I need to cut my PS in half!!

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
User avatar
rso11
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:25 pm

I need to cut my PS in half!!

Postby rso11 » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:50 pm

Hey! My personal statement is literally 2xs as long as it's allowed to be. Because it's all important to me, I'm having a hard time culling it. Be honest - but not assholes, and please tell me what you think I can get rid of. Oh, and I still need to add a conclusion and I know the intro is shitty. Thanks!!!

I have had two intellectual passions: gender issues, and the analysis and interpretation of literature. What draws me to both is the opportunity they present to explore inequalities of power in ways which are nuanced and contextualized. However, as a student I was frustrated by the lack of praxis to buttress the theory I learned in the classroom. It was this intense frustration, and the desire to bridge the gap between theory and praxis, that led me to pursue the study of law.

For a good year and a half during my undergraduate career, I wanted to enter a doctoral program and become a literature professor. I was obsessed. Literature was my religion: a key, it gave me answers. It was my area of natural expertise, a field that allowed for creativity while demanding logic and discipline. I would pore over texts for evidence of an idea. As soon as I thought of an argument—a particular interpretation and function of a passage, motif, narrative break, or character—it would seem too obvious, and therefore not enough for a compelling paper. The semi-obvious would drive me to dig deeper into the text, to piece together different moments in the text to support or refute my original idea, and so allow me to find a larger meaning behind the specific instance with which I began. It was an arduous, but rewarding process.

However, I could only sustain this intensity, this drive for unexpected revelations, because I believed literature served a higher purpose. The arguments I constructed were not pursued merely to fulfill a deadline; the pursuit of knowledge itself was an ethical imperative: if someone had to live through an experience, the least I could do was know about it. My focus on postcolonial literature and theory meant that this knowledge was often of violence, alienation, isolation or disempowerment. It was enough to know, and though it made me uncomfortable, I welcomed such feelings.
As I continued to study, my view of literature changed. The more I learned, the more I was moved to act. This dissatisfaction was cultivated mostly outside the English department, in my anthropology and political science classes. It crystallized particularly in my fourth year, when I took a class on comparative gender politics. One article discussed the effects of outsourced labor on Bangaldeshi garment workers. The article documented some positive effects of factory work: women found a role outside the traditional sphere of domestic life, as well as camaraderie and a sense of economic empowerment. When I first read the article I wasn’t impressed. I knew about these effects already, from the novel Brick Lane on which I was writing my senior honors thesis. But something about these women unsettled what I “knew” in theory. I was moved by the story of these women in a way I hadn’t been by the novel’s similar fictional representation. These women were real. What I had thought of only abstractly suddenly solidified.

Inspired by the positive real world effects of the article, I reexamined a character in the novel for which I had already constructed a depressing interpretation. She was an archetype of the exploited globalized worker, whose living conditions are poor, whose employment is often temporary, and in the case of women in developing countries, who is policed by male ideas of acceptable behavior. But this article prompted me to read hope into the text. For the character also continued to desire a better life for herself in spite of limiting circumstances. That continuous desire meant that she didn’t accept her position, that she still had the ability to want, to believe that a better life was possible, and that she deserved it.

This hopeful reading clashed with what I was learning about the world outside the text. My social science classes introduced me to situations where a hopeful reading wasn’t possible. I read about men and women, individually or in groups, who tried to institutionalize a democratic regime, or promote reproductive and educational rights, and failed blatantly. And for the first time, literature seemed marginal. Knowing about these people wasn’t enough. What had seemed ethical now felt stifling. I wanted to act but didn’t know how. And then I discovered the possibility of law.
After graduation I began volunteering at the office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney in my town, and this idea crystallized one Friday in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. While our Victim Advocate was in and out of the room working with various plaintiffs, I sat next to one woman who was applying for an emergency protective order (EPO). She was middle-aged, blonde and soft-spoken. We eased onto the hardwood benches of the courtroom and I could hear her taking deep, deliberate breathes, trying not to hyperventilate. “That’s my ex-husband,” she whispered to me, jerking her head across the room to a nondescript man in a white dress shirt. He’s brought all this support with him.” Indeed, behind him I could see men and women of various ages whom I presumed to be family. The woman next to me was alone. I squeezed her shoulder and tried to reassure her; I was on her side. Afterwards, I walked her to her car because she was terrified that her ex-husband might try to attack her, even right outside the courthouse. I found out later that after the EPO expired, she requested and was granted a long-term order. I started thinking about what a protective order meant; among other things, it occurred to me that a document like that is important in a way that literature never could be: it is an embodied text. It directly affects experience. For this woman, it means that if her ex-husband tries to contact her, she can call the police. It won’t be her fault that he shows up, or is angry, or has had a bad day. Maybe one day she won’t be afraid to walk to her car, because she isn’t quite so alone. She has backup. That text became part of her life.

I’ve also discovered that, as with certain aspects of postcolonial literature, the law can introduce newness into cyclic circumstances. Over the past few weeks, our Victim Advocate and I have been working to send two women to a pilot immigration clinic at the Virginia Poverty Law Center, which is intended to help illegal immigrants negotiate the steps of obtaining visas and green cards. I contacted the staff attorney running the clinic, obtained applications and conditions for enrollment, transcribed the women’s answers, and collected supporting documents. A few days ago we found out that both women have been accepted to the clinic. While they’re not assured a visa, our work has introduced a possibility which did not previously exist. Postcolonial writers do a similar work, rewriting history to refuse cultural and social definitions imposed on them by outsiders. They work to break cycles of limited definition, of limited possibility. In our office the difference is experiential rather than representational, and therefore limited to an individual life. But unlike writing, this newness is tangible. These women might have green cards. And in a few years they might become permanent residents or citizens.

User avatar
Fred_McGriff
Posts: 396
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 12:43 pm

Re: I need to cut my PS in half!!

Postby Fred_McGriff » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:57 pm

Your post was too long, and the intro wasn't compelling, so I stopped reading after the first couple of lines. PM to follow

I trimmed my personal statement in half. It sucked. 500 words didn't capture who I was or 90% of the sweet shit I've done. Give them a glimpse of you and your forward looking motivation rather than trying to put your whole self out there... Make it really fucking interesting, to the point where they don't want to put it down, and wish it was a 1000 word essay.

I realize this post is a bit abrasive, I don't mean to be a dick, just want to help.

DeepSeaLaw
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:48 am

Re: I need to cut my PS in half!!

Postby DeepSeaLaw » Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:00 am

rso11 wrote:Hey! My personal statement is literally 2xs as long as it's allowed to be. Because it's all important to me, I'm having a hard time culling it. Be honest - but not assholes, and please tell me what you think I can get rid of. Oh, and I still need to add a conclusion and I know the intro is shitty. Thanks!!!

I have had two intellectual passions: gender issues, and the analysis and interpretation of literature. What draws me to both is the opportunity they present to explore inequalities of power in ways which are nuanced and contextualized. However, as a student I was frustrated by the lack of praxis to buttress the theory I learned in the classroom. It was this intense frustration, and the desire to bridge the gap between theory and praxis, that led me to pursue the study of law. Second and fourth sentences could be made stronger and shorter with more active constructions

For a goodyear and a half during my undergraduate career, I wanted to enter a doctoral program and become a literature professor.I was obsessed.Literature was my religion: a key, it gave me answers. It was my area of natural expertise, a field that allowed for creativity while demanding logic and discipline. I would pore over texts for evidence of an idea. As soon as I thought of an argument—a particular interpretation and function of a passage, motif, narrative break, or character—it would seem too obvious, and therefore not enough for a compelling paper. The semi-obvious would drive me to dig deeper into the text, to piece together different moments in the text to support or refute my original idea, and so allow me to find a larger meaning behind the specific instance with which I began. It was an arduous, but rewarding process.

However, I could only sustain this intensity, this drive for unexpected revelations, because I believed literature served a higher purpose. The arguments I constructed were not pursued merely to fulfill a deadlineavoid [wordy] passive voice as in previous sentence; the pursuit of knowledge itself was an ethical imperative: if someone had to live through an experience, the least I could do was know about it. My focus on postcolonial literature and theory meant that this knowledge was often of violence, alienation, isolation or disempowerment. It was enough to know, and though it made me uncomfortable, I welcomed such feelings.

As I continued to study, my view of literature changed. The more I learned, the more I was moved to act. This dissatisfaction was cultivated mostly outside the English departmentagain, passive and wordy, in my anthropology and political science classes. It crystallized particularly in my fourth year, when I took a class on comparative gender politics. One article discussed the effects of outsourced labor on Bangaldeshi garment workers. Doesn't need to be its own sentence -- could be worked into the next sentence to cut word countThe article documented some positive effects of factory work: women found a role outside the traditional sphere of domestic life, as well as camaraderie and a sense of economic empowerment. When I first read the article I wasn’t impressed. I knew about these effects already, from the novel Brick Lane on which I was writing my senior honors thesis. But something about these women unsettled what I “knew” in theory. I was moved by the story of these women in a way I hadn’t been by the novel’s similar fictional representation. These women were real. What I had thought of only abstractly suddenly solidified.

Inspired by the positive real world effects of the article, I reexamined a character in the novel for which I had already constructed a depressing interpretation. She was an archetype of the exploited globalized worker, whose living conditions are poor, whose employment is often temporary, and in the case of women in developing countries, who is policed by male ideas of acceptable behavior. But this article prompted me to read hope into the text. For the character also continued to desire a better life for herself in spite of limiting circumstances. That continuous desire meant that she didn’t accept her position, that she still had the ability to want, to believe that a better life was possible, and that she deserved it.

This hopeful reading clashed with what I was learning about the world outside the text. My social science classes introduced me to situations where a hopeful reading wasn’t possible. I read about men and women, individually or in groups, who tried to institutionalize a democratic regime, or promote reproductive and educational rights, and failed blatantly. And for the first time, literature seemed marginal. Knowing about these people wasn’t enough. What had seemed ethical now felt stifling. I wanted to act but didn’t know how. And then I discovered the possibility of law.

After graduation I began volunteering at the office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney in my town, and this idea crystallized one Friday in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. While our Victim Advocate was in and out of the room working with various plaintiffs, I sat next to one woman who was applying for an emergency protective order (EPO). She was middle-aged, blonde and soft-spoken. We eased onto the hardwood benches of the courtroom and I could hear her taking deep, deliberate breathes, trying not to hyperventilate. “That’s my ex-husband,” she whispered to me, jerking her head across the room to a nondescript man in a white dress shirt. He’s brought all this support with him.” Indeed, behind him I could see men and women of various ages whom I presumed to be family. The woman next to me was alone. I squeezed her shoulder and tried to reassure her; I was on her side. Afterwards, I walked her to her car because she was terrified that her ex-husband might try to attack her, even right outside the courthouse. I found out later that after the EPO expired, she requested and was granted a long-term order. I started thinking about what a protective order meant; among other things, it occurred to me that a document like that is important in a way that literature never could be: it is an embodied text. It directly affects experience. For this woman, it means that if her ex-husband tries to contact her, she can call the police. It won’t be her fault that he shows up, or is angry, or has had a bad day. Maybe one day she won’t be afraid to walk to her car, because she isn’t quite so alone. She has backup. That text became part of her life.

I’ve also discovered that, as with certain aspects of postcolonial literature, the law can introduce newness into cyclic circumstances. Over the past few weeks, our Victim Advocate and I have been working to send two women to a pilot immigration clinic at the Virginia Poverty Law Center, which is intended to help illegal immigrants negotiate the steps of obtaining visas and green cards. I contacted the staff attorney running the clinic, obtained applications and conditions for enrollment, transcribed the women’s answers, and collected supporting documents. A few days ago we found out that both women have been accepted to the clinic. While they’re not assured a visa, our work has introduced a possibility which did not previously exist. Postcolonial writers do a similar work, rewriting history to refuse cultural and social definitions imposed on them by outsiders. They work to break cycles of limited definition, of limited possibility. In our office the difference is experiential rather than representational, and therefore limited to an individual life. But unlike writing, this newness is tangible. These women might have green cards. And in a few years they might become permanent residents or citizens.


You're going to have to cut some content to halve your word count, but you can probably get rid of 200 words or so by avoiding repetition, overly wordy constructions (passive voice and unnecessary explanatory phrases, etc.), non-essential details, and redundant words -- usually adjectives and adverbs. You also need to be picker on what you go into detail on: believe me, law school adcomms read plenty of essays about English majors and legal volunteer work; they don't need you to explain the nuts and bolts of either. Focus on what makes your experience unique. I'm too tired to go through the whole thing, but see my comments and deletions for an idea of what I mean. Some of the strike-throughs leave sections ungrammatical or unclear, but you get the idea -- strive for economy of words, and don't tell your reader what you're already showing through your narrative.

WestOfTheRest
Posts: 1412
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:10 pm

Re: I need to cut my PS in half!!

Postby WestOfTheRest » Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:10 am

Wrong board.

User avatar
soj
Posts: 7735
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:10 pm

Re: I need to cut my PS in half!!

Postby soj » Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:48 am

.
Last edited by soj on Sun Jul 31, 2011 2:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

OmbreGracieuse
Posts: 254
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:39 pm

Re: I need to cut my PS in half!!

Postby OmbreGracieuse » Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:35 pm

I would say why not take everything out related to one issue (gender issues would be my suggestion) and turn it into a diversity statement? You would go from one PS twice as long as it should be to one PS and one DS about as long as they should be.

Just food for thought. Good luck!! :)

User avatar
rso11
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:25 pm

Re: I need to cut my PS in half!!

Postby rso11 » Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:38 pm

OmbreGracieuse wrote:I would say why not take everything out related to one issue (gender issues would be my suggestion) and turn it into a diversity statement? You would go from one PS twice as long as it should be to one PS and one DS about as long as they should be.

Just food for thought. Good luck!! :)


That would indeed cut down my statement but...is that diverse??

sarahh
Posts: 610
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:36 pm

Re: I need to cut my PS in half!!

Postby sarahh » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:34 pm

Reading this, it seems like you fall in the I want to be a lawyer because I want to save the world category. I would keep in mind that you are competing for admission with people who have extensive volunteer experience and/or non-profit work experience. You talk about reading about the struggles of workers in Bangladesh - there are going to be applicants who were in the Peace Corps, applicants who spent their summers doing community service in impoverished communities, applicants who organized petition drives and lobbied, etc.

I see that you do have a shift in your approach - and I think it is good that you talk about your volunteer job - but I am still left wondering why you did not get involved earlier. I am assuming there were plenty of public service opportunities at your college or nearby, so I don't understand the "I was frustrated by the lack of praxis to buttress the theory I learned in the classroom" and "I wanted to act but didn’t know how". You may want to address why you didn't get involved with any advocacy/volunteering in college. (I am assuming you didn't based on the essay, but if you did, I would mention it.) I think it is better to recognize that you were not as involved as you could have been and talk about how you have shifted perspective and matured than imply that you did not have the opportunity to be involved. Or if there was a circumstance, such as caring for a sick parent, that prevented you from being as involved as you wanted to, mention it.

I would do one paragraph on your old perspective, then spend the rest of it talking about the shift and what you have actually done.

r6_philly
Posts: 10707
Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:32 pm

Re: I need to cut my PS in half!!

Postby r6_philly » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:38 pm

sarahhope82 wrote:Reading this, it seems like you fall in the I want to be a lawyer because I want to save the world category. I would keep in mind that you are competing for admission with people who have extensive volunteer experience and/or non-profit work experience. You talk about reading about the struggles of workers in Bangladesh - there are going to be applicants who were in the Peace Corps, applicants who spent their summers doing community service in impoverished communities, applicants who organized petition drives and lobbied, etc.

I see that you do have a shift in your approach - and I think it is good that you talk about your volunteer job - but I am still left wondering why you did not get involved earlier. I am assuming there were plenty of public service opportunities at your college or nearby, so I don't understand the "I was frustrated by the lack of praxis to buttress the theory I learned in the classroom" and "I wanted to act but didn’t know how". You may want to address why you didn't get involved with any advocacy/volunteering in college. (I am assuming you didn't based on the essay, but if you did, I would mention it.) I think it is better to recognize that you were not as involved as you could have been and talk about how you have shifted perspective and matured than imply that you did not have the opportunity to be involved. Or if there was a circumstance, such as caring for a sick parent, that prevented you from being as involved as you wanted to, mention it.

I would do one paragraph on your old perspective, then spend the rest of it talking about the shift and what you have actually done.


+1

You will be viewed along with 10000 other files. Many people have acted on their desire to save the world, it actually would probably put you at a disadvantage. It's sort of interesting, many people I interact with in the nonprofit world don't talk about changing/saving the world a whole lot, they just do it without the grand vision.

User avatar
rso11
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:25 pm

Re: I need to cut my PS in half!!

Postby rso11 » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:02 pm

Hey, I know that the whole premed-->humanities or social sciences track is so common it doesn't warrant an addendum (a la the Ivey Guide). However, does it mean that such an experience is not kosher for a PS?

User avatar
rso11
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:25 pm

Re: I need to cut my PS in half!!

Postby rso11 » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:13 pm

sarahhope82 wrote:Reading this, it seems like you fall in the I want to be a lawyer because I want to save the world category. I would keep in mind that you are competing for admission with people who have extensive volunteer experience and/or non-profit work experience. You talk about reading about the struggles of workers in Bangladesh - there are going to be applicants who were in the Peace Corps, applicants who spent their summers doing community service in impoverished communities, applicants who organized petition drives and lobbied, etc.

I see that you do have a shift in your approach - and I think it is good that you talk about your volunteer job - but I am still left wondering why you did not get involved earlier. I am assuming there were plenty of public service opportunities at your college or nearby, so I don't understand the "I was frustrated by the lack of praxis to buttress the theory I learned in the classroom" and "I wanted to act but didn’t know how". You may want to address why you didn't get involved with any advocacy/volunteering in college. (I am assuming you didn't based on the essay, but if you did, I would mention it.) I think it is better to recognize that you were not as involved as you could have been and talk about how you have shifted perspective and matured than imply that you did not have the opportunity to be involved. Or if there was a circumstance, such as caring for a sick parent, that prevented you from being as involved as you wanted to, mention it.

I would do one paragraph on your old perspective, then spend the rest of it talking about the shift and what you have actually done.


Okay, that's a really good point! The short story is that I wanted to go into literary academia for most of my undergrad career. Nothing required there but, well, scholarship.




Return to “Law School Admissions Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baby Gaga, BobBoblaw, brewpub16, cavalier1138, newbie2017 and 15 guests