Critique Please!-You'll be the first to have read my PS!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
misskatejd
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:49 am

Critique Please!-You'll be the first to have read my PS!

Postby misskatejd » Fri Nov 21, 2014 1:50 pm

Hey everyone. Please critique my personal statement below! No one has read it yet. Thanks! :D


My mom grabbed my face, shaking it gently, “Kate, are you okay? Can you understand me?” I could barely feel, hardly hear, and forgot how to speak. What was only 12 seconds had felt like hours. I was having a seizure, the most oppressive fog I have every known. It was in the fourth grade that I had been diagnosed with absence seizures, also known as petit mal epilepsy, characterized as a sudden lapse in consciousness. Although such incidents had been occurring long before the diagnoses, those around me simply thought I was not paying attention. From this moment on, epilepsy meant spending many absent school days traveling to visit a neurologist, having unanswered questions, and being prescribed medication in every growing quantities.
Living with petit mal epilepsy became a frustrating, and an often embarrassing obstacle I faced for many years. In daily interactions, I would often stop speaking mid-sentence, stare blankly, and return back to a conversation only to completely forget what I had originally been talking about. Making a speech in front of class, meeting someone new, and any other event that would highlight my inability to speak uninterrupted for few minutes would fill me with fear. Despite all the efforts made, no amount of little orange pills would suppress the seizures. Feeling defeated, as a young adult I eventually picked myself up decided that epilepsy was not going to define me.

In my second semester of community college, I enrolled in Speech and Debate. As nervous as I was, I was also motivated. Here was an opportunity to develop the skills necessary to be confident and effective at giving a speech in front of others as well as in day to day conversations. I wanted to face my fears. I worked hard to ensure that no one would know my battle with epilepsy. I spent many hours editing and preparing my argument so as to be confident giving my speech. By the end of the same semester, my seizures had greatly diminished and I felt as though I was finally gaining control. I had a series of check ups in the following semesters with the neurologist who, after running tests, determined that I had improved to the point of no longer needing medication. I have no doubt that the class and my growing confidence had played a large role in overcoming my seizures.

I continued to challenge myself through the rest of my college career while also pursuing my passion for law. I went on to earn Fresno State’s Pre-Law certificate by taking various legal courses. It was in one of such legal classes, that my professor suggested I join Moot Court. Following her advice, I enrolled in Moot Court in my last semester. I learned many court cases, how to effectively apply them, be able to handle interjecting questions, all while in front of rows of my peers. Also during the same semester, I was voted in as president of the Fresno State College Republicans. Becoming president pushed me further to confidently lead, delegate tasks, and command a room during meetings. From being the young girl who would shake with nerves when speaking in front of groups, I could not help but think of how far I had come since I began. Although it was not an instant fix, I believe that my commitment to self improvement is what ultimately helped me overcome my struggle with epilepsy.

Having epilepsy has allowed me to become the best version of myself and gain qualities I believe to be useful for pursuing a career in law. In addition to my long time interest in the field, I have become more understanding to those facing obstacles, I can adapt in times of difficulty, and most importantly I have learned to continuously challenge myself. I would like to apply these skills to my interest in the field of water law. Born and raised in California, I am all too aware of the difficulties both businesses and the environment face when water is sparse. I aspire to work in the legal field as it pertains to real estate development, zoning regulations, environmental matters, and any subsequent litigation. I also have an interest in commercial real estate transactions. Whether on the coast or the state’s Central Valley, I wish to work with my community to help the city, individuals, and businesses flourish while they remain cohesive and environmentally responsible.

griffin3575
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:04 pm

Re: Critique Please!-You'll be the first to have read my PS!

Postby griffin3575 » Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:58 pm

The premise of my PS matches yours. It's a good start, and there is a lot of room for improvement:

- Try to tone down the amount of lists you use for descriptions
- Insert a new paragraph after "fog I have ever(y) know." It would be beneficial to foreshadow what overcoming means at the end of the first paragraph by adding a sentence. Something like "It was through the struggles of epilepsy and the process to overcome my seizures that ..."
- Strike "characterized as a sudden lapse in consciousnesses" people know what epilepsy is, so it's unnecessary
- Move the sentence beginning with "Feeling defeated" to the next paragraph to highlight the transition of who you were in the past to who you are now becoming. Also, maybe rephrase as follows: "Deciding that epilepsy was not going to define me through adulthood, I enrolled in Speech and Debate early in my college career." Try to explain after this sentence why you were doing this (see next suggestion)
- Try to develop why it was important that you overcome epilepsy in the original 2nd paragraph. "Deciding that epilepsy was not going to define me" is not believable or compelling. Why did you want to change? if it was the critical first step to pursuing your passion for law, say so, but don't sound cliche. I wrote about overcoming ADHD and Tourette's, and I talked about how the threat of college and its implications for my future made me realize a change was necessary (not the most compelling, but it was truthful)
- Combine the two sentences about moot court into one to avoid redundancy
- Move the sentence "although it was not an instant fix" to the last paragraph to highlight the transition from who you were becoming to who you are now. Combine this sentence with the first sentence of the last paragraph, and eliminate "best version of myself." You already talk about self-improvement.
- Reword "I believe to be useful for a pursuing a career in law" to "will be useful for a pursuing a career in law." You don't just think so, you know so. Show conviction
- Your final paragraph needs the most work. You explain in previous paragraphs how/that you have overcome epilepsy, and the last paragraph is your opportunity to explain why that is significant. As your essay is structured as I had epilepsy - I overcame epilepsy - now I want to do law, we are missing the who you are today and why law component. Try to to articulate how your experience has shaped you and why that journey has led you to the law, and if you can, why it has led you to the areas of the law you listed. The latter part really comes out of nowhere, and it doesn't really make sense/fit into the rest of the PS. Fix this, or you're just spewing meaningless filler.

This PS has potential. More generally, you need to work on removing excess language from your sentences ("I had a series of checkups in the following semesters with neurologists who, after running tests, determined I had improved to the point of no longer needing medication." to "By the end of college, I had made so much progress that medication was no longer necessary."), the feelings of transition in the middle of paragraphs (... these skills to my interest in the field of water law. Born and raised in CA...) , grammar, word usage, repetitive ideas (taking medicine, self improvement, joining moot court), etc etc. What I would do is read your essay, and whenever you can eliminate words within a sentence to make it more concise without losing meaning, do so. Let me know if you want to read my PS; I'll PM it to you if you think it may help.

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Gefuehlsecht
Posts: 113
Joined: Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:20 am

Re: Critique Please!-You'll be the first to have read my PS!

Postby Gefuehlsecht » Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:34 pm

Couple things. First, change mom to mother.

medication in every growing quantities.


Every?

instant fix


Find a better way to describe that.

The second half is a bit of a resume rehash, I'd rework that part completely. Generally, I find this statement somewhat bland and not particularly compelling. But if you have the numbers for your school you'll be ok, it won't hurt you, either.

misskatejd
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:49 am

Re: Critique Please!-You'll be the first to have read my PS!

Postby misskatejd » Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:56 pm

Thanks for the advice. If is on any consolation, I would like to go to Hastings.

griffin3575: thank you for taking the time to read my ps, i appreciate it and will take your points into consideration. Also, I''ll take you up on that offer of sharing yours. :)

Gefuehlsecht: yes, i see the typos, luckily it is only a draft! Also, you state that you "find this statement somewhat bland and not particularly compelling". Okay, but why? The content? My writing style? It can be difficult to write these statements that are wonderfully inspirational when you are white, middle class, and generally successful. lol

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Gefuehlsecht
Posts: 113
Joined: Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:20 am

Re: Critique Please!-You'll be the first to have read my PS!

Postby Gefuehlsecht » Fri Nov 21, 2014 11:28 pm

misskatejd wrote:Gefuehlsecht: yes, i see the typos, luckily it is only a draft! Also, you state that you "find this statement somewhat bland and not particularly compelling". Okay, but why? The content? My writing style? It can be difficult to write these statements that are wonderfully inspirational when you are white, middle class, and generally successful. lol


Luckily it's only a draft. Right. How about fixing them in the first place, especially since you are aware of them? You might as well get used to submitting perfect work product now, even before you embark on your law school voyage and legal career. You'll be glad you did in a few years.

Regarding your other question, nobody expects that you write about curing cancer at age three while composing symphonies in your spare time. However, an essay is usually more compelling if the writer manages to offer some insight into their personality and way of thinking. This is not easy to do and requires the use of meaningful examples instead of simply using unverifiable statements. The old adage of show, don't tell, comes to mind.




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