Critique on PS?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Critique on PS?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:46 pm

Stats: 164/3.71 non-URM

I grew up with what I considered a privileged life, or at the least an average middle class life, until I was ten. That all changed when my dad lost his job at an automotive company in 2008: my dad had to relocate to start a job fourteen hours away where he lived in a subleased room, my mother and I moved in with my grandparents, and I dove into literature. My grandpa, a child of the depression and WWII vet, provided me with the materials to slip away from the troubles of daily life. Education became my escape from the financial troubles my parents never truly escaped from.
I became ill in middle school – splitting migraines, severe vertigo, hearing loss, and the anxiety and insomnia that accompanied them. I stopped caring about my education and pursuing anything of value, choosing to wallow in self-loathing instead. My grandpa sat me down one day after receiving my 9th grade report card for the first semester, filed with C’s and D’s. What he told me forever changed my life: “Life is like a skyscraper with only a staircase. You either commit to making it all the way up or you risk not knowing what’s up there. It’s going to get tough sometimes and it’s okay to catch your breath, but if you want to get to the top, you can’t turn back, you can’t stop and most importantly, you have to choose to get there. No one can make that choice nor make it happen for you.”
Being a stubborn teenager, I didn’t take this seriously for another year until my high school counselor sat me down and told me that maybe a GED program and technical school would be the right path for me. This wasn’t the life I had planned for myself, I wanted to be a professional academic, to pursue knowledge indefinitely, although I was unsure of how one actually did this at the time. I went home and cried to my parents and my grandpa believing I had ruined my chances at my dream, but he reminded me of what he had told me. From that point forward, I was committed to the climb.
I went back full speed to high school, enrolling in AP courses, scoring high on the ACT, pursuing dual enrollment (college) courses, and eventually receiving a scholarship to a respectable state school with scholarship. I began working for an events company as an intern, in communications and worked my way up to head of guest/customer relations, while working other various part time jobs to pay my way through college. I was a model student, whilst continuing to grapple with my illness, eventually graduating cum laude with my BS at nineteen years of age.
I enrolled in my Master’s of Finance program, one which I knew I could excel at, but I wasn’t moving forward anymore, I was simply going through the motions. I had always wanted to be a lawyer, the ultimate pursuit of knowledge, to know what one cannot precisely define, but I was tired and I let it stop me from pummeling through undergraduate straight into law school. A large part of my under-motivation was that my grandfather had passed away just a few days after my college graduation after battling with illness for the last year of his life. I was out of breath and the man who had pushed me this far was no longer there.
I don’t regret the pause though, as during this year I have taken off I have only increased in my desire to regain that challenge within my life, to go to law school, and to pursue my passion. I have used this time to reflect on my gradnfather’s words, to learn what they really meant beyond the surface level, and to use them to self-motivate. My struggles with illness and poverty had given me the grit I needed to make it, but I wasn’t using that experience with challenge to pursue my dreams, I was simply using it to get by each day. Desire is never enough to get to the top, you need the grit to keep going. This year, I’ve found my grit and I’m committed to the climb wherever it may take me.

OrangeMarmalade
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:38 pm

Re: Critique on PS?

Postby OrangeMarmalade » Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:51 pm

I think the content of your essay is very interesting, but the structure needs a bit of work. Perhaps because of the page limit, it feels like you gloss over or jump from one thing to another in order to fit everything in. Because of this, the essay feels more like it's written in third person than really coming from you. I want to know more about how you felt, analyzed, and reacted to these events. For example, I would like to know how you felt suddenly losing the life you knew when you had to move in with your grandparents. I want to know more about what you were thinking when you committed to change - this is a really dramatic moment you should highlight. Also, it seems like your grandfather was a huge part of your life, and you do say that his death really affected you, but as a reader I'm not getting those feelings from your writing.

I also think that if you highlight key parts of the essay and show, not tell, the essay will be more dramatic and compelling. To do this, I highly suggest you narrow your essay to a few dramatic life events that really changed you, or a certain period of your life. At the moment, I feel there's a lot of detail from each stage of your life. My question is, if you had to describe the "thesis" of your essay in a sentence, what would it be?

Finally, I absolutely loved the quote “Life is like a skyscraper with only a staircase". Perhaps it would be nice to have that in the beginning to pull readers in, then go into your background.

Anonymous User
Posts: 302853
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Critique on PS?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:34 am

OrangeMarmalade wrote:I think the content of your essay is very interesting, but the structure needs a bit of work. Perhaps because of the page limit, it feels like you gloss over or jump from one thing to another in order to fit everything in. Because of this, the essay feels more like it's written in third person than really coming from you. I want to know more about how you felt, analyzed, and reacted to these events. For example, I would like to know how you felt suddenly losing the life you knew when you had to move in with your grandparents. I want to know more about what you were thinking when you committed to change - this is a really dramatic moment you should highlight. Also, it seems like your grandfather was a huge part of your life, and you do say that his death really affected you, but as a reader I'm not getting those feelings from your writing.

I also think that if you highlight key parts of the essay and show, not tell, the essay will be more dramatic and compelling. To do this, I highly suggest you narrow your essay to a few dramatic life events that really changed you, or a certain period of your life. At the moment, I feel there's a lot of detail from each stage of your life. My question is, if you had to describe the "thesis" of your essay in a sentence, what would it be?

Finally, I absolutely loved the quote “Life is like a skyscraper with only a staircase". Perhaps it would be nice to have that in the beginning to pull readers in, then go into your background.


I made some major edits based on your comments, would you mind reading over this draft and telling me if you think it's an improvement?

“Life is like a skyscraper with only a staircase. You’ll never know what’s at the top unless you commit to the climb. It’s going to get tough and it’s okay to take a moment to catch your breath, but, if you want to see the view, you can’t turn back, you can’t stop and, most importantly, you have to choose to get there.” – Martin Brown
In 2008, my family, generally middle-class and deeply embroiled into the Detroit automotive industry, came crashing down with the economy. My father moved half-way across the country for a job he despised while my mother and I went to live with my grandmother and grandfather, Martin Brown, in a small farming community. I threw myself into reading, absorbing all the information I could from my grandfather’s extensive library, transporting myself to realities I could only wish were my own, where I didn’t have to mature quickly: facing my grandmother’s reoccurrence of cancer, dealing with the checkbook struggle from afar, accepting my father’s absence, and reassuring my mother who was faced with her own insecurities as she moved back in with her parents.
This love for reading and literature followed me into the time my family was finally able to go back to living on our own to when I became ill, suffering from migraines, vertigo, hearing loss and other increasingly complex symptoms. Discouraged, I withdrew from everyday activities, including my education, gaining a repertoire for non-attendance and poor quality of work. My grandfather, one of my closest friends, continued to be actively involved in my life. He was not a man to parse words, always calculating each word to have an impact on the listener without the need for supporting commentary, so when he told me that my mom was bringing me up to see him and we needed to talk, I knew it was serious.
Even though I had heard the quote thousands of times repeated to my mother, I never understood the staircase until that day when he told me that I was never going to see the top if I was happy waiting at the bottom. I needed to take that grit, from living through the recession and continuously battling my own body, and use it as a strength. So I did, originally out of moral duty to make proud the man who had done so much for my family, but soon because I was addicted to the pain of the climb. I hammered through AP courses, dual-enrollment, and eventually undergraduate, graduating cum laude with my B.S. at only nineteen.
He battled with illness for the last year of his life, resulting in many calls from me inquiring how much longer he had and if he would make it to watch me walk across the stage and receive my diploma. It pushed me to achieve; I sprinted towards the top, but you can only do that for so long. Three days after I graduated, my grandfather died. I also discovered a new symptom of my lasting illness – granulomas growing in my lymph nodes – later that month. Life knocked the wind out of me and I stopped climbing.
I couldn’t go from undergraduate into a graduate program not on the top of my game and I knew this, but I enrolled in a Master’s program to keep myself busy. Studying between doctor’s appointments, in hospital beds during pre-op, and while at home during my recovery from having the first tumor removed, I realized that this is exactly what my grandfather would have wanted me to do, I was looking towards the top again.
Life is like a skyscraper with only a staircase. You’ll never know what is up there if you don’t commit to the climb. It’s going to be hard, sometimes more than others, and it’s okay to slow down, to take a breather. You just can’t stop. You can’t turn back. You have to choose to get there and never give up. I’m committed to the climb and I can’t wait to see what’s at the top.

OrangeMarmalade
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:38 pm

Re: Critique on PS?

Postby OrangeMarmalade » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:02 pm

First of all, I love this!!! The essay flows much better and you come across as a very thoughtful and mature person. You allow the reader to follow you along on your journey, and feel excitement and disappointment for you at different points of the essay. Also, I love how the introduction ties in nicely with the conclusion.

I added comments in parenthesis and underlined parts I think you could delete. Feel free to let me know what you think.

“Life is like a skyscraper with only a staircase. You’ll never know what’s at the top unless you commit to the climb. It’s going to get tough and it’s okay to take a moment to catch your breath, but, if you want to see the view, you can’t turn back, you can’t stop and, most importantly, you have to choose to get there.” – Martin Brown

In 2008, my family, generally middle-class and deeply embroiled into the Detroit automotive industry, came crashing down with the economy. My father moved half-way across the country for a job he despised while my mother and I went to live with my grandmother and grandfather, Martin Brown, in a small farming community. I threw myself into reading, absorbing all the information I could from my grandfather’s extensive library, transporting myself to realities I could only wish were my own, where I didn’t have to mature quickly: facing my grandmother’s reoccurrence of cancer, dealing with the checkbook struggle from afar, accepting my father’s absence, and reassuring my mother who was faced with her own insecurities as she moved back in with her parents (This is way better! My only suggestion is that this sentence is very long, so it would be better to break it up into a couple of sentences).

This love for reading and literature followed me into the time my family was finally able to go back to living on our own to when I became ill, suffering from migraines, vertigo, hearing loss and other increasingly complex symptoms. Discouraged, I withdrew from everyday activities, including my education, gaining a repertoire for non-attendance and poor quality of work. (This is a much better transition, and portrays you as more mature than in the last version). My grandfather, one of my closest friends, continued to be actively involved in my life. He was not a man to parse words, always calculating each word to have an impact on the listener without the need for supporting commentary, (While interesting, you want the essay to be centered about you. I think this may be a bit too much detail about your grandfather) so when he told me that my mom was bringing me up to see him and we needed to talk, I knew it was serious.

Even though I had heard the quote thousands of times repeated to my mother, I never understood the staircase until that day when he told me that I was never going to see the top if I was happy waiting at the bottom. I needed to take that grit, from living through the recession and continuously battling my own body, and use it as a strength. (I like how you emphasized this moment). So I did, originally out of moral duty to make proud the man who had done so much for my family, but soon because I was addicted to the pain of the climb. I hammered through AP courses, dual-enrollment, and eventually undergraduate, graduating cum laude with my B.S. at only nineteen.

He battled with illness for the last year of his life, resulting in many calls from me inquiring how much longer he had and if he would make it to watch me walk across the stage and receive my diploma. It pushed me to achieve; I sprinted towards the top, but you can only do that for so long. Three days after I graduated, my grandfather died. I also discovered a new symptom of my lasting illness – granulomas growing in my lymph nodes – later that month. Life knocked the wind out of me and I stopped climbing. (Much better – the reader can empathize with you on how devastating this time was).
I couldn’t go from undergraduate into a graduate program not on the top of my game and I knew this, but I enrolled in a Master’s program to keep myself busy. Studying between doctor’s appointments, in hospital beds during pre-op, and while at home during my recovery from having the first tumor removed, I realized that this is exactly what my grandfather would have wanted me to do, I was looking towards the top again. (Was this fairly recent? Have you gotten up to speed since then? If so, I would include how you turned your ambition into action).

Life is like a skyscraper with only a staircase. You’ll never know what is up there if you don’t commit to the climb. It’s going to be hard, sometimes more than others, and it’s okay to slow down, to take a breather. You just can’t stop. You can’t turn back. You have to choose to get there and never give up. I’m committed to the climb and I can’t wait to see what’s at the top. (WONDERFUL conclusion! I love how you tie it in with the intro!)

ekdonn
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:19 pm

Re: Critique on PS?

Postby ekdonn » Tue Dec 12, 2017 1:38 pm

Wow! This is great. Interesting to read and kept my attention the entire time.




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