Personal Statement Needs Some Hate (Draft 2 Update)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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zx92027xz
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Personal Statement Needs Some Hate (Draft 2 Update)

Postby zx92027xz » Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:46 pm

Draft 2, still some work to do, but I wanted to put it up and see if anyone has critiques.


I woke to the sound of the officer in command, Captain Dunn, popping in through the edge of my makeshift shelter, “Good morning, Airman Martin. It is 5 AM, negative 26 degrees, and it’s going to be a long day; get up.” With a quiet groan, I sat up in my sleeping bag and wished fervently I was somewhere else. I had just completed the first of five days in the MOUNTAINS [unsure of name of mountain range in WA] going through U.S. Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School in mid-January. Those first five days in field, followed by our resistance (ie. Prisoner of War) training served as a test of each trainee’s physical and mental ability to cope under stressful and physically demanding conditions.

I realize now that the skills acquired from that training have likely faded into the back of my mind, only to be recalled under extreme duress in the event of a combat evasion situation; however, the experience remains visceral. Stepping off the bus into the cold on Day 1, I found myself unprepared and scared. One individual in particular, a veteran Master Sergeant with 22 years in service, saw my timidity and helped me through the initial shock of the situation. It was his encouragement and leadership that got me through the first three days. My confidence grew. On the final day of field training a combat evasion scenario was run, in which a team of six individuals must navigate without detection through a five mile stretch of mountainous terrain crawling with aggressors and patrol by helicopters. Where I had relied on the encouragement and leadership of a veteran Master Sergeant to get through the first few days, by the end of the training I found that it was my leadership that others were looking to in order to get through the grueling days, sleep deprivation, and hunger.

It happened incredibly quickly. A snap of a branch, rustling in the bushes, a brief glimpse of a gun barrel out of the corner of my eye, then an explosion blasted no more than 20 feet to my right. I was face down in the dirt by the time the second explosion went off. Through the ringing of my ears, I could hear shouting in a foreign language, followed by heavily accented English, “Stay on the ground and keep your hands where we can see them!” I watched as each member of my group was forced to stand and had black burlap hoods thrown over their heads. I was then subjected to the same treatment. The training that took place over the following days has been classified as Secret by the U.S. Air Force and I am unable to discuss it; however, it was not the training events, but the manner in conducted myself in the face of extreme stress, both physical and mental. That experience showed me that when a member of my team was weak, I had ability and obligation to help them, regardless of rank, age, race, socioeconomic status, etc. It taught me that good leadership has a lot to do with good followership. Most importantly, it taught me that no matter how bad things may be at the moment, I find solace more in helping the person next to me than in helping myself.

The virtues instilled in me by the Air Force have served me well in the both the military and in college, and will continue to do so at XXXXXXXXX Law.
Last edited by zx92027xz on Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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bandenjamin
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Re: Personal Statement Needs Some Hate

Postby bandenjamin » Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:02 pm

Overall I think it's a pretty good P/S. A few minor things.

1. Remove the all caps in "MOUNTAINS" (unless that's a really long Air Force Acronym I'm not familiar with). It seems to be for emphasis, if you're looking for that, go with bold/italics.

2. Break the 2nd huge paragraph in to two separate ones. The first talking about some of the skills acquired, the second using the specific example of finding a mentor to help inspire you, who you in turn were able to inspire (seriously, 3 weeks to go for retirement and that's how he wanted to spend it?).

3. Keep with the tone of no bitching when the going gets tough (i.e. I did everything you told me too and I still get to be tortured. It seems that it would relate well to "I studied what you told me, why didn't I get an A?!" type of bitching law profs see a lot.

Other than that, I think it's a fairly strong P/S. I'm sure others will be happy to further critique. Thanks for your service and good luck in the upcoming admissions cycle.

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zx92027xz
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Re: Personal Statement Needs Some Hate

Postby zx92027xz » Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:17 pm

bandenjamin wrote:Overall I think it's a pretty good P/S. A few minor things.

1. Remove the all caps in "MOUNTAINS" (unless that's a really long Air Force Acronym I'm not familiar with). It seems to be for emphasis, if you're looking for that, go with bold/italics.

2. Break the 2nd huge paragraph in to two separate ones. The first talking about some of the skills acquired, the second using the specific example of finding a mentor to help inspire you, who you in turn were able to inspire (seriously, 3 weeks to go for retirement and that's how he wanted to spend it?).

3. Keep with the tone of no bitching when the going gets tough (i.e. I did everything you told me too and I still get to be tortured. It seems that it would relate well to "I studied what you told me, why didn't I get an A?!" type of bitching law profs see a lot.

Other than that, I think it's a fairly strong P/S. I'm sure others will be happy to further critique. Thanks for your service and good luck in the upcoming admissions cycle.



lol about the mountains... i dont know the name of the range of mountains up in washington around that base and i meant to google it and find out. my bad... thats going to get flamed on a little bit im sure.
good point about the 2nd paragraph.
i hadnt thought about the no bitching thing... i was trying to go with a little bit a irony/humor, but ill def take another look at it.

MumofCad
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Re: Personal Statement Needs Some Hate

Postby MumofCad » Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:34 pm

zx92027xz wrote:I am sure this isn't very strong, but critique it up and let me know what I can do to improve.

I woke to the sound our element leader, Captain Charles Dunn, popping his head in through the edge of my makeshift shelter and saying, “Good morning, Airman Martin. It is 5 AM, negative 26 degrees, and it’s going to be a long day. Get up.” With a quiet groan, I sat up in my sleeping bag and, with all my heart, wished I was somewhere else. I had just completed the first of five days to be spent in the MOUNTAINS [unsure of name of mountain range in WA] being put through U.S. Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School in mid-January – as it turns out, growing up in Southern California does little to prepare you for dead-of-winter combat survival training. Those first five days in field, followed by our resistance (ie. Prisoner of War) training served as a test of each trainee’s physical and mental ability to cope under stressful and physically demanding conditions.

Four-years after graduating SERE training, I realize that the skills acquired from that training have likely faded into the back of my mind, only to be recalled under extreme duress in the event of a combat evasion situation. The skills I consistently find myself falling back on are not the technical tricks-of-the-trade taught by my SERE instructors, but the residual (basic, root, grimy, enduring, word I cant think of) traits instilled on my through the experience. Not only did that experience put me a situation far outside of my comfortable suburban house that was all I had known in life to that point, but it taught me that I had the ability to do and succeed in doing a thing I thought far beyond my ability. Specifically, I recall a Master Sergeant who had 23 years in service with only three weeks until his retirement. This man had chosen to go through this training of his own accord. It was his encouragement and leadership that got me through the first three days, but it was my encouragement and leadership that navigated and dragged our sleep and food deprived asses successfully through our evasion evaluation on the final day of field training. The pride I felt as we low-crawled our way into the “safe-zone” having avoided detection and capture remains one of my favorite memories. Albeit that this fond memory is quite brief, because, as it turns out, even if a group successfully escapes capture in their evasion evaluation, the game is rigged. As we trudged down a narrow path with the other 50 trainees who had made it to the checkpoint, we were ambushed and forced to march, just like everyone else, to our two days of a very realistic Prisoner of War training.

The core values of the United States Air Force are as follows: Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. I have lived by these virtues ever since the day I raise my right hand and swore to protect this country with my life. The commitment to excellence, integrity, and service has served me well in both my military and undergraduate career, and I am entirely confident that it will continue to do so at XXXXXXXXX Law.

Edit: explaining the "MOUNTAINS" strangeness


I would tighten up the language to give you more room to add substance. Lots of unnecessary details in the first paragraph for example:

I woke to the sound our leaderwe don't know what element means so you don't need it, Captain Charles ex first name, we don't care about his name Dunn, popping his head - more unnecessary detail in through the edge of my makeshift shelter and saying - saying is implied, “Good morning, Airman Martin. It is 5 AM, negative 26 degrees, and it’s going to be a long day. Get up - out, again implied by the fact that you then get up and not colorful enough to add anything to the narrative.” With a quiet groan, I sat up in my sleeping bag and wished ferventlyI was somewhere else. I had just completed the first of five days to be spent - edit out in the MOUNTAINS [unsure of name of mountain range in WA] being put - change to going, sounds less whiny and more active IMO through U.S. Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School in mid-January. As it turns out - change this to something more revealing, this is a throw away transition growing up in Southern California does little to prepare you for dead-of-winter combat survival training. Those first five days in field, followed by our -implied take it out resistance (ie. Prisoner of War) training served as a test of each trainee’s - change to our physical and mental ability to cope under stressful, physically-demanding conditions.


I think if you take a critical eye toward the rest, you will find yourself with a more powerful and direct statement:

I woke to the sound our leader, Captain Dunn, popping in through the edge of my makeshift shelter, “Good morning, Airman Martin. It is 5 AM, negative 26 degrees, and it’s going to be a long day.” With a quiet groan, I sat up in my sleeping bag and wished fervently I to be somewhere else. I had just completed the first of five days in the MOUNTAINS [unsure of name of mountain range in WA] going through through U.S. Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School in mid-January. Growing up in Southern California does little to prepare you for dead-of-winter combat survival training. Those first five days in field, followed by resistance (ie. Prisoner of War) training served as a test of our physical and mental ability to cope under stressful, physically-demanding conditions.

Now I'll finish reading and give you some substance issues.

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Re: Personal Statement Needs Some Hate

Postby MumofCad » Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:58 pm

I have issues with some of the substance in the second paragraph. Its not terribly engaging. You are telling me something that I would be more interested in recognizing through a compelling narrative about a specific example you had during this training. If you tighten up the writing as I suggested you will give yourself room to start the introduction with a more active, compelling narrative.

Ie. What happens during POW resistance training. I know its a stressful and demanding situation, but put me in it. Make me feel it. Start me off with an investment in you. Most adcomms will have no idea how stressful and demanding some of the training actually is. Something like:

"Stumbling forward, I worked furiously against the blinding mixture of sweat and mud that streamed endlessly down my face. My captors prodded me on with each misstep. I would have only one chance to escape. I had to ensure that the fatigue threatening to engulf me did not consume me, doom me to a fate I could not entertain. How far had we gone? Was that the sound of running water? etc....."

That is just off the top of my head, but you get the idea of what I am talking about. It will add tremendous power to your later explanation of what you learned from the experience. It is much more interesting that the intro of Captain Dunn waking you in the morning to a groan (which sets up a sort of non empathetic tone to the rest of the story).

Alright, now substance in the second paragraph:

Four-years after graduating SERE trainingagain we don't need this time frame, I realize that the skills acquired from that training have likely faded into the back of my mind, only to be recalled under extreme duress in the event of a combat evasion situation. The skills I consistently find myself falling back on are not the technical tricks-of-the-trade taught by my SERE instructors, but the residual (basic, root, grimy, enduring, word I cant think of) traits instilled on my through the experience. Not only did that experience put me a situation far outside of my comfortable suburban house that was all I had known in life to that point, but - none of this is important or revealing about you, take it out, change to just I learned or something it taught me that I had the ability to do and succeed in doing a thing I thought far beyond my abilityThis sentence is awkward - Try something more direct: I left knowing I had the ability to successfully complete missions far in excess of my previous self-conception. Specifically, I recall a Master Sergeant who had 23 years in service with only three weeks until his retirement. This man had chosen to go through this training of his own accord. It was his encouragement and leadership that got me through the first three days, but it was my encouragement and leadership that navigated and dragged our sleep and food deprived asses - not appropriate or professional successfully through our evasion evaluation on the final day of field trainingAgain, too wordy: We don't need to respect and learn about this Seargant, we need to know about you. All of the last three lines can just as effectively be portrayed with: Where I had relied on the encouragement and leadership of a veteran Master Sergeant to get through the first few days, by the end of the training I found that is was my leadership that others were looking to in order to get through the grueling days, sleep deprivation, and hunger. .

New paragraph here. Add a transition of some sortThe pride I felt as we low-crawled our way into the “safe-zone” having avoided detection and capture remains one of my favorite memories. Albeit that this fond memory is quite brief, because, as it turns out, even if a group successfully escapes capture in their evasion evaluation, the game is rigged. As we trudged down a narrow path with the other 50 trainees who had made it to the checkpoint, we were ambushed and forced to march, just like everyone else, to our two days of a very realistic Prisoner of War training.I am not sure this section has a point. The PS is clearly incomplete, but you need to give this meaning for it to be included. What does it tell me about you? Nothing really. Its more an interesting side- note

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Re: Personal Statement Needs Some Hate

Postby MumofCad » Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:06 pm

Alright, on to the end:

The core values of the United States Air Force are as follows: Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. I have lived by these virtues ever since the day I raise my right hand and swore to protect this country with my life. The commitment to excellence, integrity, and service has served me well in both my military and undergraduate career, and I am entirely confident that it will continue to do so at XXXXXXXXX Law.

Rewrite this again to be more direct: I have lived by the USAF core values - Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in All We Do - since the day I took the oath. These values have served me well in both the military and college, and will continue to do so at XXXXX Law school.

Again though, you haven't shown me that you've lived by these values. What does integrity first mean to you? What does it mean in terms of the your experiences in college? This sentence would be better off as a transition to speaking about your college experience from the vignette of your training. Tell me something about your academic interests maybe. But I don't think you can throw these values in without some connection to your personal narrative. What does service before self mean in an academic setting?

Good luck! I hope you get something useful from my comments :)

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zx92027xz
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Re: mumofcad

Postby zx92027xz » Tue Aug 16, 2011 9:08 am

Mum, phenomenal advise. Literally everything you said is spot on. Ill rework it soon and get another draft up.

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bandenjamin
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Re: Personal Statement Needs Some Hate

Postby bandenjamin » Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:35 pm

zx92027xz wrote:
bandenjamin wrote:Overall I think it's a pretty good P/S. A few minor things.

1. Remove the all caps in "MOUNTAINS" (unless that's a really long Air Force Acronym I'm not familiar with). It seems to be for emphasis, if you're looking for that, go with bold/italics.

2. Break the 2nd huge paragraph in to two separate ones. The first talking about some of the skills acquired, the second using the specific example of finding a mentor to help inspire you, who you in turn were able to inspire (seriously, 3 weeks to go for retirement and that's how he wanted to spend it?).

3. Keep with the tone of no bitching when the going gets tough (i.e. I did everything you told me too and I still get to be tortured. It seems that it would relate well to "I studied what you told me, why didn't I get an A?!" type of bitching law profs see a lot.

Other than that, I think it's a fairly strong P/S. I'm sure others will be happy to further critique. Thanks for your service and good luck in the upcoming admissions cycle.



lol about the mountains... i dont know the name of the range of mountains up in washington around that base and i meant to google it and find out. my bad... thats going to get flamed on a little bit im sure.
good point about the 2nd paragraph.
i hadnt thought about the no bitching thing... i was trying to go with a little bit a irony/humor, but ill def take another look at it.


If it's near McChord (Lewis-McChord Joint Air-Force/Army Base) then you would have been in the Cascade Mountain Range, likely near Mount Rainier (like the beer) it's only about an hour from there.

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.

Postby ihhwap1 » Tue Aug 16, 2011 6:21 pm

.
Last edited by ihhwap1 on Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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zx92027xz
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Draft 2

Postby zx92027xz » Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:24 pm

Here is the second draft... paragraph three is new, so take a look if you can:

I woke to the sound of my Officer in Command, Captain Dunn, popping in through the edge of my makeshift shelter, “Good morning, Airman Martin. It is 5 AM, negative 26 degrees, and it’s going to be a long day; get up.” With a quiet groan, I sat up in my sleeping bag and wished fervently I was somewhere else. I had just completed the first of five days in the MOUNTAINS [unsure of name of mountain range in WA] going through U.S. Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School in mid-January. Those first five days in field, followed by our resistance (ie. Prisoner of War) training served as a test of each trainee’s physical and mental ability to cope under stressful and physically demanding conditions.

I realize now that the skills acquired from that training have likely faded into the back of my mind, only to be recalled under extreme duress in the event of a combat evasion situation; however, the experience remains visceral. Stepping off the bus into the cold on Day 1, I found myself unprepared and scared. One individual in particular, a veteran Master Sergeant with 22 years in service, saw my timidity and helped me through the initial shock of the situation. It was his encouragement and leadership that got me through the first three days. My confidence grew. On the final day of field training a combat evasion scenario was run, in which a team of six individuals must navigate without detection through a five mile stretch of mountainous terrain crawling with aggressors and patrol by helicopters. Where I had relied on the encouragement and leadership of a veteran Master Sergeant to get through the first few days, by the end of the training I found that it was my leadership that others were looking to in order to get through the grueling days, sleep deprivation, and hunger.

It happened incredibly quickly. A snap of a branch, rustling in the bushes, a brief glimpse of a gun barrel out of the corner of my eye, then an explosion blasted no more than 20 feet to my right. I was face down in the dirt by the time the second explosion went off. Through the ringing of my ears, I could hear shouting in a foreign language, followed by heavily accented English, “Stay on the ground and keep your hands where we can see them!” I watched as each member of my group was forced to stand and had black burlap hoods thrown over their heads. I was then subjected to the same treatment. The training that took place over the following days has been classified as Secret by the U.S. Air Force and I am unable to discuss it; however, it was not the training events, but the manner in conducted myself in the face of extreme stress, both physical and mental. That experience showed me that when a member of my team was weak, I had ability and obligation to help them, regardless of rank, age, race, socioeconomic status, etc. It taught me that good leadership has a lot to do with good followership. Most importantly, it taught me that no matter how bad things may be at the moment, I find solace more in helping the person next to me than in helping myself.

The virtues instilled in me by the Air Force have served me well in the both the military and in college, and will continue to do so at XXXXXXXXX Law.

MumofCad
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Re: Personal Statement Needs Some Hate (Draft 2 Update)

Postby MumofCad » Wed Aug 17, 2011 2:07 pm

Much much better and more engaging. There are still a few trivial details that could be cut. Also don't worry about the mountain range name. It doesn't matter anyhow. Just say mountains.

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zx92027xz
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Re: Personal Statement Needs Some Hate (Draft 2 Update)

Postby zx92027xz » Wed Aug 17, 2011 3:04 pm

Thanks a lot for the help, Mum. I am pretty happy with it. I'll give it a week, revise once more and submit it. Thanks again!

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Re: Personal Statement Needs Some Hate (Draft 2 Update)

Postby MumofCad » Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:19 pm

Oh wait, you still need a paragraph or two about college. Do you have anything you can say about that period? Because you reference it. Right now, its a little short. I would try to write to the 2 page limit.




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