Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

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

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Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

Postby pianolesspianist » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:48 am

Hi there! I'm shooting for NYU or Columbia, so I wanna get all the feedback I can before sending in my personal statement. Any insights would be appreciated!
Personal Statement:

“But you’re not...gay, right?” My fiancé’s horrified tone was matched by the fear in her eyes as I shattered her perception of the world on a park bench in Jerusalem. Neither she nor I had ever met someone who was attracted to the same sex. How would we? There was no place for homosexuality in our universe. Not because it was despised per se, but because it simply didn’t exist. My sexuality was more than just taboo - it was downright mythological, and so I resolved to bury my secret in the ceremony of marriage.
After a year of shidduchim (Jewish matchmaking), I met Esty and, two weeks later, we agreed to marry. Though this may seem an inordinately brief period of time, it was only slightly shorter than the norm in our community. In Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, dating is a process undertaken for the explicit and exclusive purpose of finding a spouse; in fact, no touching is permitted prior to the wedding whatsoever (which, needless to say, was something of a relief in my case).
Ironically, my engagement to Esty is what ultimately gave me the courage to reveal my homosexuality for the first time. I could lie to myself, you see, but I couldn’t let someone else live with the consequences of my own fabrication. The marriage was called off shortly after, and my beloved Rebbe tearfully recommended that I begin seeing “an expert in dealing with this issue.” Desperate to achieve heterosexual marriage, I began engaging in various forms of conversion therapy - changing my sexual orientation seemed far more feasible than relinquishing my commitment to Jewish law.
For the next year and a half, I spent most of my emotional, mental, and financial resources in an attempt to develop an attraction to women. My efforts were in vain - I still couldn’t see the appeal of breasts, nor had I managed to exorcise any modicum of my attraction to men. I spiraled into a deep depression as I tried to make sense of my predicament, searching desperately for some version of reality that would allow me to find happiness despite the incompatibility of my greatest emotional needs with my deepest religious convictions.
My salvation, as it turns out, came in the form of a book entitled The Hidden Book in the Bible. Upon reading it, I was exposed to the Documentary Hypothesis of Biblical criticism, a theory that provided an intellectually persuasive – yet flagrantly heretical – means of examining the Bible. It took an uncharacteristically long time, but I began to question the veracity of my Judaic beliefs, and these doubts led me to explore alternative perspectives both within the scope of Judaism and beyond it. Gradually, my political, social, and theological views began to change – drastically.
At this point I must confess I’m uncertain that I would have had the courage to challenge the beliefs upon which I had built my entire life were it not for my homosexuality. Though my intellect might have been swayed, the prospect of forsaking everything I believed in might have been far too daunting to undertake. The lack of place for my homosexuality, however, compelled to seek an alternative – academic knowledge merely gave me license abandon my Judaism; it was being gay that gave me reason to do so.
Nevertheless, leaving the self-imposed restrictions of religion was as unimaginably liberating as one might imagine. The modern world was all very new, very difficult, and extremely intriguing. Cliché as it may sound, I transformed. Aspirations of piety and religious zeal morphed into dreams of academic achievement and social accomplishment; struggles with sexual sin were replaced with challenges of body image and navigating through an unfamiliar society. I discovered my prodigious love of travel, sex, culture, and, above all, people. Experiencing life in two distinctly different societies helped me internalize a tragically underemphasized truth: our greatest differences are the merely the result of our incidental environments. Realizing that circumstance is the primary architect of our beliefs enabled me to embrace the diversity that comes with being human, and in doing so, I learned to embrace myself.
But our world has yet to manifest this realization. Men like me are hanged in the plazas of Iran and held captive in the jails of Nigeria. Women are stoned in Saudi Arabia and raped by their husbands in India. And in America, immigrants are torn apart from their families even as our welcome mat hypocritically invites “the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” But all this is perfectly legal! The mistaken ideas that we may ascribe significance to difference and that a personal belief may be imposed on another’s private endeavors has allowed us to construct laws that are harmful, oppressive, and in some cases lethal.
The remedy for a problem so deeply rooted in human psychology is not something I can purport to provide. I’m convinced, however, that entering the field of law is an excellent place for me to start. As a Talmudist, I know that the law is both rigid yet surprisingly flexible in its ability to adapt and evolve; as a gay student of criminology, I understand the desperation of those who have been wronged by its inadequacies. My devotion to religion has been thoroughly replaced by my passion for humanity, and the dream of true equality for all people in all places.
It is my greatest hope that I will be able to take the first step towards realizing this ambition at New York University. To be part of an institution that is both “in and of the city,” so proudly aware of its geographical significance in terms of both culture and profession, would be a dream in and of itself. Since that park bench in Jerusalem, I have had opportunity to alter a number of people’s perception of the world. Through law, I hope to help alter the world’s perception of itself - one bench at a time.

dropout

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Re: Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

Postby dropout » Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:46 am

Great story, but I would censor the word "breasts"

cavalier1138

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Re: Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:56 am

dropout wrote:Great story, but I would censor the word "breasts"


Go away.

popgoestheweasel

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Re: Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

Postby popgoestheweasel » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:42 am

dropout wrote:Great story, but I would censor the word "breasts"


:twisted:

lrog54

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Re: Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

Postby lrog54 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:46 am

Great statement

nixy

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Re: Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

Postby nixy » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:59 am

dropout wrote:Great story, but I would censor the word "breasts"

Ignore this.

This is very good, but I feel like it spirals a bit quickly near the end from your life/journey —> all human inequities —> the role of law. “Men like me are hanged” is a perfectly great transition, but then the jump to other non-LGBT abuses (especially treatment of immigrants, just because the essay has been very focused on sexuality-related issues and suddenly takes a big jump), to “But all this is perfectly legal!” and the role of law gave me a little bit of whiplash. Either that all needs to be curtailed/focused more narrowly (use only LGBT examples of continuing inequities?) or the links between them need to be spelled out a bit more.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with your comments about the role of law in human rights abuses generally, but the essay is so clearly (and well) focused around sexuality up to that point, I found the escalation jarring.

RCR1442

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Re: Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

Postby RCR1442 » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:11 pm

Wonderful statement. I hear your voice and I don't know what you sound like at all. Thanks for giving me some inspiration and ideas for my own statement.

ImBasicallyAFelon

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Re: Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

Postby ImBasicallyAFelon » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:17 am

Ehhh

I personally agree with removing "breasts". I think you wrote it for a purpose for sure, it definitely breaks the formality.

BUT in my opinion, it runs the risk if you looking like all you care about is sex. I personally find nothing wrong with celebrating promiscuity, but I don't think your personal statement should be the avenue for it. You also run a risk of having a boomerang effect on a gay reader. Perhaps the person who gets your personal statement is on a mission to end the gay vixen stereotype.

I would suggest writing something more wholesome, which I get it, that's boring. But I think it's safer to say something like "a woman's intimate company" than just going for the breasts right off the bat. Now full disclosure, I'm pretty much a SJW, and my SJW mind just finds that line to be almost objectifying women or as seeing no value for their company other than for sex.

Last comment, maybe minimize your contractions. They seem to be a controversial topic too.

miskellyjohnson

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Re: Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

Postby miskellyjohnson » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:23 pm

No admissions person at NYU is going to be scandalized by the word "breast" or the proclamation that you enjoy sex. If you apply to Notre Dame then you might want to change 'breast' to 'female secondary sex characteristics' or 'mammary glands' or something. Also, saying you dont see the appeal of" breasts" is not the same as saying you dont see the appeal of "a woman's intimate company." That completely changes the meaning of the sentence, which is about attraction and sexuality. I would get rid of the contractions. They are much more likely to offend than the word breast.


Do some grammar checking, for example this sentence has a mistake (an extra 'the'): "our greatest differences are the merely the result of our incidental environments." (I personally would also soften this to something like "our greatest differences are often merely the result of our incidental environments." But thats probably just the lawyer in me talking).


As far as thematically, it goes quickly from an interesting narrative, to something about women being raped in India, to "I want to be a lawyer." I'm not fully sure what the connection is. I would go back to the drawing board and think about why this experience relates to you wanting to be a lawyer, what you want to do as a lawyer, etc. You get there a little with the Talmudist/criminology sentence. I might keep this and expand a little and delete the part about India, Iran, and Nigeria. Put some reflection into what you really want to do as a lawyer and put that in. Alternatively, I'd like to see more about the consequences of you leaving your community. There must have been some pain and hurt there, right? Some of that could be interesting (but not necessary).

Anyway, you are made for NYU (an ex-orthodox Jew who turned out to be a gay liberal and now wants PI law).

nixy

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Re: Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

Postby nixy » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:48 pm

ImBasicallyAFelon wrote:Ehhh

I personally agree with removing "breasts". I think you wrote it for a purpose for sure, it definitely breaks the formality.

BUT in my opinion, it runs the risk if you looking like all you care about is sex. I personally find nothing wrong with celebrating promiscuity, but I don't think your personal statement should be the avenue for it. You also run a risk of having a boomerang effect on a gay reader. Perhaps the person who gets your personal statement is on a mission to end the gay vixen stereotype.

I would suggest writing something more wholesome, which I get it, that's boring. But I think it's safer to say something like "a woman's intimate company" than just going for the breasts right off the bat. Now full disclosure, I'm pretty much a ENEMIES OF THE GATE, and my ENEMIES OF THE GATE mind just finds that line to be almost objectifying women or as seeing no value for their company other than for sex.

Last comment, maybe minimize your contractions. They seem to be a controversial topic too.

Don’t agree with any of this at all.

In particular, what’s actually offensive about “breasts”? What is one supposed to call them? I think the point about physical differences is fair if you’re talking about same sex v. opposite sex attraction. At the very least, say “women’s bodies” rather than some weird phrases like “intimate company.”

Scutrules

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Re: Good Personal Statement - How can it be better?

Postby Scutrules » Mon Jan 21, 2019 12:38 pm

nixy wrote:
This is very good, but I feel like it spirals a bit quickly near the end from your life/journey —> all human inequities —> the role of law. “Men like me are hanged” is a perfectly great transition, but then the jump to other non-LGBT abuses (especially treatment of immigrants, just because the essay has been very focused on sexuality-related issues and suddenly takes a big jump), to “But all this is perfectly legal!” and the role of law gave me a little bit of whiplash. Either that all needs to be curtailed/focused more narrowly (use only LGBT examples of continuing inequities?) or the links between them need to be spelled out a bit more.


I agree with this advice. You go from telling your story to stepping on the soapbox. This essay is not about specific laws, it's about you. I think cutting out your thoughts on immigrants, etc would benefit your essay. However, I also see that you posted this a bit ago and very well may have submitted your PS already.

...בהצלחה!!! תגיד לנו אם התקבלתה.



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