500 word PS

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
abcdefg1234567
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500 word PS

Postby abcdefg1234567 » Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:40 pm

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Last edited by abcdefg1234567 on Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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34iplaw
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Re: 500 word PS

Postby 34iplaw » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:51 pm

I need to study, so I'm going to just do some more high level comments...apologies if anything comes off as abrupt, mean, or terse...as I won't spend as much time saying 'maybe this' or 'maybe that' as I do in other statements which typically means do what I say.

People often tell me that I have a special gift for the piano. “You play so effortlessly," they say, “How do you make it look so easy?” As nice as it is to hear compliments like that, I can’t help but be unsettled by them. There is nothing “effortless” or “easy” about the way I play the piano. It did not come to me naturally: I don’t have the best ear, the fastest fingers, or the greatest sense of rhythm. Rather, I am able to play the way I do because I’ve worked very hard at it. Music comes naturally for some, but my success in music, and quite frankly in life, is a result not of God-given gifts, but of unyielding determination.

For some of this, see 'TAD's personal statement. You both have a somewhat similar overarching theme - success through perseverance rather than innate talent - so some of what has been written there may apply. I think it is a fine theme, but I don't think it should be so blunt. Personally, I rather see you start with something along the lines of the second paragraph. Your love of music and where it came from. You can then get into this idea at some point. Be weary of wording.

Classical music has held a special place in my heart ever since I was a child. I used to watch in awe as the fingers of our church pianist flew across the keys. Instead of wishing for new toys on my birthday, I would wish for piano lessons. But my parents divorced when I was younger and neither one could afford to pay for them.

I like the idea of this being paralleled at some point or in some way... this random church pianist exemplified a great musician because of his finger dexterity, his keen ear, and fantastic sense of rhythm. Maybe he too had to work for it.

I also don't really see the point of dropping the parents divorced part in it. It's really tragic, but it's also terribly common. It's also just dropped in the personal statement as opposed to a primary driving factor behind it, so it sort of reads as a pity thing. Either way though, probably not a big deal one way or the other as far as the PS goes.

Pursuing a degree in music meant that I had to start tabula rasa in a field full of others who had been studying music from the time they could walk.

I find the use of tabula rasa here a little jarring. Your reader will likely know what it is, but it kind of sticks out. It's sort of like never using a number in the statement and saying 3,423,580.

Friends and family told me that it was an impossible undertaking and that the odds were stacked against me. However, throughout history the greatest victories have been won by underdogs, and I’m not one to back down from a fight. The greater the challenge is, the more determined I am to succeed. So without hesitation, I dove into the fray.

I'm not a fan of this. It sounds like generic platitude after generic platitude.

Six years later, I was invited to play Chopin's Second Piano Concerto with the XXX Symphony Orchestra. While it was by far the most challenging performance of my life, it was also the most rewarding. It was the culmination of years spent locking myself in practice rooms for hours on end and refusing to become discouraged by overwhelming obstacles. It meant that I had won. I had beaten the odds.

See, this is important. This is revealing.

Looking back, I am proud that I never gave up. I may have faltered here and there, but I always continued to push forward. Although that chapter of my life has come to an end, what I have learned from it will stay with me in law school: Pursuing my dreams will not be easy; it will require great sacrifice, dedication, and relentlessness if I want to see those dreams become a reality. But in my pursuit of music I have learned to be incredibly disciplined, to pay careful attention to detail, and how to interpret abstract and complex information in order to communicate it with others. I know that I will succeed at University California, Irvine School of Law School because of these things, and although the cards may be stacked against me yet again, I will always remember this: Whatever I may lack, I always make up for in fortitude.

I like the last paragraph... not certain about the last bit for the same reason I didn't care for the 'friends...dove into the fray' paragraph.

Overall, I think you have the right ideas and the right vessel for you, but I think you need to work on the ordering and such. You are a strong writer, but I think you would benefit from avoiding phrases that sound too catchy or too much like a platitude in this type of statement.

I would encourage you rewrite your statement from one of two jumping off points, as I think you will end up with a far more interesting piece.

1] standing in awe of the church pianist as a young child

"Classical music has held a special place in my heart ever since I was a child. I used to watch in awe as the fingers of our church pianist flew across the keys."

2] when you played for Chopin's Second Piano Concerto with the XXX Symphony Orchestra.

"I was invited to play Chopin's Second Piano Concerto with the XXX Symphony Orchestra. While it was by far the most challenging performance of my life, it was also the most rewarding. It was the culmination of years spent locking myself in practice rooms for hours on end and refusing to become discouraged by overwhelming obstacles. It meant that I had won. I had beaten the odds."

I would also say to thumb through the thread on TAD's statement, as your statement may lead you to similar statements and grounds that have been fairly thoroughly explored in that thread with mentions of what not to do.

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gery0n
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Re: 500 word PS

Postby gery0n » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:58 pm

I'd scratch the introduction; it's just a bit clunky for the word limit you're working with. I'd suggest starting with this moment "Six years later, I was invited to play Chopin's Second Piano Concerto with the XXX Symphony Orchestra." This can be your 'hook' story that draws the reader in.

Then in the next paragraph, you can talk about the work that went into this moment. What obstacles in particular did you face? What did you give up to make time for practice?

Third paragraph, maybe relate the first two paragraphs to your overall work ethic and how this tenacity will translate to success in law school.

abcdefg1234567
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Re: 500 word PS

Postby abcdefg1234567 » Fri Jul 08, 2016 2:14 pm

Thanks for that advice. I guess it is very cliche, isn't it? What do you think about a different topic? I started an after school music program that offered free lessons to kids in one of the poorest schools in San Bernardino. I could gear that one more towards service and why I want to be a lawyer (public servant).

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gery0n
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Re: 500 word PS

Postby gery0n » Fri Jul 08, 2016 9:06 pm

abcdefg1234567 wrote:Thanks for that advice. I guess it is very cliche, isn't it? What do you think about a different topic? I started an after school music program that offered free lessons to kids in one of the poorest schools in San Bernardino. I could gear that one more towards service and why I want to be a lawyer (public servant).


I think this topic is great actually! It will be an especially good story to expand for Berkeley. Keep in mind though that with Boalt, they view those extra two pages as your change at an "interview," and they do like you to include some "Why Berkeley" info in that mix.

For Boalt, I might suggest something like...
Intro: Proudest moment (the piano recital from your initial draft)
P2: Background behind this moment: progress you made, challenges you faced, ways you demonstrated a go-getter attitude / pro-activeness.
P3: What lesson did you learn from practicing piano (make sure this lesson is applicable to law school).
P4: Adversity you faced / background for why you started program (maybe use this as an oppurtunity to demonstrate openness to other perspectives, if for example you were inspired by your community)
P5: About the program- use this story to demonstrate leadership skills; what makes you an effective leader? What is your style of leadership?
P6: What you learned from this service, how it influenced your desire to serve; any more acts of service you can mention to show continued commitment? Since you're not URM, try to show some sort of commitment to diversity here (I think your work making the arts more accessible to undeserved communities is a great start for that)
p6: (Boalt specific) why Boalt is the school for you, and how it will help you as a 'public servant'

~Sorry for the 10000 typos and grammatical wonkiness; I've just finished up PTing and am burnt out.~

abcdefg1234567
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Re: 500 word PS

Postby abcdefg1234567 » Thu Jul 14, 2016 9:43 pm

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Last edited by abcdefg1234567 on Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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34iplaw
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Re: 500 word PS

Postby 34iplaw » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:42 pm

abcdefg1234567 wrote:
34iplaw wrote:.


gery0n wrote:.



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I'll skim before bed. You may want to delete the very revealing info though.

Digital permanence and all that.

abcdefg1234567
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Re: 500 word PS

Postby abcdefg1234567 » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:47 pm

34iplaw wrote:
I'll skim before bed. You may want to delete the very revealing info though.

Digital permanence and all that.



YIKES!

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34iplaw
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Re: 500 word PS

Postby 34iplaw » Thu Jul 14, 2016 11:23 pm

abcdefg1234567 wrote:
34iplaw wrote:
I'll skim before bed. You may want to delete the very revealing info though.

Digital permanence and all that.



YIKES!


You still missed one... lol.

I never thought I'd see my name headline a concert program

I'm not a fan of contractions in more formal writing, but opinions differ greatly here. It really doesn't matter as long as it doesn't detract from your writing.

Yet there it was: “Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto featuring the XXX Symphony Orchestra and soloist XXX.”

I think there should be a comma after 'Yet' and I would prefer my name rather than the pronoun. I also prefer something tangible. I used playbill, as I am an uncultured swine and don't know if there is a better term for musical performances. Also, double check how you properly refer to titles. AFAIK, that should be italicized, but, for certain common works, you don't italicize it [think a symphony number]... Yet, there my name was on the playbill, Chopin's Second Piano Concerto featuring the XXX Symphony Orchestra and Soloist XXX.

That performance was one of the toughest challenges I have ever encountered, but it was also one of the most rewarding.

I think it's an important idea to get across, but the wording seems really generic.

It was the culmination of years spent studying music, locking myself in practice rooms for hours on end obsessing over minute details. It was an opportunity to share a part of me with thousands of strangers; to show them all what I was made of. But more than anything, it meant that I had beaten seemingly insuperable obstacles, and never gave up.

I would prefer some form of relative prose or something that just makes it more evocative. Perhaps, something that has some rhythm. Think first two sentences should have parallel structures and roughly same syllables, and then break it with 'But more than anything, it meant that I had beaten seemingly insuperable obstacles and never gave up.'

My first piano lesson at XXX Community College was a total disaster. In fact, my first lesson at XXX (missed one!) Community College was a total disaster. My teacher even asked me to leave, and suggested I try something other than music.

No comma before and.

But I didn’t want to study something other than music.

I actually like this, and I hate - neigh (int), loathe - sentences that begin with conjunctions (I'm not a fan boy of FANBOYS). I'd avoid doing it too often. Definitely have someone look over final PS's before you send them out. You use some funky punctuation and grammar. I'm really not expert enough to know whether it's correct. I've just learned to avoid writing in any structures that I'm not comfortable with, so it could look completely wrong to me but be correct. That said, there are times that it seems you have some incorrect use of ; : , and some clause issues. I don't think that's worth worrying too much about till final draft though.

I had a passion for music for as long as I could remember. Even though my family couldn’t afford to have me in regular lessons when I was younger, I was able to teach myself some of the basics. I would peruse old piano method books I had found, and listen to tape recordings of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, trying to replicate what I had heard.

I like this, but I don't like the 'for as long as I could remember'... it falls into that realm of generic wording. It could be alleviated if you expand on the passion of music so it was something like framed in the context of perusing the old piano method books or something.

Most of my classmates had been studying formally since the time they could walk, and that put me at a huge disadvantage. I have never been one to back down from a challenge, and without hesitation, I dove into the fray.

I'm not sure whether I commented on it before, but I dislike 'dove into the fray'

Along the way, I quickly found that there were three important things I needed to learn if I really wanted to be successful: First was that I needed to make some sacrifices. Playing the piano is hard work and requires constant practice. That meant being extremely organized with my time, and not wasting it on frivolous things. Second was that I needed to remain persistent. When I think of the most successful people in history, tenacity is always the common denominator. If things got tough, I needed to be tougher. Lastly, and probably the most challenging for me, was that I needed to learn how to ask for help when I needed it. Before college, that was not a very easy thing for me to do, but I have since learned to put my pride aside and seek advice from friends, family, and teachers. Need good closer

At XXX Law School, I know that I will utilize what I’ve already learned as a musician, and will continue to hone my analytical and communicative skills. I am ready to be mentored by the brightest legal minds in the world, to learn as much as possible, contribute my own unique perspective and ideas, and continue to strive for harmony in a world full of dissonance.

I really like your last 11 words. New favorite clause of your PS. Keep that. I feel like I have this internalized image of musicians being creative, and I don't really see that come through your PS at this stage. I feel like there are parts of it where some description that conveys what is going through your mind as you thumb through old manuals or something is just screaming for attention. I don't think that really matters all that much, and I'm probably too much into prose for my own good. Just my own personal feeling and observation.

I'll skim again tomorrow. I think I got sort of caught down in the weeds, and I didn't really read through your essay prior to getting into it which obviously could cause some issues. I'll try to read with a fresh head so I can give you better oversight. I think it's definitely a major step in the right direction.

abcdefg1234567
Posts: 104
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:40 am

Re: 500 word PS

Postby abcdefg1234567 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:29 pm

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abcdefg1234567
Posts: 104
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:40 am

Re: 500 word PS

Postby abcdefg1234567 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:31 pm

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abcdefg1234567
Posts: 104
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:40 am

Re: 500 word PS

Postby abcdefg1234567 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:32 pm

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