First Draft Help

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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First Draft Help

Postby CourtneyJoann » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:19 am

Last edited by CourtneyJoann on Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: First Draft Help

Postby canarykb » Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:59 pm

“You can’t control what happens in this life, but you can control who you want to be after it happens.” I stumbled upon this quote in a memoir by Jennifer Gilbert entitled I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag. [I'm not sure you need this quote for your essay, it obviously relates to the topic at hand, but it seems to me like you're saying this yourself already.] When I first read this piece of wisdom, I was shocked to realize that the author had managed to put my own thoughts into words- thoughts I have never been able to fully explain to others. For years, I have claimed that there is nothing in my life I would change, nothing that I regret. Typically, when I iterate this belief, I am met with patronizing nods. Everyone has regrets, after all. If you do not, you must live a pretty charmed life.

While I would never call my life “charmed,” I do believe that I am extraordinarily lucky. [I might bring up your history of abuse here, or at least somewhere earlier in the essay. I understand of not wanting to come off as a victim, or make the essay "woe-is-me", but your past is the topic of this essay, and you write about it in such a mature way, I don't think there's the threat of it being perceived that way anyway.] Every weekend, I volunteer as a sober driver and engage in several discussions with my patrons. Though these short conversations, I have found that the majority of my peers do not know what they want to do with their lives. Sure, most have majors and some have possible careers, but very few have a passion. [I would remove this. You can show your passion without claiming that most others don't have it. This just comes across as judgmental of the people you drive. And Hey - I am very passionate about feminism, and I will frequently talk about it when I'm drunk, but I may also go on a rant about how great the song "Summergirls" by LFO was. No need to judge people by these brief snippets of conversation.] It is in this aspect that I am lucky, for I have known my passion for years.

It is this realization that has helped solidify my view of having no regrets, for there are moments in my past that, while tragic, helped shape me into the person that I am today. From the age of 10 to the age of 15, I was consistently sexually abused by a close friend of the family. While terrible, I cannot deny that the abuse and the memories left behind have influenced me (and still influence me) in ways I will never understand. [I think this should be moved up to the second paragraph. Something like: "While I would never call my life “charmed,” I do believe that I am extraordinarily lucky. I am lucky, for I have known my passion for years. It is this realization that has..."]

We are shaped by our experiences, especially those that occur during adolescence. After all, that stage of life is the first time we experience any form of independence from our families and finally begin to form the little quirks that make each of us unique individuals. [I like the point you are making in these two sentences, but I think they can be written to be more specific to you.] Because my sexual abuse occurred for such an extended period of time, it became intertwined with my daily, normal adolescent experiences. I cannot begin to distinguish what aspects of my personality occurred because of the abuse and what aspects were formed due to my daily interactions.

During those years of my abuse, I kept myself occupied with afterschool activities. If I was not home, I was safe from my abuser. From years of juggling numerous meetings and practices, I learned to manage an excessive workload. Further, my competitive nature ensured in every avenue. Even today, long after the abuse has ended, I maintain the same cluttered schedule. I am constantly asked why I choose to work 30-35 hours a week and volunteer 20 hours a week while juggling school and executive obligations, and I always answer the same way. [This comes off as a little braggy. I think all you need to do is say all the work you do, and why you do it. The adcomms will know to be impressed, don't tell them that they should be impressed just like everyone else.] It is all I know, and we, as humans, do what we know.I go to the hospital and give advice to victims of sexual assault, because I know how to deal with the shame that comes with the attack. I answer calls from victims of domestic abuse, because I know how difficult it is to accept that somebody you loved and trusted could do something so evil. I surround myself with the horrors of the world through my job as a criminal analyst, because no matter how horrible the criminal I am faced with, I am able to compartmentalize my emotions. The criminals of today cannot cause me to lose faith because I have long since known the possible evils of mankind. [This seems to me what the heart of your essay should be. This work that you do SHOWS your passion, determination, and strength of character. I wouldn't give this work short shrift by putting it at the end of the paragraph. I would spend more time on each of these experiences.]

So, no, I do not have any regrets. It is because of my experiences that I sit here writing this statement. I cannot imagine any other version of myself, and I would not want to. When having those conversations with my drunken patrons, I tell them without hesitation that I will one day be a prosecutor. [Again, take out the drunken patrons thing, still feels snobby.] While I do not regret my circumstances, I could not imagine a life where I am not fighting to prevent my abuse from happening to another individual. I could not imagine a life where I am not fighting to get justice for those who are like me. [I like these two "I could not imagine..." sentences] I am not so naïve as to believe I will save the world, but I know that my past makes me equipped to save a few. [Like you mention in the beginning, I would remove references to "saving the world", the paragraph works without this sentence.] For 5 years I was a victim. Today, I am me.

I think this is a really promising start. I like the central theme of living w/o regrets, although I would watch that it can get a little heavy handed. But those two lines in the conclusion really sell it: " I could not imagine a life where I am not fighting to prevent my abuse from happening to another individual. I could not imagine a life where I am not fighting to get justice for those who are like me."

The thing I leave with wanting to know more about is all the work you do answering calls from victims of domestic abuse, advising people at the hospital, and being a criminal analyst. You kind of tell the reader we should be impressed by this, but instead SHOW the reader why we should be impressed. I would work on changing the outline of this essay to center this work more.

All in all, I think it's a strong start.

Let me know if you have any Qs on what I wrote. And I also have an essay to be edited. PM if you're interested.

Best of luck!

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Re: First Draft Help

Postby CorkBoard » Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:23 pm

Cut the first paragraph.

I think you have too much going on in this statement. It seems focused on your abuse and how you dealt with it (my sympathies), but you get a little preachy in various parts of the statement (we as humans do what we know, for example).

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Re: First Draft Help

Postby nowayout » Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:44 pm

Too much things put together without a central picture. Ending is nice, but not the first sentence of the last paragraph.

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Re: First Draft Help

Postby CourtneyJoann » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:07 pm

Thanks so much for the replies! I ended up cutting my first paragraph. I was never a huge fan of it, but I'm stuck on how to start it. I've also tried to narrow the focus more. That's always my issue when I write :roll: , but it usually gets better the more re-writes I do. If anybody would like me to critique their PS in return, I'd be more than happy to! I really appreciate any feedback I can get. Go ahead and PM me. :D

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