PS critique please? I'm approaching insanity

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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The_Pluviophile

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PS critique please? I'm approaching insanity

Postby The_Pluviophile » Sun Dec 04, 2016 4:31 pm

So at this point I've written countless personal statements about a myriad of topics and I'm entirely unhappy with all of them. The only thing holding back my applications is this, so I'm very eager to just be done with it. This is the combination of two topics in an attempt to tell a semi-interesting story while also actually saying something about myself (which is of course the point). My biggest fear with this draft, which I realize could use some grammatical/diction editing, is that it feels disjointed or doesn't flow properly. I also have some concerns about the last few sentences (I don't want them to across as though I'm suggesting I deserve to go to their school). Any honest feedback is greatly appreciated!

I had to wait twenty-one years and travel 4,600 miles from home to learn how to ride a bike. Along the way, I have been reminded of some important lessons which I have tried to impart upon others for years but had apparently forgotten myself. This is a tale of two old fears coming back to haunt me, and how overcoming one helped me to ease the other. Initially, these fears seemed unrelated. At the heart of both, though, was insecurity fueled largely by people’s assumptions of me and my abilities.

I suppose this story begins in my childhood, with a variety of familial disturbances around the time of my peak ‘fearless’ phase (which is, as everyone well knows, the best time to learn to ride a bike), but we can skip ahead a decade or so. I still could not balance on two wheels, but I had accomplished a lot in the meantime. Namely, I had become the first person in my family to go to college. Having been raised by a single, working class mother, I knew this was a commendable feat. While in university, I also sought various positions across campus that would allow me to share my love of education. No other position, though, has been as personally rewarding as that of Supplemental Instruction (SI) leader for the Access program, which is designed to help ‘at risk’ students (first generation, non-native English speakers, or those whose background in some way suggests a statistical likelihood of increased adversity) adjust to university.

My job as an SI leader was, primarily, to help make sure students passed their course. The real goal of SI, though, is to foster independent learning and instill good long-term study skills. Its “teach a man to fish” philosophy was what drew me to the position. The unique challenge of Access sessions, however, was that attendees were required to attend, making them far more likely to be unengaged (if not outright disruptive). Many SI leaders, including other supervisors, refused the position.

I, however, felt an exceptional responsibility to these students. As a first-generation college student myself, as someone who can remember going days without seeing anyone else at home because my mother was working two jobs just to pay the rent, I understood many of their struggles. I knew what it felt like to lack family support, financially and emotionally, and to worry that you didn’t belong in university; I knew what it felt like to wonder if that sort of education was really ‘for you.’ I made sure my students knew that was unequivocally not the case; nothing in their background meant that university wasn’t ‘for them’ if they truly wanted it.

As I began to prepare for graduating and applying to law schools, though, many of the anxieties I had tried to calm in my attendees began to plague me once more. I forgot my own advice, and worried that there was no place for me in the grand institution of law school, that I simply did not belong in those esteemed halls. These whispers of self-doubt followed my all the way across the Atlantic. As luck would have it, I chose to study abroad in none other than the bicycle capital of the world. One day, about a month before I left, my mother asked me how I planned to get to campus from my apartment. “The way everyone else does in the Netherlands,” I said, “By bike.” She laughed at me. A lot of people laughed at me. Here was another old fear, resurrected.

Still, I was committed to experiencing the Dutch culture to its fullest, and that absolutely included riding a bicycle, even if it meant facing a lifelong fear in the process. So that’s how I found myself in the parking lot outside my apartment in the Netherlands, astride a bike I had already paid for, but couldn’t yet ride, thinking of a dozen different scenarios, all of which ended in me becoming personally acquainted with the asphalt. When I finally got the hang of it, after much stumbling and a few near crashes, I had a thought that has often come to me after accomplishing a particularly daunting task; “that wasn’t so hard.”

In the end, I’m not sure I needed to go all the way to the Netherlands to learn how to ride a bike. Still, the experience came at a critical time for me, reminding me that if, and when, I finally set my mind to doing something, I could accomplish it. It also taught me a valuable lesson about expectations; just because it wasn’t the time or situation in which most people learned to ride a bike, that had no bearing on my ability to do so. This was, in essence, what I had been telling my attendees. As I’ve begun to prepare for law school, and all of its challenges, I keep these lessons in mind. Other’s expectations of me, based on my family or socio-economic background, have no bearing on my ability to achieve my goals, and they certainly do not preclude me from joining the brightest minds of my generation at _____ Law School. I hope to have convinced you that I can be a valuable asset to your community. Law school is, after all, an awful lot like learning how to ride a bike, and I consider myself something of an expert on that these days.

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pretzeltime

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Re: PS critique please? I'm approaching insanity

Postby pretzeltime » Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:47 pm

I found it very charming and an enjoyable read, I think the dual strands weave together nicely. It didn't sound like you were entitled, etc.

Maybe others might find it a little too darling? But I don't think I do ^__^

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amberb94

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Re: PS critique please? I'm approaching insanity

Postby amberb94 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:51 pm

I feel like with a few minor edits this will be a great PS.
There was only one thing that really bothered me, and maybe this is just because of how I prefer to write stuff like this.

"I hope to have convinced you that I can be a valuable asset to your community."

I just don't really like the idea of explicitly stating the purpose of your essay, I feel like it's better to ensure the point comes across without a sentence like this. I really like the rest of your final paragraph though, and your first paragraph did a great job of pulling me in.

Good luck on applications!

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The_Pluviophile

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Re: PS critique please? I'm approaching insanity

Postby The_Pluviophile » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:57 am

amberb94 wrote:I feel like with a few minor edits this will be a great PS.
There was only one thing that really bothered me, and maybe this is just because of how I prefer to write stuff like this.

"I hope to have convinced you that I can be a valuable asset to your community."

I just don't really like the idea of explicitly stating the purpose of your essay, I feel like it's better to ensure the point comes across without a sentence like this. I really like the rest of your final paragraph though, and your first paragraph did a great job of pulling me in.

Good luck on applications!


Yeah I think I agree with you. I'll probably remove it. Thank you!

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The_Pluviophile

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Re: PS critique please? I'm approaching insanity

Postby The_Pluviophile » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:59 am

Thank you both for the feedback! I'm glad it's at least a good start. My biggest worry is that the transitions in the body aren't very smooth, and this is hard for me to judge since I obviously already know where I'm going next. Thoughts? Also any glaring grammatical mistakes?

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SunDevil14

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Re: PS critique please? I'm approaching insanity

Postby SunDevil14 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:13 pm

amberb94 wrote:I feel like with a few minor edits this will be a great PS.
There was only one thing that really bothered me, and maybe this is just because of how I prefer to write stuff like this.

"I hope to have convinced you that I can be a valuable asset to your community."

I just don't really like the idea of explicitly stating the purpose of your essay, I feel like it's better to ensure the point comes across without a sentence like this. I really like the rest of your final paragraph though, and your first paragraph did a great job of pulling me in.

Good luck on applications!


Agreed. The fact that you are a valuable asset to the community should be conveyed more subtly, which the entirety of your personal does nicely.

AJ1010

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Re: PS critique please? I'm approaching insanity

Postby AJ1010 » Wed Dec 07, 2016 2:46 pm

Have you tried reading your personal statement out loud? I only ask because that is how I realized that some of my sentences did not read as smoothly as I would have liked. I thought it was great overall, but some of your sentences could be rephrased. With some of your verb choices, simpler would be better. As I was reading it, there were a couple sentences that I struggled through, which took away from the overall effectiveness of the document. If you want specifics, you are welcome to PM me. I definitely think the subject choice and content are good.

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The_Pluviophile

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Re: PS critique please? I'm approaching insanity

Postby The_Pluviophile » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:45 pm

AJ1010 wrote:Have you tried reading your personal statement out loud? I only ask because that is how I realized that some of my sentences did not read as smoothly as I would have liked. I thought it was great overall, but some of your sentences could be rephrased. With some of your verb choices, simpler would be better. As I was reading it, there were a couple sentences that I struggled through, which took away from the overall effectiveness of the document. If you want specifics, you are welcome to PM me. I definitely think the subject choice and content are good.


Yes, I definitely use the reading out loud technique because I know I have a tendency to write the way I speak, which is in long, winding sentences :lol: A lot of my editing has been focused on sentence structure, so I think I've worked out most of the laborious bits. Thanks for the advice!



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