Feeling like I've lead the least extraordinary life ever...

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Nancy_Botwin
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Feeling like I've lead the least extraordinary life ever...

Postby Nancy_Botwin » Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:57 am

Is there anyone out there who can help me out? I'm not looking for a full read or evaluation. Time is of the essence! I wrote my personal statement about the death of my grandmother and how her traits and encouragement shaped who I am today (in addition to the other requisite info: Why this school/program/career path). I haven't submitted it yet -- but will in the next day or two. I'm having family/friends proof it, I'm just looking for general feedback. I sincerely appreciate anyone helping me out. If you do, I'll have a glass of wine in your honor.

In reading the samples from the TLS Guide, I feel like I've lead an incredibly dull life :? (Anyone else feel that way? Why didn't my parents enter me into child beauty pageants damaging my feelings of self worth and self esteem?!?!)


[Redacted for privacy/piracy reasons ARRRRG, MATEY!]
Last edited by Nancy_Botwin on Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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luxxe
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Re: Feeling like I've lead the least extraordinary life ever...

Postby luxxe » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:04 am

This focuses too much on your grandmother and seems to be a restatement of a resume. I like the idea of it, but I think it would be better if you were able to focus on one/a few things you did as an intern/grad student/whatever and tie it back to your grandmother's influence/desire to be a DA.

I would definitely not mention the middle school spelling bee or the high school yearbook, and it is pretty clear through this that you have had some great experiences AFTER high school - you need to highlight them more!
Nancy_Botwin wrote:While I could have been content creating a suitable life with the education and work experience I had, my grandmother instilled within me a passion for excellence and the determination to never settle. No matter how great the challenge, if I truly wanted to achieve what others believed to be an impossible goal, she insisted that I could find a way to succeed. Through her teachings and my own personal experiences, I became a leader in both the academic and professional world. Working in a variety of fields and thriving in the classroom environment proved to be highly advantageous in augmenting my leadership abilities and my desire to become an attorney.

This paragraph, for example. If you were to instead discuss a time that you were a leader and then tie that back to a lesson your grandmother taught you, this would be a lot better. As is, most of the paragraph seems to be about her.

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Cupidity
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Re: Feeling like I've lead the least extraordinary life ever...

Postby Cupidity » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:12 am

Nancy_Botwin wrote:The only person who believed as strongly as I did that I could become a lawyer was gone. I knew I would not be the first person to cry in the Ricketson Law Building at the University of Denver. However, I left the building that had fostered me with care and edification with as much dignity as I could muster.


I really don't like this paragraph.

JasonR
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Re: Feeling like I've lead the least extraordinary life ever...

Postby JasonR » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:40 am

The good thing is that you write very well. For the most part, your prose is very clear and precise. The last sentences in paragraph 1 and 4 are the only ones that jump out as a bit clumsy and not quite up to the standards of the rest of your writing.

I'm too sleepy to give a full eval, but I agree with others that the PS focuses too much on your grandmother. You can still honor the profound influence she had on you while taking more ownership of your passions/motivations/goals. Six of your eight paragraphs -- and each of the first four -- involve references to your grandmother, and most of those are practically dominated by that discussion. That's terribly excessive. Paragraph 6 is the height of this excess, as the way you've written it makes it seem as though your grandmother is almost the real actor with you playing just a secondary role. Not trying to be harsh or insensitive, but that's a blunt statement of my impression.

You can explain your grandmother's influence on your life/development in a much more concise fashion in the beginning, focus more on your own passions and relevant experiences (not already thoroughly described in resume), and then relate something specific about yourself back to your grandmother's influence toward the end.

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Nancy_Botwin
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Re: Feeling like I've lead the least extraordinary life ever...

Postby Nancy_Botwin » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:34 pm

luxxe wrote:This focuses too much on your grandmother and seems to be a restatement of a resume. I like the idea of it, but I think it would be better if you were able to focus on one/a few things you did as an intern/grad student/whatever and tie it back to your grandmother's influence/desire to be a DA.

I would definitely not mention the middle school spelling bee or the high school yearbook, and it is pretty clear through this that you have had some great experiences AFTER high school - you need to highlight them more!
Nancy_Botwin wrote:While I could have been content creating a suitable life with the education and work experience I had, my grandmother instilled within me a passion for excellence and the determination to never settle. No matter how great the challenge, if I truly wanted to achieve what others believed to be an impossible goal, she insisted that I could find a way to succeed. Through her teachings and my own personal experiences, I became a leader in both the academic and professional world. Working in a variety of fields and thriving in the classroom environment proved to be highly advantageous in augmenting my leadership abilities and my desire to become an attorney.

This paragraph, for example. If you were to instead discuss a time that you were a leader and then tie that back to a lesson your grandmother taught you, this would be a lot better. As is, most of the paragraph seems to be about her.



Great feedback! I sincerely appreciate it! And after not looking at the PS for a few hours, I see exactly where you're coming from. Highlighting a specific "leadership moment" is definitely what I'll do.

Cheers! And Merry Christmas :D

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Nancy_Botwin
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Re: Feeling like I've lead the least extraordinary life ever...

Postby Nancy_Botwin » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:37 pm

Cupidity wrote:
Nancy_Botwin wrote:The only person who believed as strongly as I did that I could become a lawyer was gone. I knew I would not be the first person to cry in the Ricketson Law Building at the University of Denver. However, I left the building that had fostered me with care and edification with as much dignity as I could muster.


I really don't like this paragraph.


Thank you thank you! I really need honest feedback like this :)
After re-reading my PS, I think these two sentences read a little "boo hoo" to me -- So I completely agree. It's awkward for some reason. The G**damn of the PS is that the first paragraph is the most important but the hardest to write!

Cheers and Merry Christmas!!!!!
Melissa

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Nancy_Botwin
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Re: Feeling like I've lead the least extraordinary life ever...

Postby Nancy_Botwin » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:43 pm

JasonR wrote:The good thing is that you write very well. For the most part, your prose is very clear and precise. The last sentences in paragraph 1 and 4 are the only ones that jump out as a bit clumsy and not quite up to the standards of the rest of your writing.

I'm too sleepy to give a full eval, but I agree with others that the PS focuses too much on your grandmother. You can still honor the profound influence she had on you while taking more ownership of your passions/motivations/goals. Six of your eight paragraphs -- and each of the first four -- involve references to your grandmother, and most of those are practically dominated by that discussion. That's terribly excessive. Paragraph 6 is the height of this excess, as the way you've written it makes it seem as though your grandmother is almost the real actor with you playing just a secondary role. Not trying to be harsh or insensitive, but that's a blunt statement of my impression.

You can explain your grandmother's influence on your life/development in a much more concise fashion in the beginning, focus more on your own passions and relevant experiences (not already thoroughly described in resume), and then relate something specific about yourself back to your grandmother's influence toward the end.


Thank you so much! Your compliment really means a lot. My sister is a writer and compared to her work, I've always felt like a total amateur :P And baby, right now I need people to be blunt! There's no time to dance around the truth so I sincerely appreciate the feedback!

For being sleepy, you've made some great observations! And you make an excellent point about my PS being too grandma-centric. As one helpful little elf suggested, I'm going to tout my leadership abilities by highlighting a specific event based upon the values I've learned.

It's only 12:45 but I'm going to pour three hefty glasses of wine in each helpful person's favor :wink:
MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

kublaikahn
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Re: Feeling like I've lead the least extraordinary life ever...

Postby kublaikahn » Wed Dec 21, 2011 5:13 am

This is mostly about your grandmother.

In addition you list a series of character traits that she instilled in you and then only support one of them (leadership) with a single example of how you formed a group of five students to do a class assignment, hardly the height of leadership. The rest of that paragraph is not even about leadership, just a resume regurgitation about your role as an intern.

This is just a list of character traits you claim to possess wrapped up in a sappy story about your grandmother. It is too diffuse and your many claims are unsupported.

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Nancy_Botwin
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Re: Feeling like I've lead the least extraordinary life ever...

Postby Nancy_Botwin » Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:11 pm

So I basically tore this paper apart and have put it back together. Less Granny, more leadership. I'll post the updated version after I have a minute to proof it.
Thanks again for all of your help! I sincerely appreciate it!!
Melissa




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