PS Critique

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
scp08004
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:52 pm

PS Critique

Postby scp08004 » Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:55 pm

“We do it because we refuse to settle for contentment. We will always work to push the boundaries of our intelligence and physical limitations. We do it to actively better ourselves every day.” -Captain Matthew Cooney, USMC
I never understood the purpose of adopting personal mantras or mottos. But the funny thing about personal mantras is that oftentimes you go years whispering this same thing over and over to yourself during times of trial and doubt and you don’t even fully realize that you’re doing it. You don’t realize how it becomes a verbal touchstone, how it can help to sustain your resolve and bolster your efforts. You don’t recognize how you have unconsciously woven this thread through your life which resonates with your deepest beliefs and aspirations about yourself. You don’t even realize when and where you are picking up these pearls of wisdom; sometimes it’s from a sneaker commercial, or maybe some historic figure’s quote. But sometimes, as it was in my case, it comes from a long forgotten souvenir of a devastating personal failure.
I decided early on that I wanted to pursue a career as an officer in the Marine Corps. The first time I heard what would become my mantra, was when I stepped into the Manhattan Marine Corps Officer Selection Office. Captain Cooney, an intense Marine with an endless supply of “Oohrah”-inducing motivational sayings, was the Officer handling my application for Officer Candidate School (OCS). He played a large role in ensuring I was ready for the rigors of the school and a source of information for what my life would be like after commissioning. His demeanor was both inspirational and motivational. Although, I didn’t need motivation; I knew what I wanted and I was on my way to getting it. I had graduated from the University of New Haven with a degree in Criminal Justice and International Security taking high-level classes and maintaining academic honors. I also trained tirelessly, maintained peak physical fitness (enough to earn a near perfect score on the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test), and disciplined myself to forgo the usual distractions of college life (well, most of them). Everything was progressing according to plan and I was ready to make my mark on the world. And then, in the blink of an eye, it happened. A few weeks from achieving my goal, I suffered an impact seizure effectively disqualifying me medically from OCS, and I was forced to resign my application.
To this day, not being able to realize that goal is a bitter failure in my eyes. I could not control it, it was not due to a lack of effort, nor could I have changed any of the circumstances, and yet, I shouldered the failure as if I had somehow allowed it to occur. I spent the first few months of my post-graduate life working part-time jobs in order to pay off student loans, unconsciously settling into that comfortable repetition of identical days and nights that accompanies a life without clear direction. Then, as my life started to blur together into a collage of uninspiring repetition, something different happened. I got pulled over and was handed a steep citation. And just as I was remarking to myself that this was par for the course in terms of how my life was going, there it was. “I refuse to settle for contentment.” And though in that moment, I was hardly “content”, it dawned on me I was allowing my life to plateau. Cooney’s quote came back to me as clear as the day he first said it to me, and I realized that this quote described who I strive to be. The way my life was currently going was not how I initially planned it and then I remembered that I alone had the power to be the architect of my future. And so I decided to start that change by fighting the ticket. I threw myself into preparing for the court date; gathering photographs of where I was pulled over, weather conditions, and even background checks on myself. I actually found myself enjoying the preparation, and even more, the knowledge that I was again steering this ship. On my court date, I presented my case, provided all my evidence, and highlighted the facts to support my argument, and I beat that ticket. I left the court that day with two incidences of being mistaken for an attorney by individuals in court, a complement from the prosecutor praising my level of preparation “…just to fight a ticket,” and a renewed commitment to continually push myself.
The consideration to become a lawyer materialized rapidly after that day in court. I’ll be honest, I was initially intrigued picturing myself in the Hollywood portrayal of the lawyer character (but seriously, who hasn’t imagined themselves interrogating Jack Nicholson until he finally admits he ordered the Code Red?). But once I really started researching what it would take, what would be expected of me, it was enlightening. I decided to spend an entire day in trial court watching the litigation to help further inform my decision. And though there were no movie clichés experienced, I was mesmerized by the way that each attorney wielded a seemingly endless arsenal of logical statements and carefully structured questions made up of these carefully selected words that were so subtly nuanced that I found myself being swayed from one side to the other. It was beautiful, but also sobering because I knew that the seemingly easy manner of the skilled performances that I witnessed that day was less likely due to any inborn natural-talent, and much more likely a result of years of learning, careful honing through practice, and laborious preparation. That was further reinforced when I was the lucky recipient of an invitation from a UCONN Law School student to attend one of her classes to “get a feel” for it. I chose to accompany her to a property law class whose lecture that day focused on the dreaded “Rule Against Perpetuities” (lucky me, right?) I’m nursing my ego by saying that I had a tenuous, at best, grasp of what was being discussed in that lecture (though I was happy to see that I was not the only perplexed constituent of the class). But despite how challenging that one lecture was I was amazed by how attentive and how interested I was from start to finish. “I will always work to push the boundaries of my intelligence…” That class settled it for me; I knew this is what I wanted to do.
Not wanting to waste any more time, I enrolled in the Paralegal Litigation Certificate program at UCONN, which I believed would help me identify additional avenues of growth, networking and participation in the field as I worked toward a career. Now, I’ve made the decision to go to law school and I remain determined and optimistic. Optimistic, not because I think I possess some special intelligence or ability which guarantees me success. Rather, I am optimistic because I know I am resilient. I am optimistic because I know I possess the will and the ability to constantly push myself regardless of the setbacks. I remain undeterred and from my deepest failure, I have learned a sustaining and motivational mantra, one which I know will guide my actions until I accomplish my goals: “I will actively better myself each day.”
Last edited by scp08004 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

zidongliu
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2013 7:13 pm

Re: PS Critique

Postby zidongliu » Mon Dec 23, 2013 3:39 am

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Last edited by zidongliu on Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
HorseThief
Posts: 713
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:45 pm

Re: PS Critique

Postby HorseThief » Mon Dec 23, 2013 6:17 am

I agree, this is a solid PS. I think the last paragraph is fine, too. It shows your confidence because of your character. You've backed up your statements in a way that most applicants (I will be a great lawyer and work hard!) fail to do.

My only beef is with "Now, I've make the decision to go to UCONN's Law School and I remained determined and optimistic."
Change to "Now, I've made the decision to go to UCONN's Law School and I remain determined and optimistic."

There may be more grammar things, but I couldn't see any others without printing off the essay.

nagelbett
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:09 pm

Re: PS Critique

Postby nagelbett » Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:08 am

I liked your PS. I think the topic is good and you come across in positive light.

However, the PS is a little long—I cut about 200 words by editing and you can cut more. Your grammar and sentence structure also needs some work. You use a lot of unnecessary intensifier (actually, very, really) that weaken your writing. I have taken many of them out. You also repeat the same idea several times when it could be said in one sentence. There were several commas missing, usually when you used conjunctions. There were also some problems with comma use in restrictive v. non-restrictive clauses. I also cut several long sentences into shorter ones. Last, commas and periods should go inside the quotation marks.

I would also change the intro from the “you” form to using “I.” Since the only person you really know—especially when it comes to what someone believes in, as it is with mantras—is yourself, then it’s better to speak from personal knowledge.

I have taken out some smaller chunks usually where they are repetitive. However, in the last paragraph I deleted the first few sentences where you say that visiting the property class sealed the deal. You should keep that out because your court experience, doing research about practicing law are stronger and probably better reasons for choosing to become an attorney than a single lecture on RAP.

Anyways, I hope this is helpful. These are just some of the ways that I would improve your PS.




“We do it because we refuse to settle for contentment. We will always work to push the boundaries of our intelligence and physical limitations. We do it to actively better ourselves every day.”
-Captain Matthew Cooney, USMC
I never understood the purpose of adopting personal mantras or mottos. However, without realizing it, I had been whispering for years this same thing over and over to myself during times of trial and doubt. I had not noticed how a motto became my verbal touchstone—how it sustained my resolve and bolstered my efforts. I had unconsciously woven this thread through my life, which resonated with my deepest beliefs and aspirations. People often don’t realize where they pick up their pearl of wisdom; sometimes it comes from a sneaker commercial, another time, from a historic figure’s life. But in my case, my personal mantra came from a long forgotten souvenir of a devastating personal failure.

I decided early on (Say exactly when you decided it—make it up if you have to. It’s good to paint a picture for the reader.) that I wanted to become a United States Marine Corps officer. The first time I heard what would become my mantra, was when I stepped into the Manhattan Marine Corps Office. Captain Cooney, an intense, wedge-shaped Marine with a square jaw and an endless supply of “Oohrah”-inducing motivational sayings, was the Officer handling my application. He made sure I was ready for the rigors of the school and provided information of what my life would be like after commissioning. I didn’t write down what he said; he was a walking recruitment poster slogan machine, so I didn’t think too hard on it. I didn’t need motivation. I knew what I wanted, and I was on my way to getting it. I had graduated from the University of New Haven with academic honors and obtained peak physical fitness—enough to earn a near perfect score on the Marine Corps physical fitness test. Everything was going according to plan. I was ready to make my mark on the world. And then, in the blink of an eye, it happened. A few weeks from achieving my goal, I suffered an impact seizure, medically disqualifying me from service.

To this day, not being able to become a US Marine is a bitter failure (find a better word than “failure.” Your next sentence makes the point that there was nothing more you could have done, and it seems you understood that and let go of the disappointment, realizing it was not a failure on your part) in my eyes. I did my best to reach that goal and could not have changed any of the circumstances, and yet, I shouldered the failure as if I had somehow allowed it to occur. I spent the first few months of my post-graduate life working part-time jobs in order to pay off student loans, unconsciously settling into that comfortable repetition of identical days and nights that accompanies a life without direction. Then, during an uninspiring drive to one of my uninspiring jobs on one of those uninspiring days, something happened (not a big fan of the use of "uninspiring." The sarcasm does not fit the overall tone of the PS). A police officer pulled me over and gave me a steep citation (A citation for what? Since you later say you won the case in court, you should write that the ticket was unfair or a mistake. Otherwise, the PS reads that you did something wrong. I first thought that you were zoned out and were speeding, etc.). Just as I was thinking to myself that this was par for the course (awkward phrase) in terms of how my life was going, I heard my motto crystal clear: “I refuse to settle for contentment”. And though in that moment I was hardly “content,” it dawned on me I was allowing my life to plateau. I remembered that I alone had the power to be the architect of my future. And so I decided to start that change by fighting the ticket. I threw myself into preparing for the court date; gathering photographs of where I was pulled over, weather conditions, background checks on myself, and even a list of complaints about that particular area. I enjoyed the preparation, and even more, the feeling that I was once again steering this ship. On my court date, I presented my case, provided all my evidence, and highlighted the facts to support my argument. I beat that ticket. I left the court that day twice being mistaken for an attorney in court, a compliment from the prosecutor praising my level of preparation “…just to fight a ticket,” and a renewed commitment to continually push myself.

After my day in court, I seriously considered becoming a lawyer. I’ll be honest, I was initially intrigued to picture myself in the Hollywood version of the attorney character—seriously, who hasn’t imagined being Tom Cruise (can’t use “themselves” for singular) interrogating Jack Nicholson until he finally admits he ordered the Code Red? But once I started researching what real-world attorneys do, I was enlightened. I decided to spend a day in trial court and watch litigation to further inform my decision. And though I did not hear any movie clichés, I was mesmerized by the way each attorney wielded a seemingly endless arsenal of logical statements and carefully structured questions. Their carefully selected words were so subtly nuanced that I found myself being swayed from one side to the other and then back again. It was beautiful like a meticulously orchestrated symphony, but also sobering because I knew that the easy manner of the skilled performances was less likely due to any inborn natural-talent, and probably a result of years of learning, dedicated practice, and laborious preparation.

My interest in pursuing a legal career was further reinforced when I visited UCONN Law School. After a friend invited me to her property law class to “…get a feel” for it, I sat in at a lecture focused on the dreaded “Rule Against Perpetuities.” I had a tenuous (at-best) grasp of what was being discussed (though it seemed I was not the only one perplexed in class). But despite how personally challenging that one lecture was, I was amazed by how attentive and interested I was from start to finish. (Add a sentence here that ties the quote and going to law school together) “I will always work to push the boundaries of my intelligence…”

After doing a thorough research and enrolling (if you have finished the program, say so. If not, say maybe say the expected end date. Saying "enrolling" seems awkward. Are you going to be in the paralegal program during law school?) in the Paralegal Litigation Certificate program at UCONN, I’ve made the decision to attend UCONN Law School. I remain determined and optimistic. Optimistic, not because I think I possess some special intelligence or ability that guarantees success, but because I know I am resilient. I know I possess the will and the ability to constantly push myself regardless of the setbacks. I remain undeterred and from my deepest failure, I have learned a sustaining and motivational mantra, one that will guide my actions until I accomplish my goals.

scp08004
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:52 pm

Re: PS Critique

Postby scp08004 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:53 am

Thank you everyone for your input

I have spoken to several people in the admissions office, and they all said that the length is fine as is. It is two pages exactly single-spaced, and they reassured me that it is perfectly fine single-spaced.




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