General PS Review

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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General PS Review

Postby toothbrush » Fri Jul 06, 2012 4:01 pm

Last edited by toothbrush on Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: General PS Review

Postby BuckeyeGirl » Fri Jul 06, 2012 5:01 pm

So I hate for your initial introduction to TLS to be brutal, but...I would scrap this entirely. Completely putting aside any grammar/writing criticisms this smacks of the classic, "I'm white and swept in and saved all the poor brown people in the village/town/BOH." This is not how you want to come across. The line, "In a strange way I became invested in my coworkers lives," is completely obnoxious. I am CERTAIN you didn't mean to come across this way but you come across pretty terribly to me in this piece.

And as an aside, I also am a native English speaker who speaks fluent Spanish and spent college and a good portion of my life afterwards supporting myself waiting I get your reference point, but I really think this paints you in a pretty awful light.

I would strongly encourage you to scrap entirely, but at the very least you MUST completely overhaul the tone and "lesson" in this piece.

Feel free to PM me if you want to talk more...but don't ruin good numbers on this personal statement.

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Re: General PS Review

Postby bobdjojo » Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:24 pm

I also got the same tone as BuckeyeGirl.

If you're going to keep this theme choose something else to replace "I became spanish." Spanish=Spaniard

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Re: General PS Review

Postby toothbrush » Sat Jul 07, 2012 10:54 pm

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Re: General PS Review

Postby cutecarmel » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:00 pm

I'm not crazy about it it, but I think it can be salvaged.

First of all, hearing you say that you "became Spanish" really irked me. You can't become another nationality or another race. You can say that you started to relate more with your Cuban heritage, but you certainly did not become Spanish.

I also learned Spanish in school and I wrote about it some in my own PS, but I'm almost positive that I didn't come off as arrogant (not the write word, but the best I can think of for now) as you did. Even though your PS seems to have the "I help Spanish-speaking people" theme, you made it seem like you were better than them because English is your first language, which makes you seem like the American that thinks he is better than everyone else. (Paragraph 5). I'm sure you didn't mean to (well at least I hope you didn't), but it comes off that way.

You can get rid of paragraph 6 (I don't think you are really saying anything here, the first sentence (chop, chop chop), and the bit about you hurting you hand (its somewhat interesting, but it doesn't add anything)

I don't like when you say that you've always wanted to go to law school.

I think your PS could be stronger if you worked with Spanish-speaking people on another occasion, not just at your job. Have you ever volunteered as a translator or worked teaching English? If this wasn't a continued interest, it seems more like you were a young kid who finally met someone who wasn't middle-class and white and that inspired you to be a lawyer, which seems shallow.

Good luck though
Coming up with a personal statement is tough work. You'll get it though.

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Re: General PS Review

Postby toothbrush » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:05 pm

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Re: General PS Review

Postby angua » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:46 pm

I agree that you need to tone down some of the privilege and general douchiness, but I really think there is something to be said for the "I gained a lot of appreciation for a job I initially did not respect/know anything about" and the "I fully immersed myself in a job outside of my comfort zone, and adapted, and was not afraid to do hard work" parts. I would advise thinking about the themes you want to convey - in this case it seems like you want to convey "I have an open mind," "I don't feel entitled to a fabulous job and I'm not afraid to do so-called 'low class' work," and "I have a desire to connect with and be kind/helpful to people." So think about if that's what you want to get across. If you decide those work for you, then reassess: Is this the best anecdote I can use to show admissions people that this is who I am? If you say no, then find some other thing in your life that illustrates your good qualities, as you see them. Maybe there is something more appropriate or better illustrative of your strengths.

That said, I wrote like four different PSs before the one I ended up using. The first two to five ideas you have are going to either suck or be mediocre. I like to think of it as getting the crap out of your head and onto the paper so that the good stuff can start to flow.

tl;dr, don't get too attached to this one idea for a PS. Write a few different ones on different topics and then see if something great comes out.

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Re: General PS Review

Postby polobull » Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:36 am

If you were a WASP this subject would be nearly irredeemable, but ethnically you're half Cuban and to admissions officials who can trace their ancestry back to the Mayflower that means a lot.

The distance with which you discuss your experiences is the source of the douchiness that some readers, including myself, get from this piece. You sound like the ermine and leather shod-Englishman remarking on the barefoot but oddly noble Amazonian savages. In other words, you could hardly be more removed. While you are careful to outline the ways in which your genuine interest (at the time and since) has served to bridge the gap between yourself and the natives, I mean your co-workers, you can do more.

Make this piece about discovering yourself. Symbolically, take off those expensive shoes and realize that underneath you're barefoot too. You're half-Cuban. I'm half-foreign country as well. Like you, I don't particularly identify as such. But you, in this story, should claim it directly, explicitly, and with some sentimentality. You're implying it here by saying that you "became spanish".

Also, don't use the word "spanish" in that sense unless you're applying to schools exclusively in the NYC/Tri-State area. The rest of the country does not use the word "spanish" to mean Hispanic. Plus it's a colloquialism.

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Re: General PS Review

Postby collegebum1989 » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:29 am

I think it was because you prefaced the entire experience with the paragraph affirming you were from a suburban white household is what makes this essay tough to appreciate. Seems like you are distancing yourself from your co-workers and focusing on understanding the people which makes the essay seem pretentious.

Instead, don't affirm that you are white in the beginning of the essay. Focus more on the culture shock and on the social issues which some of your co-workers faced in their everyday lives. By focusing on ethnicity, you're cheapening this experience just to simple issue instead.

You could have easily used this experience to show your interests in immigration law or public policy (if you are interested in either) which would make this a stronger essay

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Re: General PS Review

Postby bobbyh1919 » Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:14 pm

The underlying theme of this is pretty good, but I strongly recommend you completely start from scratch because there are just too many problems with the tone here to try to save this one.

If I were you I would lay it out something like this.....White kid from the suburbs starts working in the cafe, meets many new people from different backgrounds and realizes how fortunate he is just to be middle class and relatively care free, makes some efforts to help his friends the best he can but realizes that they are just a handful out of millions in similar situations and to really make a difference he will need a law degree.

In essence, it's not radically different from your original PS. I would drop the focus on the Hispanic population and get away from the race angle.

Also, drop the whole cut my finger thing. I thought you lopped the thing off in the beginning, and then to find out the whole story was just so you could remark how the scar reminded you of your times there....didn't really work.

Again, I think the underlying theme here is good, and I think you just tried to dress it up too much. Strip this down a bit and you'll be on the right path.

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Re: General PS Review

Postby kublaikahn » Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:54 am

News flash--you are still inexperienced, naive, and sheltered.

Its not the tone that is the problem. It is the disconnect between your sense of self and your self. Nonetheless I will help you. Change your thesis to one of learning from each other and how the human bond strengthens when the relationship is a two way street.

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