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Being outnumbered twenty to one can intimidate anybody. This is especially true in Officer Candidate School. As one of only five female officers in a class of one hundred, I quickly learned to overcome sexual stereotypes and to assert my authority with finesse. At no other time in my life have I received so much “training” in loyalty, courage, and discipline–nor had to rely so heavily on my own perseverance. By the time I enrolled in this program, my determination had already been tested on numerous occasions, but Officer Candidate School did more than any previous experience to prepare me for academic excellence and intense leadership positions.
Early in life, I realized that education often determines one’s fate. My mother, a Dutch immigrant, never completed the fourth grade, and my father barely passed the GED with the help of his Army recruiter. Neither of them went to college, and although they worked very hard, they had very little to show for it. I instinctively knew that I wanted more out of life, and I became determined to do whatever was necessary to get an education.
After graduating from high school in Holland at age sixteen, I faced an important obstacle in my quest for a baccalaureate degree. My father felt that college was a waste of money and refused to support me financially. My mother could not assist me financially, but she did give me something more valuable: her encouragement. With her support, I moved into my own apartment, got a job working fifty hours per week, and enrolled in college full time. I worked from 4:30 A.M. until 3:30 P.M. every day, and I went to school from 6:00 P.M. until 11:00 P.M every night. I do not recall when I slept or did schoolwork, but my determination to put myself through school prevailed.
As busy as I was between work and school, I still found time to do volunteer activities. When I turned seventeen, I joined the National Guard to make a more substantial impact on the community and to do something that would enhance my future. I firmly believed, and still do, that nothing in life is free–including our rights and freedom. Even though the National Guard swallowed an additional weekend each month, I still advanced quickly through school and received strong grades.
By the middle of my sophomore year, I developed an intense desire to exercise my leadership ability. At that time, the National Guard was in need of officers, especially female officers. I applied to the Officer Candidate School weekend program and was accepted. As one of just a handful of women, I was singled out from the very beginning of the rigorous and demanding training process. Furthermore, at a time when female officers did not traditionally go into engineering, I opted to enter the Corps of Engineers upon graduation.
Fourteen months later, eleven of the initial one hundred soldiers received Federal Commissions as Second Lieutenants in the United States Army. I was the only female officer among them. The financial advantages of serving as an officer allowed me to cut back on my work hours and to focus more on school. Finally, after a very demanding journey, I received my bachelor’s degree in business.
The perseverance required to pursue my degree and commission is the same perseverance that will ensure my success at the University of Maryland. I am guided not only by my desire to pursue an advanced degree but also by the same reasoning that led me to join the military–I want to serve my community from a position of leadership. My background, which includes service in diverse leadership roles, will allow me to contribute a unique perspective to my class. Few individuals have experienced the responsibility of managing thirty soldiers at age nineteen. Equally few have led a 120-soldier unit in overseas deployment during a time of hostility.
The Army has a saying: “Train as you fight and you will fight as you train.” I try to apply this philosophy to my education whenever possible. I have selected the University of Maryland because its law clinics, externships, and mentor program will give me valuable hands-on experience and opportunities to apply what I learn. In my quest to become a lawyer and more successfully serve the community, I will indeed draw upon all that I have learned about accomplishing personal goals. As in Officer Candidate School, I will be focused, motivated, and willing both to train and fight.
“I am impressed. I have the strong background skills and knowledge to get into law school, but I have a hard time being able to write it down with intelligence. I was totally impressed by the revised version of my personal statement and feel like he captured what I wanted to say. I had reservations about doing this online, but I researched your site, looked it over numerous times, and made the decision to try this service. My editor made a tremendous difference in my statement and it was obvious from the first sentence as he got my attention. I was very impressed at how good the whole essay was, from start to finish. I can’t thank EssayEdge enough.”
I enjoyed editing your essay for law school. You have an interesting background and will undoubtedly contribute a unique perspective to the school.
Here are my specific comments on each individual paragraph of your essay:
It is essential that the first paragraph introduce your specific qualifications in a compelling manner. Your original first paragraph was full of excessively vague sentiments and allusions to abstract values. I have suggested a new, more potent introduction that illustrates your success at Officer Candidate School and thereby grabs the reader’s attention.
“Obtaining my baccalaureate degree and my commission as an officer in the Army are prime examples of how perseverance allowed me to overcome difficult obstacles in my life.”
This is a great point, but you need to make it implicitly through your examples rather than stating it explicitly. See the revised essay for my suggestion.
To make your essay easier to digest, you should break this paragraph into two parts. For the first, you should explain why you decided to pursue a baccalaureate degree, and for the second, you should explain how you did so.
Your second paragraph also needs a strong transition sentence. I have provided a new sentence drawing on your observation that, “Education was my opportunity to change my life.”
Be mindful of ways you can improve the sentence-to-sentence flow of your ideas. For instance, I have linked together two of your ideas in this paragraph as follows: “My mother could not assist me financially, but she did give me something more valuable: her encouragement. With her support, I moved into my own apartment…”
This paragraph treats three very distinct ideas–your interest in extracurricular activities, your decision to join the National Guard, and your success in Officer Candidate School. As such, it makes sense to break your discussion into three separate parts.
“I still found time to do volunteer activities here and there.”
Avoid colloquial phrases like “here and there” in formal writing.
“I was still progressing in college at a decent pace and receiving decent grades.”
In subjective assessments like this, it is always desirable to use the most compelling words possible. I suggest the following: “I still advanced quickly through school and received strong grades.”
“Finally, five years after I started the journey for my degree I received my Bachelors in Business.”
You should omit the number of years you were in school since this information does not contribute to your essay.
This paragraph is a perfect example of the axiom that “less is more.” You have a number of concrete details that are very compelling, but you obscure them behind extraneous, generalized statements. I have streamlined this paragraph to keep it focused.
“The difficult decisions I have made and ethical dilemmas I have endured have made me realize the importance of ‘choosing the harder right rather than the easier wrong.'”
This sentence is superfluous since you have already explicitly outlined the positions in which you had to make hard decisions.
The conclusion of your essay sounded like a plea for admission, and that is not what your personal statement should be. To be more precise, you should not conclude your essay with a sentence asking the school to consider you. This is not a letter; it is an essay.
Also, note that you should not address the reader in the second person singular (“you”) since this is too informal. Finally, referring to the school as the “best in the nation” was a bit gratuitous and clichéd.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading about your experiences. You very interestingly outlined your unconventional background. In your future writing, be sure to avoid overused and clichéd phrases. (Some examples include “overcome difficult obstacles” and “determined to succeed.”) It is acceptable to use phrases like this when they truly fit, but using too many clichés really waters down an essay.
I believe you will find your essay much improved. Again, you have an interesting background that I agree is an important asset. I have done my best to accentuate the most compelling details in your writing and to help your essay to stand out. Good luck in the admissions process.
Your EssayEdge Editor