Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
amiller1985
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:13 am

Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

Postby amiller1985 » Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:17 am

Hi all,

I am looking for constructive criticism on my PS. This is a first rough draft, and I know the quotes aren't attributed, but they will be in my final draft. Thanks for the help! :)


Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.

How had I arrived at this point? Sitting on the cold, tile floor of my kitchen, I leaned against the
white refrigerator. Opening my eyes, I surveyed my empty apartment. Another wave of hysteria and
tears threatened to overwhelm my senses. Infidelity on the part of my fiancée had led to a rather
acrimonious separation. Unexpectedly, he had made the decision to move across the country with his
new girlfriend and had cleaned out our apartment, taking all of the furniture. My Volkswagen Beetle was
in the repair shop. I had no vehicle. The money that was left in our joint bank account totaled less than
$100.00. My family was 1,693 miles away in Fort Payne, Alabama. I had never felt so utterly alone.

Following the pathway of conventionality was what had led to me this point in my life. However,
rather than heeding the instructions of those who had my best interests at heart, I had chosen to pursue
the conventionality of a lifestyle that was directly opposed to the values and morals of the Christian
home in which I was raised. My parents are both successful business professionals, and I never wanted
for anything I needed. I was educated in private, Christian schools. In short, I was equipped with
everything that I needed to succeed in life.

The things I valued, at eighteen, were things that my parents could not provide me with. I
valued popularity, acceptance, my own physical beauty, and other similar things. For example, I had won
significant academic scholarships to Austin Peay State University; however, because I valued my social
standing, more than academia, I soon lost my scholarships, due to poor grades. Poor decision making on
my part led to abusive relationships, my decision to drop out of college, and an ill-advised move across
the country to take a job that held little in the way of potential growth. I knew I was making the wrong
decisions, but rather than face reality, I chose to ignore my conscious by seeking solace in the bottom of
a bottle and through drug usage. For me, this cold and dirty floor, like the bed of a vast ocean, was the
bottom.

I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime; I can so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last.

It was with no small amount of trepidation that I picked up the phone to call my parents. The
prodigal daughter was asking to return home. Without hesitation, my parents spent hours of their own
time and thousands of dollars to ensure that I was able to return to Alabama. While my parents did not
condone my actions in the past, I was their child, and they loved me. If I ever knew persons who were
the embodiment of the Mahatma Ghandi quote “Hate the sin. Love the sinner”, it is my parents.

In those hours I spend on the floor of my kitchen, the embers of a flame began to spark inside of
me. I knew I wanted to be a different person. I knew I was capable of more than what I had produced at
that point. Setting my pride aside, I moved back in with my parents. I began attending a local community
college, where tuition was affordable. I concentrated solely on academia, and, within a year, I graduated
from Northeast Community College with a 3.63 GPA and an associate’s degree in hand. At the same
time, I started my own freelance writing business, called Wright Writers, with an emphasis in social
media marketing. I now employ several individuals part time, and Wright Writers is on track to double
our revenue from last year.

After graduating from Northeast Community College, I chose to attend the University of South
Alabama to pursue my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. At this school, I have won recognition for
my efforts by being inducted in a national honors society. Currently, I hold a 3.53 GPA, and I had the
privilege of interning with the Mobile District Attorney’s office the second semester of my junior year. I
have tasted the success that comes with hard work, and I am hungry for more.

As hopeless as that night on the kitchen floor seemed, I learned a number of valuable lessons. I
have learned to remain humble, without allowing my pride to obscure my perception of what is truly
important. I know how to stand steadfast in the face of adversity. When I see something I want, I will
refuse to back down until I have exhausted my last option for recourse. I know these qualities will assist
me in succeeding in law school, just as they have helped me rise above my turbulent undergraduate
years.

Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education.

For the past three years, I have worked as the head of my own company. In courting clients, I
have honed my communication skills. Through the freelance copywriting that I do, I have learned to get
my point across in a clear and concise manner. My analytical abilities have allowed me to develop the
ability to translate and condense volumes of information without sacrificing quality over quantity. I
know these skills will be invaluable in becoming a better law student.

I could have been written off as a loss to society, but through the faith of my family and a few,
select friends, I have overcome the obstacles I created for myself. Whether or not a person can be
redeemed in society will depend largely on the course of action they choose; however, I choose to
fertilize the soil of my heart, through continuing education at this university, so that I might not be
prejudiced against those who, like me, can be transformed. When I look at my present circumstances,
the question is no longer “How did I get here?”. Instead, it is “Where am I going?”

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CorkBoard
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Re: Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

Postby CorkBoard » Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:13 am

Are schools now accepting PS's in poetry form?

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CorkBoard
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Re: Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

Postby CorkBoard » Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:14 am

Also, what are you talking about in this?

vdog
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Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:29 pm

Re: Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

Postby vdog » Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:26 am

My comments:

-I really didn't like the beginning. You can summarize that in one/two short paragraph as "My parents cared for me, I took it for granted and caused problems for myself, I swallowed my pride and moved back in with my parents."

-The beginning and ending makes you seem needy and dependent on others. Emphasize your self-reliance more, especially with the management of your business (I would expand on that). I want to hear how you took that second chance and became your own person, not how kind your parents were for helping you.

-No gimmicks and no melodrama.

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Eichörnchen
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Re: Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

Postby Eichörnchen » Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:33 pm

Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education.


This is a great quote (thanks Brontë), but in the context of your PS? Not so much. How does this mesh with what you're talking about?

tim.janitor
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:12 am

Re: Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

Postby tim.janitor » Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:40 pm

Troll.

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paratactical
Posts: 5961
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:06 pm

Re: Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

Postby paratactical » Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:52 pm

I'll do the first bit. If you're not trolling, continue with this style of edit/review and repost. My comments are in red. Edits are bold.

amiller1985 wrote:Hi all,

I am looking for constructive criticism on my PS. This is a first rough draft, and I know the quotes aren't attributed dis gon be gud, but they will be in my final draft. Thanks for the help! :)


Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.

How had I arrived at this point? Sitting on the cold, tile floor of my kitchen, I leaned against the
white refrigerator. Opening my eyes, I surveyed my empty apartment. Another wave of hysteria and
tears threatened to overwhelm my senses. Infidelity on the part of my fiancée had led to a rather
acrimonious separation. Unexpectedly, he had made the decision to move across the country with his
new girlfriend and had cleaned out our apartment, taking all of the furniture. My Volkswagen Beetle was
in the repair shop. I had no vehicle. The money that was left in our joint bank account totaled less than
$100.00.
I had never felt so utterly alone. My fiancee had moved across the country with his new girlfriend and all of our furniture. My family was 1,693 miles away in Fort Payne, Alabama. It was (the year after college/2009/I dunno, define the time period somehow) and I was lost.

Following the pathway of conventionality was what had led to me this point in my life. However,
rather than heeding the instructions of those who had my best interests at heart,
I had chosen to pursue
the conventionality of a lifestyle that was directly opposed to the values and morals of the Christian
home in which I was raised. My parents are both successful business professionals, and As a child, I never wanted
for anythingI needed. I was educated in private, Christian schools. In short, I was equipped with
everything that I needed to succeed in life.

But the things I valued at eighteen, were things that my parents could not provide me with. I
valued popularity, acceptance, my own physical beauty, and other similar superficial things. For example, I had won
significant academic scholarships to Austin Peay State University however;
I entered college with academic scholarships that I lost, because I valued my social
standing, more than academia, I soon lost my scholarships, due to poor grades. Poor decision making on
my part led to abusive relationships, my decision to drop out of college, and an ill-advised move across
the country to take a job that held little in the way of potential growth.
I dropped out of college, moved across the country, and made poor decisions in my personal relationships. I knew I was making the wrong
decisions, but rather than face reality, I chose to ignore my conscious conscience by seeking solace in the bottom of
a bottle and through drug usage.
with alcohol and drugs. For me, this cold and dirty floor (put that time period from above in here, like the bed of a vast ocean, was the
bottom.

I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime; I can so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last.


So these paragraphs would read:


I had never felt so utterly alone. My fiancee had moved across the country with his new girlfriend and all of our furniture. My family was 1,693 miles away in Fort Payne, Alabama. It was (the year after college/2009/I dunno, define the time period somehow) and I was lost.

I had chosen to pursue a lifestyle that was opposed to the values and morals of the Christian home in which I was raised. As a child, I never wanted for anything. I was educated in private, Christian schools. I was equipped with everything that I needed to succeed in life. But the things I valued at eighteen, were things that my parents could not provide me with. I valued popularity, physical beauty, and other superficial things. I entered college with academic scholarships that I lost because I valued my social standing more than academics. I dropped out of college, moved across the country, and made poor decisions in my personal relationships. I knew I was making the wrong decisions, but I chose to ignore my conscience with alcohol and drugs. For me, (put that time period from above in here, was the bottom.

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manofjustice
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 10:01 pm

Re: Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

Postby manofjustice » Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:58 pm

What the fuck? You do understand the point of this medium?

I read the first sentence and a) it didn't make sense (but you already knew that; you wrote it to, in your mind, make just enough sense not to seem dumb but not too much sense so as to seem smart) and b) nearly sapped my will to continue reading. Then, I read the second sentence.

Does it tell me what the first sentence meant (boy I hope it does)? NO! It tells me where you were when you wrote the first sentence. Just fantastic.

You seem to be overly enamored with how great and meaningful your thoughts and feelings are: you should stop that. It will help you in law school, and it will help you write a personal statement that will make real people on an admissions committee (who have a 12 o'clock, by the way) smile. That is the purpose of this medium. To that end, a cartoon would be more effective.

UPDATE:

So I went back and actually finished reading your personal statement. Sorry about what happened. That sucks. But there's more you need to know. Your audience is very liberal, typically with a special affinity for gay rights. If you talk about your traditional Christian values, you need to overcome their bias that you are closed-minded and prejudiced. (That might also help you in law school: understanding your professors' biases). You don't do that. You suggest that failure to abide by your traditional Christian values, something that almost all your professors don't do, caused you to suffer a rather common evil, being dumped. If one of your irreligious professors reading your statement had been dumped, he'll think "so she's telling me it's my fault now."

The only good thing about your personal statment comes after suffering throguh 7 awful paragraphs:

At the same time, I started my own freelance writing business, called Wright Writers, with an emphasis in social
media marketing. I now employ several individuals part time, and Wright Writers is on track to double
our revenue from last year.


Self-doubt, laziness, poor romantic decisions, and drug abuse distinguish you from almost no one. Starting a successful business does. Why the hell don't you write a personal statement about starting a successful business....that employs people and makes more and more money each year. Um, no one else in the applicant pool likely has done that. Get the picture? And make it about the business. Only obliquely and in an "oh I didn't mean to imply that" (smirk) way does the good personal statement make value claims about the writer.

Other things: It sounds like you're going to law school because you made bad decisions and have no other choice. And you end with some boring platitudes that should go in your resume.

My advice: tell a story (stories make people smile) about starting your business.

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manofjustice
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 10:01 pm

Re: Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

Postby manofjustice » Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:00 pm

I felt mean. I will say this: the personal statement is hard to master because no one writes them. Prepare to rewrite. It'll be okay. (...)

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manofjustice
Posts: 1323
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Re: Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

Postby manofjustice » Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:16 pm

Totally rewrite. (Another skill that will be helpful in law school: letting go of your incorrect first impressions.) When I wrote my personal statement, I knew it was bad, but I couldn't do anything better, so I kept on revising and making "prettier" what I knew was elementally ugly. I had to stop. I right-clicked and deleted my first draft (beautifully written, by the way: it was just a masterpiece of moving prose that was just totally awful and probably would have gotten me rejected from many schools), laid on the carpet at work, tried as best I could to clear my mind, and then tried to elicit from my unconscious what it was about me that I wanted the admissions committee to know. Not a list of things or acomplishments or thoughts, but something about me that makes me me and can't just be defined as a dictionary entry.

Once I had that, paradoxically, it was easy to stop writing about me so nakedly. (I still miss that original one, though; perhaps I should be a novelist instead of going to law school. Perhaps I should write a novel about law school! That's a great idea! I can't write novels because I can't choose what they should be about. Why don't I just write one about a law student! Thanks for the inspiration OP!)

So, my personal statement turned out okay. Almost all personal statements are horrible, so that means mine was good. In the end, it didn't matter much. A personal statement will a) never get you into a school you don't have the numbers for but b) will get you into a school you sort-of have the numbers for, but won't get you scholarship money (in which case, I would advise against going to that school anyway.) So, what's the point of a great personal statement? I'd say it's for yourself. I think about what I said in my personal statement about why I want to be a lawyer pretty much every day. It's an important motivator and helps me make sense of my experience and keep me happy. I didn't really know why I wanted to be a lawyer until I wrote the personal statement. So, a pretty clear win.

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CorkBoard
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Re: Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

Postby CorkBoard » Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:24 pm

manofjustice wrote:Totally rewrite. (Another skill that will be helpful in law school: letting go of your incorrect first impressions.) When I wrote my personal statement, I knew it was bad, but I couldn't do anything better, so I kept on revising and making "prettier" what I knew was elementally ugly. I had to stop. I right-clicked and deleted my first draft (beautifully written, by the way: it was just a masterpiece of moving prose that was just totally awful and probably would have gotten me rejected from many schools), laid on the carpet at work, tried as best I could to clear my mind, and then tried to elicit from my unconscious what it was about me that I wanted the admissions committee to know. Not a list of things or acomplishments or thoughts, but something about me that makes me me and can't just be defined as a dictionary entry.

Once I had that, paradoxically, it was easy to stop writing about me so nakedly. (I still miss that original one, though; perhaps I should be a novelist instead of going to law school. Perhaps I should write a novel about law school! That's a great idea! I can't write novels because I can't choose what they should be about. Why don't I just write one about a law student! Thanks for the inspiration OP!)

So, my personal statement turned out okay. Almost all personal statements are horrible, so that means mine was good. In the end, it didn't matter much. A personal statement will a) never get you into a school you don't have the numbers for but b) will get you into a school you sort-of have the numbers for, but won't get you scholarship money (in which case, I would advise against going to that school anyway.) So, what's the point of a great personal statement? I'd say it's for yourself. I think about what I said in my personal statement about why I want to be a lawyer pretty much every day. It's an important motivator and helps me make sense of my experience and keep me happy. I didn't really know why I wanted to be a lawyer until I wrote the personal statement. So, a pretty clear win.

Thanks for using this post to just talk about yourself.

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manofjustice
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Re: Looking for constructive criticism of PS...

Postby manofjustice » Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:28 pm

CorkBoard wrote:Thanks for using this post to just talk about yourself.


Guilty as charged.




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