First draft PS - Any critiques welcomed!

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afnaidel
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First draft PS - Any critiques welcomed!

Postby afnaidel » Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:29 am

As long as you're reasonably mean... :wink:

I'm a recent graduate who has been drafted in my home country. So my PS is about my current experience + my love of learning.
This first draft probably have a lot of minor grammar mistakes, but please ignore them for now and focus on the topic / structure / flow / etc.

Oh, one more thing: Penn is my first choice and I'll probably ED there. That's why I somewhat focused on the inter-disciplinary theme.


---

Looking around, all you can see is endless ridges of mountains, camouflaged tents, and soldiers fully equipped for battle. In the situation where a person would not expect to observe a non-battle related activity, I open one of my favorite books: The Federalist Papers (mention it or leave out?). One soldier patrolling the area looks at me and smirks. His reaction is understandable; almost all my fellow soldiers agree that studying during the military service is a joke. Considering that I and other soldiers barely have time to rest, let alone to do studying of any sort, reading a book to learn does seem like a waste of time and energy. However, I never gave up an opportunity to acquire knowledge even when it meant that I had to take on challenges.

Since I was young, I’ve been in love with the learning process itself. Reading about basically anything excited me, and I spent countless hours reasoning about what I read to understand how the world and all the things within work. However, when I began high school in Korea, I experienced for the first time in my life a major challenge: a system that denies what I love the most. The Korean education system forced me to accept and memorize information given by its teachers without question. When I did question the teachings, I was ignored or even punished for “disturbing the classroom.” Having experienced a truly open class environment with class discussions in Britain and the United States before, I didn’t want to continue my study in this restrictive environment. Wanting to study in a place where reasoning is valued more than memorizing, I begin to consider attending an American high school.

Studying in the United States, however, meant that I had to sacrifice my future significantly. Despite my distaste with the Korean education system, I was doing well in the system. If I had stayed, I would have easily gotten into one of the top universities in Korea, which usually provided their students a guaranteed life of the upper class. In contrast, starting the second semester of the 11th grade in a foreign school meant that I would not have enough time to prepare for college. Nevertheless, I had no choice but to leave the country; I would rather take on the challenge to keep do what I love than surrender myself to a life that discourages me from doing what I love. Eventually I came to the U.S. and, as expected, I ended up not getting into what most people consider to be a top school. Still, with the class environment that encouraged open discussions and logical reasoning, I had no regret on my decision of accepting the challenge instead of following the easy path.

While in college, accepting challenges for the sake of learning didn’t stop. Although most of my friends were concerned about getting through college as soon as possible with minimal efforts, my perspective was quite different. I often said that I would love to stay in school forever and major in everything. Going to classes, reading course materials, and discussing them were some of my favorite activities, and I wasn’t afraid to take difficult courses even if they could hurt my GPA. By my sophomore year, it became apparent that taking classes in many areas unrelated to my major was hurting my GPA and, eventually, my chance of getting into law school.

However, I reasoned that I would only have one undergraduate experience in my life, and that it was the only time I could enjoy a variety of college level courses in a broad range of disciplines. In addition, by taking classes from different disciplines, I would acquire an ability to analyze problems from various aspects and produce a better answer that incorporates more than one view. With that reasoning, I accepted the challenge and sat in as many classes as possible without hurting my financial situation, instead of only fulfilling minimal graduation requirements like many of my friends did.

In the end, I was satisfied. Taking more classes than I was required did hurt my GPA and I didn’t graduate with a Latin honor. However, I graduated with two B.A. degrees with a reasonable GPA and Phi Beta Kappa, which I value more. More importantly, I walked away from my graduation ceremony knowing how to see things beyond their apparent characteristics. If I hadn’t challenged myself to learn more, I might have graduated with higher GPA and a better chance at getting into law school; but I’m glad I was able to grasp as much knowledge as possible during the once-in-a-life opportunity.

In the place where learning anything unrelated to military is perceived as foolish or waste of time, I continue to challenge myself for the sake of obtaining knowledge. After hours of training, patrolling, and performing my specialty, I barely have time to sleep and rest my body. However, my love of learning never disappears. Despite my body’s urge to lay down myself in a sleeping bag, I open my book and continue to read on, doing what I love the most.


---

Here are my concerns:

1) I heard that it's not really advisable to write a "why I want law school" type essay. But is it gonna hurt that I didn't
mention why I want law school explicitly?

2) Is this yelling "nerd!" too much? I somewhat fear that law school might think I'm a socially awkward nerd who lives in the library all the time. I am not, but given the two page limit, it's hard to take a different route that won't yell "nerd!" too much.

3) Is it okay to compare myself with my friends in the college part? I fear that I could sound snobbish talking about friends putting minimal efforts in school.

4) One minor thing... it could sound like I’m at war (the beginning part). I am not, it’s just a training scene. Is it necessary to clarify?

Edit: Added several changes to the draft.
Last edited by afnaidel on Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

shepson
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Re: First draft PS - Any critiques welcomed!

Postby shepson » Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:53 am

I think this is a good start, but it would probably be good to have someone edit it for you for grammar and word choice.

One thing jumped out at me: the Federalist Papers are not a book, exactly, but a compilation of articles that were published individually over time. Not sure how you would best refer to it, but could say "...one of my favorite books: a collection of The Federalist Papers."

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afnaidel
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Re: First draft PS - Any critiques welcomed!

Postby afnaidel » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:39 am

shepson wrote:I think this is a good start, but it would probably be good to have someone edit it for you for grammar and word choice.


Is it that bad in terms of grammar and word choice? Just curious how much being away from America ruined my once-good grammar skill.
(I was once a grammar Nazi editor for my school's magazine :roll:)

shepson wrote:One thing jumped out at me: the Federalist Papers are not a book, exactly, but a compilation of articles that were published individually over time. Not sure how you would best refer to it, but could say "...one of my favorite books: a collection of The Federalist Papers."


Yeah, I thought about that for a while when I was writing. I think I'll change it to "one of my favorite compilations of writings."

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CorkBoard
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Re: First draft PS - Any critiques welcomed!

Postby CorkBoard » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:42 am

The first paragraph doesn't fit well with this, IMO. The military stuff only really comes into play at the beginning and the end and it doesn't flow well.

You mention lots of negatives (my gpa isn't the best, I didn't get into a top school) and I think that really hurts this piece a lot.

There are some grammar mistakes, but I think they should be focused on once your topic is more cohesive.

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afnaidel
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Re: First draft PS - Any critiques welcomed!

Postby afnaidel » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:57 am

CorkBoard wrote:The first paragraph doesn't fit well with this, IMO. The military stuff only really comes into play at the beginning and the end and it doesn't flow well.

You mention lots of negatives (my gpa isn't the best, I didn't get into a top school) and I think that really hurts this piece a lot.

There are some grammar mistakes, but I think they should be focused on once your topic is more cohesive.



I could change "I didn't get into a top school" to something like "I did my best to get into the best possible school with a significant amount of scholarship (which I did)."

I guess I can do something similar to the GPA part, too. After all, I got into Phi Beta Kappa and I was only 0.01 away from cum laude (I got 3.77). Maybe I'll do something like "despite the challenges.... I graduated with a respectable GPA and two B.A. degrees"

How does that sound?


In terms of involving my military experience, I'll wait until I get more opinions. I just don't want to make this statement all about my nerdiness by leaving out the military part.

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CorkBoard
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Re: First draft PS - Any critiques welcomed!

Postby CorkBoard » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:02 am

afnaidel wrote:
CorkBoard wrote:The first paragraph doesn't fit well with this, IMO. The military stuff only really comes into play at the beginning and the end and it doesn't flow well.

You mention lots of negatives (my gpa isn't the best, I didn't get into a top school) and I think that really hurts this piece a lot.

There are some grammar mistakes, but I think they should be focused on once your topic is more cohesive.



I could change "I didn't get into a top school" to something like "I did my best to get into the best possible school with a significant amount of scholarship (which I did)."

I guess I can do something similar to the GPA part, too. After all, I got into Phi Beta Kappa and I was only 0.01 away from cum laude (I got 3.77). Maybe I'll do something like "despite the challenges.... I graduated with a respectable GPA and two B.A. degrees"

How does that sound?


In terms of involving my military experience, I'll wait until I get more opinions. I just don't want to make this statement all about my nerdiness by leaving out the military part.

Wait, what is your GPA?

I mean, yeah that sounds better, but I think you might actually do better incorporating your military background in your PS. I think that is pretty interesting.

Just an idea.

ETA: you have a 3.8. That isn't a shitty GPA so don't say it is in your PS.

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afnaidel
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Re: First draft PS - Any critiques welcomed!

Postby afnaidel » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:18 am

CorkBoard wrote: Wait, what is your GPA?

I mean, yeah that sounds better, but I think you might actually do better incorporating your military background in your PS. I think that is pretty interesting.

Just an idea.

ETA: you have a 3.8. That isn't a shitty GPA so don't say it is in your PS.



I realized that a lot of people could get offended by calling 3.77 a shitty GPA. I'm just bothered by my class rank in relation to my GPA. Talking about grade inflation...

I guess I could focus more about my military experience. But I recently started my service and I don't think I would have a lot to write about. If the current theme isn't too bad, I'd like to use it (with revisions using the advises I'm getting).

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CorkBoard
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Re: First draft PS - Any critiques welcomed!

Postby CorkBoard » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:35 am

afnaidel wrote:
CorkBoard wrote: Wait, what is your GPA?

I mean, yeah that sounds better, but I think you might actually do better incorporating your military background in your PS. I think that is pretty interesting.

Just an idea.

ETA: you have a 3.8. That isn't a shitty GPA so don't say it is in your PS.



I realized that a lot of people could get offended by calling 3.77 a shitty GPA. I'm just bothered by my class rank in relation to my GPA. Talking about grade inflation...

I guess I could focus more about my military experience. But I recently started my service and I don't think I would have a lot to write about. If the current theme isn't too bad, I'd like to use it (with revisions using the advises I'm getting).

What other topic ideas do you have? This one is okay but sort of uninteresting, honestly.

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afnaidel
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Re: First draft PS - Any critiques welcomed!

Postby afnaidel » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:56 am

CorkBoard wrote:
afnaidel wrote:
CorkBoard wrote: Wait, what is your GPA?

I mean, yeah that sounds better, but I think you might actually do better incorporating your military background in your PS. I think that is pretty interesting.

Just an idea.

ETA: you have a 3.8. That isn't a shitty GPA so don't say it is in your PS.



I realized that a lot of people could get offended by calling 3.77 a shitty GPA. I'm just bothered by my class rank in relation to my GPA. Talking about grade inflation...

I guess I could focus more about my military experience. But I recently started my service and I don't think I would have a lot to write about. If the current theme isn't too bad, I'd like to use it (with revisions using the advises I'm getting).

What other topic ideas do you have? This one is okay but sort of uninteresting, honestly.



I actually tried four themes so far:
1) Dr. Albert Schweitzer's influence on my life and finding the best way to serve others; evolves around one quote from Dr. Schweitzer.
-> I stopped in the middle because it started to look like a typical story.
2) My journey of getting into a college despite challenges I encountered - basically a longer version of the part of this essay.
-> Stopped in the middle because it's uninteresting even to me.
3) Overcoming the Asian nerd stereotype
-> Stopped in the beginning.. a cliche again.
4) Hardship as a 1.3 generation immigrant
-> I actually wrote a published article on this and I could recycle it. But I feel like it's better as a diversity statement topic. And even in that case, I feel like this also might turn into a typical diversity essay...

After trying all of these, I felt like this "extreme nerdiness" is more on the unique side than the other topics. That's why I tried this topic. Honestly, as a 1.3 generation immigrant who has been "whitened" inside, I don't have that much interesting story (Except the army thing... I guess.)

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CorkBoard
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Re: First draft PS - Any critiques welcomed!

Postby CorkBoard » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:38 am

Don't recycle the article, but option #4 seems the most interesting, IMO.




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