Advice Appreciated :)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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simplycatalina
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Advice Appreciated :)

Postby simplycatalina » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:15 am

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Last edited by simplycatalina on Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:34 pm, edited 8 times in total.

hutchjm
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Re: Please Help

Postby hutchjm » Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:32 pm

I think that you did an excellent job. The only thing I think that you could do to improve would be to make it a little more vivid. I wish you could make me feel the fear that you felt when your boyfriend hurt you. Overall, I think you did an awesome job, but I did not feel captivated while reading. I know you don't want to sound overly sentimental or anything, but I'm sure that the experience of being abused was quite emotional and troubling, so put that into your writing. After reading this it feels like you are still not over what happened to you. I read that adcoms want to see how you have overcome your struggle, but the tone of this essay makes me believe you haven't overcome and that you are still very damaged. I am sorry if I was a bit frank. I hope I didn't offend you (that was not my intention), but I really wanted to give you criticism that I believe to be constructive.

Joshua

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simplycatalina
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Re: Please Help

Postby simplycatalina » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:06 pm

hutchjm wrote:I think that you did an excellent job. The only thing I think that you could do to improve would be to make it a little more vivid. I wish you could make me feel the fear that you felt when your boyfriend hurt you. Overall, I think you did an awesome job, but I did not feel captivated while reading. I know you don't want to sound overly sentimental or anything, but I'm sure that the experience of being abused was quite emotional and troubling, so put that into your writing. After reading this it feels like you are still not over what happened to you. I read that adcoms want to see how you have overcome your struggle, but the tone of this essay makes me believe you haven't overcome and that you are still very damaged. I am sorry if I was a bit frank. I hope I didn't offend you (that was not my intention), but I really wanted to give you criticism that I believe to be constructive.

Joshua


Alright, thanks so much! I appreciate the advice. And don't worry about it, I assure you that nothing you said offended me. :) Is there a particular part that makes it seem like I haven't overcome it? I wasn't trying to convey that at all.

I've gotten the comment about incorporating more emotion a few times. I guess I avoided doing so because I was afraid of, like you said, being "overly sentimental". But thanks again for the input. Let me know if you have a PS you'd like me to look at.

hutchjm
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Re: Please Help

Postby hutchjm » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:20 pm

cbarlow1016 wrote:
hutchjm wrote:I think that you did an excellent job. The only thing I think that you could do to improve would be to make it a little more vivid. I wish you could make me feel the fear that you felt when your boyfriend hurt you. Overall, I think you did an awesome job, but I did not feel captivated while reading. I know you don't want to sound overly sentimental or anything, but I'm sure that the experience of being abused was quite emotional and troubling, so put that into your writing. After reading this it feels like you are still not over what happened to you. I read that adcoms want to see how you have overcome your struggle, but the tone of this essay makes me believe you haven't overcome and that you are still very damaged. I am sorry if I was a bit frank. I hope I didn't offend you (that was not my intention), but I really wanted to give you criticism that I believe to be constructive.

Joshua


Alright, thanks so much! I appreciate the advice. And don't worry about it, I assure you that nothing you said offended me. :) Is there a particular part that makes it seem like I haven't overcome it? I wasn't trying to convey that at all.

I've gotten the comment about incorporating more emotion a few times. I guess I avoided doing so because I was afraid of, like you said, being "overly sentimental". But thanks again for the input. Let me know if you have a PS you'd like me to look at.


I'm going to try to thoroughly go through your ps for you. I will post it in a bit when I am done. I have pm ed my ps to you for critique. Thanks.

chadbrochill
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby chadbrochill » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:23 pm

Hi,

I think you have great material and an incredible opener.

I do agree abit with Josh, that perhaps instead of describing the symptoms you could allow some emotion to come through, I think also providing some insight into why you were so trapped in that period could help show that you've now overcome that experience.

I liked paragraph 2 about reclaiming your life/existence, and maybe that could be expanded upon as well. This could probably address the lack of feeling closure regarding paragraph 1.

I felt like the Samantha stuff went a tad long, your PS is currently at 2.25 pgs at 11 font, so if you were looking to cut to fit 2 pages, you might be able to do some here. The Samantha stuff while good, ultimately isn't about you and expanding the conclusion might be a better use of that space (if possible).

Great work though, I'd say you're pretty close

rebexness
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby rebexness » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:34 pm

Last edited by rebexness on Mon Feb 09, 2015 5:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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simplycatalina
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby simplycatalina » Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:23 pm

thanks so much for the help guys! i really appreciate it and i'll work on those changes.

sabp21
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby sabp21 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:10 pm

To be honest, I'm surprised by the comments here. OP, the best advice I can give you is to think about the message you're trying to send to the admissions committee about why you're a worthy candidate to admit and structure your essay accordingly. I don't want to make light of abuse and I know that many share personal memories in their PS, but the two anecdotes don't tie very strongly into a central message other than having been a victim of domestic violence. To me, your essay actually reads as somewhat gratuitous, melodramatic, and inappropriate for an admissions essay because it doesn't convincingly support any stronger theme. As it stands, your essay is about 2/3 discussing victimization and 1/3 discussing how you overcame it (and not all that convincingly, partially because of the ratio of time you spend talking about it).

I would recommend reading the sample personal statements here on TLS and the feedback given by adcoms: http://www.top-law-schools.com/chapter11.html. In particular, there are adcom responses to an essay in which an applicant mentioned she had been a victim of sexual assault, and this is how they responded: "Most admissions committee members will be uncomfortable with the topic of rape, but they will recognize the applicant was a victim, and they will certainly not judge her law school qualifications based on her confession. In light of this, the applicant needs to do more work presenting her academic qualifications for law school. First, she needs to tighten and focus her writing. She must show that she is stable and possesses a sharpness of intelligence. She should cut out all the details of her personal suffering. This is a harsh reality, but the committee wants only to be impressed by the applicant’s abilities and characteristics that triumph over tragedy. They want to see a career woman in the making. The essay should not be apologetic." If you want to continue using this topic at all, I would really rethink the direction you take it in.

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simplycatalina
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby simplycatalina » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:25 pm

sabp21 wrote:To be honest, I'm surprised by the comments here. OP, the best advice I can give you is to think about the message you're trying to send to the admissions committee about why you're a worthy candidate to admit and structure your essay accordingly. I don't want to make light of abuse and I know that many share personal memories in their PS, but the two anecdotes don't tie very strongly into a central message other than having been a victim of domestic violence. To me, your essay actually reads as somewhat gratuitous, melodramatic, and inappropriate for an admissions essay because it doesn't convincingly support any stronger theme. As it stands, your essay is about 2/3 discussing victimization and 1/3 discussing how you overcame it (and not all that convincingly, partially because of the ratio of time you spend talking about it).

I would recommend reading the sample personal statements here on TLS and the feedback given by adcoms: http://www.top-law-schools.com/chapter11.html. In particular, there are adcom responses to an essay in which an applicant mentioned she had been a victim of sexual assault, and this is how they responded: "Most admissions committee members will be uncomfortable with the topic of rape, but they will recognize the applicant was a victim, and they will certainly not judge her law school qualifications based on her confession. In light of this, the applicant needs to do more work presenting her academic qualifications for law school. First, she needs to tighten and focus her writing. She must show that she is stable and possesses a sharpness of intelligence. She should cut out all the details of her personal suffering. This is a harsh reality, but the committee wants only to be impressed by the applicant’s abilities and characteristics that triumph over tragedy. They want to see a career woman in the making. The essay should not be apologetic." If you want to continue using this topic at all, I would really rethink the direction you take it in.


But that is exactly what I was trying to avoid..I only spend the first part discussing that and then I go into how I used that in order to positively impact others. I really don't think that I come across as a victim. So what you're saying is that I need to avoid talking about it because it might make someone feel uncomfortable?

Anyone else have thoughts on this? I deleted it for editing but I'll PM it to anyone if they'd like to give me further feedback.

sabp21
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby sabp21 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:47 pm

The majority of your essay is about your and Samantha's experience with abuse; frankly, a single paragraph mentioning both would suffice, as it is a lot text to devote to illustrating personal hardship and sympathy towards others who experience such hardship. To be clear, my critique is driven not by what I personally like to see out of an essay, but what I understand admissions officers to want, based off of what I've read. It is not my intent to offend you, but I would want honest feedback if I were in your position and, to me, your PS currently feels melodramatic, not especially purposeful to a theme that is going to portray you as a victor, and lacking awareness of your audience and your essay's purpose. If you want to continue using this as your topic, perhaps it would be helpful to make a list of the ways you overcame your circumstance and work on focusing the bulk of your essay towards that. Again, I would recommend taking a look at the "Overcoming Adversity" section of the personal statements released by TLS, so you have something to compare to.

chadbrochill
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby chadbrochill » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:23 pm

sabp21 wrote:The majority of your essay is about your and Samantha's experience with abuse; frankly, a single paragraph mentioning both would suffice, as it is a lot text to devote to illustrating personal hardship and sympathy towards others who experience such hardship. To be clear, my critique is driven not by what I personally like to see out of an essay, but what I understand admissions officers to want, based off of what I've read. It is not my intent to offend you, but I would want honest feedback if I were in your position and, to me, your PS currently feels melodramatic, not especially purposeful to a theme that is going to portray you as a victor, and lacking awareness of your audience and your essay's purpose. If you want to continue using this as your topic, perhaps it would be helpful to make a list of the ways you overcame your circumstance and work on focusing the bulk of your essay towards that. Again, I would recommend taking a look at the "Overcoming Adversity" section of the personal statements released by TLS, so you have something to compare to.


To be honest sabp21 has a strong point, and I perhaps didn't have the huevos to say it so directly. I think it probably has to do with the subject matter which might cause 1 reaction in a sympathetic reader, and another in an admissions officer. Best of luck with your edits

anela00
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby anela00 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:27 pm

The beginning seems to be what Berkeley advises NOT to do in a personal statement:

“I felt the cold, sharp edge of a knife at my neck.” “ ‘You rich Americans are all alike,’ she screamed.” “I’ve never been so scared in my life.” “The child’s belly was swollen and scabbed.” You get the picture. Starting the essay with a dramatic, unexplained sentence designed to grab the startled reader’s attention. (In fact, what it does to the reader is produce a dismayed feeling of, “Oh no, not another one of these.”). Continuing this dramatic episode for a short paragraph without tipping off its relevance to the application. Beginning the next paragraph by switching to expository style and informing us of what you were doing in this dire situation and how it was part of the background that makes you a special applicant to law school. Developing why you are so special in the rest of the statement. Then concluding with a touching statement returning to the opening gambit, about how now, after law school, you can really help that little girl in rags.

It is very clear that many applicants have been coached by someone that this is how to write a compelling personal statement. This format is transparently manipulative, formulaic, and coached. Except for the occasional novelist we admit, none of our students or graduates is going to write in this style again; none, thank goodness, is going to begin a brief with, “He stood frozen in fear as the gunman appeared out of the darkness.” So, this artifice is irrelevant to law and counter-productive: Once it ceases to surprise – and it did so more than 10 years ago – it just becomes a cliché which really ought to be held against the writer. Not only using clichés, but also having been coached ought to, in an ideal world, discount an application. Needless to say, however, I did not hold these statements against the writers. Often the bulk of the statement does report on impressive activities that are relevant to admission. But it is transparent when essay formulas have been coached, and we (should) strongly advise applicants to write in their own voice and style and without trying to dramatize what they have to say in order to attract our attention."


http://www.law.berkeley.edu/5188.htm

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simplycatalina
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby simplycatalina » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:41 pm

.
Last edited by simplycatalina on Sun Jul 07, 2013 12:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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simplycatalina
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby simplycatalina » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:46 pm

Sorry if I sound upset, it's just irritating to me to get so much conflicting advice. I don't need anyone to feel sympathy for me and I'm 100% not trying to do that; I am trying to convey the legitimate and wholly truthful reasons I want to attend law school.

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simplycatalina
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby simplycatalina » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:54 pm

Ok, I get that. But this is not at all coached. I'll be happy to remove/change the intro, but I'd appreciate your advice on the remainder of the essay. I was afraid to even talk about it but several people assured me that it was a perfectly fine topic.

anela00 wrote:The beginning seems to be what Berkeley advises NOT to do in a personal statement:

“I felt the cold, sharp edge of a knife at my neck.” “ ‘You rich Americans are all alike,’ she screamed.” “I’ve never been so scared in my life.” “The child’s belly was swollen and scabbed.” You get the picture. Starting the essay with a dramatic, unexplained sentence designed to grab the startled reader’s attention. (In fact, what it does to the reader is produce a dismayed feeling of, “Oh no, not another one of these.”). Continuing this dramatic episode for a short paragraph without tipping off its relevance to the application. Beginning the next paragraph by switching to expository style and informing us of what you were doing in this dire situation and how it was part of the background that makes you a special applicant to law school. Developing why you are so special in the rest of the statement. Then concluding with a touching statement returning to the opening gambit, about how now, after law school, you can really help that little girl in rags.

It is very clear that many applicants have been coached by someone that this is how to write a compelling personal statement. This format is transparently manipulative, formulaic, and coached. Except for the occasional novelist we admit, none of our students or graduates is going to write in this style again; none, thank goodness, is going to begin a brief with, “He stood frozen in fear as the gunman appeared out of the darkness.” So, this artifice is irrelevant to law and counter-productive: Once it ceases to surprise – and it did so more than 10 years ago – it just becomes a cliché which really ought to be held against the writer. Not only using clichés, but also having been coached ought to, in an ideal world, discount an application. Needless to say, however, I did not hold these statements against the writers. Often the bulk of the statement does report on impressive activities that are relevant to admission. But it is transparent when essay formulas have been coached, and we (should) strongly advise applicants to write in their own voice and style and without trying to dramatize what they have to say in order to attract our attention."


http://www.law.berkeley.edu/5188.htm

sabp21
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby sabp21 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:18 pm

I know everybody has an opinion of what an essay should entail, but the advice I would take would be the advice of admissions officers. I retract what I said about the Samantha pieces, as there is more there than just mentioning that she was a victim as well. However, I still think they need work, the biggest issue being that some parts need to be omitted entirely due to the fact that they don't contribute very much to your piece.

My comments stand for the majority of the first two paragraphs: unnecessary, potentially uncomfortable for your reader, and not flattering to an image you want to portray. There is no shame in being a victim of domestic violence, even in an admissions essay, but the opener and paragraphs-long description of your depression is not appropriate for the purpose of your essay or the audience.

If you have Anna Ivey's book (the former Dean of Admissions for University of Chicago), I could see you possibly structuring the beginning of your essay around Samantha, much like "Tattoo Tom", which is an exemplar to Ivey. Then, throughout the Samantha narrative, you could mention that you shared the commonality with her of being a victim of intimate partner violence (and stop there). The risk, however, in speaking about someone else is that he or she becomes the focus of your essay, so you would need to be conscious of discussing your impact and the lessons she taught you before moving into for instance, your work at the Alameda Point Collaborative (which jumps out as a section that you could add to, and would highlight your work in domestic violence advocacy.)

Also, get rid of "my experience is not unique" in the last paragraph. Cliched.

sabp21
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Re: Advice Appreciated :)

Postby sabp21 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:33 pm

Also, did Samantha raise any questions for you or change the way you think? Did she make you think of IPV differently, perhaps in regards to social services, children, or raise broader concerns for you? Currently, your retelling seems more like listing what happened to her, which shifts the focus to her instead of you in an essay that is supposed to be about you. You can change that if you take it to a place of discussing the impact she had on you.




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