opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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lsatprepguy
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opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby lsatprepguy » Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:42 pm

I learned as a freshman in college that my grandfather had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The doctor informed my family that his symptoms were progressing rapidly and that he should no longer live by himself. As a result, my family and I decided that I was going to live with him for the remainder of my college career. Certainly, this decision was not an easy one to make. My daily commute had just been lengthened to over four hours round trip and I had essentially taken responsibility for another person’s entire life. But that same decision was certainly one of the best decisions I have ever made.



**I know that it needs another sentence after what's already there. But I couldn't express what I was trying to say well enough right now so I just deleted it.

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Cobretti
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Re: opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby Cobretti » Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:53 pm

lsatprepguy wrote:I learned as a freshman in college that my grandfather had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The doctor informed my family that his symptoms were progressing rapidly and that he should no longer live by himself. As a result, my family and I decided that I was going to live with him for the remainder of my college career. Certainly, this decision was not an easy one to make. My daily commute had just been lengthened to over four hours round trip and I had essentially taken responsibility for another person’s entire life. But that same decision was certainly one of the best decisions I have ever made.



**I know that it needs another sentence after what's already there. But I couldn't express what I was trying to say well enough right now so I just deleted it.


If law school doesn't work out write this into a sitcom please.

But seriously it sounds like a great topic.

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rinkrat19
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Re: opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:57 pm

Fine topic, boring intro.

Drag the reader in with something more immediate, to place them right there in the moment with you.

"Living with alzheimers" became something entirely un-theoretical when I was a freshman in college. My grandfather had just been diagnosed, and I was the family member elected to uproot my life and become his live-in caretaker. A 20-minute commute to campus became two hours each way and I quickly learned more than any 18-year-old should need to know about [medical whatever].

That's not spectacular either, but it's more interesting.

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lsatprepguy
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Re: opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby lsatprepguy » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:04 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:Fine topic, boring intro.

Drag the reader in with something more immediate, to place them right there in the moment with you.

"Living with alzheimers" became something entirely un-theoretical when I was a freshman in college. My grandfather had just been diagnosed, and I was the family member elected to uproot my life and become his live-in caretaker. A 20-minute commute to campus became two hours each way and I quickly learned more than any 18-year-old should need to know about [medical whatever].

That's not spectacular either, but it's more interesting.


I see what your saying here. I fear making it seem overly dramatic or woe-is-me like, but I will work on it. Thanks. (as you can see, I threw away my other one about the website business. It just didn't turn into what I hoped it would. lol)

mrizza wrote:
If law school doesn't work out write this into a sitcom please.

But seriously it sounds like a great topic.


We have joked about this several times. It would make a great sitcom. I think in the three years that I have lived there, he has said about 4 positive words to me. The rest is sarcastic and grumpy old man complaints. haha.

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Lincoln
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Re: opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby Lincoln » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:05 pm

Yes. You are telling a story that is very unusual that entails you taking on a task of enormous responsibility few people your age have the maturity to deal with. Keep going, but try to make your writing a little snappier, clearer, and more concise.

I respectfully but sincerely disagree with rinkrat19. As a LRW TA I would tear rinrat's opening to pieces; that is how college students—not lawyers—write. OP's instincts are better, although OP, you need to work on your writing as well. For example:

(1) "as a freshman" indicates that you learned something as a result of being a freshman. You want to say "when" not "as";
(2) "The doctor informed my family that his symptoms . . ." is ambiguous in that it would seem to indicate that the doctor had symptoms and informed your family about them.

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rinkrat19
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Re: opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:12 pm

Lincoln wrote:Yes. You are telling a story that is very unusual that entails you taking on a task of enormous responsibility few people your age have the maturity to deal with. Keep going, but try to make your writing a little snappier, clearer, and more concise.

I respectfully but sincerely disagree with rinkrat19. As a LRW TA I would tear rinrat's opening to pieces; that is how college students—not lawyers—write. OP's instincts are better, although OP, you need to work on your writing as well. For example:

(1) "as a freshman" indicates that you learned something as a result of being a freshman. You want to say "when" not "as";
(2) "The doctor informed my family that his symptoms . . ." is ambiguous in that it would seem to indicate that the doctor had symptoms and informed your family about them.
It's a personal statement, not a memo for LRW, sparky. It's supposed to be compelling and personal, not dry and informative. You don't want to go all drama queen, but "wow, this is a compelling memo," said no one ever.

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Lincoln
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Re: opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby Lincoln » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:16 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:
Lincoln wrote:Yes. You are telling a story that is very unusual that entails you taking on a task of enormous responsibility few people your age have the maturity to deal with. Keep going, but try to make your writing a little snappier, clearer, and more concise.

I respectfully but sincerely disagree with rinkrat19. As a LRW TA I would tear rinrat's opening to pieces; that is how college students—not lawyers—write. OP's instincts are better, although OP, you need to work on your writing as well. For example:

(1) "as a freshman" indicates that you learned something as a result of being a freshman. You want to say "when" not "as";
(2) "The doctor informed my family that his symptoms . . ." is ambiguous in that it would seem to indicate that the doctor had symptoms and informed your family about them.
It's a personal statement, not a memo for LRW, sparky. It's supposed to be compelling and personal, not dry and informative. You don't want to go all drama queen, but "wow, this is a compelling memo," said no one ever.


I didn't say it should be a memo. I just think phrases like "became entirely un-theoretical" and "elected to uproot my life" sound insincere and artificial. You're welcome to disagree, sparky.

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rinkrat19
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Re: opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:28 pm

Dean of Admissions at Northwestern wrote: ...introspection. I think the best personal statements that I’ve read show that the applicant has actually thought about the topic that they’re writing about, and they’ve looked within themselves to write about said topic. They don’t read as being formulaic. There’s also some emotion in the writing. I think the personal statements that stick out in my mind are the ones that definitely reflected the individual and are distinctive, where I can say that X person wrote this personal statement and I’ve never read anything like it.
Asst. Dean of Admissions at Harvard wrote:Let your personality and writing style shine through and tell us what we should know about you.

Read over your personal statement with a critical eye when you are done and ask yourself if it’s an accurate portrayal of who you are. Does your voice come through? Or is it just a laundry list of your achievements? When we read a personal statement, we are looking for a person, not a set of accomplishments
Dean of Admissions at Boalt wrote:The personal statements is the applicant’s opportunity to distinguish himself from hundreds of other applicants who have the same numbers, and the same major, and come from a similar school. The personal statement is an applicant’s opportunity to describe the distance they’ve come in their lives.

Most everyone is a very different person now than they were in high school and along that journey they develop a voice that they will be bringing into the classroom. I want to learn about the journey that developed that voice

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Cobretti
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Re: opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby Cobretti » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:37 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:
Dean of Admissions at Northwestern wrote: ...introspection. I think the best personal statements that I’ve read show that the applicant has actually thought about the topic that they’re writing about, and they’ve looked within themselves to write about said topic. They don’t read as being formulaic. There’s also some emotion in the writing. I think the personal statements that stick out in my mind are the ones that definitely reflected the individual and are distinctive, where I can say that X person wrote this personal statement and I’ve never read anything like it.
Asst. Dean of Admissions at Harvard wrote:Let your personality and writing style shine through and tell us what we should know about you.

Read over your personal statement with a critical eye when you are done and ask yourself if it’s an accurate portrayal of who you are. Does your voice come through? Or is it just a laundry list of your achievements? When we read a personal statement, we are looking for a person, not a set of accomplishments
Dean of Admissions at Boalt wrote:The personal statements is the applicant’s opportunity to distinguish himself from hundreds of other applicants who have the same numbers, and the same major, and come from a similar school. The personal statement is an applicant’s opportunity to describe the distance they’ve come in their lives.

Most everyone is a very different person now than they were in high school and along that journey they develop a voice that they will be bringing into the classroom. I want to learn about the journey that developed that voice


Aren't all of the deans saying they want you to write in a personal and emotional manner? Doesn't this kind of go against your point of writing more academically with phrasing like "un-theoretical"? Doesn't it kind of agree with everything Lincoln has been saying?

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rinkrat19
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Re: opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:44 pm

mrizza wrote:
rinkrat19 wrote:
Dean of Admissions at Northwestern wrote: ...introspection. I think the best personal statements that I’ve read show that the applicant has actually thought about the topic that they’re writing about, and they’ve looked within themselves to write about said topic. They don’t read as being formulaic. There’s also some emotion in the writing. I think the personal statements that stick out in my mind are the ones that definitely reflected the individual and are distinctive, where I can say that X person wrote this personal statement and I’ve never read anything like it.
Asst. Dean of Admissions at Harvard wrote:Let your personality and writing style shine through and tell us what we should know about you.

Read over your personal statement with a critical eye when you are done and ask yourself if it’s an accurate portrayal of who you are. Does your voice come through? Or is it just a laundry list of your achievements? When we read a personal statement, we are looking for a person, not a set of accomplishments
Dean of Admissions at Boalt wrote:The personal statements is the applicant’s opportunity to distinguish himself from hundreds of other applicants who have the same numbers, and the same major, and come from a similar school. The personal statement is an applicant’s opportunity to describe the distance they’ve come in their lives.

Most everyone is a very different person now than they were in high school and along that journey they develop a voice that they will be bringing into the classroom. I want to learn about the journey that developed that voice


Aren't all of the deans saying they want you to write in a personal and emotional manner? Doesn't this kind of go against your point of writing more academically with phrasing like "un-theoretical"? Doesn't it kind of agree with everything Lincoln has been saying?
Lincoln is the one saying write like a lawyer. I'm saying write with emotion. "Un-theoretical" is not technical language.

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Lincoln
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Re: opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby Lincoln » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:47 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:
Dean of Admissions at Northwestern wrote: ...introspection. I think the best personal statements that I’ve read show that the applicant has actually thought about the topic that they’re writing about, and they’ve looked within themselves to write about said topic. They don’t read as being formulaic. There’s also some emotion in the writing. I think the personal statements that stick out in my mind are the ones that definitely reflected the individual and are distinctive, where I can say that X person wrote this personal statement and I’ve never read anything like it.
Asst. Dean of Admissions at Harvard wrote:Let your personality and writing style shine through and tell us what we should know about you.

Read over your personal statement with a critical eye when you are done and ask yourself if it’s an accurate portrayal of who you are. Does your voice come through? Or is it just a laundry list of your achievements? When we read a personal statement, we are looking for a person, not a set of accomplishments
Dean of Admissions at Boalt wrote:The personal statements is the applicant’s opportunity to distinguish himself from hundreds of other applicants who have the same numbers, and the same major, and come from a similar school. The personal statement is an applicant’s opportunity to describe the distance they’ve come in their lives.

Most everyone is a very different person now than they were in high school and along that journey they develop a voice that they will be bringing into the classroom. I want to learn about the journey that developed that voice


I think OP's writing can benefit from some editing. I do not think that any of the advice you quote above require the conclusion that OP should write in the style that you did. On the contrary, OP should tell the story in his/her own voice, which s/he used in the OP. The subject matter is plenty engaging; it does not need passive voice or made-up phrases to be more so.

I think we both made our respective points well, and we are obviously not going to convince each other. OP is presumably able to decide what to do with our advice, so I think I'll leave it here. OP, you can PM me if you want help.

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Cobretti
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Re: opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby Cobretti » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:51 pm

This argument is funny to me because you are saying OP should write in a "compelling and personal way", but then your example was dry and mechanical. Whereas lincoln is saying to write like a lawyer, but emphasizes sounding sincere and authentic. (When he said write like a lawyer I think all he meant was avoid flowery writing, and write simply and to the point.)

Either way, the only advice from this entire thread that OP should listen to is:
1) my idea about a sitcom
2) the quotes from the Deans of Admission that rinkrat provided

...in that order.

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Lincoln
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Re: opening paragraph. does it make you want to keep reading?

Postby Lincoln » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:53 pm

mrizza wrote:lincoln is saying to write like a lawyer, but emphasizes sounding sincere and authentic.


These are not necessarily contradictory to me. Either way, typical TLS thread. Good luck OP.




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