Please critique and rebuild this, I need help!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Please critique and rebuild this, I need help!

Postby greenclaw » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:27 pm

This is one of my better drafts of my personal statement. I have been struggling to write it for some time. Please take the time to read over it and give me as many pointers as possible. I am not sure where to go from here?

Kevin isn't his real name, do I have to indicate that somehow?

If anyone wants me to read their PS send me a PM.

Today I calculated the area of a triangle, constructed a brief summary, discussed levels of appropriateness in regards to physical contact between sixth grade boys and girls, and reported multiple forms of observed abuse to a psychiatrist. I am an AmeriCorps member at XXX and I work with sixth grade English Language Learners. The challenges of my day are vast and inconsistent. I am a presence in the classroom, available to students yet removed from them in many ways.
My job is to enhance my caseload of ten ELL students’ literacy capabilities. For each of my individual students this goal necessitates a different approach. Each one of them brings their own strengths and interests coupled with a uniquely overwhelming set of obstacles that they must overcome in order to be successful in the classroom.
Kevin, a student of mine has spent half his life in Ecuador. His social English is excellent but his academic knowledge is tremendously lacking in every one of his core content classes. Finding a way to connect with this eleven-year-old Latino boy on his terms has been one of my greatest challenges and most rewarding experiences. On the first day I approached Kevin he met me with subdued disdain. His distrust for me, quite apparent, he was too busy worrying about his faux-hawk and brand new Nike shoes to begin to understand the depth of my concern and growing affection for him.
Each day has forced me to creatively discover new ways to connect with Kevin. Our moment of breakthrough and the first day he started to trust me was in the gym afterschool. I was trying to play basketball with him and told him that my wrists hurt. In turn he explained to me that he had been watching the way I had been shooting the basketball and I was putting too much emphasis on my wrists. He then patiently explained and demonstrated to me the proper way to become the next Michael Jordan.
One especially difficult day with Kevin had me talking about my family. His five younger siblings getting to school are his responsibility and burden. The stress of the morning on most days has him angry before he even enters the building. Lashing out at me for being too strict about his homework he yelled, “Tu no entiende, la vida es facil para tu”. Taken aback by my inability to articulate my intense empathy I brought him to my office and asked him to open the very top drawer.
Inside he found pictures of and letters from my own family. We sat down and went through my own litany of siblings. The oldest girl of eight children also left me with the weight of responsibility at a young age. The pressures of ensuring that a brother or sister are safe coupled with the frightening environment that middle school has a tendency to foster is a difficult place to learn in and an even more challenging space to feel safe in. I showed him on the map where Jamaica, Nigeria and Guam are. I traced the story of my own family against the backdrop of his and was able to show him that I too understand the challenges and setbacks that he is facing not only as a sibling, but also as a child from a multiracial and multilingual household.
As my time at the school has progressed I have made deeper and closer connections with the children that I work with, especially with Kevin. Every day is not easy and more than likely the hardest part is just ahead. After gradually beginning to trust me he became freer with his speech and revelations. Slowly I began to piece together more fragments of his life and home. What had started out as small concerns grew into what I knew to be fact.
I have struggled with my responsibility as an employee of the school district, my AmeriCorps membership and my desire to foster a relationship of trust between Kevin and myself. The most prominent concern that I have had to struggle with, is if I inform the proper channels of authority of what I believe to be happening will his situation really and justly change for the better or will he be passed through the cold and impersonal system causing him to lose the very few joys available to him?
Today Kevin’s appearance has necessitated the involvement of other adults, adults trained to understand and handle his situation. I sincerely hope that the decision I have made will have a positive impact on Kevin’s life. The truth is that I will probably never know. His condition is so sensitive and so pertinent that reporting it has taken him completely out of my hands and influence.
I want to affect positive change not only in Kevin’s life but also in the lives of all underprivileged, abused, forgotten, or misplaced children. I have life experiences that have provided me with a deep empathy for their situation and the tremendous difficulty and terror that accompanies those experiences. Working in the school this year has helped me understand that I can accomplish my goals most effectively with a law degree. By advocating for these children in a courtroom I can make that part of their painful experience a little less agonizing. By studying and understanding the laws most applicable to their lives I can better assist them in their journey to healing and knowledge. I hope that through law school I gain an understanding of how to better empower the children that I so deeply feel for.

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Re: Please critique and rebuild this, I need help!

Postby kublaikahn » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:42 pm

I would just bracket [Kevin] the first time you use it. That should be sufficient to announce the pseudonym. (I am not 100% sure, so I hope others will correct me if that is the case.)

This is a good piece and well written. Keep editing though. You will find you can make your writing more concise and descriptive in places. Also, don't try to do too much. You introduce some ideas that you really do not have the room to fully develop. You can say less and still provide what the reader needs.

Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:56 pm

Re: Please critique and rebuild this, I need help!

Postby greenclaw » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:02 pm

Thanks for the advice I really appreciate it! I am editing it as we speak and hope to make it more polished.

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Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:45 am

Re: Please critique and rebuild this, I need help!

Postby jcarsen » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:11 am

I would recommend putting Kevin in quotes the first time you use the name, to indicate that it's a pseudonym.

You've got a compelling story here, but the part at the end about how law school would best help you help kids like Kevin feels tacked on--*why*, exactly, would that be a better route to take than the hands-on work you're doing now? You need to spend a bit more time/space on this part of the statement.

Jen Carsen
Law School Statement Editor

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Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:56 pm

Re: Please critique and rebuild this, I need help!

Postby greenclaw » Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:55 am

Thanks for the advice Jen. I agree that the end is much too abrupt. This personal statement is already long, are there other parts of the paper that I could easily lose in order to spend more time on the end?

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