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(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Kring345
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Removed: Thanks everyone!

Postby Kring345 » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:41 pm

Hello everyone-

Below is my personal statement. Would anyone care to rip it to shreds please? I made some edits, seen in parantheses, to conceal some identities, etc.

This is NOT my final draft. I dont want to push too far forward unless I know that Im moving in the right direction. So there may still be small grammatical errors. But feel free to point those out too, if you'd like.

PLEASE DONT QUOTE THIS PASSAGE IN FULL, AS I INTEND/HOPE TO ERASE IT ONCE THE FEED BACK IS GIVEN. But feel free to quote snippets if necessary.

I really would appreciate any help.


---See bottom of first page for updated PS---
Last edited by Kring345 on Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:30 am, edited 3 times in total.

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redsox
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby redsox » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:48 pm

Opportunities are "rife" dude, not "ripe." Use words/phrases you know and use in real life when you write.

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Kring345
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby Kring345 » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:50 pm

redsox wrote:Opportunities are "rife" dude, not "ripe." Use words/phrases you know and use in real life when you write.

Do'h. Thanks. Told ya: some grammatical errors still exist (not a final yet). :lol:

Thoughts on the rest?

kublaikahn
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby kublaikahn » Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:09 pm

Why do you have this first paragraph? It doesn't add value, in fact it may detract from your story and your strengths as a leader. It seems you are taking care of personal business in the work environment.

The story is catchy enough without it. Your writing is generally good, but you tend to extend sentences in an attempt to provide more information in the allotted space. I would try to write more direct sentences. Below I will give you an idea what I mean...

Kring345 wrote: [kill this] My commanding officer called me the minute he learned that (VERY High-Ranking Officer Dude) was coming to talk to me again. My desk was only a few meters from the entrance to the tent structure, but the journey was anything but direct. There were holes in the plastic flooring to leap, low-lying lights to dodge, thick rolls of cabling to step over, and a dizzying maze of tent and ply-wood corridors to traverse before one reached my desk. On the earliest of mornings, the route was a nuisance, but in that instance it proved quite useful. I had a few minutes to ensure my affairs were in order. I was in the midst of studying for the LSAT during a rare lull in operations, so the preparation material that littered my desk had to be cleared. Perhaps more importantly, the Marines that I supervised had to be prepared and the necessary data and products had to be collected.

As the (job title that I held) in (north-south-east-west word) Afghanistan, I was the first point of contact for all geospatial intelligence requests in (north-south-east-west word) Afghanistan, so instances like this were common. Geospatial intelligence is Providing the primary source of battlefield and situational awareness, and my geospatial intelligence production cell team [get rid of the military jargon] was had been extraordinarily busy answering requests from commanders, contractors, and statesmen. However, the question While the (VERY High-Ranking Officer Dude) came to me often for answers, the question he asked me that morning was especially intriguing.


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Rotor
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby Rotor » Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:50 pm

Deleted
Last edited by Rotor on Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Kring345
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby Kring345 » Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:58 pm

Rotor wrote:Be careful to avoid passive construction when you're writing a piece that is designed to show your assertiveness and leadership. E.g.:
The various considerations had to be collected, compared, and fused
(who had to do this? You.)

Also, even though not technically a passive construction, this is a weak verb:

I am particularly excited to witness . . .
(Do you want to "witness" things from the side line or "do" things)

Avoid telling ADCOMs what law school is . . .
Law school is a collaborative experience; the student body is full of diverse and accomplished individuals, each with their own story to tell.


. . . and be specific about the influences that you will have on your classmates-- not just vague assertions like:

I am confident that my story will impact the student body and faculty in a unique and beneficial way.
(what sorts of ways?)

You're right to focus on the benefit you will bring to the school...not what the school should do for you because you're a vet (a recurring issue I have seen in some vet PSs here). So this is close. Unlike the commenter above, I kinda like the opening paragraph to work into it with a bit of tension/excitement. But I do agree, you don't need to include the LSAT detail. Just seems like a gratuitous "I studied for the LSAT in a war zone". Just make it any other day (you and your guys still had to gather the requested info that the general had requested in a hurry).

Semper fi, fellow sea-serviceman. :-) If you're interested in Berkeley, feel free to PM.

Touche on the part about studying for the LSAT. Honestly just included it as a fun little fact. Makes less sense now that you point it out. Thanks.

And Ill certainly add specifics that I can contribute to the student body. Good idea.

Very good points. Thank you!!!

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Kring345
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby Kring345 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:00 am

kublaikahn wrote:Why do you have this first paragraph? It doesn't add value, in fact it may detract from your story and your strengths as a leader. It seems you are taking care of personal business in the work environment.

The story is catchy enough without it. Your writing is generally good, but you tend to extend sentences in an attempt to provide more information in the allotted space. I would try to write more direct sentences. Below I will give you an idea what I mean...

Kring345 wrote: [kill this] My commanding officer called me the minute he learned that (VERY High-Ranking Officer Dude) was coming to talk to me again. My desk was only a few meters from the entrance to the tent structure, but the journey was anything but direct. There were holes in the plastic flooring to leap, low-lying lights to dodge, thick rolls of cabling to step over, and a dizzying maze of tent and ply-wood corridors to traverse before one reached my desk. On the earliest of mornings, the route was a nuisance, but in that instance it proved quite useful. I had a few minutes to ensure my affairs were in order. I was in the midst of studying for the LSAT during a rare lull in operations, so the preparation material that littered my desk had to be cleared. Perhaps more importantly, the Marines that I supervised had to be prepared and the necessary data and products had to be collected.

As the (job title that I held) in (north-south-east-west word) Afghanistan, I was the first point of contact for all geospatial intelligence requests in (north-south-east-west word) Afghanistan, so instances like this were common. Geospatial intelligence is Providing the primary source of battlefield and situational awareness, and my geospatial intelligence production cell team [get rid of the military jargon] was had been extraordinarily busy answering requests from commanders, contractors, and statesmen. However, the question While the (VERY High-Ranking Officer Dude) came to me often for answers, the question he asked me that morning was especially intriguing.


The first paragraph is honestly just intended to "set the scene" so to speak. Otherwise, I could very well just be sitting inside of an air conditioned building in California. I suppose I could make it less dramatic/etc.

Any one else have thoughts on the opening paragraph?

And youre right about me extending sentences. That's been a bad habit of mine since i first picked up a crayon.

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Kring345
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby Kring345 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:01 am

One question I had is this: does the story make sense? Does the request/question make sense? Obviously, it's a topic that I undersand well, and I want to make sure that 2 things are clear: (1) What is geospatial intelligence and (2) what the very high ranking officer was asking.

kublaikahn
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby kublaikahn » Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:15 am

Kring345 wrote:One question I had is this: does the story make sense? Does the request/question make sense? Obviously, it's a topic that I undersand well, and I want to make sure that 2 things are clear: (1) What is geospatial intelligence and (2) what the very high ranking officer was asking.



Yeah it makes sense and it is a great example of the kind of analysis that you will be doing in law school--taking disparate sources and finding commonalities and distinctions among them, synthesizing new ideas and plans.

Your situation also includes the process of working with others from different backgrounds and fiefdoms as well, which is a common requirement of lawyering. I like it a lot. That is why you should remove P1 (you can add the battlefield imagery from the operating base in the second and third paragraph and use the extra space to split P3 into two better developed paragraphs). I would spend one paragraph defining the problem and a second how you handled it. I think you need to make the connection to law school and lawyering more explicit.

FWIW, I am not impressed with P4. It sounds like an elevator pitch for why you are a great leader (or an extension of your resume). The terms are too general. "This shaped me into the man I am today" is a platitude. If you want to use your own words to explicitly state the message of your story, say, "I am proud of the way a was able to solve complex life-and-death problems with high-powered generals and political appointees looking over my shoulder and relying on my decisions. I built a trusted team that was better than the sum of its parts." Be more specific. If you are going to say it (in addition to showing it) say what you did that demonstrates you were a leader, don't say, "Hey, I was a leader."

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Olive
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby Olive » Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:01 pm

I agree with other posters about the first paragraph. While it is interesting, it distracts more than it adds to the rest of the story. But I like the tension/drama aspect of it and you setting up the scene. Maybe you could incorporate another description of the scene that is more succinct. Or right now off the top of my head I was thinking of something like this as an intro: listing some routines you do M-Su (a list that could show off more of your leadership roles) and then commenting about how despite the routines there are always surprises and challenges one has to react to in the Marine Corps and use that as transition into explaining about the High Ranking Officer coming to your office one day. This is just an idea.

Kring345 wrote:One question I had is this: does the story make sense? Does the request/question make sense? Obviously, it's a topic that I undersand well, and I want to make sure that 2 things are clear: (1) What is geospatial intelligence and (2) what the very high ranking officer was asking.


Yes, I think you explain the request and the terms well. I didn't have any difficulty understand it.

I would not use passive voice here:
Not only have I been given the opportunity to genuinely lead and independently manage dozens of Marines,


Overall, I like the story and the flow a lot. Good luck with your cycle and thank you for your service!

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Kring345
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby Kring345 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:24 pm

kublaikahn wrote:
Kring345 wrote:One question I had is this: does the story make sense? Does the request/question make sense? Obviously, it's a topic that I undersand well, and I want to make sure that 2 things are clear: (1) What is geospatial intelligence and (2) what the very high ranking officer was asking.



Yeah it makes sense and it is a great example of the kind of analysis that you will be doing in law school--taking disparate sources and finding commonalities and distinctions among them, synthesizing new ideas and plans.

Your situation also includes the process of working with others from different backgrounds and fiefdoms as well, which is a common requirement of lawyering. I like it a lot. That is why you should remove P1 (you can add the battlefield imagery from the operating base in the second and third paragraph and use the extra space to split P3 into two better developed paragraphs). I would spend one paragraph defining the problem and a second how you handled it. I think you need to make the connection to law school and lawyering more explicit. I think i can put parts of P1 into other portions of my PS. It seems that the verdict is in, so I'll hop on that. Good suggestion on the organization: first paragraph defining, second handling. Makes a lot of sense. This is the part of my PS that I wasnt comfy with. Thanks. I also think youre right about the connection. I feel as if i make the connection to LS but not to lawyering, which is probably just as (if not more) important.

FWIW, I am not impressed with P4. It sounds like an elevator pitch for why you are a great leader (or an extension of your resume). The terms are too general. "This shaped me into the man I am today" is a platitude. If you want to use your own words to explicitly state the message of your story, say, "I am proud of the way a was able to solve complex life-and-death problems with high-powered generals and political appointees looking over my shoulder and relying on my decisions. I built a trusted team that was better than the sum of its parts." Be more specific. If you are going to say it (in addition to showing it) say what you did that demonstrates you were a leader, don't say, "Hey, I was a leader." Also makes a lot of sense. I'll see what I can do.

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Kring345
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby Kring345 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:25 pm

Olive wrote:I agree with other posters about the first paragraph. While it is interesting, it distracts more than it adds to the rest of the story. But I like the tension/drama aspect of it and you setting up the scene. Maybe you could incorporate another description of the scene that is more succinct. Or right now off the top of my head I was thinking of something like this as an intro: listing some routines you do M-Su (a list that could show off more of your leadership roles) and then commenting about how despite the routines there are always surprises and challenges one has to react to in the Marine Corps and use that as transition into explaining about the High Ranking Officer coming to your office one day. This is just an idea.

Kring345 wrote:One question I had is this: does the story make sense? Does the request/question make sense? Obviously, it's a topic that I undersand well, and I want to make sure that 2 things are clear: (1) What is geospatial intelligence and (2) what the very high ranking officer was asking.


Yes, I think you explain the request and the terms well. I didn't have any difficulty understand it.

I would not use passive voice here:
Not only have I been given the opportunity to genuinely lead and independently manage dozens of Marines,


Overall, I like the story and the flow a lot. Good luck with your cycle and thank you for your service!

Like I said in my above post, I think I am beginning to see what you all are saying about P1. I'll try and incorporate it into other paragraphs.

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Kring345
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby Kring345 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:57 pm

Hey everyone. Thanks again for all of your help. Here is my revision; if you could critique it I would be appreciative.

Ultimately, I ended up keeping a lot of P1 against the recommendation of many of you. But I altered the structure a bit. I toyed with incorporating it into P2 (identifying the problem) and P3 (solving the problem), but I just couldnt get it to work well without changing the the whole shabang. Do you still find it distracting?

I am not particularly fond of P5 (influence on student body), especially the last sentence. Any suggestions?

REMOVED
Last edited by Kring345 on Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:31 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Kring345
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby Kring345 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:03 pm

Additionally, does anyone think P5 (Lessons Learned) is too "telling" (as opposed to letting the story speak for itself)?

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minnbills
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby minnbills » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:10 pm

I would remove the word "quite" from the 2nd sentence in P5, and rework your last sentence. For example, something like: "I hope my experiences and lessons learned in the United States Marine Corps will help me through my career in the legal profession."

Personally, I'm not a fan of the: "this is why I want to go to x law school" ending.

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Kring345
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby Kring345 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:37 pm

Makes sense, thanks.

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minnbills
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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby minnbills » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:42 pm

Kring345 wrote:Makes sense, thanks.


No problem, and thank you

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Re: Personal Statement Critique - Marine Corps Intel in Afghan.

Postby MumofCad » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:45 pm

Got your PM:

In P1 - I find the use of "customers" to be odd. Since I can't see your actual position or the officer involved (retired possibly and working for a private enterprise), I can't tell for sure, but I don't think you actually mean customers. In the broadest sense, I know I've seen intelligence structures in the military that refer to thinking of end-user content in private sector terms, but....it sounds odd to me in this context since the more general use is for people shopping for a product or in which some sort of (monetary or barter) transaction will occur. I guess I would use something more accurately descriptive of what the person is after.

At the time, (I would strike this pre-phase- hasn't this always been a mission objective since pretty much day 1?) one of the primary missions of the Marine Corps in Afghanistan was to limit the Taliban’s freedom of movement, thereby limiting their access to financing and weapons.



....signals intelligence, ground movement tracking systems (aren't these first two redundant - I'd take out one of these first three because they usually cover redundant intel and the adcoms probably won't know what they mean anyhow, except possibly at Yale and its a little lengthy to list them all) , ground sensor data, biometric data, and human intelligence. This was an especially troublesome task because many of the intelligence disciplines painted different, and often times contradictory, pictures.

Ultimately, I determined the best-fit path by fostering the cooperation of dozens of individuals throughout theMarine Corps and intelligence community and weighing the various inputs from each intelligence (this is a redundant adjective because you already told me what type of disciplines in the previous sentence- so take it out) discipline against the engineering restraints that were calculated. I satisfied the (VERY High-Ranking Officer Dude’s) request by providing him with two options for the route, each of which severely restricted the enemy’s freedom of movement.

Though my time in the Marine Corps is fraught with new challenges daily (this is slightly awkward to me),

....in order to access and employWord choice could be better here all of the necessary variables.

While those lessons learned will certainly help me succeed academically, I am particularly optimistic about the impact that they will have on the student body. One of the aspects of law school that appeals to me the most is the collaborative environment, and, given the opportunity, I am confident that my story will impact _school’s_ law community in a unique and beneficial way. Through classroom discussions, extracurricular activities, and student organizations, I anticipate that my experience fostering dynamic team work and my ability to successfully communicate across boundaries will be of particular influence. I have trouble with this paragraph - the first sentence is so generic that I'm left wondering what student body, the second talks about a collaborative environment when many law schools are anything but (though knowing how to work in a collaborative environment will serve you well in the actual practice of law at a firm or what not and is a skill adcoms look for, I don't think its a huge factor in one's actual success at most schools beyond forming a study group to help prepare for tests). Just not sure that all this isn't already implicit by your above statement or if it wouldn't be much more effectively shown, rather than told in the above paragraphs by just adding in a sentence about how you had to incorporate all of this intel from different sources and people. Then the fact that you've done these things will automatically be assumed that you are contributing your unique skills to the environment. You don't need to tell them that. Just display your characteristics in your narrative.




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