Critique my PS, please?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
GabyVA
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:31 pm

Critique my PS, please?

Postby GabyVA » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:09 pm

This is a pretty rough draft, but I figure it can't hurt to have some other sets of eyes look at it. I'm hoping to finish up my applications in the next week or so and this is the last part I need to finish (this is the 5th one I've written, but I think I'm finally getting near what I'd like to say). Any and all critiques, suggestions, etc are greatly appreciated! Rip it apart. Thanks!

_________________________________

Sometimes, I jokingly describe my life as that of a carnie; in reality, it's not far from the truth. I started showing dogs when I was thirteen years old and by the time I was sixteen, I felt lucky if I knew what state I was waking up in each morning. Unlike most die-hard dog exhibitors, I wasn't born into the sport; I came into it blindly, but with a determination and fire that only grew with the challenges that would be put in front of me.

When I was twelve years old I met another young girl who showed dogs in junior showmanship, a competition that judges the quality of a child's handling skills rather than the merits of their dog. Something inside me clicked and I knew I had to become involved. I knew it would be a long shot, but I cornered my mom one afternoon and told her that I wanted to show dogs. She was the mother who wouldn't let me do travel soccer as there was a perfectly good field to play in right outside the house, so it was no surprise to me when my request was met with a resounding “No.” Not easily dissuaded, I begged and pleaded until she finally caved and gave me a challenge: if I could grow the coat out on our pet-quality Cocker Spaniel and put her into a show trim, she would let me enter a dog show. Cocker Spaniels are arguably one of the hardest breeds to groom, so I started to research proper grooming techniques and learn all I could. It took me nearly a year, but true to her word, when I had gotten this dog into show trim, my mom entered me in a local show.

Theoretically, the rules for junior showmanship say that the dog does not have to be show quality, so I showed up on show morning, beaming with pride over my year-long project and what I thought was a magnificent looking animal. We quickly realized, however, that when a boy who showed the previous year's #1-ranked Beagle dropped it off the examination table not once, but twice, during my class and still beat me, we were going to need a show quality dog. My mother and I set off immediately to research breeds and finally settled on the Bedlington Terrier. I found a bloodline of dogs I liked, who happened to have puppies available at the time and worked up the courage to call the breeder.

“You're just not old enough or serious enough.” Those words loomed in the air as a resounding click told me the breeder I was speaking to on the phone had hung up, ending all further discussion on the matter; I would not be getting one of her puppies. I was crushed, but that feeling of devastation quickly turned to one of determination. I was going to make sure no one ever doubted again that I was, in fact, serious enough.

Over the next few weeks, I found a breeder who took a chance on me and gave me a dog who would become my partner in one of the most amazing journeys of my life. He came to me as my fourteenth birthday gift and by the time I was sixteen, he was a finished AKC Champion of Record and the #5 Bedlington Terrier that year. In 2007, I started an unprecedented campaign with him; I was going to make him the first #1 Bedlington Terrier in history that was shown by a junior handler. We ended the year almost 100 points ahead of the #2 dog after attending over 150 different shows that year in more than 15 states. Along the way, I broke many records, set new ones and earned the respect of many of the people who had doubted me to begin with. I formed a love for the sport that would last my entire life and has set the tone for my future goals.

Over the last nine years, I have repeatedly seen my sport threatened by anti-breeder and dog-ownership legislation. I know going to law school is the right choice for me, because while many in our sport prefer to act like Nero, fiddling while our city burns around them; I want to be on the front lines, protecting the rights of those involved in purebred dogs. A legal degree would give me the ability to advocate for breeders and animal owners and protect the rights of the next generation of youth; giving them the chance that I had: to prove just how serious they are when faced with a doubt and a challenge.
Last edited by GabyVA on Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Shaggy
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:42 pm

Re: Critique my PS, please?

Postby Shaggy » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:18 pm

Hey I like your story, but I think you need to hit the point on why you want to go to law school way sooner than your last paragraph. IMO, start with the legal issues of dog-breeding/ownernship legislation early on. Have you joined a campaign where you already started to rally against this legislation? Maybe that would be more relevant to why you are choosing law school and show that your are active in this process already. This is a unique statement and I have never read one like it before on TLS. One risk that you are taking is that you are talking about your childhood in the first paragraph. ALthough it relates deeply to your overall theme, I hope you can bring in more experiences that are relevant to law school. Good luck!

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ConfidenceMan2
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:04 am

Re: Critique my PS, please?

Postby ConfidenceMan2 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:29 pm

Not bad. My suggestions:

The first paragraph doesn't, in my opinion, adequately set up the story. My personal preference would be to open with an actual event from the timeline - perhaps when you lost to the beagle or, better yet, when you called a breeder and they called you too young and inexperienced. You don't have to do this, but I still think you should focus on making that first paragraph a little more revealing/interesting.

Next, I get a little bit bored talking about cocker spaniels being a difficult breed, especially considering this isn't the breed you ended up championing. I think a little less detail in that early/mid section wouldn't hurt (or at least, different detail, detail that is more relevant to who you are and why you'll be the best damn law student around).

Finally, the final paragraph is too weak. I'd suggest making it two paragraphs, one to explain why all this makes you the best damn potential law student around, and the final one as a sort of conclusion that's more interesting than the current one. Also, you use semicolons in this paragraph in two instances which really call for a comma.

Overall, however, I think you're almost there! An interesting/unique story, a good voice to tell it in, and well written. Keep it up!

CanadianWolf
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Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Critique my PS, please?

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:09 pm

You stretched 3 paragraphs worth of material into 6 paragraphs. As a rough draft, this is fine so long as you realize that your final PS should be much shorter because your essay is too repetitive in its current form.

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hdivschool
Posts: 92
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 2:41 pm

Re: Critique my PS, please?

Postby hdivschool » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:26 pm

This is very well-written and it's a great story. Excellent imagery. A few comments:

GabyVA wrote:Sometimes, I jokingly describe my life as that of a carnie; in reality, it's not far from the truth.

I might change "it's" to "that's". I doubt it's necessary to change this, but "it's" lacks a proper antecedent. It's clear to me that "it" refers to 'a description of your life as that of a carnie.'

GabyVA wrote:I came into it blindly, but with a determination and fire that only grew with the challenges that would be put in front of me.

The meter of this sentence would be better if you switched fire with determination, i.e. "a fire and determination"

GabyVA wrote:When I was twelve years old I met another young girl who showed dogs in junior showmanship, a competition that judges the quality of a child's handling skills rather than the merits of their dog. Something inside me clicked and I knew I had to become involved.

This could be developed more, unless the click was as mysterious as your description suggests.

GabyVA wrote:I knew it would be a long shot,

This is a cliche; you can do better.

GabyVA wrote:Cocker Spaniels are arguably one of the hardest breeds to groom,

Arguably is meaningless; plus you sound like an expert, so speak with some authority!

GabyVA wrote:when I had gotten this dog into show trim,

Change 'this' to 'our'. It's more personal.

GabyVA wrote:Theoretically,

I'd drop theoretically, if that's what the rules *actually* say.

GabyVA wrote:the rules for junior showmanship say that the dog does not have to be show quality, so I showed up on show morning,

You're using 'show' three times. I'd hyphenate "show-quality," pick a different verb, or possibly drop the third show.

GabyVA wrote:We quickly realized, however, that when a boy who showed the previous year's #1-ranked Beagle dropped it off the examination table not once, but twice, during my class and still beat me, we were going to need a show quality dog.

This is a tricky sentence and you might want to rewrite it. If it's a non-restrictive clauses, it should be set off by commas, i.e. "a boy, who showed the previous year's #1-ranked Beagle,".

GabyVA wrote:I found a bloodline of dogs I liked, who happened to have puppies available at the time and worked up the courage to call the breeder.

Change who to which. Strike "at the time".

GabyVA wrote:“You're just not old enough or serious enough.” Those five short words

Not sure which five words you're referring to.

GabyVA wrote:I was going to make sure no one ever doubted again that I was, in fact, serious enough.

Put again before doubted.

GabyVA wrote:Over the next few weeks, I found a breeder who took a chance on me and gave me a dog who would become my partner in one of the most amazing journeys of my life.

Maybe put in dog's name? It would make it more personal and would clear up some ambiguity in the next sentence.

GabyVA wrote:I formed a love for the sport that would last my entire life and has set the tone for my future goals.

'Will last," I hope.

GabyVA wrote:Over the last nine years, I have repeatedly seen my sport threatened by anti-breeder and dog-ownership legislation.

Does anti- modify dog-ownership too? It's unclear what the issues you're worried about are. This paragraph needs more development.

GabyVA wrote:I know going to law school is the right choice for me, because while many in our sport prefer to act like Nero, fiddling while our city burns around them; I want to be on the front lines, protecting the rights of those involved in purebred dogs.

Replace the semicolon with a comma. Change "involved in purebred dogs" to "involved in [name for the activity]".

GabyVA wrote:A legal degree would give me the ability to advocate for breeders and animal owners and protect the rights of the next generation of youth; giving them the chance that I had: to prove just how serious they are when faced with a doubt and a challenge.

This is vague. Change legal to law. Be more specific about what you mean by advocacy. "Faced" is weak; change it to something stronger, like confronted.

JasonR
Posts: 421
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:09 am

Re: Critique my PS, please?

Postby JasonR » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:29 pm

Too many semicolons, some improperly applied.

GabyVA
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:31 pm

Re: Critique my PS, please?

Postby GabyVA » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:45 pm

Wow, thank you all for your comments and critiques! They are all extremely helpful and it's great to get an outside perspective!

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3v3ryth1ng
Posts: 295
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:48 pm

Re: Critique my PS, please?

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:03 am

Positives: I like that you're using a story from your life to show who you are. I like that you give a relevant reason for wanting to go to law school.

Areas of Improvement:

1) I think your first sentence took me in the wrong direction. You're a carnie? You work for a traveling carnival? I was expecting a level of craziness that wasn't there.

2) I think you need to trim down your story and get to the point more quickly. I think I saw at least one of the other comments mentioned this. It's something a lot of people have trouble with because from our own perspective, everything we mentioned is important. From other peoples', only the conflict itself and the details necessary to set it up are important.

3) I think you could make your reason for wanting to attend law school more compelling. Maybe it's just the way it was written, but it came across as too easy to ignore. YOU ARE on the right track though. Law school should be a logical extension of the life you've already lived.

4) I personally think you could do a lot more to show who you are in this piece. I think that's the true value of a PS, because the numbers and resume do the rest of the talking. Convey a strong, unique voice in your writing. Convey personality. I'm not saying your writing lacks this; it doesn't. I just feel that a truly strong personal statement is "dripping with charisma" so to speak (in a good way).

Good luck with revisions!




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