Procrastination and Prognostication

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Haribo
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Procrastination and Prognostication

Postby Haribo » Sun Sep 23, 2007 12:06 am

My background:
Academic: Graduated from a top private engineering university in Boston (cough cough) in 2004. Double major in two difficult engineering degrees. Minor in English Literature. My GPA should be around 3.65-3.7, depending on how the LSDAS report turns out. My grades had a strong upward trend and I did much better in humanities classes than engineering classes.

Extracurricular while in college: I did Air Force ROTC in college, along with quite a bit of undergraduate research ranging from educational theory to autonomous vehicle development. I also played a few seasons of varsity/club sports and did a bit of volunteer work (nothing spectacular there.)

Work experience: I served in the Air Force for two years as an engineer, no combat experience. I recently separated and now work for a small aviation company.

Post college extracurricular activity: I participate in two major activities outside of work. In addition, I spend a lot of time planning my upcoming RTW trip. I'll be leaving for this at some point in the nearish future; this trip is partly for the purpose of writing a book about a topic near and dear to my heart.

Where I am in the law school application process:
LSAT's: I signed up for the December one 2 days after late registration closed for September's test. I'm aiming for a fairly high score. I've studied for 2-3 weeks right now - my diagnostic scores started at 174 and have ranged since then between 176 and 180. My goal is get consistently between a 178 and a 180 before December. I'm doing this entirely through practice tests.

Personal Statement: Ugh. I have about half of one draft written, I'll definitely need to rewrite it several more times. I'm still not sure exactly what my plans are for it except I want to be a little unconventional.

Letters of Recommendation: Definitely the weak point of my application. I've been out of school for three years and didn't specifically focus on cultivating excellent relationship with my professors because of of the Air Force; this has made things difficult. I have one LOR writer so far (an astronaut!! Which is kind of cool, hehe.) I'm hoping to get a second one this week.

Yale 250: Because for the 2006-2007 cycle I plan on applying solely to Yale, this will be a big chunk of my time. I still have no clue what I'm doing.

URM Status: I am 1/4 Hispanic and will either be checking the "Other" box and noting "Caucasian/Hispanic" or will check both Caucasian and Hispanic on the application, depending on what is possible. I don't anticipate this making a big difference, though.

My plans:
As mentioned above, this cycle I'm only applying to Yale. This is because it is the only law school I would cut my trip rtw short for - assuming things go as expected and I don't get into Yale I'll be recycling most of my current application from this year (with the exception of my transcript/PS/possibly one of my LORs) and applying to more schools next year (exactly which schools will depend on my LSAT score. Hopefully I score well!)

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Haribo
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Postby Haribo » Fri Sep 28, 2007 12:34 pm

LOR's from a non-traditional student:

As I hinted at in my first entry, finding professors to write LORs has been difficult - I've been out of school for 3 years and didn't have any great out of class relationships with professors (I did well enough in class, of course, but I didn't specifically cultivate these relationships.) Work would be an obvious solution but my time has been divided fairly equally between jobs, and I'm a little nervous about telling my current boss that I'm applying to law schools - I'd prefer to wait until I'm in a position where being "let go" wouldn't hurt too badly.

Instead, I decided to focus on a few professors in classes where I did well. I sent out 3 emails letting them know I'd be applying to law school, reminding them of what I did in their classes (what I wrote papers on, what my presentation for the class was about, etc.) I then waited for a response FOREVER! (All three did write back eventually!) My email looked something like this:

Professor XXX,

I know it's been some time since I've graduated, but I'm currently applying to law schools. I was a student of yours in the YYY class. I greatly enjoyed the class and did well, demonstrating a wide range of capabilities (both analytic and communicative.) In particular, (insert description of what I did in the classroom that was so exceptional.) In addition to this presentation, I think I demonstrated dedication, hard work, and an excellent understanding of the material throughout the semester – especially notable since (if applicable, insert reason this success was made difficult.) I was hoping you'd be able to write a letter recommending my application to law schools, despite the time lapse since the class took place - law schools much prefer LORs be academic rather than professional, which makes it difficult for non-traditional applicants!

After graduating with a (insert description of what I've done the last few years.) I've started the process of applying to law schools in the hopes of entering in 2008 or 2009.

If you think you both remember me from XXX and have enough spare time so that writing a LOR would be possible, please let me know and I will send you a packet with my draft personal statement, a letter explaining why I want to go to law school, my resume, my transcript, and more information on what law schools are looking for in their applicants, along with any additional information you'd like. I’d also be happy to meet with you if you think that would help.

Thank you for your time,


I also went through all my old work stored on my computer and found copies of some of the applicable material. Once a professor agreed to write a letter, I created a packet with a letter explaining why I want to be a lawyer, what law schools are looking for from LOR writers (necessary since most of my professors are used to writing LORs for graduate schools, not law schools), my resume, and a transcript. (I left my personal statement out, as it's still in the early draft stages.) I also added in applicable course material if it was available. Unfortunately it didn't have instructor comments on it, grrr. Supposedly you can also include a stamped envelope for them, but I forgot D:

I tried to hand-deliver this packet (and in one case, the professor did ask to meet with me - we had a very nice discussion about my plans for the future, what I've been doing, etc. It made me regret not being friendlier with professors while I was a student though! They are nice... lol.) I'm not applying until after December so I just asked they be completed by some time in November. I'm planning on writing a thank you note and maybe purchasing a small gift for all three of them. Now I just need to figure out who wrote the best two letters and select those to hand in...

Note: I basically used this link for what law schools are looking for, although I tailored it more to my own personal strengths.

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Haribo
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LSAT Progress

Postby Haribo » Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:30 am

I miss between 0 and 1 per section (down from 0-2, with an occasional 3) - I'm worried about reading comprehension though, because if I don't really focus on reading quickly I can go over time. All other sections I finish with 5-15 minutes to spare. Games I normally ace with plenty of time left over, but every once in a while I get a hard one that sucks up all my time.

I've realized that most of my practice test screwups come when I take them late at night (after midnight.) Unfortunately that's also when I have the greatest amount of free time. I've been hesitant to take more practice tests at that time because I don't know how useful it is to be making stupid mistakes and having problems concentrating.

Right now my scores fluctuate between 176 and 180 (usually around 177/178.) I'm not up to the most recent tests yet though... and it's hard to keep taking practice tests as they're starting to run together. I guess we'll see how the next few weeks goes! I'd like to have more time left over on reading comprehension - I think that's just going to be practice with skimming over details more. I'm nervous I'll build myself up to expecting too high of a score, and then be unhappy with a 174 or something. Blech.

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Haribo
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Postby Haribo » Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:51 am

Still preparing for the December exam. I've had trouble keeping the same level of intensity up - it's hard because my scores aren't rising. Sometimes I get lucky and don't miss anything, sometimes I miss 2 or 3 on a section.

Looking over the September test, it seems like I un-lucked out not taking it then. RC is a weak point of mine, and it sounds like this RC was easier than normal. Games are my strong point (I've done probably 20 games sections and only missed one question ever) so I probably would have scored highly.

Hopefully December's test isn't an easy games section and a really hard RC!

In other news, my PS is still not complete. Neither is my Yale-250. On the other hand, my plans for next year are becoming more concrete by the day :)

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Haribo
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LSAT countdown...

Postby Haribo » Mon Nov 26, 2007 10:42 pm

Well well well. 5 days until the LSAT. Unfortunately, I seem not to have improved my score at all (I've actually gone down!) since starting to take practice tests. I think it's because I don't take them as seriously now - I sort of rush through them to be finished and then am surprised that I make stupid mistakes. Hopefully that won't happen on the real test.

I'm currently averaging around a 175-176, but I could honestly see scoring anywhere in the 170 (in which case I immediately register for a February test) to 180 on the real thing - possibly even lower (and the odds of a 178+ are pretty low... frustrating because I was hitting it so often when I first started taking practice tests!)

Then again, realistically - even a 170 will still open many doors. Perspective!

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Haribo
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Postby Haribo » Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:20 pm

Ok. The LSAT is taken - I honestly have no idea how well I did, I think the LG/LR went pretty well but with the difficulty of questions on the RC, I could have scored anywhere from 170-180. If I'm not happy with my score, I will be retaking in February. In the last few days of studying prior to the test, I made some real breakthroughs on the LR sections and literally stopped missing LR questions at all, ever, in any practice tests (thanks to Voyager's study plan, actually!)

In other exciting news, my letters of recommendation are all complete! I have 3, all from college professors with whom I am not particularly close. none from anyone at my job - I'm not sure it's a good sample, but we'll see how things go.

All I need now is to fine-tune my PS, finish the applications/resume/etc, and of course my 250! Hmmm what to write about, what to write about...

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Postby Haribo » Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:24 am

I got my LSAT score back today - 180! I was obviously very happy (happy enough to post this blog entry incorrectly the first time...)

The next step is completing my application and then just waiting. I'm not looking forward to the waiting part :(

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Haribo
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Postby Haribo » Mon Jan 07, 2008 6:25 pm

Ugh, I still haven't completed my application. I'm at a point where I'm fairly happy with my personal statement, but I still need to work on my Yale 250 and my resume - and of course "a ranked list of all my ECs." I think one reason I'm finding this difficult is because I'm not actually planning on either getting into law school next year or, if I were to get in, attending.

Of course, it doesn't help that I just gave notice at work today (yay!) and will hopefully be leaving for Mexico in March. I'll be spending ~6 months in Central/South America before heading west for Southeast Asia and China - and who knows where I go after that. Needless to say planning this trip has been much more fun than writing a Yale 250....

Anyway, my goal is to have my app mailed out by Friday, so I can plan guilt-free for the next year and a half :)

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Haribo
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Postby Haribo » Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:13 pm

Well, to make everything more complicated I just found out I was awarded free round-the-world trip tickets and some other goodies, thanks to an essay I wrote about why I wanted to travel. (Yay!!)

The question is, what does this mean for law school applications? I'm almost certain I'll just wait until next cycle to apply, even though it means one less shot at Yale. The chance is low of my getting accepted, but I'd hate to be accepted and then get my request for a deferral denied. Maybe I should submit anyways, just to see what happens (since I already wrote my personal statement!!)

But yes, most likely: law school 2009 or bust!

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Re: Procrastination and Prognostication

Postby Haribo » Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:37 am

This is largely unrelated to law schools, except in that it's the reason I'm not applying anywhere until next year. I just need to figure out how I'm going to combine my experience in the Air Force as an engineer with my (soon-to-be) experience as a globe-trotting candy connoisseur...

Tracing the history of the slave trade at Cuban sugar plantation. WWOOFING at Costa Rican vanilla farms. Eating Australian musk-flavored Lifesavers (that's right, MUSK.) Learning the secrets of cocoa production in Ecuador. Trading English lessons for candy-making lessons in Cambodia. Visiting the factories making the Mexican gum that spilled from piñatas in my youth or the jelly beans and candy bars I snack on at work today (now made, like so much else, in China.) Volunteering at New Delhi dental clinics. Celebrating the Day of the Dead with sugared skeletons or Burmese New Year with sweet rice balls.

As a child, my earliest memory is trying chewing gum for the first time. In elementary school I sold Airheads to schoolmates, in theory for a profit (foiled by my inability to stop eating the wares!) I'll never forget the sweetest ice cream sandwich I've ever tasted: eaten after 1 month without sugar at boot camp. In the traveling I've done to date, the glorious castles and cheap wines of Hungary are inseparable from the creamy hazelnut candy bars eaten there. Pistachio flavored Turkish delight reminds me of the bustling bazaars of Istanbul and the elegant Cappadocian rock formations.

I've been planning, scrimping, and saving for three years for a round-the-world trip and am set to depart in March of 2008. My journey will focus on the history, production, and (of course!) consumption of candy world-wide. I travel not just to see new sights or meet new people, but also to explore a fascinating, delicious, and at times unsettling aspect of human history. From the historical use of slave labor in sugar cultivation, to modern day international corporations forcing the closure of local businesses and pushing eating habits that lead to diabetes and tooth decay, candy can have an unsavory core. I won't shy from this, but neither will I hide the comfort and celebration candy can bring us, no matter where we are. My stories, candy reviews, and photos will be published in a travelblog while I'm on the road.

With all this, what would an international candy tour be without stops in France, Belgium, and Switzerland? How about Papua New Guinea, where sugar was first cultivated? And of course the colorful, cartoony candies of Japan are currently out of my price range. This contest could allow me to expand my travels to some of these pricier destinations.

-My "award-winning" essay. I received free round the world plane tickets from it, and am set to depart in March for 18 months on the road.

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Haribo
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Re: Procrastination and Prognostication

Postby Haribo » Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:41 pm

So I haven't been nearly as active on TLS as I was a few months ago. Obviously, the reason is because I finally left the country so I'm no longer burning 8 hours a day at work (yay!)

I'm a little concerned about making my law school applications internationally. I won't have a stable address or a phone number to give law schools, so hopefully that won't negatively impact anything. I've done a lot of thinking over the last few months about what I want out of law school and my top choice has actually changed, and I feel much more secure in my motivations for entering law school. Hopefully nothing about "taking a year off and traveling the world" will raise a red flag and cause problems!

If people are interested, I'm posting about international candy here: http://www.malena-rtw.com/rtw - It's nothing special, but I think candy is kind of fun to write about. :)

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Re: Procrastination and Prognostication

Postby Haribo » Sat Mar 29, 2008 2:10 pm

Lately, I've been trying to come up with new ideas for diversity statements/PS... I can't believe I had nearly finished mine and now I need to basically start from scratch for next year! I'll probably only apply to 6-7 schools... I have one solid top choice at this point, and then the other schools in the T14 I'd be happy attending.

I'm slightly concerned that the release of the new rankings and the drastic jump by Berkeley might lead to more schools favoring GPA over LSAT. Let's keep that LSAT important, adcomms reading this! GPA differs drastically between schools and majors, after all. In a way I'm wishing I'd applied this year and just deferred, and not had to worry about things.

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Haribo
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Re: Procrastination and Prognostication

Postby Haribo » Tue Jun 24, 2008 2:54 pm

Well, posting from beautiful Nicaragua. Just another two weeks and I'm flying home to power through law school applications while waiting for a visa to Syria.

Checklist:
Transcript/LSAT/LOR's: Done! Should I get one of my recommenders to write a new letter detailing my ridiculous contest win and the trip?

Resume: Need to work on this. I'll be sticking with one page, despite being out of college for 4 years and having a variety of jobs.

Personal Statement: I had a pretty finalized copy from last year that I'll be updating.

Diversity Statement: I'm still not sure if I should include this or not - might be time for a TLS poll.

Am I forgetting anything?

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Haribo
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Re: Procrastination and Prognostication

Postby Haribo » Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:01 pm

Where to apply?

Last year, I had planned mostly on blanketing the T14, and going to the best school I got into. I'm changing that approach. I don't want to pay tons of application fees, and even the $12 ones (with a fee waiver) add up. Also, I have pretty specific goals and now have a better idea of what I'm looking for in a law school.

So, what do I want?
- A strong program (preferably with classes, clinics, and reviews) in law and technology, patent law, or cyberlaw.
- A school with an international perspective. I'd prefer a school with partnerships with other law schools overseas and a wide variety of international law coursework. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of international law and cyberlaw/technology law.
- I prefer East Coast to West Coast, and I strongly prefer outside of NYC to inside of NYC.
- I prefer a more academic atmosphere to a fratty, just out of college atmosphere. For me personally, I work better in a competitive environment than a laid-back, relaxed one.
- A T14 law school, and preferably one with an international reputation.

Where am I applying? I don't know yet. Probably some combination of Harvard, Stanford, Boalt, and a few others in the T14 - maybe 5 to 7 applications total? My top choice is Harvard, for obvious reasons. Yale isn't even on my radar. Columbia and NYU are great programs but I'm not sure I could handle 3 years of NYC. Georgetown might be a good fit.

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Haribo
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Re: Procrastination and Prognostication

Postby Haribo » Tue Sep 16, 2008 2:20 pm

The Issue of Fee Waivers

I believe I took my LSAT at the worst possible time. Because it was in December, I only got a few T14 merit-based fee waivers (Duke and Northwestern.) Additionally, because it was for last year, I haven't gotten any of the fee waivers sent out this round...

I'm not applying to Duke, so I tried emailing Northwestern to get that waiver transferred to this year. DENIED! It's so frustrating because I could really see myself there, particularly with a scholarship. However, I simply can't afford to apply.

I sent a few emails to other schools that I'm particularly interested in, so hopefully I'll get at least a few.

I'm obviously not in a situation to be applying for need-based fee waivers ("Hi, can't pay for fee waivers because I'm gallivanting around the world right now!") but I would think that my numbers/background/etc would get me a few merit-based waivers.

Short Story: Don't take the December LSAT. Take June instead - you'll save literally hundreds of dollars in waivers.

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Haribo
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Re: Procrastination and Prognostication

Postby Haribo » Wed Sep 24, 2008 12:42 pm

Fee Waiver Update

Well, it's official. Only one (ONE!!) fee waiver for me this application cycle. I'm a little annoyed, because this is going to end up costing me a lot of money.

Oh well, what's done is done.

Schools I Will Be Applying To:
Harvard
Stanford
Boalt
Columbia (tentative)
NYU (tentative)
Chicago (tentative)
Michigan

I'm also considering applying to McGill University in Quebec.

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Haribo
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Re: Procrastination and Prognostication

Postby Haribo » Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:19 am

Well, I'm in Syria right now... walked through the big anti-American protest this morning on my way to the internet cafe. Syria's a great country to visit, even with all the political stuff going on right now.

Fee Waiver Update:
I spoke too soon! For some reason I'm getting all the October 2008 LSAT fee waivers - including Duke, Northwestern, and UCLA. I guess I should have waited before complaining :)

Most of my applications are in, so I'm just waiting now. And procrastinating on my NYU IP Law Scholar's Program essay.




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