2nd Draft - Looking for some critiques

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
fiestaoffire
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:14 pm

2nd Draft - Looking for some critiques

Postby fiestaoffire » Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:36 pm

I'm still struggling with whether I should include the reason I'm interested specifically in law or not. I picked up my interest in law after taking a class on gender and international human rights. Frankly, it has nothing to do with the topic of my PS and I've still been getting conflicting messages on how important it is to relate my PS to law.

Anyway, thanks in advance and here you go:

---
Grant Morrison, a prolific comic book writer, said that we love superheroes “because they refuse to give up on us. We can analyze them out of existence, kill them, ban them, mock them, and still they return, patiently reminding us of who we are and what we wish we could be.” I knew from the second I laid eyes on a comic book that I wanted to become a superhero. One who could shoot heat rays, run at the speed of light, and terrorize those who preyed on the powerless. People like my father.

When I was four years old I witnessed him savagely beating my mother. I instinctively ran and grabbed his leg, desperately hoping that it would stop him. It did; he kicked me off his leg and left us holding each other, crying. There was nothing else we could do. We were too poor to hire a divorce lawyer. Who really would go out of their way to help a penniless, and friendless, immigrant woman, unknowing of this country’s laws and customs, free herself from her husband? Pity was an inadequate currency. All I had was the hope that one day I would have the superpowers to exact my retribution for the daily psychological and physical torments he inflicted upon us.

But I never got that cruel satisfaction. When I was nine, he left us. He was still married to my mother, but other than showcasing us to his family or friends, he did not support us financially, emotionally, or physically. My mother struggled to pay bills and feed two boys on her own. She had to start working late, so we were enrolled in an afterschool program where volunteers from a local college would come to tutor us and play with us during recess. Though most children complained about having to do homework, I gladly took that over staying home with nothing to do.

In college, I decided to become a tutor for an elementary school in downtown Oakland. I felt like I was paying back a debt I had incurred back when I was a child Though their red sweater uniforms masked it initially, it didn’t take long before I realized that these children were facing the same difficulties I had faced. Their parents were immigrants like mine, ones who had to work late hours and multiple jobs to put food on the table. Some were raising their children alone, just like my mom did. They had no choice. They had to leave their children at this nonprofit afterschool program. There was nothing else they could do; no babysitters, video games, or recreational sports clubs.

I, along with two to three other tutors, would normally teach a class of around twenty. The tutees would be switched around and put into new groups at the beginning of each school year. I normally would have around four to five of the same children from previous years. However, I had one particular student for the three years that I’ve been there. Though she was initially shy, Kelly quickly warmed up. She began to call specifically for me when she needed help on a question, ask that I accompany the students who finished early to play outside, and tell me more about herself.

She excitedly told me how her grandmother had saved for a month to buy her a small jade bracelet during one of their recess breaks. She complained about how her mother put a lot of pressure on her to succeed academically so she could go to a better school when I was helping her convert fractions. And, on the Friday after my finals were over, she told me how she had tested into that better school and would be going there for the next school year. Before she left with her mother that night, she gave me a big hug, thanking me for “being so cool.” I had never expected myself to be both so happy and so sad to hear a tutee say that to me.

I may be stylizing my memory and unconsciously romanticizing it. Perhaps the epiphany didn’t come exactly at that hug. Maybe it was a gradual understanding instead of an eureka moment. But I knew by then that I didn’t idolize superheroes simply because they could fly or read minds. I idolized them because regardless of whether they were fighting a global threat or simply rebuilding a low-cost apartment complex, they would always use their gifts to help others, no matter what the political or personal cost. That’s what I wished I could be. A person who could help others, regardless of whether it’s stopping a monster from beating his wife to simply spending my free time tutoring disadvantaged children.
---

It's still a bit long. At TNR with 12pt font, it goes around 5 lines over when single-spaced. With 11pt font and with Calibri (the font used in Word 2007) it hits exactly 2 pages single-spaced. It looks like I'll have to make some minor edits for the schools that require 12pt TNR font to make sure it's short enough to meet their requirements.

screaming_meemies
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 2:37 am

Re: 2nd Draft - Looking for some critiques

Postby screaming_meemies » Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:51 pm

Missing a period in paragraph four -- it should go between 'child' and 'Though.'

Excise the repetition sic in paragraph five. The back to back 'normally' usage is a little clunky.

User avatar
Lincoln
Posts: 1030
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:27 pm

Re: 2nd Draft - Looking for some critiques

Postby Lincoln » Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:13 pm

This is better than the previous draft. I don't think you specifically need to address why law school. This provides adequate information as to your motivations. A few issues:

Pay attention to mixed tenses:
fiestaoffire wrote:However, I had one particular student for the three years that I’ve been there."


This sentence is awkward, with its mixed use of cosmic detachment and first person possessive pronoun:
fiestaoffire wrote:A person who could help others, regardless of whether it’s stopping a monster from beating his wife to simply spending my free time tutoring disadvantaged children.


You also repeatedly place the temporal clause at the end, making the sentence ambiguous:
fiestaoffire wrote:She excitedly told me how her grandmother had saved for a month to buy her a small jade bracelet during one of their recess breaks. She complained about how her mother put a lot of pressure on her to succeed academically so she could go to a better school when I was helping her convert fractions.


Did the grandmother buy her a bracelet during one of their recess breaks? I hope you see what I mean.

You use "they" and "their" to alternately refer to the children in your program and to the children's parents. It's not terrible, but at no point do you want to confuse the reader. The sentence with the jade bracelet is one example. This is another:

fiestaoffire wrote:Their parents were immigrants like mine, ones who had to work late hours and multiple jobs to put food on the table. Some were raising their children alone, just like my mom did.

User avatar
Spritzpiggy
Posts: 229
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:57 am

Re: 2nd Draft - Looking for some critiques

Postby Spritzpiggy » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:11 am

I enjoyed reading this, and I do feel like I understand you as a person. You seem like an individual who would make an interesting contribution to a class. In many ways your PS is similar to mine in general (raised in bay area, poor, struggling) but I also love how different it is because you do make it so personal that it couldn't be anyone's but your own. Anyways, I simply wanted to tell you its very touching and good luck. I hope you have an amazing cycle.

User avatar
CorkBoard
Posts: 3216
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:05 pm

Re: 2nd Draft - Looking for some critiques

Postby CorkBoard » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:55 am

Don't say "I may be stylizing my memory" or whatever. Cut that. Your concluding sentence is pretty weak compared to the rest of the statement as well.

I am iffy about the quote starting it off but I think this reads well overall. I will look over it a little more thoroughly later.

kublaikahn
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:47 am

Re: 2nd Draft - Looking for some critiques

Postby kublaikahn » Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:30 pm

I think you miss the opportunity inherent to the superhero metaphor and your thesis becomes disjointed. The quote is misplaced (and should be deleted). It basically sets up your thesis as "a superhero reminds of of our limits", and that is not what you mean by this piece.

I would change this story to say you idolized superheroes because they seemed powerful at a time when you felt powerless. Tell the tutoring story and reach the conclusion that superheroes don't have special powers, but they act when they see an injustice with the power that resides in all of us.

And tighten it up. Don't waste a full paragraph saying something like, "In college, I decided to become a tutor for an elementary school in downtown Oakland. I felt like I was paying back a debt I had incurred back when I was a child Though their red sweater uniforms masked it initially, it didn’t take long before I realized that these children were facing the same difficulties I had faced. Their parents were immigrants like mine, ones who had to work late hours and multiple jobs to put food on the table. Some were raising their children alone, just like my mom did. They had no choice. They had to leave their children at this nonprofit afterschool program. There was nothing else they could do; no babysitters, video games, or recreational sports clubs." This could easily be a single sentence or two in your main idea paragraph (that follows that paragraph.)
For example:
Though most children complained about having to do homework, I gladly took that over staying home with nothing to do.

Those tutors altered my trajectory and in college, I paid it forward tutoring children who were facing the same difficulties I had faced. Their parents were working class immigrants like mine, struggling to put food on the table. I, along with a couple of other tutors, would normally teach a class of around twenty. Each year I would get new kids, but I had one particular student for the three years that I’ve been there. Though she was initially shy, Kelly quickly warmed up. She began to call specifically for me when she needed help on a question, ask that I accompany the students who finished early to play outside, and tell me more about herself.




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.