PS first draft - Have at it!

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upandup
Posts: 51
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 4:54 pm

PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby upandup » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:58 pm

Here's the first draft of my personal statement, which I decided to focus on my involvement with Spanish and its importance in the legal world in the future. Although I do feel passionately about this, I know it's not necessarily the strongest topic, but considering that I come from a pretty standard background/upbringing without much dramatics I feel that I can do well with it (or as well with it as I personally could considering my background). Please feel free to give any criticism as of course I'll be looking to revise this multiple times.

Also, just some questions in general on personal statements. It seems that every school's application is somewhat different in terms of what they're asking for, both in terms of content and length. Is it standard just to have one personal statement, unchanged, that is submitted everywhere? Or how often do candidates tailor their personal statements to individual applications? Are schools somewhat lenient (i.e., if they say 1000 words but it's 1050, or two pages but its 2 1/4, are they understanding that most applicants are applying to multiple schools?)? Or should one really be careful and abide by everything by the book per application? Thanks for your help for these questions and the personal statement itself!


Here it is:

When one considers an excellent location to be exposed to Spanish in the United States, the Southwest, Florida and other urban areas typically are those which come to mind. _______________, especially in a blue collar coastal town where Italian and Portuguese are more prevalent as a second language than any other, does not. Yet despite this lack of real world contact with hispanohablantes, a love of Spanish was fostered in me as soon as I was introduced to it during my high school years. At the onset of this acquisition I had a general knowledge of the usefulness of Spanish in some of the aforementioned areas, but being located thousands of miles north and east of the desert heat and sweltering humidity, these areas seemed far-off and remote compared to the normalcy of a rather mundane and typically homogenous seaside town. When would I ever be able to use Spanish, anyway, and how? Although I enjoyed learning and speaking it, as someone who had never lived outside of my hometown I feared that that I simply would never be in a position to put it to use.

This notion, however, changed radically for me upon my arrival at ____________ . Situated in the woods of ___________, at first glance it seemed that this spot would be no less likely to expose me to the Spanish language than was my hometown, but soon this was proven false. It struck me that seemingly wherever I went in town I could overhear snippets of Spanish, whether it was at the post office, supermarket or local food banks. Perhaps my greatest revelation came during a rather nondescript encounter which occurred while I was waiting to buy my groceries. I noticed that the line was at a standstill and as I looked ahead I identified the cause of the problem: two equally frustrated people, one a cashier and the other a patron, clearly could not overcome a language barrier needed in order to communicate with each other. Cautiously I approached the register and offered to help. Ultimately I resolved the issue with little difficulty, much to the relief of the rest of those in line who had been waiting impatiently. At this point I realized that not only was Spanish culture close to me after all, but also that my abilities could positively impact those around me.

Determined to continue on with my learning of the language, and now cemented in my belief that I would be able to apply my acquired skills in the future, I set out to finalize how I would take the next big leap necessary to increase proficiency in any language: complete immersion. As a college student, the natural step for me to do this was to commit myself to a semester studying abroad. I decided on Spain as opposed to Latin America, and eschewed the most popular choices of Madrid and Barcelona, fearful that such large, cosmopolitan cities would not force me out of my comfort zone and would instead allow me to rely on English. Instead I chose Granada, a beautiful city situated at the base of the Sierra Nevadas which receives its vibrancy from its extensive student population. It took me no time at all to know that I had made the correct choice when I heard nothing but Spanish from shop to shop and corner to corner. Even if I had wanted to explore the city while relying on English, such a thing was not a possibility.

Being in Europe only reinforced my awe and respect for the importance of understanding and learning multiple languages. Whether it was in Spain or in other countries I traveled to, I consistently expressed my jealousy to those who, although my own age, could fluently speak three, four or even five languages. The enormous advantage of having such an asset was not lost on me and I knew that upon my return to the United States, where we are in a way disadvantaged by the isolation caused by two oceans and a predominantly English-speaking country to our north, I would be privy to an ability shared by all too few Americans. Our geography, along with English conveniently being the international language, has allowed us to be negligent in the pursuit of multilingualism. Clearly, however, in a time where globalization increasingly connects us with faraway and diverse cultures while the Spanish-speaking population itself grows steadily in the United States, knowledge of Spanish is an absolute must.

Seeing as the law extends itself into every facet of society, the legal world is no exception in that it too must adapt to an American society which is as much of a melting pot today as it has been throughout its history. From contentious immigration and employment issues domestically and even to possible human rights and international business matters abroad, there is no doubt that knowledge of Spanish, particularly in the Western hemisphere, will only be progressively more important in the future. For me, gone are the questions about how I could possibly integrate my love of Spanish with a legal career, or for that matter any career at all. In fact, that I ever even had such a concern now seems somewhat laughable when I consider the omnipresence of Spanish in American society.

There need not be a shortage of bilingual attorneys who are capable of representing and properly communicating with Spanish-speaking clients. I, for one, am proud to say that I am driven to embrace the challenges of mastering a second language proficiently enough to be able to translate that to another difficult language, the language of the law. I feel fortunate to have broken out of the shell that had formed as a result of my upbringing in a sleepy coastal town without significant Spanish interaction. No longer do I see my love of Spanish as an out of place passion, but instead now as an enormous asset which will help me to succeed in a legal world which will only grow more reliant on English-Spanish bilingualism in the future.

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icecold3000
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Re: PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby icecold3000 » Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:35 pm

Is it standard just to have one personal statement, unchanged, that is submitted everywhere? Or how often do candidates tailor their personal statements to individual applications?


It really depends on what the application asks for. Follow the directions. Certain schools ask for a response to a detailed question while others are very broad. For my PS, I will be using the same basic draft for all schools with a few minor edits to ensure I am following the directions.

Are schools somewhat lenient (i.e., if they say 1000 words but it's 1050, or two pages but its 2 1/4, are they understanding that most applicants are applying to multiple schools?)? Or should one really be careful and abide by everything by the book per application?


Conventional wisdom is to not go over the space alloted. This is probably why most people tailor their PS to the school. IMO it is generally a bad idea to write 4 pages for a 2 page Personal Statement. It shows the adcomm that you cannot follow simple directions. However, I have heard some say that it is okay to go over the alloted space and that it is possible to get a waiver from the school for personal statement length. If you do a search, you will probably find discussion boards where these questions have been debated in detail.

As for your PS, I thought it was good for a first draft. For your second draft, work on further developing your "why law" conclusion.

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curiouscat
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Re: PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby curiouscat » Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:36 pm

It's got some potential but there's some work to be done. You take an okay topic and give it your own take, I can see that working out. The big issue for me is the writing style. You have a knack for taking simple ideas and putting them in the most complicated, convoluted way possible. You pick "fancy" words when a common one would do, overstylize your sentence structures, and use stilted, confusing phrases that would make Judith Butler proud. (Just teasing, just teasing :)).

In all seriousness, the "academese" style gives your essay a choppy, pretentious feel and makes it difficult to connect with it. My main suggestion is to make the writing sound more natural, clear and straightforward. Go for a simple word whenever you can, and if you insist on using those fancy-sounding words, make sure you're using them right. I find it useful to read my writing out loud to myself (or, better yet, have someone read it to me) - that helps spot some of the overly-formal sentence structures and gives it a more natural flow. I think if you can write this essay more clearly and vividly and cut the academese, you'll have a solid draft to work with.

schooner
Posts: 374
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby schooner » Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:19 pm

It's well-written, but the language is too dense and academic for a personal statement. It's not really...interesting. A personal statement shouldn't force the reader to follow along.

More importantly, it doesn't sound like you're fully using the personal statement to convince the admissions committee why you're special and a worthy law student/future lawyer. First, you don't get around to talking about yourself until the 3rd paragraph. What I did learn is that you think you're special because you want to be a Spanish-English speaking attorney, but even then, I didn't feel like you illustrated why you personally believe increasing access to such lawyers is important. (Instead, you just preach about why breaking down the Spanish-English language barrier, in general, is important.)

Why law specifically? You could substitute "doctor" or "accountant" or "dog groomer" where you wrote "attorney." Instead, I read a lot about Europe, the importance of multi-lingualism, and the increasing pervasiveness of Spanish in American society.

schooner
Posts: 374
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby schooner » Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:29 pm

upandup wrote:Also, just some questions in general on personal statements. It seems that every school's application is somewhat different in terms of what they're asking for, both in terms of content and length. Is it standard just to have one personal statement, unchanged, that is submitted everywhere? Or how often do candidates tailor their personal statements to individual applications? Are schools somewhat lenient (i.e., if they say 1000 words but it's 1050, or two pages but its 2 1/4, are they understanding that most applicants are applying to multiple schools?)? Or should one really be careful and abide by everything by the book per application? Thanks for your help for these questions and the personal statement itself!


You should follow each school's instructions and do it by the book. Not following directions is an easy way to show them that you're lazy, careless, or unaware ("I'm such a great candidate that I don't need to follow their rules"). If you're a good writer, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever why you can't adjust your personal statement to meet each school's criteria.

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

Re: PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby kublaikahn » Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:15 am

Or you could just write "fluent in spanish" on you application/resume. I do not like the topic the way you have built it. First of all, it makes you seem shallow and one dimensional. Who moves to a new town and thinks,. "Is this a place where I can speak Spanish?"

I wouldn't go a single word over the word count, particularly because you can say the exact same thing you said here with less than half the words if you learn to write more concisely. This is about as verbose as it comes.

upandup wrote:I was raised in a Northeastern coastal town not yet touched by the spread of the Spanish culture and language. Despite my affinity for language and Spanish studies in high school, learning the language seemed to lack much utilitarian purpose. Then one day while waiting to check out at the grocery store, I noticed the clerk and a customer struggling to overcome a frustrating language barrier. Using my Spanish, I resolved the issue with little difficulty, much to the relief of the rest of the line. At this point, I realized that not only was Spanish culture close to me after all, but also that my language abilities could positively impact those around me.

I love breaking down barriers and this event ignited a passion in me that culminated in my immersion in a Spanish culture when I spent a semester studying in Spain....


When one considers an excellent location to be exposed to Spanish in the United States, the Southwest, Florida and other urban areas typically are those which come to mind. _______________, especially in a blue collar coastal town where Italian and Portuguese are more prevalent as a second language than any other, does not. Yet despite this lack of real world contact with hispanohablantes, a love of Spanish was fostered in me as soon as I was introduced to it during my high school years. At the onset of this acquisition I had a general knowledge of the usefulness of Spanish in some of the aforementioned areas, but being located thousands of miles north and east of the desert heat and sweltering humidity, these areas seemed far-off and remote compared to the normalcy of a rather mundane and typically homogenous seaside town. When would I ever be able to use Spanish, anyway, and how? Although I enjoyed learning and speaking it, as someone who had never lived outside of my hometown I feared that that I simply would never be in a position to put it to use.

This notion, however, changed radically for me upon my arrival at ____________ . Situated in the woods of ___________, at first glance it seemed that this spot would be no less likely to expose me to the Spanish language than was my hometown, but soon this was proven false. It struck me that seemingly wherever I went in town I could overhear snippets of Spanish, whether it was at the post office, supermarket or local food banks.

Perhaps my greatest revelation came during a rather nondescript encounter which occurred while I was waiting to buy my groceries. I noticed that the line was at a standstill and as I looked ahead I identified the cause of the problem: two equally frustrated people, one a cashier and the other a patron, clearly could not overcome a language barrier needed in order to communicate with each other. Cautiously I approached the register and offered to help. Ultimately I resolved the issue with little difficulty, much to the relief of the rest of those in line who had been waiting impatiently. At this point I realized that not only was Spanish culture close to me after all, but also that my abilities could positively impact those around me.

Determined to continue on with my learning of the language, and now cemented in my belief that I would be able to apply my acquired skills in the future, I set out to finalize how I would take the next big leap necessary to increase proficiency in any language: complete immersion. As a college student, the natural step for me to do this was to commit myself to a semester studying abroad.



....I decided on Spain as opposed to Latin America, and eschewed the most popular choices of Madrid and Barcelona, fearful that such large, cosmopolitan cities would not force me out of my comfort zone and would instead allow me to rely on Spanish. Instead I chose Granada, a beautiful city situated at the base of the Sierra Nevadas which receives its vibrancy from its extensive student population. It took me no time at all to know that I knew I had made the correct choice when I heard nothing but Spanish from shop to shop and corner to corner. Even if I had wanted to explore the city while relying on English, such a thing was not a possibility. English was about as useful here as Spanish was in my hometown.

Being in Europe.... [continue editing here. you get the idea. you need to add some more of your personality and focus in from this point on] only reinforced my awe and respect for the importance of understanding and learning multiple languages. Whether it was in Spain or in other countries I traveled to, I consistently expressed my jealousy to those who, although my own age, could fluently speak three, four or even five languages. The enormous advantage of having such an asset was not lost on me and I knew that upon my return to the United States, where we are in a way disadvantaged by the isolation caused by two oceans and a predominantly English-speaking country to our north, I would be privy to an ability shared by all too few Americans. Our geography, along with English conveniently being the international language, has allowed us to be negligent in the pursuit of multilingualism. Clearly, however, in a time where globalization increasingly connects us with faraway and diverse cultures while the Spanish-speaking population itself grows steadily in the United States, knowledge of Spanish is an absolute must.

Seeing as the law extends itself into every facet of society, the legal world is no exception in that it too must adapt to an American society which is as much of a melting pot today as it has been throughout its history. From contentious immigration and employment issues domestically and even to possible human rights and international business matters abroad, there is no doubt that knowledge of Spanish, particularly in the Western hemisphere, will only be progressively more important in the future. For me, gone are the questions about how I could possibly integrate my love of Spanish with a legal career, or for that matter any career at all. In fact, that I ever even had such a concern now seems somewhat laughable when I consider the omnipresence of Spanish in American society.

There need not be a shortage of bilingual attorneys who are capable of representing and properly communicating with Spanish-speaking clients. I, for one, am proud to say that I am driven to embrace the challenges of mastering a second language proficiently enough to be able to translate that to another difficult language, the language of the law. I feel fortunate to have broken out of the shell that had formed as a result of my upbringing in a sleepy coastal town without significant Spanish interaction. No longer do I see my love of Spanish as an out of place passion, but instead now as an enormous asset which will help me to succeed in a legal world which will only grow more reliant on English-Spanish bilingualism in the future.

freestallion
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Re: PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby freestallion » Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:44 pm

I don't think the topic is the worst one you could have chosen, though it is a bit mundane as I'm sure many individuals have studied abroad and become fluent in Spanish. You treated the topic pretty decently. However as others have mentioned, your writing is extremely convoluted. You make even simply statements and sentences sound too complex. It is, quite frankly, boring to read. It's very difficult to pay attention due to your odd use of language. I found myself distracted and unable to get through the whole thing w/o a lot of effort.

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TIKITEMBO
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Re: PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby TIKITEMBO » Fri Jul 08, 2011 5:57 pm

.
Last edited by TIKITEMBO on Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sparty99
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Re: PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby sparty99 » Sat Jul 09, 2011 6:04 pm

This is poorly written. I wanted to stop reading after the second paragraph. Your first sentence exemplifies the main problem with your essay. Stop trying to impress the reader with "academic/flowery" prose. Speak clearly and simple.

After reading some of your sentences, I was just like, "wtf?" What the hell is he trying to say?

upandup
Posts: 51
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 4:54 pm

Re: PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby upandup » Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:29 pm

Thanks guys, I kind of figured I'd get these types of responses...I've always struggled with wordiness, especially in first drafts. I hope you'll continue to help me out as I post revisions.

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annyong
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Re: PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby annyong » Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:10 pm

I agree with what's been said about the wordiness - not only is it convoluted, but it honestly doesn't match with the writing style, it seemed like you were thumbing through a thesaurus to make your writing sound more intelligent rather than having something that was well written (not saying you did this or that you're not capable of writing intelligently, just saying how it came off as I read it)

I also think with the way you have this progressing, it's a weird "barrier" that you break through - "I didn't see Spanish as useful, but now I do"...Okay, but why you want to use it to be a lawyer, what makes you passionate about it in the first place, etc. would be a much better use of the short space that you have to present the best picture of yourself.

Pero, me encanta Granada, y he vivido en un parte de Andalucia, el accento es horrible!

upandup
Posts: 51
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Re: PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby upandup » Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:06 pm

OK guys, here's a second draft. I tried to clean it up a lot and take what you said into consideration. Thanks for any and all help again (and of course from any new contributors as well)!


_________, especially in a blue collar coastal town where Italian and Portuguese are the most prevalent second languages, is not the best place to be exposed to Spanish. Yet despite this lack of real world contact with hispanohablantes, a love of Spanish was fostered in me right away during my high school years. Still, I questioned the language’s applicability for me. When would I ever be able to use Spanish, anyway, and how? Although I enjoyed learning and speaking it, I had never lived outside of my hometown and feared that I simply would never be in a position to put it to use.

This fear, however, was unexpectedly put to rest one day during my freshman year at ______________. As I was waiting to pay for my groceries at a supermarket just off campus, I noticed that the line was at a standstill. I looked ahead and soon identified the cause of the problem: two equally frustrated people, one a cashier and the other a patron, were clearly struggling to overcome a language barrier. After some consideration I cautiously approached the register and offered to help. I ended up resolving the issue with little difficulty, much to the relief of those who had been impatiently waiting in line. Although this event was rather unassuming it caused me to have a revelation, making me realize that not only was Spanish closer to me than I had thought, but also that my abilities could positively impact those around me.

From this point forward I became determined to continue to learn Spanish, now cemented in my belief that I could apply my skills in the future. I soon decided how I would take the next big leap needed to increase my proficiency: complete immersion in a Spanish-speaking culture. I decided to study abroad in Spain and eschewed the most popular choices of Madrid and Barcelona, fearful that such large, cosmopolitan cities would not force me out of my English-speaking comfort zone. Instead I chose Granada, a beautiful city situated at the base of the Sierra Nevadas which receives its vibrancy from its extensive student population. I knew immediately that I had made the correct choice when I heard nothing but Spanish being spoken in every shop and on every corner.

During my time in Spain the significance and advantage of multilingualism was readily apparent. Unlike in the United States, it was commonplace for much of the population to speak at least two languages, especially with the younger generations. I witnessed firsthand many times both the frustrations of not being able to communicate well and the benefits of being multilingual. Although it was difficult to come home after such an eye-opening experience, I returned feeling confident and hopeful that I could employ my language skills in a future career.

Although I have never “always wanted to be a lawyer,” I was introduced to the legal profession when I was young. My _________ always spoke about his choice to become an attorney without reservations, claiming that, aside from marrying my _____________, it was the best decision he had ever made. He simply loved to practice, so much so that he was notoriously bad at tending to the bookkeeping end of his business, instead being too focused on cases at hand. He shared this enthusiasm with me and told me what he enjoyed from practicing, including the value of pursuing fairness and the personal thrill and satisfaction one gets from winning a case. These aspects of the profession greatly appealed to me and first caused me to consider following his path.

So, it would be fair to say that a career in law has been in my mind for a long time. Nonetheless, I remained uncommitted, unsure of whether there was a career in law which interested me enough to pursue it. Much like my initial uncertainty with Spanish, I knew I had to address problems of personal applicability. Although I greatly respected my __________, his abilities, and his impressions of law that he imparted on me, he practiced _________________ law, and this did not appeal to me. This was worrisome because I felt as if I wanted what could be experienced through law but did not know exactly how to get it.

It may seem like an obvious outcome that I have now chosen to combine these two passions which, for me, perhaps would not have been able to stand on their own in a future career of mine. However, I did not arrive at this point easily. I understand, for example, that it could be a challenge in a lingual sense having not been raised from childhood with both Spanish and English; those raised with both languages certainly do have an edge. Regardless, I feel strongly that how much one enjoys his work is an enormous factor in determining how well that person will overcome future problems. I know that because I will be passionate about my work, I will be able to put forth the time and effort necessary to achieve success.

Therefore, it will be at an intersection between Spanish and law where I seek to echo the success of my _____________ while still reflecting my own personality. I feel that these two interests are no longer out of place, but instead can complement each other very well. This is true not only for me, but also for a country which is now seeing its percentage of hispanohablantes rise while at the same time its level of interaction increases with its southerly neighbors. In short, there will only be an increase in demand for attorneys who are bilingual in Spanish and English. Because of this, by combining passions for Spanish and law I will be able to lead both a rewarding and useful career in the legal field.

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

Re: PS first draft - Have at it!

Postby sparty99 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:37 pm

The second draft is horribly written




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