Law School Discussion

Applying to Law School => Personal Statements, Resumes, and Letters of Recommendation => Topic started by: mkagan on August 23, 2004, 06:03:06 PM

Title: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: mkagan on August 23, 2004, 06:03:06 PM
This is the one for yale - 250 words max...if you have a few minutes, let me know what you think. i would appreciate it. Its clearly not done, so remember that when you tear it apart.

     I was scared. As I struggled to suppress my anxiety, I suspected I had never truly felt fear until now. Perhaps I had never truly felt anything.
     In these situations you try to be strong; you have no choice. Without strength you lose optimism. She was three thousand miles away, the doctors spoke no English, and with her major stomach surgery severely complicated by Cystic Fibrosis (CF), I needed all the optimism I could muster.
     In the end, I knew everything would be fine. I kept reminding myself how tough she was - she could fight anything. And somehow, through her constant battle, she always manages a smile. She remains the happiest person I have ever met.
     As I struggled with my fear I realized a growth in myself. In the last year I have gained compassion, warmth, and selflessness. This growth has been exhibited not only in my relationship with her, but with everyone important in my life. I have become a more complete person.   
     She says she feels like she gave me her disease. At times, it does make life difficult, but through my love for her I have gained maturity and strength I would not have otherwise. My parents say they admire me for being strong enough to remain in such a doomed situation. Yet I don't deserve any admiration. I just try to smile like her.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: Freak on August 23, 2004, 06:12:44 PM
It has all the right elements.  However, it's emphasizes creative writing a bit too much.  Law school is about being clear and getting to the point as fast as possible.  Donít make your reader infer anything.  A simple rearrangement may make your story wonderful.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: londongirl on August 23, 2004, 06:22:57 PM
Ok, this is just my opinion, but...
I think we should find out who 'her' is at the end. It could just be me who isn't sure, so excuse my ignorance if I've missed something. At the moment I'm thinking it's your partner, but that wasn't obvious to me after a first reading. Again, maybe it is just me, but you don't want the adcoms to have to read through twice.
I'd change 'you have to be strong' to 'one has to be..'. 'A growth in yourself sounds like a cancer or something (God forbid). I realised I had grown / matured. Link your growth to your experiences with her. It could be unconnected with the experience you've just described. You don't need to waste precious words, just say something like 'supporting her/ worrying about her made me grow in XYZ way. I realised XYZ'.
Notice you repeat the word 'gain' in the fourth paragraph. Put yourself in the picture more: 'through my love for her I have matured and become stronger'. I think you can improve the last few sentences to show less consciousness: 'I'd be proud if I could just smile like her'.

Much  of this is subjective so ignore it if you disagree. The experience sounds incredibly profound and it's inspiring. I do hope it ends positively. I think for the purpose of the statement you can make more of it than you have.

You'll get there! Please tell me what you think. And very best wishes for the situation.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: mkagan on August 23, 2004, 06:37:26 PM
hey, thanks a lot for the input - i am glad you at least liked the idea, thats a start. concerning the mechanics you mentioned, i agree, i jsut havent gotten there yet. i have been debating how clearly i should describe who she is. you are right, she is my girlfriend. i have been trying to stick it in the more clearly, so i appreciate you advice and i will see what I can do with it. whew, i am just relieved people didnt think it was the dumbest topic ever. as for the growing/supporting, i had a line in there that i cut about me supporting her through the hours of treatment she has to do each day etc, so maybe i will put that back in. thanks again!



Ok, this is just my opinion, but...
I think we should find out who 'her' is at the end. It could just be me who isn't sure, so excuse my ignorance if I've missed something. At the moment I'm thinking it's your partner, but that wasn't obvious to me after a first reading. Again, maybe it is just me, but you don't want the adcoms to have to read through twice.
I'd change 'you have to be strong' to 'one has to be..'. 'A growth in yourself sounds like a cancer or something (God forbid). I realised I had grown / matured. Link your growth to your experiences with her. It could be unconnected with the experience you've just described. You don't need to waste precious words, just say something like 'supporting her/ worrying about her made me grow in XYZ way. I realised XYZ'.
Notice you repeat the word 'gain' in the fourth paragraph. Put yourself in the picture more: 'through my love for her I have matured and become stronger'. I think you can improve the last few sentences to show less consciousness: 'I'd be proud if I could just smile like her'.

Much  of this is subjective so ignore it if you disagree. The experience sounds incredibly profound and it's inspiring. I do hope it ends positively. I think for the purpose of the statement you can make more of it than you have.

You'll get there! Please tell me what you think. And very best wishes for the situation.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: nonobvious on August 23, 2004, 08:25:04 PM
Actually my first instinct is rearrangement: "She says she feels like she gave me her disease" was the line I found most striking, and unique-- Why not start with that? Saying "I was scared" and anxious is much too played-out as an opener. Though I do like "I suspected I had never truly felt fear until now. Perhaps I had never truly felt anything." Perhaps with a small tweaking you could go directly to those two sentences.

Other comments: don't let generalizations and hindsight analysis of what the situation taught you overwhelm letting a picture of the situation come through. I would save most of the I felt/I learned type commentary till the end, and just concentrate on making the rendition of the facts of the situation compact and powerful enough to evoke a response by themselves.  Most of the emotions and pep-talking associated with that kind of situation are kind of obviously implicit.  Of course you need to include some of that, just don't get trapped trying to document every nuance; it bogs things down. 

Example: "In these situations you try to be strong; you have no choice." This sort of drenches the writing in generic commentary before you know what the situation is about.  You already had the vague teaser in the first paragraph, better to continue that energy and get into the situation right away. Also it would be better to separate "She was three thousand miles away, the doctors spoke no English, and with her major stomach surgery severely complicated by Cystic Fibrosis (CF)" into two sentences-- sometimes it's good to put things all together for impact, but here the flow of the sentence starts feeling long and involved just at the most powerful factual relevation about the whole situation.

  Then, *after* establishing the seriousness of the situation, take the moment to reflect on what it took to get through. 
 
  Small note: It's better to avoid using "you" in an essay, sometimes it works but often it comes off awkwardly.  "I" statements or impersonal constructions flow better. Maybe try instead: "There is no choice but to try to be strong in these kinds of situations."

  Overall though, very powerful. You and your gf are amazing people, now just tweak it a bit to help the adcoms see that too!
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: swifty on August 24, 2004, 01:28:35 AM
If English is your second language, disregard.

Total rewrite.  Use words with more syllables.

You are writing at an 8th grade level.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: londongirl on August 24, 2004, 03:55:55 AM
No probs, please send in your revision when you've made it - I'll be really interested to read it. Again, it's a really powerful topic. I know a teenage girl with Cystic Fibrosis - I know what it means and how difficult daily life is quite apart from when complication such as surgery arise. Your strength really is awe inspiring.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: mkagan on August 24, 2004, 07:31:18 AM
why do some people have to be bitches on this site? i mean seriously - the piece does not need big words to be powerful. i am not writing a f-ing thesis. when writing about yourself it sounds pretentious to try and sound too smart. you just want something that flows...so, to put it blankly, @#!* you. if you dont have anything constructive, dont be a female dog to make yourself feel good. ass.

If English is your second language, disregard.

Total rewrite.  Use words with more syllables.

You are writing at an 8th grade level.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: SNUGGLE on August 24, 2004, 08:16:54 AM
Make all of the above your first two paragraphs.  Inform the audience who "her" or "she" is.  Then do the most important part.  Add another 600 words relating all that crap to law school.  This is a law school application.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: mkagan on August 24, 2004, 12:21:45 PM
read the top - this is not my personal statement, it is a 250 word essay for yale...250 max, not 900


Make all of the above your first two paragraphs.  Inform the audience who "her" or "she" is.  Then do the most important part.  Add another 600 words relating all that crap to law school.  This is a law school application.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: !@#$% on August 24, 2004, 01:56:57 PM
I think it's decent - just explain who "she" is.  Just out of curiosity, what is the prompt to which you are writing this piece?  Doesn't Yale have multiple essay requirements?  I think could be very persuasive if it's combined with other essays that tell more about who you are and where you've come from.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: mkagan on August 24, 2004, 03:00:14 PM
thanks for the input...prompt is to write a 250 word essay on a topic of your choice...not multiple essay requirements, just this essay and the opportunity to include a personal statement you wrote for another school...


I think it's decent - just explain who "she" is.  Just out of curiosity, what is the prompt to which you are writing this piece?  Doesn't Yale have multiple essay requirements?  I think could be very persuasive if it's combined with other essays that tell more about who you are and where you've come from.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: robbief on August 24, 2004, 03:04:53 PM
I think I disagree with everyone who has spoken thus far.  I thought it was great.  I secretly hoped "love" wouldn't be the theme, but it was and, surprisingly, it was good.  It short and direct, and left me with chills at the end.  It doesn't give away all the answers, there's a crux, the opporutunity to overread, underread...all the elements of good writing.  One thing: take away the "I was scared."  We don't need it.  You show us that you were.  I also like how you start right in the middle of it all.  Watch you tense switches in places.

Who says you have to answer in a boring way with big words?  Why use big words when small words do the trick and apply to a wider audience.  This piece moves. 
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: robbief on August 24, 2004, 03:06:00 PM
DO NOT SAY WHO "HER" IS.  That's the strongest aspect of this.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: glascow1 on August 24, 2004, 03:20:14 PM
from a creative writing standpoint it is good - from a law school application standpoint  - try to make it relevant - talk about more about how you handled that in other aspects of your life that would make it so much stronger - but in general - hoepfulyy this is your 2nd optional essay and not your main LS essay.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: dsong02 on August 24, 2004, 03:27:54 PM
i thought this thread was about taking short pisses.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: mkagan on August 24, 2004, 03:37:38 PM
thanks a lot for your input...i took out the i was scared, you are correct with that...question - i wanted to leave it ambiguous as to who it is, but per advice from others i put something about how we are no longer just best friends (which we were prior to dating)...is this too much info, or is it ok?


DO NOT SAY WHO "HER" IS.  That's the strongest aspect of this.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: robbief on August 24, 2004, 03:45:21 PM
I'm in no position to say what adcoms will like or not.  I can only speak for myself ... I don't really care if this was a girlfriend, a wife or some relationship that you created in your mind during late nights.  As a reader, who this girl is/was/will be doesn't matter.  The only thing that matters is your perception of her and what she has taught you.  I think you do a good job of conveying honest feelings.  Does it matter if she was a friend, but now you're dating?  I don't think so.  If anything, that will adjust the focus from what you have learned to why you have learned it (bc you grew close to her).  As a reader, I want want to know what the author has to say.  No one's going to be judging you on the context of the story.  This shows that you can write, that you're human and from some sort of experience, you've learned.  Details don't matter.  Even if you aren't dating her, the way that you portray yourself and your emotions during that exact moment is all that matters ... to me.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: londongirl on August 24, 2004, 04:05:52 PM
I disagree! I think it's going to be great but I definitely think we should know who 'she' is. The statement can be seen as pretentious because we're not told (the repetition of 'she' seems too deliberate and literary) - which is so far from the intention and the moving story itself.
I was left feeling confused and unsatisfied when i finished reading this and had to reread. We shouldn't assume adcoms will do that.
I'm not being harsh on purpose, mkagan knows this, I hope, just being honest.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: robbief on August 24, 2004, 04:13:13 PM
londongirl, do you want to know who she is just to satisfy your curiousity or do you actually think it adds to anything that he's saying?  he's had a learning experience...how does that change by knowing who taught it to him?

if i sound mean, im not trying to be either.  im pretty nice, actually.  my tone here is sincere.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: londongirl on August 24, 2004, 05:01:01 PM
No, it's not to satisfy my personal curiosity!! there are hundreds of people on this board and I'm not nosy enough to ponder people's personal lives.
But in the context of this essay, I think it sounds wrong to put 'she' the whole way through. I figured out who she was on my own (see above) but I think it wouldn't hurt to say who she is at the beg, so he can use she after. This way people's attention can be focused on the emotion in this piece. It sounds contrived to me, like a literary device and I think it's fundamentally unsatisfying. It needs resolving.
That's all. I think it's an incredible experience, a great choice of topic.. all those things.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: robbief on August 24, 2004, 05:06:26 PM
I wasn't accusing you of being nosy.  I was just trying to get you to defend your reasoning.  I guess I could've just said, "WHy do you think so..."

Anyways, I guess it's just a fundamental difference of opinion.  I think a name will take focus away, you think too much focus is taken away without a name.  We'll never agree.  The choice is your's mkagan. 
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: nonobvious on August 24, 2004, 07:56:56 PM
I agree with londongirl.  The vagueness could work if this were a creative writing piece which aimed either to make the reader guess "her" identity or to make some sort of stylistic point.
LS writing needs to be a bit more concrete. I understand what robbief says about concentrating on the transformative effect of the experience, but i think many (though apparently not all) of the readers are going to be distracted from the main thrust by waiting for the revelation of who "she" is... it sort of gives it a misplaced focus, in this context.

leaving too much ambiguity makes it well, ambiguous as to whether the omission was part of the aim of the piece, or whether the person was simply a bad writer.

i do think though that mkagan's idea of just dropping one stronger hint, just a step away from obvious, instead of coming right out and saying "she = my girlfriend," could work. that would make it clearer that the vagueness is an intentional sylistic choice rather than just careless negligence.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: Cool Hand Luke on August 25, 2004, 01:20:43 AM
DO NOT SAY WHO "HER" IS.  That's the strongest aspect of this.
I agree with this. That is the best part.

Maybe some rewrite with an eye toward prose, but he identity should stay unknown, I think.

My only concern is whether the Yale prompt asks for anything like a narrative. It doesn't seem to, although it might be acceptable because they ask for *any* subject (and presumably, style). I'm curious about this myself, but if the sort of thing they'd be receptive to, I think it's pretty good.

In either case, you don't need to reveil her identity. The Yale prompt is expressly not a personal statement, so conveying details of your life is not required.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: SNUGGLE on August 25, 2004, 12:03:56 PM
Not to be helpful, but they are asking for an essay, not a story.  You've given them a story and an artsy one at that.
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: Maryanne007 on August 25, 2004, 04:13:05 PM
i think not knowing who she is, is what keeps you engaged.  however, i was a little confused in the end because I didnt know who she was... which made me reread the whole thing.. i dont know if that would be bad or not...

good luck tho, very creative!  :)
Title: Re: Short ass PS - any input?
Post by: jacy85 on August 26, 2004, 11:17:27 AM
Why is everyone going on an on about how this isn't supposed to be a creative writing piece?  What's wrong with creative?  Yale asked for 250 words on whatever you want.  They didn't say "write 250 words on a topic of your choice, as long as it's not a creative writing piece."

I thought the essay was great.  If there's anything I would add, is maybe a sentence or two more about how you grew, instead of the incredibly vague generalities of "I became stronger, yadda, yadda, yadda"  Not too much, but just something to focus in on a bit.  But otherwise, fantastic job with the 250 words.  It's revealing, and gripping, in that there's a lot of information not explicitly provided.  And I don't think you have to reveal who "she" is.  If you choose to, that's fine, but I feel that it works without that info.