Rough PS draft, help??

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Rough PS draft, help??

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 16, 2016 2:29 pm

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Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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34iplaw

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Re: Rough PS draft, help??

Postby 34iplaw » Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:01 pm

First off, "Note: Since I have so much time, I am also exploring other PS topics - talking about a class where I played RBG for a semester and discovered my love of law, discussing salsa dancing and how it pushes me to be a better person, and a typical "why law school" statement. So if this topic seems a bit dry or any of the other ones sound more interesting, please lmk."

That is the right attitude to have I feel. Write a few and explore them. See what flows and what is compelling. Part of me thinks I know where you went, but I really don't.

Second off, I'd get advice from some other URM or people of similar backgrounds on the forum. I think they will be better able to advise you. Overall, I like it, but I wonder if it is really personal enough.

--- I didn't really do too much grammar, since you're so early on...mostly high level commentary that was all typed as I read---

As I weighed whether I should transfer to School X, every American I knew asked me the same question: “Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?” I found this odd for several reasons. First of all, having lived in the U.S. for three years already, I was slightly taken aback that everyone seemed to know this phrase from memory. I certainly had never heard it before. But, more importantly, I thought the answer to the question was obvious – I wanted to be a big fish in a big pond. After all, the big pond must have a fish that is bigger than all the others. If I worked hard, maybe one day I could be that big fish.

So, I like the idea of this. I kind of like the idea of approaching an idiom. There's something about the execution I'm not huge on... maybe it's kind of expected. I feel like I'm almost certain this is a line from a movie or TV show [probably an embarrassing one that I just inadvertently admitted to seeing as that's always the case]. It may just be that maybe three sentences is too much to expound on the idea. I think ending it abruptly makes it somewhat cute, cheeky, and humorous. Extending it diminishes that effect. I also like how the idiom is used very on as a means to show of being sort of feeling out of place... lacking a shared experience. If not here, I could see this being a good idea for a diversity statement. Either way, I like the idiom idea. It could be a good thing to end on as well...like an idiomatic Mexican or Cuban expression... that could be a bit forced/corny though.

I arrived at School X aware that I was a small fish, but excited that this new environment would push me to grow. After a couple of days, however, culture shock began to sink in. When I first moved to Miami from Mexico, I found it easy to adapt – even though I had moved to a new country, the majority of the people around me were still Hispanic, and, as the child of a Cuban mother, the food and culture were already familiar to me. School X, on the other hand, felt like a whole new world. I did not realize how deeply my culture had influenced me until I was surrounded by people of American ancestry who looked quietly puzzled when I accidentally mixed English and Spanish. In Miami, my friends’ parents had been immigrants, like my parents. Their English was limited, and their understanding of U.S. higher education and careers minimal. At School X, it seemed like everyone had parents with doctorates, parents who had attended Ivy Leagues and could give advice on everything from writing a resume to getting a summer internship. Thinking of home, I felt overwhelmed. My mother had asked me for help with writing her resume.

I really like the 'My mother had asked me for help with writing her resume.' I would prefer the wording 'My mother asked for my help with her resume.' or something similar. 'At school X, ... writing her resume' is my favorite thing from this paragraph.

In many ways, I think my transition to School X was more of a challenge than moving to the U.S. from Mexico, but it was a challenge I was prepared for. At nineteen, I was much more mature than I had been four years earlier, and I think I succeeded in taking this experience as a chance to grow. If I got a B on an assignment, I did not beat myself up – I simply resolved to try harder next time. At times, I felt overwhelmed that everyone around me seemed to be doing so much better than I was, but I tried to remain focused on how far I had come since arriving to School X. My writing, I knew, had improved exponentially, and I was able to understand dense texts more quickly than before. As stressful as my first year was, and as much as I hated the total lack of Hispanic food in (Town), by the end of my sophomore year I was sure I had made the right choice in coming to School X. Today, School X finally feels like home.

I'm not huge on this paragraph. I think it's good in the sense that it shows how you overcame challenges [and this could just be how I prefer to write from a stylistic standpoint] but I feel like I would prefer that peppered in rather than in a dense chunk.

In the end, I am not sure it is fair to say that I am a big fish in a big pond. At School X, I have learned just how many brilliant, dedicated, and hardworking people there are who are trying to make this world a better place, just like I am. But what I do know is that I am a far bigger fish than I would have been if I had chosen to remain where I was comfortable – if I had chosen not to transfer to School X, or chosen to stay at home with my parents in Mexico. Today, I am thankful that my choices have placed me in a position where I can even apply to Y law school, much less hope to get in. I look forward to beginning my law school career with the same excitement I felt on that first day in (Town) as I set down my bags and went out to explore my new pond.

Humility is good, but I'm not sure if a personal statement is the place for it, especially given that you haven't been overly boastful, IMO. I like the remaining comfortable part, as that is sort of the crux of this all. You could have remained comfortable. You didn't.

I'll just say that, my personal style tends to go towards using the more mundane or oddly specific as a lens. As such, I like the salsa dancing, as it invites some more flexibility into the structure of a statement. I feel like you could rewrite this essay verbatim with becoming a better salsa dancer instead of a big fish in a small pond. You could also use something like salsa dancing to bridge the different things. Then again if everyone follows my advice, every single adcom received in 2016 will be creative writing.

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Re: Rough PS draft, help??

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:57 pm

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34iplaw

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Re: Rough PS draft, help??

Postby 34iplaw » Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:38 am

No problem.

I think the last one is workable, but there is something about it that did seem a bit impersonal. Maybe, there wasn't enough emotion or voice in it. I'm not certain. If you want to inject emotion, I think that is usually fairly easy by beginning with something charged. It will likely color the rest of your writing / make your reader quite aware of your mindset going forward.

To be brutally/completely honest, I prefer your previous writing a lot more than this. This could be, in part, me being brought up to be somewhat uneasy about openly discussing financial circumstances. I think your previous ways of comparing the unique challenges you face compared to your peers at college [i.e. their parents help with resumes, land internships, etc. while you help your mother with her resume] is a lot better than what you have here. The first paragraph, while entirely plausible, reads in a way that, in my opinion, would not necessarily reflect upon you in the best light... i.e. she could have said exactly what you stated, but, even if she did, it sounds like an exaggeration and/or mocking them. Other parts of it could come across as either petty or money-obsessed which, honestly, I do not think is the case, but it just reads not in the best way, IMO.

As for lines that I like from this batch...

'I had so much financial aid I didn’t pay tuition, but I still worried about whether the debit card my father gave me would be declined.' - I'm not 100% on the wording, but there could be something here to some extent. Again though, there's something about talking about this type of stuff that irks me a little.

If School X taught me what it was like to be poor, it also showed me what it was like to be a minority. I was certainly the norm growing up in Mexico, but even in Miami, I felt normal. Being an immigrant was standard, and, in a city where 67% of the population is Hispanic, my Mexican/Cuban heritage didn’t draw much attention. School X made me feel thoroughly Latina. The food was not my food. If I answered a call from my mother in Spanish, heads turned. When I came home, my boyfriend said I talked differently – “like a white girl.” He was probably right.[/quote]

This paragraph I'm OK with. I would drop the 67%. I'm weird like that... one number on a page just looks odd to me. It's also just oddly specific for a PS... I'd just use a good vocab word for most... predominantly or whatever. I do find the idea touched on in here as somewhat interesting... i.e. school X sort of exemplified and highlighted your traits. Possibly good, possibly bad.

I'd just write some stuff down as if you were working on a journal or something... don't necessarily write it with the explicit intent of it being your personal statement. Maybe there's something that has weighed on you or bothered you. Maybe there's a point that really encapsulates some form of conflict - whether that was you trying to fit in by being thrifty with clothing in high school or something similar now. If you're set on something you have, I'd go with the first stuff I had seen and just work on incorporating emotion...maybe change the idiom bit into an introduction that's narrative culminating in your mother asking for help with her resume. Maybe helping your mother with her resume is a particularly noteworthy experience that really shows how far you've come and how much you have put out there. I think the two strongest things you have put forward so far are the idea of helping your mother with her resume in contrast to the connections and knowledge of career paths/etc. of your peers as well as the idea of choosing to take a risk and choosing to not being satisfied with being just comfortable.

Sorry for all the conjecture at the end... I really don't know that much so I may assign more significance to something than it is.

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Re: Rough PS draft, help??

Postby Mark Aldridge » Sun Jun 19, 2016 12:35 am

In 20__, I moved from Mexico to Miami. Unlike many immigrants, I adapted easily. Though America was an entirely new land, the food, culture and people of Miami made it feel like home. My Cuban mother, who assimilated seamlessly into the Cuban Miami community, made the transition even easier.

So it was surprising that what made me feel like a fish out of water was not my immigration to a new country, but transferring to a new school. I recall, as a contemplated whether I had it in me to compete at School X, asking my American friends what they thought. They told me not to do it – not in so few words, but by asking “Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?” I didn’t know if there was a right answer, but the answer that I gave was that I wanted to be a big fish, but in a big pond.

On campus, it became clear that I was a very small fish. I suppose I was prepared for that, but what struck me was that transferring to School X was like immigrating all over again, but to a country I didn’t know. Most of the students didn’t look like my friends in Miami, most didn’t speak like them, and most came from families of Ivy-educated PhDs. They knew things I didn’t know and they and their parents stressed things I wouldn’t have seen the importance of, like getting your resume just right and landing a crucial summer internship. I felt overwhelmed. At home, my mother had asked me for help with writing her resume, not the other way around. And in Miami, my friends’ parents were all immigrants like my own, with broken English and a benighted understanding of the U.S. higher education system and race for corporate careers. I felt as though my new peers didn’t understand me either. They [need one more example] and became confused when I accidentally mixed English and Spanish.

But at nineteen, I was an adult, and I was going to approach this new world like one. I thought about how much I had grown in the time since I’d immigrated. I knew I could either be intimidated at the thought that my peers knew things I didn’t and had experiences I hadn’t, or I could take this experience as a chance to grow.

I chose the latter. I didn’t beat myself up over poor grades. I resolved to try harder next time. Though I doubted myself when my peers seemed to be doing so much better than me, I told myself to remember how far I’d come since I’d started. For one, my writing had improved exponentially. This was no small accomplishment for a non-native speaker. I also found that I was reading, and comprehending, dense texts more quickly than ever before.

My first year at School X was stressful (and the lack of anything approaching decent Hispanic food in ____ didn’t help). But by the end of my sophomore year, I knew this was the right choice. Today, it feels like home.

I am not a big fish in a big pond. There are too many brilliant, dedicated, and hardworking people at School X for me to think so. But that’s why I like it. My peers challenge me, push me to work harder, and they work hard to make the world a better place. But I’m a bigger fish than I would have been had I chosen to stay at ___, or chosen to remain in my comfort zone in Mexico.

I’m thankful that the choices I’ve made have even allowed me to apply to law school. I look forward to beginning my law school career with the same excitement I felt on that first day in (Town). I look forward to diving into my new pond.

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Re: Rough PS draft, help??

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 19, 2016 6:48 pm

Thanks for your feedback, guys!

Honestly the more I think about this, the more I think this is not a good PS topic. It's too impersonal and sounds like I'm whining a bit. I think I'm going to try to dig deeper and find something to talk about where my personality really shines through. Thanks for taking the time to respond, though! I really appreciate it.

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34iplaw

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Re: Rough PS draft, help??

Postby 34iplaw » Mon Jun 20, 2016 8:49 am

No problem. I definitely think that you can do better, but there are certain really good lines in there that will work in different statements. Best of luck, and feel free to post here again.

Again, sorry if anything came off as too critical or harsh - that most certainly wasn't the intention!

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Re: Rough PS draft, help??

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 20, 2016 12:59 pm

No, definitely didn't come off as too harsh at all. Don't worry! I really appreciated your comments. I think they were spot on :)

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Re: Rough PS draft, help??

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:12 pm

34iplaw and Mark Aldridge... would you guys mind deleting your comments? I am trying to avoid having an admissions officer see this down the line. thanks!!



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