Please Critique!!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
bagold
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2011 2:54 am

Please Critique!!

Postby bagold » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:59 pm

I would greatly appreciate anyone who is willing to give me some feedback. I would also be happy to swap with another poster and give feedback of my own. Thanks so much.

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During my Fall semester senior year, I took a course called Communications 107: Principles of Oral Communication. The class centered on the theory and practice of public speaking. Many students take the course early on, especially those who like to be in the limelight. Many others put it off a bit because they find public speaking to be daunting. But for me, a person who stutters, the course and the public speaking required was downright terrifying.

One day during the course the teacher explained that several of us would need to give “impromptu” speeches to the rest of the class on the topic of “Who am I?” I remember sitting back in my chair and thinking, “Great question – who am I?” I was nervous and anxious to speak, though comforted that I actually would have something to say. That wouldn’t have been the case when I first stepped on campus my freshman year. Back then, I didn’t have a clue who I was. More importantly, back then I didn’t have the courage to allow my voice to be heard.

When I began classes in the Fall of 2008, no one knew that I stuttered. Even my best friends from high school who joined me at College Park had no idea. My strategy up to that point was: hide stuttering at all costs. If it meant not talking so much, so be it. If it meant constantly changing my words so that at least some words would come out, that was what I did. I preferred to be viewed as shy, quiet, or even unintelligent, so long as it meant I could pass as a fluent person – a person who did not stutter.

Unfortunately, by the time my first semester of college ended, I could no longer pass as being fluent. You see, one of the cruel paradoxes of stuttering is that the more one tries to speak fluently, the more one stutters. I had wanted so badly to not stutter. In fact, I had put so much pressure on myself to speak perfectly my first semester that by the end of it, completing a short sentence - any short sentence - was a struggle. I had run out of options. Problem solving on my own wasn’t working any longer. I knew I needed something, anything really, that might help.

At that point, I met with the head of the Hearing and Speech Clinic at the University of Maryland. As with other speech therapists I had seen briefly over the years, I was expecting this therapist to tell me how she would assist in ridding me of this “problem.” Instead, she told me, “You’re going to have to accept the fact that you are a person who stutters. It is who you are and once you embrace that you will then be able to communicate more effectively without all the fear, struggle and shame.” That conversation caught me off guard. It was a conversation that I had never before had about a part of me I had always refused to accept. But, it was a conversation that began a long, and incredibly rewarding, journey of self-acceptance, pushing my comfort zone and facing my speaking fears head-on. It is a process I am still in the midst of today.

Through this journey, I have learned a couple of key lessons along the way. First, I now understand that all people, regardless of their differences, deserve to be treated with the same respect and dignity. It seems like an obvious lesson, one we are taught as children, but it took accepting my biggest insecurity to realize that differences among us – whether they are physical, intellectual, emotional or financial – don’t make any of us better or worse than anyone else. Second, I also have come to learn that with effective help disabled, misunderstood and marginalized people can better their lives and accomplish truly incredible things. I know for myself that I would not be here today applying to law school if I had not found the effective help I did.

The truth is I always wanted to be an attorney, but considered it a completely unrealistic dream. After all, I thought, how could someone who stutters pursue a profession where speech is so important? How can I ever become an effective advocate for someone when I still struggle at times to get out the words? Yet, with the effective help I have had, I now believe that my own disability will only help to make me a more understanding, conscientious and effective advocate for others, especially those with disabilities of their own. My journey has not only given me the courage and conviction to pursue a career in law, but has driven me to pursue a career in disability law to represent those who are viewed as “different”, and to serve as their support, so that they too can realize their potential and accomplish their dreams.

That day in my Communication 107 class, I was one of a handful who volunteered to speak on the topic “Who am I?” I spoke of where I was, where I am now, and where I am going. I spoke of the first two years of college where I refused to participate in class. I spoke of the gains I had made -- the time one teacher my junior year told me she would like to see some “other hands” because I had contributed too many times to the class discussion. I spoke of my journey and my values -- to always try to push one’s comfort zone and to always treat others the best you can – and how I would like to think those ideals have come to define me over the last four years. And finally, I spoke of the future, and how I hoped my values would guide me to a fulfilling and successful career as a disabilities lawyer.

If accepted to the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, I hope to bring those values and my experiences to the class of 2016, and to use the tremendous education and opportunities that the UM Carey Law offers to accomplish my goal: to become an advocate for those with disabilities so that I can “speak” for those who are less able to help themselves.

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

Re: Please Critique!!

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:32 pm

CONSIDER: "in which speech", not "where speech".

Well written, but a bit repetitious & predictable. Overall, this is a safe law school PS.

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rinkrat19
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Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: Please Critique!!

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:40 pm

What CanadianWolf said, with the added comment that the intro is really boring. The title of the class, really? Draw the reader in at least a little, maybe by switching Paragraphs 1 and 2 (and editing them accordingly so it makes sense).

Also, some of the language is a tad informal. You don't want to get unnaturally stiff, but you use quite a few contractions and some more colloquial phrases like "a couple of," "after all," and "you see" that make it sound rather casual over all.

Aside from that, it does a decent job at using one moment in an overall story arc in your life to tell something about you. Tighten up the grammar in places and it will be fine.

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PickMe!
Posts: 162
Joined: Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:24 pm

Re: Please Critique!!

Postby PickMe! » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:01 pm

I enjoyed it. I will say; however, I knew almost immediately where you were taking me, but I didn't mind because it was well written. It's safe, and sometimes safe is good.

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PickMe!
Posts: 162
Joined: Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:24 pm

Re: Please Critique!!

Postby PickMe! » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:16 pm

Also, some of the language is a tad informal. You don't want to get unnaturally stiff, but you use quite a few contractions and some more colloquial phrases like "a couple of," "after all," and "you see" that make it sound rather casual over all.


I disagree slightly. In formal writing we are often told contractions are bad. But in a personal statement, the absences of a few contractions can, in some cases, take the "personal" out of the statement, I think. To that end, I don't think there were too many contractions, and the colloquial phrases added a bit of color to an otherwise predictable narrative.

Bump for a tiebreak. :lol:

MAHamlin
Posts: 222
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:58 am

Re: Please Critique!!

Postby MAHamlin » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:26 pm

PickMe! wrote:
Also, some of the language is a tad informal. You don't want to get unnaturally stiff, but you use quite a few contractions and some more colloquial phrases like "a couple of," "after all," and "you see" that make it sound rather casual over all.


I disagree slightly. In formal writing we are often told contractions are bad. But in a personal statement, the absences of a few contractions can, in some cases, take the "personal" out of the statement, I think. To that end, I don't think there were too many contractions, and the colloquial phrases added a bit of color to an otherwise predictable narrative.

Bump for a tiebreak. :lol:


I agree with PickMe! When writing my own PS I found I couldn't convey a personal feeling while avoiding contractions. I don't think the PS should be littered with slang or language you would only use among friends, but I do think a conversational tone is acceptable. You would use contractions in an interview, right?

bagold
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2011 2:54 am

Re: Please Critique!!

Postby bagold » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:10 pm

Thanks for all the advice, guys. I know it's predictable but, hey, it's my story and it's why I want to go to law school.

I think switching the first and second paragraphs is a good idea. The first paragraph does seem a bit boring. I'll edit and repost.

Sincerely, thanks again for the feedback.




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