Second Attempt at PS, Please Critique

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Second Attempt at PS, Please Critique

Postby lambert8 » Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:02 pm

Last edited by lambert8 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Second Attempt at PS, Please Critique

Postby cutecarmel » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:09 pm

I don't really like this.

So a few words of advice:

1. I don't think the first paragraph about being on the Dean's List and doing community service is necessary. I thought you PS was about service, but many sentences later, I found out it wasn't. If you're going to keep this, I would shorten it a lot.

2. You got mono? Who were you kissing? lol. Ok, so I'm not sure how life-threatening your spleen issue was, but it didn't really seem like a big adversity that pushed you to be successful. If you're going to end you PS with this, I think you should put more emphasis on the adversity that you faced and how you overcame it.

3. You don't have to mention your pushy mother.

4. I think you go into too much detail about the specifics of football.

5. Work on your grammar and make sure to avoid run ons and awkward wording.

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Re: Second Attempt at PS, Please Critique

Postby angua » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:30 pm

lambert8 wrote:As an undergraduate, I have sat through countless hours of class and been exposed to more academic theories and equations then I can remember. The time I put into my studies led me to accomplish my goal of becoming a Dean’s List scholar.

This adds almost nothing to your PS. Everyone in undergrad has "sat through countless hours of class," and implying you forgot a lot of stuff insinuates intellectual laziness. Don't even give the reader a chance for that thought to enter the picture.

Yet, nothing I learned in a classroom could ever add up to the life lessons or feeling of achievement I acquired from playing college football. There are many experiences that I am proud of that extend far beyond the playing field and games won.

If you want to write about football for your PS, start out with an action shot. Describe a time you were on the field; the sights, the sounds, the smells. "It was the end of the first quarter and the crowd was screaming." Etc. Make the lede something gripping. Admissions directors read hundreds of these, and 99% of them are boring, so give them something that will perk them up right at the beginning.

I was able to partake in various community service events alongside my teammates, ranging from offering our time at the local soup kitchen to imparting some of our knowledge on a group of remarkable young men and women while practicing with the Special Olympics of New Jersey’s flag football team. Each of those moments taught me different things about myself and led to a sense of pride and fulfillment, as I knew that I had done something that would have a positive impact on the life of someone who had not been as fortunate and blessed as I had.

A couple of general notes that this paragraph exemplifies:

1. You use a lot of passive and unnecessarily wordy phrasing. E.g., "I was able to partake in" = "I partook in" or even better, cut to the chase: "I served meals at the local soup kitchen and mentored remarkable young athletes in the Special Olympics..." etc. More active, assertive verbs, less verbiage.

However, they are minute in comparison to what I learned about myself in a moment of adversity almost two years ago to the day.

Okay, this PS is all over the place. Pick ONE thing to talk about. Do not pick two or three or four. Talk about football OR talk about public service OR talk about academics (but don't, because it's boring unless you were a Ph.D. in outerspace espionage at Oxford). Pick ONE THING and make it meaningful.
The summer before my junior year of college was dragging along as I was eagerly anticipating the start of training camp. After transferring the year before, I had somewhat of a disappointing first season at my new school and did not see much playing time. That off-season I made a vow to work harder then I ever had before so I could become a starter and avoid a repeat of the previous year’s frustration. I spent thousands of hours in the gym and on the field to become a better player. Just as camp was about to begin, I felt a small pain in my throat that quickly escalated to my mouth and throat being so swollen that I could barely speak or consume food. I immediately booked an appointment with the doctor and found out the disheartening news.
I was infected with the mononucleosis virus, and my spleen was enlarged to the point where participating in a contact sport like football would be taking my life in my hands. The doctor told me I would have to sit out at least a month to let my heal spleen. I knew that if thirty days went by camp would be over and our season would be under way. In college football, the three weeks or so of training camp is the player’s sole opportunity to prove to the coaching staff that they are worthy of a starting position. Once the season begins, the spots are pretty much set in stone barring injury. I was crushed. It felt like all of that time I spent working so hard was all for nothing. I thought maybe I should just sit out that season, let my body heal, and give it another shot the next year.

This rambles way too much and has too much detail. GET TO THE POINT AND FAST. These people read hundreds of PSs a day and are probably fed up with them, and they do not want to read your whole life story. Don't make them. Also? Everybody gets mono. It's not really an "adversity." Swollen spleen is also really not something impressive, it's just TMI.

Fortunately for me, I have a very pushy mother and she was able to convince my doctor to prescribe me three ultrasounds so that the size of my spleen could be monitored every five days or so instead of the initially prescribed thirty.

TMI, and also makes it sound like you have no personal initiative. "My mommy stepped in to save the day" doesn't make me think you would be an assertive go-getter.

On the third ultrasound in roughly mid-August, it was found that my spleen was just inside the zone deemed safe for contact. I would be able to return to practice with a week or so of camp left. I carried my work ethic from the off-season into that abbreviated opportunity to prove myself. Despite being so far behind the competition initially, I was able to achieve my goal of becoming a starter and I became a valuable piece in turning around a 1-4 team that finished the season at 5-5.

More examples of using unnecessarily wordy phrasing. "it was found that..." "was just inside the zone deemed safe..." "was able to achieve..." could be recast as "The third ultrasound revealed that I could safely participate" and "I pushed myself harder than ever to achieve a season's worth of progress in a few short [weeks]" "My hard work earned me a starting position" or something to that effect. More forceful language = better. Less wordy = better. Repeat these things to yourself constantly.

Horace said, “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.”

Quoting Horace comes off a little bit douchey and pseudo-intellectual. You are dealing with people who have advanced degrees. This is unlikely to impress them.

Before that point in my life, I had never truly been tested. Everything seemed to go right for me and I never really faced any adversity. I had never experienced the death of a loved one, my parents were happily married, and I had never been teased or picked on at any stage in my life. Essentially, I didn’t know anything about how I would react to adversity.

This goes too far into "Look how privileged I was!" territory. It detracts from your case.

Would I give up? Would I just let a difficult circumstance get the better of me? All of these questions were unanswered before that moment in my life. It taught me the most important pieces about who I was as a person. I did not call it quits; I did not let it get the best of me. I never looked back and went on to start again the next year. I will now be finishing up my career with my last season in the fall and am thankful for what that moment has given me.

I think you have a good thing in here, I really do. You can turn this into a good PS if you make the overarching theme "Here is an example of a time that I faced a serious setback with determination and worked my ass off to meet my goal despite time pressures." That is a valuable characteristic in a law school candidate. Start it off with more of a bang; eliminate unnecessary details (e.g. you don't need to say the specifics of your medical condition; just "a serious medical complication put me on the bench for a long time" would suffice); tighten up your prose, and reorganize.

I am feeling altruistic lately and I am a veteran writing tutor, so if any of this was helpful and you want more help, PM me and I'll be super happy to work through stuff with you/be a sounding board for ideas.

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