How to End a Statement?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
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How to End a Statement?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:21 am

How can I make this statement better? Is it on the right track at all? And how would you recommend I bring it to a close?

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Disregard, redoing the statement completely.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: How to End a Statement?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:40 am

To be honest, I think the title is pretentious (and unnecessary), and I think including anything about being abused and filing formal complaints makes you sound like a whiner. In particular, because you decline to go into details about the abuse, as a civilian who probably knows only stereotypes about the armed forces (see: Full Metal Jacket, every boot camp movie ever), I'm left wondering if you were dealing with abuse or simply unhappy with a particular style of military training. (Please note I'm not at all saying you are a whiner, you were wrong to file a complaint in real life, or you weren't dealing with abuse - I'm just commenting on how it sounds in a PS to a civilian.) Reading this makes me think of job interviews, where, when accepted wisdom is that someone asks why you left your last job, you never say "because it was awful and they treated me terribly," you say something about how AMAZING the new job would be and how it offers you all these things that the old job didn't. This PS seems to violate that rule.

(Part of the problem may be that I don't know from this PS why training officers as if they were privates is bad. I mean, I can guess/make up arguments, but I can also come up with arguments for the other side. I'm also unclear why something that you seem to have suggested is okay for training privates is an offense against human rights when training NCOs? That seems a bit much. So maybe that's a perspective that non-military may not understand without more explanation?)

The points about the difference between your two evaluations, and learning about leadership from someone who didn't have any, seem good and fairly interesting. But you yourself say that the important fact of the anecdote is not that you were subjected to dehumanizing treatment, but what you learned about leadership. So I would think it would be perfectly fine to talk about what you experienced, and even why you don't believe it was good training, but I would leave out the stuff about filing a complaint and personal harassment. (If you wanted to make the PS about your experience with this guy, and about pursuing justice/standing up for your rights/getting things changed and how that influenced you wanting to become a lawyer, that might work as a compelling PS as well, but it would be a completely different one from this one.)

Good luck!

Anonymous User
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Re: How to End a Statement?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:01 am

Cool, thanks a lot for that input. Just to clear the air that I am not a whiner, the complaint was on a sexual assault of another cadet.

But you're right, if I was writing to a military audience, it would make more sense than it would to a civilian, and getting into the differences that you pointed out you didn't understand would be dumb, boring, unnecessary, and obviously waaaaaaay too long.

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Re: How to End a Statement?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:04 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:(Part of the problem may be that I don't know from this PS why training officers as if they were privates is bad. I mean, I can guess/make up arguments, but I can also come up with arguments for the other side. I'm also unclear why something that you seem to have suggested is okay for training privates is an offense against human rights when training NCOs? That seems a bit much. So maybe that's a perspective that non-military may not understand without more explanation?)


That was not my intent but you are absolutely right. That is definitely how it comes across re-reading it.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: How to End a Statement?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:06 am

Yeah, I figured that wasn't what you meant and there was just a missing logical step there. :D (Also sorry for screwing up the acronyms!)

And, wow, yuck, how horrible. No, definitely not a whiner - and that could make an interesting PS, if you wanted to go there (but I understand if you don't). But something like that would provide a completely different (helpful) context for your overall theme.

canarykb
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Re: How to End a Statement?

Postby canarykb » Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:How can I make this statement better? Is it on the right track at all? And how would you recommend I bring it to a close?

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The Iniquity of an Authoritarian: Position Versus Leadership [Lose the title!

"Cadet [my name] shows an exceptional ability to lead others. His character is unyielding and he has continually demonstrated his commitment to those under his charge. I've observed his domain knowledge to be among the best of his peers and his potential as an army officer is unlimited." I'm also iffy on starting with a quote, it's kind of a cliche.

So read the last sentence of my final cadet evaluation at the U.S. Army Leadership Development and Assessment Course (here-on-out to be referred to as LDAC). LDAC is a four week course that tests ROTC cadets on essentially everything they have learned, or supposed to have learned, over the course of their three years of military instruction. Your final evaluation consists of 17 dimensions of leadership, each grades on a scale of N (non-satisfactory), S (satisfactory), or E (excellent). I received ten E's, seven S's, and zero N's, finishing second in my class overall. [This is information for your transcript or a letter of rec, grades like this should not be in a PS] While my performance was commendable, more interesting was the dichotomy between the opinion of CPT [his name] (my evaluator) and that of my cadre (instructors at my host institution). If you had asked my cadre on my performance, I was substandard and likely to fail at LDAC. This might at first glance seem odd, but with a detailed look at the atmosphere of my school, the reason is quite clear: I did not tolerate abuse. [Huh? I'm confused by the last bit of this. Also, I would be hesitant about disparaging someone else in your PS, even if it's about proving them wrong. It can come off as petty, this is about you.

While certainly not representative of the entire army, the environment I was developed in was a culture of abuse. [I would cut the first two paragraphs and start here. With a little tweaking, this could be a powerful opener. Something like: "There was a culture of abuse in the environment in which I developed in the army". Not that, but something like that that piques the reader's interest right away and lets them know the topic of your essay.] I was trained by a man whom had previously served as a drill sergeant for eleven cycles of basic training. In his opinion, the best way to train future officers was to treat them as if they were privates. Personal insults, threats of violence, unclear expectations, and punishment for a lack of unquestioning subordination were common. Without going into gross detail on his offenses against the human rights of those under him, they were numerous, and culminated in my filing of formal complaint against him. [Definitely rephrase. Also, give us a better description of how and why you filed a report. This is the action portion of your essay (in that it shows what actions you took, rather than just what you think.) I think you can go into more detail here.] Needless to say, his response to this was no a happy one. [Rephrase. This is way too informal language for a PS.] I was continually harassed and all evaluations that came from him and those he influenced were negative. Finally, after a brief investigation, he was instructed to cease contact with me. Upon his reassignment (his leaving the institution), the atmosphere changed for the better.

The importance of this anecdote [Don't need to tell them that you are explaining why the anecdote is important; just start right in.] is not the fact that I was subjected to dehumanizing treatment, it is what I learned from it. Interestingly, the man who displayed the most lack of leadership taught me the most about it: being a leader is not being a person in charge. Being a leader is inspiring others, it is a commitment to them and not yourself that gains their love and trust. Since becoming an officer, every leadership position I've held has been guided by a golden rule: treat every person with the dignity and respect that comes with being a human.

Undeniably, it did take me some time to mature, that is, my undergraduate GPA is lackluster. However, as my LSAT score indicates, I do indeed have the intellectual capacity to succeed in law school. [Don't reference your GPA & LSAT in the PS. They will already have this info. In fact, some places will read PS first, so its in your best interest to have them fall for you in the PS and then learn about the lackluster GPA later.] Beyond the numerics however, the importance of resiliency cannot be overlooked. As was described in the seemingly miserable situation above, I found the good and transformed it into a learning experience. Law school will be full of challenges, but those challenges can be overcome with the resiliency that I have proven to have.

I have dedicated my life to the service of this country, to the service of others. Law school is not an avenue to negate that commitment. I will be serving in the Tennessee National Guard as I embark on this new chapter of my life. The University of Virginia School of Law's close proximity to the specific unit I will be drilling at will allow me to study and pursue a J.D. while continuing to serve the American people. The army's doctrine states that it operates on seven core values, one of which is selfless service. My plans with a J.D. are consistent with that value. I dream being able to honor the citizens of this country by using a law degree to serve in the government: be it a clerk or an attorney with the Department of Justice. As I understand it, the University of Virginia's program is conducive to this goal. [Strong finish. Your reasons for wanting to attend UVA is compelling.]

Taking into consideration my goals, the geographic proximity of the Tennessee Army National Guard Armory in [city name], and my personality, I believe the University of Virginia School of Law is a perfect fit for me.


Unlike the others I don't think discussing abuse in the military makes you sound like a whiner. In fact, I think it shows courage to stand up to a superior and address the situation. I would recommend jumping straight in to that part of the essay and discussing your actions in a little more detail. What is the process of filing a complaint? What was the deciding factor that made you do it? What was the value you hold that made reporting this an important step for you (one which it sounds like others weren't brave enough to make). The key to a PS is SHOWING rather than TELLING your personal qualities, and the action you took says a lot about you in a positive way. I would absolutely keep the anecdote in.

There needs to be some clean-up in the 4th or 5th paragraphs that discuss being a leader and your character. This is always the trickiest part of a PS is to talk about your qualities in the way and not make it sound super hokey.

Lastly, you finish strong with a compelling reason why you should specifically attend UVA. Well done.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: How to End a Statement?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:23 pm

canarykb wrote:Unlike the others I don't think discussing abuse in the military makes you sound like a whiner. In fact, I think it shows courage to stand up to a superior and address the situation.

I agree with this, in theory; I just think that here, there's the show-don't-tell problem (don't just tell me "abuse" because I don't know what that means; if you want to get into the relationship with the trainer, show what he actually did), and also the fact that the statement seemed to be trying to make a general statement about leadership, in which case, the info about challenging the abuse comes in as a sort of sideshow. ("Here's what I learned about leadership from a bad leader, oh, and by the way, I challenged this guy and he was pissed" is less compelling than - and different from - either "here's what I learned about leadership from a bad leader, and I want to take that lesson into law" or "I want to go to law school because of what I learned in the military challenging the bad leadership of a guy who abused his trainees." I just think they're getting at two different topics, and I suppose you could address both, they just need to be integrated better.)




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