easily lose sight of the importance of the very people who grant it context.

With this reality in mind, I became a student of philosophy, eager to observe and contemplate the nature of humanity through both coursework and life experience.

Such a concentration dictates that I continuously transcend my own beliefs to better comprehend those of others. Though, for example, I am not a person of faith, I have in great measure studied and come to understand many philosophies of religion.
However, the classroom is limited in its ability to teach; human study can only offer sociological analysis, data that assigns numerical value to that which cannot and should not be quantified. Even in-depth, thoughtful philosophical study can only form a foundation of beliefs and cannot hope to compare to the wisdom afforded by true first-hand experience in what the world has to offer.

I have held a wide array of jobs since high school, and my five years in various retail positions, especially the half spent as a designer in a copy center, has granted me precious insight into the origins and mindsets of people from all walks of life. My current job entails working closely for protracted hours with emphatically diverse customers on a daily basis, and the experience has bestowed me with unique sagacity.

Perhaps, with regard to people, the most formative juncture of my life was my semester spent with the Cookeville Police Department. At the time, I sought a potential career in law enforcement and had even taken the NYPD entrance exam, but the reality of what police encounter on a daily basis truly opened my eyes and mind. During my time with the CPD (and later a state-appointed defense attorney's firm), I saw some of the best and worst of what society has to offer, from paragons of citizenry to stomach-churning scourge. However, this exposure taught me that people predominantly do not fall into any rigid category or label, but instead, for better or worse, defy expectation and all at once balance between selfless and selfish, brilliant and stupid, unflinchingly steadfast and constantly hypocritical.

These experiences molded and shaped the core values instilled by my studies into tangible, yet flexible principles--principles that I intend to carry into law school.

If admitted to XXX, I will strive to continue not only my education in law, but my journey of self-discovery that is ultimately crucial to understand and practice that law.

CanadianWolf
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:45 pm

The biggest problem with this essay is your inability to express your thoughts in a clear & concise manner.

P.S. I have been to Cookeville & Tenn Tech--but it was a long time ago.

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ademska
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby ademska » Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:53 pm

Fair enough, but can you be specific, any examples? Even one'll give me a start on how to fix it.

What about the "topic" (i use the term loosely) itself? And not too much, like, passive voice?

CanadianWolf wrote:The biggest problem with this essay is your inability to express your thoughts in a clear & concise manner.

P.S. I have been to Cookeville & Tenn Tech--but it was a long time ago.


lol I'm sorry for you. The Cumberland Plateau is pretty, but... eugh

CanadianWolf
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:00 pm

Your writing is littered with awkward adjectives & adverbs that may confuse readers. Much of your effort creates the impression that you are trying too hard to sound deeply philosophical & suggests occasional bursts of flakiness. Legal writing is much different than writing philosophy papers. The goal in legal writing is to express your thoughts succinctly using crisp,clear sentences. Another difficulty in your personal statement is your failure to convincingly state your conclusions. For example, I think that many, maybe most, attorneys & law professors would disagree with the final phrase in the last sentence of your first paragraph. Try, for example, "...but prospective attorneys should not lose sight of...".
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:08 pm

The first sentence, for example, could be better stated as " The successful practice of law is largely contingent upon a fundamental willingness to understand humanity.".

CONSIDER: "...an important aspect of law.", rather than "...a superlative aspect of law."

DELETE: "emphatically". TRY "...working long hours with diverse customers." (Although what type of "diversity" is not clear. Could be racially & ethnically diverse, customers with diverse needs, socio-economically diverse, etc.)

CONSIDER: "...on a daily basis giving me informed insights." ("Unique" is not properly used in your version--or, if it is, prove it. Unique is a frequently misused word.)

CONSIDER: "These experiences molded & shaped my core values." (But, aren't "molded" & "shaped" redundant ? If not, why not ?)
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:26 pm

Overall, your theme is reasonable. Try not to overcomplicate your thoughts & observations. Stating your thoughts in a simple & direct fashion should result in a more clear & more convincing message.

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Flustercluck
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby Flustercluck » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:30 pm

To be completely honest, you lost me at the first sentence. Not because I didn't understand it, but because I didn't care about such a sweeping statement, nor for how it was phrased

Throw away your thesaurus. You're trying too hard and being too technical and it comes across as gratuitous. PS is as much what you say as it is how you say it, but when how you say it impedes clarity in what you say, you need to be more direct and more specific.

You have ideas that could be the foundation for a decent PS, but your ability to communicate them is impeded by your insistence on overcomplicating your writing with 50 point words that don’t actually fit in context.

My edits are harsh, but it’s mainly a reflection of my increasing frustration as I continued reading combined with my general opinion that sugar coating things doesn’t help to improve them as effectively.

The successful practice of law is contingent upon a fundamental willingness to understand what humanity, with all its triumphs and flaws, truly is. The human element of legal philosophy is intrinsic; mankind creates law so to govern and regulate mankind. Cold retention of procedure and substance is certainly a superlative aspect of law, but prospective attorneys can all too easily lose sight of the importance of the very people who grant it context.

With this reality in mind, I became a student of philosophy, eager to observe and contemplate the nature of humanity through both coursework and life experience.

Such a concentration dictates that I continuously transcend my own beliefs to better comprehend those of others. Though, for example, I am not a person of faith, I have in great measure studied and come to understand many philosophies of religion. SPECIFICS. You are essentially saying “I have thoughts on religion,” not “these are my thoughts on religion as shaped by my values and experiences.” You seem to be confusing lack of specificity with enlightened objectivity and acceptance.
However, the classroom is limited in its ability to teach; human study can only offer sociological analysis, data that assigns numerical value to that which cannot and should not be quantified. Even in-depth, thoughtful philosophical study can only form a foundation of beliefs and cannot hope to compare to the wisdom afforded by true first-hand experience in what the world has to offer. So? Yes, you expand upon this later, but you take three times as long as necessary to say what you mean. This is all so unnecessarily verbose. Economy of space and language in a PS is important, and this paragraph just wasted the reader’s time, and as such the only thing it shows about you is that you don’t care if you’re wasting the readers time because you’re too in love with the sound of your own voice

I have held a wide array of jobs since high school, SPECIFICS. You don’t describe what these jobs were, or how they taught you the insights you mention, or what those insights are. BE SPECIFIC. This says nothing of who you are other than you’re a ponce and my five years in various retail positions, especially the half spent as a designer in a copy center, has granted me precious insight into the origins and mindsets of people from all walks of life. Care to share these amazing insights? And why they’re so gosh darn precious? My current job entails working closely for protracted WORD USE. It’s fine if you want to use a less common word that more accurately conveys your point or fits better in context, BUT PROTRACTED IS NOT THE RIGHT WORD HERE. You can more accurately use the word EXTENDED or LONG. Trying too hard makes you look dumber than using a simple but more technically accurate word, and then it makes you look like a douche on top of that hours with emphatically EMPHATICALLY? REALLY? REALLY? Please explain to me how their diversity is emphatic?diverse customers on a daily basis, and the experience has bestowed me with unique sagacity. “UNIQUE SAGACITY?” Seriously, scale this shit back a notch, you reek of undergrad idealism and creative writing gone wrong. With that line you have told me that you are neither unique nor sagacious

Perhaps, with regard to people, the most formative juncture again, gratuitous and trying too hard, and those three words just don’t juxtapose fluidly. You sound clunky, not intelligent of my life was my semester spent with the Cookeville Police Department. At the time, I sought a potential career in law enforcement and had even taken the NYPD entrance exam, but the reality of what police encounter on a daily basis truly opened my eyes and mind. During my time with the CPD (and later a state-appointed defense attorney's firm), I saw some of the best and worst of what society has to offer, from paragons of citizenry to stomach-churning scourge. However, this exposure taught me that people predominantly do not fall into any rigid category or label, Would you refer to these people as “stomach turning scourge” to your superiors at the defense firm? Then why would you do so to an admissions committee that is evaluating you as a PROFESSIONAL applicant? but instead, for better or worse, defy expectation and all at once balance between selfless and selfish, brilliant and stupid, unflinchingly steadfast and constantly hypocritical. this observations is not nearly profound enough for you to expound upon it to this degree, and one of the worst things you can do in a PS is waste time saying nothing.

These experiences molded and shaped the core values instilled by my studies into tangible, yet flexible principles--principles that I intend to carry into law school. your principles are tangible? Inigo Montoya says “I do not think that word means what you think it means.” Also, I don’t even know what your core values or principles are (except for the completely noncommittal philosopher’s perspective of “I know that I know nothing” type bullshit, which to be fair isn’t even a value set)

If admitted to XXX, I will strive to continue not only my education in law, but my journey of self-discovery that is ultimately crucial to understand and practice that law.

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ademska
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby ademska » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:44 pm

I'm gonna slip into a state of possible self-denial and say it's cos I was panicking and wrote it in like a couple hours. I've now got several months to fix it up or, likely, trash it.

I seriously seriously appreciate the honesty. CanadianWolf, I agree with a good majority of your changes and made the whole thing a lot simpler.

I'd post it again, but Flustercluck, you're also dead-on. I'm not being self-deprecating just for the hell of it; I'm well-aware how much of an ass I came off and how vague the whole thing is. I think cutting the bullshit down and actually expanding on the points I was trying to make will fit the wordcount and paint some gold over this turd. I'm bookmarking this thread and I'll pore over it and every other thread in this subforum.

I do have a question, though: some of the vagueness (eg the jobs bit) was because I also submitted a resume with job history etc, and I maybe erroneously assumed that shit in your PS shouldn't be too redundant. Obv in this case I need to not be weird about it, but what's the general rule of thumb with reiterating stuff elsewhere in the app?

Haha but just fwiw "emphatically" wasn't thesaurus syndrome, it was (poorly-worded) reflection on the crazy people I dealt with. Idk maybe it only makes sense to me, either way it's outskies.

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Tanicius
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby Tanicius » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:46 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Overall, your theme is reasonable. Try not to overcomplicate your thoughts & observations. Stating your thoughts in a simple & direct fashion should result in a more clear & more convincing message.


I strongly disagree with this. Schools want more than a claim about how lawyers must care about or understand "humanity."

I want an essay that's more honest and personal. I want to read about a specific experience. If your PS has such an experience in it, I don't know about it because I didn't read far enough to see it.

My advice for this PS: total scrap. Start over, and keep this other advice in mind:

To be completely honest, you lost me at the first sentence. Not because I didn't understand it, but because I didn't care about such a sweeping statement, nor for how it was phrased

Throw away your thesaurus. You're trying too hard and being too technical and it comes across as gratuitous. PS is as much what you say as it is how you say it, but when how you say it impedes clarity in what you say, you need to be more direct and more specific.

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ademska
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby ademska » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:55 pm

Tanicius wrote:
CanadianWolf wrote:Overall, your theme is reasonable. Try not to overcomplicate your thoughts & observations. Stating your thoughts in a simple & direct fashion should result in a more clear & more convincing message.


I strongly disagree with this. Schools want more than a claim about how lawyers must care about or understand "humanity."



See, now when I set off to write this thing that was not the impression I wanted to give. "lawyers must care" is not the thesis of this ps; understanding the diverse nature of people is. Maybe that's a shitty ps topic, but if I at all came off like I think everyone just needs to caaaaaare then I fucked up worse than I thought. I'm not an idealistic person, and I'm certainly not a wishy-washy person.

My first choice school needs an essay as well as a personal statement, basically just two PS, with that in mind this might not be total trash if I give it a MASSIVE makeover. But maybe not.

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Flustercluck
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby Flustercluck » Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:17 pm

ademska wrote:I'm gonna slip into a state of possible self-denial and say it's cos I was panicking and wrote it in like a couple hours. I've now got several months to fix it up or, likely, trash it.

I seriously seriously appreciate the honesty. CanadianWolf, I agree with a good majority of your changes and made the whole thing a lot simpler.

I'd post it again, but Flustercluck, you're also dead-on. I'm not being self-deprecating just for the hell of it; I'm well-aware how much of an ass I came off and how vague the whole thing is. I think cutting the bullshit down and actually expanding on the points I was trying to make will fit the wordcount and paint some gold over this turd. I'm bookmarking this thread and I'll pore over it and every other thread in this subforum.

I do have a question, though: some of the vagueness (eg the jobs bit) was because I also submitted a resume with job history etc, and I maybe erroneously assumed that shit in your PS shouldn't be too redundant. Obv in this case I need to not be weird about it, but what's the general rule of thumb with reiterating stuff elsewhere in the app?

Haha but just fwiw "emphatically" wasn't thesaurus syndrome, it was (poorly-worded) reflection on the crazy people I dealt with. Idk maybe it only makes sense to me, either way it's outskies.


I described my work history in my PS, but made it relevant based on the aspects that a resume doesn't cover: learning office politics, my personal doubts and accomplishments within the firm that transcended deliverables, my choice to take a chance on a lower paying job because it put me on a professional career path as opposed to another option that paid more in the short run but led nowhere.

As far as your essay, you have a skeleton down. Here are your key points.

I was led into law by philosophy
This is what led me to philosophy
This is how these values also lead me to law
This is how my background in philosophy has prepared me for law

My education was as much outside the classroom as it was inside (you can repeat this for multiple jobs)
This was my job
This is what I learned at my job
This is how my job has prepared me for law

The key is to interweave your thoughts so they move into each other clearly, fluidly, and naturally. In fact, developing these segues and transitions will likely take you longer than identifying and writing up the key points from the simplified rubric above.

Most of all though, you need to add something personal. I read you PS and I have no idea who you are.

This is who I am
What’s important to you and what defines you?
What personal experiences made those things important to you?
How will law help you to achieve/uphold/protect these values?

*edited for formatting

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ademska
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby ademska » Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:27 pm

Oh wow, no fake I might print this out and frame it, this advice is so superb. Stripping it down and pointing out to me what I actually wrote helps me penetrate my own wordswordswords prose and see the heart of my actual points (which tbh need improvement).

I think, now that I have the whole summer to write not-crap and have pulled my head successfully out of my ass, I can build something graceful from that skeleton.

kublaikahn
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby kublaikahn » Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:40 pm

.
Last edited by kublaikahn on Tue May 17, 2011 12:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

BeaverHunter
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby BeaverHunter » Tue Apr 05, 2011 5:21 pm

The essay is full of flowery, pretentious language. How could an aspiring law student possibly know anything about the successful practice of law? Stuff like this is really hard to read and your message gets lost in the fluff. Not every sentence needs a comma. Be more precise.

doing_it_in_a_car
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby doing_it_in_a_car » Mon May 16, 2011 7:32 pm

*bookmarked.

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krasivaya
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby krasivaya » Mon May 16, 2011 7:47 pm

Seriously not trying to be a bitch but you lost me in the first couple of sentences. You came off like all those philosophy majors in college who talked like pretentious dicks and sent awkward texts with semi-colons and pointless big words.

I would get to the personal part of your personal statement more quickly and write more straightforwardly. I'm all for exhibiting your personal writing style, but in this case you just seem like you're trying way too hard.

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ademska
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Re: PS/Essay critique

Postby ademska » Mon May 16, 2011 7:50 pm

Wow, buried! But yeah, I'm awaresies how annoying it is, and rest assure, it's long buried in the trash




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