Critique, please?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
robbing_banks
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:14 am

Critique, please?

Postby robbing_banks » Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:27 am

Tell me what you think! Be as vicious as possible.

"The Greek term “Θηρόποσα Χείρ,” (pronounced the-ruh-poo-sah ky-air) roughly translated means “An assisting hand.” It serves as the maxim for my fraternity, Theta Chi, of which I have been a member for the last four years. And in those four years, since hearing it for the first time at my initiation ritual, I’ve recited this maxim, walked past it etched on our wall, and stamped it on our letterheads hundreds of times.

I’ve spent much of my collegiate career immersed in Greek life, from working with the InterFraternity Council, other Greek organizations, and of course my own chapter. With that experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that in all honesty, not much separates one organization from the other, at least immediately. Sure, some excel in academics, others recruiting. Some have 100 members, some 5. However, if I lined up ten different fraternity men from across campus, provided all their background information, grades, social status, campus involvement, community service hours, etc. and asked another member of campus with knowledge of Greek life to guess which house they belong to, I doubt they’d be able to get more than a couple right. What influences a person to join one fraternity and hate another, may come down to something as simple as being a legacy or knowing an active member from high school. As for the symbolism, the rituals, and ideals which a fraternity is supposed to be founded upon, they tend to be an afterthought. Likewise for my fraternity, the motto of the Assisting Hand, and all our other symbols, which surely bore some meaning during our founding in 1856, stay reserved for wall decor and chapter ritual, and play little to no factor in someone's decision to join.

However, in my experience, although short of shouting my fraternity’s Greek nomenclature from the rooftops, I have actively lived the ideal of the ‘Assisting Hand,’ and more importantly I’ve received it numerous times. I joined my fraternity, in fall 2009, a very green 18 year old who still couldn’t give you proper directions to the local bookstore, and just as my college career was beginning my father was laid off from his job. At that point I was at a critical juncture, needing to decide whether I should continue school, incurring severe expenses I didn’t want to burden my family with at the time, or return home and plan from there. At my father’s behest I remained enrolled, and continued my academic pursuits. It was then, at one of my darkest hours, that my brothers extended the Assisting Hand. They were more than understanding of my financial situation, and they kept me involved, helped me purchase books, and most of all provided the friendship and support that carried me through that first year.

However, such gestures go beyond just fraternal bonds; I’ve received an assisting hand in one form or another my whole life. My parents are Ethiopian immigrants who fled their country amidst civil turmoil and political upheaval. Being sponsored by an Illinois church, my parents came to the US, living in the basements of sponsor families. By the time I was born, both my parents were working two jobs, and my father was simultaneously going to school. My siblings and I were raised on church and hand me downs, while my parents worked to keep us afloat and find us a permanent home. There is no way my family would be where it is today, nor would I be writing this essay, were it not for the generosity and support of others. Whether it was financial hand outs, lending us clothes or furniture, or even helping us buy food, my family realized the American dream due in large part to the members of our community extending their helping hands.

Because of this experience, I’ve learned to be humble, and I’ve tried to repay the generosity received by succeeding to the best of my ability in all of my endeavors. I’ve put it on myself to owe it to those who invested in me, to ensure that they receive a return on that investment. In my academic performance, in my leadership and professional endeavors, and now in my pursuit of law school, I want to prove that my parents struggle and the support of my brothers and loved ones was not all for naught. However, most of all, I’ve learned the best way to repay those who lend you an assisting hand, is to be ready to extend it as well when the opportunity arises. I live the motto of an Assisting Hand to the best of my ability, whether it be my countless hours of community service or being there for someone that really needs it. As a future attorney, I want to be able to use my skills to come to the aid of others. My drive is fueled not only by years of struggle, but also from seeing first hand the influence intelligent and compassionate people are capable of. I have a genuine interest in the law and its practice, and I want to utilize it so that I too can help pull others from the fire of adversity.

I suppose our Greek symbolism may have lost some of its importance over time after being constantly recited for decades and being casually stamped on all of our merchandise and documents in assembly line fashion for so long. However, I don’t believe that makes it any less meaningful. The fact is, I didn’t need to join a fraternity to learn the ideals of charity. On the contrary, I believe our motto applies to all members of the community, and it is emboldened when we live its message in our day to day interactions. Its inherent value has shaped who I am today, who I’ll be as a law student, and who I’ll become as a practicing lawyer; and I embrace the future not just with an extended hand but open arms."

XLogic
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:22 am

Re: Critique, please?

Postby XLogic » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:23 pm

Your main theme "assisting hand" flows constantly through your essay -- That is good!

Overall, I think your personal statement is well written and structurally complete.

One thing I would suggest is that you provide concrete examples of how you've helped others. Actually, one or two concrete cases will do -- e.g, "food bank drives... great experience because of the smile on the little one's face etc" or "led my greek brothers in assisting with community project X" etc...

You could also be more specific about how you intend to help others with a legal degree. Even if you are not 100% sure which area of law you are interested in, you could still talk about how you think the law can be a useful tool for assisting others etc. I believe this will show your maturity, and that you've given this decision much thought.

Good Luck!

User avatar
Gradvocates Editing
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:22 pm

Re: Critique, please?

Postby Gradvocates Editing » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:29 pm

Delete almost all of the second paragraph, and combine the "Assisting Hand" part with the first paragraph. It is extremely odd to go into that much detail about Greek life in your law school personal statement, and it is strange to compare yourself to "ten different fraternity men." Keep your essay strictly personal.

By deleting this unnecessary information, you have more room to actually give examples of your service, which is always better than merely saying "countless hours of community service." Examples are king in personal statements and tell more about you than conclusory statements ever will.

XLogic
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:22 am

Re: Critique, please?

Postby XLogic » Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:27 pm

I tend to agree with @Gradvocates Editing, on the "ten frat comparison section".

Use 3/4 of your essay to talk about you!
Use concrete examples to talk about your leadership, maturity, intellectual aptitude, and assistance to others.

robbing_banks
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:14 am

Re: Critique, please?

Postby robbing_banks » Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:54 pm

Alright, perfect! Thanks for all the comments everyone, I'll be making these corrections now.

kublaikahn
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:47 am

Re: Critique, please?

Postby kublaikahn » Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:20 am

Use the active voice, stay away from meandering sentences, and limit your modifiers. Where you do use modifiers, you need to locate them properly in the sentence.

robbing_banks wrote:
roughly translated The Greek term “Θηρόποσα Χείρ,” (pronounced the-ruh-poo-sah ky-air) roughly translated means “An assisting hand.” It serves as the maxim for my fraternity, Theta Chi, of which I have been a member for the last four years. And in those four years, since hearing it for the first time at my initiation ritual, I’ve recited this maxim, walked past it etched on our wall, and stamped it on our letterheads hundreds of times. It served as the motto of a social fraternity I belonged to reminding us that we were more than a social organization, that we had a duty to society. Lofty words to make sure we met our philanthropic responsibilities. But to me, it stands as a constant reminder, a code to guide my path.

I’ve spent much of my collegiate career immersed in Greek life, from working with the InterFraternity Council, other Greek organizations, and of course my own chapter. With that experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that in all honesty, not much separates one organization from the other, at least immediately. Sure, some excel in academics, others recruiting. Some have 100 members, some 5. However, if I lined up ten different fraternity men from across campus, provided all their background information, grades, social status, campus involvement, community service hours, etc. and asked another member of campus with knowledge of Greek life to guess which house they belong to, I doubt they’d be able to get more than a couple right. What influences a person to join one fraternity and hate another, may come down to something as simple as being a legacy or knowing an active member from high school. As for the symbolism, the rituals, and ideals which a fraternity is supposed to be founded upon, they tend to be an afterthought. Likewise for my fraternity, the motto of the Assisting Hand, and all our other symbols, which surely bore some meaning during our founding in 1856, stay reserved for wall decor and chapter ritual, and play little to no factor in someone's decision to join.

[move this paragraph below the part of you receiving and your parents receiving and rewrite it telling us a story of how you feel this need to repay the "assisting hand" or pay it forward.] However, in my experience, although short of shouting my fraternity’s Greek nomenclature from the rooftops, I have actively lived the ideal of the ‘Assisting Hand,’ and more importantly I’ve received it numerous times. I joined my fraternity, in fall 2009, a very green 18 year old who still couldn’t give you proper directions to the local bookstore, and

just as my college career was beginning my father was laid off from lost his job. At that point I was at a critical juncture, needing to decide whether I should continue school, incurring severe expenses I didn’t want to burden my family and considered leaving school with at the time, or return home and plan from there. At my father’s behest I remained enrolled, and continued my academic pursuits. It was then, at one of my darkest hours, that my brothers extended the Assisting Hand. They were more than understanding of my financial situation, and they kept me involved, helped me purchase books, and most of all provided the friendship and support that carried me through that first year.

[don't use the fraternity as your transition, it has nothing to do with your piece other than to introduce the topic] However, such gestures go beyond just fraternal bonds; I’ve received an assisting hand in one form or another my whole life. My parents are Ethiopian immigrants who fled their country amidst civil turmoil and political upheaval. Being sponsored by an Illinois church, my parents came to the US, living in the basements of sponsor families. By the time I was born, both my parents were working two jobs, and my father was simultaneously going to school. My siblings and I were raised on church and hand me downs, while my parents worked to keep us afloat and find us a permanent home. There is no way my family would be where it is today, nor would I be writing this essay, were it not for the generosity and support of others. Whether it was financial hand outs, lending us clothes or furniture, or even helping us buy food, my family realized the American dream due in large part to the members of our community extending their helping hands.

Because of this experience, I’ve learned to be humble [no. Because of this you have are compelled to be a part of the "assisting hand", to connect with and help others in need] I’ve tried to repay the generosity received by succeeding to the best of my ability in all of my endeavors. I’ve put it on myself to owe it to those who invested in me, to ensure that they receive a return on that investment. In my academic performance, in my leadership and professional endeavors, and now in my pursuit of law school, I want to prove that my parents struggle and the support of my brothers and loved ones was not all for naught. However, most of all, I’ve learned the best way to repay those who lend you an assisting hand, is to be ready to extend it as well when the opportunity arises. I live the motto of an Assisting Hand to the best of my ability, whether it be my countless hours of community service or being there for someone that really needs it. [rewrite this a few times til you get it right, you need to tighten up your writing by using more descriptive verbs, go into the detail and quickly bring it back up to the main theme.]

[new paragraph] As a future attorney, I want to be able to use my skills to come to the aid of others. My drive is fueled not only by years of struggle, but also from seeing first hand the influence intelligent and compassionate people are capable of. I have a genuine interest in the law and its practice, and I want to utilize it so that I too can help pull others from the fire of adversity.

I suppose for many our Greek symbolism may have lost some of its importance over time after being constantly recited for decades and being casually stamped on all of our merchandise and documents in assembly line fashion for so long. HoweverBut to me, I don’t believe ... that makes it any less meaningful. The fact is, I didn’t need to join a fraternity to learn the ideals of charity. On the contrary, I believe our motto applies to all members of the community, and it is emboldened when we live its message in our day to day interactions. Its inherent value has shaped who I am today, who I’ll be as a law student, and who I’ll become as a practicing lawyer; and I embrace the future not just with an extended hand but open arms."




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