First Draft PS - Honesty Appreciated

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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First Draft PS - Honesty Appreciated

Postby toiletgecko » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:08 pm

Hey all,

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Any and all comments are appreciated. If anyone has any questions or would like me to look at his/her personal statement, just PM me.

The clouds stood starkly against the joy of the occasion, a poignant gray against the red and black banners that hung from the banisters of the graduation walkway. I felt lost amongst a sea of caps and gowns, a youthful mass burgeoning with excitement despite the signs of rain. Far off to my left I could see my family, almost unrecognizable against the backdrop of brownstone and the flashing cameras around the necks of smiling parents. As I stepped off the platform, cap drooping with the humidity it had absorbed, I spotted my parents at the end of the winding path leading back to our seats. As I came around the path, my mother wrapped her arms around me, tears mingled with raindrops, and my dad clapped me on the back. My brother held a sign, a piece of printer paper with an untidily scrawled “Congrats!” running down the page.
Until I went off to _______ University, I had always felt uncomfortable with the term “success.” Most people that I knew in the town where I grew up always told me that going to college would help me attain “success,” but no one ever told me what success was. To me, the concept itself was abstract, even nebulous, and the “path” there was equally foggy. I knew getting to college and coming out with a degree would help me attain “success,” and that was something that I knew was supposed to want. As it turned out though, reaching success really meant coming to terms with myself and the understanding what kind of person I wanted to become.
Before attending _______ University, the soggy graduation day was just a dream. I had grown up in a small town where only a few ever went away to college, most high school graduates choosing to either enter the workforce or go to a nearby trade school. The small-town work ethic, at least where I lived, held little tolerance for schooling or other “lofty” endeavors. For most, the process of finding a job and starting a family were the sole way of attaining success. I, however, thought there could be something else for me beyond the confines of [my small town]. I decided that college could help me determine what I wanted to do with myself, though looking back, I stepped away from home not knowing how much my experiences would change the course of my life.
My time at _______ University shaped me into the person I am today by showing me two things: what I came into college with, and what I could take away from it. I already knew that my background had shaped my work ethic – I was already used to the 14 hour days in the kitchen, washing dishes and peeling potatoes. My parents, who did this everyday, nearly worked themselves to death in order to help me fund my education. This much I learned from the intensity with which I approached my education: fervently studying everything assigned to me and more, making sure that I understood what I was learning as fully as possible. Going to _______ University also showed me how much I really cared about my work; I studied as intently as possible, not just so that I could understand what I was studying, but also so that I could enjoy it. That last part is important, because I left _______ University with a love of school.
What I most did not expect was for my interest in academia to flourish as it did. No one, not even I, expected the boy who washed dishes and served coffees to passionately read and argue Nietzschean philosophy, or to develop an interest in the classical humanities. I was, for one of the first times in my life, extremely happy with what I was learning about my place in the history of the world. I was talking about something because I truly enjoyed talking about it, because I felt that everything was just too important and exciting to keep from anyone else. This new drive was what started the process of me beginning to actually like myself, to see myself as someone who was on a path for learning and doing something great. Finding a new passion helped start me on my own path towards success, and I found great pleasure as I read and discussed the classics, philosophy, and literature in class and with my friends.
That said, I didn't focus solely on my academic passion at _______ University; I wanted to leave knowing that I had made a difference in the _______ University community as a whole. I kept working on the things that I started and liked to do in high school – so much so that I helped restart the _______ Mock Trial team during my freshman year and, throughout my time at _______ University, helped it become competitive again. Perhaps the best attribute that I've kept about myself since before _______ University is my drive for innovation and creativity. I could never let go of my hobby as a writer, which is why I continued to develop my writing skills in college through some of the classes I took. My fields of study also led me to help organize and develop two fledgling journals while at _______ University, one literary and the other almost purely academic. I worked hard to get people to work on these projects and to secure funding for them, and in the end both journals turned into tangible and successful works. I managed to support the new classics journal (and in turn, the classical studies department) by helping head the Classical Majors Committee in organizing events and lectures by professors and visitors in order to draw more students into the classics major at _______ University. Since co-chairing the CMC, the classics major has doubled in size.
Now that I have developed into the person that I've become, the next step for me is to learn how I that can combine these two sides of myself even more than I could while at _______ University. I want to continue my own journey as a person who likes to work his mind and likes to put innovative ideas in action. Law school is thus a great next step for me to take, as it will help me develop rigor in my thinking and will provide me with practice in solving problems creatively. Getting to this point in my life has been a steady process of immersing myself in new situations and trying new things to see how I adapt and to see what I can do. Attending law school and immersing myself in its culture will do wonders for me in my own search for success.

(Obviously, I varied my use of "_______ University" in my actual PS. Just copied and pasted to keep the info private.)


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Re: First Draft PS - Honesty Appreciated

Postby No13baby » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:16 pm

I feel like there's nothing substantive in this essay. You spend the entire time talking about your dreams and your parents', and how you want to be successful and "become the person you are," but that's pretty much all you talk about.

The only place where you discuss any actual accomplishments, instead of just abstract ideas, is in the second-to-last paragraph. It sounds like you made a lot of big changes in the Classics department at your college, for instance - why not take a step back and focus only on that? It'd still allow you to discuss your personal and academic growth, but also show readers that you've taken on big projects, been a leader, and made substantive change in an area you're passionate about.

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Re: First Draft PS - Honesty Appreciated

Postby toiletgecko » Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:20 pm

Thanks! Anyone else? How about writing style? Too boring?

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Re: First Draft PS - Honesty Appreciated

Postby HellOnHeels » Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:36 pm

I want to continue my own journey as a person who likes to work his mind and likes to put innovative ideas in action. Law school is thus a great next step for me to take, as it will help me develop rigor in my thinking and will provide me with practice in solving problems creatively.

Many other paths will do this for you too. Why law school?

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Re: First Draft PS - Honesty Appreciated

Postby oregon000 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:39 pm

Since you asked for honesty:

I don' t feel like you (and most people who post personal statements on this sight) are at the point where input from other people would be helpful. If this really is your first draft, you should work through it several times yourself, fixing obvious stylistic and grammatical errors.

The best way I have found to do this is by reading it out loud. PRINT it out and READ out lout, not just in your head looking at the computer screen. If I were you, I would read this several times out loud- with a red pen in hand. Its going to be a much more productive use of your time then TLS.

Do that and I will keep an eye out for your next tread: "16th draft- Honesty Appreciated".

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Re: First Draft PS - Honesty Appreciated

Postby jmart154 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:22 pm

I stopped reading after the first four words. Clouds do not stand, they float.

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