Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
fwang
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:01 am

Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby fwang » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:10 pm

Hi all,

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions/critiques/comments for my Personal Statement. I've just started it, and I guess I'm gearing it towards an overcoming obstacle / leadership growth perspective. Still a little lost on how personal statements should be directed, hopefully once apps open I will understand better... I'm also worried about it being too cheesy...

Thanks!!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DRAFT 1

For one year, I had no voice.

I did my daily routine of going to class and studying. But as soon as the school bell rang, I knew I had to go straight home – since I wasn’t allowed to speak to males, the longer I stayed around, the higher chance that would occur.

For he would always ask; even if I didn't tell, he always found out. Then, there would be trouble.

It was strange, given I was raised to be strong, independent, and hardworking, that I would listen to someone dictate my every action. But in a manner familiar to Chinese American immigrant culture, I was told not cause any trouble, or make a scene. The latter lesson came in silence – I saw my mother, who never took a day off for illness or after giving birth, because she was afraid. I saw my father, who got blamed for matters out of misunderstandings. Instead of explaining himself, he said nothing. To stay silent and struggle through was the chosen choice rather than to fight.

So even though I knew that something was wrong, I said nothing. I stayed silent amongst the threats, the requirements, the insults. The feelings of shame and self-blame filled every day, and more and more it seemed there was nowhere to turn. Worst of all, I felt weak and powerless, without a voice.

The events of that year culminated until one day, at a peak point, I truly realized I had to be the one to make it stop. I had done research to know the right decision, but was hesitating due to fear and embarrassment. But I realized even with laws and support to protect someone, one has to take the first initiative for the fight. I remember the day clearly when I decided enough was enough; I had never felt so free, strong, and scared at the same time.

After the events, I told myself I would never be the same again; I could never be the same again. When I went to college, I decided to test myself, to see my strength. It was hard at first, to pick up and try to be someone I thought I wasn't. I had almost begun to believe that I was the weak person that what dictated to me.

I challenged that image.

I found that I was strong; enough to eventually become President of what was one of the largest organizations on campus. I joined the Chinese Students’ Association (CSA) as I always had interest in Chinese culture, and US – China relations. I was elected onto the executive board my freshman year, and continued to stay on for four years. The executive board was small, given the large membership, and so allowed opportunity for leadership growth. I sought to further emphasize the point of advocacy in the organization amongst the student body. During my year as Vice President, I was in charge of planning the annual Chinese New Year show, which served as a prime opportunity to promote more of Chinese culture on campus. The responsibilities included writing the script of the show, organizing choreographers and stage direction, and promotion for audiences. By implementing a more rigorous marketing strategy and reaching out to new networks, that year’s audience reached the highest number yet, almost double of prior years. I remember standing on the stage about to give a speech, looking into the audience of hundreds and thinking that certainly, I was not weak.

I realized I could fight; well enough to argue for my standpoints even if it meant conflicting with higher authority, for the sake of the organizations and values that I represented. There was a situation when I was President of CSA where executive board members submitted an application to organize a new summer orientation event. The application was unfortunately rejected, which we had understood and accepted – until just a few days letter, the university invited our organization to join an event that they were starting for the first time; an exactly duplicate of the rejected proposal. I found myself in a difficult position. The school administration was the authority that we fell under, but I also saw the extreme frustration and anger of members, who felt cheated that their ideas could be pushed aside and copied without any regard. I decided that our voices had to be heard. I sent a formal message outlining our perspective on the situation to our advisor, who was an Assistant Director on the administration. We had an open discussion with her, and she agreed with our points, and ultimately apologized for the situation. By knowing that our concerns could be heard and discussed, the team members felt encouraged, that even as just students we could address our beliefs against authority. As President, I understood that my role wasn’t just to plan meetings, but to lead a team to do what was best for the organization. As a leader, I realized I had to represent the people I worked with, no matter what the outcome.

Most of all, I found my voice; one that could execute plans, give speeches, and advise colleagues – a voice that could also help others be heard. During my sophomore year, I was Community Service chair of my sorority, whose national philanthropy is to combat violence against women. As such, my main responsibility was to plan a week of events in October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, for advocacy of this cause. I was nervous to be planning my first big campus-wide event, but the personal drive to see this cause promoted strengthened me. During the week, I executed many new events, such as a workshop reaching out to male students, for domestic violence prevention awareness. But the most touching event of the week was the first, to-be annual paper doll project, where students were asked to write their thoughts and feelings of domestic violence on a doll cut-out. Each figure was added daily to a large banner which was hung over the student common. The dolls showed frustration, fear, encouragement, and hope. They carried the feelings of staff, students, and community who were victims, or knew someone who was a victim. People shared their own experiences and tales, and not all the stories ended happily ever after. But students would read them and became aware, and as I wrote my own reflection on the paper doll and hung it on the banner, I felt a sense of liberation – to be heard.

I have a voice, and I want to be someone who can work to convey the voices of others. Lawyers are there to defend, whether it's a company in danger of a trademark opposition, or a woman fighting for her protection. They provide counsel and advice to their client, and when the situation gets tough, are there to fight for their client. They are advocates, to help people have a voice in the face of the law. In every aspect, whether it is a case of a group or an individual, the law impacts people’s lives – a corporate litigation case affects the employees pending on the outcome; a personal injury case can result in the way a person can live his or her life.

I want to be that advocate, so that with strength and the will to fight, no matter the outcome, there will be a voice that is heard.

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t-14orbust
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Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby t-14orbust » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:17 pm

I'm lost on what this silence was caused by, what you were insulted for, and why you were ashamed. I got bored through the leadership role review and just scanned that area, so maybe it was there?

edit: Ok after re-reading it seems that your dad was the one that caused this stuff(based on his chinese parenting style?). Then you say some events occurred where you got over the silence. What happened? If anything you should write 3 paragraphs about that instead of boring us with campus org involvement.

edit: sorry if that sounded harsh, I didn't mean to be. I'm sure you're a wonderful person

fwang
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:01 am

Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby fwang » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:22 pm

hmm thanks for the input. it was actually not because of parenting, it was a relationship. so thus i'm kind of struggling with how to talk about it, since it led to my changes without being too whiny

edit: no worries. i want critique so i can make it better :)
Last edited by fwang on Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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t-14orbust
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Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby t-14orbust » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:24 pm

and where in your personal statement was I supposed to glean that from? You speak so vaguely about something that is supposed to be a defining time/experience for you. You got me interested with all these references to silence and struggle, and then said some 'events' helped you get your voice back. That doesn't help me understand how you overcame anything.

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Drake014
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Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:22 pm

Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby Drake014 » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:25 pm

fwang wrote:Hi all,

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions/critiques/comments for my Personal Statement. I've just started it, and I guess I'm gearing it towards an overcoming obstacle / leadership growth perspective. Still a little lost on how personal statements should be directed, hopefully once apps open I will understand better... I'm also worried about it being too cheesy...

Thanks!!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DRAFT 1

For one year, I had no voice.

I did my daily routine of going to class and studying. But as soon as the school bell rang, I knew I had to go straight home – since I wasn’t allowed to speak to males, the longer I stayed around, the higher chance that would occur. [This first paragraph is not grammatically correct. This should be multiple sentences.]

For he would always ask; even if I didn't tell, he always found out. Then, there would be trouble. [This isn't a mystery novel, just say who it is.]

Given that I was raised to be strong, independent, and hardworking, it was strange, given I was raised to be strong, independent, and hardworking, that I would listen tolet someone dictate my every action. But in a manner familiar to Chinese American immigrant culture, I was told not to cause any trouble, or make a scene. The latter lesson came in silence – I saw my mother, who never took a day off for illness or after giving birth, because she was afraid. I saw my father, who got blamed for matters out of misunderstandings. Instead of explaining himself, he said nothing. To stay silent and struggle through was the chosen choice rather than to fight.

So even though I knew that something was wrong, I said nothing. I stayed silent amongst the threats, the requirements, the insults. The feelings of shame and self-blame filled every day, and more and more it seemed there was nowhere to turn. Worst of all, I felt weak and powerless, without a voice. [Why? I don't understand clearly what's going on here]

The events of that year culminated until one day, at a peak point, I truly realized I had to be the one to make it stop. I had done research to know the right decision, but was hesitating due to fear and embarrassment. But I realized even with laws and support to protect someone, one has to take the first initiative for the fight. I remember the day clearly when I decided enough was enough; I had never felt so free, strong, and scared at the same time.

After the events, I told myself I would never be the same again; I could never be the same again. When I went to college, I decided to test myself, to see my strength. It was hard at first, to pick up and try to be someone I thought I wasn't. I had almost begun to believe that I was the weak person that what dictated to me.

I challenged that image.

I found that I was strong; enough to eventually become President of what was one of the largest organizations on campus. I joined the Chinese Students’ Association (CSA) as I always had interest in Chinese culture, and US – China relations. I was elected onto the executive board my freshman year, and continued to stay on for four years. The executive board was small, given the large membership, and so allowed opportunity for leadership growth. I sought to further emphasize the point of advocacy in the organization amongst the student body. During my year as Vice President, I was in charge of planning the annual Chinese New Year show, which served as a prime opportunity to promote more of Chinese culture on campus. The responsibilities included writing the script of the show, organizing choreographers and stage direction, and promotion for audiences. By implementing a more rigorous marketing strategy and reaching out to new networks, that year’s audience reached the highest number yet, almost double of prior years. I remember standing on the stage about to give a speech, looking into the audience of hundreds and thinking that certainly, I was not weak.

I realized I could fight; well enough to argue for my standpoints even if it meant conflicting with higher authority, for the sake of the organizations and values that I represented. There was a situation when I was President of CSA where executive board members submitted an application to organize a new summer orientation event. The application was unfortunately rejected, which we had understood and accepted – until just a few days letter, the university invited our organization to join an event that they were starting for the first time; an exactly duplicate of the rejected proposal. I found myself in a difficult position. The school administration was the authority that we fell under, but I also saw the extreme frustration and anger of members, who felt cheated that their ideas could be pushed aside and copied without any regard. I decided that our voices had to be heard. I sent a formal message outlining our perspective on the situation to our advisor, who was an Assistant Director on the administration. We had an open discussion with her, and she agreed with our points, and ultimately apologized for the situation. By knowing that our concerns could be heard and discussed, the team members felt encouraged, that even as just students we could address our beliefs against authority. As President, I understood that my role wasn’t just to plan meetings, but to lead a team to do what was best for the organization. As a leader, I realized I had to represent the people I worked with, no matter what the outcome.

Most of all, I found my voice; one that could execute plans, give speeches, and advise colleagues – a voice that could also help others be heard. During my sophomore year, I was Community Service chair of my sorority, whose national philanthropy is to combat violence against women. As such, my main responsibility was to plan a week of events in October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, for advocacy of this cause. I was nervous to be planning my first big campus-wide event, but the personal drive to see this cause promoted strengthened me. During the week, I executed many new events, such as a workshop reaching out to male students, for domestic violence prevention awareness. But the most touching event of the week was the first, to-be annual paper doll project, where students were asked to write their thoughts and feelings of domestic violence on a doll cut-out. Each figure was added daily to a large banner which was hung over the student common. The dolls showed frustration, fear, encouragement, and hope. They carried the feelings of staff, students, and community who were victims, or knew someone who was a victim. People shared their own experiences and tales, and not all the stories ended happily ever after. But students would read them and became aware, and as I wrote my own reflection on the paper doll and hung it on the banner, I felt a sense of liberation – to be heard.

I have a voice, and I want to be someone who can work to convey the voices of others. Lawyers are there to defend, whether it's a company in danger of a trademark opposition, or a woman fighting for her protection. They provide counsel and advice to their client, and when the situation gets tough, are there to fight for their client. They are advocates, to help people have a voice in the face of the law. In every aspect, whether it is a case of a group or an individual, the law impacts people’s lives – a corporate litigation case affects the employees pending on the outcome; a personal injury case can result in the way a person can live his or her life.

I want to be that advocate, so that with strength and the will to fight, no matter the outcome, there will be a voice that is heard.


You have some unusual sentence structure and language choices throughout. I rephrased one sentence to give you an idea. But in general, my biggest gripe is that I don't really understand what it was you were overcoming. People love underdog stories, but I feel like the picture of the adversity you were facing is murky, as is the turning point.

fwang
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:01 am

Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby fwang » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:27 pm

thanks! to be honest, i did feel it was probably vague - been showing it to ppl who knew the situation and i figured they mostly understood just from knowing the context...

i really appreciate the comments so far, and am revising accordingly :)

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t-14orbust
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Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:43 pm

Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby t-14orbust » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:28 pm

np. Adcomms won't know anything about you. After two reads I was under the impression that you were forced to be silent by your father and somehow both raised as hard-working and independent as well as submissive. Definitely needs some major content additions lol

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Drake014
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Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:22 pm

Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby Drake014 » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:29 pm

fwang wrote:hmm thanks for the input. it was actually not because of parenting, it was an emotionally/psychologically abusive relationship. so thus i'm kind of struggling with how to talk about it, since it led to my changes without being too whiny

edit: no worries. i want critique so i can make it better :)


You should probably edit the sentence about Chinese culture then and include more about the relationship and why you felt your culture pushed you to remain in it.

fwang
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:01 am

Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby fwang » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:37 pm

thanks t-14orbust and Drake014!

fwang
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:01 am

Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby fwang » Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:58 pm

Hi all,

Draft 2! I would appreciate any insight, as having some difficulty I think balancing giving too much or too little detail, being too cheesy... etc.

Thanks so much!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
For one year, I had no voice. At that time, I could not understand what went wrong. I had begun thinking my first relationship at age seventeen would mean the romantic scenes as portrayed in movies. When did it start, that I had to report every time I spoke to any male – an action deemed as absolute betrayal. I had to go straight home every day, or the more likely I would have to speak to a former male friend and then face the anger. Even at home, I had to be careful, since he would hack into my computer. I had to change my clothing to be more “appropriate,” my way of speaking, my religious perspective – since I was a detriment to all those who had to know me. A girl raised to be independent and hardworking, I walked every day with downcast eyes, afraid to see anyone.

I knew that something was wrong. But gradually, from the daily emails and calls with anger and correcting my behavior, I became convinced everything was for my own good; that he was at least helping me improve myself. When I would argue something wasn’t right, I was silenced; I had to take responsibility for turning him into a monster. The days dragged with the justifications, silence, and shame – until midnight of my eighteenth birthday. When instead of well-wishes for the next year, I was told that my life was so low, I should just end everything. I will never forget that feeling as I slumped to the ground, at the bottom of worth. I saw so clearly that nothing in this situation was improving me; that no one should ever be treated as such by anyone – and that only I could truly end the situation. I never felt so helpless and determined at the same time.

I cut ties. I got a new computer. I started speaking out, to the people who were once banned from me. I left town to travel different countries for a fresh breath of air. Against the advice of people around me, who felt I needed to be close by and supported, I went to a faraway college for a new start. The memories stayed fresh as a reminder that the events did happen; of my weakest time, and how I could never be the same again. But more so, they served as a challenge, to prove that I wasn’t the weak, helpless girl that was labeled upon me. A point of how in order to make change, one must take the first initiative to fight. A driving force that I would never be silenced again. These feelings pushed me to see truly where my determination could take me. The process to rebuild at first came as a struggle, to have courage not just to speak out and live normally again, but to a greater initiative – to be a leader, to be someone with an extensive voice.

But I found that I was strong; enough to eventually become President of what was one of the largest organizations on campus. I could lead an executive board, and plan one of biggest cultural shows on campus to bring the audience to double the number of prior years. I could inspire others to become leaders in groups, students who never imagined so, since I saw personally that even someone like me could do it. I realized I could fight, for the values I represented, even when the situation seemed unfavorable. I could stand up tall and provide arguments against higher authority, such as the school administration, or against well-seasoned debaters as an amateur in a completion, and win. I remember standing on a stage giving a speech to hundreds, and thinking that surely, I was not weak.

Most of all, I affirmed my voice; one that could execute plans, give speeches, and advise colleagues – a voice that could also help others be heard. I could create new events, such as the first, to-be annual paper doll project, where students were asked to write their thoughts and feelings of domestic violence on a doll cut-out. Each figure was added daily to a large banner which was hung over the student common. The dolls showed frustration, fear, encouragement, and hope. They carried the feelings of staff, students, and community who were victims, or knew someone who was a victim. People shared their own experiences and tales, and not all the stories ended happily ever after. But students would read them and became aware. As I wrote my own reflection on the paper doll and hung it on the banner, I felt a sense of relief and liberation – to be heard.

As I started preparing to apply to law school, I remembered those times, thinking back to why I became interested in law. To how in the aftermath of fear and domination, I swore that not only would I never let myself be silenced again, but I wanted to stop the same from happening to others. Lawyers are there to defend, whether it's a company in danger of a trademark opposition, or a woman fighting for her protection. They provide counsel and advice to their client, and when the situation gets tough, are there to fight for their client. In every aspect, whether it is a case of a group, an organization, or an individual, the law impacts people’s lives – a corporate litigation case affects the employees pending on the outcome; a domestic violence case can result in the way a person will live out his or her life. Lawyers are advocates, to help people have a voice in the face of the law.

The memories are still there, but rather than being reminders of weakness, I have turned those into the beginnings of strengths, and will continue doing so. The sixteen year old girl who felt helpless and afraid to fight now lives in the present as a woman determined to fight not just for myself, but for others. It is engrained in my actions as I look to the future for law school, to be an advocate, so no matter the outcome, there will be a voice that is heard.

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t-14orbust
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Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby t-14orbust » Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:13 pm

That was infinitely better than the last draft you posted. It still needs a lot of work in regards to sentence formatting. I also think the why law paragraph needs more fine-tuning, it seemed a little all over the place and I think it could be more specific. I'll leave grammar and structure to others, but the overall message you're sending here is soooo much better than before - I especially liked the first few paragraphs.

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lastsamurai
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Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby lastsamurai » Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:28 pm

The second draft was definitely better and shows that a little context goes a long way. Personally, I'd say that you should have someone with excellent grammar skills absolutely tear it apart. The phrasing is holding you back at the moment.

ETA: Don't use semicolons unless you know they're being used correctly.

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t-14orbust
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Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby t-14orbust » Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:29 pm

lastsamurai wrote:The second draft was definitely better and shows that a little context goes a long way. Personally, I'd say that you should have someone with excellent grammar skills absolutely tear it apart. The phrasing is holding you back at the moment.

ETA: Don't use semicolons unless you know they're being used correctly.

fwang
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:01 am

Re: Personal Statement - advice greatly appreciated!

Postby fwang » Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:35 pm

Thank you!! :)




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