Mid-stage PS draft - Would love some critique

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Mid-stage PS draft - Would love some critique

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:08 pm

Hello all! Any input on the below would be greatly appreciated, I'd also be willing to look over anybody else's/swap, just say so and I'll PM you! I'm mainly trying to determine if my overall message/theme is too murky or not clear enough, or if my writing is not as succinct as it should be.

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Can you step twice into the same river? While attempting to salvage whatever information I still retained from the Introductory Philosophy course I had taken my freshman year, this is the question that stuck out in my memory. A simple question regarding the paradoxical nature of change. These thoughts didn’t seem to help much as I sat preparing to draft an essay for the first tutorial of my study at Oxford, however at the moment they seemed strangely relevant. Where would I be after this meeting had passed? What would I know the next time I sat down at this desk? Feeling woefully unprepared for what sat in front of me, I read the question again:

“If I do not know what a thing is, how should I know what sort of thing it is?”

This prompt had been weighing on my mind ever since I received the course syllabus the previous week, and the week preceding the tutorial saw no lack of anxiety. The question seemed impenetrable. As I sat in one of the uncomfortable wooden chairs of the library with nine dense books on Socratic definition scattered over my desk, I pondered what my first step into the fray might be.

Four hours had passed, and I was three books down. By this time in the afternoon a few of my friends from Keble college had set up at the remaining seats around my table, and our tutorials were keeping us jointly captive on one of the rare sunny days afforded by the English sky. Every time I looked up at those around me I saw experiences identical to my own, the same frustrated glares intermittently followed by slight hints of understanding. I found that being in solidarity with such a stimulating and supportive environment led me to experience a deep sense of achievement in dedicating myself to the task I was assigned.

When I finally stepped out of the library onto the Keble grounds, it was night and most of my friends had already headed back to our house. Twelve hours earlier I may not have believed it possible, but I had written a paper I was proud of. I felt ready; nervous, but ready. Instead of the tired and dreary walk home I would have normally expected after such an exhausting day, I found myself with a sort of apprehensive excitement. I had learned something entirely new, written on it, and would soon have the opportunity to discuss it personally and in detail with my tutor. Despite the latent nerves concerning my first tutorial tugging at my back, I fell asleep feeling prepared for the following day.

My excitement had somewhat waned as the hour actually approached, and the fact that I was about to be alone in an intimate office with my extremely knowledgeable tutor for an entire hour did not put any hurry in my step towards Worcester College. Every cobblestone I stepped over and looming spire I passed seemed to tick away at the doom which my ever-supportive peer Tom had convinced me was the only outcome to the afternoon. When I stepped into the hallway with disproportionately high levels of adrenaline surging through my body and saw the tall oak door leading into his office, I had no idea where my mind would be when I reemerged. My thoughts were hitting me in dichotomous pairs: one side more confident, the other reflecting some hidden layer of self-doubt; “I deserve to be here” seamlessly joined with “am I really cut out for this”? As by this point I had reached the door, I raised my arm up, took a deep breath, and gave three short knocks.

The next hour melted by. The meeting which had long plagued my thoughts instead proved invigorating and thought-provoking. Not only did I make it through the hour, I found myself wishing it hadn’t ended. We had conversed about the material, argued our respective viewpoints, and defended the evidence we put forth.

My mind had reverted from its’ heightened state of emotion over the course of my walk back from the tutorial, and I had decided to meet my friends back at the library before lunch was served. I took a seat at the desk, and as I sat staring at the volumes on the wall, my earlier thoughts on change returned to me. Nothing had changed in the room: noses still buried in books, clock still ticking on the wall, but everything seemed different. I felt a new sense of confidence. The apprehension I had towards attending the intense one-on-one tutorials turned into feelings of accomplishment in my work and excitement to start on the next topic. I discovered that the degree of fierce academic rigor I experienced at Oxford University brought out my greatest efforts and highest levels of personal growth.

As I sit reflecting on my thoughts while I was at Oxford, I wonder which desk I will be sitting at next year and how I will be different. What questions will I be unraveling, and what will I learn in the process? The coming year will surely bring many challenges and the rivers I step into will be forever changing, but I know that I will change with them.

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Re: Mid-stage PS draft - Would love some critique

Postby forum_user » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:37 pm

This is excellent -- I actually am very impressed. I was originally turned off by starting with the rhetorical question, but you made it work well, and I appreciated the frame.

All that being said, I'm afraid I don't find this a very "personal" statement. You're telling me a story about your first tutorial, and what I get is that, while you were at first nervous, you realized you didn't have anything to be afraid of after all. But I don't get much about you as a student or your motivations or inspirations. But even if you were to submit this as-is, I doubt it would keep you out anywhere; at least, I would be happy to submit this draft.

Though if you were a true Oxonian you'd know it's the University of Oxford :wink:

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Re: Mid-stage PS draft - Would love some critique

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:30 pm

forum_user wrote:This is excellent -- I actually am very impressed. I was originally turned off by starting with the rhetorical question, but you made it work well, and I appreciated the frame.

All that being said, I'm afraid I don't find this a very "personal" statement. You're telling me a story about your first tutorial, and what I get is that, while you were at first nervous, you realized you didn't have anything to be afraid of after all. But I don't get much about you as a student or your motivations or inspirations. But even if you were to submit this as-is, I doubt it would keep you out anywhere; at least, I would be happy to submit this draft.

Though if you were a true Oxonian you'd know it's the University of Oxford :wink:


Good catch haha, I guess I glossed over that while writing. Thanks for the feedback! I do agree that I should make the statement more personal.



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