Is this ready?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Steve2207
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Is this ready?

Postby Steve2207 » Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:26 pm

I think this is ready, but would like to get a last minute critique before I submit it. The only thing I would like to change is the use of the word "journey" in the last paragraph, but I can't think of anything good to replace it with.

I have never allowed myself to believe that anything is unattainable. Struggles have certainly come and gone throughout my life, but I have remained faithful to the belief that self-determination is the key to overcoming life’s tragedies. Even upon reflection of the uncomfortable moments growing up in an underprivileged neighborhood, wearing hand me down clothes, or standing in the free lunch line at school, I still cannot recall one instance in which I doubted my worth. I convinced myself early on that being poor did not make me stupid, dirty, or any less capable of accomplishing my goals. By the time I was twenty-one years old I felt fairly satisfied in life. I had managed to be the first in my family to graduate high school, and I had proudly served my country as a United States Marine. Afterward, I obtained employment with a very well respected local business, which generated excellent benefits and allowed for me to live comfortably with my wife and newborn child. It became very important for me as a new father to protect my child from the disadvantages that I experienced, and to simultaneously serve as an example of what can be accomplished through hard work and dedication.

Sadly, a new chapter of my life began at this time that presented another struggle we all must eventually overcome. Within a few short years, ten of my very close friends and family passed away in separate instances. I began to look at life differently after this traumatic string of deaths, and reexamine what I wanted out of it. I began to realize that perhaps my “good job” within the community was actually pretty mediocre, and I began to wonder what I would be remembered for when my life came to an end. Going to the same job day after day and providing for my family would certainly be commendable, but was I capable of accomplishing more? Should I dare leave the safety of a successful business that pays well in a failing economy to pursue an education? I was fearful to make such a bold decision, but my intuition kept insisting that I could accomplish more, and that I would spend the rest of my life regretting it if I didn’t pursue something better for my family and myself.

Taking a leap of faith, I decided to give my employer a months’ notice in order to pursue an associate degree in paralegal studies. The introductions into separate areas of the law left me both excited and curious to learn more. The same feelings that had urged me to engage in my educational aspirations were beginning to inspire me to embark on a journey to become a practicing attorney. Therefore, by the time I graduated magna cum laude with my associate’s degree I had already decided that I would pursue a Juris Doctorate. I then enrolled in a joint Homeland Security & Public Safety program at my university that excited me because it explained more about the judicial process. In addition, the program encouraged public speaking, open discussions, and debates within the classroom that have helped to improve my speaking skills, which I expect will assist me in my legal education. Above all, the program presented an opportunity for me to serve an internship under a local Judge at the {OMMITTED} Court in {OMMITTED}, Indiana. This experience allowed me to witness two hundred hours of court proceedings which added to my excitement about the law, but also lead to a realization. The intuition that had gotten me to this point was not coincidental, it was leading me to the practice of law and I knew it then more than ever.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck my life again in the fall of 2012 with the unexpected death of my mother, and I am reminded again of how short life is and how important it is for a person to pursue what it is that they are inspired to do. My journey has not been easy to this point, and I expect a legal education will have its challenges as well. However, the best way I know to honor the ones I love who are gone today is to pursue my dreams, and become the success that I know I can be. Never have I doubted my worth, but now is the appropriate time to demonstrate my true value.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Is this ready?

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:02 pm

Suggested edits in brackets.

Steve2207 wrote:I think this is ready, but would like to get a last minute critique before I submit it. The only thing I would like to change is the use of the word "journey" in the last paragraph, but I can't think of anything good to replace it with.

I have never allowed myself to believe that anything is unattainable. Struggles have certainly come and gone throughout my life, but I have remained faithful to the belief that self-determination is the key to overcoming life’s tragedies. Even upon reflection of the uncomfortable moments growing up in an underprivileged neighborhood, wearing [hand-me-down clothes], or standing in the free lunch line at school, I still cannot recall one instance in which I doubted my worth. I convinced myself early on that being poor did not make me stupid, dirty, or any less capable of accomplishing my goals. By the time I was twenty-one years old I felt fairly satisfied in life. I had managed to be the first in my family to graduate high school, and I had proudly served my country as a United States Marine. Afterward, I obtained employment with a very well respected local business, which generated excellent benefits and allowed for me to live comfortably with my wife and newborn child. It became very important for me as a new father to protect my child from the disadvantages that I experienced, and to simultaneously serve as an example of what can be accomplished through hard work and dedication. [Commentary: I don't like the use of comas in compound predicates. You can argue that the coma adds clarity, which makes it an acceptable use, but I think they are usually misused. That said, a ton of people do it, including academics.]

Sadly, a new chapter of my life began at this time that presented another struggle we all must eventually overcome. Within a few short years, ten of my very close friends and family passed away in separate instances. I began to look at life differently after this traumatic string of deaths, and reexamine what I wanted out of it. [Rephrasing this sentence would increase readability. I had to reread the sentence to see what the second clause attached to.] I began to realize that perhaps my “good job” within the community was actually pretty mediocre, and I began to wonder what I would be remembered for when my life came to an end. Going to the same job day after day and providing for my family would certainly be commendable, but was I capable of accomplishing more? Should I dare leave the safety of a successful business that pays well in a failing economy to pursue an education? I was fearful to make such a bold decision, but my intuition kept insisting that I could accomplish more[] and that I would spend the rest of my life regretting it if I didn’t pursue something better for my family and myself. [Commentary: Inserting a coma here actually introduces more confusion.]

Taking a leap of faith, I decided to give my employer a [month's] notice in order to pursue an associate degree in paralegal studies. The introductions into separate areas of the law [Commentary: What do you mean by "separate areas of the law"?] left me both excited and curious to learn more. The same feelings that had urged me to engage in my educational aspirations were beginning to inspire me to embark on a journey to become a practicing attorney. Therefore, by the time I graduated magna cum laude with my associate’s degree I had already decided that I would pursue a Juris Doctorate. I then enrolled in a joint Homeland Security & Public Safety program at my university that excited me because it explained more about the judicial process. In addition, the program encouraged public speaking, open discussions, and debates within the classroom that have helped to improve my speaking skills, which I expect will assist me in my legal education. Above all, the program presented an opportunity for me to serve an internship under a local Judge at the {OMMITTED} Court in {OMMITTED}, Indiana. This experience allowed me to witness two hundred hours of court proceedings which added to my excitement about the law, but also lead to a realization. The intuition that had gotten me to this point was not coincidental, it was leading me to the practice of law and I knew it then more than ever. [Commentary: But I thought you already knew you were going to get your JD before entering this program? Consider reworking this paragraph to have a more unified message.]

Unfortunately, tragedy struck my life again in the fall of 2012 with the unexpected death of my mother, and I am reminded again of how short life is and how important it is for a person to pursue what it is that they are inspired to do. [Commentary: This seems tacked on. Include your mother's death if you can tie it into your story better. At the moment though it just seems like it's thrown in.] My journey has not been easy to this point, and I expect a legal education will have its challenges as well. However, the best way I know to honor the ones I love who are gone today is to pursue my dreams, and become the success that I know I can be. Never have I doubted my worth, but now is the appropriate time to demonstrate my true value.

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Steve2207
Posts: 253
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Re: Is this ready?

Postby Steve2207 » Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:11 pm

Richie, what I meant by separate areas of the law, is that when I took classes like torts, family law, criminal law, contracts etc. I was excited. Obviously, we didn’t get as in depth as they’re going to in law school, but taking each of those classes was nice. Do I need to reword that sentence in the essay? Also, I agree the ending is kind of tacked on, (I had already written a rough draft before my mom’s death), but I can’t think of a way to put it earlier in the essay that wouldn’t appear even more awkward, any ideas? Thanks for all of your input btw, I appreciate it.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Is this ready?

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:50 pm

This essay is not persuavsive, in my opinion. Although you repeatedly write that you've had a tough & challenging life, there is little support in your personal statement of this claim. And this presents a problem because your theme seems to be that your struggles & desires have led you on a path to law school. Overall, your PS lacks sincerity & credibility because it is not convincing.

P.S. You described your job as "mediocre" but never explain this evaluation to the reader. Perhaps "unfulfilling in a --------sense" or "lacked meaningful--------" would better communicate your feeling. Additionally, your essay fails to offer insights that would allow readers to better understand you & like you. Nothing bad, nothing wrong, but, yet, too much nothingness in this piece.

P.P.S. This personal statement should not hurt your chances for admission, it just may not help.

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

Re: Is this ready?

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:11 pm

Although well written, the personal statement never delivers what the words promise. "Struggles", "tragedies", "uncomfortable moments", "underprivileged", "disadvantages", "sadly", "struggle", "overcome" & "traumatic" are followed by, or encased in, a resume regurgitation that makes your life seem quite normal & fairly successful. The result is an unconvincing essay.

In answer to your question "Is this ready?": It depends upon what you want to accomplish through your personal statement.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Is this ready?

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:02 pm

Steve2207 wrote:Richie, what I meant by separate areas of the law, is that when I took classes like torts, family law, criminal law, contracts etc. I was excited. Obviously, we didn’t get as in depth as they’re going to in law school, but taking each of those classes was nice. Do I need to reword that sentence in the essay? Also, I agree the ending is kind of tacked on, (I had already written a rough draft before my mom’s death), but I can’t think of a way to put it earlier in the essay that wouldn’t appear even more awkward, any ideas? Thanks for all of your input btw, I appreciate it.


Yes, I word reword that sentence for clarity. Something like: "Classes in torts, family law, criminal law, and contracts left me excited as well as curious to learn more about these various topics."

I wouldn't bring in your mother's death into the essay unless there is a significant purpose in doing so. It's an awful event and I'm sorry for your loss, but it's not something to just throw into a personal statement just because it has a somewhat tenuous link to your overall message.

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Steve2207
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Re: Is this ready?

Postby Steve2207 » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:03 am

I appreciate the input from both of you. I have changed the “introductions” sentence thanks to Richie’s help. As for Canadian’s comment, I appreciate your input, and I know that it is a little vague, but the fact is I just have a hard time getting too personal. The truth is I already feel exposed with this statement, and I don’t feel comfortable getting into the darkest parts of my life. You asked what I wanted to accomplish with this statement, well, what I want most is to let the ADCOMS know I have a story to tell, and I am not the average 21 year old kid coming out of undergrad. Your comment was very helpful despite your criticism (which I am in no way complaining about, criticism is good, and I have thick skin!). Particularly I am glad that you said it wouldn’t hurt my chances, and that it is well written. Truth is I am a private person, and this type of thing is hard for me, so I am glad to hear that even someone who doesn’t think it’s that good can say it’s well written and wouldn’t hurt my applications.

BTW Richie, are you sure it is month’s, and not months’?? I had a proofread a few weeks back and was told to put the apostrophe after the s, if your positive please let me know, I don’t want to ruin this by making a stupid mistake.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Is this ready?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Nov 22, 2012 9:11 am

My first reaction was similiar to the other poster regarding "a month's notice", not "a months' notice", but now think that the best choice is "30 days' notice".

As written, the real choice is between the descriptive "a months notice" (no apostrophe) & the possessive, but singular, "a month's notice".

Another option: "I gave notice of one month."

CanadianWolf
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Re: Is this ready?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Nov 22, 2012 9:31 am

OP: If part of your goal is to communicate who you are, and you are a private person with restrained emotions who has matured through hardships, then this personal statement works.

The strength of your writing is that it is clear & concise. Additionally, it shows signs of maturity as well as a desire & willingness to grow further.

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Steve2207
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Re: Is this ready?

Postby Steve2207 » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:18 pm

Taking a leap of faith, I gave my employer a thirty day notice in order to pursue....

Is this ok?

CanadianWolf
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Re: Is this ready?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:25 pm

Yes.




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