2nd Draft, feedback please!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
ohwhereohwhere
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:01 pm

2nd Draft, feedback please!

Postby ohwhereohwhere » Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:03 am

When people ask me about the scar that runs from the middle of my hairline to the back of my left ear, I joke and say that it is from a fight I had with a bear. I tell this joke not only because it is an easy way to get a laugh, but because the real story is a bit longer and more depressing. When I was 13, I fell backwards into a patch of ice hitting my head quite hard. I ended up busting something called an arachnoid cyst, which is more or less a sack of fluid between the skull and brain. To remedy this, neurosurgeons at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital installed a shunt from my skull to my abdomen, draining that fluid.

As a teenager, this did not really affect me. I had a cool scar to joke about, but everything else was normal for me. Since I was eight years old, I knew what my life plan was; graduate high school, join the Air Force, and in some way be a part of an aircrew. I had originally dreamed of being a pilot, but the realities of surgery and glasses were not lost on me. I was convinced, however, by the Air Force recruiter that I could still enlist and my hopes got just high enough to be crushed, once again, by reality. Air Force Medical Standards dictated that having a “central nervous system shunt” was grounds for permanent disqualification regarding enlistment. The entire process, from the Air Force recruiter calling me to invite me to this office to him calling me to inform me of the disqualification lasted three months, so the last phone call was a considerable disappointment. This is especially true since I had decided on – what I still consider to be – the most interesting job in the world. Had I been allowed to enlist, I had my heart set on becoming a Loadmaster. I still have dreams about sitting at the top of an open cargo door on a C-130 watching the Earth below me.

A year prior, I had taken and scored well enough on the ACT, so I was able to quickly apply and be accepted to college. My first semester of college was a very important three months in my life. I was awarded a scholarship, but I did not immediately appreciate what that meant. I still did not have an entirely clear idea of what I wanted to do, and at the time only enrolled in classes due to the Air Force not working out. Whatever the reason, I did not take my classes as seriously as I should have. By the time midterms rolled around, I was falling behind due to simply neglecting my coursework. I learned a very good lesson this way; had I continued down this path, I could have lost my scholarship before my second semester. Losing a scholarship due to reasons entirely under my control would have been simply unacceptable. This was a turning point not only in my approach to college, but in my entire worldview. I became very aware of the price I nearly paid for being apathetic, and I resolved to never make that mistake again. Being capable of something is not enough; you have to follow through with effort. Great opportunity is rare and not to be squandered.

Two years later, in the fall of 2010, I received an e-mail. I was among the top 10% of students in my major, and because of this, my professor suggested that I apply to an internship with [a Congressman’s] office in Washington, D.C. I had never really considered doing an internship in a congressional office, but after looking into it, it sounded like a worthwhile experience, so I submitted a resume and cover letter. A few weeks later, I found myself sitting in an office with [Congressman’s] district staff interviewing for the position. I am still not sure whether I was uncomfortable due to the fact that I had never worn a suit before or because I was intimidated by the situation. Despite some early nervousness, I ended up performing very well in the interview. I opened up and allowed myself to joke around while remaining professional and they reciprocated. I was happy to discover that they found me as charming as I find myself, as a week or two after his reelection, his office called to inform me that I had been selected for the internship.

I know a lot of interns go to D.C. with delusions of grandeur, and I made sure to ground myself to prevent that from happening. Even before I was awarded the internship, I did as much research into the typical duties as I possibly could. Despite my family’s ideas of me going to assist in the writing of great pieces of legislation and working in a massive, elegant office, I was comfortable with my more mundane duties of sorting mail and answering phones at a desk in a converted closet. While that part of the job may not have been the most exhilarating, it was a relatively small part of my combined duties. Two parts of that job were extremely rewarding and have allowed me to build a foundation that will be useful for nearly anything I pursue in the future.

First, I was able to give tours of the U.S. Capitol, mostly to constituents of [a Kentucky congressional district]. This was really exciting for me, as it allowed me to interact not only with Kentucky’s contributions to Congress (I definitely talked a lot about Henry Clay), but allowed me to interact with people on a very personal level. By this point, I had been a political science student for two years, so it was a very good opportunity to share my passion for it with other people. A convenient side effect of this is that it drastically improved my communication skills. I certainly became fairly good at getting people to talk and trying to relate the contents of whatever it was I was talking about to their particular interests as much as possible. I had different versions of the tour for families with kids than I did for adults on vacation, for instance. People really seemed to respond positively to my approach. I even got to stand in on a few family portraits.

Second, I had a lot of free time in the office, so I would commonly reach out to the Legislative Assistants to offer help. I was fortunate enough to be awarded an internship with a Congressman that sat on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, which was great because I had been developing an interest in North Korea. Within my first week, I approached the Foreign Affairs Legislative Assistant and explained to her that I already had a pretty solid interest, and she was quick to take me under her wing. She would allow me to tag along for committee hearings and let me do research – especially on North Korea – for the office. I got to use that research to write a paper concerning North Korean affairs for a night class I was taking that semester, which was more or less the foundation for a much larger paper I wrote for an independent study during my last semester of college. One of the most exciting things during my time in the office was thanks entirely to her. She had set up a meeting with the senior Specialist in Asian Affairs at the Congressional Research Service, which was a great opportunity to discuss issues I was interested in and provided a lot of guidance in how I structured my research.

Both of these things were extremely important to me and are experiences I will value for the rest of my life. I really could not have imagined that I would have had that chance, but I was given an opportunity, and I did my best to take as much away from it as I possibly could.

From the preliminary dissatisfactions of trying to turn childhood dreams into adulthood realities, I learned that the opportunities that we stumble upon are not always what we reached for, but still allow us to find successes on other paths. Dreams and goals, if pursued aggressively enough, might not be guaranteed, but the simple pursuit of them can expose us to irreplaceable experience.

NightmanCometh
Posts: 100
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:03 pm

Re: 2nd Draft, feedback please!

Postby NightmanCometh » Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:32 pm

First of all, unless this is only going to Berkeley, it is way too long! You need to cut this down by half if you are planning to submit it to schools other than Berkeley.

In connection with this first point, there is a lot of unneccessary fluff here. You can probably combine paragraphs 3 and 4 into one 4-sentence paragraph. The sentences about submitting a resume and cover letter and interviewing don't add anything to your essay imo.

In general, this seems just to be a story of your entire life! If that's what you were going for, then I guess it works, but good luck trying to squeeze that into 2 pages. Otherwise, I would focus on a few elements and make them more crisp and engaging.

Hope that helps!

ohwhereohwhere
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:01 pm

Re: 2nd Draft, feedback please!

Postby ohwhereohwhere » Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:25 pm

Not exactly. I'm more or less trying to illustrate how hey, I had some bad luck and things didn't work out my way, but I moved on and learned how important unplanned opportunities are.

I see what you mean though, and I'll cut out on a bunch of the fluff.

ohwhereohwhere
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:01 pm

Re: 2nd Draft, feedback please!

Postby ohwhereohwhere » Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:41 am

Bump. I removed about 500 words and tried to make it flow better. Please, I really desire some more feedback. Is this even a decent PS? Do I have a good start?

>>>
When people ask me about the scar that runs from the middle of my hairline to the back of my left ear, I joke and say that it is from a fight I had with a bear. I tell this joke not only because it is an easy way to get a laugh, but because the real story is a bit longer. When I was 13, I fell backwards into a patch of ice hitting my head quite hard. I ended up busting something called an arachnoid cyst, which, as explained to me, is more or less a sack of fluid between the skull and brain. To remedy this, neurosurgeons at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital installed a shunt from my skull to my abdomen, draining that fluid.

Since I was eight years old, I knew what my life plan was; graduate high school, join the Air Force, and in some way be a part of an aircrew. Within a year of graduation, I began the process of enlistment. However, Air Force Medical Standards dictated that having a “central nervous system shunt” was grounds for permanent disqualification regarding enlistment. The entire process, from the Air Force recruiter calling me to invite me to this office up to him calling me to inform me of the disqualification lasted three months, so the last phone call was a considerable disappointment. Had I been allowed to enlist, I had my heart set on becoming a Loadmaster. I still have dreams about sitting at the top of an open cargo door on a C-130 watching the Earth below me.

The year before, as I was getting ready to begin the USAF enlistment process, I had taken the ACT primarily due to my father’s advice of ensuring I had multiple options. This ended up being a good decision, as a few weeks after applying; I was accepted and offered a full scholarship. After a rough first semester, I approached college in a much more serious tone, and was rewarded. In my junior year, a professor in my department contacted me based on grades and discussions with other professors to suggest that I apply to an internship with [a Congressman’s] office in Washington D.C. A week after his reelection, I found out I had been selected and would spend a full semester in his office.

Even before I was awarded the internship, I did as much research into the typical duties as I possibly could. Despite my family’s ideas of me going to assist in the writing of great pieces of legislation and working in a massive, elegant office, I was comfortable with my more mundane duties of sorting mail and answering phones at a desk in a converted closet. While that part of the job may not have been the most exhilarating, it was a relatively small part of my combined duties. Two parts of that job were extremely rewarding and have allowed me to build a foundation that will be useful for nearly anything I pursue in the future.

First, I was able to give tours of the U.S. Capitol, mostly to constituents of [a Kentucky congressional district]. This was really exciting for me, as it allowed me to interact with people on a very personal level. By this point, I had been a political science student for two years, so it was a very good opportunity to share my passion for it (and my admiration of Henry Clay!) with other people. A convenient side effect of this is that it drastically improved my communication skills. I certainly became skilled at getting people to talk, which made our time on tours much more enjoyable for all those involved.

Second, I was fortunate enough to be awarded an internship with a Congressman that sat on the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Within my first week, I approached the Foreign Affairs Legislative Assistant and explained to her that I already had a solid interest, and she was quick to take me under her wing. She would allow me to tag along for committee hearings and let me do research for the office. I got to use that research to write a paper concerning North Korean affairs for a night class I was taking that semester, which turned into the foundation for a much larger paper I wrote for an independent study during my last semester of college, which is a paper I am very proud of. One of the most exciting experiences during my time in the office was thanks entirely to her; she set up an informational meeting with the senior Specialist in Asian Affairs at the Congressional Research Service, which was a great opportunity for me to discuss issues I was interested in with an expert that provided invaluable guidance.

Both of these things were extremely important to me and are experiences I will value for the rest of my life. I really could not have imagined that I would have these opportunities as an extension of the privilege of working in a congressional office, but I was given an opportunity, and I did my best to take as much away from it as I possibly could.

From the preliminary disappointment of trying to turn childhood dreams into adulthood realities, I learned that the opportunities that we stumble upon are not always what we reached for, but still allow us to find successes on other paths. Dreams and goals, if pursued aggressively enough, might not be guaranteed, but the simple pursuit of them can expose us to irreplaceable experience.

ohwhereohwhere
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:01 pm

Re: 2nd Draft, feedback please!

Postby ohwhereohwhere » Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:12 pm

Anybody? Please? Can I declare desperation without looking desperate?

conc ashout
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:34 pm

Re: 2nd Draft, feedback please!

Postby conc ashout » Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:27 pm

So now that you wrote this you seem to have an idea of the message you want to portray about yourself. The problem for me is that it seems like a fleshed out resume. You can turn any single paragraph in your current statement into a full essay, and that's what I would do. You can weave in the other elements as they fit, but I think s PS should be a dive into an instant in your life, not a flyover of the whole thing.

And if you do rewrite, please don't do the jump right into action paragraph, followed by a step back context setting paragraph like everyone here seems to. I'm not an adcom but I have to imagine they are kind of sick of that.




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