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(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:39 am

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Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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encore1101
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Re: PS critique, pls help!

Postby encore1101 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 12:57 pm

Very nice!


The positives:
Good, compelling story. There were a few times I thought "where is this going" or "what does this have to do with law..?" but you went right into my concern.
Powerful, descriptive opening.
Very strong language throughout the PS.

Some critiques:
I think you can emphasize the effect your mother's addiction had on you a little more, just to show the impact of the turn-around with your experiences with Erik. You don't even really need to include more details, but structure it differently--

"Feeling lost and alone, I dwelled on my mother’s addiction. My energy invested into worrying about her, I placed the blame inward on myself, and believed that her addiction was a result of me coming out as a lesbian. Given that my focus was else where, my concentration waned and my high school grades did not reflect my potential. My mother was checked out and my dad was too consumed with the foreclosure of our home to even notice. "


First, I would include the facts about you coming out as a lesbian and your dad preoccupied with the foreclosure in a different part of the statement, like right before. That allows you to phrase the quoted passage in a more staccato fashion:

"I blamed myself for my mother's addiction. I felt lost and alone. I focused all my energy dwelling on her addiction. My grades dropped and I could not realize my potential."

By using a lot of simple (versus compound) sentences with a lot of first-person pronouns, I think it really shows the impact more.




As a separate issue, I would write one sentence or so why you got interested in immigration law in the first place. Was it because of Erik? Because of one of your internships? Something brief like "The result of all these experiences was the desire to practice immigration law."

Take out the word "evermore." Try "increasingly" or "even more," but "evermore" sounds odd. Its unnecessary in what is otherwise a very strong personal statement.

Last, I would cut down on some of the places you've interned at and just sum up your responsibilities at those internships. They have your resumes, so they know where and what you've done. This is personal opinion, and I'm sure others will disagree.

nagelbett
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Re: PS critique, pls help!

Postby nagelbett » Mon Dec 23, 2013 3:37 pm

This is a very well-written PS, good work!

It took me a while to find a single error. I think there is a mistake in this sentence, though--"Erik altered my perspective, and gave way to me understanding the countless possibilities I could have by ‘letting go’ of situations and people I could not change." There is no comma after "perspective" because the second part of the sentence is a dependent clause.

Also, "work day" is one word ("workday") according to merriam-webster. (It's in this sentence: "Now working as a paralegal with an immigration law firm, I wake up every day excited for the work day ahead.) By the way, I would also remove "every day" in that sentence. So, "I wake up excited for the workday ahead."

This sentence needs to be improved as well: "Families being united for the first time in years, children fleeing gangs in El Salvador seeking asylum and individuals living in the United States for over 20 years being granted prosecutorial discretion, are just a few of the reasons why I adore what I do." Right now it reads that you are happy that children are fleeing gangs in El Salvador, but I assume that you are happy that you get to help them or work with them, so you should say that. The sentence is also too long and could be cut into simpler sentences.

Here's another sentence that is just a bit too long: "Moreover, the very best part of the job is when the Immigration Judge grants asylum to a young boy, markedly similar to Erik, with a huge bright smile who now can rest easy, away from the constant gunfire of his ‘barrio’ or neighborhood and study hard to become the doctor, lawyer, police officer he has always dreamed of." The sentence is fine right now, but it would be easier to read if it was split in two (just put a period after "Erik" and add something like "Another kid with a huge...").

I like the last paragraph, but I would remove the last sentence--"After all, a dream is only a dream if you make it so." I think it is kind of cheesy.

The only larger criticism that I had (and maybe it's just me) about the topic was that you come across a little harsh towards your mother. In the PS, it seems that your mom was struggling with something and I felt bad for her, especially since the opening paragraph makes her seem cool. The asshole seemed to be the father when he angrily replied to you. You take pride for "letting go" of the memory of your mother and for the realization that she was beyond your control. However, based on the PS it seems like you did not take many steps to help her. Therefore, even though I am cheering on for you in all your success and your helping of the kids and everyone else throughout the PS, I am also feeling bad for your mother. There is a lingering sense that you could have done more to help her out. If you added a few sentences about you doing your best for your mom and nothing worked, etc... I think it would help.

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scoobysnax
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Re: PS critique, pls help!

Postby scoobysnax » Tue Dec 24, 2013 4:06 am

Overall pretty good!

Minor things:

Like a previous poster said, elaborate more on how your mom impacted you. I'm not quite sure how worrying about your mom impacted you. Did you have to do her chores for her? Did you have to take care of her? Was it a volatile household? I would either elaborate on this or take out "Given that my focus was else where, my concentration waned and my high school grades did not reflect my potential," as this is the only time you mention your grades being affected by your mom.

"It was not until I tutored “Erik,” a ten-year-old, boisterous Hispanic immigrant, that I discovered the untapped reserve of potential in me."
Potential for what?

"My passions, which I should have been honing and fostering to achieve my long-held dreams"
What passions? This comes out of nowhere. Your passion isn't mentioned again until the next paragraph, and when you discover your passion for immigration law is ambiguous.

Your second to last paragraph is good. I think you can make it stronger by acknowledging that the system isn't perfect and families won't always be reunited, because law isn't one-dimensional.

JVrva
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:23 pm

Second Draft of PS, Pls offer your critiques!

Postby JVrva » Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:28 pm

Thank you all for your feedback. I very much appreciate it. I took many of the suggestions to heart and made some edits, so please look over if you have a moment. Again, all feedback is helpful.

I think the statement is a bit long- maybe need a stronger conclusion. Let me know your thoughts.

Peering through my mother’s bedroom door, my eyes were fixated on her, the blue glow of the computer screen painted on her face as she was nodding off and on. She had not always been like this. Once upon a time she would blast “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison throughout the house, crooning while tapping a wooden spoon against the kitchen countertop as if she were part of the live band. She was happy then, and our beautiful home on XXX Summit was a lively place full of family, friends and fabulous food.

In 2003, my mother started abusing pain medication she was prescribed for her infrequent migraine headaches. She was no longer the animated woman she was once was, but rather a shell of her former self. Worried sick about my mother, I confronted my dad about the situation. Angrily, he replied, “Nothing is wrong with your mother. Do not ever ask such a thing about her again,” effectively silencing me. Countless times extended family reached out to intervene, but my mother and father continued to deny that she had any problem. The three-way phone conversation between her, her dad and siblings routinely concluded with her hanging up without a “goodbye.” The slurred speech, off-topic rambling and momentary silences on the phone were, according to her, a result of her exhaustion.

Coming out as a lesbian a few months prior coincided with when her addiction began, so I had myself convinced that it was my fault. If I had just been the daughter she had always envisioned, the daughter who preferred men to women, ballet to soccer and skirts to shorts, then my mother would not be nodding off at the dinner table. She would still be blasting “Brown Eyed Girl” throughout our home on XXX Summit.

Each milestone in my life, whether it be a competitive soccer tournament, chorus concert, or graduation, my eyes anxiously scanned the audience full of proud parents in search of my mother, hoping that this time she would be there cheering me on, but she never was. Her absence made me feel that my accomplishments were insignificant, frivolous "achievements." Thus, I adopted the attitude of indifference in all aspects of my life. I felt lost and alone. I dwelled on my mother’s addiction, constantly placing the blame on myself. My concentration waned, and my grades were not indicative of the student I once was. My mother was checked out and my dad was too consumed with the foreclosure of our home to even notice.

My perspective on my life and my belief in my abilities transformed during my sophomore year of college when my professor uploaded an extra credit assignment onto blackboard. A few grade points away from having an “A” in the course, I determined that I would fulfill the requirements of the assignment, which was to volunteer three hours with the ‘XXX Foundation.’ It was not until I tutored “Erik,” a ten-year-old, boisterous Hispanic immigrant, that I discovered the untapped reserve of potential in me. Erik’s dad did not speak a word of English and worked 80-hour workweeks with little time left over to be concerned with Erik or his progress in school. We met once per week, and I would ask him, “How was your weekend? Did you do anything exciting?” He would always reply, “My dad worked all weekend, and my mom is in Guatemala, so I was left alone. I want to be a doctor, and you know, in order to become a doctor you gotta study hard, even on the weekends when every one else is playing.”

The odds were stacked against him, his dad worked just about 24/7 and his mother was thousands of miles away, yet he was ready for any challenge and ready to overcome any obstacle to become the doctor whom he dreamed of becoming. His self-confidence, emanating through his smile, reminded me of a part of myself: the me who believed, the me who knew the sky was the limit. By working with Erik, I realized that if I instead invested my energy into making a difference in people’s lives rather than trying to fix my incorrigible mother, I could make a meaningful impact on people’s lives.

When my mother started abusing pain medication my happiness, my excitement for life and learning and my belief in myself were replaced with sadness, indifference and self-doubt. My passions, such as helping people, speaking Spanish and actively learning, which I should have been honing and fostering, were being placed on the backburner because I was wrapped up and holding onto the mother I no longer had. Erik, just like me, was motherless and more or less fatherless, yet he did not let their absence stand in his way. Erik altered my perspective and gave way to me understanding the countless possibilities I could have by ‘letting go’ of situations and people I could not change. For the remainder of the school year, I continued to volunteer for the foundation and continued to tutor and build a relationship with Erik, all the while my grades improving and my outlook on life bettering.

With each volunteer opportunity, internship or job, my path towards what I wanted to pursue became increasingly more defined. Bridging the communication gap between Hispanic families and teachers, coordinating a pro bono legal clinic to help immigrants navigate the complex world of immigration law and writing briefs to persuade the U.S. government to let a father of three U.S. citizen children remain in the United States, guided me towards and into the career I know I cannot live without: immigration law. Now working as a paralegal with an immigration law firm, I wake up excited for the workday ahead. Having a significant role in helping families reunite for the first time in years, assisting children fleeing gangs in El Salvador to seek asylum and persuading the U.S. government to grant individuals prosecutorial discretion, are just a few reasons why I adore what I do. In fact, working with children immigrants seeking asylum has been the most compelling and heartwarming part of my career with XXX Immigration. The greatest part of my job is when the Immigration Judge grants asylum to a young child, markedly similar to Erik. A kid with a huge bright smile who now can rest easy, far away from the constant gunfire of his ‘barrio’ or neighborhood and study hard to become the doctor, lawyer, or police officer he has always dreamed of becoming. The system is not perfect, there are families who will not be reunited and there are children who will be denied asylum, having to return to their neighborhood where birds chirping are replaced with piercing gunshots. Those cases, which do not have an ideal ending, only challenge me to work harder to draft a more compelling brief for the next case.

I know that what I am doing now is not the end of the road for me—I want to practice immigration law, and I will not rest easy until I can argue cases in front of an Immigration Judge. Unlike the “me” before who put dreams on the backburner, consumed with trying to change things and people I had no control over, I understand now what I do have control over is me and my dreams. Although “Brown Eyed Girl” no longer resonates throughout my parent's home, the difference now is that I am at peace with understanding it most likely never will. I am finally free from the restraining guilt that held me back from achieving my dreams, and am eagerly welcoming the challenge of law school.
---not sure if I should include the last two sentences.




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