PS Rough Draft! Please Critique

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Cricha11
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:12 am

PS Rough Draft! Please Critique

Postby Cricha11 » Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:44 am

Very rough draft, just wrote it last night and would love any feedback! Thanks!



I was at mile 15, the wall began to hit – I looked down and there it was the black slow moving treadmill of highway that was highway 101. My legs were trembling; my head was inside out running various scenarios through my head – attempting to find the one that would cause my body the least stress with the most amount of personal gain. I focused my attention on a distant noise that seemed juxtaposed mid marathon in Duluth, Minnesota – it was the triumphant sound of a bagpipe, the song was Amazing Grace and suddenly my body went numb. My head started pounding and I began to sob, mid way to mile 26.2 and I was sobbing uncontrollably.

3 years 4 months 18 days and approximately 2 hours before that moment in time I was listening to that beautiful sound through a small black radio my grandmother had purchased at the local drug store. The occasion was my mother’s funeral; she was 48 years young and had a lifetime of love left in her. I’ll never forget that bitterly cold Minnesotan winter day, the bagpipes playing as her coffin was unevenly lowered into the half frozen ground – that sound and those images will forever be in my mind.

After a few minutes of crying, I felt a renewed sense of feeling throughout my body – my tears were not of sorrow but of joy. I had a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging in that moment that has often been vacant in my life. With a renewed vision I pressed onward, mile 16, 17, 18 breezed by as though I was beginning it all again.

After mile 18, I was in uncharted territory – my training had included many long days of running, swimming, biking, lifting but I had only been past 18 miles one time before this – the familiar sense of uncertainty began slowly creeping into my mind. I had been working for this moment for the last 8 months, pushing my body to its limits with the ultimate goal in mind: the Boston Marathon. The Boston is widely known as the pinnacle of success in the marathon world and getting a coveted spot is no easy task – for my age group I needed under a 3 hour and 10 minute finishing time, that’s roughly a 7.25 mile pace. Daunting as it was, I knew that I could persevere - pushing my body to its’ physical limits created much more than a mental hiatus, it created a vacuum of thought – memories coursing through my veins as unfamiliar faces stared my worn body down.

Unchartered territory has been as much a part of my life as running has been, since I can remember my mother reiterated two things: one: running is the only medicine you’ll ever need in life and two: always, above all, stay positive. Applying these principles to my life has been incredibly difficult but through it all, they have never left me astray. At 12, when I gave a speech on “How Luann’s drinking had impacted me” – part of my mother’s rehabilitation was to listen and confront our feelings of pain directly that day. Or at 16, when I moved out of my mother’s apartment after her having been so intoxicated that she couldn’t form sentences. At 20, when I finally decided to come clean with myself, profess my homosexuality to my sister and close friends – it became abundantly clear that positivity would be key to overcoming these obstacles. Staring anyone in the eye and telling them your sexual preferences is not exactly ideal; neither is telling your mother at age 12 that you lay awake at night thinking about suicide. The truth is I can’t change it; I never could – just like I couldn’t change my mother dying or my teeth being a slightly darker shade of white. But it is through these unchartered territories that our true colors come through: our years, weeks, days, hours of training and sweat finally come to good use. Laying down those miles week by week, keeping that head held high when against all odds you were outnumbered and outwitted.

By mile 25, I had replayed all of the pent up emotions and major events in my life – the last 5 miles quickly had become a spiritual awakening, purging my body of any doubts I had. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines resilience as the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress. I like to think that by the time mile 26.2 came around, I had come full circle mentally and physically – I was truly resilient in every sense of the word. Coming through that finish line I could feel my body going numb again, I looked up and saw the large red numbers directly above me – 3.04.

User avatar
PinkCow
Posts: 786
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 2:03 am

Re: PS Rough Draft! Please Critique

Postby PinkCow » Sun Sep 04, 2011 8:52 pm

Cricha11 wrote:Very rough draft, just wrote it last night and would love any feedback! Thanks!



I was at mile 15, the wall began to hit – I looked down and there it was the black slow moving treadmill of highway that was highway 101Run-on. My legs were trembling; my head was inside out running various scenarios through my head – attempting to find the one that would cause my body the least stress with the most amount of personal gainYour head was running scenarios through your head?. I focused my attention on a distant noise that seemed juxtaposed mid marathon in Duluth, Minnesota – it was the triumphant sound of a bagpipe, the song was Amazing Grace and suddenly my body went numbAgain, Holy Run-ons Batman. 'Juxtaposed' seems forced.. My head started pounding and I began to sob, mid way to mile 26.2 and I was sobbing uncontrollablyYou are sobbing and sobbing uncontrollably?.

3 years 4 months 18 days and approximately 2 hours before that moment in time I was listening to that beautiful sound through a small black radio my grandmother had purchased at the local drug storeCommas are your friend young Padawan. "Moments" typically (read: always) happen "in time". Eliminate the unnecessary.. The occasion was my mother’s funeral; she was 48 years young and had a lifetime of love left in herSemi-colons are salt. I’ll never forget that bitterly cold Minnesotan winter day, the bagpipes playing as her coffin was unevenly lowered into the half frozen ground – that sound and those images will forever be in my mindWait, so your mother was having a funeral, but you were listening to it on a small, black radio? I'm confused about what's going on..

After a few minutes of crying, I felt a renewed sense of feeling throughout my body – my tears were not of sorrow but of joyAgain, what's with this redundancy. "Feeling" a "feeling" is inherent to the presence of a "feeling". Get where I'm going? Redundant.. I had a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging in that moment that has often been vacant in my lifeHad/has problem. With a renewed vision I pressed onward, mile 16, 17, 18 breezed by as though I was beginning it all againYou're gonna want to write those numbers out for this..

After mile 18, I was in uncharted territory – my training had included many long days of running, swimming, biking, lifting but I had only been past 18 miles one time before this – the familiar sense of uncertainty began slowly creeping into my mindYour list needs an "and". . I had been working for this moment for the last 8 months, pushing my body to its limits with the ultimate goal in mind: the Boston Marathon. The Boston is widely known as the pinnacle of success in the marathon world and getting a coveted spot is no easy task – for my age group I needed under a 3 hour and 10 minute finishing time, that’s roughly a 7.25 mile paceYour using a lot of "-" here that aren't really correct. Dashes and semicolons are neither necessary nor sufficient for a good PS. Also, run-on.. Daunting as it was, I knew that I could persevere - pushing my body to its’ physical limits created much more than a mental hiatus, it created a vacuum of thought – memories coursing through my veins as unfamiliar faces stared my worn body downAnother "-" REALLY?.

Unchartered territory has been as much a part of my life as running has been, since I can remember my mother reiterated two things: one: running is the only medicine you’ll ever need in life and two: always, above all, stay positiveAnother run-on. Applying these principles to my life has been incredibly difficult but through it all, they have never left me astrayCommas separate 2 independent clauses. Use them. Also, it's "led" me astray, not "left".. At 12, when I gave a speech on “How Luann’s drinking had impacted me” – part of my mother’s rehabilitation was to listen and confront our feelings of pain directly that dayYou lost me. Also, you used another "-". :(. Or at 16, when I moved out of my mother’s apartment after her having been so intoxicated that she couldn’t form sentences. At 20, when I finally decided to come clean with myself, profess my homosexuality to my sister and close friends – it became abundantly clear that positivity would be key to overcoming these obstaclesHoly balls I now hate dashes. They aren't commas.. Staring anyone in the eye and telling them your sexual preferences is not exactly ideal; neither is telling your mother at age 12 that you lay awake at night thinking about suicide. The truth is I can’t change it; I never could – just like I couldn’t change my mother dying or my teeth being a slightly darker shade of whiteHuh?. But it is through these unchartered territories that our true colors come through: our years, weeks, days, hours of training and sweat finally come to good use. Laying down those miles week by week, keeping that head held high when against all odds you were outnumbered and outwittedFragment.

By mile 25, I had replayed all of the pent up emotions and major events in my life – the last 5 miles quickly had become a spiritual awakening, purging my body of any doubts I had. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines resilience as the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stressNOOOOOOOO don't try to teach admins a definition. Do anything but that. Kill it.. I like to think that by the time mile 26.2 came around, I had come full circle mentally and physically – I was truly resilient in every sense of the word. Coming through that finish line I could feel my body going numb again, I looked up and saw the large red numbers directly above me – 3.04.



OK, so this story was actually really interesting and I think, provided you do some serious tweaking and tightening, it could be extremely compelling. That being said, it was very hard for me to wade through due to the construction and the many disjointed elements. The average reader will likely be too turned off by the construction to really see this story through to the finish. Moreover, I think you may have too many elements in here. I get what you're doing, but it needs to be reorganized and possibly narrowed down a little. You've got:

Death stuff
Alcohol stuff
Suicide stuff
Sexuality stuff

And of course the overarching running theme. Potentially you could use all of this, but it's too loose.

Finally, dashes and semi-colons are salt, not magic special sauce. Commas are a little closer to salt (maybe more of a pepper...as you can see I'm hungry), and you don't use them nearly enough to be grammatically correct.

Good luck!

Cricha11
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:12 am

Re: PS Rough Draft! Please Critique

Postby Cricha11 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:48 am

Thank you sooo much for the help! I wrote it overnight and was not paying much attention to the grammatical situation, there are some pretty obvious errors. I definitely went a little too "-" crazy ha ha.. Thanks again, I'll be reorganizing and tweaking!

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: PS Rough Draft! Please Critique

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:10 am

This may be a bit too much for readers to absorb. Too many traumatic moments thrown together tends to trivialize their significance.
It is obvious that this is a hastily written rough draft. "Juxtaposed" isn't used correctly. Oddly, you missed opportunities to use dashes in the first sentence after "...there it was --the black slow-moving treadmill that was Highway 101."

Cricha11
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:12 am

Re: PS Rough Draft! Please Critique

Postby Cricha11 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:49 am

CanadianWolf wrote:This may be a bit too much for readers to absorb. Too many traumatic moments thrown together tends to trivialize their significance."


There are quite a few things thrown in, I guess my main idea was to make the marathon run parallel to my life. Showing all of the major struggles that I've dealt with and still come out on top, just as I'd done in the marathon. Would you suggest cutting this back and focusing on one strong life event?

Additionally, I don't want to trivialize the events but I don't want these events to come across as too "sappy" or "emotional" either. I want to portray myself as strong willed and determined more than "look at how terrible my life has been".

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: PS Rough Draft! Please Critique

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:58 am

Don't do a major rewrite. Correct that which is easily correctible. For example, delete the repetitive phrases & eliminate unnecessary information.

Also, is it necessary to specify your sexual orientation ? Readers will understand if you present that moment in a more subtle manner.

Cricha11
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:12 am

Re: PS Rough Draft! Please Critique

Postby Cricha11 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:12 pm

I suppose not necessary but I guess I feel that it does add another dimension to the piece. Coming out is not an easy thing to do, especially when you come from a fairly conservative background. I think that adding that aspect shows a lot of maturity and determination, I could be wrong though.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: PS Rough Draft! Please Critique

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:18 pm

My point is that your draft contains extraneous material. Deleting your sexual preference makes the revelation more interesting & less dramatic in an essay full of your life's most dramatic moments.

As is, your personal statement needs refinement & fine tuning, not a major overhaul. Refine your writing in stages, then seek further critiques.

Cricha11
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:12 am

Re: PS Rough Draft! Please Critique

Postby Cricha11 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:26 pm

Will do, thank you for the advice!

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

Re: PS Rough Draft! Please Critique

Postby kublaikahn » Mon Sep 05, 2011 6:13 pm

Unchartered territory has been as much a part of my life as running has been.

I love the irony of this statement. I would start the piece with it.

You need a unifying theme to tie together all these reflections and emotions. I would use the crossing over into uncharted territory as a trigger (mile marker 16). Or use the bag pipes. For example, as the bag pipes play you reflect, and when they stop you are back in the moment and realize you made it through the wall, and you feel more and more invigorated. Use a theme of moving forward and delineating the past (or something like that). You can make it work, but you need to reorder it and continually bring it back to your theme.

One last thing, walls don't hit you, you hit them.

ETA: I like it. A tiny bit too pitiful, but still very raw and vulnerable.




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.