1st personal statement... comments on style?

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patfeeney
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1st personal statement... comments on style?

Postby patfeeney » Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:15 pm

I'm about 2/3 of the way through the very first, super-rough draft of my personal statement. It's extremely long, mostly because I tend to empty my brain out before editing. I've decided to post it here before finishing it, mostly because I'm paranoid the style is not right.

I've been relying heavily on first-person references (meaning saying "I thought, I did, I waited," etc. at nearly every possible opportunity) to the point which I'm nervous it will reflect bad writing to the admissions committees. I also am afraid I'm focusing more on my ideological development than on what I've actually done.

Below is what I have so far. In short, doest it sound like I'm heading in the right direction? My top choices are Yale, Penn, and Cornell, so this will be an equally huge part of my application.
(Note - the ellipses are where I've left off writing to complete later. The numbers are paragraph markings; I intend to have the whole thing polished off between 5-8 paragraphs when finished.)


_________________________________________________________
The atmosphere in the Secretariat building of the United Nations headquarters in New York City can be markedly different from the cosmopolitan image visitors experience when touring the complex. In a time of diplomatic conflict, such as in the 2012 when a stalemate of Syria negotiations stretched through months of heated Security Council meetings, the atmosphere is heated and incredibly intense. However, it is in moments like these where one can best witness diplomacy in the real world.
My supervisor, [News Organization]’s United Nations correspondent and one of the organization’s remaining original reporters, warned me that understanding the Syrian conflict would require weeks of research before setting foot in Turtle Bay. While waiting for my internship to start, I sweated out the first hot days of a New York City summer and grabbed every headline I could find on the situation of the Middle Eastern nation.

I figured that negotiations between United Nations ambassadors would be as fast-paced and heated as the headlines that shipped out of the Gaza strip every day, becoming a sort of ideological warfare between supporters and opponents to the Assad regime.
...
[My first day at the UN, which just happend to be my 20th birthday, was decidedly low-key. I was assigned to wait at the stakeout, a small roped – off area for journalists to wait until Security Council members emerged from the chambers. My only job was to tally off who filed out and, in the case of some supremely important statement or quote by an ambassador, to shoot an email to [my supervisor]. I also carried a little notebook to write down any strange or exciting sights that unfolded around the press are. This was the world stage and I had to be ready for anything.

The meeting started around 9 AM. U sat eagerly waiting for the doors to swing open at any moment. Other reporters, from indie blogs like the Inner City Press up to big-name corporations like Al Jazeera, rested more assured, scanning through twitter fees or playing games on their phones. An hour passed. I went to the bathroom and bought a coffee. Two hours passed. I started catching up on diary entries I should have written two years before. Three hours and I was about to nod off at any moment.

That was when the doors swung open. Laptops slammed shut, phones were thrown in bags, microphones were pulled out, and before the first diplomat could come out everyone had congregated around the press podium.

Then someone came out, one of the Permanent 5 members. He came up to the microphone as the room fell to a hushed silence. I pulled out my oen and paper as he started to speak. “What is happening in Syria,” he said as camera rolled and shuttered, “may be considered crimes against humanity.”

That’s some hard stuff, I thought. I pulled out my phone I shot an email to Richard.

After a few more minutes of speaking, another P5 member came to the podium. By and large, they said exactly what the previous ambassador had said. Nevertheless, I sent [my supervisor] more emails. He replied back: “Anything else?” This struck me as an odd question, but I told him, No, that was it.


[I read my quotes off to [my supervisor]. “Anything else?” he asked. I told him no. “Were those quotes significant?” I asked. “They’ve been saying that for the past three months,” he replied.]
I was shocked. After months of sounding off about human rights violations, they’re still making pronouncements from a podium? That didn’t seem like diplomacy at all. It seemed lazy and unfocused. In an ideal world, if a government was committing mass atrocities against its people, wouldn’t the United Nations, of all groups, be able to do something about it?



4) I would end up going to the UN at least once a week for the rest of the summer, in between stories ranging from the Belmont Stakes to inner-city sex trafficking. Most days would be identical - waiting three hours outside of the Security Council, waiting to get quotes that may or may not be made. Over the course of the first month, it was near impossible to see what exactly these ambassadors were doing. However, as time wore on, it became clear that what happened behind the doors of the Security Council was far more tense than what was being recited to the cameras.


5) The stage of international diplomacy is a difficult one to handle. It involves a steady hand that is willing to compromise. One needs to consider the interests of one’s nation and make it compatible with the oftentimes completely opposing interests of another nation, while at the same time attempting to bring justice and peace to a third party. Over the course of my time at the UN, I saw just how difficult this balancing act could get – so difficult that it could lead a room full of the world’s greatest political minds to become gridlocked for months on end, incapable of a single concession while blood is being spilled daily.

I aim to attend [your] law school not because I believe I have any solution to problems of international diplomacy, but because I recognize the supreme difficulty of its operation. A Juris Doctorate from your program, [...] would provide necessary grounding for a career beyond borders.
___________________________________

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lastsamurai
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Re: 1st personal statement... comments on style?

Postby lastsamurai » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:25 pm

I think the style is fine, but be cognizant of sounding immature.

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francesfarmer
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Re: 1st personal statement... comments on style?

Postby francesfarmer » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:39 pm

patfeeney wrote:
The atmosphere in the Secretariat building of the United Nations headquarters in New York City can be markedly different from the cosmopolitan image visitors experience when touring the complex [the atmosphere can be markedly different from the image visitors experience? that doesn't make sense as a sentence]. In times of diplomatic conflict, such as in the 2012 when a stalemate of Syria negotiations stretched through months of heated Security Council meetings, the atmosphere is heated and incredibly intense [rework this sentence as well]. However, it is in moments like these where one can best witness [awkward] diplomacy in the real world.
My supervisor, [News Organization]’s United Nations correspondent and one of the organization’s remaining original reporters, warned me that understanding the Syrian conflict would require weeks of research before setting foot in Turtle Bay. While waiting for my internship to start, I sweated out the first hot days of a New York City summer and grabbed every headline I could find on the situation of the Middle Eastern nation.

I figured that negotiations between United Nations ambassadors would be as fast-paced and heated as the headlines that shipped out of the Gaza strip every day, becoming a sort of ideological warfare between supporters and opponents to of the Assad regime.
...
[My first day at the UN, which just happend to be my 20th birthday, was decidedly low-key. I was assigned to wait at the stakeout, a small roped – off area for journalists to wait until Security Council members emerged from the chambers. My only job was to tally off who filed out and, in the case of some supremely important statement or quote by an ambassador, to shoot an email to [my supervisor]. I also carried a little notebook to write down any strange or exciting sights that unfolded around the press are [you don't write down sights.]. This was the world stage and I had to be ready for anything.

The meeting started around 9 AM. U sat eagerly waiting for the doors to swing open at any moment [suspense overkill]. Other reporters, from indie blogs like the Inner City Press up to big-name corporations like Al Jazeera, rested more assured [semi-inappropriate use of this phrase], scanning through twitter fees or playing games on their phones. An hour passed. I went to the bathroom and bought a coffee. Two hours passed. I started catching up on diary entries I should have written two years before. Three hours and I was about to nod off at any moment.

That was when the doors swung open [you use this twice]. Laptops slammed shut, phones were thrown in bags, microphones were pulled out [for the love of god never use the passive voice], and before the first diplomat could come out [come out of where? perhaps you want to say "before the first diplomat could mount the podium, everyone had congregated around it in anticipation" or something] everyone had congregated around the press podium.

Then someone came out, one of the Permanent 5 members [of the security council? just say that.]. He came up to the microphone as the room fell to a hushed silence. I pulled out my oen and paper as he started to speak. “What is happening in Syria,” he said as camera rolled and shuttered, “may be considered crimes against humanity.”

That’s some hard stuff, I thought. I pulled out my phone I shot an email to Richard.

After a few more minutes of speaking, another P5 member came to the podium. By and large, they said exactly what the previous ambassador had said. Nevertheless, I sent [my supervisor] more emails. He replied back: “Anything else?” This struck me as an odd question [why? how was this emotionally significant to you?], but I told him, No, that was it.


[I read my quotes off to [my supervisor]. “Anything else?” he asked. I told him no. “Were those quotes significant?” I asked. “They’ve been saying that for the past three months,” he replied.]
I was shocked. After months of sounding off about human rights violations, they’re still making pronouncements from a podium? That didn’t seem like diplomacy at all. It seemed lazy and unfocused. In an ideal world, if a government was committing mass atrocities against its people, wouldn’t the United Nations, of all groups [the united nations is not a group], be able to do something about it?



4) I would end up going to the UN at least once a week for the rest of the summer, in between stories ranging from the Belmont Stakes to inner-city sex trafficking. Most days would be identical - waiting three hours outside of the Security Council, waiting to get quotes that may or may not be made. Over the course of the first month, it was near impossible to see what exactly these ambassadors were doing. However, as time wore on, it became clear that what happened behind the doors of the Security Council was far more tense than what was being recited to the cameras.


5) The stage of international diplomacy is a difficult one to handle. It involves a steady hand that is willing to compromise. One needs to consider the interests of one’s nation and make it compatible with the oftentimes completely opposing interests of another nation, while at the same time attempting to bring justice and peace to a third party [i hate this "one" construction. howabout "each country" or "each government"?]. Over the course of my time at the UN, I saw just how difficult this balancing act could get become – so difficult that it could lead a room full of the world’s greatest political minds to become gridlocked for months on end, incapable of a single concession while blood is being spilled daily.

I aim to attend [your] law school not because I believe I have any solution to problems of international diplomacy, but because I recognize the supreme difficulty of its operation. A Juris Doctorate from your program, [...] would provide necessary grounding for a career beyond borders.
___________________________________

I think this is interesting enough subject matter but you have some strange stylistic/word choice issues and it's a bit heavy-handed. Of course the UN is extremely ineffectual. Everybody knows that. And if you want to work in policy, why aren't you getting a degree in policy? Getting a law degree isn't really the fast track to the UN.

Also, this should absolutely be written in the first person. Your personal statement is about you. I'd like to see more of you in it.

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patfeeney
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Re: 1st personal statement... comments on style?

Postby patfeeney » Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:19 am

francesfarmer wrote:I think this is interesting enough subject matter but you have some strange stylistic/word choice issues and it's a bit heavy-handed. Of course the UN is extremely ineffectual. Everybody knows that. And if you want to work in policy, why aren't you getting a degree in policy? Getting a law degree isn't really the fast track to the UN.

Also, this should absolutely be written in the first person. Your personal statement is about you. I'd like to see more of you in it.


I guess my "thesis," if anything, would be to show that I've come to understand the government is ineffectual, but not necessarily due to malfeasance or laziness - rather, that it's an understandable pratfall of democracy.
Really, this is one of many reasons I want to go to law school, and it's not necessarily for a career at the UN. For my Yale app, I'm working on a separate letter for their media law program. For that one, I'm hoping to focus more on the changing business of media as tiny app-based companies spring up every day and the major companies become hopelessly large.

I really need to focus on this particular internship because it's the one shining aspect of my CV. Other than some work at a Congressional district office and some school paper stuff, I don't have anything that will really attract eyes besides this.

I agree with you, though, and I'm trying to really push off the heavy-handedness. I've always struggled with not sounding like I'm pounding my fists and waving my arms madly.

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francesfarmer
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Re: 1st personal statement... comments on style?

Postby francesfarmer » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:20 pm

patfeeney wrote:
francesfarmer wrote:I think this is interesting enough subject matter but you have some strange stylistic/word choice issues and it's a bit heavy-handed. Of course the UN is extremely ineffectual. Everybody knows that. And if you want to work in policy, why aren't you getting a degree in policy? Getting a law degree isn't really the fast track to the UN.

Also, this should absolutely be written in the first person. Your personal statement is about you. I'd like to see more of you in it.


I guess my "thesis," if anything, would be to show that I've come to understand the government is ineffectual, but not necessarily due to malfeasance or laziness - rather, that it's an understandable pratfall of democracy.
Really, this is one of many reasons I want to go to law school, and it's not necessarily for a career at the UN. For my Yale app, I'm working on a separate letter for their media law program. For that one, I'm hoping to focus more on the changing business of media as tiny app-based companies spring up every day and the major companies become hopelessly large.

I really need to focus on this particular internship because it's the one shining aspect of my CV. Other than some work at a Congressional district office and some school paper stuff, I don't have anything that will really attract eyes besides this.

I agree with you, though, and I'm trying to really push off the heavy-handedness. I've always struggled with not sounding like I'm pounding my fists and waving my arms madly.


I'm of the opinion that your PS doesn't have to say anything about why you want to go to law school at all (mine definitely didn't and I believe it helped me outperform my numbers), so I don't think you need to highlight this internship for the reasons you stated. It is difficult to pull off an "issue-driven" PS because at this age and stage in your career, the vast majority of law school applicants are not experts on any issue and just come off looking naive.

That said I think this is an interesting experience and your statement will be successful if you focus on saying something about you and not the system you discovered the flaws in. Good luck!

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patfeeney
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Re: 1st personal statement... comments on style?

Postby patfeeney » Tue Sep 17, 2013 9:22 pm

Any suggestions on how to approach this topic without touching on the politics? My original idea was to use the statement to touch on my personal growth, but I realize that I have a lot more to learn and to somehow use an international conflict to talk about my own opinions is insipid.

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francesfarmer
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Re: 1st personal statement... comments on style?

Postby francesfarmer » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:12 pm

patfeeney wrote:Any suggestions on how to approach this topic without touching on the politics? My original idea was to use the statement to touch on my personal growth, but I realize that I have a lot more to learn and to somehow use an international conflict to talk about my own opinions is insipid.

Can you talk about your personal growth in some other context?




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