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Streams of volunteers hurriedly filter into the office and move from area to area getting instructions on where to go and what to do and then have a sticker slapped onto their chests before rushing out the door. This is organized madness. A political campaign is not for the faint of heart, the hours are endless and the pay is unquestionably below legal standards, but every cycle I find myself drawn back in.
This time around I am to contact twenty thousand voters at their homes in the next three weeks by recruiting volunteers, one at a time, to help do the job for me. The math is fairly simple, 400 people knocking 50 doors each in a given period of time equals twenty thousand doors. Simple, easy, no problem. Yet the elegance of the math fails to translate well to the moment-by-moment reality of the cold volunteer recruitment call, to creating a map that wont frustrate a volunteer, or to resolving the various problems volunteers run into when it comes to recording information in a logical manner.
The daily currency I seek to acquire is a volunteer’s time, this is done via cold-call. My voice is unwaveringly chipper and confident, conciliatory when necessary, and always nimble. I cannot afford to be anything but in the moment, I must analyze everything in this two minute call; what is their tone of voice, how are they responding to my words and my tone, is there a better way I could structure this “pitch” to make it more convincing, more urgent? The call ends, I take notes, I try something subtly different the next call and I lock someone into getting out of their warm bed this Saturday morning. One at a time, I am to recruit nineteen more shifts tonight to at least stay on track.
As calls come to a close, my attention is drawn to spreadsheets, maps, and doors. Candidate performance on a precinct-by-precinct basis and projected turnout fill endless cells as I reference what these neighborhoods actually look like on a street level and how far apart the houses actually are. Should the 75-year-old woman walk the neighborhood of this particular size or would the 30 year old be better suited? Does the low percentage of support despite a high population density justify sending my volunteers elsewhere? I make my decisions and then slip into sleep.
The weekend unexpectedly arrives as the trickle of people soon becomes a torrent and crowd management and mass instruction quickly takes precedence. I need the volunteers to ask a lot of questions and to record their information in the proper manner, but mentally exhausted by the foreignness of their environment and the task, they are far from receptive. I role play the forthcoming interaction with the volunteers and ask them to innovate upon the script, I send them out the door hoping that I wont have too many mistakes to learn from at the end of the day.
Political campaigns require a concentrated and analytical mind focused on accomplishing a variety of tasks that require research, iteration, and decision making in addition to learning how to shut out the fear of the enormity of the present task. In the end, I was exhausted, but immensely satisfied. I had dedicated myself to thoroughly exploring everything that could have been done. I recognize that law school is an enormous mental, physical, and emotional challenge, practicing law for that matter will also likely share these characteristics, yet I find that I am the happiest, when I am focused entirely on a challenge that tests me simultaneously in these capacities. Applying myself rigorously to learning the body of law, and how facts are applied to it, with the end goal of being a positive actor, in one capacity or another, in the pursuit of creating a fairer social system remains the driver in my consideration to pursue a career in law.
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LSAT: 172 (retake)
I didn't edit anything out of my PS; my cycle is over so I'm not worried about anonymity, and I kept Rob's name in honor of his memory.
I recently got lost while running on a road that traverses fourteen active minefields. I blame this on my parents, whose ban on television and movies rated above PG led to my insatiable interest in reading and running. The Little Women and Anne of Green Gables series were early favorites, and I seem to have inherited a touch of Jo and Anne’s propensity for getting into scrapes. My initial confidence quickly decreased in proportion to the diminished oxygen at Bagram Air Field’s 4,895 ft. elevation. My legs rebelled next, protesting the lingering effects of running a fifty mile ultramarathon during pre-deployment leave. By the time it registered that the red, palm-sized, upside down triangles hanging from a single strand of concertina wire read “MINES,” I was hopelessly lost. Abandoning all pride, I asked an Air Force soldier for directions (I’m in the Army, and even in Afghanistan inter-service rivalry thrives). Although less than impressive, this run is indicative of both my determination to pursue challenge and the military experiences that have led to my interest in legislative practice.
Two full ACL reconstructions in high school resulted in replacing soccer games with debate tournaments and my consequent desire to become an attorney. However, after the attacks of September 11th I felt compelled to first serve in the military, and applied to West Point. While a cadet, I chose engineers over the service support branches commonly selected by women and liberal arts majors because I wanted diverse experiences to redefine the limits of my abilities. I now count rappelling from helicopters and wielding power tools among my accomplishments, although my soldiers still joke that bent nails were telltale indicators of my presence on the project site. I must also admit that parachuting into a treetop rounds out my list of misadventures. In all, I have been extremely fortunate for the opportunity to embrace military challenges, and am all the more eager for the challenges of the legal profession.
My interaction with soldiers and civilians of incredibly multifarious backgrounds at the intersection of policy and law has given my long-standing legal ambitions focus. Competing obligations are at times mutually exclusive; my personal beliefs and military policy do not always coincide. As an Army leader, I am accountable for upholding the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. As an individual, I am firmly convinced that any policy short of outright acceptance of a homosexual’s right to serve is damning to the military’s stated values. My experiences with the impact of military policies such as this have channeled my interests towards legislative practice and its role in the policymaking process.
Since arriving at my unit, I will have spent over one-third of my time engaged in the application of U.S. military policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. I can now calculate the shear stress and deflection of a single member beam, but there is no quick formula for eradicating terrorism and no number that can ever capture the immense cost and impact of military intervention. One month ago, one of our Afghan mechanics failed to show up for work: the Taliban had severed his hands. “Jackie” is the translator who keeps me from getting swindled by local merchants on bazaar day, and like all of my unit’s interpreters he must go by a pseudonym and is embedded with our unit to shield his family from retaliatory targeting. Two weeks before my second deployment, I attended a funeral for the most vivacious person I have ever known, 1LT Robert W. Collins, KIA. In twenty-four years Rob did more living and created more joy than most will in a lifetime. I have never been more humbled in the face of sacrifice than as his parents, both retired Army officers, accepted the folded flag in honor of their only child. These are the individual realities that are the direct result of U.S. military policy. This policy is one that I wholly support, while absolutely believing that a lasting solution cannot be wrought solely of military means. To fail to develop a holistic strategy that encompasses a committed international coalition, nation building, and humanitarian assistance is to fail to justify the immeasurable losses that military action demands.
My experiences underscore the vital importance of sound policy. As an aspiring attorney it is my intention to integrate a legal background with the legislative process and work with the Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Relations Committees in the development of military and international relations policy. In this pursuit the University of Virginia School of Law is my first choice, and I am especially eager for the invaluable opportunity to study under Professor John Norton Moore at the school’s Center for National Security Law. As I seek the challenge of impacting policy through law, I remain eternally grateful to Rob and the thousands of others whose sacrifice makes my opportunities possible.
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Greeting me with warm words and a gentle handshake, Mr. H seemed curiously disarming for a man of his reputation. As he followed my lead to the conference room to the steady beat of his walking cane, I struggled to believe this was the man who had repeatedly prevailed over my firm’s best attorneys. It started months earlier when my firm petitioned for relief from stay in Mr. H’s bankruptcy case – a necessary step to foreclose on his home. Astonishingly, under his own representation, Mr. H convinced the court to grant him eight consecutive continuances on our motion for relief, effectively delaying foreclosure by nearly four months. His repeated triumphs were mysterious, but they prompted our client to offer a generous forbearance agreement in the interest of resolving the matter. To prevent Mr. H from using the intimidation plea in the event of a future default, the firm arranged for him to meet with a paralegal to discuss the agreement in lieu of an attorney.
Volunteering for this felt more like a reflex than a deliberate decision, though this reaction was consistent with my peculiar appeal for the job. My interest was partly academic, stemming from an appreciation for the wider implications of the loan default process on our legal and economic infrastructure. The rest was ego. Being a volume business, my firm relied heavily on paralegal labor to clear the caseload by phone and email. Thus, the job offered a unique outlet for creativity by allowing me to build my own cases and represent clients directly. Although I took no pleasure in taking peoples’ homes, I derived a strong sense of self-satisfaction working as an over-the-phone advocate. I realize there’s a lot more to being an attorney than this, but I was satisfied knowing that the position required more than was usual of a paralegal. A professor of mine once said it was better to possess no good qualities than let any go to waste. Thanks to the demands of my job, I was able to exercise my inquisitive nature without letting it go to waste.
The mystery of Mr. H’s case was enticing. Any other case with his patchy payment record would have ended months sooner. As hard as I probed, details about the hearings were sparse. His case had become a touchy subject for every attorney who worked on it. All they would tell me was that Mr. H had just gotten his job back, earning him the court’s sympathy. Based on their frustration, I got the impression that Mr. H was a formidable advocate. It would have explained his recurring success and the fact that the attorneys were dying to resolve the matter. I was instructed to offer Mr. H eight to twelve months to catch-up. Knowing our client would be better off with eight, I secretly vowed to fight for those four months as a test of my abilities.
“Before we begin,” Mr. H uttered softly as we entered the conference room, “I’d like to give you a little background.”
Mr. H proceeded to relay the story of his financial situation. It began when he was diagnosed with cancer the previous year. His health insurer dropped him immediately. He was eventually forced to take leave from work to begin treatment. Several months later, he had beaten cancer only to be forced into bankruptcy by a mountain of medical debt.
Upon hearing Mr. H’s story, I believe I recognized the reasoning behind the court’s decision to delay his foreclosure. Being a social instrument, one of the functions of bankruptcy law is to assist distressed debtors. Ruling on bankruptcy rules and precedent probably would have ended Mr. H’s case much sooner. But I think the judge acknowledged his case fit the need for bankruptcy protection, even though circumstances prevented Mr. H from fulfilling the usual requirements of a debtor in bankruptcy. Legal utility had prevailed over my firm’s attorneys -- not Mr. H.
Realizing that Mr. H was not the formidable opponent I expected, I came to a humbling conclusion. I had always been careful to avoid ethical judgments regarding my clients or related parties to maintain objectivity. However, my objectivity was compromised the moment I viewed a debtor’s case as an affront to my intellectual vanity. I had taken my professor's advice too far by applying my abilities to my cases without restraint, hence allowing pride to get the best of me. This experience was a chilling reminder that no matter how far I have come, I still have room to grow.
Though I have tamed my curiosity since meeting Mr. H, there remains an itch in the back of my mind waiting to be scratched. I want to continue to follow my professor’s advice by putting my inquisitive nature to proper use, but without appealing to vanity. I want to continue my intellectual development in pursuit of a law degree. With the help of your esteemed institution, I hope to be humbled again someday soon.
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Here is my two-penny worth:thelawguru wrote:Overcoming prejudice is never an easy task. Many people spend years trying to overcome the effect of other people’s prejudices on their own lives. I, on the other hand, have spent the last several years trying to understand and eliminate the prejudices I have seen inside myself.
I was in my first year of college when I started to awaken to the reality of my prejudicial way of thinking, but initially, I only saw it in my father. It is important to note that on the surface, my father does not appear to be a man who would harbor prejudices against others. In fact, my father is what many would consider to be a “good man.” He is an honest, hardworking, middle-class man who loves his family, is a respected public figure in his community, and who admittedly lives his life by the guiding principles of the “American Dream.” As a public school teacher, my father has won awards, recognition, and the love and respect of many students, parents, and colleagues. But he is also a man driven by fears, anxieties, and insecurities, which he keeps well hidden in public, but which bleed into his private family life.
On the day I first recognized my father’s prejudices, I had spent the afternoon at Cal State Fullerton discussing with several sociology students the current role played by race in the concept of social stratification. Returning home exhilarated and challenged, I told my family at the dinner table that I thought racism still existed in “today’s culture,” as evidenced by the amount of Mexican immigrants trapped in low-paying jobs. My father came back with the remark that “those Mexicans just need to get a job and quit taking taxpayers’ money,” which he immediately followed by a proclamation denouncing the intelligence of “gays, Muslims, and low-life welfare rats.” He had said this kind of thing daily since before the time I was in elementary school, and it normally was not shocking to me, but this time, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I began to see my father’s disparaging jokes and biased social commentary as prejudiced and closed-minded, rather than as “funny” and “sadly accurate” as I had grown up believing them to be. Moving forward, I vowed to work on identifying and removing these prejudices from my own way of thinking.
But it wasn’t until a few weeks later that I realized the depths of my own prejudices. I had grown up attending a staunchly fundamentalist Christian church, which I started volunteering for heavily my freshman year in college. I spent much of my leisure time passing out tracts and proselytizing, sharing my faith with anyone who would listen. One Saturday night I was having dinner with a friend at Carl’s Jr., and an obviously malnourished, homeless man asked me for some change so that he could buy food for his children. My heart went out to him, but I still unconsciously held on to my father’s prejudiced and fearful way of thinking. So I told him that instead of giving him money, I would tell him about believing in Jesus, since in my mind the solution to his financial situation was entirely in his hands. To my surprise, he looked at me incredulously, swore at me and said “Hey, man! I don’t need Jesus, I need a goddamn hamburger for me and my kids!” At that moment, I saw the foolishness of my self-righteousness, and realized that I was in many ways still as prejudiced as my father. Though I had recognized and moved past many of the prejudices I had grown up embracing, there were others, more deeply rooted, that still remained.
From that point onward, I committed to working towards positively impacting the lives of other people, while challenging my own assumptions and stereotypes. Academics came easily to me, so I graduated at the top of my undergraduate class. With a passion for societal betterment and a desire to gain strong “real-world” experiences, I took a position as a case manager at a county-contracted agency working with CalWORKs participants, advocating for those who lacked the resources and social power to live a life of self-sufficiency and productivity. Through it, I have developed a deep understanding and a high respect for people from diverse backgrounds. I have learned to use the privileges I have as a white male in this society to empower those who are disenfranchised and marginalized, while constantly evaluating my motives to ensure that I am not acting out of a sense of racial and/or social obligation, e.g. “white guilt.”
Now, years later, I am ready to take the next step moving forward on this journey. Pursuing a career in law and being equipped with excellent skills to practice the law effectively and ethically will continue to prepare me to be a positive force and a strong advocate for the disadvantaged and those who are discriminated against. Ultimately my goal is to practice public interest law, specializing in cases involving discrimination or disability rights. I am excited about the opportunities provided by Loyola Law School to study public interest law, and I admire the faculty’s decision to institute a pro bono graduation requirement. The ethical standard exhibited by this requirement was one of the main factors influencing my decision to apply for Loyola Law School.
Due to Loyola Law School’s strong reputation as a higher learning institute and a champion of diversity and social justice, I know that it will best facilitate the furthering of my personal and professional goals. Additionally, I am confident that my fresh perspective of someone who has faced and worked through his own fears and prejudices will be an integral asset to the law program at Loyola Law School. I am looking forward to pursuing my career at Loyola Law School, and to working closely with faculty and students to develop exciting new contributions to the field of public interest law.
A good way to grab someone's attention (especially of someone who is going through multiple such statements) is to start with an interesting story and then go on to build the broader (more abstract) picture. Perhaps you could start first with the dinner-table conversation, and then go on to build up the idea of inherent prejudices the way you have you done in the other paragraphs.
All in all, I find your PS to be compelling. All the best.
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Applying: Emory, Georgia State, & UCLA
Any constructive criticism of this final draft of my psl would be highly, and tremendously appreciated.
There I was, a pregnant senior wobbling across my high school graduation ceremonial stage. I proudly accepted my diploma, feeling a short lived sense of achievement that many girls in my situation never do. After the birth of my daughter, there I stood. A single teenage mother, with a seemingly generational cycle hovering over my head like a dark, stormy could. Both of my parents were adopted, I’ve never met my father whom has been fully incarcerated since I was 6, & I was born to a single teenage mother at her age of 14. As I introspectively assessed my situation as a new mother, I made a conscious vow that I would unerringly attempt. I chose at that defining moment, to aspire to attain self actualization within myself regardless of my personal circumstances. Although statistical odds were against me, resilience and perseverance were inherently embedded within me.
Academic achievement and receiving a college education was first on my list. As I was pursuing my degree, I felt a void. I attempted to fulfill this newly found disheartened sentiment with campus affiliations. A couple fellow students & I spearheaded a new campus organization that still exists, The Multicultural Student Coalition. Within the campus involvement of our organization, I was still at a sense of unfulfillment. As I analyzed my direction, I pinpointed my emptiness. I realized if I could contribute in the community, to underprivileged, underachieving youth, I would feel complete with receiving an education that those similar to me equally deserve, but disproportionately miss.
So I set out. I began volunteering at an at-risk middle school, diving directly into the classroom experience, with a hands on approach to aiding the teacher and directing inappropriate classroom behavior into a cohesive, positively reinforced learning environment. Although a tremendously difficult, at times overwhelming task, juggling college, working, raising a daughter as a single mother, and expending an additional 20 hours a week in unstructured classroom environments, the results were well worth my time. Over the course of watching several students attitude change from a negative outlook on education, to a positive perspective on academic achievement, I was inspired. Volunteering translated into substituting between my college schedule, and substituting subsequently evolved into coordinating with the after school program, using my ideas to better implement a curriculum more effective in promoting positive academic achievement within at-risk youth.
As my community serving roll continued until graduation, I felt a sense of dual achievement as I walked across my university stage, academically & characteristically. There I stood, a cum laude graduate. I had a burning desire to continue on the path of serving, innovatively, coupled with higher education and the application of my intellectual knack for the world. Serving disadvantaged people, observing a transition from practical oblivion to acquired knowledge within specific populations of a given community, is a purpose so grand to me that even the most eloquent of words would not provide an absolute description of my personal fulfillment derived from such actions.
My specific interest in law as a plethora of knowledge, that I am eagerly awaiting to absorb, and translate into an applicable meaningful & successful career, is inspired by intellectual thought, the opportunity to excel academically, and long range vision. To challenge myself logically, analytically, critically, theoretically, hypothetically, & literally, is for me, a means to a promising beginning, full of achievement, vigor, enthusiasm, and zeal. So here I am, with every facet of my being, pursuing law school aspirations with the same tenacity that I pursue everything that I set my mind to. I wholeheartedly believe my ability to successfully complete law school, is absolute. My personal struggles and adversities are minute in comparison to my will to rise to great challenges, and conquer great feats. A career in law is well suited to fit my characteristics, strengths, and great desires. To those whom believe, coupled with the appropriate inspiration, direction, capability, determination and perseverance, shall undoubtedly achieve.
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“I attempted to fulfil this newly found disheartened sentiment with campus affiliations.” Sounds negative. Say the same thing but turn it around in a positive sense. For example, one could either say, “I was not satisfied with my job,” or one could say, “I realized there was a lot more I wished to do.”
“Serving disadvantaged people, observing a transition from practical oblivion to acquired knowledge within specific populations of a given community, is a purpose so grand to me that even the most eloquent of words would not provide an absolute description of my personal fulfillment derived from such actions.” Though very well put, it sounds a bit clichéd. Might want to put it another way; for example, show your vision of how a law degree will allow you t o fulfil this desire better. Same comment for the last paragraph.
Perhaps, you could also do better at tying your personal circumstances (described in the beginning) to the larger sense of purpose that developed subsequently in you. How exactly did your personal circumstances served as a launch pad to propel you in this direction? I can generally understand how, but you just need to say it better. Again, put your finger on it! (The good part about bringing the personal circumstances in to the picture, however, is that you are able to show that you can handle multiple things well.)
All the best to you!
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There I was, a pregnant senior wobbling across my high school graduation ceremonial stage. I proudly accepted my diploma, feeling a short lived sense of achievement that many girls in my situation never do. After the birth of my daughter, there I stood. A single teenage mother, with a seemingly generational cycle hovering over my head like a dark, stormy could. Both of my parents were adopted, I’ve never met my father whom has been fully incarcerated since I was 6, & I was born to a single teenage mother at her age of 14. As I introspectively assessed my situation as a new mother, I made a conscious vow that I would unerringly attempt, to aspire to attain self actualization within myself regardless of my personal circumstances. Although statistical odds were against me, resilience and perseverance were inherently embedded within me. Academic achievement and receiving a college education were first on my list. As I was pursuing my degree, I felt a void. I attempted to fulfill the dissatisfactory feeling with campus affiliation. A couple fellow students & I spearheaded a new campus organization that still exists, The Multicultural Student Coalition.
Within the campus involvement of our organization, I was still at a sense of unfulfillment. As I analyzed my direction, I pinpointed my emptiness. I realized if I could contribute in the community, to underprivileged, underachieving youth, I would feel complete with receiving an education that those similar to me equally deserve, but disproportionately miss. So I set out. I began volunteering at an at-risk middle school, diving directly into the classroom experience, with a hands on approach to aiding the teacher and directing inappropriate classroom behavior into a cohesive, positively reinforced learning environment. Although a tremendously difficult, at times overwhelming task, juggling college, working, raising a daughter as a single mother, and expending an additional 20 hours a week in unstructured classroom environments, the results were well worth my time. Over the course of watching several students attitude change from a negative outlook on education, to a positive perspective on academic achievement, I was inspired. Volunteering translated into substituting between my college schedule, and substituting subsequently evolved into coordinating with the after school program, using my ideas to better implement a curriculum more effective in promoting positive academic achievement within at-risk youth.
As my community serving roll continued until graduation, I felt a sense of dual achievement as I walked across my university stage, academically & characteristically. There I stood, a cum laude graduate. I had a burning desire to continue on the path of serving, innovatively, coupled with higher education and the application of my intellectual knack for the world. Serving disadvantaged people, observing a transition from practical oblivion to acquired knowledge within specific populations of a given community, is an extraordinary purpose centralized in my life, derived specifically from my personal experiences. Bridging my passion for serving with my great interest in law as a body of knowledge, that I am eagerly awaiting to absorb, and translate into an applicable meaningful & successful career, is inspired by intellectual thought, the opportunity to excel academically, and long range vision. To challenge myself logically, analytically, critically, theoretically, hypothetically, & literally, is for me, a means to a promising beginning, full of achievement, vigor, enthusiasm, and zeal.
So here I am, with every facet of my being, pursuing law school aspirations with the same tenacity that I pursue everything that I set my mind to. I wholeheartedly believe my ability to successfully complete law school, is absolute. My personal struggles and adversities are minute in comparison to my will to rise to great challenges, and conquer great feats. A career in law is well suited to fit my characteristics, strengths, and great desires. Regardless of my socio-economic or unique unfortunate background, I encompass an unwavering energy force that is determined to accomplish my goals. To those whom believe, coupled with the appropriate inspiration, direction, capability, determination, perseverance and application, shall undoubtedly achieve. With my feet planted on solid ground, as I look up to the sky, I constantly envision the stars. A career in law for me, always twinkles the brightest.
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-- rather opaque prose
“hovering over my head like a dark, stormy could.”
-- “could” = “cloud” ? more important: How does a “cycle” hover?
“Both of my parents were adopted, I’ve never met my father whom has been fully incarcerated since I was 6, & I was born to a single teenage mother at her age of 14.”
1. How is your parents’ status as “adopted” part of a cycle? This would be a “cycle” if your parents had given up children born too early/out of wedlock FOR adoption.
2. You do know that “whom” is never used as a subject, right?
3. very run-on sentence
4. “at her age of” reads strangely, and is wordy/redundant
“a conscious vow that I would unerringly attempt”
-- one does not “attempt” a “vow"
“to aspire to attain self actualization within myself”
-- ouch! It hurts to read this: pretentious and virtually meaningless.
“were inherently embedded within me.”
-- inherently embedded ? not sure what this adverb means, used here
“fulfill the dissatisfactory feeling with campus affiliation.”
1. “dissatisfactory” is not a real word
2. one does not “fulfill” a “feeling”
“A couple fellow students & I spearheaded a new campus organization that still exists, The Multicultural Student Coalition.”
-- This is a good part : shows initiative, and obviously the organization served a purpose/is successful.
“Within the campus involvement of our organization,”
-- as written, this is meaningless ; I cannot figure out the relationships between/among “campus” “involvement” and “organization”
“I was still at a sense of unfulfillment.”
1. “I was still at a sense of” is both wordy and not idiomatic.
2. “unfulfillment “ is not a real word.
“As I analyzed my direction, I pinpointed my emptiness.”
-- What “direction” ? You have not introduced this. And to say that you have “pinpointed” your emptiness means that you have located the emptiness. In any case, no matter WHAT what the second clause means, it does not seem to have any obvious relationship (logically) with the vague discussion of “direction” in the FIRST clause.
“feel complete with receiving an education”
-- wordy use of a gerund
“So I set out. I began volunteering at an at-risk middle school, diving directly into the classroom experience,’
-- once again, a specific description of what you have DONE is very effective -- maybe you could expand on such accomplishments and leave aside the ponderous navel-gazing
“directing inappropriate classroom behavior into a cohesive, positively reinforced learning environment.”
-- how does one “direct” “behavior” into a “learning environment” ? And what does the behavior do, once it has arrived in/at the environment?
“Over the course of watching several students attitude change”
1. another wordy phrase with an unnecessary gerund
2. “students’ ” should be possessive
“Volunteering translated into substituting between my college schedule,”
1. over-use of gerunds
2. no idea what you mean by “substituting between my college schedule”
“and substituting subsequently evolved into coordinating with the after school program, using my ideas to better implement a curriculum more effective in promoting positive academic achievement within at-risk youth.”
1. another badly run-on sentence
2. “in” is not idiomatically correct used as a preposition after “implement a curriculum” and before “youth” (i.e., “implement a curriculum within youth” ??)
“As my community serving roll”
-- not sure what you mean
“as I walked across my university stage, academically & characteristically.”
-- How does one walk across a stage “academically”? How does one walk across a stage “characteristically” ? Perhaps you have mis-placed the adverbs. Even a re-sequencing of the sentence, however, will not provide much insight into what you mean here with the rather un-apt word “characteristically” – it does not seem to apply sensibly either to a manner of walking across a stage OR to a manner of “feeling.”
“of my intellectual knack for the world.”
-- as written, you imply that you have an “intellectual knack” FOR the world – that is to say, I guess, some kind of skill at “world stuff.” Do you mean to say, with the phrase “for the world” that you will be SERVING the world, working ON ITS BEHALF? By the way, whatever is an “intellectual knack,” anyway?
-- not sure what this means (do you mean something along the lines of “practically oblivious” ? )
“is an extraordinary purpose centralized in my life,”
“applicable meaningful & successful career”
-- what is an “applicable” career ?
“a promising beginning, full of achievement, vigor, enthusiasm, and zeal.”
-- attribute overload! Also: not all are attributes that properly apply to a “beginning.”
“with every facet of my being”
-- meaningless phrase
I wholeheartedly believe my ability to successfully complete law school, is absolute.
-- “capacity” works better here than does “ability,” as you are speaking in the theoretical, of your belief
“My personal struggles and adversities”
-- not quite right to speak of “my adversities” / not a condition that one “owns” or possesses
“well suited to fit my characteristics”
-- wordy and does not really say much
“I encompass an unwavering energy force”
-- ouch, yet again
“that is determined to accomplish my goals”
-- your energy force is determined? Not you yourself?
“To those whom believe”
-- “whom” is absolutely incorrect here; it will hurt any adcom’s ear; frankly, the repeated mis-use of this word makes you sound as if you could not possibly have graduated from college. (Harsh, but true.... This error is not far different from saying “an pencil.”)
“coupled with the appropriate inspiration, direction, capability, determination, perseverance and application”
-- evidence/actions serve you better than a list of lofty, generic--ultimately bland--goals
“I look up to the sky, I constantly envision the stars. A career in law for me, always twinkles the brightest.”
-- I actually like this ending. Suggest that you set up the idea of “twinkling” and/or “brightness” earlier in the essay.
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- Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:01 pm
Don't critique, this was an older draft. Just posting it as an example. Numbers, acceptances, etc.:“Comprehension means the unpremeditated, attentive facing up to, and resisting of, reality – whatever
it may be.” ~Hannah Arendt
I was just a sophomore in college when I saw my first murder trial from start to finish, but the
defendant in the case was even younger than me. He had small brown eyes and wore the same white
dress shirt, untucked, every day he was in court. The trial lasted over a month and a half, and during
that time I'd seen quite a lot of things I'd always read about but never quite experienced: a bloodstained
shirt, the vacant eyes of the victim's daughter, the stale testimony of a crime scene investigator.
I had been working at the Prosecutor's Office for five months at desk near the two attorneys
who were assigned to the Cold Case Unit. This particular case had been solved by a single detective,
who happened to find the murder weapon in an unrelated raid on a drug dealer's home. It was during
the summer, and my close proximity to the two prosecutors' offices meant I got to see nearly everything
that went on. Every day, I would sit in the benches and wonder about what had brought the defendant
there, what experiences could have caused him to help his mother hire his best friend to kill his own
stepfather. Was his stepfather a bad man? Was the young defendant merely exercising, to an
unbelievable extreme, a post-adolescent rebellion?
As the judge began to read the long and tedious jury instructions, I started to ask the same
questions of myself. What had brought me here? Why had I chosen, of all things, to be working as an
intern with the prosecutors?
The idea of practicing law had always appealed to me. Originally, it may have grown out of
watching too much Law and Order as a small child, but by the time I was in high school and college,
that spark of interest had grown into a fire. I had always loved discussing ideas with my friends,
whether it was after class or in a group study session. These conversations spilled over from what we
had learned in class to things we had read in other books, in the newspaper, or perhaps what we had
seen a film or heard in a piece music. In college, I worked to take as many philosophy courses as
possible to complement my Environmental Studies degree: I believed that understanding the world
meant understanding it through ideas. Law, which to me meant the application of abstract rules to
concrete situations, represented the intersection of practicality and idealism, a way to boldly assert my
vision without falling into the dangers of radical thinking.
However, as I sat in the courtroom, I could not help but wonder if everything I had thought
about the law up until that moment was an ill-informed daydream. I wondered, how can a society's
laws be just when there is so much injustice present in the society itself? I started to wrestle with the
questions and issues I'd read about in class: what of procedural justice? What about the will of the
people? Even if the laws are imperfect, isn't the rule of law, and “not of man,” the better option?
If there is any one reason I can confess to applying to your law school, it is because I still do not
know the answers to these questions. As the quote above by Hannah Arendt says, comprehension is not
mere contemplation or empty rationalizing: it is experiencing. It is not dipping your toe in the pool; it
is jumping in. By studying for a law degree, I intend to learn how we as human beings shape the law,
and in turn, how it shapes us. I hope that by committing myself to this practice, I will become not only
a competent lawyer, but also one who is sensitive to the personal challenges and circumstances of those
whom I serve.
The defendant was eventually found guilty. I sat directly behind him as the court read the
verdict. The young man did not cry or yell. He simply shook for a moment, quivering slightly, before
he finally took his seat again. I could not help but feel sorry for him in that moment. It was then that I
began to truly, deeply desire to not only learn about and study our legal system, but to become an active
participant in it. I desired then, and continue to desire now, to approach law as an engaged and
enthusiastic advocate of justice, and it is my belief that an education at your law school will help me
achieve this goal.
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- Posts: 2
- Joined: Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:49 pm
The worst thing for me is when I hear the sound of a helicopter. When the sound is becoming louder you realize that it is coming closer and you wait for the next blow. Another minute there is an ideal silence. But as expect aggravates everything, even silence is loud. And hear it goes. Another bang. The first feeling is the feeling of happiness, because If you heard the sound it means that you are alive. The second you start to think whether your friends have survived or not, and then there comes a shock. You know that someone is not alive anymore, or is struggling, caught under ruins and it may have been me. Just one thought of that makes me desperate.
How do I know? WELL, I am 20 years old and I have already seen 3 revolutions, 2 civil wars and 2 conventional wars that my small country carried out, country that is barely seen on the map. As a little girl, every night I would stand near the window and watch flashing lights and hear bangs with deafening sounds. I was laughing, thinking that there was a carnival outside of my house. Unfortunately, the reality was far away from the carnival, there was a “tragicomic” civil war in my town. Instead of asking childish questions, I only wondered when would my dad come back home from war, which in my imagination was a place where he worked. For 8 month we had no idea was he alive or not, among dead or hurt. My mom was pregnant and she had to stand in the line for hours to buy bread, milk and sugar, which was the only food available.
In that period, no family was an exemption. Majority of my classmates and children of my age grew without fathers. Tbilisi, the Capital of Georgia, turned into the city of sorrow and grief; the black became the main color of clothing, to mourn people who died in the war. Instead of improving state regime and inculcating law, illegality was strengthening it’s roots, Transforming into worth form-band formations were changed by total corruption. Generally, people wearing uniforms must be the first to obey the rules, but in our case, they were the ones who abrogated law. We were not moving forward, nor were we moving backwards. Georgia stood still! As if it was frozen on place. During the years, watching my country sink slowly I started to question myself: where are we going? Where is the end? Will there be an end at all? Where shall these consequences lead us? Why is there such a dramatic difference between Georgia and other nearby countries? Shall we always be in the regime of occupation? Questions were too many, but no one was able to provide answers. Thus, I decided to quest in to the world of law, where I could find the answers to my own questions.
During my studies on the bachelor of law, the famous August 2008 war broke out. The feeling of weakness, that as a girl I could not do anything, and the crying of my inner voice that it was not right that people were dying protecting their territories in the 21st century, in Europe. It was not right when the aggressor country was ruining your city, annihilating your countries rights, just because one was bigger and stronger. Can you imagine how difficult it is for an 18 year old teenagers consciousness to perceive that your country is in the regime of war, you are absolutely helpless, and you are left to the mercy of fate. I can not describe the chaos that was happening in my mind. I was depressed by knowing that I had to sit and wait for everything to end. This feeling can only be compared with a nightmare, when you want to do something, but you can not. You want to run, but legs don’t move, you want to shout but the voice does not come out. Have you ever had such a dream? It is an awful feeling, but it is worse when it is this dream becomes reality. War was my reality. Nothing is worse. It is merciless. There are no rules. War does not know a friend or a family, new-born or an old. It ruins everything on its way. Everyone is equal. Like me everybody was waiting it to end, or would it ever end? I was put down with a single sought of staying in the basement at night in case a bomb would hit my house I would survive, as I was in total communication vacuum, I could not contact with my friends as all the masts were bombed.
Being a victim of so much distress, I could not see my own future anymore, or if I did it was very hard to imagine what life would be after all this. But I guess there are moments in everybody’s life when you stay alone with yourself and ask who are you? Who you want to become? what is your aim? For me, this moment staged in this situation, because of existed circumstances I was thinking about a lot of things, my views and opinions on specific things changed. When I received little knowledge in law, I, myself started to analyze the domestic and international situations, see the mistakes, connect law violations and evaluate the conditions correctly. I was happy to know that I was able to inter the inferences on my own and saw that everything, directly or obliquely, was connected with law and our jurisdiction. That is when, once and for all, I have decided to continue my studying in the world of law.
Despite all the difficulties that my country faced, after all the struggles and losses it went through, it is finally making first steps toward democracy. Unfortunately, the road to democracy is quite long, and there are lots of flaws to correct. I know that it is practically impossible for business to develop, when the corruption is strengthening its roots. Human rights have no value, where half of the population suffers from poverty. There is no place left for law, when illegality is lodged. Without their eradication, In my opinion, there is no chance democracy will prosper. Being a victim of all the situations stated above, I precisely know what can be done. I just need more knowledge and more experience to do everything correctly. Correctly for my country and my people, for the country where I want my children to grow up and live, where law is dominant and has power over the nation! Because the time is passing by, and unfortunately there are still no dramatic changes in this field, people lost faith in law, and I want to change this attitude towards it. There is no time for mistakes and second chances.
After getting an adequate knowledge from the master’s degree I want to be one of the pioneers to do my bit and help my country to deal with this problems. Through developing proper law system in Georgia, I want to show people that law is the footing and if it is strong, then all other problems listed above will arrange naturally. I want them to realize that law is not only a collection of articles and statute books. It is actually a lifelike organism. Each article must be consequent to a whole law organism, because only that way it is possible to understand why this or that article is important. Like a body organ can not exist by itself, the article alone is only a writing on paper and nothing more. I want them to understand that their rights are most precious and nobody can take it away from them. I want them to respect and trust the law. Unfortunately, this is a very difficult task to do, but if nobody starts to think about this, then we will never reach the upper level of democracy. Hemingway said: “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee…..” I am sure that that bell tolls for me, too. In order to do my bit in helping my country to develop a justly society. I know it is not easy, but I know when the desire is big, the goal is easier to achieve, so this gives me stimulus to give it a try.
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- Posts: 2
- Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:37 pm
Ten minutes pass before I realize I am being watched. Glared at with contempt, put more appropriately. My hushed mumbling has upset the girl across the table. Hours spent poring over lecture notes in preparation for final exams wears thin the patience of even the most tolerant person. I offer a quick apology, and pull my notes and pride closer within my allotted study space in this cramped library. Only a moment more passes before I am aware I had been rambling on to myself in Italian. A rather unremarkable observation given the setting in an old university library near Venice; what strikes me is the content of my unconscious murmuring – philosophy. I am surprised, more so thrilled, at the natural comfort with which I have enveloped my philosophical studies in the language I have grown to love.
I came to Italy to foster a budding passion and explore an connection. The connection between philosophy and language may seem as banal as the tie between thought and speech. Yet at their cores, the two great concentrations of my academic career differ greatly in practice. My studies in philosophy have taken me deep within my mind and far back into the history of thought. It is a field dedicated to self-reflection and internal debate. Language, conversely, is an abundantly external exercise where success comes only with interaction with outside world. Every language shapes this interaction uniquely. Whereas one language allows an idea to be efficiently expressed in few words, another language may require many sentences to convey the same thought. I witnessed this curiosity during a lecture on Thomas Hobbes at the same Italian university.
Professor M was a stern, intense man, easily lost in thought. The subject is Leviathan, and while he is easily given to long, often tangential discourse, he arrived at an idea his words fail to communicate. The concept was “awe”. And while he wrapped his speech, much like a snake’s coils, around this central idea, his efforts could not quite keep the idea from slipping from his grasp. Visibly defeated by the blank stares offered by the rows of students in front of him, he looked to me.
“Sir, could you help to explain the idea of ‘awe’ to the class?” he asked in Italian. I consented with a tentative shrug, and offered my best attempt. The stares lingered still, except they were now trained on me. One student even dropped his jaw in bewilderment. But M had found inspiration in my attempt, and with new energy his took up his endeavor again. Backtracking, sidetracking, he wound his coils tighter until finally in one quick swoop of words he captured his prey for the class. An audible “ohh” of realization escaped the mouths of many, and I could not help but smile as he finished with a gruff, “Hmpf!”
Sitting at the library table amongst my study notes, a few weeks removed from that lecture, I am thrilled most by the unexpected inspiration that caused my quiet muttering. Philosophical ideas are often difficult to articulate in words, the efficacy of such a task determined by linguistic tools at hand. Having observed the curious attempts of Professor M weeks before, I only truly appreciated this relationship of mind and tongue in my moments of unconscious mumbling. Philosophy concerns internal debate at base, but facing external scrutiny gives philosophy real value. Struggles with translations of concepts refine my linguistic skills, but they also make me a better philosopher.
I have known for many years that law school is my future. I have prepared my mind for the rigors that lie ahead, and I am ready to face them with confidence. Through my concentration in philosophy, I have acquired the analytical reasoning and research skills that will bring me success as a law student. But success as a legal professional is predicated on more than just study skills. Practical applications and opening theories to external scrutiny bring a lawyer out of the library and into the outside world. The outside world, the unknown, excites me more than the future for which I have prepared. While I know I will be a successful student, the inspirations and opportunities beyond law school will open the doors to true success and happiness. And I have not planned for them. I have shaped my academic career toward my future in law school. The unrevealed opportunities and inspirations ahead excite me more than ever as I enter this new path in life. Law school is my future no longer, it is my present.
- Posts: 179
- Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:24 pm
Kodama-sensei and I exchange a glance as Nana approaches the podium. Nana is an exceptionally talented student, but her intellectual talents have made her prone to academic laziness as well as made it difficult for her to relate to her peers. I’ve gotten to know her well during these past months of coaching her for today’s Junior High School English Speech Contest. I see in her many of the same character flaws that troubled me when I was her age, which has made mentoring her immensely rewarding. Over the past week in particular, she has truly come into her own. I have high expectations for this moment. Stepping into the spotlight, Nana’s first, superlative sentences roll across the auditorium—a triumph bridging generations and cultures. Today is a beautiful example of Papa’s maxim: “if you enjoy making your living, you will never have to work.”
Papa was my grandfather and the reason I could follow the path that led to Japan. I moved in with him when he started chemotherapy at the end of my junior year in high school. After leaving for university, I rode the Greyhound home whenever work allowed. "Bullshit! I'll be dead before I can spend it," he’d say when I tried refusing pocket money on these occasions. He knew I worked in the school kitchens, and despite chemotherapy, he had always been waiting up when I returned home from a long summer day of working construction. His final act of generosity altered the course of my life. "I'm giving you ten grand. Go study in Italy. You deserve it," he said. Holding my plane ticket months later, Papa’s bright eyes shone with a peculiar look of satisfaction. It was a beautiful, unspoken goodbye. He died a few weeks before I left.
I returned from Italy with open eyes but empty pockets. Unable to afford tuition without summer savings, I worked. Though I desperately missed university, this year away from academics proved fortuitous. It provided time to reflect on Papa’s passing and my experiences abroad. My horizons were expanding and with them my sense of potential. Feelings of inadequacy from the darker days of my impoverished youth faded. Papa's gift had sparked a personal renaissance, and when I returned to university the following year, I was stronger in mind, body, and spirit.
“An honors thesis? I’m afraid we don’t offer it,” my advisor said. I wrote one anyway and paid my own way to the nation’s largest undergraduate conference, where I received honors. Beyond academics, I found outlets both in cycling and in politics, where I served the College Republicans at the state-level. This was a transformative time. I was gaining from philosophy an appreciation for intellectual rigor and the conceptual underpinnings of society, while also experiencing firsthand the power of ideas put into action through politics and my athletic pursuits. In course, I formed a broad view of the law as the practical application of philosophy; I came to define success as the inner power of a critically aware, disciplined mind. This belief in the value of critical awareness and inner fortitude led me to delay my legal education and seek further experience abroad.
Unfeigned applause greets Nana’s conclusion. Kodama-sensei raises his fist triumphantly. Nana’s performance is an obvious contender for honors, but of infinitely greater importance, it reflects inner growth that will echo throughout her life. Making a meaningful impact in the lives of my students is just one of the many rewards of working in Japan. Life here is a culturally rich tapestry, where the experiences of my 70-plus peers, who represent 12 countries, weave in and out of the Japanese social fabric. Such diversity has left no room for any lingering remnants of my youth’s intellectual vanity. I have learned that understanding one another’s intended meanings is crucial for effective communication—that suspending judgment and paying close attention are of much greater importance than my eloquence.
However, this character development is only the outward expression of a deeper intellectual evolution. Every day here presents new challenges to my values. For example, the pride I feel as Nana receives her third-place trophy is accompanied by a twinge of regret for the institutional barriers constraining her remarkable potential. She has no Japanese equivalent of my quintessential American right: “the Pursuit of Happiness,” the power of which I know intimately. My father walked away from his life’s savings and enrolled as an undergraduate when he and my mother separated. At the time, he was a 43-year-old janitor whose three children were playing hopscotch on the poverty line. Today, my father is a principal; my sister is a professional flautist; my brother is a graduate student of mathematics at NYU; and I look to contribute to Yale Law’s storied tradition. My family is proof that the American Dream is a living reality, and as such, I lament the institutional constraints surrounding Nana. Nonetheless there is much to admire here. Japan ensures far greater security for its citizens than America does, and though Nana’s absolute potential for success is limited, so too is her potential for failure. I came to value tolerance and critical thought as a philosophy student, but here, I’ve come to truly understand them: the open-mindedness to engage with an ideology or a culture regardless of whether it corresponds to my core values.
Nana’s parents holler, “Arigato Gozaimashita!” as I walk out the doors. Their gratitude mirrors my own—a subtle reminder that happiness, like economics, is not a zero-sum game. Cycling home, I reflect on my good fortune. My father grew up in an orphanage. Papa, the son of Italian and Irish immigrants, did not have the five dollars a week for room and board needed to accept a football scholarship. I’ve been able to rise from poverty and earn academic honors, run a statewide political organization, tutor the mentally gifted, work with the mentally challenged, and make lasting friendships spanning six continents. Along the journey, I achieved the critical awareness and discipline by which I define success. But this success is more than a personal triumph; it is part and parcel to my family’s legacy and our belief in the American Dream. I look to perpetuate this legacy through the study of International and Constitutional Law at Yale. In the law, I see the practical application of philosophy, and as such, I crave a pedagogy that has “designed a curriculum and a heuristic structure that is meant to bring out the unique and generative vision” of its students. Dean Post spoke those words in his convocation address to the 199th entering class. He concluded: “Distilled to its essence, we offer you the gift of trust. It is a rare and precious gift.” My life, distilled to its essence, has been dedicated to the edification of mind, body, and spirit so that one day I would earn the right to such a rare and precious gift.
For us the living
The commonly held portrait of Nietzsche as a nihilistic anarchist is unsurprising, given much of Nietzsche’s emotive language and imagery. Unfortunately, this inaccurate caricature dissuades many from discovering a philosophy devoted to humanity’s creative potential and the affirmation of life. Key to understanding Nietzsche is will to power, his bedrock principle.
Will to power is a highly complex idea about the nature of existence, which Nietzsche forges from several concepts. He appropriates will from Schopenhauer, for whom it encompasses all forces, energy, and motion, but for whom it is also “blind and tortured,” plagued by existential nihilism. Nietzsche surpasses Schopenhauer by linking will to a purpose: power, which is for him “the discharge of strength.” Moreover, Nietzsche’s “strength” draws heavily on eudemonian entelechy (innate purpose/potentiality). Will to power thus emerges as a hermeneutical framework that characterizes all things as intrinsically vying for actualization. As Nietzsche put it, “The world itself is (and you yourself are) will to power—and nothing else!”
The implication of will to power for us the living is a sublime view that our essential nature is to evaluate existence while actively pursuing our potential–Pindar’s classical maxim: “Become who you are!” Indeed, will to power is the fountainhead for a torrent of life-affirming thought, including an ethics combining the best of Socratic inquiry and Aristotelian virtue. Nietzsche may have “philosophized with a hammer,” but a hammer is a creative tool. It destroys only to create again–a spiritual gentrification.
- Posts: 11
- Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:16 pm
Also my grammar could be better, so if you see anything please comment!
Thanks is advance, here it is.....
It was my introduction to Counter Strike, an online first person shooter game, by my closest friend Kevin eight years ago that started it all. I was already familiar with the world of online gaming prior, but Counter Strike enamored me and became an outlet for my social anxiety. The duality of Counterstrike is that it is a game as well as a social network, one that is comprised heavily of computer aficionados. As I engaged more with fellow gamers I learned that there were a large number of these enthusiasts that resided in my locality. Even more surprising to me was the fact that groups of these individuals would gather for events called LAN parties. LAN or local areas network parties are social gatherings were persons and their computers come together for an entire evening, into the early morning, and play an array of computer games.
Knowledge of these events sparked my curiosity vigorously; I wanted to attend one of these parties. Naturally I expressed the idea to Kevin who as it turned out had a work associate that attended monthly gatherings. Floored with excitement I insisted that we attend the next party. Abreast with my enthusiasm, Kevin had us added to the guest list of the following month’s party.
Driving to the party my nerves were shot, an all too familiar unsettled feeling churned my stomach. The party was being hosted by someone neither us had met before and our only former acquaintance would be Tom, Kevin's coworker. While I was animated about the new experience, I was uneasy at the idea of meeting so many new people.
We were the last two to arrive that night. As we walked through the sliding glass basement door everyone in the room seemed to rise at once to see the anticipated new comers. Immediately we were approached by two awkward looking characters. The shorter of the two barely amounted to five feet and had the physique of a starving third world child, the other was Tom, a morbidly obese character of averaged height and a head of poorly kept dreadlocks. "Welcome, glad you guys could make it. I'm Matt and this is my party," said the smaller of the two. Kevin and I smiled back awkwardly as we shook Matt's hand and thanked him for allowing us to attend. "Come with me I will introduce you around and show you were to set up at," said Matt. As we paraded around the room meeting the two dozen or so adolescent attendees, my attention was never fixed on the new face I was being introduced to. My focus was obscured by the computers sitting in front of each of them. I marveled at illuminated towers with windows that exposed their innards. One after another I studied them, each was unique, not one the same as the former; never before had I seen nor known that such computers existed. At the end of our tour, Matt led us to an open spot at the end of one of the twenty foot tables. "You can set up here, we have a server up for CS (Counter Strike), join in when you are ready," and with a smile, Matt turned and walked away.
While unloading our computers from Kevin's car a feeling of inadequacy fell over me as I carried my half-decade old Gateway towards the basement. No one seemed to pay attention to our second entrance and we set up unabated. Once set up, I logged on to the server that the entire room was already playing in. Immediately after joining the server, tensions began to flare in the room. "Why am I lagging? I'm lagging too. Me too." The voices rang out all throughout the room. "Someone must be slowing down the network," said a familiar voice, Matt's. "It must be the kid with that ancient Gateway," someone no more than ten feet away from me exclaimed. Matt walked over to me and asked me to exit out of the game and shut down my computer. Immediately afterwards statements of relief echoed to tout that the problem was alleviated. "Sorry but I can't let you keep your computer on the network, its slowing down everyone's connections," explained Matt. Confused and embarrassed I shook my head in acknowledgement.
I spent the next hour playing Counter Strike on Kevin's computer, alternating turns with him every ten minutes. Eventually he grew wary of sharing and insisted I find something else to do. By that time my embarrassment and subsequently my anxiety had subsided. Rather than sitting there watching Kevin play for the next several hours I decided to go converse with Matt. As I approached him he gave me the same gauche smile as before and utter "what's up?" Unable and not desiring to conceal my ignorance any longer I began to barrage him with computer related inquires. He chuckled and asked me to take seat in the empty chair next to him. For hours we conversed in depth about computers and their components. He explained the purpose of each component or piece of hardware and how different specifications enhanced performance. That night I learned that computer games are heavily dependent on these specifications. Essentially, as the quality of hardware rises, the types of games one is able to play increases as well as a game’s overall aesthetics. Matt also divulged that all of the computers that surrounded us were comprised of individually selected components and then assembled, usually by him or one of the owners. He even had a small business dedicated toward building gaming computers.
For the remainder of the party I sat and talked with Matt and others that were eager to brag about the different components that comprised their computers. There was a competitive nature about everyone as they spoke vibrantly about what processor, video card, or amount of memory their computer had. One individual even disassembled then reassembled his computer to show me that the process of putting together or "building" a computer was rather simplistic. Overall, that party was a learning experience I was not soon to forget.
In the months that followed, I was obsessed with the idea of building my own computer. I wanted to upgrade, assume a level of computer sophistication that the individuals at the party had. Matt and the others had given me the foundation that I need to begin and with it I began my research. Within a week I had selected the components that would one day come together and serve as my computer. It was only a matter of accumulating the resources necessary to make my purchase. The minimum wage job I worked on weekends and selling an assortment of personal belongings served as my engine. It would be many weeks before I finally reached my goal.
The day my package finally arrived I was beside myself with excitement. As my house came into view while walking home from school I saw a large box sitting on the front porch. I instantly knew it was my components. My slow paced stroll altered to a full out sprint. Frantically I rushed the box inside to my bedroom and proceeded to remove its contents. I laid out each of the components and with my screw driver in hand I carefully started assembling. After inserting the copper standoffs in their appropriate places within the tower, I delicately placed the motherboard on top and secured it with screws. The next step was to attach to central processing unit to the motherboard. Once in position, I added thermal compound to it and then attached the heat sink and fan. Next I added the ram and graphics card to the motherboard. My hard drive and compact disk drives where then added to the case along with the power supply. After connecting the power cords from the power supply to the hard drive, compact disk drives, and motherboard, I wired the hard drive and compact disc drives to the motherboard via IDE cables. Lastly, I attached fans to the front and back of the case and cold cathodes that illuminated red for visual appeal. With that I had fully assembled my first computer.
Nervously I attached the other peripherals (keyboard, mouse, and monitor) and power cords to an outlet. I pressed the power button not knowing what to expect. The red lights began to glow and on the monitor before me was MSI logo, the brand of my motherboard. After examining the bios, I found that the motherboard was recognizing every component I installed. I was overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment. The only thing left to do was format the hard drive and install the latest version of Windows, which was XP at the time. I had accomplished my goal of upgrading not only my computer but my status as a user. To this day I continue to build computers, not only for myself but also friends and occasionally various people for profit.
Like the LAN party, college was a learning experience. It was an opportunity for me to meet new insightful individuals whose knowledge far exceeded my own. Like Matt and the rest of the party goers that night, these individuals, my instructors, gave me a foundation in legal studies. Once again I am enamored, expect this time it is not a computer I seek to upgrade, it is myself. I want to assume a level of legal sophistication similar to that displaced by my college professors. Attending University of Baltimore School of Law is the means to accomplish my goal.
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