Critique, please?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Granfalloon12
Posts: 147
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:45 pm

Critique, please?

Postby Granfalloon12 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:50 pm

I'd really appreciate it if a few of you wouldn't mind reading over my personal statement and either giving me a few ways in which it could be improved, or whether you think it should be scrapped altogether.
Three things I'm trying to improve on specifically / wondering about:
A) is the intro out of place, should that come in only later?
B) Are any of the sentences too convoluted or wordy, and cause one to lose track while reading?
C) Does any of it (the middle, especially) feel too tedious?


Er, sono stanco, bisogno an- ... bisogno di andare!” I muttered, backing away from the Roman neo-Nazis I had accidentally befriended. My mind spun backwards in an effort to figure out how I had ended up in such a situation...

It was not very far into my studying in Rome that I met the friendly, outgoing neighbors that ran a fraternity-like pub directly below the apartment I was living in. Amidst my late-night, daily walks back to my Italian host mother’s home, it soon became clear that they were in favor of admitting me to their group. I figured this much through my maladroit Italian as well as their friendly gestures of offered cigarettes, free drinks, and even an impromptu snowball battle during the surprising blizzard of 2012. While their inviting, non-judgmental demeanor was certainly not the norm for Italians my age, especially considering that American study-abroad students are generally not held in high esteem in Italy, I was not prepared for what came next. Little did I know, these gestures were their form of recruitment. My unique, previous experiences across the globe in Europe, Jamaica, and Brazil had prepared me for surprises with situations starkly foreign to me, but I was more than a tad astonished to find that this group of young men were meeting under the commonality that they were all, in fact, staunch neo-Nazis.

In retrospect, there were indicators of their extreme political views, hints perhaps I should have seen earlier. Most notable was the prominent Nazi graffiti decorating the walls in my Roman neighborhood. The reality of the predicament I was faced with was not perfectly known to me until one interesting night. Little by little, this group of clean-cut, well-dressed Italian men, not much older than myself, transformed what began as a cordial conversation regarding current American politics into a polemic diatribe against President Obama. Their facial complexion grew more red as their ire increased, and their haranguing grew more irate, even violent . “Mi dispiace, ma sono... un moderate,” I offered, explaining to them with heed in an effort to clarify that I was more of a political moderate. The tirade ended with the guys casually, but with a strong sense of pride, displaying their t-shirts hidden underneath fashionable, Italian leather. Each was emblazoned with a bright, white swastika.

I’ve always been accustomed to looking deeply into a situation before getting involved, but how had I overlooked such an egregious, defining factor about this group of people? I was stupefied at how I had been casually befriended by these next-door-neighbor-Nazis. Thoughts like this haunted me as I warily backpedaled from the dark overhang of the bar, stumbling over my feet as well as my Italian, mumbling something about how it was time for me to get to bed, “Er, sono stanco, bisogno an- ... bisogno di andare!” My throat was constricting, but I managed to exhale the words before retreating into my apartment. Alone with only my surprise and contempt for what I had encountered, I still could not overcome how I had missed something seemingly so obvious.

Perhaps it wasn’t such an egregious oversight on my part. As surprising and downright crazy as the situation was, looking back it displays an important principle, doesn’t it? Even the most innocent or trivial of situations, stories or people are worth a closer analysis. This is a lesson that’s truly resounded with me-- be it in reading briefs in class or while interviewing clients for the Public Defender’s Office in Baltimore. I believe that there’s a strong compulsion to accept issues for their face value and to consequently deny yourself the possibility of being able to more truly understand an experience or person with stricter scrutiny.

Experiences like the aforementioned have not solely taught me to be a more jaded, cautious individual though, like one might suspect. I’d like to think that this lesson learned -the necessity for a second glance - has imparted upon me a deeper sense of empathy and compassion that I hope to further cultivate throughout my studies and eventual career. I think it takes this deeper look, a willingness to analyze further than necessary, to only begin to give others the consideration and attention they deserve-- be they clients, new acquaintances, or even Italian neo-Nazis.



Thanks for reading :D

canarykb
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:56 am

Re: Critique, please?

Postby canarykb » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:09 pm

“Er, sono stanco, bisogno an- ... bisogno di andare!” I muttered, backing away from the Roman neo-Nazis I had accidentally befriended. My mind spun backwards in an effort to figure out how I had ended up in such a situation... [Re: in medias res openings - http://www.law.berkeley.edu/5188.htm]

It was not very far into my studying in Rome that I met the friendly, outgoing neighbors that ran a fraternity-like pub directly below the apartment I was living in. Amidst my late-night, daily walks back to my Italian host mother’s home, it soon became clear [Hate this phrase.] that they were in favor of admitting me to their group. I figured this much through my maladroit Italian as well as their friendly gestures of offered cigarettes, free drinks, and even an impromptu snowball battle during the surprising blizzard of 2012. While their inviting, non-judgmental demeanor was certainly not the norm for Italians my age, especially considering that American study-abroad students are generally not held in high esteem in Italy, I was not prepared for what came next. Little did I know [Also a cliched phrasing], these gestures were their form of recruitment. My unique, previous experiences across the globe in Europe, Jamaica, and Brazil had prepared me for surprises with situations starkly foreign to me, but I was more than a tad astonished [Too colloquial] to find that this group of young men were meeting under the commonality that they were all, in fact, staunch neo-Nazis.

In retrospect, there were indicators of their extreme political views, hints perhaps I should have seen earlier. Most notable was the prominent Nazi graffiti decorating the walls in my Roman neighborhood. The reality of the predicament I was faced with was not perfectly known to me until one interesting night. Little by little, this group of clean-cut, well-dressed Italian men, not much older than myself, transformed what began as a cordial conversation regarding current American politics into a polemic diatribe against President Obama. Their facial complexion grew more red as their ire increased, and their haranguing grew more irate, even violent . “Mi dispiace, ma sono... un moderate,” I offered, explaining to them with heed in an effort to clarify that I was more of a political moderate. [This just feels like such a wishy washy response to the situation. This is what you're presenting to the adcomm to tell them more about yourself. And your shining moment was saying "uhh... i'm kind of moderate" to a group of bigots? I understand that there may have been other dynamics, like considerations about your safety within this group or a language barrier, but you don't mention them.] The tirade ended with the guys casually, but with a strong sense of pride, displaying their t-shirts hidden underneath fashionable, Italian leather. Each was emblazoned with a bright, white swastika.

I’ve always been accustomed to looking deeply into a situation before getting involved, but how had I overlooked such an egregious, defining factor about this group of people? I was stupefied at how I had been casually befriended by these next-door-neighbor-Nazis. Thoughts like this haunted me as I warily backpedaled from the dark overhang of the bar, stumbling over my feet as well as my Italian, mumbling something about how it was time for me to get to bed, “Er, sono stanco, bisogno an- ... bisogno di andare!” [You never tell us what this means?] My throat was constricting, but I managed to exhale the words before retreating into my apartment. Alone with only my surprise and contempt for what I had encountered, I still could not overcome how I had missed something seemingly so obvious. [You say this SO MANY TIMES in the essay. I'm not really seeing a story here besides: Wow these guys were neo-nazis? Nutty! What a surprise! How come I didn't notice? What a weird situation! There is very little action on your part, so it doesn't actually elucidate much about your character or your goals.]

Perhaps it wasn’t such an egregious oversight on my part. As surprising and downright crazy as the situation was [Again, you keep repeating this point. And this language is too colloquial, I think.], looking back it displays an important principle, doesn’t it? Even the most innocent or trivial of situations, stories or people are worth a closer analysis. This is a lesson that’s truly resounded with me-- be it in reading briefs in class or while interviewing clients for the Public Defender’s Office in Baltimore. I believe that there’s a strong compulsion to accept issues for their face value and to consequently deny yourself the possibility of being able to more truly understand an experience or person with stricter scrutiny.

Experiences like the aforementioned [What an odd phrasing. There are a lot of strange phrasings in this essay that swing from too colloquial to oddly formal.] have not solely taught me to be a more jaded, cautious individual though, like one might suspect. I’d like to think that this lesson learned -the necessity for a second glance - has imparted upon me a deeper sense of empathy and compassion that I hope to further cultivate throughout my studies and eventual career. I think it takes this deeper look, a willingness to analyze further than necessary, to only begin to give others the consideration and attention they deserve-- be they clients, new acquaintances, or even Italian neo-Nazis. [This final point doesn't come together well. I'm trying to piece it together. You met some guys who seemed nice, found out they were neo-nazis, and that taught you be more compassionate to others? I just don't get this conclusion. It sounds to me like you met a group of bigots who were fairly well-off and in no way marginalized in their society (except perhaps because of their hateful views). Why are you empathetic and respectful towards them? I think this anecdote could be a lot stronger within a discussion of italian society and what are the factors that impacted these guys neo-nazism, and how this sub-culture(?) is regarded in Italy. I would be pretty interested in that narrative, though you would have to swing it back to you and the law.]

I think you've got a really interesting anecdote here, but it's not being used effectively. It doesn't seem like a big enough moment, necessarily, to be the beef of your essay, and that's reflected in how the conclusion does not come together coherently. I think I made most of my points in my notes above, but let me know if you have any questions on what I wrote.

Granfalloon12
Posts: 147
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:45 pm

Re: Critique, please?

Postby Granfalloon12 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:30 pm

canarykb wrote:critique



Thank you very much-- that kinda hit on a bunch of my worst fears about the piece (i.e. the in media res opening, colloquial phrasing) that had been suggested to me but I wasn't sure I felt comfortable with. I feel like I've read / heard too many differing approaches regarding a PS but just need to pick one approach and stick with it.
I'll probably end up trying a wholly different PS, but making the suggested edits to this one as well and comparing the two (or 3) and deciding which I feel is stronger.
Thanks again!

canarykb
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:56 am

Re: Critique, please?

Postby canarykb » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:47 pm

I don't know your numbers, but if you go with a different PS topic this anecdote would make for a pretty cool Yale 250.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Critique, please?

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:08 pm

Don't use this story as either your law school personal statement or for your Yale 250 because you offer no insight to this type of situation. As written, this essay shows that you miss the point of this type of interaction & are merely writing as an astonished schoolboy rather than as one who has learned from these encounters.

Granfalloon12
Posts: 147
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:45 pm

Re: Critique, please?

Postby Granfalloon12 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:13 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Don't use this story as either your law school personal statement or for your Yale 250 because you offer no insight to this type of situation. As written, this essay shows that you miss the point of this type of interaction & are merely writing as an astonished schoolboy rather than as one who has learned from these encounters.


Harsh, but fair enough. Thanks for the reply. I'll definitely be working on a new one.




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