2nd draft of PS . Please Read, Critique

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2nd draft of PS . Please Read, Critique

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:09 am

Here is my personal statement. I just finished editing a couple things for a second time. I know it is TOO LONG and my organization is a bit jumbled in places. Broad critiques as well as specific would be great! Am i going in the right direction? Too much focus on athletics, anywhere to trim the fat? Appreciate it ladies and gents! 8)

“I am an NFL player.” The reality worked its way through my exhausted mind. “I am being paid to play a kid’s game.” A smiled formed on my unshaven face. Sure, there was no job security. Sure I had to drag myself out of bed at 6:00AM every morning to bang my head against 350-pound behemoths. None of that mattered, though. Nearing the end of my 8-hour drive from Boston to ***** the stadium suddenly appeared over the horizon. The vast $150 Million facility sparkled under the spring sky.
I’ve always loved competition. Whether it is in the classroom or on the field, putting myself up against the best always excited me. When my high school football coaches told me I wasn’t tough enough to be a premier player, I turned myself into an All-State selection and a four-year letter-winner at a Division 1 college. When high school friends played other sports and challenged me to compete, I obliged and joined the track and field and wrestling teams, both of which earned me All-County accolades. At the age of 18 I was on the field playing as a true freshman in front of 108,000 screaming fans.
It was never just about sports for me. Sports served as a great release for me; an escape from the stresses of young adulthood. I never allowed myself to be defined by the sport I was playing though. At times high school teachers questioned my ability to succeed at a prestigious university. How could someone so involved in athletics possibly excel in school? Their questions were answered when my name appeared in the “***** ” under the Dean’s List Selections. It wasn’t so much that I cared what people thought, but when I am challenged, I always respond with meaningful action.
Juggling athletics and academics in college wasn’t always easy. Late nights and early mornings were a regular occurrence. There were growing pains my first semester. Leaving for college two weeks after my high school graduation without being able to come home due to football obligations compounded my first semester struggles in the classroom and on the field. That winter I had a self-realization; you are in college to get a degree and excel academically, everything else is extra. 6AM daily workouts and 3PM practices didn’t leave much homework but I knew it had to get done. From that point on I set myself on a positive trajectory in the classroom and soon enough, my athletic career came roaring to life.
Temptation to slip up was everywhere. Friends would encourage me to attend ‘Sunday Funday’ at the local bar, but I’d be busy with Phi Alpha Delta meetings or Muslim Student Association events. They’d encourage me to skip classes to play video games, but I’d refuse I always knew there was more to life than sports and my actions reflected that. Carrying these tools with me through college allowed me to become an multiple All Big-East Academic selection as well as an All Big-East Athlete (Phil Steele 2012).
Having an Algerian-born research scientist as a father and a 36-year veteran of public school teaching as a mother has shaped me into a man who is well-equipped for intellectual challenges. A man who has picked up some French and Arabic in order to communicate with relatives, all of whom live overseas. A man who would rush home from college during short breaks between football training to get on a plane to see his family in Africa. Having a degree in Comparative Government, I always looked at my travels through a different lens than most. In my family’s hometown of ****** Algeria, conditions are very poor. Some children walk barefoot through the streets begging for money. Instead of handing out change, I view the situation more analytically. “How can a country so rich in natural resources and potential for tourism struggle to provide the most basic services for citizens?” And more generally, “Why do Middle Eastern countries remain so stubborn and resistant to change? How can these ‘democratic’ nations elect a leader who can join the global economic and diplomatic communities to remedy some of these problems?” Through visiting Algerian universities and talking with friends and family, I’ve been able to gain a pulse of the region. American diplomatic relationships have been able to grow many nations’ economies. Applying international treaties to begin trade relations can work wonders for undeveloped countries. Idealistic as I may be, I believe that with a law degree I will be able to bring about change in a region starving for it.
Hating to lose has nothing to do with the amount one loses. I have failed in multiple endeavors in my life. Not one of those ended with a smile, but I could always be content in my mind if I gave it my all. If I decide to pursue something, I did so with relentless effort and focus. I have never entered into an obligation half-heartedly.
Walking through NFL locker rooms, conversations were aplenty, “So will this supplement help my biceps peak?” “How much will it cost to put 22 inch rims on my Range Rover?” I always regarded the veteran players with respect. They’ve reached their athletic pinnacle. They’re young, rich and play a game for millions of dollars. There was always something missing though. How fulfilling could it be to bang your head against another grown man for four hours at a time daily? Sure it can furnish your new mansion, but can it spark an intellectual conversation? Can it help jumpstart the Middle-East peace process? Does it do anything for our society or our childrens’ future? The answers were always no, no and no. Football had a lot to offer, but left even more to be desired.
Unfortunately, our franchise was going through downsizing. Unlike a Fortune 500 company that might lay off 1% of its workforce at a time, the ********* were getting ready to cut almost 40 out of 90 players. There were multiple rounds of cuts in ******. Already, the roster had been trimmed from 90 to 75 players. The final players being released would find out their fate in the morning. Glancing around my hotel room I realized this might be the end of my career. The bed next to mine was empty; a round one victim of roster cuts. “This is it,” I thought to myself. In 12 hours time, I was either going to be a 22-year old kid making half a million dollars or an unemployed ex-football player. A zero-sum game.
The double sessions, the wind-sprints, the up-downs done on a snow covered field in January. The 600 pound squats. The flights to visit colleges. They were all for naught, it felt. With the ink still dry on my termination letter, I made a conscious- decision to focus all of my energy on my life-long dream of law school. Ever since I was 10 years old I was known as an intense arguer. “He always has to have the last word,” my parents remarked. I’ve never been interested in second place. As I imagined the intense competition in law school a smile crept along my face: my type of environment.

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Re: 2nd draft of PS . Please Read, Critique

Postby Ramius » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:27 am

I'll start out with the good: you sound like you have a very interesting background, so it shouldn't be hard to hit on a good topic for your statement.

Now the bad: this was a very poor attempt. You jump around endlessly through different topics, leaving the reader feeling disjointed throughout. You never settled on a single topic, and you absolutely should. If you want to use your experiences in football, go ahead with it. If you want to use your family and your experiences being an Algerian-born American, that would work too. Only you can decide what topic will best showcase a positive quality about yourself, but you should narrow it down from this version.

Your grammar needs heavy work. Your writing ability just isn't very strong. I recommend you get this proofread by someone you know who is strong in English and grammar once you have your message and voice down.

It seems like the positive quality you're trying to show the adcom is your perseverance and work ethic, which are good qualities to show and would make sense given your background as a successful college (and even a short time as a pro) football player. To better do this, you should pick one anecdote from your past that shows this quality. From what I'm gathering, you're a linemen, so maybe you can use learning a new blocking scheme/stunt package or something like that. Maybe you can use a specific example where your time was particularly taxed due to the balance between academics and athletics, but you somehow still managed to excel. Again, I can't tell you what to write about substantively, but those are just a few ideas to get you thinking about what could work. With this is one important point that gets harped on constantly, mainly because it's the most important point of any statement: you need to show, not tell. You want me to see you as a hard worker; simply telling me why you think you're a hard worker isn't good enough. I want to see the sweat, not hear how sweaty you were. I want to see the determination and fire in your eyes, not take your word for it.

Lastly, you fall into two pitfalls that I think are damning in your conclusion. First, you talk about your lifelong dream of being a lawyer. You have no evidence of this throughout your statement and it's probably not really true if you really think about it. It sounds to me like your lifelong dream was to be a professional athlete, based on the rest of your statement. Very few people can honestly claim they wanted to be a lawyer since they were a small child, mainly because small children have no idea what a lawyer really does. In fact, most people applying to law school have no idea what it really means, so how could that be your dream? This is equivalent to saying you've wanted to be a lawyer ever since you saw "insert movie or tv title here." It makes you sound ill-informed and ill-prepared for what you're about to undertake. Second, you made yourself sound even worse when you talk about being argumentative. Lawyers don't argue, they make arguments. They spend countless hours researching to write up a brief or to present a case. They aren't sitting around a smoke-filled room discussing the effects of new legislation or the latest business developments, sipping on brandy and smoking cigars.

You need to think long and hard about a few basic questions before you try to write a new revision.

1) Why do I want to go to law school? Do I even know what I want to do with a JD? Do I really know what my life will be like as a lawyer?

2) What message do I want to convey to an adcom with my statement? How can I effectively show that message to the reader? What personal anecdotes do I have to really let positive qualities I want them to see come through?

3) How am I going to bring this message to a fully functioning PS? Who do I know that can help me with my writing and make sure my strongest voice is coming through? How am I going to put my best foot forward?

You should scrap this whole statement and start from scratch. I'm not saying this to be harsh, but there isn't much worth salvaging in this version, so it'll save you time in the long run to think about the above things first and then go into the writing phase. Good luck!

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