Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
spek
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Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby spek » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:56 am

Thanks so much for all the help. Back to the drawing board :)
Last edited by spek on Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:06 am, edited 2 times in total.

schooner
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby schooner » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:10 am

I think your PS is inspiring and beautifully written. I wanted to hear more about your current experience at your NGO though. That really piqued my interest. I wonder if you could split this up into a PS focused on your NGO work experience and a diversity statement focused on your experiences in Nigeria.

Small things: "scent" is misspelled in the 2nd sentence, and Americans prefer the logically inferior way of ordering punctuation marks and apostrophes (commas and periods before the closing apostrophe).

Best of luck, OP!

DanInALionsDen
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby DanInALionsDen » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:14 am

It's incoherent. Was it your trip to Nigeria that led you to have a passion for social justice, your love of reading, or something else? The arc needs to be clean, and concise, even if its artificially so.

I would make the arc something like this, assuming it's true/fairly true: Returning to my homeland made me realize my place in the world, as an African living in the diaspora, and sparked my interest in social justice. I currently pursue this interest by working at an NGO. However, I often feel powerless to help those I meet through my job. But, I believe that by acquiring the necessary legal training, I could become an asset to these people.

Also are you intentionally concealing the identity of your NGO ("NGO's SF office"). If so, I assume its just for this post. Don't conceal it from admissions.

spek
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby spek » Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:16 am

schooner wrote:I think your PS is inspiring and beautifully written. I wanted to hear more about your current experience at your NGO though. That really piqued my interest. I wonder if you could split this up into a PS focused on your NGO work experience and a diversity statement focused on your experiences in Nigeria.

Small things: "scent" is misspelled in the 2nd sentence, and Americans prefer the logically inferior way of ordering punctuation marks and apostrophes (commas and periods before the closing apostrophe).

Best of luck, OP!


Thanks! The tricky thing about the NGO work is that outside of describing the types of stories I hear, I can't think of an interesting way to describe what I do there without it being a restatement of my resume. Did you feel like the PS was lacking because it didn't say more about the NGO or was that something you thought might help but wasn't required? I already have a subject for my DS so I don't think I'm going to split this up but I understand your suggestion. I do, however, want to make sure that what I've written fits in with the rest of the narrative.

Btw, American punctuation rules are annoying lol. Thanks for pointing those out, I'll be sure to change all of those errors.

DanInALionsDen wrote:It's incoherent. Was it your trip to Nigeria that led you to have a passion for social justice, your love of reading, or something else? The arc needs to be clean, and concise, even if its artificially so.

I would make the arc something like this, assuming it's true/fairly true: Returning to my homeland made me realize my place in the world, as an African living in the diaspora, and sparked my interest in social justice. I currently pursue this interest by working at an NGO. However, I often feel powerless to help those I meet through my job. But, I believe that by acquiring the necessary legal training, I could become an asset to these people.

Also are you intentionally concealing the identity of your NGO ("NGO's SF office"). If so, I assume its just for this post. Don't conceal it from admissions.


Thanks. I already had an interest in social justice, but my trip and my experiences afterward changed my perspective on advocacy. I'll try to make that a bit more explicit. Also, I'm just concealing it for this post :).


Any more critiques?

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Blessedassurance
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby Blessedassurance » Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:20 am

Throw in some examples of the literary works that captures the essence of being Nigerian. Off the top of my head I can think of Chinue Achibe and Wole Soyinka.

Also, be more descriptive. For example, when you say you understood "your parents language", use the name of the language (i.e. Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa). Mention the place you were in Nigeria (eg. Lagos or Kalaba, Nigeria). It makes the story more vivid in my opinion.
Last edited by Blessedassurance on Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

Peeblepop
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby Peeblepop » Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:20 am

I think the last sentence should be 'effecting' change. One of those tricky places where effect can be used as a verb. Dictionary.com it.

spek
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby spek » Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:26 am

Blessedassurance wrote:Throw in some examples of the literary works that captures the essence of being Nigerian. Off the top of my head I can think of Chinue Achibe and Wole Soyinka.


Funny, I had Soyinka and Chimamanda Adichie in other drafts but was told it might alienate the reader if they didn't know these authors.

spek
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby spek » Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:27 am

Peeblepop wrote:I think the last sentence should be 'effecting' change. One of those tricky places where effect can be used as a verb. Dictionary.com it.


Thanks!

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Blessedassurance
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby Blessedassurance » Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:32 am

spek wrote:
Blessedassurance wrote:Throw in some examples of the literary works that captures the essence of being Nigerian. Off the top of my head I can think of Chinue Achibe and Wole Soyinka.


Funny, I had Soyinka and Chimamanda Adichie in other drafts but was told it might alienate the reader if they didn't know these authors.


Not knowing the authors is not exactly synonymous with alienation. In fact, they might not know Lagos, Kalaba or Benin City but that is the point.

Throwing these in there haphazardly might be ill-advised but if you introduce the authors and cities properly, they will have an idea of what you're trying to convey. It becomes educational. Chimamanda Adichie is not popular though. If you've read "Things fall apart" I'd use Chinue Achibe instead.

sven
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby sven » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:50 am

I really liked this essay! Just a quick question: do you intend to write a DS as well? I'm considering writing a PS that also mentions my immigrant background, but was wondering if it would then render a DS redundant. I'd like to hear your opinion.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:04 am

This essay is okay as a second draft, but should not be considered to be a final draft. The first three paragraphs flow well except for your reference to "stereotypical" presentations of Africa; maybe "superficial" would be a better word choice. If you prefer to use "stereotypical", then you need to explain to the reader what that means.
The fourth paragraph also references a stereotype with which readers may be unfamiliar.
The transition to the fifth paragraph is fine, but the body of this final paragraph is weak.

Your essay contains a few irritating errors. For example, the third sentence of the second paragraph needs to be rewritten ("For ten days I traveled to different villages and cities and I visited family members that had once been abstract concepts to me.").
CONSIDER: For ten days I traveled to different villages and cities to visit family members who once had been abstract concepts to me.

Fourth paragraph: Consider reducing "so little" to "little". Also in the same paragraph, consider changing "little ammunition" to "scant ammunition".

P.S. I agree that inclusion of the authors' names would be distracting to readers. Also, change "affecting change" to "effecting change".

Overall, your personal statement/diversity statement is unoriginal, but effective.

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puppylaw
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby puppylaw » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:00 am

Like others have said, you could clean up some of the writing (but some of it is really good!) and tie the essay together a bit more. There is a thread that runs all the way through it for sure, but that thread could be tighter, if that makes sense. Also, there are some places where you give good concrete examples, but some where you could offer more. What are the stereotypes you encountered, for example? How did each step specifically lead you to where you are?

Good draft. It'll only get better.

spek
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby spek » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:21 pm

sven wrote:I really liked this essay! Just a quick question: do you intend to write a DS as well? I'm considering writing a PS that also mentions my immigrant background, but was wondering if it would then render a DS redundant. I'd like to hear your opinion.


PM'd

CanadianWolf wrote:This essay is okay as a second draft, but should not be considered to be a final draft. The first three paragraphs flow well except for your reference to "stereotypical" presentations of Africa; maybe "superficial" would be a better word choice. If you prefer to use "stereotypical", then you need to explain to the reader what that means.
The fourth paragraph also references a stereotype with which readers may be unfamiliar.
The transition to the fifth paragraph is fine, but the body of this final paragraph is weak.

Your essay contains a few irritating errors. For example, the third sentence of the second paragraph needs to be rewritten ("For ten days I traveled to different villages and cities and I visited family members that had once been abstract concepts to me.").
CONSIDER: For ten days I traveled to different villages and cities to visit family members who once had been abstract concepts to me.

Fourth paragraph: Consider reducing "so little" to "little". Also in the same paragraph, consider changing "little ammunition" to "scant ammunition".

P.S. I agree that inclusion of the authors' names would be distracting to readers. Also, change "affecting change" to "effecting change".

Overall, your personal statement/diversity statement is unoriginal, but effective.


Thanks. Can I ask what makes it unoriginal?

CanadianWolf
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:36 pm

Reconnecting to one's homeland culture is a common theme. This doesn't make your personal statement less personal or ineffective, but it does require clear & concise writing in a sincere & convincing manner--which you have achieved, in my opinion.

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billyez
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby billyez » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:26 pm

The transition to the fifth paragraph is fine, but the body of this final paragraph is weak.


It's incoherent. Was it your trip to Nigeria that led you to have a passion for social justice, your love of reading, or something else? The arc needs to be clean, and concise, even if its artificially so.


I agree with these two assessments; although, to a lesser degree in regards to the second statement.

The body of the final paragraph is weak. So weak, in fact, that I'd elect you'd get rid of it and opt to further develop your cultural awakening. The problem, to me, is that there's just too much being forced down the throat of the reader at the end here that seems new and far less developed than the rest of the narrative. Certainly a re-write is needed if you want to keep it. I'm trying to come up with a way you could develop it further to allay my concerns...

I thought you had a rather good thread of regarding your heritage in this PS. It flowed nicely from your cultural experience to your love of reading. Where it falls flat is the last part. But I've covered that above.

Can I dissent from the addition of specific authors? It's a sluggish dissent, as I don't think it would negativley effect the PS if you included it, but still one I thought I would note. The passage works fine without the specificity of the authors that you've read. And does it really matter who the authors were? What matters is how they effected you.

I also concur with CanadianWolf's conclusion that the PS is unoriginal, but effective. I thought the first couple of paragraphs in particular were well-written and genuine. This is a tried-and-true PS topic, but it's not "phoned in." Just some moderate tightening up of the writing and a change in how you've formulated in the final paragraph and I think you would be more than halfway there.

kublaikahn
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby kublaikahn » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:08 pm

I think you can pick out what my thoughts were from my PM, but essentially I think you just need to hone in on the theme that by going deeper (from abstract/superficial to deep/personal) in your search for cultural identity you developed a new schema for problem solving that was transferable to your ideals of social justice.

You learned to go from the abstract to the personal, and now you are applying that skill to other areas of your life. The ability to cross pollinate your life's lessons is a sign of real maturity and learning. I sense this is where you were going, correct? Your writing did not quite get you there, IMO. But, if you can develop it well, I believe it is a home run.

sold123
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby sold123 » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:13 pm

I realize that a PS only allows for limited length but there is too much of you describing the result of your self rather than the process.

I want to know how and why you negotiated your cultural heritage with your sense of identity, not the fact that you did. A specific instance or example would be better than this gloss of your life (especially in paragraphs 2 and 4).

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soj
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Re: Please Critique My PS--will be taken down tomorrow

Postby soj » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:43 am

It's beautiful. I disagree with other posters--I don't think it's unoriginal. The subject matter might be conventional, but your insights are very thoughtful and well stated. Good luck with your applications!




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