Looking for some personal statement critiques!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
AmyDelGA
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:01 am

Looking for some personal statement critiques!

Postby AmyDelGA » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:49 am

I am brand new to this site (as in...I literally joined 10 minutes ago), but it looks like a great place to get some much-needed feedback on my personal statement. What I have right now is definitely a rough draft, so I'm aware it could use some polishing up. I'm also worried it's gotten too long, and that the ending sucks. So, any feedback will be greatly appreciated! :D

Here it is:

By the time I was seventeen months old, my parents knew I was different from other children. I never recognized loved ones from far away, I was virtually always squinting, and outside in the bright sunlight, I was almost completely blind. After a series of painful tests (which I was thankfully too young to remember), I was diagnosed with congenital achromatopsia, a genetic condition that is caused by a malfunction of the retinal phototransduction pathway. Basically, this means I am colorblind and legally blind (with an uncorrectable visual acuity of 20/200).

When I say I come from a “middle-class family,” that is being fairly generous concerning our financial situation. Needless to say, my parents did not have the time or the resources to coddle me and my visual impairment, for which I will be eternally grateful. It was important to my parents that I not only have dreams and aspirations, but that I work hard for them, and not feel “entitled” to any kind of special treatment due to my condition. This helped shape me into the strong-willed, independent person that I am today.

I have always hated the term “disabled,” and have refused to be labeled as such. In high school, while my peers were involved in sports or other extra-curricular activities (which I was physically unable to participate in), I began taking on part-time jobs. I did not yet know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I did know that I did not want to have to be taken care of by anybody.

After graduating from high school in 2004, I went to college, because that’s what “successful” people did, and I wanted to be successful. Having always had a deep interest in politics, I made my major political science, but still had no clear career goals. I have always been intelligent, so I had never before had to work for good grades. That, coupled with not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, unfortunately led to some pretty poor study habits, and ultimately to less-than-mediocre grades.

In the fall of 2005, I was living in a tiny, rundown apartment in Athens, GA. I could barely pay my rent, certainly couldn’t afford “luxuries” such as cable, and was surviving off Ramen noodles, but I was making it on my own, and proud of it. One of my college professors took a special interest in me, and convinced me to apply for an unpaid internship with the Athens-Clarke County District Attorney’s Office. Struggling financially as much as I was, the idea of an unpaid internship was pretty appalling to me, but I accepted the offer nonetheless.

At first, I was put to work doing pretty routine (aka, boring) tasks: answering phones, standing at a copier for hours on end, and filing. However, slowly, I began doing things I found more and more interesting, such as filling out subpoenas, running documents to various parts of the courthouse, legal research, and observing court proceedings. I found myself enjoying this “free labor” job, and became eager to learn as much as possible about the criminal justice system. One day toward the end of my internship, the ADA I was working under invited me to sit in on an interview with a potential witness to a homicide case he was working on. After the witness left, the ADA discussed some of the details of the case with me, showing me pictures of the crime scene, and describing the process he was going through in order to get the guilty verdict he was seeking. Later, as I was walking home from the courthouse in the cold December wind, my feet killing me from the almost 2 mile trek in heels, it dawned on me. I wanted to do that. I COULD do that! To utilize the old adage, it was as if a light bulb went off in my head, and immediately I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to go to law school. I wanted to be a lawyer. I even knew exactly what type of law I wanted to practice—criminal law. And so, after receiving my Associate’s degree in political science, I changed my major to criminal justice, a field of study which proved to be perfectly suited to my personality and interests (as evidenced by the increase in my GPA that occurred after switching majors).

This new found career path did not make my college career any easier, but it certainly provided me with the motivation to keep going when things got “really tough.” I encountered many challenges along the way, but I faced each one head-on, and did whatever it took to overcome and keep going. Not only was I completely supporting myself financially, but I was entirely responsible for everything associated with the cost of going to school. This meant I had to work at least two part-time jobs every semester I was in school, and even had to drop to part-time hours a few semesters in order to support myself.

Still though, neither being visually impaired nor financially struggling stopped me from achieving anything I put my mind to. In the summer of 2007, I was an intern for Congressman Nathan Deal on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. I was completely alone in a major city, working in a fast-paced environment for some very important people, and I loved every second of it. I became very involved in the 2008 and 2010 elections, spending countless hours campaigning for various judicial, congressional, and presidential candidates. Also in 2010, I completed my third internship, this one with New Hope Counseling and the Hall Country DUI Court. That internship gave me valuable, hands-on experience working directly with specialized courts. In the summer of 2011 I spent my last semester of college studying abroad in Istanbul, Turkey, where the focus of my studies was comparing various legal systems around the world. That trip, which virtually drained my savings, will be an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. I was exposed to languages, cultures, and ethnicities I had never before encountered, and can confidently say my worldview was expanded more in that one summer than any other time in my life.

My life so far certainly cannot be described as “easy” or even “comfortable” most of the time. Being legally blind causes me to have to work even harder than the average person to achieve my goals, but I believe it also makes success taste even sweeter. I am a firm believer in the idea that if a person wants something bad enough, and (more importantly) is willing to work hard enough to get it, they can achieve anything. For me, the next step in my “American dream” is attending law school.

User avatar
ix88
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:24 pm

Re: Looking for some personal statement critiques!

Postby ix88 » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:43 pm

The PS opens and closes with your legal-blindness, however there is no meaningful focus on how it affected your life beyond the high school years. What role did it play in college and in your jobs? What hardships in that respect did you overcome?

You are right, it is not really a disability. From this PS and my understanding of legal blindness, but not total blindness, you can wear strong glasses and such. It's not really a problem, but rather an inconvenience. So how did it affect you in any meaningful way? The PS does not really show the reader this.

Also, several times you use quotes marks - not for what someone said but b/c you are using the word in a loose sense. ie "entitled" "middle class family" etc. It's too informal. Pick a word where you don't need the quote marks.

The part where you label yourself as intelligent is puffery and if your'e grades were mediocre, save that discussion for an addendum, not your PS.

Overall, if you are going to open and close with your legal-blindness issue, then the focus of your PS should be that. Every paragraph should lead us through a journey of your life as it relates to the focus of your PS. As it stands, I find the PS is a bit unfocused and it has various extraneous material.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Looking for some personal statement critiques!

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:07 pm

As a rough draft, this is a good outline. Overall, your essay is too wordy & too much of a resume regurgitation to offer any additional insights to your mental framework. Delete the parenthetical phrases & quotation marks.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Looking for some personal statement critiques!

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:16 pm

Cut down on excessive wordiness:

For example: " I am a firm believer in the idea that if a person wants something bad enough, and (more importantly) is willing to work hard enough to get it, they can achieve anything."

Could be reduced to: " I believe that if one works hard enough toward a realistic goal, it is achievable."

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Looking for some personal statement critiques!

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:21 pm

The strength of your personal statement is that it presents you as a sincere & likable person.

AmyDelGA
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:01 am

Re: Looking for some personal statement critiques!

Postby AmyDelGA » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:35 pm

ix88 wrote:The PS opens and closes with your legal-blindness, however there is no meaningful focus on how it affected your life beyond the high school years. What role did it play in college and in your jobs? What hardships in that respect did you overcome?

You are right, it is not really a disability. From this PS and my understanding of legal blindness, but not total blindness, you can wear strong glasses and such. It's not really a problem, but rather an inconvenience. So how did it affect you in any meaningful way? The PS does not really show the reader this.

Also, several times you use quotes marks - not for what someone said but b/c you are using the word in a loose sense. ie "entitled" "middle class family" etc. It's too informal. Pick a word where you don't need the quote marks.

The part where you label yourself as intelligent is puffery and if your'e grades were mediocre, save that discussion for an addendum, not your PS.

Overall, if you are going to open and close with your legal-blindness issue, then the focus of your PS should be that. Every paragraph should lead us through a journey of your life as it relates to the focus of your PS. As it stands, I find the PS is a bit unfocused and it has various extraneous material.


Thank you. I'm working now on getting rid of the quotations, and defining more how my legal blindness has affected me. Thanks for the idea about putting the part about my grades in an addendum!

AmyDelGA
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:01 am

Re: Looking for some personal statement critiques!

Postby AmyDelGA » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:35 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:The strength of your personal statement is that it presents you as a sincere & likable person.


Thank you so much! :D

AmyDelGA
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:01 am

Re: Looking for some personal statement critiques!

Postby AmyDelGA » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:37 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Cut down on excessive wordiness:

For example: " I am a firm believer in the idea that if a person wants something bad enough, and (more importantly) is willing to work hard enough to get it, they can achieve anything."

Could be reduced to: " I believe that if one works hard enough toward a realistic goal, it is achievable."

haha yup....excessive wordiness has always been one of my downfalls.




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