Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

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Anonymous User
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Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:52 pm

Prior to my freshman year at the University of Michigan- Flint, I was eager to argue and debate anything and everything from politics and religion to my favorite sports teams and music genres. Although there is a time and place for debate, I did not use much discretion in determining the appropriate setting. Often times, my bullish insensitivity towards others resulted in hurt feelings, anger, and strained relationships; sadly, more than one friendship was lost to my sharp tongue and unwillingness to listen to opposing views. The fear of being dragged into petty arguments resulted in a tendency for people around me to keep their opinions to themselves, creating an environment in which I, by my own stubborn pride, was free from opposition. Controversial topics became taboo and were rarely discussed around me, despite the importance for me to understand others’ perspectives. Rather than seeking out the opinions, experiences, and points of view of people who were different from me, I tended to surround myself with like-minded people who came from similar backgrounds. Those who disagreed with me were often met with disrespect, anger, and an inability to compromise. I defined and divided myself by my religion and political affiliation, creating an environment of polarity around me and making it difficult to reach out to the other end of the spectrum.

During my freshman year of college, I was forced to take a class to meet the First-Year Experience general education requirement; “Intergroup Dialogue,” taught by Dr. Hillary Heinze, Dr. Jeannette Stein, and Dr. Thomas Wrobel, was the only class which fit my schedule and filled the requirement. The class focused on creating cohesive discussion between opposing groups, divided across gender, racial, or religious lines. As a student in the course, I was placed in a race dialogue. The class was facilitated by previous students of the class; in our dialogue, there was both a white and an 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.

As someone tasked with leading other students in dialogue, I realized it was hypocritical for me not to incorporate it into my discussions outside the classroom. When I joined the College Republicans on campus, I recognized within myself and the group a great deal of anger and 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. 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 for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. Towards the end of the winter semester, we held an event which reached the goal 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 become a debate, I asked Dr. Wrobel, one of the professors of the Intergroup Dialogue course, to facilitate the dialogue. Thanks to the commitment each participant demonstrated to maintaining a respectful, friendly tone, the event was a resounding success, with the members of 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.

The leadership experience I have acquired in facilitating classes and bringing two opposing organizations together has given me 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 a career in the legal field. Law school is filled with a diverse set of students, each of whom has a story to tell and a perspective to give, and my experiences with dialogue will assist me in learning every lesson I can from each of them. As an attorney, I will represent clients with every imaginable background, and they will need me to listen to them, understand their issues, and represent them to the fullest extent of my abilities. Debate will continue to have a time and place, but dialogue has become an important tool for me in my relationships and discussions, and it will continue to aid me in the future.

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Davidbentley
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby Davidbentley » Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:55 pm

I think you need to scrap the subject and re-write. In general, it's not a good idea to start by identifying your own character flaws, even if you attempt to rebuild them later. As far as "seeing the light" narratives go, the "I used to be an obstinate asshole but I met some brown folks and now i'm vaguely tolerable" story is not particularly moving. This statement is incredibly superficial and lacks any sense of your identity.

ZVBXRPL
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby ZVBXRPL » Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:11 pm

Davidbentley wrote:I think you need to scrap the subject and re-write.

Incredibly insensitive and illogical--trashing a paper because it lacks substance is poor advice. Most writers need to edit their work--it's part of writing.

I'll take a look at your PS later tonight. Also, don't bother replying to Pooradvice.

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Ramius
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby Ramius » Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:19 pm

This wasn't really a bad PS IMO, but it didn't really move me either. I read it, shrugged my shoulders and said, "meh." I think you'll be fine using this topic as a PS, but just understand that I thought it was very safe and not particularly interesting. If you want to spice it up more, you should pick a topic that the old you would've driven over someone about, hopefully in the form of an anecdote you can recall specifically, then follow on with how the new you handled similar topics at the dialogues. Really show how you evolved. That's really where you are lacking here: not nearly enough show in it. If you want it to resonate positively in the readers mind, you need to make me read about you and either picture you in it or at least cause me to think about someone I know who was just like that and how I wish they could evolve like you did. Don't tell me how you've changed, really show it to me.

You also have some editing to do with the use of passive voice and some grammatical mistakes, but those are easily fixable.

GL!

Anonymous User
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:16 pm

Honestly, I'm ok with just ok. Thanks for the feedback.

NYstate
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby NYstate » Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:37 pm

You know, this might work without the first paragraph completely. This is better than before but I don't think you should spend a whole paragraph basically putting yourself down.

I like the addition of how you applied what you learned into the political debate. I don't remember that from before but it is an improvement over the church project thing.

Think about condensing the first paragraph. You put yourself in such a negative light that it sounds hard to believe you changed.

I agree about the passive voice too. Watch out for that.

Overall, this is much better than the other drafts.

ZVBXRPL
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby ZVBXRPL » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:48 pm

Be a mindful writer. A good homemaker doesn't just fling silverware and plates on the table, but arranges them consciously and carefully. Read each sentence aloud--literally, at first. Eventually you will develop an inner ear that will allow you to note the awkwardness, wordiness, word repetition, and vagueness that are the hallmarks of mindless, bad writing. Similarly, check out "How to Not Write Bad" by Ben Yagoda.

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jselson
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby jselson » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:09 am

I have to say that I agree with pretty much everyone else here - this feels like a step back.

1) The first paragraph is far too negative, but in general I think this is just a bad way to start. You're trying to do so many narratives here: personal redemption, helping others, how you understand different types of diversity, etc., that it seems like you're trying to pull one over on the adcomms by screaming "I'm a white male, but I've turned my guilt into something positive! Don't pick a black guy over me!" There's like this weird inverse doth protest too much feeling, if that makes any sense.

2) I hate hate HATE the "I was forced to take this class" part. I can't tell if that's your feelings back then or now, but forced is such a negative word.

3) I get what you're trying to do with the last paragraph, but you say too much. Let the adcomms figure out on their own how the diverse views story fits in with law school and the law - let it be implicit, it's not as if it's a difficult leap to make.

I think I'm just confused because with the last edit, you dropped the white guilt histrionics, and everyone thought it was a definite improvement. The abstract intro was the biggest problem. That one felt like you had gotten to the right narrative frame, and you just needed to bring everything together and tighten it up. But now you've changed the whole format of the thing. I would go back to the previous draft and think about how you can bring your story into a more concrete beginning. Maybe start with a description of a dialogue you had during your race class - not just straight dialogue, but a description of the mood and movement of the conversation in that class. Just something more concrete and that stays away from your past. Remember, adcomms don't know anything about your past growing up, and if it's not something that puts you in a positive light, then you don't need to write about it. Think of it as a sort of test of your professionalism - yes, we want to know who you are as a person, but we also want to see your ability to use discretion, and a lot of what it means to use discretion is to know what to keep hidden. I think a lot of PS's falter on that last point.

NYstate
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby NYstate » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:25 am

jselson wrote:I have to say that I agree with pretty much everyone else here - this feels like a step back.

1) The first paragraph is far too negative, but in general I think this is just a bad way to start. You're trying to do so many narratives here: personal redemption, helping others, how you understand different types of diversity, etc., that it seems like you're trying to pull one over on the adcomms by screaming "I'm a white male, but I've turned my guilt into something positive! Don't pick a black guy over me!" There's like this weird inverse doth protest too much feeling, if that makes any sense.

2) I hate hate HATE the "I was forced to take this class" part. I can't tell if that's your feelings back then or now, but forced is such a negative word.

3) I get what you're trying to do with the last paragraph, but you say too much. Let the adcomms figure out on their own how the diverse views story fits in with law school and the law - let it be implicit, it's not as if it's a difficult leap to make.

I think I'm just confused because with the last edit, you dropped the white guilt histrionics, and everyone thought it was a definite improvement. The abstract intro was the biggest problem. That one felt like you had gotten to the right narrative frame, and you just needed to bring everything together and tighten it up. But now you've changed the whole format of the thing. I would go back to the previous draft and think about how you can bring your story into a more concrete beginning. Maybe start with a description of a dialogue you had during your race class - not just straight dialogue, but a description of the mood and movement of the conversation in that class. Just something more concrete and that stays away from your past. Remember, adcomms don't know anything about your past growing up, and if it's not something that puts you in a positive light, then you don't need to write about it. Think of it as a sort of test of your professionalism - yes, we want to know who you are as a person, but we also want to see your ability to use discretion, and a lot of what it means to use discretion is to know what to keep hidden. I think a lot of PS's falter on that last point.


These are good points. I think he could just start with the class. This one is hard for me to comment on because I don't really relate to his story.

All he needs to say is - gee I came from a very conservative small town that lacked diversity. When I got to college and was exposed to a more diverse and complicated group, I realized my past beliefs had to change.

The biggest impact came from a class I initially resisted taking. ...,

But better, you know.

I just don't think he is going to be able to come up with the immediacy of examples we've suggested before. The thing with the debate was pretty good and might be the best he can do.( without getting into racial/ wealth stereotyping like before.)

He is writing about a very tricky subject but it is clear he was profoundly changed by this class and being invited as a peer facilitator is a good sign of his growth.

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Roll Fizzlebeef
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby Roll Fizzlebeef » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:07 am

Get rid of the professors' name. Even if you don't mean to, it smacks of name-dropping.

1.) As for being "ok with just ok," this is NOT the mindset you should have. You don't really get two shots at this, so take it seriously. If you're ok with just ok only because you're tired of writing drafts, get over it, or you're not going to have a good time in law school. If you're tired of writing drafts because you're "meh" about what is generally a "meh" topic, and, to some degree, risky, find a new one. I probably went through 3-4 topics that had 2 semi-drafts each about the usuals. Drafts about quotes, life philosophies, influences. I finally decided to write about one of my hobbies, and I actually enjoyed writing and editing it. You have bits and pieces in here you could probably run with that will leave readers with a better taste in their mouths.

2.) Some of the stuff in here, from the main topic ("I'm not a jerk anymore") to the dialogue creation, aren't bad per se. Your delivery leaves something to be desired and, as others have stated, is really kind of off-putting. All I get from the first paragraph is "Hey, I was a jerk!" and then I spend the rest of it being skeptical that you've actually changed. And then you kind of just throw in a bunch of stuff at the end. But this is good. Not because you need, or want, it all in there, but because you have identified material to work with. Someone mentioned not showing enough - they're right. That dialogue you created seemed very important to you. Why not focus on that? You don't have to start off telling us how close-minded you were.

3.) Your last paragraph is almost as unnecessary as your first. I know you want to tie everything up and apply it to law school, but you need to develop your themes more before you can do that.

Anonymous wrote:[M]y experiences with dialogue will assist me in learning every lesson I can from each of them.

You're trying to get into law school, not win Miss America. You won't meet everyone, you won't learn every lesson possible, and adcomms know that. It makes you sound either naive or disingenuous. Scale it back a bit - only Sith deal in absolutes.

Anonymous wrote:As an attorney, I will represent clients with every imaginable background, and they will need me to listen to them, understand their issues, and represent them to the fullest extent of my abilities.

While the every imaginable background part is debatable, and probably suffers from a little bit of the above, the overall sentiment is still something the reader knows. If you want to keep this part, show it. Maybe something along the lines of "I now know I can interact and empathize and understand people from different backgrounds with different problems, because I've forced myself to be able to do that."

Anonymous wrote: Debate will continue to have a time and place, but dialogue has become an important tool for me in my relationships and discussions, and it will continue to aid me in the future.


Not terrible, but not great. Maybe something more like "Dialogue is now my go-to" or something similar.

Obviously, take everything with a grain of salt. Or don't take it at all. Your call.

Anonymous User
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:19 am

NYState, your last sentence hits it on the head, and it's what I'm trying to show. As far as the intro, I was trying to make it more personal, and it's really not all that different than the previous intro, but I changed all the abstract "societal problems" motif into a more personal, "I/me problem" theme. I may have taken it too far.

I might drop the intro paragraph and add an anecdote about the topic I spoke on during the Republican/Democrat dialogue (same-sex marriage), and how my message and delivery were different than they would have been prior to taking the class. Does that seem like a decent idea, or is it a disastrous topic to broach?

Also, Roll Fizzlebeef, thanks for the input. Regarding the name dropping, I used the professor's name because he is writing a LOR for me, and I was trying to create a correlation. Maybe it's a bad idea, but there's a purpose behind it. Also, as far as the "I'm ok with it being ok" thing goes, it's not so much that I'm tired of editing or writing drafts, but my target school (UMich) would seem to be within reach with the other components of my app, so a solid PS that neither helps nor hurts me might be better than a PS which could drastically affect my chances in either direction. Perhaps I'm wrong.

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Roll Fizzlebeef
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby Roll Fizzlebeef » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:55 am

Anonymous User wrote:I might drop the intro paragraph and add an anecdote about the topic I spoke on during the Republican/Democrat dialogue (same-sex marriage), and how my message and delivery were different than they would have been prior to taking the class. Does that seem like a decent idea, or is it a disastrous topic to broach?

Also, Roll Fizzlebeef, thanks for the input. Regarding the name dropping, I used the professor's name because he is writing a LOR for me, and I was trying to create a correlation. Maybe it's a bad idea, but there's a purpose behind it. Also, as far as the "I'm ok with it being ok" thing goes, it's not so much that I'm tired of editing or writing drafts, but my target school (UMich) would seem to be within reach with the other components of my app, so a solid PS that neither helps nor hurts me might be better than a PS which could drastically affect my chances in either direction. Perhaps I'm wrong.


Re: names, that makes more sense. Sorry, wasn't aware of that. I'm somewhat indifferent towards it now, but I feel like a prof. would normally address that in their LoR. Except you can never be sure about that, so, your call.

Re: Ok w/ ok, that makes more sense. I'm just approaching it from a "Don't highlight your flaws, highlight your achievements." I think you could probably stick with the same overall theme and tweak it a little and have a much more positive spin. I haven't seen earlier drafts, but I still believe that your opening is a little too harsh of a light. Maybe even just tone it down a little, or mention that you were passionate but that closed you off to other aspects, etc.

It seems if you spoke specifically on same sex you might be able to use that to highlight your changes. Since you're approaching it from a "I should approach things with an open mind, even if I don't necessarily agree," I don't think you'd have to worry about it coming off as divisive - you're not really arguing for or against within your PS itself. It's more of an envelope as opposed to the actual letter within the envelope.

Sorry if I came off a little terse, that was my fault. Sleep has been a rare visitor the past few days.

Anonymous User
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:29 am

Roll Fizzlebeef wrote:Sorry if I came off a little terse, that was my fault. Sleep has been a rare visitor the past few days.


No apology necessary. I wasn't offended, and I appreciate you taking the time to critique my work.

socraticmethod
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Re: Final Draft (Hopefully)- Please Provide Input

Postby socraticmethod » Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:19 pm

Here's my opinion. It may not be the most sensitive one around, but since you wanted an honest opinion, I can't sugarcoat it.
To start off, there's no subject matter that is unworthy. It's just how you present if. Unlike one of the earlier posters, I don't think it's a bad idea to highlight personality flaws. Deluding the adcomm to thinking that you possess no flaws is inherently counterproductive
So your theme is about the growth from an insensitive, brutish opinionated person to a facilitator of dialogue. While that certainly demonstrates a growth pattern, maybe consuming two pages and great detail towards this growth is not the best idea. Here are my reasons why:
1. The study of law not only necessitates a comprehension of both sides of a debate, but requires one to develop the capacity to argue for or against the sides. With your theme, you're telling them that you've come halfway through the process up to the point where you have shed your adamant nature and are now, facilitating dialogue to collaboratively pursue shared objectives. While law school undoubtedly is tasked with taking you across the other half of the bridge, I think you've focused too heavily on the your personal growth.
2. Your statement doesn't reveal to me any of the ideas/beliefs that you're passionate about, except for a brief mention of dialogue on gun ownership laws, marriage and tax. So you've been an active and passionate speaker and debater on everything under the sun for a really long time now. And your statement is about how the staunchness of your beliefs clouded your perspective and how you grew out of it.

Given how you amplify the passion for your ideas and beliefs, I would suggest compressing the first three paragraphs into two and tying in a story on a particular issue and why it is important to you, how your ideas were shaped by a differing perspective and how you hope to gain infinitely more from such conflict at law school.
That being said, it's a well-written statement. Remember man, law schools like to learn about you as well as your ideas.
Food for thought: A theme on the lines of the currently polarized american electorate and your ideas for change would fit neatly into your story.




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