Is this DS appropriate?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
lisac
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:03 pm

Is this DS appropriate?

Postby lisac » Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:17 pm

Checkmate.

In seven moves, my opponent had defeated me in my very first high school chess tournament game. My confidence was shaken at that moment, but it was thoroughly smashed by the end of the day, after I had lost every single game I played. Looking back, it was clear that I was not ready to compete effectively at that level.

I was placed on the team simply because I was the only girl in my entire school that showed any interest in the chess club. The team coach was probably not only excited to have a girl on display. He may have believed genuinely that he was helping me by exposing me so soon to intense tournament competition. For me, it backfired. After those humiliating defeats, I refused to represent my school in another tournament for the rest of that year, and the year that followed.

I didn’t withdraw from the chess club entirely; rather, I honed my skills by studying classic reference games, played countless games with stronger players in the group, and listened to successful tournament competitors. By my junior year, I was competent enough to return to tournament play, and by my senior year I was consistently ranked one of the top four players in my school.

Since high school I have created a life in which issues of diversity have concerned me greatly. I am the African-American wife of a Jewish man who is also a direct descendant of famed Confederate soldier Samuel Watkins. I am the stepmother of a homosexual man, and the mother of two biracial children. I am an atheist. Without doubt these roles and attributes have made me both knowledgeable of and sensitive to cultural mores of which I might have been otherwise unaware.

For twenty-plus years I have clearly seen that a range of diverse perspectives improves the learning experience for everyone. The conflicts with which I have struggled enable me to bring a rich and distinctive perspective to classroom discussions, and to the practice of law. But I do not wish to be admitted to law school merely to fill a quota, nor to add color to a marketing brochure. I wish to be admitted for the same reasons that I was able to successfully rise to the top level chess team in my school.

I am ready, and my game is strong.

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Kess
Posts: 394
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:26 pm

Re: Is this DS appropriate?

Postby Kess » Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:18 am

I like this. I really get a strong sense of your diverse background and character.

The only thing I would say, and feel free to discount my advice, is that I also ended my statement with "I am ready" and most of my knowledgeable readers told me not to end with those words. Maybe someone else can weigh in.

lisac
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:03 pm

Re: Is this DS appropriate?

Postby lisac » Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:59 am

Thanks for your comments, Kess.

I try to be as cliche-free as I can in my writing in general, but it can be tough to do with these statements. I can just picture adcomm members rolling their eyes and compaining to each other about the millionth time they've read (fill in the blank). (I must admit, I did consider quoting Frost's "The Road Not Taken" in my PS, but I was strongly warned away from that. )

Did you just end your statement with "I am ready" or was it part of a larger construct? I want my statement to end with the "...my game is strong" phrase. I think it works well within the context, and it's probably not as common. I just don't think it hangs very well on its own.

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

Re: Is this DS appropriate?

Postby kublaikahn » Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:34 pm

The chess story is an interesting argument for affirmative action. But my sense from reading this is that you may not even realize you are making it. You need to develop it better. Perhaps you say you were discouraged, but not enough to give up. And maybe you say, your teammates were inspired by your presence and became better themselves. You could talk about relationships and what happened in the club beyond the matches. Or how your perspectives changed. Or how other girls ended up joining.

I don't think it is useful to say you were one of the top four which is a meaningless distinction to most people. My high school probably only had four chess players in total. :) Just say you were competitive or began winning or give an example where you carried the day.

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Kess
Posts: 394
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Re: Is this DS appropriate?

Postby Kess » Sat Nov 05, 2011 1:15 pm

I wrote in my PS, in short, about being the only English speaker in an immigrant house. I specifically wrote about a challenge I faced when my grandmother was served eviction papers due to a language misunderstanding and what I did to resolve that issue. Then I ended it with something to the effect of how law school is a challenge I am ready to embark on. I don't remember already exactly what I said since I've done about 35 drafts since then. lol

lisac
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:03 pm

Re: Is this DS appropriate?

Postby lisac » Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:53 am

kublaikahn, thanks for your insight.

Please believe me, I understand the reasons why we have affirmative action, and I'm all for it. I just think there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it, and my coach did it the wrong way.

My teammates were never inspired by my presence to become better people in any way that was apparent to me. And sadly, no other girls joined the club until my senior year, when ONE did.

And as far as perspectives changing, here's a disturbing thing: unintentionally, I slipped into thinking of girls as worse chess players. Of all the girls I played back then, only one ever beat me (and she did only once), but I lost to a lot of boys. As an adult, I know that there are all kinds of sampling errors and logical flaws there. But as a kid, this seeped into my subconscious, and it was easy to slide into this lazy way of thinking. In a weird way, it gives me a bit of empathy for people with wrongheaded ideas.

lisac
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:03 pm

Re: Is this DS appropriate?

Postby lisac » Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:48 am

kess, I know what you mean about the rewrites. It's dizzying.

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

Re: Is this DS appropriate?

Postby kublaikahn » Sun Nov 06, 2011 3:26 pm

lisac wrote:kublaikahn, thanks for your insight.

Please believe me, I understand the reasons why we have affirmative action, and I'm all for it. I just think there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it, and my coach did it the wrong way.

My teammates were never inspired by my presence to become better people in any way that was apparent to me. And sadly, no other girls joined the club until my senior year, when ONE did.

And as far as perspectives changing, here's a disturbing thing: unintentionally, I slipped into thinking of girls as worse chess players. Of all the girls I played back then, only one ever beat me (and she did only once), but I lost to a lot of boys. As an adult, I know that there are all kinds of sampling errors and logical flaws there. But as a kid, this seeped into my subconscious, and it was easy to slide into this lazy way of thinking. In a weird way, it gives me a bit of empathy for people with wrongheaded ideas.

This is an insightful experience based critique of affirmative action. Can you express that in a way that develops some personal insights into the proper way? That would be a powerful DS.

lisac
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:03 pm

Re: Is this DS appropriate?

Postby lisac » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:57 am

I've already tweaked it a little in response to your earlier post. I'll think about how I would incorporate your new suggestions today. Meanwhile, please tell me if you think this is heading more in the right direction.

=============


Checkmate.

In seven moves, my opponent had defeated me in my very first high school chess tournament game. My confidence was shaken at that moment, but it was thoroughly smashed by the end of the day, after I had lost every single game I played. Looking back, it was clear that I was not ready to compete effectively at that level.

I was placed on the team simply because I was the only girl in my entire school that showed any interest in the chess club. The team coach was probably not just excited to have a girl on display. He may have believed genuinely that he was helping me by exposing me so soon to intense tournament competition. For me, it backfired. After those humiliating defeats, I refused to represent my school in another tournament for the rest of that year, and the year that followed.

I didn’t withdraw from the chess club entirely; rather, I honed my skills by studying classic reference games, played countless games with stronger players in the group, and listened to the strategies of successful tournament competitors. By my junior year, I was competent enough to return to tournament play, and by my senior year I was consistently ranked one of the top four players in my school.

Through my experiences on the chess team I recognized that my perseverance and hard work led to self-improvement. I also learned something disturbing about myself: how easily I could thoughtlessly slide into prejudice. Although I bristled when boys underestimated me, I slipped into thinking of girls as categorically weaker opponents. As an adult, I know that I came to this conclusion through logical flaws, sampling errors, and purely lazy thinking. But as a child, this seeped into my subconscious, and it has left me a bit of empathy for people who form wrongheaded ideas. Thoughtlessness can exist in any of us, and I understand how easy it is to react on the basis of unexamined presuppositions. I aspire to continually root out my own faulty beliefs, as they are illuminated by exposure to the beliefs of others.

Since high school I have created a life in which issues of diversity have concerned me greatly. I am the African-American wife of a Jewish man who is also a direct descendant of famed Confederate soldier Samuel Watkins. I am the stepmother of a homosexual man, and the mother of two biracial children. I am an atheist. Without doubt these roles and attributes have made me both knowledgeable of and sensitive to cultural mores of which I might have been otherwise unaware.

For twenty-plus years I have clearly seen that a range of diverse viewpoints improves the learning experience for everyone. The conflicts with which I have struggled enable me to bring a rich and distinctive perspective to classroom discussions, and to the practice of law. I wish to be admitted to law school for the same reasons that I was able to successfully rise to the top level chess team in my school.

I am ready, and my game is strong.

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JoeMo
Posts: 1518
Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:29 am

Re: Is this DS appropriate?

Postby JoeMo » Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:38 am

lisac wrote:I've already tweaked it a little in response to your earlier post. I'll think about how I would incorporate your new suggestions today. Meanwhile, please tell me if you think this is heading more in the right direction.

=============


Checkmate.

In seven moves, my opponent had defeated me in my very first high school chess tournament game. My confidence was shaken at that moment, but it was thoroughly smashed by the end of the day, after I had lost every single game I played. Looking back, it was clear that I was not ready to compete effectively at that level.

I was placed on the team simply because I was the only girl in my entire school that showed any interest in the chess club. The team coach was probably not just excited to have a girl on display. He may have believed genuinely that he was helping me by exposing me so soon to intense tournament competition. For me, it backfired. After those humiliating defeats, I refused to represent my school in another tournament for the rest of that year, and the year that followed.

I didn’t withdraw from the chess club entirely; rather, I honed my skills by studying classic reference games, played countless games with stronger players in the group, and listened to the strategies of successful tournament competitors. By my junior year, I was competent enough to return to tournament play, and by my senior year I was consistently ranked one of the top four players in my school.

Through my experiences on the chess team I recognized that my perseverance and hard work led to self-improvement. I also learned something disturbing about myself: how easily I could thoughtlessly slide into prejudice. Although I bristled when boys underestimated me, I slipped into thinking of girls as categorically weaker opponents. As an adult, I know that I came to this conclusion through logical flaws, sampling errors, and purely lazy thinking. But as a child, this seeped into my subconscious, and it has left me a bit of empathy for people who form wrongheaded ideas. Thoughtlessness can exist in any of us, and I understand how easy it is to react on the basis of unexamined presuppositions. I aspire to continually root out my own faulty beliefs, as they are illuminated by exposure to the beliefs of others.

Since high school I have created a life in which issues of diversity have concerned me greatly. I am the African-American wife of a Jewish man who is also a direct descendant of famed Confederate soldier Samuel Watkins. I am the stepmother of a homosexual man, and the mother of two biracial children. I am an atheist. Without doubt these roles and attributes have made me both knowledgeable of and sensitive to cultural mores of which I might have been otherwise unaware.

For twenty-plus years I have clearly seen that a range of diverse viewpoints improves the learning experience for everyone. The conflicts with which I have struggled enable me to bring a rich and distinctive perspective to classroom discussions, and to the practice of law. I wish to be admitted to law school for the same reasons that I was able to successfully rise to the top level chess team in my school.

I am ready, and my game is strong.


Don't hate me but I don't like this phrasing: how easily I could thoughtlessly slide into prejudice. Although I bristled when boys underestimated me, I slipped into thinking of girls as categorically weaker opponents

It gives you a personality trait that you don't want to be associated with and that I don't think you have. I think your essay before you added this paragraph was stronger, save the part about the quotas.

I would also rework this: I wish to be admitted to law school for the same reasons that I was able to successfully rise to the top level chess team in my school.

Into something more like this: I wish to be admitted to law school because I believe that the qualities which allowed me to successfully rise to the top level of the chess team at my school will also allow me to succeed at law school. The attitude of perseverance that I learned during that period of my life will prove invaluable as a law student. These are the qualities I want to bring to X school.

lisac
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:03 pm

Re: Is this DS appropriate?

Postby lisac » Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:08 am

Thanks JoeMo. Reworking...




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