*Personal Statement, Final (pending critiques)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
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*Personal Statement, Final (pending critiques)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:10 pm

As applications are now just days away, please provide critiques for my final draft:

I can recall with vivid clarity the first time I ended another human being’s life. Safe as I could be, in the cockpit of an F-15E above the northern Afghanistan mountains, the French troop cleared me to drop a 2,000 pound explosive on an enemy sniper shooting at NATO and Afghan soldiers. I remember the relief after seeing the explosion exactly where I intended and hearing the ground troop call “good impact” over the radio. Though I had no time for reflection while airborne, I thought about it that night. Regardless of any personal feelings about war and taking life, my duty and mission was simple: save coalition lives in accordance with the rules of engagement. I did my duty, and it gave me peace. This moment, and many others flying the mighty Strike Eagle in both training and combat, was a culmination of years of dedicated study, training and flying to become a professional aviator and officer in the United States Air Force.

My initial training took place at Pensacola Naval Air Station where we would-be aviators aspired to earn our wings. I delved into studies and required testing on aerodynamics, chart study, meteorology, rules, regulations and safety. We were required to know the “boldface” emergency procedures for every aircraft we encountered. Should an instructor desire to test my knowledge of these procedures, he would simply set a sheet of paper down in front of me. If I could not duplicate exact wording sequence, he would tear it up and hand me another. Two failed attempts earned me a packet of ten to be filled out at home. In this arena, precision was essential. It was almost a year on station before I even touched an aircraft.

The flying was much more difficult than my ground studies. While I do not know the exact formula for the amount of knowledge an aviator loses when seated in his aircraft, I estimate I lost 80%. Learning at “1G, 0 knots” simply is not the same as executing while airborne. The combination of dynamic maneuvering and a fair amount of vomiting caused situational awareness to plummet. Despite the challenges, I earned my wings. I would soon find out that all my training had served only to provide a base layer of requisite knowledge. I had done well in the T-6, T-1 & T-39 training aircraft; but next up were fighter planes. Yet again, the demands were about to grow.

My introduction to fighters was with the T-38 (a jet whose operational equivalent depicted the Mig-28s, a non-existent jet, in the movie Top Gun). Though it was only about a dozen flights, I had information pumped at me through a fire hose. I had to learn fighting maneuvers, threat aircraft, max performance, simulated weapons release and more; all while under high stress and high G. This two-month course paved the way for my final destination in aviation, the F-15E Strike Eagle.

Learning to employ the F-15E successfully is a never-ending task. We study and train constantly in order to execute multiple mission sets. Each of these presents challenges, not the least of which involves being asked to employ ordinance designed to kill. As officers and aircrew, we have to gauge the situation and consider the law of armed conflict, rules of engagement and special instructions for our operational theater. While airborne, we often have less than five minutes to recall hundreds of pages of text and, combined with aircrew judgment, decide whether or not to take lethal action. Our decisions can and do have strategic consequences for our nation and our allies.

This decade-long journey in the military has forever improved my character and work ethic. Fifteen years ago, I began college as a bright but rudderless 17-year-old. With little passion for any particular course in life, I earned a degree but never achieved my potential; I was missing something. Shortly after I graduated, I often complained to my father about having no calling. Tired of hearing my self-pity, one day he simply said, “Damn son, do you think life should be easy? Plenty of folks just work hard every day.” It was a simple, true slap to the face. Twenty-four hours later, I joined the Air Force.

Service brought out my best, and I will give the same unwavering effort in law school that I have given in my military career. Becoming a lawyer has been a long-term goal of mine, and now that my military journey is coming to a close, I can finally pursue it. I am still drawn to public interest and believe my experience equips me for the challenge. There is a satisfaction in service that I wish to continue while seeking the rigors of a stimulating profession. In this new arena, I can finally act on my passion for the written and spoken word, for advocacy and argument.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:19 am, edited 6 times in total.

Daily_Double
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Re: Personal Statement, Draft 1

Postby Daily_Double » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:34 pm

I have zero experience with personal statements, being as I'm putting mine off until after June 10. But I can add a couple thoughts, which may improve your statement. First off, your story is great and I like the structure: memory of an interesting experience, background/training, reflection, but I feel that two things in particular could be edited:

1. Your GPA. We get it. They get it. You did poorly in school but you've become more mature. Your last paragraph is designed, or so it would appear, to communicate something along these lines. Thus, mentioning your GPA, while another clue as to what you're getting at, is unnecessary, and I feel it introduces the element which you wished to preclude, whining. Though if this could be classified as whining, it's in a small quantity, but by mentioning your GPA explicitly, your words carry the effect of making an excuse for it. Which seems counterproductive, since your own words, there's really no good excuse.

2. The rudderless youth. While I like the language, specifically the imagery that comes to mind of a ship without a rudder, I feel you are working in the wrong direction by distancing, in effect, your present self from your past self. I feel that, if instead of distance, you were to speak about synthesis, becoming who you are today by learning from your mistakes in the past and applying that knowledge to new challenges, your statement would be more effective.

Hope this helps, and good luck, you've done some great things.

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Bobson
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Re: Personal Statement, Draft 1

Postby Bobson » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:20 am

Fifteen years ago, I began college as a rudderless
. . .
Twenty-four hours later (and against my father’s recommendation), I joined the Air Force. 

Fixed both for you. Don't begin a sentence with a number.

Excellent story, excellent writing. I wish you the best of luck. Thank you for your service.

ETA:

After reading Daily_Double's two points, I want to add a quick comment. I agree with his first point regarding your GPA. I would remove your "(as evidenced by my GPA)..." bit in the final paragraph. However, I think the rest of the conclusion is excellent. I think you do a wonderful job of tying your youth into the point of your story without dwelling on the past unnecessarily. I also appreciate the mild inclusion of a personal quote from your dad.

This is the first PS I've ever read, and I won't be writing my own until this Summer semester ends. Obviously I'm not an authority on this topic; I just wanted to share my thoughts.

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alexrodriguez
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Re: Personal Statement, Draft 1

Postby alexrodriguez » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:42 am

I think this personal statement is pretty badass and is Harvard, Yale, and Stanford worthy.

Hopefully you're applying to some awesome schools.

I'm active-duty Navy right now and stationed in Diego Garcia. Thanks for sharing this. You've given me some ideas for my own personal statement.

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jselson
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Re: Personal Statement, Draft 1

Postby jselson » Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:03 am

This is a great PS (like, should be on the TLS PS examples page). Two comments:

1) As others have said, take out the GPA parenthetical.

2) In the first paragraph, I was expecting some sort of personal reflection, just a sentence or two, on what it meant for you personally/what you felt after killing for the first time (after the sentence in which you describe the instant congratulations you received). When it wasn't there and you didn't really return to it, it was jarring. Providing that reflection will bring about a roundness to your essay and character. That's my only real criticism, but I think it's substantial enough not to just look past.

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Clearly
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Re: Personal Statement, Draft 1

Postby Clearly » Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:24 am

We Air Force would-be aviators
Change to We would-be Air Force aviators.

Cut down on parenthesis throughout, too much.


This decade-long journey in the military has improved my character and work ethic. 15 years ago, I began college as a rudderless 17-year-old with little drive. Four years later, I earned a degree but achieved little growth or maturity (as evidenced by my GPA in undergrad). Shortly after I graduated, I often complained to my father about having no calling in life. Tired of hearing my self-pity, one day he simply said, “Damn son, do you think life should be easy? Plenty of folks just work hard every day.” It was a simple, true slap to the face. 24 hours later (and against my father’s recommendation), I joined the Air Force. Every day since, I have strived to put as much distance between my current self and that rudderless youth I once was.

Re-work this whole part. You take an awesome story of growth then backtrack to all this negative shit. There are ways to phrase all the points of this paragraph with a more positive spin that won't leave a bad taste in their mouth. And DEF get rid of this parenthesis thing.

Good start though for sure, should turn out great with some editing.
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Re: Personal Statement, Draft 1

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:11 am

Wow. Less than a day and already some great critiques. This is one of the reasons I've started the whole process early.

I'll be changing almost all the items you guys addressed. I really did not like the last paragraph and how it went from a story to "I KNOW MY GPA SUCKS, BUT I SWEAR TO GOD I'M A CHANGED MAN...NOW PLEASE LET ME IN YOUR LAW SCHOOL!" I was attempting to persuade intelligent people who are used to nuance with a sledgehammer, and I don't know why.

A couple other questions:

1. About half the schools on my list have a 2-page requirement, so I figured I'd just have one 2-page PS for all schools. Does that meet the sanity test? Or would you extend for others?

2. Has 11pt font become the new hotness instead of 12pt? UCLA was the only one I saw requiring 12pt. When I open Word up, it defaults to 11.

3. I saw all the anonymous posts in here and almost felt obliged to post anonymous. Are there any glaring drawbacks to posting your PS as yourself?


-Clearlynotstefan: When I read my statement again, I swear all I saw were parenthesis. Everywhere. Fear not, they'll be cut down drastically. Thanks.

-jselson: If I move to 11pt, I think I may try and do that with the first paragraph. Just so you know, the "good hits" call isn't really congratulations. It's actually a standard ground controller call for a bomb explosion where he/she intended to talk me onto. To answer your question in the meantime, all I feel is rank anxiety while the bomb is in flight and sweet relief when I see the explosion in my pod where I wanted to see it. When everyone just short of POTUS reviews pod video for drops gone bad, you want it perfect the first time.

-louie: Glad I could help with some ideas. I'm applying to a good smattering of the T14 and some stronger regional schools.

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Re: Personal Statement, Draft 1

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:00 am

Removed this post. 2nd draft at the top for those interested in a critique...

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Re: *Updated...Personal Statement, Draft 2

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:24 am

Shameless bump.

To be fair, Tigress did have a quick dozen posts burying this 2nd draft rather quickly!

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t-14orbust
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Re: *Updated...Personal Statement, Draft 2

Postby t-14orbust » Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:36 am

Definitely one of the best personal statements I've read. Of course, that is speaking in regards to the edited 2nd draft. I was too engrossed in what I was reading to actually pick up on any grammar issues lol. I'm going to assume that your answer to 'why go to law school' is expounded further elsewhere in your app, I did feel that it could use a little more of an explanation than 'growing through service.' There are a million other service opportunities out there, why law? Either way, who cares, that was badass and I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

PS - I'm really hoping you destroyed the LSAT

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Re: *Updated...Personal Statement, Draft 2

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:45 am

t-14orbust wrote:Definitely one of the best personal statements I've read. Of course, that is speaking in regards to the edited 2nd draft. I was too engrossed in what I was reading to actually pick up on any grammar issues lol. I'm going to assume that your answer to 'why go to law school' is expounded further elsewhere in your app, I did feel that it could use a little more of an explanation than 'growing through service.' There are a million other service opportunities out there, why law? Either way, who cares, that was badass and I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

PS - I'm really hoping you destroyed the LSAT


Thanks much. I'm north of 170 by a few with an absurdly low GPA. I think your advice is sound, but I definitely want to keep it to 2 pages. I'll see if I can't tweak it a bit in draft 3 to answer the "why law school" question. I'll probably answer it in my "why X law school" statements if I can't work in a sufficient enough answer in the PS.

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t-14orbust
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Re: *Updated...Personal Statement, Draft 2

Postby t-14orbust » Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:
t-14orbust wrote:Definitely one of the best personal statements I've read. Of course, that is speaking in regards to the edited 2nd draft. I was too engrossed in what I was reading to actually pick up on any grammar issues lol. I'm going to assume that your answer to 'why go to law school' is expounded further elsewhere in your app, I did feel that it could use a little more of an explanation than 'growing through service.' There are a million other service opportunities out there, why law? Either way, who cares, that was badass and I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

PS - I'm really hoping you destroyed the LSAT


Thanks much. I'm north of 170 by a few with an absurdly low GPA. I think your advice is sound, but I definitely want to keep it to 2 pages. I'll see if I can't tweak it a bit in draft 3 to answer the "why law school" question. I'll probably answer it in my "why X law school" statements if I can't work in a sufficient enough answer in the PS.


Good luck, dude. I'm rooting for you. I think your distance from UG + military + 170<score will give you some great options. Couple that with the yellow ribbon (I think this applies to you) and you are set

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Ixiion
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Re: *Updated...Personal Statement, Draft 2

Postby Ixiion » Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:29 am

As others have said, it's a brilliant piece. I wish you the best of luck!

I only have one small issue with it: While your story is definitely amazing, unique, and interesting enough to keep the attention of any adcomm there is..... your whole story talks about the Air Force. So it leaves the reader with one big question: why do you want to do law? This is just my opinion, but I think you should add a paragraph or.. something in there relating that story to why you're applying to law school/why you want to be a lawyer.

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Re: *Updated...Personal Statement, Draft 2

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:58 am

Ixiion wrote:As others have said, it's a brilliant piece. I wish you the best of luck!

I only have one small issue with it: While your story is definitely amazing, unique, and interesting enough to keep the attention of any adcomm there is..... your whole story talks about the Air Force. So it leaves the reader with one big question: why do you want to do law? This is just my opinion, but I think you should add a paragraph or.. something in there relating that story to why you're applying to law school/why you want to be a lawyer.


Thanks. So, the million-dollar question: Do I bump this guy to three pages in order to address "why law school?" I am literally at the very end of two pages with 11-pt font. I could cut some fat, but would a couple sentences be enough to address that question?

Part of me really wants this to stay at two, but I don't know that a well-reasoned "why law school" can fit in with the rest of the story in that case.

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Ixiion
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Re: *Updated...Personal Statement, Draft 2

Postby Ixiion » Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Ixiion wrote:As others have said, it's a brilliant piece. I wish you the best of luck!

I only have one small issue with it: While your story is definitely amazing, unique, and interesting enough to keep the attention of any adcomm there is..... your whole story talks about the Air Force. So it leaves the reader with one big question: why do you want to do law? This is just my opinion, but I think you should add a paragraph or.. something in there relating that story to why you're applying to law school/why you want to be a lawyer.


Thanks. So, the million-dollar question: Do I bump this guy to three pages in order to address "why law school?" I am literally at the very end of two pages with 11-pt font. I could cut some fat, but would a couple sentences be enough to address that question?

Part of me really wants this to stay at two, but I don't know that a well-reasoned "why law school" can fit in with the rest of the story in that case.


By 2 pages, do you mean it is two pages double-spaced? Because I tossed it into Word and it's barely over one page for me!

I think a couple sentences could be enough to address the question if they are concise and well-linked. You can always expand on it in your "Why X Law School" essay, as you said earlier, but at least have some mention of it in your PS.

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Re: *Updated...Personal Statement, Draft 2

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:30 am

Yes, I mean double-spaced. I think the standard is double-spaced for the PS. I think I can work in a couple sentences though (I've already got something in mind).

Thanks again!

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Re: *Updated...Personal Statement, Draft 2

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:41 am

*Removed...updated draft now first post.

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Re: *Updated...Personal Statement, Draft 3

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:07 am

OP here. Updated first post is now the current draft as of 14 July. About a month to go until the first application should go out. I've tried to incorporate the suggestions ITT, so many thanks to all those who read & critiqued.

Any criticism is welcome, even if you think it to be minutiae!

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Re: *Personal Statement, Final (pending critiques)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:22 am

Original post now has my final draft. Critiques are encouraged as this will probably be the last post for the masses until application time!

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manofjustice
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Re: *Personal Statement, Final (pending critiques)

Postby manofjustice » Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:As applications are now just days away, please provide critiques for my final draft:

I can recall with vivid clarity the first time I ended another human being’s life. Safe as I could be, in the cockpit of an F-15E above the northern Afghanistan mountains, the French troop cleared me to drop a 2,000 pound explosive on an enemy sniper shooting at NATO and Afghan soldiers. I remember the relief after seeing the explosion exactly where I intended and hearing the ground troop call “good impact” over the radio. Though I had no time for reflection while airborne, I thought about it that night. Regardless of any personal feelings about war and taking life, my duty and mission was simple: save coalition lives in accordance with the rules of engagement. I did my duty, and it gave me peace. This moment, and many others flying the mighty Strike Eagle in both training and combat, was a culmination of years of dedicated study, training and flying to become a professional aviator and officer in the United States Air Force.

My initial training took place at Pensacola Naval Air Station where we would-be aviators aspired to earn our wings. I delved into studies and required testing on aerodynamics, chart study, meteorology, rules, regulations and safety. We were required to know the “boldface” emergency procedures for every aircraft we encountered. Should an instructor desire to test my knowledge of these procedures, he would simply set a sheet of paper down in front of me. If I could not duplicate exact wording sequence, he would tear it up and hand me another. Two failed attempts earned me a packet of ten to be filled out at home. In this arena, precision was essential. It was almost a year on station before I even touched an aircraft.

The flying was much more difficult than my ground studies. While I do not know the exact formula for the amount of knowledge an aviator loses when seated in his aircraft, I estimate I lost 80%. Learning at “1G, 0 knots” simply is not the same as executing while airborne. The combination of dynamic maneuvering and a fair amount of vomiting caused situational awareness to plummet. Despite the challenges, I earned my wings. I would soon find out that all my training had served only to provide a base layer of requisite knowledge. I had done well in the T-6, T-1 & T-39 training aircraft; but next up were fighter planes. Yet again, the demands were about to grow.

My introduction to fighters was with the T-38 (a jet whose operational equivalent depicted the Mig-28s, a non-existent jet, in the movie Top Gun). Though it was only about a dozen flights, I had information pumped at me through a fire hose. I had to learn fighting maneuvers, threat aircraft, max performance, simulated weapons release and more; all while under high stress and high G. This two-month course paved the way for my final destination in aviation, the F-15E Strike Eagle.

Learning to employ the F-15E successfully is a never-ending task. We study and train constantly in order to execute multiple mission sets. Each of these presents challenges, not the least of which involves being asked to employ ordinance designed to kill. As officers and aircrew, we have to gauge the situation and consider the law of armed conflict, rules of engagement and special instructions for our operational theater. While airborne, we often have less than five minutes to recall hundreds of pages of text and, combined with aircrew judgment, decide whether or not to take lethal action. Our decisions can and do have strategic consequences for our nation and our allies.

This decade-long journey in the military has forever improved my character and work ethic. Fifteen years ago, I began college as a bright but rudderless 17-year-old. With little passion for any particular course in life, I earned a degree but never achieved my potential; I was missing something. Shortly after I graduated, I often complained to my father about having no calling. Tired of hearing my self-pity, one day he simply said, “Damn son, do you think life should be easy? Plenty of folks just work hard every day.” It was a simple, true slap to the face. Twenty-four hours later, I joined the Air Force.

Service brought out my best, and I will give the same unwavering effort in law school that I have given in my military career. Becoming a lawyer has been a long-term goal of mine, and now that my military journey is coming to a close, I can finally pursue it. I am still drawn to public interest and believe my experience equips me for the challenge. There is a satisfaction in service that I wish to continue while seeking the rigors of a stimulating profession. In this new arena, I can finally act on my passion for the written and spoken word, for advocacy and argument.


No.

First off, you're an awesome person for being a fighter pilot.

You are a horrible, pathetic person for being a fighter pilot who writes a personal statement that talks about how cool and hard and involving-of-cool-and-hard-accomplishments it is to be a fighter pilot.

You're a fucking fighter pilot for God's sake. If you were a K-JD, it still wouldn't be cool to write a personal statement about how you went through a program that demanded you know things and write them down on paper and if you didn't know the things you had to go home and learn the things. Really?

You spent your life working hard to fly fighter planes and kill people. Your second paragraph should be about something cool--reflective and profound. It should tell us about you and why you are a great person.

I got through the first sentence of the third paragraph. Normally, I would have stopped reading at the "I had to memorize things" second paragraph. But I held on because you're a fighter pilot. By the first sentence of the third paragraph, I knew it wasn't going to get any better.

Good news: this won't hurt you. (You're already helped by being a fighter pilot, but that's evident from your resume already.) But this personal statement won't help you.

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Re: *Personal Statement, Final (pending critiques)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 11, 2013 7:47 am

manofjustice wrote:No.

First off, you're an awesome person for being a fighter pilot.

You are a horrible, pathetic person for being a fighter pilot who writes a personal statement that talks about how cool and hard and involving-of-cool-and-hard-accomplishments it is to be a fighter pilot.

You're a fucking fighter pilot for God's sake. If you were a K-JD, it still wouldn't be cool to write a personal statement about how you went through a program that demanded you know things and write them down on paper and if you didn't know the things you had to go home and learn the things. Really?

You spent your life working hard to fly fighter planes and kill people. Your second paragraph should be about something cool--reflective and profound. It should tell us about you and why you are a great person.

I got through the first sentence of the third paragraph. Normally, I would have stopped reading at the "I had to memorize things" second paragraph. But I held on because you're a fighter pilot. By the first sentence of the third paragraph, I knew it wasn't going to get any better.

Good news: this won't hurt you. (You're already helped by being a fighter pilot, but that's evident from your resume already.) But this personal statement won't help you.


Wow. Spear through the jugular. Thanks for the candor though. I guess I can explain quickly what I'm shooting for with my personal statement, though given your critique I don't think it'll matter.

My GPA is poor (sub-3). My LSAT is not so poor (>170). The reason for my poor GPA was simply a lack of work ethic as a college kid, plain and simple. There will be no addendum. They will simply stare at my GPA without an explanation. I wanted to show some kind of progression through formal training with an academic tilt to it. I just want to say that I can do the damn work now that I simply didn't do years ago. I know that because I've done it, and done it under difficult/stressful circumstances.

That's what I'm trying to get across in the statement: I'm ready to work my ass off.

I'm also trying to keep the entire thing at two pages or less and make it completely comprehensible to someone who doesn't have an idea what a fighter guy actually does.

It's a bit close to game time for me to overhaul the whole damn thing, but do you have any specifics besides something cool and profound to show why I'm a great person?

Thanks.

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Re: *Personal Statement, Final (pending critiques)

Postby Ramius » Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:38 am

manofjustice wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:As applications are now just days away, please provide critiques for my final draft:

I can recall with vivid clarity the first time I ended another human being’s life. Safe as I could be, in the cockpit of an F-15E above the northern Afghanistan mountains, the French troop cleared me to drop a 2,000 pound explosive on an enemy sniper shooting at NATO and Afghan soldiers. I remember the relief after seeing the explosion exactly where I intended and hearing the ground troop call “good impact” over the radio. Though I had no time for reflection while airborne, I thought about it that night. Regardless of any personal feelings about war and taking life, my duty and mission was simple: save coalition lives in accordance with the rules of engagement. I did my duty, and it gave me peace. This moment, and many others flying the mighty Strike Eagle in both training and combat, was a culmination of years of dedicated study, training and flying to become a professional aviator and officer in the United States Air Force.

My initial training took place at Pensacola Naval Air Station where we would-be aviators aspired to earn our wings. I delved into studies and required testing on aerodynamics, chart study, meteorology, rules, regulations and safety. We were required to know the “boldface” emergency procedures for every aircraft we encountered. Should an instructor desire to test my knowledge of these procedures, he would simply set a sheet of paper down in front of me. If I could not duplicate exact wording sequence, he would tear it up and hand me another. Two failed attempts earned me a packet of ten to be filled out at home. In this arena, precision was essential. It was almost a year on station before I even touched an aircraft.

The flying was much more difficult than my ground studies. While I do not know the exact formula for the amount of knowledge an aviator loses when seated in his aircraft, I estimate I lost 80%. Learning at “1G, 0 knots” simply is not the same as executing while airborne. The combination of dynamic maneuvering and a fair amount of vomiting caused situational awareness to plummet. Despite the challenges, I earned my wings. I would soon find out that all my training had served only to provide a base layer of requisite knowledge. I had done well in the T-6, T-1 & T-39 training aircraft; but next up were fighter planes. Yet again, the demands were about to grow.

My introduction to fighters was with the T-38 (a jet whose operational equivalent depicted the Mig-28s, a non-existent jet, in the movie Top Gun). Though it was only about a dozen flights, I had information pumped at me through a fire hose. I had to learn fighting maneuvers, threat aircraft, max performance, simulated weapons release and more; all while under high stress and high G. This two-month course paved the way for my final destination in aviation, the F-15E Strike Eagle.

Learning to employ the F-15E successfully is a never-ending task. We study and train constantly in order to execute multiple mission sets. Each of these presents challenges, not the least of which involves being asked to employ ordinance designed to kill. As officers and aircrew, we have to gauge the situation and consider the law of armed conflict, rules of engagement and special instructions for our operational theater. While airborne, we often have less than five minutes to recall hundreds of pages of text and, combined with aircrew judgment, decide whether or not to take lethal action. Our decisions can and do have strategic consequences for our nation and our allies.

This decade-long journey in the military has forever improved my character and work ethic. Fifteen years ago, I began college as a bright but rudderless 17-year-old. With little passion for any particular course in life, I earned a degree but never achieved my potential; I was missing something. Shortly after I graduated, I often complained to my father about having no calling. Tired of hearing my self-pity, one day he simply said, “Damn son, do you think life should be easy? Plenty of folks just work hard every day.” It was a simple, true slap to the face. Twenty-four hours later, I joined the Air Force.

Service brought out my best, and I will give the same unwavering effort in law school that I have given in my military career. Becoming a lawyer has been a long-term goal of mine, and now that my military journey is coming to a close, I can finally pursue it. I am still drawn to public interest and believe my experience equips me for the challenge. There is a satisfaction in service that I wish to continue while seeking the rigors of a stimulating profession. In this new arena, I can finally act on my passion for the written and spoken word, for advocacy and argument.


No.

First off, you're an awesome person for being a fighter pilot.

You are a horrible, pathetic person for being a fighter pilot who writes a personal statement that talks about how cool and hard and involving-of-cool-and-hard-accomplishments it is to be a fighter pilot.

You're a fucking fighter pilot for God's sake. If you were a K-JD, it still wouldn't be cool to write a personal statement about how you went through a program that demanded you know things and write them down on paper and if you didn't know the things you had to go home and learn the things. Really?

You spent your life working hard to fly fighter planes and kill people. Your second paragraph should be about something cool--reflective and profound. It should tell us about you and why you are a great person.

I got through the first sentence of the third paragraph. Normally, I would have stopped reading at the "I had to memorize things" second paragraph. But I held on because you're a fighter pilot. By the first sentence of the third paragraph, I knew it wasn't going to get any better.

Good news: this won't hurt you. (You're already helped by being a fighter pilot, but that's evident from your resume already.) But this personal statement won't help you.


I disagree with this post. As I got into your PS, I started to roll my eyes because it seemed like a cookie cutter explanation of the training you went through to become a fighter pilot, which doesn't parallel with your opening line at all (great opening line, btw). But as I read through it, I started to see you tying in the message you were trying to send (growth and ability to retain a great deal of difficult material in difficult circumstances). That's definitely a good message to send given your low GPA.

A couple critiques I'd give though. First, as I stated before, your opening line doesn't jive with the rest of your PS. That's an intense way to start a PS that would lead me to believe I was about to read something with great pathos, but the rest of the statement's tone is way more dispassionately analytical. I felt disappointed in that.

Second, you really should find a way to better address why you want to go to law school. It might seem obvious that you're applying to law school because you presumably want to be a lawyer, but centering your PS around what you're doing now does you a disservice because it leaves the reader asking "why is he leaving something he seems to care so much about doing?" I know you're proud of what you've accomplished in becoming a fighter pilot, as you should be, but it makes me beg the question and doesn't give me much resolution on it.

Overall it was a solid PS and it'll help highlight your growth since your sub-par GPA, but I thought you could ruminate on my thoughts before submitting it.

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2807
Posts: 578
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:23 pm

Re: *Personal Statement, Final (pending critiques)

Postby 2807 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 10:55 am

A brief skim shows me that it is:
1. Full of passive voice
2. You do not know your comma rules.

Read the entire thing looking only for comma violations:
Basically, if the part after or before the comma cannot stand on its own--you are doing it wrong (unless it is a proper introduction, or qualifies for another random rule). Do not, add commas, just as an effect, thinking that you, are causing the reader to, pause. It is very annoying. When in doubt, just make two sentences. Short clear sentences are better.

then.....

Read the entire thing looking for only passive voice:
Passive writing will kill you in law school. You will see it in cases all the time, but your teacher will crush you if she sees it in your work. And good Lord ---Do not lead off with it in your PS...

Think like this: If you were arguing with someone, you would never argue in the passive voice. Write how you would argue. I do not mean "argue" as in court, I mean as in your living room.

Here are a few examples:
"I can recall with vivid clarity the first time.." ----> Just write: "I recall with vivid clarity..."
"My initial training took place at .." -----> "I was initially trained at..."
"I had done well in the T-6.." ----> "I did well in the T-6"

There are more. Go find them. Seek and destroy.

Lastly, it feels like you are reaching to use fancy expressions. It is a bit thick, and will not impress these readers.
I would edit it to be strong, clear, and purposeful. Less flowers, more force.

You have a good story. Now, sell it better to the actual reader by cleaning up some fundamentals.
NO PASSIVE VOICE
NO GRAMMAR MISTAKES.

Good luck to you. Thank you for your service.

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Posts: 273100
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: *Personal Statement, Final (pending critiques)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:07 am

Thanks matthewsean85.

I may not go all the way back to the drawing board, but there'll be some modifications for sure. I really don't want it to be a linear "this is what flight school is like." I do want to accentuate the fact that now, over a decade removed from undergrad, I am a different person.

Paragraphs 2-3-4 will probably be casualties in some form.

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jselson
Posts: 6337
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:51 am

Re: *Personal Statement, Final (pending critiques)

Postby jselson » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:15 am

2807 wrote:A brief skim shows me that it is:
1. Full of passive voice
2. You do not know your comma rules.

Read the entire thing looking only for comma violations:
Basically, if the part after or before the comma cannot stand on its own--you are doing it wrong (unless it is a proper introduction, or qualifies for another random rule). Do not, add commas, just as an effect, thinking that you, are causing the reader to, pause. It is very annoying. When in doubt, just make two sentences. Short clear sentences are better.

then.....

Read the entire thing looking for only passive voice:
Passive writing will kill you in law school. You will see it in cases all the time, but your teacher will crush you if she sees it in your work. And good Lord ---Do not lead off with it in your PS...

Think like this: If you were arguing with someone, you would never argue in the passive voice. Write how you would argue. I do not mean "argue" as in court, I mean as in your living room.

Here are a few examples:
"I can recall with vivid clarity the first time.." ----> Just write: "I recall with vivid clarity..."
"My initial training took place at .." -----> "I was initially trained at..."
"I had done well in the T-6.." ----> "I did well in the T-6"

There are more. Go find them. Seek and destroy.

Lastly, it feels like you are reaching to use fancy expressions. It is a bit thick, and will not impress these readers.
I would edit it to be strong, clear, and purposeful. Less flowers, more force.

You have a good story. Now, sell it better to the actual reader by cleaning up some fundamentals.
NO PASSIVE VOICE
NO GRAMMAR MISTAKES.

Good luck to you. Thank you for your service.


You do realize that none of the "examples" of passive voice you gave is actually an example of passive voice, right?




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