New Draft- Please Critique

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New Draft- Please Critique

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:27 pm

Dialogue seems to be rapidly diminishing as a form of communication in American society. We seem to debate everything instead, firmly choosing one side of an argument and fixating on the flaws of the other side. Topics such as politics, sports and taste in music are fiercely argued, with discussion often deteriorating into hurt feelings, anger, and the tendency to keep our opinions to ourselves. Controversial topics have become taboo and are rarely discussed openly and freely, despite their importance to society and the need for conversation and understanding. Rather than seeking out the opinions, experiences and perspectives of people who are different from ourselves, we tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people to us who come from similar backgrounds. We define and divide ourselves by race, religion, socioeconomic status and political party, often creating an environment of polarity, making it difficult to reach across to the other side.
During my freshman year at the University of Michigan- Flint, I was fortunate to take a class which strives to help people overcome their anxiety of boundaries. “Intergroup Dialogue,” taught by Dr. Hillary Heinze, Dr. Jeannette Stein, and Dr. Thomas Wrobel, focused on creating cohesive discussion between opposing groups, whether they be divided across gender, racial or religious lines. As a student in the course, I was placed in a race dialogue. The class is facilitated by previous students of the class, and in our dialogue, there was both a white and African-American peer facilitator who helped us discuss our different perspectives and experiences in American culture. At the end of the semester, we collaborated in a group research project, studying the effect of race on Christianity. The following year and this, my third and final year of college, I was asked to return to the class as a peer facilitator. It has provided me with an opportunity to have thoughtful, empathetic discussions with people I have not always agreed with, learn from wonderful students from a variety of backgrounds, and lead a group of my peers in discussions which lead to understanding, cohesion and friendships which otherwise may not have existed.
When I joined the College Republicans on campus, I noticed within the group and within myself a great deal of negativity towards the Democratic Party. My experience peer facilitating “Intergroup Dialogue,” however, changed my attitude and goals for the group when I became president in the fall semester of 2012. I decided our club should aim to work with the College Democrats to create a peaceful political environment on campus in which conservative and liberal students can speak their minds without fear of retribution from the other party. I reached out to the president of the College Democrats and he agreed to hold recruitment events together. Shortly thereafter, we held a food drive together, collecting food items for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. Towards the end of the winter semester, we held an event which reached my goals of creating a cohesive political environment. Calling it a public dialogue rather than a debate, we discussed issues such as gun rights and restrictions, the federal budget deficit, the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage. The rules were simple: we could state and support our own positions and ask questions regarding the other party’s positions, but we could not attack the other party’s arguments. To ensure it would not deteriorate into a debate, I asked Dr. Wrobel, one of the professors of the “Intergroup Dialogue” course, to facilitate the dialogue. The event was a resounding success, with each club shaking the others’ hands and going out for pizza afterwards; this fall semester, we will be holding a dialogue series, with multiple events focused on singular subjects so as to focus on them more intently.
Although one dialogue event seems small and insignificant, it was a significant achievement which would not have been possible without the contributions of many people with different perspectives and backgrounds. Without the professors, peer facilitators and students who helped mold me and my attitudes, I would not have been able to bring the fundamentals of dialogue into the political atmosphere to the University of Michigan- Flint. Without the president of the College Democrats being open to working together, no such event would have ever existed, and the two organizations would not have such a wonderful working relationship. The leadership experience I have acquired in facilitating classes and bringing two opposing organizations together has given me the confidence that I can impact the environment around me in a positive way. I am certain the experiences I’ve had and the education I’ve received in dialogue will continue to serve me well as I pursue law school and a career in the legal field.

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Re: New Draft- Please Critique

Postby Ramius » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:41 pm

All in all, this is a quality PS. You showed there was an issue, showed how you approached fixing it and gave resolution on the success. If I were an adcomm, I would look positively on this.

As for critiques, the beginning can be significantly cut down and made more specific to you. I would much prefer you stay away from talking about the state of discourse in the US as your introduction. Instead, try to find a way you've seen this lack of discourse in your own life and use that as a launching pad for a discussion of that course.

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Re: New Draft- Please Critique

Postby nagelbett » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:51 pm

I like it. It seems genuine, it is easy to read, and not too long.
Sometimes I read the drafts for fun and rarely make it past the first paragraph. This was not the case for this draft, which also why think it is worth keeping the beginning as it is.

Good luck

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Re: New Draft- Please Critique

Postby risanian » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:18 am

I agree with the prior posts especially Matt's. This is one of the better PS I've read, but i too would recommend you make it a little more personal when introducing your main topic.

You can also post your PS on [Hi, I'm trying to spam you!], its a free PS peer review website. Good luck.

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Re: New Draft- Please Critique

Postby Emma. » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:30 am

Pretty good. Needs polishing & thorough grammar check (little things, e.g. I don't think Intergroup Dialogue needs to be in quotes at all, but almost certainly not after the first instance) but this is a pretty original PS, which is unusual & refreshing.

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Anastasia Dee Dualla
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Re: New Draft- Please Critique

Postby Anastasia Dee Dualla » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:58 am

Emma. wrote:Pretty good. Needs polishing & thorough grammar check (little things, e.g. I don't think Intergroup Dialogue needs to be in quotes at all, but almost certainly not after the first instance) but this is a pretty original PS, which is unusual & refreshing.

Like Emma, there was one or two grammar issues, but overall, a really solid PS.

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Re: New Draft- Please Critique

Postby jselson » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:40 am

I like lists, so here's a list:

1) Please use the Oxford comma; it is standard American usage.

2) On the subject of commas, make sure to separate independent clauses connected with a conjunction by use of a comma, and make sure to use semicolons rather than commas for the "broader" list when you have lists within list. For example, "I like to play guitar, mandolin, and banjo; hike, bike, and swim; and organize my fantastically eclectic collection of yodeling vinyls."

3) Keep your verb tenses consistent. For example, your second paragraph begins by describing the class in the present tense (the class "strives"), but quickly shifts to the past tense (the class "focused").

4) Remember to keep your language as inclusive and positive as possible. You do a generally good job of this, but it was awkward when I read "we held an event which reached MY goals" instead of "OUR goals." This is especially important for your PS since inclusivity is the entire theme.

As for the intro, at first it was really grating, like watching CNN, but by the end of the paragraph, it was okay, at least you're sincere, but I still think it's too cliché ridden. Idk, "divisive times" is always one of those convenient problems that society is always "developing," and yet in reality divisions have always been pretty fierce. I personally would do something less abstract.

One other thing: while "dialogue" vs. "debate" is nice and all, the PS comes off a little as seeming as if you think debate is in general worse than dialogue, with the latter being defined as not arguing with each other. It begins to verge into hippy-dippy "Why can't we all just get along?" territory. I think it's an easy fix, though - frame the dialogue event not as "better" than a debate, but as an experiment, a different sort of ontological thing, and acknowledge that debate has its place, but it should have a more symbiotic relationship with dialogue. I mean, it'd be a weird thing to want to be a lawyer who doesn't want to argue, ya know?

But in general, this is a lot better than the previous PS, and not one to give adcomms any pause.

Go make it perfect!

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Re: New Draft- Please Critique

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:26 am

Alright, thanks for the feedback everyone. I will write an alternative, more personalized introduction and edit the grammar throughout.

Thanks again!

Ti Malice
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Re: New Draft- Please Critique

Postby Ti Malice » Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:04 pm

Well, thanks to matthewsean85 and jselson, I have nothing to say. There's plenty to work on, but this has promise.

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Re: New Draft- Please Critique

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:09 pm

Here is a revised version:


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