Looking for PS feedback

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Looking for PS feedback

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:16 pm

Not sure whether this should be my diversity statement or my PS... Anyway, any thoughts would be very appreciated. Thanks.

I was a different person when, at fifteen, I left my parents and brother behind and moved to the U.S. to live with my aunt and grandmother. Like most teenagers, I was all-knowing, and very sure – sure of my faith, of my political views, of what was right and wrong. I was sure I would get into a great college, the first of many successes in my life. Most of all, I was sure the U.S. would not change me. Naturally, I was extremely wrong.

If you were to fold my life in two, moving to the U.S. would be the turning point. I grew up in an environment where everyone I knew was the same. In Mexico, it seemed that everyone was Catholic, and the dogmas we believed were not only religious, but also political. I never met anyone who would admit to supporting abortion, to believing that sex before marriage was normal, to supporting same-sex relationships. And the sameness extended beyond politics – everyone was Mexican, and most of my friends (myself being the notable exception) were exceedingly wealthy, coming from old money. Very few cared about school, our lives instead revolving around boys and what to wear to parties. I knew one Black person before I came to the U.S. I had never met an Asian person, or anyone who identified as LGBT+.

Coming to the U.S. was a revelation. For the first time, people were different from me – radically different. Sometimes, they were even right. I began the gradual process of learning about politics in an environment where people had opposing views, where there was genuine debate. For the first time, I was forced to defend my beliefs. Some remained and took root, but many crumbled under the pressure. As I read about abortion, mass incarceration, and same-sex marriage in the U.S., I was unaware that I was beginning to discover one of the enduring passions of my life: research. I took deep joy in weighing opposing arguments against each other to reach my own conclusions, in looking at evidence I could base my beliefs off of, rather than dogma.

I did not realize how much I had changed – how much my mind and worldview had broadened – until I returned to Mexico. Because my mother is Cuban, I was able to apply to become a permanent resident as a Cuban citizen, a process that required that I spend a year without leaving the U.S. My parents and brother had visited, but my grandparents, friends, the food – all of these had been deeply missed. And yet, my summer return to my old life only made me feel out of place. Hearing my friends talk about politics and religion, repeating the views our school had always sponsored, I often had to bite my tongue. I was not so sure what I believed anymore.

Today, I can see that the experience of leaving my country and facing an immensely different culture forced me to become a more mature, open-minded, and ultimately more thoughtful person than I would have been had I chosen to stay in a society where my beliefs would have gone unchallenged. I expect going to law school will be a somewhat similar experience – that it will challenge my beliefs, broaden my worldview, and ultimately push me to become a more informed person. I look forward to it.

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34iplaw

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Re: Looking for PS feedback

Postby 34iplaw » Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:02 pm

I'm not sure about the PS/DS bit, and I think you can probably get more relevant feedback [I think there's a forum from that] from someone else. Just going to post my thoughts on it [I consider myself a fairly strong writer]...

I was a different person when, at fifteen, I left my parents and brother behind and moved to the U.S. to live with my aunt and grandmother. Like most teenagers, I was all-knowing, and very sure – sure of my faith, of my political views, of what was right and wrong. I was sure I would get into a great college, the first of many successes in my life. Most of all, I was sure the U.S. would not change me. Naturally, I was extremely wrong.

I like the bluntness of the first sentence, but I don't like the placement of the at fifteen and I think you should emphasize it. Something along the lines of: 'I was a different person when I left my parents and brother behind and moved to the U.S. to live with my aunt and grandmother. I was fifteen years old.' The shortness of the I was fifteen years old is sort of emphasized by the quick change in syntax and rhythm. I'm not sure that I like 'the first of many success in my life.' I do like the idea of being sure the US wouldn't change you, but that you were proven wrong.

If you were to fold my life in two, moving to the U.S. would be the turning point.

This expression doesn't make sense to me. I get it, but it's clunky. Maybe, I'm just unfamiliar with it, but it's odd. Folds and turning points aren't really related.

I grew up in an environment where everyone I knew was the same. In Mexico, it seemed that everyone was Catholic, and the dogmas we believed were not only religious, but also political.

No comma before but. I also don't like the phrasing everyone I knew was the same. You can pick something more articulate.

I never met anyone who would admit to supporting abortion, to believing that sex before marriage was normal, to supporting same-sex relationships.

I'm not really sure the political part needs to be expounded on. I don't think it's bad. I'm just impartial.

And the sameness extended beyond politics – everyone was Mexican, and most of my friends (myself being the notable exception) were exceedingly wealthy, coming from old money. Very few cared about school, our lives instead revolving around boys and what to wear to parties.

Not sure about the 'very few cared about school' bit. Also, you need to rework the sentence if you include it. It could be a personal thing, but I don't think that a PS should demean others. Show why you are great - not why they aren't. You could keep the idea, but it has to be framed around a positive about you rather than a negative about them IMO.

I knew one Black person before I came to the U.S. I had never met an Asian person, or anyone who identified as LGBT+.

Coming to the U.S. was a revelation. For the first time, people were different from me – radically different. Sometimes, they were even right.

I really like the 'Sometimes, they were even right.' line

I began the gradual process of learning about politics in an environment where people had opposing views, where there was genuine debate.

Not certain a comma is an appropriate separation here. I'd just simplify it to 'where people had opposing views, and there was genuine debate.'

For the first time, I was forced to defend my beliefs. Some remained and took root, but many crumbled under the pressure. As I read about abortion, mass incarceration, and same-sex marriage in the U.S., I was unaware that I was beginning to discover one of the enduring passions of my life: research. I took deep joy in weighing opposing arguments against each other to reach my own conclusions, in looking at evidence I could base my beliefs off of, rather than dogma.

I did not realize how much I had changed – how much my mind and worldview had broadened – until I returned to Mexico. Because my mother is Cuban, I was able to apply to become a permanent resident as a Cuban citizen, a process that required that I spend a year without leaving the U.S. My parents and brother had visited, but my grandparents, friends, the food – all of these had been deeply missed. And yet, my summer return to my old life only made me feel out of place.

I like the 'And yet...of place.' line. I'm not really sure I like the 'old life' phrase.

Hearing my friends talk about politics and religion, repeating the views our school had always sponsored, I often had to bite my tongue. I was not so sure what I believed anymore.

Well, you now knew what you believed right? You said so a paragraph or two prior. At this point, saying what you aren't sure what you believed sounds like that they would maybe be convincing you towards your old beliefs.

Today, I can see that the experience of leaving my country and facing an immensely different culture forced me to become a more mature, open-minded, and ultimately more thoughtful person than I would have been had I chosen to stay in a society where my beliefs would have gone unchallenged. I expect going to law school will be a somewhat similar experience – that it will challenge my beliefs, broaden my worldview, and ultimately push me to become a more informed person. I look forward to it.

Overall, I like the general idea. I'm not sure if it is better as a PS or a DS. I guess it depends what your DS is going to say. Personally, I err towards more creative writing, but that's my style. My main thing is that I would avoid phrasing that comes across as disparaging or condescending. As before, highlight why you are awesome - not why others aren't.

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Re: Looking for PS feedback

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:32 am

34iplaw, thank you so much. I think your feedback is really good.

I have some questions, if you don't mind...

I'm not really sure the political part needs to be expounded on. I don't think it's bad. I'm just impartial.
So, I may not have emphasized this enough, but I grew up in a very conservative environment. In a sense, Mexico is more economically liberal than the US (Free college, access to medicine, and childcare are standard) but also more socially conservative (anti-abortion/gay marriage/anything the Catholic Church opposes, really). This was compounded by the fact that I went to a Catholic school. So I guess I was trying to depict the fact that there was very little dissent in my community. No one would just say "Oh, actually I'm in favor of abortion," and so there was no debate. We were obviously right and the other side's views were barely represented. My mother felt pressured to hide the fact that she was an atheist for years. So this is what I was trying to convey. Maybe I need a more specific example?

"Very few cared about school, our lives instead revolving around boys and what to wear to parties."

Not sure about the 'very few cared about school' bit. Also, you need to rework the sentence if you include it. It could be a personal thing, but I don't think that a PS should demean others. Show why you are great - not why they aren't. You could keep the idea, but it has to be framed around a positive about you rather than a negative about them IMO.
This is why having someone else read your PS is so important. I wasn't trying to demean these people, I was saying I was like them - my life, like theirs, was very focused on superficial things. But then, I guess that still sounds demeaning. Maybe I could say something like, "In this society, it felt all too easy to place all my focus on boys and parties rather than my schooling - on the short rather than long term."

"I was not so sure what I believed anymore."

Well, you now knew what you believed right? You said so a paragraph or two prior. At this point, saying what you aren't sure what you believed sounds like that they would maybe be convincing you towards your old beliefs.


I guess here I was trying to express the fact that, even though I came to new conclusions off my own, I didn't go back to that mindset of being 100% sure I was right about something. That being wrong made me more comfortable accepting the fact that I could be wrong again this time, so even though I have my own beliefs, I am willing to consider evidence against them. I don't know if that makes any sense to you.

I guess what I am going for here is a PS that shows that I am someone who is thoughtful and enjoys research - someone who would do well in law school. I know this isn't the type of in-the-moment approach some other great PSs have taken, but to be honest at this point I'm not sure if that's really my style. I just hope maybe more concrete examples can make this feel like I am relating a specific period of growth for me and not just talking in the abstract.

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34iplaw

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Re: Looking for PS feedback

Postby 34iplaw » Tue Jun 21, 2016 10:26 am

No problem - any time. I enjoy giving feedback on these, as I'm having a bit of writers' block and it helps me think about my own. I have one, but it is probably too somber. I'm trying to think of some other ideas while I wait.

As for your questions...

--In regards to the political stuff, that is sort of what I figured, but I just didn't really care for the phrasing. Perhaps rather then list the things, explain how the prevalence of religion and its dogmas pervade into politics. I'd be careful with language that is too hostile to religion, not that I think that yours has been. The current wording sounds like the two are somewhat separate, but it seems fairly apparent to me that the religious beliefs/dogmas inform peoples' politics. I think you maybe need a more personal example. Perhaps, your mothers closeted atheism is a lens to make this more personal. I think you conveyed what you were trying to, but I think it was, perhaps, a little clunky and not overly personal or emotive.

--In regards to the second point, I honestly read it as 'their' in my head the first time which is what sort of informed my general opposition to the phrasing about boys and parties. I prefer your reworded statement by a substantial margin though. It shows you being critical of yourself and, in my mind, states that you have moved beyond this, or at the very least strongly implies that you have.

--In regards to your third point, I sort of assumed that is what you were trying to state, but I don't think that it really gets that idea across in a clear or meaningful way.

Final note / in regards to your fourth point...

One other thing I would suggest [I'm not sure how far along you are] - and it doesn't really pertain to this specific essay - is to go away from it for a few days and rewrite it prior to looking at it. Try rewriting it while hitting the same ideas you wanted to but don't feel constrained by the old structure, language, or format. In addition, just write something if it comes to mind. Maybe. it's something you have thought about a lot lately or that it bothers you. Maybe, there is something you should write about just to get it out there. It may turn out to be absolutely nothing, but it may also turn out to be the basis for a great PS/DS. I think that you should go through at least a few general frameworks/lenses/ideas before you settle on one. It could be that the first is the best, and it could turn out that the first is great; however, I think you need to give yourself the opportunity to find other things to write about.

Basically, the idea I'm getting at is a really great PS [or any personal writing], IMO, is a long process that takes very little time. What I mean is that the ideas should be given time to grow and nothing should be set in stone, but, once you find something, it is relatively easy [IMO] to perfect the syntax, grammar, etc. which is why I also don't really bother commenting *too* much on that stuff unless it is something I like.

In regards to the moment in time thing [which I'm personally a fan of], it may not be your style, and, if so, do not let someone force you into doing it. The benefit of the moment in time or a more creative approach is that is allows for more colorful, provocative, emotive, and personal language. It creates a fluid framework where you can help someone get inside of your mind and see what makes you tick. I think that is what is really important about the PS. The other benefit of the moment in time thing is it allows you to create a much more unusual or captivating opening. It doesn't even necessarily need to carry through. Granted - this idea of when you left your parents at fifteen years old could very well be a moment in time... a moment in time could be five seconds, five hours, or five years. If you want to try the moment in time route [again, only if you feel comfortable with it], I would *personally* launch off the idea of what was going through your mind *when* you left your parents and brother in Mexico at the age of fifteen. Why did you leave? What challenges did you face? Does part of your regret any of it?

Note: I am not knowledgeable on DS's, and I wouldn't even take my word as gospel on PS's as I've never been part of any form of Admissions Committee... I am sort of just combining my knowledge of college personal statements, writing, and what I have read elsewhere here.



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