Does my personal statement need more "showing?"

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
bisanch
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:19 pm

Does my personal statement need more "showing?"

Postby bisanch » Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:21 pm

As I stepped through the front door after sophomore year of college, a familiar somberness greeted me. My parents had an argument again. This time, my father was missing and my crying mother was packing. They were calling it quits; they decided to have a divorce.

The relationship my parents shared was neither functional nor passionate. When I entered middle school, it was obvious they donned the façade of husband and wife for my sake. Under this pretense, the household became extremely volatile. Every expression and action became a potential trigger to revealing the instabilities of my parents’ relationship. I constantly reevaluated my behavior respecting my parents’ efforts to preserve our family.

However, my family continued to be dysfunctional. The dearth of communication hastened the deterioration of my parents’ relationship. Neither attempted to resolve or confront their issues. As this continued, a small crack in their relationship became a crevice, a fissure, and an impasse – compromise became a strange concept. Regularly, I attempted to mend their relationship by bridging their views. I presented an acceptable medium for my parents by extracting the focal points in their conflicting perspectives. Expectedly, majority of their arguments ended up filtering through me. This made mediating a habit of mine.

As I grew older, I became exposed to conflicts other than those between my parents. Working as a summer employee at Subway, I observed constant bickering between the employees and the managers. Expectations were set too high and productivity was low. Every day I worked, I struggled to maintain harmony in the workplace by translating complaints into tasks. Similarly, as a violin mentor, I had to balance parents’ expectation and students’ motivation. I walked the fine line of keeping students interested while teaching a musical piece difficult enough to satisfy their parents.

When I found myself in college, the sheer number of conflicts overwhelmed me. Various majors, ideologies, and backgrounds, all the students could find something to disagree on. Gratefully, I was surrounded by a unique group of friends. I often sidelined arguments on a daily basis and participated by keeping them relevant. The arguments ranged from the inferiority of African American Vernacular English to the future of Egypt. No limit existed to what could be discussed, as my friends’ majors ranged from linguistics to foreign affairs. Throughout college, I enjoyed the company of my friends and reflected on my ability to understand topics from multiple perspectives. In addition, I valued my sociology background as it provided me with the capability to put almost all arguments into appropriate context. Beyond social circles, at my internship I tracked relevant case information for my supervisor while maintaining empathetic conversations with the clients. The in-take calls felt natural to me, reminding me of what I had done for my parents and friends.

The divorce was a blessing in disguise. Fumbling in my parents’ unsuccessful marriage, I gained a propensity for conflicts and mediating them. Luckily, I found a path which would allow me to apply my tendencies appropriately. A legal education will help me reach my full potential to identify problems and resolve them successfully.

jac101689
Posts: 139
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:10 pm

Re: Does my personal statement need more "showing?"

Postby jac101689 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:10 pm

Excellent style for a personal statement--clear and readable. I'd say it's good enough not to hurt you overall and with a little massaging could help your application significantly.

Small thing: you don't need both "calling it quits" and "getting a divorce." Choose one, and I'd recommend the latter. I think you've written too much on the dysfunctionality of your parents' relationship. Focus more on fleshing out how and why you acted as a balancing agent.

I think you do need more showing. You have a lot of superficial evidence of your skills and experiences as a mediator. I wanted to believe you, but there are too many empty statements like "putting arguments in their appropriate contexts." You might improve by focusing on one or two such arguments, what you did in each case, and what the result was. If the arguments are way different in subject matter and you maintain a focus on what you did and, again, the results, that'd be a good way to SHOW your versatility and skill.

Verdict: good overall, but I see the potential for excellence.
Last edited by jac101689 on Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bisanch
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:19 pm

Re: Does my personal statement need more "showing?"

Postby bisanch » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:25 pm

Thank you for the feedback. I actually had a specific case where I explained in depth an argument between two of my friends on the topic of African American Vernacular English, but I decided to cut it out because it seemed out of place compared to the rest of my personal statement.

Which paragraph/sentence describing my parents' relationship do you think I can shorten?

I'm willing to revise my personal statement right now, could I PM you a copy in the next hour?

jac101689
Posts: 139
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:10 pm

Re: Does my personal statement need more "showing?"

Postby jac101689 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:47 pm

To be more specific, I'd give this a low A if it were a graded assignment. I think you're close to the solid A and not too far from the A+. I think this PS is FINE. I'm critiquing along the lines that I know any TLSer would critique it--with the assumption that you want the A+.

You don't necessarily have to shorten. Go deeper subject to the length you have now, if that makes sense. It's a fine length. What I meant about your parents is there's too much setting and too much redundancy. We get that things were effed up and got worse over time, and we get a sense that you were in the middle and adapted to your environment over time. Show us a clip, some footage if you will, of how you factored into that dynamic or maybe the moment you went from milquetoast to mediator instead of saying the development happened and talking about it at a high level.

To get redundant myself, I just think that instead of talking so much about the environment you were in, you'd be better off going more in depth into how you behaved in that environment. Okay, compromise was foreign and rifts were wide--give us one story that illustrates how you attempted to make a positive impact. The sense I get is you view your early mediation efforts as unsuccessful in a certain light but highly formative of your skills, goals, and communicative abilities. You're a mature, intelligent person who's been through some shite. I just think the character development story could go a little deeper.

Feel free to PM me.

bisanch
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:19 pm

Re: Does my personal statement need more "showing?"

Postby bisanch » Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:59 pm

If anyone would like to see an updated version with more details please let me know! I'd love to have anyone compare the two versions of my PS.

Lwoods1020
Posts: 172
Joined: Tue Dec 17, 2013 5:12 pm

Re: Does my personal statement need more "showing?"

Postby Lwoods1020 » Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:13 pm

Hi I don't know if you're still taking criticisms but I think you're making very weak examples of the subway job and your friends to the mediation theme of essay. The rest is good amd I like your style. I would stretch the violin and internship more.

I also think it's a tiny bit wordy. I understand it's for the sake of style but lawyers are concise. Show them you can write like a lawyer.

I would also expand your mediation theme into what kind of law you want to practice. Mediation can be present in MANY different areas of law - I would elaborate. It would bridge any gap between your mediating skills and your desire and worthiness to go to law school.

Good luck!




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