Rough Draft of Personal Statement- Please Read and Critique

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Anonymous User
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Rough Draft of Personal Statement- Please Read and Critique

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 20, 2013 5:52 pm

Here is the rough draft (very rough, just typed it) of my personal statement. I focused on my diagnosis of tourette's syndrome. I plan on adding another short paragraph about school specifics, asking for their acceptance, etc. If I shouldn't do that please let me know.

Thanks!

PS:

I still remember the conversations. “There’s nothing wrong with you honey; it’s just a few tics, that’s all,” said my mother. For some reason, “tic” was her go-to buzz word. Elementary school teachers would politely acknowledge, “Your allergies are really acting up today. Do you need some tissue?” My grandparents referred to it as “jerking.” Other kids, seemingly just as articulate as adults, would ask, “Why are you doing that?” I would ashamedly respond, “Doing what?” When I was ten years old, doctors finally had the courage to label my condition. Today, twenty-one years young, I proudly proclaim, “I have tourette’s syndrome.” I’ll be the first one to say, however, it hasn’t always been this way. For many years of my life, my parents had no idea what was wrong with me. Much of my first encounter with tourettes were vocal tics, and when those subsided, I vividly recall the often painful head-shaking, eye-rolling, and general twitching that accompanied my teenage years. I spent many of those years ashamed of tourettes as if it was something that had plagued my life and would ultimately control my future. Doctors predicted my academic success would suffer; My parents falsely believed it was something I could control; and Medicine had disastrous side-effects. I’ve done my share of worrying and questioned: How will anyone ever take me seriously when speaking in public? Will I ever get married? What if my tics get worse? If they do, will I still have friends? Can I be successful in academia (statistics say otherwise)? I’ve never been too fond of determinism, nonetheless. Many years have passed since I was first diagnosed, and many of those years have been spent acting as if my condition only existed in an alternate universe. I dealt with tourettes by internalizing the reality of my situation. My parents were of little help and often dealt with it much worse than me. For them, it was as if I was never diagnosed. Once I gave up on medicine, it seemed as if they were on a crusade to blame the condition on my own failings. “Stop doing that; You can control it,” they would say. While I’ll never be able to pinpoint the moment I decided to embrace tourettes, I do know I refused to let what so many others believed about me to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.Success in school never suffered. The few times it has, I am certain it was due to misguided decisions made consciously by yours truly. Both relationships and friendships manifested themselves naturally and by the time I was eighteen years old, I was confident in myself and ability to make tourette’s a personality trait, rather than a “neuropsychiatric disorder.” To do this day, I occasionally will in good fun blame an embarrassing action on tourette’s. I learned that I was in control of my own destiny and I could define my circumstances rather than letting them define me. Success in public speaking, crucial to my chosen career path, was false concern as well. My sophomore year of college I was director of the Belmont University Orientation Council, speaking day-in and day-out in front of thousands of new students and their parents. Strangely, during those times, I am so focused it seems for a brief moment as if it has been cured. When I began to think about a personal statement, I was fearful writing about tourette’s would seem like I was begging for attention or desired sympathy. It lead me to a much broader conclusion, however, and it’s that tourettes has been the most formative experience of my life. I can trace personal beliefs and characteristics back to my early experiences with tourettes. I am extremely open-minded because I know what it feels like to be different. I am hard-working and courageous because I know what it feels like to be dealt an unfortunate hand. I am determined and wary of critics because I know I would not be where I am today if I had listened to everything I’ve been told. I am committed to progress, change, and equality because I too suffer from something I cannot help. I believe in the rule of law because I trust it maintains the most hope we have in reaching a more perfect union, unprecedentedly embracing diversity.

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malleus discentium
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Re: Rough Draft of Personal Statement- Please Read and Critique

Postby malleus discentium » Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:55 pm

Some textual notes:

I still remember the conversations. “There’s nothing wrong with you honey; it’s just a few tics, that’s all,” said my mother. For some reason, “tic” was her go-to buzzword. Tic is a technical term in the context of Tourette's, though, isn't it? So why is it strange that she would call them that? Elementary school teachers would politely acknowledge, “Your allergies are really acting up today. Do you need some tissue?” My grandparents referred to it as “jerking.” Other kids, seemingly just as articulate as adults, would ask, “Why are you doing that?” I would ashamedly respond, “Doing what?” When I was 10 years old, doctors finally had the courage to label my condition. And today, 21 years young, I proudly proclaim, “I have Tourette’s syndrome.”

I’ll be the first one to say, however, it hasn’t always been this way. For many years of my life, my parents had no idea what was wrong with me. Much of my first encounter with Tourette's were was vocal tics, and when those subsided, I vividly recall the often painful head-shaking, eye-rolling, and general twitching that accompanied my teenage years. I spent many of those years ashamed of Tourette's as if it was something that had plagued my life and would ultimately control my future. Doctors predicted my academic success would suffer; my parents falsely believed it was something I could control; and medicine had disastrous side-effects.

I’ve done my share of worrying and questioned asked: How will anyone ever take me seriously when speaking in public? Will I ever get married? What if my tics get worse? If they do, will I still have friends? Can I be successful in academia (statistics say otherwise)? I’ve never been too fond of determinism, nonetheless. Unclear Many years have passed since I was firstdiagnosed, and many of those years have been spent acting as if my condition only existed in an alternate universe. What does this mean? I dealt with tourettes by internalizing the reality of my situation. Or this? My parents were of little help and often dealt with it much worse than me more poorly than I did. For them, it was as if I was never diagnosed. Once I gave up on medicine, it seemed as if they were on a crusade to blame the condition on my own failings. “Stop doing that. You can control it,” they would say.

While I’ll never be able to pinpoint the moment I decided to embrace tourettes, I do know I refused to let what so many others believed about me to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Success in school never suffered because of Tourette's. The few times it has, I am certain it was due to misguided decisions made consciously by yours truly. Both relationships and friendships manifested themselves came naturally and by the time I was eighteen years old 18, I was confident in myself and ability to make tourette’s a personality trait, rather than a “neuropsychiatric disorder.” To do this day, I occasionally will in good fun blame an embarrassing action on tourette’s. Unnecessary detail that kind of makes it look like you use the syndrome as an excuse I learned that I was in control of my own destiny and I could define my circumstances rather than letting them define me.

Success in public speaking, crucial to my chosen career path, was a false concern as well. I don't like "false concern" but I don't know what to replace it with. Perhaps recast this graf as an example of how you've overcome it? My sophomore year of college I was director of the Belmont University Orientation Council, speaking day-in and day-out in front of thousands of new students and their parents. Strangely, during those times, I am so focused it seems for a brief moment as if it has been cured.

When I began to think about a personal statement, I was fearful writing about tourette’s would seem like I was begging for attention or desired sympathy. It lead me to a much broader conclusion, however, and it’s that tourettes has been the most formative experience of my life. I can trace personal beliefs and characteristics back to my early experiences with tourettes. I am extremely open-minded because I know what it feels like to be different. I am hard-working and courageous because I know what it feels like to be dealt an unfortunate hand. I am determined and wary of critics because I know I would not be where I am today if I had listened to everything I’ve been told. I am committed to progress, change, and equality because I too suffer from something I cannot help. I believe in the rule of law because I trust it maintains the most hope we have in reaching a more perfect union, unprecedentedly embracing diversity.

Some content thoughts:
*The last sentence is a bit trite and contrived. It's identifiably an "oh yeah I'm supposed to tell you why I want to go law school" statement.
*I would axe the first sentence of the last graf and change it to something to the effect of "Writing my personal statement, I've realized why my Tourette's is something I want to communicate about myself." You don't need to acknowledge that a PS about Tourette's runs the risk of coming across as begging for attention. Adcoms know that. Instead, focus on more quickly on why it IS a good topic for a narrative about who you are (which is what a PS is).
*I would also delete the second graf. You want to focus more on how you've accepted and grown through Tourette's rather than what it did that was unpleasant for you. The third graf gets too close to that as well. Maybe combine their most compelling part into one.
*To that end, I would also expand the fourth graf. While I get that you can't pinpoint when things changed, you would be well-served by explaining a bit more how it changed just than that it did.
*Also go into more detail about the orientation speaking. That's a concrete example that it gets short shrift.
*Also make sure you make the spelling of Tourette's consistent and correct.

Anonymous User
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Re: Rough Draft of Personal Statement- Please Read and Critique

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:08 pm

Here is an edited copy of my PS. It is still very much in its rough form though. Let me know if you think it goes in a better direction. I have tried to focus more on what I have done and how accomplishments have shown resilience.

I still remember the conversations. “There’s nothing wrong with you honey; it’s just a few tics, that’s all,” said my mother. I could always tell she was embarrassed. Elementary school teachers would politely acknowledge, “Your allergies are really acting up today. Do you need some tissue?” My grandparents referred to it as “jerking.” Other kids, just as articulate as adults, would ask, “Why are you doing that?” I would ashamedly respond, “Doing what?” When I was 10 years old, doctors finally had the courage to label my condition. Today, 21 years young, I proudly proclaim, “I have Tourette’s syndrome.”
I’ll be the first one to say, however, it hasn’t always been this way. For many years of my life, my parents had no idea what was wrong with me. I spent many of those first few years ashamed of Tourette’s as if it was something that had plagued my life and would ultimately control my future. Doctors predicted my academic success would suffer; my parents falsely believed it was something I could control; I was told my relationships and future career could suffer; and medicine had disastrous side-effects, eliminating the hope for a cure. I was faced with a choice early in life: I could let Tourette’s be a self-fulfilling prophecy, allowing it to invade every dimension of my future, or I could fully embrace Tourette’s, overcoming its potential obstacles. I chose the latter, and I refused to let what so many others believed about me to place a ceiling on my success.
Academic achievement never suffered because of Tourette’s. Doctors predicted that learning disabilities would likely accompany my diagnosis, but I have always fought hard to counteract that possibility. At Belmont, I have excelled in all of my classes, obtained a 3.67 GPA, and finished my cornerstone political science thesis one year ahead of schedule.
Both relationships and friendships came naturally and by the time I was 18 years old, I was confident in myself and ability to make Tourette’s a personality trait, rather than a “neuropsychiatric disorder.” I learned that I was in control of my own destiny and I could define my circumstances rather than letting them define me. With this attitude, I did not fear entering college and having difficulty maintaining friendships. Much of my relationships have been developed through my involvement in Belmont Orientation programs, Student Government, and a sociology trip to San Francisco my freshman year. Most of my friends know I have Tourette’s and embrace it just as I do.
Success in public speaking, crucial to my chosen career path, was another concern of mine. Instead of running from it, I faced it head-on. My sophomore year of college I was co-director of the Belmont University Orientation Council, speaking day-in and day-out in front of thousands of new students and their parents. During the summer of 2012, I woke up daily dancing and singing in front of new students and parents. I made lengthy presentations describing student life, academic requirements, and move-in day procedures. During those times, I focused intently on the presentation and rarely thought about any visible tics I may display on stage. Tourette’s never once sabotaged my drive to succeed as a leader of the 2012 Orientation Council.
Writing my personal statement about Tourette’s, I have come to realize that it is something worth sharing and a story in need of communicating. I’ve been lead to a much broader conclusion that Tourette’s has been the most formative experience of my life. I can trace personal beliefs and characteristics back to my early experiences with Tourette’s. I am extremely open-minded because I know what it feels like to be different. If I face mockery, it gives me all the more reason to embrace others who face it as well. I am hard-working and courageous because I know what it feels like to be dealt an unfortunate hand. My experience overcoming the hardships of Tourette’s built a foundation to work hard in all areas of my life, not just school. I’ve worked throughout college so that I can afford Belmont and make ends meet. I am determined and wary of critics because I know I would not be where I am today if I had listened to everything I’ve been told. I am committed to progress, change, and equality because I too suffer from something I cannot help.
When I was first diagnosed, the doctor told me, “After your eighteenth birthday, you may start to grow out of it, but I cannot guarantee it.” I never understood what he meant, but today I do and certainly have seen some of its worst effects subside. Medicine nor can any procedure yet cure Tourette’s, but my will, determination, and drive to succeed have certainly began to...(Still working on conclusion)

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Ramius
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Re: Rough Draft of Personal Statement- Please Read and Critique

Postby Ramius » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:03 am

I agree that highlighting accomplishments in spite of your condition is a good approach, but I wouldn't go so far as to list them so obviously like you have. They should be weaved in throughout your narrative more subtly. Things like laying out your GPA and mentioning that you graduated in three years isn't really what you should be going for, IMHO. Personally, I would not mention how writing your PS made you realize anything. I sincerely hope that LIFE made you realize these things, not the PS. ADCOMs enjoy seeing someone who is self-aware and confident in their personality/character and showing things you've learned about yourself in dealing with Tourette's is great, but the PS should be about showing the things you've learned and discovered, not finding them in the first place.

Tourette's is a good topic for you and you should keep working on it, because I think you can get there. Focus on how you can best convey your message before you haphazardly start writing again. This is just like the LSAT. You've written a draft and now you need to reflect on what is good about it and what still needs work. That goes well beyond just making sure the grammar is straight. I think your message could be stronger if you take this condition, analyze how it has affected you and how you've overcome it and come to see it differently, and synthesize a way to show me, a complete stranger who doesn't know you, how you came to be the excellent law school applicant you are today in an interesting and insightful way.




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