PS - let me know what you think

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )

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PS - let me know what you think

Postby user11 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:11 pm

updated - see below
Last edited by user11 on Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: PS - let me know what you think

Postby No13baby » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:43 pm

Your writing is really good, but I think the focus of the statement needs work. It seems like you spend more time writing about the kids you were working with than yourself. I think this story will make for a great PS if you edit it to focus on how YOU developed and what YOU learned.


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Re: PS - let me know what you think

Postby freestallion » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:46 pm

I have to agree with no13baby because your writing is beautiful, but almost TOO beautiful and flowery for a personal statement. Your message and the information of your accomplishments and what you learned through this process is essentially hidden by the beautiful language. It's not just a narrative or story (though that is part of it), but a PS should be showcasing what's special about you, not just your writing skills. Be more concise and to the point, and cut some of the unnecessary description out. It's not a novel.


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Re: PS - let me know what you think

Postby thederangedwang » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:53 pm

Good writing, bad ps.

1) Focus

2) on

3) yourself

Pretend you are an adcomm...assume no knowledge of yourself...after reading ur ps would you really say u got to know yourself more?.....this ps has almost NOTHING to do with you...and i certainly cant say that i know u better as a result of reading it. The topic is salvageable as long as you connect it to yourself and how it made u better, motivates you, gave u experiences, etc etc.

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Re: PS - let me know what you think

Postby MrHaephestus » Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:01 am

As a very short story, I liked it; as a personal statement I need more about you. Although you do get full marks for an excellent narrative ,and I am not entirely sure you should ditch your obvious talent with the pen.

The good news is that you leave me wanting to know more about you. The bad news is that you leave me wanting to know more about you. Make sense?


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Re: PS - let me know what you think

Postby framboozer » Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:24 am

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with those who commented before me. I find the writing very distracting and unnatural. I think this is an example of what the TLS guide to personal statements would refer to as over-stepping your abilities when it comes to language acrobatics. This is not meant to be insulting, given that very few can pull off that kind of stuff. Basically, uou need to know what you're capable of and work with that. Sometimes simple is better. I would say that the main problem here is word choice and word order.

Here are some word choices that for me just did not work:

"Hesitatingly" - Try "with hesitation" or "with trepidation."
"industrial metal doors" - I don't know why, but I could not get a good image of what these doors look like. Are they industrial iron doors? Aged titanium doors? Or whatever they might be.
"More frightened than I" - Maybe "more frightened than me" or "more frightened than I was"
"noisy, gregarious herd" - Noisy is redundant here, so I'd remove that. And if you're going to use a word like "gregarious," why not work some alliteration in there and use "gang?"
This word would also convey the sense of camaraderie.

But all of this is moot unless the OP decides to give more focus and purpose to this story. We as readers have no idea why you're telling us this story and what it has to do with you wantingt to go to law school.


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Re: PS - let me know what you think

Postby user11 » Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:55 pm

Updated PS.

Tried to make it more personal and explain changes that occurred in me as a result of this experience.

The school I'm targeting doesn't want a "why law" PS, which is why this doesn't address that question.

The industrial metal doors separating the customs desk from baggage claim swung open heavily, and eight Ugandan children hesitatingly took their first steps into America. Confronted by the chaotic hustle that is Washington Dulles International Airport, their progress halted. They stopped just past the doors, where thin carpet gave way to white tile. Several of them shrank away as we, mzungus, approached. One boy, taller than the others, was sneaking glances at me as often as at his ragged orange sandals. I asked him his name and he tremulously responded, “Kyazze, Dan.” I told him my name and how excited I was to meet him, eliciting a cautious grin shot towards the Starbucks on my right.

I was unsure whether Dan was more frightened than I or whether my extra thirteen years enabled me to better hide my unease. Two days earlier, I had accepted a last minute job offer. I would lead a group of five adults and fourteen disadvantaged orphans on a full-time, ten-month tour as a choir. Meeting the children for the first time, I felt the mantle of responsibility settling on my shoulders. I knew this feeling would intensify as Nepali and Filipino children were added to our group over the next two days. As we ushered the children toward the clattering luggage carousel, his small hand slipped fearfully into mine, affirming the gravity of the task ahead of me.

While the children learned choreographed positions and vocal parts, I learned financial and logistical procedures. After three quick weeks, we began to travel—four cultures, twenty humans, and twenty-eight tons of vehicles. By then, their rudimentary grasp of English had allowed them to understand each other well enough to bicker, but not to truly bond. Their confidence in themselves was lacking, while their confidence in me felt misplaced. Upon arriving for our first concert, I lodged our trailer several feet up an oak tree bordering the parking lot, misplaced a key piece of equipment, and stammered my way through a meeting with our contact. There was room for growth.

One evening, after a grueling four concerts at two locations within twelve hours, we huddled silently together backstage in the repurposed closet assigned to us as a dressing room. The distinct odors of hairspray, sweat, and the dryer sheets, intended to freshen our wardrobe, blended headily. I peeled open a pale envelope which scratched noisily against my palm while I slid out a single check. As I announced the results—we had raised the funds necessary to drill a well—our collective exhaustion evaporated, and elation filled their faces as they realized what I was saying. Because of our efforts, a rural village would have life-giving, clean water. Knowing the impact of our work motivated me when I was tempted to exert less than stellar effort.

Tight deadlines, large audiences, and long drives formed our crucible. As humid August gave way to brisk November, our disparate group became one team. The initial discomfort of new roles dissipated into the familiar. Our days were like waves: troughs of passing slow hours on highways, crests of setting-up and practicing before concerts, crashes of performing and donation-tracking, and ebbs of loading equipment. Time blurred as 150 venues, 200 performances, and 35,000 audience members passed by.

Ten months earlier, we had all accepted risk by forsaking familiar surroundings and situations, and had been immutably changed by the experience. The three shy groups of children I had met blossomed into a noisy, gregarious herd. They transitioned into new environments without pause, performed enthusiastically, and cared for each other ferociously. Meanwhile, I developed into a confident, capable leader. I learned that without organization life on the road dissembles rapidly. The children taught me patience: first when we were struggling to understand each other, then when I was struggling to encourage good behavior. It became difficult for me to recall how intimidated I had been.

Morning sunlight struggled to pierce the June fog, as I found myself stowing two-dozen bulging black suitcases aboard our strangely empty trailer. Having crisscrossed our way through half the country, we made the shortest three-hour drive of the tour. Once again I stood in Washington Dulles’ bustling lobby—this time saying goodbye. Dan loosened his grasp on my hand as I led them towards the gate. He waved over his shoulder as he confidently crossed the threshold of the security checkpoint, but did not stop. Our journey together was completed, and having grown, we were prepared for what was to come.

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