Building soft elements

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Unshake
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Building soft elements

Postby Unshake » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:11 pm

I've been slowly trying to prepare for applying to law school and the LSAT, but if I were to apply today my application would severely lack soft factors. I know these are the least important, but the difference between having terrible softs and OK softs seems to be a small amount of work.

So I guess my question is, what would you do if you had about 6-7 months left to build a solid application from the soft standpoint? Join clubs? Volunteer? Apply for lots of 1-2 month interns?

I've had some volunteer experience, but nothing extraordinary by any measure, and nothing in the last 1.5 years. I haven't worked any impressive/real jobs during college either, standard lab job and nothing more.

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pjo
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Re: Building soft elements

Postby pjo » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:17 pm

I'm not an expert or anything on this but from what I've heard unless your softs are something incredible it doesn't really matter so much what they are. What matters is that you have SOMETHING on your app. Like a list of some softs may not get you in, but a lack of them could potentially waitlist you. With 6 months, I would just concentrate on 2, maybe 3 things but really devote some time to them. They're always good to explore in more detail in your personal statement.

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neimanmarxist
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Re: Building soft elements

Postby neimanmarxist » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:21 pm

the books I've read about admissions all say that public service is always duly noted. Other things not so much.

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WhiskeyGuy
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Re: Building soft elements

Postby WhiskeyGuy » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:26 pm

First and foremost, you need to find something about which you are passionate. Identify a social ailment you want to resolve and then find a way to resolve that ailment through volunteering or even employment.

astro1819
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Re: Building soft elements

Postby astro1819 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:29 pm

Pick one endeavor that you can devote a considerable amount of time to. Try to make it relate to your background and to your reasons for attending law school. It's my impression that the only softs that truly matter are the ones that you can write about and that tie into the story you tell in your application. And get started! If you really want to be able to speak about it in your application (whether in the PS or on a resume), you should give yourself maximum amount of time to reflect on the experience.

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algren
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Re: Building soft elements

Postby algren » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:00 pm

pjo wrote:I'm not an expert or anything on this but from what I've heard unless your softs are something incredible it doesn't really matter so much what they are.


Softs do matter. They're not GPA or an LSAT score, but once you have these scores you will likely find yourself in competition with other people in the same score range.

In other words softs likely won't make the difference between going to Yale and going to the University of Florida, but if you get a 160 and really want into Florida, they tell the admissions committee why you are more suited for their school than someone else with a 160.

WhiskeyGuy wrote:First and foremost, you need to find something about which you are passionate. Identify a social ailment you want to resolve and then find a way to resolve that ailment through volunteering or even employment.


I couldn't agree with this more. Your life, like every life, is a narrative. Softs are what makes your life interesting, fufilling, and ultimately worthwhile. I think you'll find if you take WhiskeyGuy's approach that not only will you have a better set of softs for law school applications, but you'll feel rewarded in other, arguably more important ways for your efforts.

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badwithpseudonyms
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Re: Building soft elements

Postby badwithpseudonyms » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:07 pm

astro1819 wrote:Pick one endeavor that you can devote a considerable amount of time to. Try to make it relate to your background and to your reasons for attending law school. It's my impression that the only softs that truly matter are the ones that you can write about and that tie into the story you tell in your application. And get started! If you really want to be able to speak about it in your application (whether in the PS or on a resume), you should give yourself maximum amount of time to reflect on the experience.


THIS. (e.g. You were homeless. Now you tutor/mentor homeless children. You want to work urban policy/planning or something. < Easy PS) The other key is to figuring out how you will be perceived on paper and using it to your advantage. (e.g. As of now, you come off as sort of a slacker. :wink: )

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LawandOrder
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Re: Building soft elements

Postby LawandOrder » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:09 pm

I'd study for the LSAT.

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algren
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Re: Building soft elements

Postby algren » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:49 pm

LawandOrder wrote:I'd study for the LSAT.


Hahaha. The OP asked about softs, so I answered his question directly..... but........

TITCR.

Unshake
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Re: Building soft elements

Postby Unshake » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:35 pm

LawandOrder wrote:I'd study for the LSAT.


I feel like it's too early and I'll run out of material or get burnt out if I start now, but yes I did consider this. So en lieu of direct studying I've been trying to read dense material each night (The Economist or scientific journals, generally) and have read a book on each informal and formal logic (although the latter seems much less useful). A little off topic, but I'd recommend reading Walton's book on informal logic for those who enjoy logic or are studying for the LSAT even though I can't say much about its use on the LSAT it was at a minimum an interesting read.

So it seems like, besides not mattering, service sounds like the best option.

astro1819
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Re: Building soft elements

Postby astro1819 » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:32 am

Unshake wrote:
LawandOrder wrote:I'd study for the LSAT.


I feel like it's too early and I'll run out of material or get burnt out if I start now, but yes I did consider this. So en lieu of direct studying I've been trying to read dense material each night (The Economist or scientific journals, generally) and have read a book on each informal and formal logic (although the latter seems much less useful). A little off topic, but I'd recommend reading Walton's book on informal logic for those who enjoy logic or are studying for the LSAT even though I can't say much about its use on the LSAT it was at a minimum an interesting read.

So it seems like, besides not mattering, service sounds like the best option.


Service works, but a significant work experience would work as well (internship, research assistance, something out of the ordinary). Also, I've never been convinced that reading the Economist helps with RC. My best suggestion is to just practice the real RC passages again and again -- the questions are just as important as the passage itself. Also, the Economist is written for a general audience, in a journalistic style, so I would hardly call it "dense" material.

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kurla88
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Re: Building soft elements

Postby kurla88 » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:44 am

Volunteer experience and a lab job are a great start. I would just find out about volunteer opportunities through your school and try to put in a lot of hours at a single organization. Also/alternatively, if you join some kind of volunteer-work club and put in time the rest of this semester, you might be able to snag a leadership role for next year, which always looks nice on the resume.

It would be best if it's something you want to be involved with as a lawyer - e.g.: volunteering at a homeless shelter and then writing in your PS how you want to use your law degree to fight homelessness/poverty etc. But even if it's just random volunteer work that's good.

I don't know if Legal Aid type groups take UG interns, but might be a good option.




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