PS help wanted -- is this too political?

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ElliotNessquire
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PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby ElliotNessquire » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:21 pm

This is just my first draft of this, would appreciate both criticisms as well as components you feel are strong.



Vagrant. Undesirable. Societally leprous. These were just a few of the labels James had shared with me as we discussed his interactions with the people that walk by him each day as he starts his by begging for any pittance he can get his hands on. Before I lead you to think otherwise, I would likely have been the same person that walks on by without stopping to give of my finances towards James’s daily struggle for survival. But on the bitterly cold December day when James and I first interacted, he wasn’t looking for charity -- he wanted answers.

I had barely stepped foot on the sidewalk when a bedraggled man approached me and wanted to know why life wasn’t fair. The man went on to express the paradox of his desire to sober up with his inability to tame his fleshly need for the drinks he continually scorned each following morning. The subtle slur of his words and the not-so subtle scent of booze on his breath gave me reason to believe that any attempt at answering his question may be better received at a later time. Pulling a wadded piece of paper from my coat, I jotted my name and phone number on it, placing it in his hand as I clasped it tight around the parchment. I instructed him to call me once he was feeling better so we can discuss his query at a better venue at that time.

To my surprise, the call did come and that “better venue” became a booth at the McDonald’s location nearest the spot where James and I met just a week earlier. Looking across the table I saw almost none of the downtrodden and woeful man that had approached me. While his attire did little more than serve its purpose of warmth, this man was handsome, his teeth pearly and his face cleanly shaven. It made a lasting impression on me; I remember thinking, this man prepared for our meeting. I learned that James had been battling a history of substance abuse, a struggle that he identified as the genesis of what then became frequent run-ins with the law that now saw him struggling to find peace with his estranged family.
********************************************
It was January 2011 and I was riding down Maui’s Mt. Haleakala on a bicycle with my two best friends in one of the most scenic places in the world. During a brief stop for hydration in a small community on our way back to the base of the mountain, I received a phone call. The lab work that I thought I had nothing to worry about had returned -- cancer. I don’t know that I can accurately describe the emotions you feel when you are informed that cancer has struck your body, but I remember feeling like an injustice had occurred when the nurse gave me the news -- like life wasn’t fair.

My mind was consumed with the memories of watching the life widdle away from my dear grandfather as he eventually succumbed to his battle with pancreatic cancer. I thought back to a childhood friend who also lost his fight, this one being at the hands of brain cancer at the far too young age of just 10 years old. Would this be my fate? I felt as good as ever but the pathology report indicated otherwise. I, like James, felt that at that moment life just wasn’t fair.

The following week I found myself sitting in the waiting room at one of the best doctors money and coverage could provide. It was at this moment that I again thought to myself that life wasn’t fair. Wouldn’t fair mean I would be at one of the most average of doctors I could see? Fair would mean that whatever health care plan or financial resources were available to me to see the very best doctor would be of little weight because if life were truly fair, all would have the same access to this sort of care.

Through subsequent conversations with James, I learned about a Jennifer, James’s parole officer. I am no expert in the requirements that a parole officer has to its convicts, but I am certain that Jennifer exceeded them daily. James had very little in way of resources, both financially and in terms of possessions. When he needed to be in his western Kansas hometown to attend his brother’s funeral weeks earlier, Jennifer drove him. Four hours each way on a Saturday. James had shared with me about the time she had reprimanded him in her office after seeing him ridiculing a fellow homeless person because of the fact that he was on disability. When an unexpected winter storm struck the city, she grabbed her warmest blanket and got in her car searching for James, eventually finding him crawled up in the cutout of a downtown building, his teeth chattering and his body shaking.

Within the context of a legal schooling, I see the opportunity to be an advocate to those who need to be heard. A legal education can pave the way for me to represent an individual in such a way that a more equitable future is what is ultimately awarded. It permits the possibility to see a sustainable positive impact come from seemingly bleak situations. I am excited about the opportunity to receive this tutelage not because of what it may eventually afford me, but due to the positive impact that can be had with the accrual of legal knowledge.

How fair was it that a man that had made the kinds of decisions James had was able to be assigned an all-star parole officer like Jennifer? I suppose that question may be answered in various ways, but what I ultimately told James when he wanted to know why life isn’t fair is that it doesn’t matter why it isn’t fair. In life, we are both unfortunate to not receive what we feel we deserve and lucky to receive better than what we have earned.
Last edited by ElliotNessquire on Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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papercut
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby papercut » Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:02 pm

These were just a few of the labels James had shared with me as we discussed his interactions with the people that walk by him each day as he starts his by begging for vittles on the streets of the city.


You lost me here. This is a rambling sentence. "Blabalab as blablabla as blablabla"

Wtf are vittles? Oh it's a word no one uses to say FOOD.
source: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?c ... od%3B%2Cc0

Where were you that homeless people begged for food?

Why do people hit the thesaurus so hard when they try to write these?

ElliotNessquire
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby ElliotNessquire » Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:08 pm

papercut wrote:
These were just a few of the labels James had shared with me as we discussed his interactions with the people that walk by him each day as he starts his by begging for vittles on the streets of the city.


You lost me here. This is a rambling sentence. "Blabalab as blablabla as blablabla"

Wtf are vittles? Oh it's a word no one uses to say FOOD.
source: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?c ... od%3B%2Cc0

Where were you that homeless people begged for food?

Why do people hit the thesaurus so hard when they try to write these?




Didn't use a thesaurus, but I did incorrectly use that word. Thanks!

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papercut
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby papercut » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:57 pm

ElliotNessquire wrote:
papercut wrote:
These were just a few of the labels James had shared with me as we discussed his interactions with the people that walk by him each day as he starts his by begging for vittles on the streets of the city.


You lost me here. This is a rambling sentence. "Blabalab as blablabla as blablabla"

Wtf are vittles? Oh it's a word no one uses to say FOOD.
source: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?c ... od%3B%2Cc0

Where were you that homeless people begged for food?

Why do people hit the thesaurus so hard when they try to write these?




Didn't use a thesaurus, but I did incorrectly use that word. Thanks!


"Vittles" is part of your everyday vocabulary? :roll:

HRomanus
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby HRomanus » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:09 pm

Never make your audience work to understand you, because there are hundreds of other personal statements and applicants to read. Be concise and clear. If something doesn't contribute to your thesis - eliminate it. Creating atmosphere is best in a novel, not a two page personal statement. Your sentences need to be shorter, their subjects clearer, and their verbs more active. Send your statement to the dumbest people you know and revise until they understand 90% of it.

Your subject is a bit moralistic, but your language contributes to that perception.

I too struggle with far too complicated writing, so I understand your position.

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wealtheow
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby wealtheow » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:23 pm

papercut wrote:
"Vittles" is part of your everyday vocabulary? :roll:


redwall series can do that to a person!

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patogordo
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby patogordo » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:27 pm

who gives parchment paper to a homeless person?

HRomanus
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby HRomanus » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:44 pm

wealtheow wrote:
papercut wrote:
"Vittles" is part of your everyday vocabulary? :roll:


redwall series can do that to a person!


The point is that it sounds like you pulled from a thesaurus. You can get away with that sometimes, but your entire PS is littered with it.

But that isn't necessarily "wrong." Check out some personal statement examples from U Chicago. I think Eliza Riffe's statement would be torn down on this forum (I particularly dislike this line: Per this inscription, which is an abridgement of a passage by Sir Francis Bacon, we readers ought to approach knowledge as a means of enhancing our judgment and not as fodder for proclamations or discord.) - but does it matter? Obviously, she was admitted and is successful there. Edit your statement for clarity, but write with your voice. After all, this statement is about you.

ElliotNessquire
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby ElliotNessquire » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:31 pm

I would be interested to hear if people feel whether or not it sounds like I'm giving admissions staff reason to believe why I could be an asset to an their law school. Is the topic too personal? Should I be doing more to address why I want to go to law school/be more direct about why I am a good fit? Thanks in advance.

HRomanus
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby HRomanus » Mon Feb 17, 2014 3:03 pm

ElliotNessquire wrote:I would be interested to hear if people feel whether or not it sounds like I'm giving admissions staff reason to believe why I could be an asset to an their law school. Is the topic too personal? Should I be doing more to address why I want to go to law school/be more direct about why I am a good fit? Thanks in advance.


The stuff about James comes across very moralistic and irrelevant. You want to go to law school because...you talked to this guy? And because talking to him revealed that life isn't fair? Didn't know you that already? The best advice I've seen here is to not write a purpose statement, write a personal statement. Law schools already know you want to go to law school (you're applying), but they want to know who you are as a person. Getting into "why law" is sticky for multiple reasons, primarily because you don't understand the legal profession yet. For example, why is law the only way to "advocate for those who need to be heard"?

A story about another person should only reflect your character and your skills. In this statement, the only things you do are give a guy parchment and sit down with him. Otherwise, you do a lot of boring, moralistic reflection. Is that who are? Based on this statement, you are: pretentious, spoiled, naive. You think, not act. If you aren't those things, write a new statement. Think about what have you done in life that exhibits who you are as a person (in a positive light) and write about that.

If you had to tell me a three-sentence story about who you are, what would it be?

ElliotNessquire
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby ElliotNessquire » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:28 pm

HRomanus wrote:
ElliotNessquire wrote:I would be interested to hear if people feel whether or not it sounds like I'm giving admissions staff reason to believe why I could be an asset to an their law school. Is the topic too personal? Should I be doing more to address why I want to go to law school/be more direct about why I am a good fit? Thanks in advance.


The stuff about James comes across very moralistic and irrelevant. You want to go to law school because...you talked to this guy? And because talking to him revealed that life isn't fair? Didn't know you that already? The best advice I've seen here is to not write a purpose statement, write a personal statement. Law schools already know you want to go to law school (you're applying), but they want to know who you are as a person. Getting into "why law" is sticky for multiple reasons, primarily because you don't understand the legal profession yet. For example, why is law the only way to "advocate for those who need to be heard"?

A story about another person should only reflect your character and your skills. In this statement, the only things you do are give a guy parchment and sit down with him. Otherwise, you do a lot of boring, moralistic reflection. Is that who are? Based on this statement, you are: pretentious, spoiled, naive. You think, not act. If you aren't those things, write a new statement. Think about what have you done in life that exhibits who you are as a person (in a positive light) and write about that.

If you had to tell me a three-sentence story about who you are, what would it be?



Big time thanks for your input. I didn't talk about it much, but James and I actually have a pretty cool relationship now. He's since moved into a halfway house with others struggling with addiction and he calls about once a week. I thought about delving more into our relationship and how much he has helped me, but I didn't think there was enough room for any of that.

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tkim129
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby tkim129 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:53 pm

First off, you have awesome content to work with. Stick to it.

However, you need to streamline the narrative. There are far too many threads going off without any development. You have to prioritize what you want to focus on. If something isn't absolutely useful, then get rid of it.

For example, that stuff about biking on the mountain top, you could probably get rid of it. Just jump straight to the phone call and spend your newly available words developing that instead.

Also, I want to add to what the others about your choice of words said except that there is nothing wrong with using "fancy" words per se. However, make sure that it doesn't sound awkward.

For example, if you are biking with your friends, there's no reason to say you got "hydrated." Such a phrase is more appropriate in a more serious medical or scientific context. Using it there sounds out of place. The same thing with "vittles." Putting a homeless person and the word "vittles" in the same sentence creates cognitive dissonance. Homeless people ask for scraps and leftovers, not comestibles or nutriment.

Hope that helps.

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tkim129
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby tkim129 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:56 pm

And to answer your original question - no, it's not too political.

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patogordo
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby patogordo » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:57 pm

it's one thing to use "big words"and quite another to talk about pressing parchment into a hobo's extremity. you are gonna get wrecked by law school exams writing like this.

HRomanus
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby HRomanus » Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:35 pm

ElliotNessquire wrote:Big time thanks for your input. I didn't talk about it much, but James and I actually have a pretty cool relationship now. He's since moved into a halfway house with others struggling with addiction and he calls about once a week. I thought about delving more into our relationship and how much he has helped me, but I didn't think there was enough room for any of that.


Make sure if you focus on your relationship with James that it always returns to you. As papercut awkwardly wrote in another thread, "You're trying to get yourself into law school, not your mom." At this moment, James is only meaningful because he and your relationship with him are vehicles to reveal your character and your skills. Try not to reflect on what you learned from the relationship, but what you did during or as a result of the relationship.

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papercut
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby papercut » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:14 pm

HRomanus wrote:
wealtheow wrote:
papercut wrote:
"Vittles" is part of your everyday vocabulary? :roll:


redwall series can do that to a person!


The point is that it sounds like you pulled from a thesaurus. You can get away with that sometimes, but your entire PS is littered with it.

But that isn't necessarily "wrong." Check out some personal statement examples from U Chicago. I think Eliza Riffe's statement would be torn down on this forum (I particularly dislike this line: Per this inscription, which is an abridgement of a passage by Sir Francis Bacon, we readers ought to approach knowledge as a means of enhancing our judgment and not as fodder for proclamations or discord.) - but does it matter? Obviously, she was admitted and is successful there. Edit your statement for clarity, but write with your voice. After all, this statement is about you.


Ugh. Yeah not a fan of this girl's writing.

Translating that sentence: "Knowledge should make us smarter, not more boastful."

This is why I hate this kind of writing. It's a perfectly boring idea dressed in fancy academic talk.

Now that I got that out of my system, I do agree with you. There are no natural laws when it comes to writing (outside of syntax), just rules a lot of people happened to agree on.

Law profs and lawyers are pretty poor writers on average. I could see something like this girl's writing being good enough, but I do think that the plain everyday language approach would work better.

I do wonder how they picked these PSs. Are these just admitted students that volunteered to have their PSs made public? Or were they approached because they had more than just PSs that "worked." It's the difference between not being hurt by your PS and actually being helped by it.

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papercut
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby papercut » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:27 pm

patogordo wrote:it's one thing to use "big words"and quite another to talk about pressing parchment into a hobo's extremity. you are gonna get wrecked by law school exams writing like this.


+1

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jselson
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Re: PS help wanted -- is this too political?

Postby jselson » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:37 pm

HRomanus wrote:
wealtheow wrote:
papercut wrote:
"Vittles" is part of your everyday vocabulary? :roll:


redwall series can do that to a person!


The point is that it sounds like you pulled from a thesaurus. You can get away with that sometimes, but your entire PS is littered with it.

But that isn't necessarily "wrong." Check out some personal statement examples from U Chicago. I think Eliza Riffe's statement would be torn down on this forum (I particularly dislike this line: Per this inscription, which is an abridgement of a passage by Sir Francis Bacon, we readers ought to approach knowledge as a means of enhancing our judgment and not as fodder for proclamations or discord.) - but does it matter? Obviously, she was admitted and is successful there. Edit your statement for clarity, but write with your voice. After all, this statement is about you.


I would've dinged her for mentioning Wordsworth in an essay about inscriptions without referring to the Essays on Epitaphs. Using Tintern Abbey is TTT.




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