Please help edit/ critique

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Please help edit/ critique

Post by awsiler » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:07 pm

Ok, thank you for the reply, I am editing that one by trashing it.... here is the second option, maybe it is better??? Any help is appreciated:

When I was in seventh grade, my parents urged me to be in the school band. I absolutely refused. I was so shy then, and the prospect of being in such a large group terrified me. I had no doubt I would do well if I tried, but the thought of being in front of my peers for auditions was terrifying. It could not get any more embarrassing than that, could it? My parents were unrelenting in their quest. They knew me too well. They saw potential, and absolutely knew what I was capable of. The simple act of taking that first step, as reluctant as it was, was a life changing event for me.
To my surprise, the auditions for an instrument went smoothly. Sometimes, having a group of people doing the exact same thing, will result in a great amount of empathy from each participant for their fellow participants. There was no laughter. Even when someone had a terrible time, and couldn’t get a sound out of a flute, or a trumpet, or a clarinet… no one made fun of them. Students’ cheeks would puff, and turn various shades of red, as they put everything they had in to making the instrument sing. No one laughed. A tiny fragile sounding squeak might emerge. No one laughed. Even loud and obnoxious sounds came out from time to time. Still, no one laughed. We were already a unit of sorts. Imagine, an entire room of sixth and seventh graders who did not pick on each other, even it if was for such a short time.
We had amazing leaders. They were able to earn the respect of each member, and each of us would have done anything to make them proud. I didn’t know it then, but it wouldn’t be long before I would have a chance to be one of those leaders. We learned to have pride in what we do, and in who we are.
Over those six years I watched good friends leave that group, but was also constantly making new friends as they joined our tight knit family. I have no doubt that every person that left us, left a stronger person than when they began. I have no doubt that I was made stronger as well. That experience prepared me for life after high school, more than any other thing I did during that time. It was an amazing transformation for me. I went from being the shiest little girl you have ever seen, to enjoying the challenge of being in front of others.
By the end of my senior year, I had auditioned 49 times for both the directors and for camps I attended. I earned a trip to San Diego, California because I ranked in the top eleven clarinetists in the state. I composed an entire musical piece, taught the band to play it, and conducted it at my senior concert. None of those things would have ever occurred if I had not taken that first step. Looking back, it seems so small, but had felt like a chasm before me.
Without realizing it, I had grown leaps and bounds over those years in band. I had my life planned out, I would go to college, then maybe grad school… maybe become a doctor or a lawyer. As I entered college, there still seemed to be something holding me back. I was not the shy girl from sixth grade anymore, but I still felt completely daunted by the prospect of college, much less law school or medical school. I have since struggled through working up to three jobs at a time while in college to provide for myself and my family. I lacked direction because I was too afraid to follow the dreams I once had. Each year that passed seemed to create more, not less fear. My friends were all graduating college, and there I was, once the top of the class, still struggling to decide what I wanted to do with my life. I spent my time trying my best to enjoy life, hoping that at some point, I would figure everything out. There was so much out there to explore, something had to be right for me. I went rock climbing, sky diving, scuba diving, and earned a black belt in martial arts. I traveled, got married, bought a home, sold a home, got a job, then got a better job.
The turning point took ten years to find. My husband and I were expecting our first child in May of 2008. However, the Thanksgiving before she was due, we lost that baby, and my own life was put into jeopardy. The trauma and pain from that event was more than I ever thought I could handle. Once I was discharged from the hospital, we were essentially homeless. Our landlord decided as our lease ran out, he did not want to rent his unit anymore. Only two months later, just as we found a new rental, life threw another curveball. My husband’s brother was killed in a tragic accident. Our world had been shattered. It was the worst “make lemonade” moment I had ever been through, simply too many lemons to deal with. When I made it through that time period, I knew then, I could do anything. It was the critical moment, the one when I was set free from the fear and had the world open to me again.
I took some time to heal from the losses. I authored and published a novella, Mariam’s Faith, which chronicled my life to that point. The writing was therapeutic for me, and I hoped others could read the story and find comfort in times of loss. A year later, I successfully gave birth to my little boy. He is truly my miracle child, and it was after his birth that the idea of law school came back in to view. Once I returned to work from maternity leave, I had the opportunity to dive in to a new area of expertise. I was given the responsibility of handling certified payroll on all of our government jobs. No one in the company had done any leg work in the field, which meant I had to take a leadership role. Immediately, I delved in to researching Davis Bacon and Related Acts, along with FLSA and the Copeland Act. I read all of the CFR’s, and after about six months of working in this new area, our legal department was using me as a resource and local “expert” in the field. I put in place new policies and procedures to benefit the company. It was this that led me to discover my love, not only for the law and research, but also for my love of helping others understand and comprehend the law. Our subcontractors called almost daily to gain understanding for one rule or another. Before long, I was getting calls from people I had never worked with. They had been referred to me. I have helped defend our subcontractors in regards to submission requests from MDA and HUD, along with various consulting agencies, and through my research have successfully gotten them to back down from requirements that were unnecessary. I have also helped the subcontractors understand why certain requirements are out there and how to comply with them.

I know my GPA doesn’t reflect the typical law school candidate, who knew from day one what they wanted to do in life. However, I know I have the ability to do well, and in addition to that, I have the drive and willingness to work hard, and knowledge about the “real world” that only experience can bring. I hope that through my entire application packet, you are able to see this, and look beyond the time it took me to find my direction in life. I’ve had the tools all along to build something great, and until now, never knew what to build. I would love nothing more than to build on the foundation I have started, with an education in law from Tulane, and eventually to use that education to help others on whatever path may lie ahead. That moment in seventh grade, my parents knew my potential. Today, I know my own.
Last edited by awsiler on Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Please help edit/ critique

Post by rinkrat19 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:33 am

Is this an academic addendum or a personal statement?

It's extremely muddled. Parts read like a list of excuses for bad grades, parts read like a list of extracurricular activities, and parts read like they want to be a personal statement but aren't quite sure what that means.

I am aware that my college academic record is likely not up to par with most law school applicants. However, there are other items I hope you will take into consideration. From elementary through high school, I was in all of the gifted programs available. I took AP Calculus, AP English, History, etc. I scored a 30 on the ACT in my junior year. I had two poems published and received several college academic scholarships. [Truly awful opening paragraph. It's whiny, and it does nothing to grab the reader and draw them into your story. You need a better intro--perhaps something anecdotal about a specific performance or moment in your musical education.]

I played soccer and softball. I had taken dance, martial arts, and drama. [Don't just toss out things that won't be talked about again. ] I learned to play clarinet, moving very quickly to the top rank in our band by eighth grade, and remaining in the top two seats throughout high school. For all of my abilities, I had the least outgoing personality one could have. It took every ounce of mental strength to simply go to an audition for band. [Shyness is a possible PS topic, but you spend all of 2 sentences on it.] By my senior year, I had successfully avoided all of the competitions in music, which was a huge mistake. [Why was it a mistake? Plenty of people enjoy music without performing or competing.] I was in love with music, and practiced constantly. [Need to show--not tell!--what changed in your life or thought processes that inspired you to face your insecurities and challenge yourself.] I decided to challenge myself that year and audition for every event possible. I did. There were about 15 or so [avoid informal language] auditions that year, and I placed in the first three positions of the top group in every one of them. The culmination of those experiences was the audition for Lions Band. I placed in the top 9 nine clarinetists in the state during round one in the first round, and by the final auditions was placed at 11th. I was elated. [Show us how elated you were, don't use a three-word sentence to tell us.] In that one simple challenge for myself, I had overcome a fear and enjoyed doing it. [Again, you're telling us, not showing us. I have no proof in your actions or words of any enjoyment, and I still don't understand what changed to make you challenge yourself.]

That same year, as part of a new graduation requirement, I conducted a piece of my own composing at the final concert of the year. also composed a musical piece, taught the band to play it, and conducted it at the final concert of the year. Local experts in the field of music attended the concert, and judged a 10 minute speech regarding a related topic of my choosing. I had high marks and compliments from each of them. The performance and my accompanying 10-minute speech were judged by local music experts, and I received high marks. I had put over 200 documented hours into the project overall, well above the required amount. With every new achievement, I gained confidence in myself. I was gaining experiences that would help to grow my personality into something I could be more proud of. I was eager to get into the world and be on my own. [last sentence sounds incredibly naive. You were what, 17? Still an infant! Also, too much passive voice (had put, was gaining)]

[And this is where I get confused. Is this an academic addendum? If not, you're spending waaaaay too much time trying to explain away bad grades, and you need to focus on what you've learned, how you've changed, and how awesome you are now because of (x) in your past. If it is an addendum, you've written about 5x what is needed. Addendums don't need personal stories, just facts laid out to explain whatever you're trying to explain.]
My newfound passion for being outgoing was going to take me places, I just didn’t know where. After accepting a full academic scholarship to the University of XXXXXX, I thought I had it made. I wanted to eventually attend law school, or perhaps medical school, but every time I considered it, I got a sick feeling in my gut. I wasn’t that outgoing yet, and those options were daunting to me. I quickly pushed them aside and decided to major in speech pathology. Unfortunately, I fell onto a path of indecision. I was bored with school because I had no true direction, and had not come to realize that it was because I was not headed on the path I truly should be on. Instead, I opted to experience life as best I could, and hopefully find where my place should be. I continued in school, not because I was excited about it, but because it just needed to be done. Between that attitude, and working full time, my grades have not reflected my true academic ability.
However, I am applying today, not due to my academic achievement in college, but due to my life experiences, and where I know I am headed. Because I have always worked full time, up to two and three jobs at once, while in college; I was unable to participate in many college related activities. However, I made it a point to try many things on my own, where the schedule did not conflict. I have grown as a person with each experience: TaeKwonDo, skydiving, scuba diving, traveling, getting married, buying a home, selling a home, changing jobs, etc. I am so much stronger than my first days of college. Buy why now? Why can I finally apply to law school?
[Assuming that this is supposed to be a personal statement and not an addendum, this entire paragraph needs to go. You sound like an utter flake and a terrible student. You offer no proof that you've changed and will be able to succeed in the rigorous classes at law school. No matter how much you think you'd love being a lawyer, you still have to get through law school to do it, and the adcomms don't want to gamble a spot in their class on someone who might crap out.]

[A miscarriage could be an incredible topic for a personal statement, but it would be better if you opened up a little further about it and didn't just skip past it in 3 sentences. Obviously you might not want to do that, which of course is totally fine, but know that it doesn't really put any wow into the essay the way it is. Someone reading this will go 'that's sad, she had a miscarriage,' but won't get anything more about you out of it. It's such a sensitive subject that now I feel like I'm telling you to milk a traumatic experience for admissions points. If I sound that way, I apologize. But I mentioned several times that I feel like you're telling, not showing, things that could be more vividly illustrated with a few sentences, and this is the same thing.]
AboutThree years ago, I had a tragic miscarriage. in which I not only lost my child, but my own life was put into jeopardy. Not only did I lose my baby, but my own life was threatened. That fateful event led to some amazing things in my life. [Again, 'telling' us about "amazing things" that we just have to take on faith because you offer no examples.] I rediscovered an almost-forgotten love of writing to express my thoughts and feelings more easily than I could out loud. Inspired by my experiences, I later wrote and published a book, “Mariam’s Faith.”, about that experience. Writing it helped me to heal myself, and It was a way to heal and I hoped to that reading it might help others. In the process, I rediscovered my love of writing that, with time, had seemed to almost dissipate completely.

Though the writing process helped, I could not truthfully say that I was healed until a year later when my beautiful, healthy son was born. and I rediscovered a passion for life, and for doing better for my child and family. And it was not just on a personal front that my life improved, but on a professional front as well. [Not a great sentence, but you need some kind of transition from baby=>work.] After returning to workfrom maternity leave, my job description changed. I dove in to a new field, being the first in my company to do so. I became the first person at my company to begin working in [name of area]. My new duties required extensive research of the Davis Bacon and Related Acts and FLSA laws. That required a huge amount of research into the Davis Bacon and Related Acts, and also into FLSA laws. For the first time in three years, I LOVED my job. could not wait to get to work each morning. [Absolutely do NOT use all caps. This is a formal essay, not an email to your BFF.] I loved I gained deep satisfaction from helping others understand those the laws, and within six months had become a resource not only for the legal department in my own company, but also for other companies as well.

Through my new duties, I discovered my a love for legal researchand the law itself. I was fascinated by the minutae of the laws themselves and by the vast reaches of their effects. At that point, I decided I wanted to go back to school and start almost from scratch with a new major. Once only an idle passing thought, the idea of law school surfaced once again, this time as a focused and concrete goal. and Having put some difficult life experiences behind me, I know I can succeed now I am now confident that my abilities and strengths will allow me to succeed as a student at XXXXXX Law School. I have changed majors to Interdisciplinary Studies, and will graduate by the summer of 2011. I will be taking the LSAT in February, and based on my practice exams, hope this score will show you what I am capable of.

Given the entirety of the information provided to you in this application, it is my hope that you can see the value in my character, and the passion I will apply to an education in the field of law.I can draw from my personal and work experiences from the past ten years, and will be a well rounded student for xxxxxxx.

The ending would still need work...but I'm tired and want to go to bed now. Maybe someone else will take a stab.


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Re: Please help edit/ critique

Post by awsiler » Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:18 pm

Thank you so much for the reply.... I pretty much have scrapped that one... and just FYI it was supposed to serve double duty as a grade addendum and personal statement to meet a particular school's requirements. I edited the original post and added a different statement, hopefully better. All help is appreciated!

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