Be Brutal

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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NoodleyOne
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Be Brutal

Postby NoodleyOne » Sun Oct 07, 2012 2:50 pm

Alright, did some editing based on Vasa's critiques. Better?

A wise man once told me, “Look [redacted], you can let your problems hold you down, or you can overcome them and make something of yourself.” That was Mr. Fannin, my tenth grade Biology teacher. He pulled me aside one day during class and gave me that speech. I had been acting out in class, and since it was a small town where everybody knew everybody, Mr. Fannin knew a good bit about my personal history. I had no father, my older brother had died when I was young, and my mom was abusive and would kick me out of the house on a weekly basis for reasons ranging from me playing music too loudly to me drinking all of the apple juice. I was a regular occupant of my friends’ couches, and whenever someone tried to hold me accountable for messing up, I would shamelessly play one of the numerous cards I kept stashed away about my rough childhood, and it would work.
It didn’t work for Mr. Fannin. He was no stranger to suffering himself, and one day he pulled me aside and let me have it. I was sixteen years old, though, and I wasn’t ready to listen. I continued to coast on my excuses and natural ability, did well in high school but not as well as I was capable, and then went to college. At college, it was more of the same. I didn’t try, but unlike high school, no one was ready to listen to my excuses. I did poorly, I had no money, and after Freshman year I was forced to drop out to get a job and just make enough money to live.
Scraping by on minimum wage, living in a roach infested apartment and working 50 to 60 hours a week just to enjoy Top Ramen started making me think about where my life was headed. I wasn’t happy, and the word “potential” kept rearing its ugly head in my thoughts. I had always heard about how I had so much potential, and I had always hated hearing it. As a 22 year old working as a cashier at a local pizza place, however, you start really assessing whether you are living up to your potential. Was this my path? Is this my ceiling?
I knew that it wasn’t. For the first time in years, I looked back at Mr. Fannin’s words, and I really thought about it. I was letting my problems, my poor upbringing define me. I was the guy that had it rough when he was younger. I was the guy with one million excuses. I was the guy who might have been something if only he had been given a chance…
That wasn’t good enough for me, not anymore. I wanted to be more. I couldn’t afford to go to school yet, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t get an education. I read voraciously. I devoured books on history, philosophy, and anthropology. I spent more time in the library than I did at my own apartment. I wasn’t going to let my past define me. I made my own chance, and decided to work toward the goal of getting back into college.
It was a long and roundabout journey, but I finally ended up where I belonged. I was getting my education. I was not going to coast the second time around, and I worked hard and did well, forming good relationships with my professors and even being granted a research fellowship from the university and presenting my findings at a poster symposium. As my education continued, I began to put serious thought into what I wanted to do with my education, and felt that my natural analytical ability, my skill and love of research, and my writing ability made law a perfect fit. I looked into the profession, and the more I read, the more I knew that law is what I wanted to do with my future.
Mr. Fannin’s advice didn’t have an immediate impact on me, but at sixteen I knew everything. Today, looking back, that one piece of advice is the single most important thing anyone has ever said to me. As a poor kid from the Appalachian Mountains, the ceiling for achievement isn’t very high. I am determined now, however, to break through that ceiling. I am fortunate to have the ability and drive to succeed no matter what life puts in my way. Any new obstacle I face will simply be another experience to build on. I will never again let my problems define me and hold me down. Instead, I will persevere and achieve no matter what is put in front of me.
Last edited by NoodleyOne on Sun Oct 07, 2012 7:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

VasaVasori
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Postby VasaVasori » Sun Oct 07, 2012 4:08 pm

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Last edited by VasaVasori on Sat May 02, 2015 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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NoodleyOne
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Re: Be Brutal

Postby NoodleyOne » Sun Oct 07, 2012 7:21 pm

bump for the edited first post.

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annet
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Re: Be Brutal

Postby annet » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:16 am

PMed you.

leapincamelleopard
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Re: Be Brutal

Postby leapincamelleopard » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:41 am

I think you need to focus on your sentence length/breaks a little bit more. Some of your sentences go on forever and some of them just repeat what was inferred in the previous sentence.

You could also spend some time reworking the first two paragraphs. They basically say the same thing over again (when you say that your teacher let you have it, we already know that, you said it in the first paragraph). That is not to say you can't have everything that you put in these paragraphs but think about the order. Maybe try telling one part of the story and then the other- tell us all about the interaction with the teacher and then explain how you had a troubled background that lead you to being disruptive.

There is also a bit of leading in this essay that doesn't quite work for me. You start with "a wise man" and then the next sentences tells us who the wise man was. Why not just say something like "When I was in tenth grade, a wise teacher pulled me aside, "you can let your problems..." Living in a small town where everybody knew everybody, the teacher, mr fanning, knew good bit about my personal history."

There needs to be some streamlining so that each sentence flows from the previous one.

As a specific edit "My brother HAD died" - remove HAD

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Tanicius
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Re: Be Brutal

Postby Tanicius » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:51 am

Come on man you've been on this site long enough to know you don't start with a quote.

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NoodleyOne
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Re: Be Brutal

Postby NoodleyOne » Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:28 am

Tanicius wrote:Come on man you've been on this site long enough to know you don't start with a quote.


Heh.. fair enough. That doesn't come naturally so I think I'm trying to force that a bit.

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cahwc12
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Re: Be Brutal

Postby cahwc12 » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:01 am

"you start really assessing whether you are living up to your potential"

don't refer to the second person when you mean yourself. My writing education ended in 11th grade, but I'm fairly certain this breaks some sort of narrative rules as well. I would just stick with first person.

It also seems way too heavy on the sob-story element, rather than your personal perseverance. I think it's important that you play up your ability to overcome these obstacles, but it seems to me the focus is on how terrible things in your life were, as opposed to your overcoming them. Also even though I'm sure you're not embellishing or lying, it just seems too generic to me. roach-infested apartment... ramen every night. Maybe you can give better, more vivid/personal examples that illustrate your plight.

Don't play the pity card; play the adversity card (imo).

Anyway I'm spending most of today reading the TLS PS ebook so perhaps my opinion is just uninformed.

It's not bad by any means, but based on your posts and where you intend on applying, I personally don't think this will cut it--for you or the schools.

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NoodleyOne
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Re: Be Brutal

Postby NoodleyOne » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:54 am

I don't disagree with you. Today is about a rewrite. Will hopefully get a new one up soon. This one was a freewrite so I'm not married to it at all.

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cahwc12
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Re: Be Brutal

Postby cahwc12 » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:48 am

I'm about halfway through the PS ebook and breaking for lunch, but it hit me why I think your essay just strikes a goofy tone with me: you gave the same space to your brother dying and your dad being MIA to roaches in your apartment and ramen dinners. I'm not sure how you'd go about changing it, but maybe consider that in your rewrite today. I'm hoping I can make some progress on a RD by the end of the day as well... we'll see!




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