Attempt Number 2

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
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Attempt Number 2

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:01 pm

Rip it up again, guys. Thanks.

I was born and raised in Flushing, Michigan, a suburb twenty minutes outside of Flint. Flushing is a predominantly white, middle-class town with almost no diversity and even fewer challenges to the status quo. I went to church, school and hockey, and everyone was exactly like me: Christian, English-speaking, heterosexual, upper- or middle-class and, of course, white. I grew up in the portrait of the American Dream, which is to say, American Privilege. Despite living twenty minutes outside of one of the most crime-filled cities in the United States, I was mostly unaware of the troubles outside my heavily insulated bubble besides the crimes reported on the nightly news. I went to a high school where students complained at the ‘lack’ of Advanced Placement courses offered; apparently, fifteen weren’t enough. Our teachers openly complained about having their salaries cut, despite maintaining the highest salaries of any school district in the county, and every teacher, administrator, and coach in the school was white. As a result, I had a closed mind coming out of high school, and I angrily debated anyone who had the audacity to disagree with me.
I was forced to take a first-year experience course during my first year of college. To fill this requirement, I took a class titled, “Intergroup Dialogue.” The first day of class, each of us was placed in a different dialogue; I ended up in a race dialogue. I figured it would be an easy class, in which I would be able to finally preach against the evils of affirmative action, fulfill a general education requirement, get an effortless “A,” and go along my merry way. But, something happened: as we learned how to dialogue rather than debate, I started listening to my fellow classmates about the experiences they had. About how they are watched closely every time they step into a store, how they grew up in neighborhoods that weren’t safe to walk through at night, and how few resources their high schools had. My perspectives began to change, and I realized how different my childhood had been from my colleagues’.
As the class continued, we bonded as a group, and we eventually completed an intergroup collaborative research project analyzing the factors of race within Christianity and the divide that exists between predominantly black and predominantly white churches. The professors were impressed with our project, and they asked me to come back to facilitate future dialogues. Since then, I have facilitated dialogues focused on gender and religion in addition to race. In each class, I oversee a group of privileged students such as myself, whether they are white, male or Christian. Another facilitator oversees a group of students on the opposite side of the spectrum. The focus of the class is to analyze the concepts of privilege within modern American society and to get students like myself to understand that despite Jim Crow laws being overturned, women’s rights making huge strides, and our First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, racism, sexism and xenophobia still exist in America. We teach our students the principles of dialogue, the importance of active listening, and the need for mutual understanding between two parties, even if disagreement remains.
I have taken these lessons to heart, and I am taught more and more with every dialogue I facilitate. I have worked hard to incorporate the principles I teach into my everyday life, using fewer debate tactics and more soft dialogue strategies. When I became the president of the College Republicans, I found there was a distinct anti-Democrat attitude held within the group, and I immediately sought to change it. I contacted the president of the College Democrats, and we discussed holding a public dialogue event, in which neither party attacked the other, but supported their own positions and tried to come to common ground. The event went seamlessly, despite discussing controversial topics such as same-sex marriage, the budget deficit, healthcare and gun rights and restrictions. The two groups, while still opposing each other’s views politically, now work together often, even holding a mutual can drive for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan last year. During the fall semester of 2013, we are expanding our dialogue plans, holding a dialogue series, in which we will be holding dialogue events once a month from September through December in order to focus more closely on individual issues. Through the open nature of the groups’ relationship and the willingness to discuss our differences rather than point fingers, we have created a peaceful political environment on campus. As a result, both groups have seen an increase in membership and more willingness to get involved.
The concepts behind “Intergroup Dialogue” have altered my attitudes and perspectives and assisted me in ways I never could have imagined. Not only has it helped me bring two opposing parties together, at least on the University of Michigan- Flint campus, but it has helped me in relationships with my supervisors at work, my family at home, and with friends I may have disagreements with. They taught me how to talk to other people respectfully, and more importantly, how to listen. These are not skills relegated to the classroom or political realm, but rather, they can be attributed to any encounter with any person I meet. These skills will continue to benefit me as I move forward in life, law school and my career, and I hope to continue to use them to help create bridges between people and groups who believe they are too far apart to ever connect.

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WhiteyCakes
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby WhiteyCakes » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:14 pm

You never relate this to law school or becoming a lawyer. At the end, I'm left saying "So what? Why does any of this matter?"

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ArtistOfManliness
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby ArtistOfManliness » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:18 pm

WhiteyCakes wrote:You never relate this to law school or becoming a lawyer. At the end, I'm left saying "So what? Why does any of this matter?"


Did you not see him mention "law school" in the last sentence? Come on bro, play attention.

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mvonh001
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby mvonh001 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:48 pm

While i am not of the camp of "say you wanan go to law school" in your PS. I don't see how this tells us anything about you except that you grew up in a white neighborhood and learned about other races in college.

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mvonh001
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby mvonh001 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:57 pm

IWhile I like the idea of you talking about an event that changed your life, I think that the discussion about how a seminar class opened your eyes about race relations in the USA is a little bit -how should i put this- stupid? Not that it didnt impact your life a great deal, but writing about it makes you seem very simple, especially when you just write about it and not show us how it effected your life. For example, say you took this class, met a classmate who was black/ or another minority, and became best friends with him, then through some web of circumstances had to stand up for him against someone of your own race... something like that would be more emotionally jarring than what you wrote.

AND would show your dedication to a cause and to beliefs despite what the general consensus around you is. A strong attribute i think.

Anonymous User
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:18 pm

mvonh: In the latter half of the essay, I was trying to illustrate leadership skills derived from lessons learned. I was focusing more on dialogue and less on race because it flowed better into the CR discussion. Perhaps I should scrap the race discussion and focus more intently on the issue of dialogue in general.

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mvonh001
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby mvonh001 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:35 pm

I don't really see what you are mentioning. What i see is - basically - You grew up wealthy white with no experience with black people. You went to college and met a black person in your dialogues class. You realized how different you are. You did well on a project together. You taught that class (I think that is what you said, even though i don't believe they would have a student teach a college level course). You became president of republicans of america (resume said this already). You used your skills learned from your class to bring together your crew and your rivals once, now you guys meet on the reg. You were taught lessons that help your life skills....

Is that the gist of it.. Now from that I see a big deviation. You started about race, but left that entirely once you brought up your republicans... Maybe you shuold address race the entire time, or completely avoid it.

I would have to go something like this --
You grew up wealthy white with no experience with black people. You went to college and met a black person in your dialogues class. You realized how different you are. You did well on a project together. You taught that class (I think that is what you said, even though i don't believe they would have a student teach a college level course). You had more experience in bringing together other whie naive kids with black urban youths. You facilitated in closing the racial divide in your school. You were taught lessons that help your life skills....

OR

You grew up wealthy white with no experience of people who are liberals. You went to college and met a liberal in your dialogues class. You realized how different you are. You did well on a project together. You taught that class (I think that is what you said, even though i don't believe they would have a student teach a college level course). You became president of republicans of america (resume said this already). You used your skills learned from your class to bring together your crew and your rivals once, now you guys meet on the reg. You were taught lessons that help your life skills....

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jselson
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby jselson » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:48 pm

First off, this is a big improvement over the last one - it is actually recognizable as a PS, and one that has some thought behind it. There's a fairly clear narrative - you grew up in a not-so-diverse place, college taught you to not just be more open-minded, but to believe in and practice the value of dialogue, and you made a positive contribution to your campus's political culture because of that.

So, your PS is no longer in the "will definitely underperform his numbers" category, and is now in the "slightly embarrassing white guilt" category. (I'd actually venture a guess that a LOT of PS's from white students and TFA'ers fall into this category, since they're trying to make up for not getting a URM boost. See this amazing Onion article: http://www.theonion.com/articles/my-yea ... e-a,28803/ ). I think you would still get into a T14 with it (not with the last one), although scholarship money would be slim. And since the first half is the worst, I would be worried adcomms wouldn't pay attention to the payoff/application of the lesson in the second half.

I think you should cut down the white guilt stuff in the first half a TON, really condense it to almost nil (like, a sentence that says "My hometown wasn't very diverse - blah blah blah examples/color - but in college I learned the social importance/value of really engaging with a lot of different viewpoints/personal backgrounds/experiences, and not to let that override the sense of a genuine community blah blah John Stuart Mill quote"), and focus more on bringing together the party organizations for the event. The second half reads, imho, a lot better than the first, but is still too tell-y rather than show-y. I'd use the freshman course and you helping lead part of it as more of where you developed the diversity/dialogue value and practical mediation skills (in like no more than a paragraph or so) rather than focusing so much on race, at least in the white guilt-y way you do now.

Edit: OP, diversity was a theme running through my PS, although mine's quite different from yours, but pm me if you'd like to see what I did.
Last edited by jselson on Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

NYstate
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby NYstate » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:56 pm

Are you serious with this? I didn't see the first one it I'm a little horrified by this. Take out the first paragraph. You sound like a moron if you claim to have no interest in Detroit. Reading this makes me dislike you. You don't want ad comms to react this way. You want to be as positive about yourself as possible.

Do you have any other topics? Nothing else happened in your life?
Last edited by NYstate on Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jselson
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby jselson » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:58 pm

NYstate wrote:Are you serious with this? I didn't see the first one it I'm a little horrified by this. Take out the first paragraph.

Do you have any other topics? Nothing else happened in your life?


Here's the original: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=214434

NYstate
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby NYstate » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:03 pm

jselson wrote:
NYstate wrote:Are you serious with this? I didn't see the first one it I'm a little horrified by this. Take out the first paragraph.

Do you have any other topics? Nothing else happened in your life?


Here's the original: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=214434


I'm afraid to read it. I edited my comment above not to be overly harsh but to fully convey my reaction to this PS.

Maybe OP could write about something else entirely. I don't know how to fix this one.
---//

Ok. I read that one.
OP: you need to read a bunch of PS to get a handle on what to write.
Really, all you have to do is try not to mess this up. You have good numbers; give them a reason to like you.

If you want to talk about the seminar, make it more specific. Don't use either of these attempts.
Last edited by NYstate on Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:08 pm

Never said I didn't have an interest in Detroit. I planned on removing the first paragraph. What about the second half is so bad?

NYstate
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby NYstate » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Never said I didn't have an interest in Detroit. I planned on removing the first paragraph. What about the second half is so bad?


Honestly, you still sound like a douche. I'm sure you arent at all like that- don't write about people by label of white or Christian. Don't call yourself privileged. Just lose all that stereotyping of the world.

Why not focus on some specific incident or project- like the one about the churches if you can avoid calling them black and underprivileged.

The project and the seminar sound like they are worthwhile things. You just aren't describing it correctly. You aren't giving an insight into yourself.


Edit: maybe you could talk about the goals you have for the class, how you help the class reach those goals, why those goals are important to you and how much teaching this class means to you.
Last edited by NYstate on Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jselson
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby jselson » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:21 pm

NYstate wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Never said I didn't have an interest in Detroit. I planned on removing the first paragraph. What about the second half is so bad?


Honestly, you still sound like a douche. I'm sure you arent at all like that- don't write about people by label of white or Christian. Don't call yourself privileged. Just lose all that stereotyping of the world.


Top-notch advice.

Anonymous User
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:30 pm

jselson wrote:
NYstate wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Never said I didn't have an interest in Detroit. I planned on removing the first paragraph. What about the second half is so bad?


Honestly, you still sound like a douche. I'm sure you arent at all like that- don't write about people by label of white or Christian. Don't call yourself privileged. Just lose all that stereotyping of the world.


Top-notch advice.


Alright, thanks guys. I'll be back for another beating- I mean, more advice on another attempt- in a couple days.

I really do appreciate it- I learn more from trial and error than by imitation, so I'm feeling my way around.

NYstate
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby NYstate » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:46 pm

Really focus on making it as specific and active as possible. And include something that shows insight to yourself- like: after experiencing the power of open communication, I became passionate about helping other students learn how to mediate differences, so I ...[took a leadership role] my goals for my students are to learn to listen with open minds... To facilitate this goal I lead them in a [specific exercise] [ result from the exercise with specific detail- powerful story ]


But write it better than that.
Or, whatever, just be specific and tightly focused. One or two powerful stories might work here.

Please don't take my comments personally. This is the advantage of having someone who doesn't know you read the PS. I'm reacting like a stranger. Just as an ad comm would.

Anonymous User
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:59 pm

I'm not taking anything personally. Honestly, this is exactly what I was going for. Thanks for being brutally honest.

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mvonh001
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Re: Attempt Number 2

Postby mvonh001 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm not taking anything personally. Honestly, this is exactly what I was going for. Thanks for being brutally honest.


way to take criticism. 8)




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