Second draft - Looking for more critique

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
79radiohead
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:15 pm

Second draft - Looking for more critique

Postby 79radiohead » Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:30 am

I grew up in a very conservative, Christian household that surely did not make allowances for some of the errors in judgment that I made in my younger years. In all fairness, my parents said the right things when I was growing up, especially with regard to my intellect and my ability to succeed in life. However, the negative actions that took place in my childhood home spoke much louder than these positive words. My childhood memories consist of incessant arguing and yelling, but I still had a support system. That is until I entered into an emotionally abusive relationship at the age of 19 and had a child "out of wedlock" when I was 24. Suffice it to say, my extremely religious mother was not happy when I chose to stay in my unhealthy relationship and she took it rather personally. Our relationship has been tumultuous at best since then.

For many years before my daughter was born, I let my home life somewhat taint my views on a future and some aspects of my life have suffered. Being the single mother of a nine year old is not exactly where I envisioned myself at the age of thirty-three. I am a single mother in the truest sense, as my daughter's father has not seen her since she was three months old. It is the saddest thing in the world when your child asks you why she doesn't have a dad. It is also very difficult to not be bitter or even angry at myself for putting her in that position. However, parenthood forces you to mature and it also forces you to be introspective in ways you never thought possible. In the years since my daughter was born, my once bleak outlook has changed significantly and I see things in a strangely different way. When I was young, I saw adulthood as an infinite concept. I took for granted some precious years that I could have used to pursue my ultimate goals. Now that I have some life experience as well as child that I need to nurture and provide for, everything is different. I am the only support system my daughter has and I have given much thought to what kind of legacy I want to leave for her. I want her to believe that though mistakes may be made, all is never lost. I want her to be tenacious and have the courage to pursue whatever life has in store for her. I do not want her to be held back by the what-ifs and could-have-beens. I want her to make mistakes, learn from them and make whatever adjustments necessary to proceed on her destined course. I want her to make sacrifices if (and only if) they are the right ones. I want her to believe in her strengths and realize her weaknesses, but above all I never want her to give up. I need to show her that if people doubt you, you do not have to accept it. I need to show her that your mistakes and missteps in life can actually wind up being the best things that ever happened to you. I need to illustrate that when you dream, you should dream big and always persevere towards accomplishing the goals you have set for yourself. The only way for me to teach my daughter these concepts is to lead by example. I want my daughter to see that while I may have learned some lessons the hard way and I may have gotten off track, that no obstacle is insurmountable.

Being a mother has given me a clarity that I was severely lacking. I have long had an aspiration to be a lawyer, so I am going to do everything in my power to make it happen. I will do my best not to let fear or doubt get in the way of what I believe to be the right path for me. It will not be effortless and it will definitely be hard work, but anything worth having usually is. At the end of the day, I want to show my daughter that she doesn't need to have her father in her life to feel safe and secure. I want her to know that I will always support her in whatever she chooses to do and that true perseverance will get her wherever she wants to go in life. The choices I make now can help to show her that my past does not have to dictate my future, nor hers. If I can prove that both my daughter and myself- then I will consider that my greatest accomplishment.

NightmanCometh
Posts: 100
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:03 pm

Re: Second draft - Looking for more critique

Postby NightmanCometh » Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:51 am

Hi, I just read your first draft too. Here is what I think:

Your first draft was a good personal story, and you told it well, showing your good writing skills and revealing something personal about you. It wasn't as good of a personal statement, however, because it told the reader nothing about why you would make a good lawyer/addition to law school or even why you want to go to law school. This second draft scraps the colorful personal story, but still doesn't fix the core problems of the first draft.

The personal statement should not only be a personal story, but it should also be a way to market yourself. Just by reading your drafts, I think a good angle is to tell one story about your experience as a mother. In this second draft, you spend a lot of space in the second paragraph telling us what you "want" your daughter to experience, and write nothing that shows us what you have done for your daughter to achieve your wishes. (show, not tell)

Maybe you can pick one story that shows your experience and wisdom as a mother that you can contrast with your behavior as a youth. Or something along those lines; basically you want to play up the fact that you are a mature candidate, rather than the fact that you made mistakes when you were young.

Hope that helps!

79radiohead
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:15 pm

Re: Second draft - Looking for more critique

Postby 79radiohead » Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:57 am

NightmanCometh wrote:Hi, I just read your first draft too. Here is what I think:

Your first draft was a good personal story, and you told it well, showing your good writing skills and revealing something personal about you. It wasn't as good of a personal statement, however, because it told the reader nothing about why you would make a good lawyer/addition to law school or even why you want to go to law school. This second draft scraps the colorful personal story, but still doesn't fix the core problems of the first draft.

The personal statement should not only be a personal story, but it should also be a way to market yourself. Just by reading your drafts, I think a good angle is to tell one story about your experience as a mother. In this second draft, you spend a lot of space in the second paragraph telling us what you "want" your daughter to experience, and write nothing that shows us what you have done for your daughter to achieve your wishes. (show, not tell)

Maybe you can pick one story that shows your experience and wisdom as a mother that you can contrast with your behavior as a youth. Or something along those lines; basically you want to play up the fact that you are a mature candidate, rather than the fact that you made mistakes when you were young.

Hope that helps!


I guess my concern is I am reading conflicting views on whether or not put in the PS why you want to be a lawyer. I was going for the implication that I have tenacity, learned from the past, sights set on my goals etc. This is so much harder than I thought it was going to be, because I usually get good feedback on other types of writing. Thanks for your input

NightmanCometh
Posts: 100
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:03 pm

Re: Second draft - Looking for more critique

Postby NightmanCometh » Mon Jul 02, 2012 3:28 am

I guess my concern is I am reading conflicting views on whether or not put in the PS why you want to be a lawyer.


Sorry, maybe I didn't make the point clear. I don't think you necessarily have to write why you want to be a lawyer if you can show that you would make a good lawyer. Basically, all I meant was that there should be some sort of clearly understood connection between you and law school.

I was going for the implication that I have tenacity, learned from the past, sights set on my goals etc. This is so much harder than I thought it was going to be, because I usually get good feedback on other types of writing.


I know that this is what you are going for, but the problem is that you didn't provide enough tangible examples to back up this claim. Again my problem is that you seem to spend too much time discussing your mistakes, rather than describing your experiences as a mother.

And yes, personal statements are f***ing difficult...

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icecold3000
Posts: 213
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:50 am

Re: Second draft - Looking for more critique

Postby icecold3000 » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:28 am

After reading your first paragraph, I feel like it could have been summed up in one (maybe two) sentences. You could drastically improve the first paragraph by writing something more interesting/hooking in your opening sentence. Maybe something like "Tears streamed down their faces as I told my bible thumping parents that their teenage daughter was pregnant." Well . . . maybe not that melodramatic, but you get the picture.

Also, get rid of fluffy, overworked modifiers.
Example:
I grew up in a very conservative, Christian household.

In this sentence the word "very" adds little value. Was your household more conservative than other conservative households? Do your parents believe that the United States should become a monarchy or that the government should recognize Catholicism as its official religion? If so, the word "very" is an understatement. There are similar examples of this problem throughout your PS.

Lastly, it is not necessary to discuss why you want to become a lawyer in your personal statement. For a lot of people it makes good sense, but it is extremely context specific. It should not be done if it comes across as tacked on or insincere. In your case, the "why law" part is incoherent. You write that you want to become a lawyer in order to show your daughter that your "past does not have to dictate my future, nor hers." You are using law school as a prop to insert a moral lesson into your personal statement. While this is not a bad idea per se, in this context it comes off as overboard. You could do any number of things to teach your daughter this lesson, so why law school?

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cutecarmel
Posts: 599
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:39 pm

Re: Second draft - Looking for more critique

Postby cutecarmel » Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:19 pm

NightmanCometh wrote:Hi, I just read your first draft too. Here is what I think:

Your first draft was a good personal story, and you told it well, showing your good writing skills and revealing something personal about you. It wasn't as good of a personal statement, however, because it told the reader nothing about why you would make a good lawyer/addition to law school or even why you want to go to law school. This second draft scraps the colorful personal story, but still doesn't fix the core problems of the first draft.

The personal statement should not only be a personal story, but it should also be a way to market yourself. Just by reading your drafts, I think a good angle is to tell one story about your experience as a mother. In this second draft, you spend a lot of space in the second paragraph telling us what you "want" your daughter to experience, and write nothing that shows us what you have done for your daughter to achieve your wishes. (show, not tell)

Maybe you can pick one story that shows your experience and wisdom as a mother that you can contrast with your behavior as a youth. Or something along those lines; basically you want to play up the fact that you are a mature candidate, rather than the fact that you made mistakes when you were young.

Hope that helps!



+1

I agree that it does come off more as a story than a personal statement. When I was reading it, I thought it was really sweet, but I don't feel that I learned much about you other than the fact that you are a single mother and want to go to law school and set a good example for her. I think the theme (single mother from a conservative family) is really great, but you need to focus more on you, your personal strengths, what about you would make you a good law student (though you don't have to explicitly state the last one)




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