At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

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blackwidow78
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At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby blackwidow78 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:05 am

To give you some background, I'm a 34-year-old recent widow. I always meant to go to law school, but financial realities and my husband's illness made it unrealistic. The fact that his death HAS made it realistic is hardly joyous, but here we are.

Finding a way to discuss his death, my professional accomplishments and law school interest in one personal essay has been its own challenge, but my addenda are even more of a mess. I was sexually abused by a family friend as a kid and date raped two months before I went to college (sorry to be flip, but this was kind of a long time ago now), so I spent more of my undergraduate career in counseling than in class. I gave a general PTSD explanation for the GPA and transfers without going into details.

Halfway through my Master's thesis, my advisor took a job at another university. I was working full time and had no luck lining up another advisor, or getting time off of work to complete it = second addendum addressing why it took me several years to complete my Master's degree.

I honestly couldn't bring myself to try to explain my LSAT score. I took a prep class in the summer of 2011 when my husband was doing great and out of danger and everything was looking up, and then...yeah. Don't ever bet on that pony, kids. A few months later, my father had a stroke and died, and I realized that my mother knew none of his passwords, or what bills needed to be paid on a regular basis, or how to book travel or pay taxes or anything she really needed to know to get by on her own.

Once I dealt with that, finding the money for another LSAT class depended on my house selling, and two offers fell through. I went into the December LSAT without another offer on the table, having spent the past month studying my old prep books with a general, "What the hell else can go wrong at this point?" attitude, assuming I'd have to break my lease and move back into my house. Luckily, I didn't have to break my lease, but I scored an effing 156.

I couldn't retake in February because my Mom was having surgery, and do you see what I mean about all of this sounding like excuses at this point? I'm a Midwestern white girl from the suburbs. My life hasn't precisely gone as planned and it's been a bad few years, but I'm hardly disadvantaged. I have a good job; I'm not in danger of starving on the streets or anything. If worse came to worst, I could move in with my mother and we could live out our own version of Grey Gardens together.

I'm working with what I have this year and seeing how it plays out, but assuming it sucks and I re-apply next year, certain things need to be explained. But if I get a better LSAT score, should I just let the undergraduate GPA slide without explanation and dedicate my efforts to the LSAT score discrepancy? And if so, can I just explain it by "My husband died, my father died, life was kind of a mess for a while after that, I couldn't sell my house, and I tanked my first LSAT?" Or is it all just a bunch of excuses?

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stillwater
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby stillwater » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:16 am

real soon

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dingbat
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby dingbat » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:44 am

My heart bleeds for you, but you shouldn't consider law school with a 15x

XLogic
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby XLogic » Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:25 am

dingbat wrote:My heart bleeds for you, but you shouldn't consider law school with a 15x


If there is anything negative about Law school forums like these, notwithstanding all the great and timely information one gets, it would be an ill-conceived advise such as this.

Many people have been offered admission to good law schools with LSAT scores in the 150's. 156 is actually a good score. If you can score higher in 1 or 2 more LSATs then all the better.

Submit an addendum for each negative if it makes sense -- i.e., Multiple LSATs and low GPA -- but do not make it sound like you are whining, or seeking sympathy. Own your scores, accept responsibility for them and confidently tell them that you will succeed in law school because you are fully dedicated.

In your addenda, show that you made every effort to make up for low grades, low LSATs and other potentially negative aspects in your application. Write a great personal statement and go for it!

Good luck!!

PS. In my case, my GPA was good but LSAT not so great. If you are interested, I can share my addenda with you.

rad lulz
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby rad lulz » Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:37 am

XLogic wrote:
dingbat wrote:My heart bleeds for you, but you shouldn't consider law school with a 15x


If there is anything negative about Law school forums like these, notwithstanding all the great and timely information one gets, it would be an ill-conceived advise such as this.

Many people have been offered admission to good law schools with LSAT scores in the 150's. 156 is actually a good score. If you can score higher in 1 or 2 more LSATs then all the better.

Submit an addendum for each negative if it makes sense -- i.e., Multiple LSATs and low GPA -- but do not make it sound like you are whining, or seeking sympathy. Own your scores, accept responsibility for them and confidently tell them that you will succeed in law school because you are fully dedicated.

In your addenda, show that you made every effort to make up for low grades, low LSATs and other potentially negative aspects in your application. Write a great personal statement and go for it!

Good luck!!

PS. In my case, my GPA was good but LSAT not so great. If you are interested, I can share my addenda with you.

This is asinine

156 sucks

I feel for you op. It's a shit situation

But you need to retake or don't go

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dingbat
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby dingbat » Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:06 am

XLogic wrote:
dingbat wrote:My heart bleeds for you, but you shouldn't consider law school with a 15x


If there is anything negative about Law school forums like these, notwithstanding all the great and timely information one gets, it would be an ill-conceived advise such as this.

Many people have been offered admission to good law schools with LSAT scores in the 150's. 156 is actually a good score.
First question: define good law schools
Second question: what else did the application have?

Generally, a school only has the following information on a candidate:
1) LSAT
2) GPA
3) Letters of Rec.
4) Personal Statements and/or Addenda
and, for non-trads, there's 5) Work Experience (or special softs)

If you read around, there are plenty of sources that will tell you that a school might be willing to overlook a candidate being weak in one of those categories, so long as the others are strong. From a more practical aspect, generally the letters of recommendation and personal statement offer little positive contributions, as typically everyone has glowing recommendations and a well-crafted and impressive personal statement, so it's more that if there's a problem there it'll harm your candidacy.

Yes, it is possible for a candidate with an LSAT 10 points below, and a GPA half a point below the median to get in. But, then you're generally talking about someone who has an incredible resume. A good school needs to be convinced that the candidate will be successful, and a history of sub-par performance, no matter how many excuses, doesn't do that. Now it sucks that OP has had shit happen each and every time, but, OP has two major strikes against her and unless I'm missing something, presumably a resume that won't be particularly impressive (sorry about that). OP can't do anything about her GPA and building a better resume takes too long, so, the one thing she can do right now to really improve her chances is to retake and get a much better LSAT score
XLogic wrote:If you can score higher in 1 or 2 more LSATs then all the better.
Isn't that what I just said?

XLogic wrote:PS. In my case, my GPA was good but LSAT not so great. If you are interested, I can share my addenda with you.
So, you were weak in 1 area. You had a good GPA to make up for a mediocre LSAT.

XLogic
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby XLogic » Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:41 pm

@dingbat, you make good points. And I hope my comment did not offend you.

1. Good law school definition? the best law school you can get into that allows you to achieve your potential.
2. Other items in her application? Even you don't know the answer to that. And I think that is my point.

I just think that there are more constructive ways to offer advice to people in this community. I remember reading a response to a candidate who had 3.X and 160, and was told by some "tool" that he did not stand a chance at a decent law school. Okay, maybe T-14 would be a stretch, but it is not impossible. And what is wrong with a T-20 or T-80??

Granted, one should not give up just because somebody says the road is impossible, but it doesn't help when everybody keeps telling you NO. When I was applying to law schools, even my pre-law advisor was skeptical about some of the schools I told her I was applying to, but I didn't care. I applied anyway. Got accepted at some schools, including one reach school, and got rejected at others. So what? In my mind, the worst case scenario is that the adcomm says no -- big deal!

@dingbat, let's be honest, your comment did not expand on why you thought her application was weak. You mentioned the 15X LSAT score and left it at that.

Call me a dreamer but I think she potentially has positives on her side: graduate degree, overcoming life challenges, perseverance, professional experience, (better LSAT score if she re-takes) etc.

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dingbat
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby dingbat » Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:57 pm

XLogic wrote:@dingbat, you make good points. And I hope my comment did not offend you.
it's close to impossible to offend me

XLogic wrote:1. Good law school definition? the best law school you can get into that allows you to achieve your potential.
let's get back to that later
XLogic wrote:2. Other items in her application? Even you don't know the answer to that. And I think that is my point.
Nope, none of us know the answer. However, it's a very small category and without an indication otherwise, I find it safe to assume the answer is no
XLogic wrote:I just think that there are more constructive ways to offer advice to people in this community. I remember reading a response to a candidate who had 3.X and 160, and was told by some "tool" that he did not stand a chance at a decent law school. Okay, maybe T-14 would be a stretch, but it is not impossible. And what is wrong with a T-20 or T-80??
The quick answer is that it depends on 3 things: what the person's goals are, which school, and at what cost. There are even unranked schools that are a good idea under the right circumstances, while under other circumstances even a T14 is questionable. However, as a general rule, the further down the rankings you do, the more problematic it becomes (though, don't focus too much on the rankings)
XLogic wrote:Granted, one should not give up just because somebody says the road is impossible, but it doesn't help when everybody keeps telling you NO. When I was applying to law schools, even my pre-law advisor was skeptical about some of the schools I told her I was applying to, but I didn't care. I applied anyway. Got accepted at some schools, including one reach school, and got rejected at others. So what? In my mind, the worst case scenario is that the adcomm says no -- big deal!
I don't disagree with this approach and threw in a few hail marys myself.
XLogic wrote:@dingbat, let's be honest, your comment did not expand on why you thought her application was weak. You mentioned the 15X LSAT score and left it at that.
Her explanation indicated that her GPA was weak and it could be inferred from that same explanation that she probably doesn't have the kind of stellar resume that is truly game-changing. (taking care of a dying spouse tends to be time consuming and both physically and emotionally draining, which is not conducive to resume building)
XLogic wrote:Call me a dreamer but I think she potentially has positives on her side: graduate degree
with weak grades
XLogic wrote:overcoming life challenges
overcoming, or surviving?
XLogic wrote:perseverance
no argument from me
XLogic wrote:professional experience
:?:
XLogic wrote:(better LSAT score if she re-takes) etc.
exactly - she should retake

I don't mean to be harsh, and I certainly don't want to be mean to OP, who I understand has been through a lot, but, suffering isn't an indication of anything other than that she's suffered. She can write an addendum why her GPA&LSAT are so low, and it will be taken into account, but it might not account for that much, while retaking and getting a great LSAT will show that she has potential beyond her excusably poor performance. Yes, by all means, throw apps to whatever school tickles your fancy, but it doesn't hurt to be realistic.

XLogic
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby XLogic » Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:07 pm

@dingbat, your last post made a lot of sense. I would caution you against some of the quick assumption you made regarding her GPA and professional experience. While likely true, you really don't know -- but you seem to be concluding based on those potentially faulty assumptions.

As a lawyer, which I assume you are/will-be (unless I am making a faulty assumption), you should probably tighten your argument there.

In any case, I think I've said all I want to say here. Good luck to the candidate!

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dingbat
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby dingbat » Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:29 pm

XLogic wrote:@dingbat, your last post made a lot of sense. I would caution you against some of the quick assumption you made regarding her GPA and professional experience. While likely true, you really don't know -- but you seem to be concluding based on those potentially faulty assumptions.

As a lawyer, which I assume you are/will-be (unless I am making a faulty assumption), you should probably tighten your argument there.

In any case, I think I've said all I want to say here. Good luck to the candidate!

Actually, I do finance for a living. My detour into the legal field was cut short recently

My assumption re GPA is based on:
blackwidow78 wrote: I spent more of my undergraduate career in counseling than in class. I gave a general PTSD explanation for the GPA and transfers without going into details.

My assumption re professional experience is precisely that, an assumption. However, it's a rather safe assumption to make.

09042014
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby 09042014 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:53 pm

Subtle "I slowly poisoned my husband trolling." I love it.

but financial realities and my husband's illness made it unrealistic. The fact that his death HAS made it realistic is hardly joyous, but here we are.


blackwidow78

blackwidow

blackwidow

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somewhatwayward
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby somewhatwayward » Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:02 pm

If you have a good job now and a 156 + low undergrad GPA - DON'T GO TO LAW SCHOOL. If you retake and hit 170+, you could get NU or UVA or GULC or maybe Penn but probably at sticker. It just doesn't seem to make sense to leave what seems to be a good job for certain un/underemployment if you pay 100K+ for te schools that will accept you now (TTT/TTTTs).

I am sorry about your situation, but addenda won't make much difference. If you are being compared to someone with the same numbers, the fact that you had more difficulties might put you in over that person (although you can't assume other people didn't have tragedies/difficulties; I'm not trying to kick you while you are down, but a lot of people have had lot of obstacles and still managed to get good grades and a good LSAT). But your addenda won't get you into a school where you are below both medians. If you can take your experience and turn it into a compelling PS that references the tragedies while explaining why you want ot be a lawyer, maybe you'll have a shot at some schools where you a bit below the medians. But you won't be getting into any schools worth going to with your current numbers, regardless of the type and quality of your addenda. That is why TCR is retake or don't go.

BTW, I wouldn't bother with an addendum about grad school unless schools ask about it specifically. People write addenda about low undergrad GPAs and LSATs bc those matter for admissions. Your grad GPA doesn't matter at all. You want to minimize the number of addenda, so only write the necessary ones.

09042014
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby 09042014 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:03 pm

The PTSD explanation for UG grades is probably the best addendum you have. It's something that makes sense and it's something they will be wondering about.

Forget the Master's addendum. They won't care it took you a long time, that is common. And your excuse is stupid anyway.

And also forget the LSAT addendum. Not only did you take a prep class (which means you prepped more than most people) but you can still retake. You did poorly because you had to do paperwork for your mom? That makes you sound stupid.

I don't see where your husbands death comes into this? It was after college right? You just don't write an addendum saying, "My husband died, feel sorry." You can probably make kick ass personal statement about it though. I'd go that route.

Good luck!

XLogic
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby XLogic » Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:21 pm

@Desert Fox, I agree that an LSAT addendum is not required for one score.

Take it again, and if the difference between the two scores is greater than 6 or 7, then I would advise that you include an addendum explaining the difference. Prepped harder, smarter?

If you take it three times, with considerable difference among scores, I would also include an addendum.

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suralin
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby suralin » Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:26 pm

Desert Fox wrote:The PTSD explanation for UG grades is probably the best addendum you have. It's something that makes sense and it's something they will be wondering about.

Forget the Master's addendum. They won't care it took you a long time, that is common. And your excuse is stupid anyway.

And also forget the LSAT addendum. Not only did you take a prep class (which means you prepped more than most people) but you can still retake. You did poorly because you had to do paperwork for your mom? That makes you sound stupid.

I don't see where your husbands death comes into this? It was after college right? You just don't write an addendum saying, "My husband died, feel sorry." You can probably make kick ass personal statement about it though. I'd go that route.

Good luck!

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dingbat
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby dingbat » Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:30 pm

XLogic wrote:@Desert Fox, I agree that an LSAT addendum is not required for one score.

Take it again, and if the difference between the two scores is greater than 6 or 7, then I would advise that you include an addendum explaining the difference. Prepped harder, smarter?

If you take it three times, with considerable difference among scores, I would also include an addendum.

I think that if the second score is significantly higher than the first score, the results speak for themselves and there's no need for an addendum

XLogic
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Re: At What Point Do Addenda Become Excuses?

Postby XLogic » Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:39 pm

@dingbat, now that I think about it, I tend to agree with you on the point.

The LSAT addendum would make the most sense if, for example, you ended up with 156, 161, 167.

At least, that was the advice I received from an adcomm member of a T-20 law school.




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