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Personal statement critique, honesty appreciated!

  1. Jan 6, 2012 #1
    Hi all,
    I am about to send in my transfer app and I was hoping that someone to look over my PS. You don't have to worry about grammar too much as I will have my English professor father in law 'grade me' but your thoughts or suggestions would be very much appreciated! I am not overly happy with the last paragraph, so I might try to spark that up, but overall I hope it is pretty descent. Thanks!

    __________
    Most personal statements begin with something along the lines of, “Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to be a [insert engineering discipline here]”. For me, this has not been the case. To be fair, yes, I have always been a problem solver, a researcher, and a doer. Still, my professional life has been varied. I have worked in the military as an electronics technician, the non-profit sector as a software technical analyst, and in health care as a physical therapy aide. Within each of these positions I found commonality: an innate desire to fix, to improve, and to innovate.

    In the Navy I utilized and built upon these qualities to perform at my very best. While on my first ship in the Persian Gulf I realized that problems arise quickly. Being the most junior member, and sole communications expert, on the ship was at first a daunting responsibility. I knew that gyrocompasses would break, GPS would go down, and engine communications would fail. I focused this uneasiness on attaining systems knowledge and began to learn beyond the basics of what specialty school previously taught me. I was correct, systems did fail. Yet, my preparation and desire to learn about the inner workings of these systems paid off through minimal down time. Ultimately these qualities led to my award of Junior Sailor of the Year and eventually leading my own team of 15 electronics technicians.

    Following the Navy I carried this desire to understand into a Psychology degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. As the first person in my family to attend college, picking a major was not easy. From the choices available, attempting to understand the motivations behind people’s actions seemed the most natural inquiry; as I was interested in more than just objects. Fortunately, understanding interpersonal communication, how backgrounds shape lives, and the investigative nature of the subject proved to add a valuable facet to my analytical mindset as I progressed into post-college employment.

    Working in the non-profit and healthcare fields was interesting, but ultimately I was left needing more. With each job I began going above my requirements to fix or improve processes. Whether assisting co-workers to find more efficient troubleshooting methods, or streamlining physical therapy plan-of-care processes, I realized these extra investigations were what actually kept me engaged and excited. Upon researching career paths I realized the skills and desires I held were aligned perfectly engineering. Having read about how industrial engineer’s make processes more productive by integrating people, machines, materials, energy, and information I decided to call an old shipmate and current Manufacturing Engineering Manager at Micron Technology, [Name Removed]. After a lengthy conversation about daily problem solving methods and his use of mathematics and statistics to increase production output, I quickly realized industrial engineering was the ‘extra’ I was looking for.

    As a Raleigh native I have set my sights on NC State University. Currently, I am enrolled in another ABET accredited ISE program and just completed my first semester of remaining pre-requisites. Driving three hours round trip daily, tackling a full engineering load, and staying active in Toastmasters and the IIE professional society was not easy, but earning a 4.0 GPA while doing so attests to my dedication and was well worth the effort. It is my dedication, along with my uniquely broad background, that I feel will couple well with NC State’s top ranked ISE program.

    Having begun studying Differential Equations over winter break I am excited to learn more about its application to modeling and simulation as I continue further into the curriculum. I am certain a degree from NC State will not only provide a solid base, but provide the opportunity for a career that will constantly present me with new and interesting challenges as I look to make a significant impact on the manufacturing community and the industrial engineering profession as a whole.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 6, 2012 #2
    It is scary how similar this is to the statement I am planning to write. I too, have a English professor father-in-law, a 4.0, am pursuing an engineering degree, and my successful career has left me wanting to learn more. No military experience though, but thank you for your service.

    I have just started think about transferring to a selective school, and just started reviewing personal statements and application essays, so I don't know how much I can critique, but I am interested in the response of others. Good Luck.
     
  4. Jan 7, 2012 #3
    Cleaned it up a bit, found some orphan sentences.
    _________

    Most personal statements begin with something along the lines of, “Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to be an [insert engineering discipline here]”. For me, this has not been the case. To be fair, yes, I have always been a problem solver, a researcher, and admirer mathematics. Still, my professional life has been varied. I have worked in the military as an electronics technician, the non-profit sector as a software technical analyst, and in health care as a physical therapy aide. Within each of these positions I found commonality: an innate desire to fix, to improve, and to innovate.

    In the Navy I built upon these qualities to perform at my very best. While on my first ship in the Persian Gulf, I realized that problems arise quickly. Being the most junior member, and sole communications expert, on the ship was at first a daunting responsibility. I knew that gyrocompasses would break, GPS would go down, and engine communications would fail. I focused this uneasiness on attaining systems knowledge and began to learn beyond the basics of specialty school. I was correct, systems did fail. Yet, my preparation and desire to learn about the inner workings of these systems paid off through minimal equipment down time. Ultimately these qualities led to my award of Junior Sailor of the Year and eventually leading my own team of 15 electronics technicians.

    Following the Navy I carried this desire to understand into a Psychology degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. As the first person in my family to attend college, picking a major was not easy. From the choices available, attempting to understand the motivations behind people’s actions seemed the most natural inquiry; as I was interested in more than just objects. Fortunately, understanding interpersonal communication, how backgrounds shape lives, and the investigative nature of the subject proved to add a valuable facet to my analytical mindset as I progressed into post-college employment.

    Working in the non-profit and healthcare fields was interesting, but ultimately I was left needing more. With each job I began going above my requirements to fix or improve processes. Whether assisting co-workers to find more efficient troubleshooting methods, or streamlining physical therapy plan-of-care processes, I realized these extra investigations were what actually kept me engaged and excited. Upon researching career paths I recognized the skills and desires I held aligned perfectly with engineering. Having read about how industrial engineers make processes more productive by integrating people, machines, materials, energy, and information I decided to call an old shipmate and current Manufacturing Engineering Manager at Micron Technology, [NAME REMOVED]. After a lengthy conversation about daily problem solving methods and his use of mathematics and statistics to increase production output, I quickly understood industrial engineering was the ‘more’ I was looking for.

    As a Raleigh native I have set my sights on NC State University. Currently, I am enrolled in another ABET accredited ISE program and just completed my first semester of remaining pre-requisites. Driving three hours round trip daily, tackling a full engineering load, and staying active in Toastmasters and the IIE professional society was challenging, but earning a 4.0 GPA while doing so attests to my dedication and was well worth the effort. It is my dedication, along with my uniquely broad background, that I feel will couple well with NC State’s top ranked ISE program.

    I am certain a degree from NC State will not only provide a solid base, but also the opportunity for a career that will constantly present me with new and interesting challenges as I look to make a significant impact on the manufacturing community and the industrial engineering profession as a whole.
     
  5. Jan 7, 2012 #4
    I basically have no experience writing personal statements, however, I'd change these things:

    "Most personal statements begin with something along the lines of, “Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to be a [insert engineering discipline here]”."

    Most personals statements? There are too many different personal statements, I hardly doubt you've seen more than, let's say, 100, hence you can't really say that. "insert engineering discipline" holds only for people applying for engineering positions, which makes the "Most personal statements" even more inaccurate.

    "As the first person in my family to attend college, picking a major was not easy."

    I don't think that being the first person in the family to attend college is of crucial importance when deciding which major to pick. I'd try to find reasons which more clearly shows your interests and passions.

    "but earning a 4.0 GPA while doing so attests to my dedication and was well worth the effort."

    Maybe it's just me being generally sceptical towards grades, but I wouldn't give so much attention to the 4.0 GPA. I would mention it, but without too much emphasis.
     
  6. Jan 7, 2012 #5
    Yeah I get that, I think I will change it to something along the lines of how most people I speak with seem to have a memorable story from their childhood which lead them down this path...
    Having no collegiate guidance what so ever was definitely a learning curve in my experience. Where I grew up, I didn't even know of even any friends parents who went to college. It was just like that. So I basically had no clue what to do, I just knew basically that I should go to a 'good college' because 'you can't get by anymore without a degree' as I was told.

    Eh, Im good with that one, But I definitely appreciate the advice on everything! Thank You!

    Also, overall, was it ok, at least as far as interest/content?
     
  7. Jan 7, 2012 #6
    Personally, I would refrain from mentioning the 4.0 at all. Why illuminate that which they will see?
     
  8. Jan 7, 2012 #7
    Honestly I was just trying to show that even under a pressed schedule I can excel in the engineering material. I mean, they will see a lot of this stuff elsewhere in the application like that I am in IIE... and was in the Navy... and had good grades...but I figured the PS was the place to elaborate and give them sense of me/why I will be a successful engineering student.

    But if people think it is that bad then it's definitely under review.

    But, other than the 4.0 statement... Is the overall view of the PS boring...good...descent?
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2012
  9. Jan 7, 2012 #8

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    Why not be direct tell them what you want to do, then tell them why and how each of you will benefit from you going there.

    It's kind of like a job application. They only want the best most dedicated students and even ones that may work part time for profs and of course ones that wil further the interests of the college reputation.
     
  10. Jan 7, 2012 #9
    Because they already asked that in the 4 other 500 character sections which involved:
    • My view on leadership and leadership style
    • Obstacles and hardships
    • Reasons I have chosen to enter the major
    • How I will contribute and benefit from diversity
    So not to overlap I chose to give a background to expand upon my life experiences and how my experiences came together to prepare me for a career in industrial engineering.
     
  11. Jan 7, 2012 #10

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    A lot people think they need to write personal statements that emulate the Rudy movie. Consequently, the reviewers get tired of that. So they're looking for something different. So being direct even if it repeats what you said but in your words as if you were sitting there can be very powerful. That's why I said its like a job interview you get make your case.

    My niece used to review these statements when she clerked in the admin office of our local university. For me I've interviewed a lot of students for positions at the lab. One student really stood out, she brought her math proofs with her for a programming job and got the job even though her programming experience was weak. I was really impressed that she saw the connection between programming and proof.

    Another reason not to write a Rudy letter is that he got in trouble with the govt over fraudulent investments recently.
     
  12. Jan 7, 2012 #11
    I truly don't see how my past experiences have come together (through work experience, education, and relationships with people in the field) to push me towards the field of engineering relate in any way to the story of Rudy...Or any come from behind story...
     
  13. Jan 7, 2012 #12

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm sorry don't take my Rudy comments to be you they were in reference to personal statements written by HS seniors some of who may be reading this thread and thinking about how to write their own personal statement.

    I'm not against you. I'm only suggesting you make your statement more unique. Your Navy experience is unique and should be expanded upon. Please ignore my comments if they don't agree with what you want to do. I work at a univ and I have interviewed students and that's what I'm looking for uniqueness.
     
  14. Jan 7, 2012 #13

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    Last edited: Jan 8, 2012
  15. Jan 8, 2012 #14
    I understand, and I honestly appreciate your time helping me. The only thing is I have such a long and varied gap between the Navy and choosing engineering (8 years, a psychology degree, and two random jobs) that I just don't see how the admissions officer will read it and not think "thats great, but what have you done in the last decade..."
     
  16. Jan 8, 2012 #15

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't I think it's that long. Perhaps you can fashion a story of navy to psych to help returning vets deal with life here, to mech eng and along the way you discovered you were always into finding the best way to make things work and realized that mech eng was the theme of your life.
     
  17. Jan 8, 2012 #16
    it sounds good, but i really dont think you should satrt it by talking about personal statements lol
     
  18. Jan 8, 2012 #17
    Thanks, yeah I actually fixed that haha...
    here is the new opening:
    _____________________________________

    When speaking with my fellow classmates about why they chose to pursue engineering, I am often met with tales of childhood memories in which the classmates knew engineering was their calling. For me, this has not been the case. I have always been a problem solver, a researcher, and an admirer of mathematics. Yet, my path has been varied. I have worked in the military as an electronics technician, in the non-profit sector as a software technical analyst, and in health care as a physical therapy aide. Within each of these positions I found commonality: the desire to fix, to improve, and to innovate.
     
  19. Jan 8, 2012 #18

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    I like that opening. It shows some maturity and confidence and as a reviewer I could see you're forging your path and want to read more.
     
  20. Jan 8, 2012 #19
    Thank you sir! I am definitely glad I changed it.
     
  21. Jan 8, 2012 #20

    cpv

    User Avatar

    I am also writing my personal statement. English is not my native language.

    My question is:

    Is a statement written in very simple English OK? ( It is for a M.Sc. program)
     
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