Critique: Early first draft

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
skri65
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Critique: Early first draft

Postby skri65 » Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:16 pm

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Last edited by skri65 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

skri65
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Re: Critique: Early first draft

Postby skri65 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:10 am

bump

collegebum1989
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Re: Critique: Early first draft

Postby collegebum1989 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:03 am

Speaking as someone with a technical background and a PS catered to IP, I can say that this is definitely a great start. I think the mix of a liberal arts education and a computer science is good because it shows versatility. Here are some suggestions:

1. A reoccurring theme in this PS is your joy of problem-solving. However, your focus in the essay is what you've done and what you've studied. I think it would be stronger if you actually walked us through an actual problem you experienced and described the steps you took to solve it. This way, not only are you representing your competency as a computer scientist, but you are also creating a narrative for the reader to experience your love for problem-solving

2. The first half of the second paragraph is sort of distracting. You discuss Moore's Law (which every engineer will love lol) but it doesn't really add anything to your PS. If you wanted to represent the significance of your interests in CS and what you've learned, they should relate back to your central theme (which you've defined as the problem-solving aspects of CS).

3. Certain parts of the essay are too technical for a PS. You mention a lot of technical issues in this essay, and you've explained them well, but I think this actually makes your PS dense to read through. I had the same problem when I initially wrote my PS. You should try to focus more on the concrete problem-solving aspects. This is an example of a statement which is hard to comprehend if you are not in a technical field:

"In a recent class on Computer Architecture, we discussed Moore’s Law—the fact that the number of transistors on computer chips doubles every 18 months—and its future implications. Last year in a Computer Networks class, I created and successfully tested a unique network protocol that is fully resistant to malicious attacks like a man-in-the-middle attack."

4. In your third paragraph, you mention taking liberal arts classes to boost your rhetoric and argumentation skills. All good details, but I think it would be stronger if you developed the idea of a computer scientist taking law classes, and presented this as a problem in itself. By showing your adaption to a different learning style, you can represent both your versatility and perpetuate the idea of problem-solving being one of your strongest characteristics. You need to develop a stronger connection between the two experiences to show how you chose to choose law school as a consequence.

5. You seem to to describe your computer science experience very vividly, but when it comes to your undergraduate experience you state it as a "liberal arts education". The later is very vague and doesn't nearly give any details on what you actually studied (major, etc). This makes your essay very unbalanced and takes away from your concluding paragraph where you state you want to merge both skill sets to be an IP lawyer.

Best of luck!

skri65
Posts: 484
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:07 pm

Re: Critique: Early first draft

Postby skri65 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:08 am

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Last edited by skri65 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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CorkBoard
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Re: Critique: Early first draft

Postby CorkBoard » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:28 am

I think the idea is pretty good, but some things are randomly placed in here that need to be brought up a little earlier (ie, arguing with your family/brothers/whatever). It's not bad for a first draft.

Also don't use the term "he created a monster". Sounds shitty.

skri65
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Re: Critique: Early first draft

Postby skri65 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:28 pm

Yah, overall I'm having a tough time managing the transition from the "tech" side of this essay and the "voice" side. The problem is that my entire introduction focuses on how I developed my technical background, and I feel like if I mention the fact that I got a degree in the social sciences in college it would kind of just throw it all off too early. Anyone have any ideas on how I could possibly bring up my undergrad degree/family convo stuff earlier without fragmenting the essay too much?

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thelawschoolproject
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Re: Critique: Early first draft

Postby thelawschoolproject » Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:41 pm

So, here are my thoughts:

1). Remember that your personal statement needs to first and foremost be "personal." Right now I don't really feel like I'm learning anything "personal" about you. I feel like I know surface-y things. You enjoy computers. You're a tech geek. You like to problem solve. It's all very informative, but it isn't gripping in a personal kind of way. The adcomm wants to learn about you, not about your interests or your hobbies, really. Right now I feel like you're straddling a very fine line between making this personal and making it more of a hobby-list dump.

2). I do think talking about technology will separate you to some degree from other applicants, so this is good. However, I feel like maybe one of the problems is that you're trying to shove too much information into the PS. I find that the most effective personal statements I've read oftentimes focus on one specific incident--one moment. Is there a moment that involves technology that you could exploit? Has there ever been a situation where you struggled to properly problem solve, and then you overcame that?

3). One thing that I was left wondering after reading your PS was why a person who so loves to problem solve with computers would be interested in becoming an attorney where chances are they'd have less time doing the one thing they love? I can see how problem solving is necessary to the legal field, but I don't know. Your PS left me wishing I had more answers as to who you were.

4). Something your PS doesn't do is show your "change" or "evolution" as a person. Typically, a PS will show us how an individual grew as a human being through one challenge or another. Nothing in your PS shows me how you've changed or grown as a person. All I come out knowing is that you enjoy problem solving. This is significantly different than reading someone's PS where you might say "Oh, this person overcame X" or "This person learned to Y." I realize that you are white/privileged/whatever, but I am hesitant to believe that you've never faced any sort of challenge or difficulty or obstacle. Maybe it wasn't the most painful situation, but there has to be something in your life that caused you to learn something else about yourself. I think I would agree with an earlier poster's comment to maybe focus on a complex computer problem that you didn't know how to handle at first, and then walk us through how you learned how to overcome that lack of knowledge.

I think shifting the focus slightly from "I'm interested in X" to "I gained X quality/characteristic because of this challenge" will tremendously help your PS.

Best of luck!

skri65
Posts: 484
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:07 pm

Re: Critique: Early first draft

Postby skri65 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:56 pm

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Last edited by skri65 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bobbyh1919
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Re: Critique: Early first draft

Postby bobbyh1919 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:36 am

2nd draft was a huge improvement. Definitely shows how you love technology but also believe you have more to bring to the table in the form of your communication skills and why IP lawyer is the right job for you.

It's funny that, even though you only moved a few ideas around and took out a few things, I thought you made a gigantic leap forward. Definitely keep working on the new version, you're on the right rack.

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smashingrobface
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Re: Critique: Early first draft

Postby smashingrobface » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:18 am

Structurally, your second draft really, really works for me. Each paragraph is enough of its own beast that it feels very rewarding when all the essay's elements come together in your conclusion. I feel fully satisfied that you understand not only what you want to do, but how you got here.

I have a little trouble getting into the first paragraph, though. It feels fatty. Some of your ideas (about your voice, and about why computer science isn't right) require the depth with which you explore them, but I think here you're expressing something relatively simple. It's a necessary beginning, but this paragraph beats around the same idea for a little too long. Also: You've got a great hook in "My father didn't know he created a monster" that I think I'd prefer as an opening line to the formulaic-feeling "I can't say X, but I do know Y."

skri65
Posts: 484
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:07 pm

Re: Critique: Early first draft

Postby skri65 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:31 am

Thanks for your advice so far. Keep it coming if you have any more thoughts. I'm going to make a significant revision over the next week or two and then post in a new thread. The main goal of my next draft will be making the PS less of a statement of what I'm interested in than of giving concrete examples of what I enjoy/who I am and make it overall more personal.

Smashingrobface: I think you're right in that I can change up the beginning a bit. The first sentence's role is in introducing the idea of IP law right off the bat so that the reader has an idea of what the hell I'm rambling on about tech for. If I remove the first sentence, I'm going to have to still figure out a way to introduce IP law in the first few sentences or else I think I might confuse the reader a bit.




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