Bad/Good/Great Softs

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PartyOfOne
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Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby PartyOfOne » Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:51 pm

There's a lot of talking around this issue but not a lot of direct discussion of it. What achievements constitute bad, good, and great softs, and how much of an impact do they make? Most TLSers seem to think softs are a secondary consideration and the admissions process is mostly a numbers game. But one has to think softs can and often do overshadow relatively weaker GPAs or LSATs. As others have pointed out, Yale doesn't admit only 4.0, 180s - even though they probably could.

What are examples of bad, good, and great softs? What kinds of work experience are truly exceptional? Any TLS applicants out there who were admitted to reach schools that want to share the softs that lifted you? What kind of softs might get solid but unspectacular hard numbers (say, 3.5/170) into HYSCCN?

I'm not looking for overblown stuff here. Obviously I figure Nobel prize winners, multiple Olympic gold medalists, and the founders of Facebook have a good shot regardless of their numbers. I also don't think "having a great PS" qualifies as a legitimate soft. I would suggest that most great PS describe outstanding softs - in fact it's the other softs that generally make the PS great in the first place.

I apologize if this subject has been completely exhausted in earlier threads. So if someone can just refer me to a thread, I can go about my way.

Thanks.

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Mr. Matlock
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby Mr. Matlock » Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:55 pm

PartyOfOne wrote:There's a lot of talking around this issue but not a lot of direct discussion of it. What achievements constitute bad, good, and great softs, and how much of an impact do they make? Most TLSers seem to think softs are a secondary consideration and the admissions process is mostly a numbers game. But one has to think softs can and often do overshadow relatively weaker GPAs or LSATs. As others have pointed out, Yale doesn't admit only 4.0, 180s - even though they probably could.

What are examples of bad, good, and great softs? What kinds of work experience are truly exceptional? Any TLS applicants out there who were admitted to reach schools that want to share the softs that lifted you? What kind of softs might get solid but unspectacular hard numbers (say, 3.5/170) into HYSCCN?

I'm not looking for overblown stuff here. Obviously I figure Nobel prize winners, multiple Olympic gold medalists, and the founders of Facebook have a good shot regardless of their numbers. I also don't think "having a great PS" qualifies as a legitimate soft. I would suggest that most great PS describe outstanding softs - in fact it's the other softs that generally make the PS great in the first place.

I apologize if this subject has been completely exhausted in earlier threads. So if someone can just refer me to a thread, I can go about my way.

Thanks.

Upper left hand of the forum is a box that says "Search Forum". Type in "good, bad, softs", get a drink, some snacks, and enjoy.

PartyOfOne
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby PartyOfOne » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:08 pm

Yes, I had done that. I found one thread where someone posted a long list of achievements which could be considered as "soft factors," but little was offered in the way of teasing out the relative value or impact of these factors.

Beyond that, I've seen many threads where various individual's soft factors are analyzed. These are helpful, but I'm wondering if anyone has developed a broader synthesized theory on the impact of soft factors generally.

PartyOfOne
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby PartyOfOne » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:17 pm

Not trying to bump here, but the answer to this question would probably be very enlightening:

If you are an HYS student or admit reading this, and you had either a sub-175 LSAT or a sub-3.8 GPA - would you care to tell us about your soft factors?

(I know there won't be many of these people out there.)

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bees
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby bees » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:18 pm

There are an incredibly small number of softs (curing cancer) that will make adcoms look past your LSAT and GPA. Sorry, but there is no way to put a relative value on "soft" factors. Do you want to know how much more valuable a government internship is that 5 years of WE in accounting? Or how much better president of your sorority looks than volunteering at a soup kitchen once a week? There is no way to know and the bottom line is that they don't matter enough to warrant trying to make any sort of distinction.

Show adcoms that you have been active in doing what you enjoy and haven't been sitting on your ass your whole life. Write a PS that shows your worth as a human being. If the whole "wholistic admissions" process is a real thing, then you should be more worried about illustrating you who are throughout your entire application than thinking there is a magic soft that will get you a tiny boost. It doesn't work in the way that volunteering is a +1, TFA is a +2, but working at a call center is a -1, while working full time during UG is a +1.5. Sorry?

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sophia.olive
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby sophia.olive » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:28 pm

all guesses

#1 urm, know people who know people, related to large donor #2 great work experience, well known firm, bank, government job, turn in all the paper work early and well written #3 volunteer work for well known agency, teach for america, peace corps, etc. #4 world experience, teaching abroad, studying abroad, growing up abroad. polyglot #5 student organizations related to law > not related to law #6 prestige of UG, major, minor

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jks289
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby jks289 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:30 pm

For the most part you aren't going to get good advice about softs on this website. Generally law school admission is a numbers games. Beyond that there are common attributes (study abroad, internships, etc) and unusual attributes. The more unusual and impressive the better. However the only "bad" soft is to have done nothing at all outside of school. I think one "soft" people tend to underestimate is demonstrated writing skills. A quick search of this website will show that many people with decent numbers cannot form a coherent sentence in English, much less write an essay with thematic focus and direction that shows some talent for written advocacy.

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prezidentv8
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby prezidentv8 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:30 pm

Eh, I'll bite. Not in any particular order of relevance or helpfulness, and certainly not encompassing what every school looks at, here's my impression of what may help out a borderline candidate (note that others disagree on many of these):

military
good work experience (supporting self sort of stuff, especially in prestige jobs)
TFA or similar long term community or public service
quality of undergrad
URM (not really a soft, but still)
economic or personal difficulty, reflected in PS/DS
leadership positions (student gov, etc.)
geography (where you're from or have been)
hard major/degree/other educational glitter

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sophia.olive
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby sophia.olive » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:37 pm

that is all speculation on the 1% (apart from #1) in the admissions processes that is related to softs. I think everyone who is applying to t14 probably has good softs, organizations, WE, volunteer..... However I find it hard to believe that a black man that speaks fluent mandarin, has a median gpa but a 4.0 in their last 2 years, worked full time throughout ug, wont get a nice softs boost.

PartyOfOne
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby PartyOfOne » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:39 pm

I know there is no magic bullet out there. I also understand that softs by definition cannot be quantified, so I know there can't be a firm rankings or +1/-1 system. I probably misspoke in my first post when I asked for relative value and may have been on the wrong side of the spectrum when I asked for a generalized theory.

Theories are anyone's guess - actual anecdotes are not. More revealing than a ranking system, as I said in subsequent posts, would be to know the softs of admitted students who had less than overwhelming numbers. These specific examples would be more informative than trying to classify something that is inherently not classifiable.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:44 pm

I have a friend who got into YLS with a sub-25th GPA and an LSAT between the medians (not a URM). His softs included:

-HYP undergrad
-Division I football player (though I-AA, not I-A), with league rookie of the year, several academic all american awards, and several first team all-league awards. Finalist for a more prestigious national student-athlete award.
-At graduation won the "best male athlete" (not necessarily pure athletic ability - it's one of those "total contribution" awards) and "commitment to public service" awards (one of 4 or 5 people to get this award)
-Internship and 1 year WE with legal aid.
-Various church involvement.

In my opinion, well deserved. Aside from what the softs say about him, you could argue that if he did not have football 25 hours per week, his GPA would have been a good deal higher.

PartyOfOne
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby PartyOfOne » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:46 pm

Exactly what I'm looking for, imchuckbass58. Very informative. Thanks.

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BruceBarr
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby BruceBarr » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:59 pm

You'll find that the overwhelming majority of this the people on this site believe that softs don't get you in to law school, but your LSAT and GPA do. While this is very true, I disagree very strongly with the majority opinion. You see, on this site you often have a bunch of undergraduates giving advice to undergraduates. Often is the case that nobody REALLY knows what they are talking about. I've found from my personal experience that softs can be a significant part of the application process. So far I've gotten two %50 scholarships at schools where I fall below the 50th percentile, and two %25 scholarships where I'm at the 25th percentile. That's not common... at all. I, however, had a knock-dead personal statement that was very well written and a load of softs that are both uncommon and intriguing.

So if you have good softs combined with a solid LSAT and GPA, you are going to have a very strong and unpredictable application cycle. But the softs will be the boost to get you into schools your numbers don't qualify you for.

09042014
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby 09042014 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:01 pm

BruceBarr wrote:You'll find that the overwhelming majority of this the people on this site believe that softs don't get you in to law school, but your LSAT and GPA do. While this is very true, I disagree very strongly with the majority opinion. You see, on this site you often have a bunch of undergraduates giving advice to undergraduates. Often is the case that nobody REALLY knows what they are talking about. I've found from my personal experience that softs can be a significant part of the application process. So far I've gotten two %50 scholarships at schools where I fall below the 50th percentile, and two %25 scholarships where I'm at the 25th percentile. That's not common... at all. I, however, had a knock-dead personal statement that was very well written and a load of softs that are both uncommon and intriguing.

So if you have good softs combined with a solid LSAT and GPA, you are going to have a very strong and unpredictable application cycle. But the softs will be the boost to get you into schools your numbers don't qualify you for.


There are two medians. I'm guessing you are above the LSAT median but below the gpa one. Am I right?

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jack duluoz
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby jack duluoz » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:03 pm

bad soft= dui
good soft= masters degree
great soft= urm, cured cancer/aids, family donated lots of money

hope this helps!

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BruceBarr
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby BruceBarr » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:03 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
BruceBarr wrote:You'll find that the overwhelming majority of this the people on this site believe that softs don't get you in to law school, but your LSAT and GPA do. While this is very true, I disagree very strongly with the majority opinion. You see, on this site you often have a bunch of undergraduates giving advice to undergraduates. Often is the case that nobody REALLY knows what they are talking about. I've found from my personal experience that softs can be a significant part of the application process. So far I've gotten two %50 scholarships at schools where I fall below the 50th percentile, and two %25 scholarships where I'm at the 25th percentile. That's not common... at all. I, however, had a knock-dead personal statement that was very well written and a load of softs that are both uncommon and intriguing.

So if you have good softs combined with a solid LSAT and GPA, you are going to have a very strong and unpredictable application cycle. But the softs will be the boost to get you into schools your numbers don't qualify you for.


There are two medians. I'm guessing you are above the LSAT median but below the gpa one. Am I right?



Between 40 - 50% LSAT range at both. Nothing special.

EDIT: And GPA's are "So far I've gotten two %50 scholarships at schools where I fall below the 50th percentile, and two %25 scholarships where I'm at the 25th percentile."

09042014
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby 09042014 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:05 pm

At a school you pretty much fall into four categoires

AutoAdmit - if you don't have a huge negative you are in. Softs don't matter.

Reach - You might be in but only if the adcom likes you. For this category softs are everything.

Target - If are most likely in based on numbers, but if the adcom gets a bad feel you get dinged. Here softs don't matter if you have an okay LOR and PS. But they help

Auto Deny - they only read your application to check if you are a URM or if you cured cancer. Only epic softs matter. This is usually when you fall below both medians.

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BruceBarr
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby BruceBarr » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:08 pm

Desert Fox wrote:At a school you pretty much fall into four categoires

AutoAdmit - if you don't have a huge negative you are in. Softs don't matter.

Reach - You might be in but only if the adcom likes you. For this category softs are everything.

Target - If are most likely in based on numbers, but if the adcom gets a bad feel you get dinged. Here softs don't matter if you have an okay LOR and PS. But they help

Auto Deny - they only read your application to check if you are a URM or if you cured cancer. Only epic softs matter. This is usually when you fall below both medians.



Bingo.

PartyOfOne
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby PartyOfOne » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:14 pm

Bruce - Our own bias may be working here, but I think (and hope) you're right.

There's no denying that LSATs and GPA are important, and as the numbers go down the softs have to get exponentially more impressive in order to offset the lower numbers. But the fact is that GPA and LSATs are not the real world. I imagine adcomms are looking for applicants that will not only make good students, but great graduates one day. An applicant with a demonstrated record of real-world success seems a surer bet than your dime-a-dozen GPA star or even your standardized test genius, provided of course they are at least in the ballpark with regard to hard numbers.

Like you said, most TLSers don't really see it that way. But I guess we will find out here soon enough.

09042014
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby 09042014 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:16 pm

PartyOfOne wrote:Bruce - Our own bias may be working here, but I think (and hope) you're right.

There's no denying that LSATs and GPA are important, and as the numbers go down the softs have to get exponentially more impressive in order to offset the lower numbers. But the fact is that GPA and LSATs are not the real world. I imagine adcomms are looking for applicants that will not only make good students, but great graduates one day. An applicant with a demonstrated record of real-world success seems a surer bet than your dime-a-dozen GPA star or even your standardized test genius, provided of course they are at least in the ballpark with regard to hard numbers.

Like you said, most TLSers don't really see it that way. But I guess we will find out here soon enough.


If you aren't at least at one median(LSAT or GPA), you are probably not getting in unless you did something amazing. And Teach for America doesn't cut it.

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Dany
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby Dany » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:23 pm

The answer to this question is really very simple. A "good soft" is a good soft, if it meets two criteria.

1) It is rare. Rhodes scholar, olympic medal, started a very successful company at a young age, etc. These are not things everyone can do. Honor societies do not count. Sororities do not count. You get the idea.

2) You can articulate it well. A cohesive and convincing story about goals you've accomplished or great things you've done is vital to having an admissions committee a) understand what it is you've accomplished, and b) that you can get your point across in writing (in a personal statement, additional essay, or resume.)

And yes, this subject has been exhausted in earlier threads.

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TheLuckyOne
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby TheLuckyOne » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:30 pm

BruceBarr wrote:You'll find that the overwhelming majority of this the people on this site believe that softs don't get you in to law school, but your LSAT and GPA do. While this is very true, I disagree very strongly with the majority opinion. You see, on this site you often have a bunch of undergraduates giving advice to undergraduates. Often is the case that nobody REALLY knows what they are talking about. I've found from my personal experience that softs can be a significant part of the application process. So far I've gotten two %50 scholarships at schools where I fall below the 50th percentile, and two %25 scholarships where I'm at the 25th percentile. That's not common... at all. I, however, had a knock-dead personal statement that was very well written and a load of softs that are both uncommon and intriguing.

So if you have good softs combined with a solid LSAT and GPA, you are going to have a very strong and unpredictable application cycle. But the softs will be the boost to get you into schools your numbers don't qualify you for.


Totally agree.

I know no more than any 0L here on TLS knows, but I have hard time believing softs don't matter especially at top schools. There have been quite a few occasions when perfect scores got dinged from a school, and I don't see any other reason, but a bad soft and no softs at all. Even though, it's hard to tell for sure, I'm certain softs play more than most folks here tend to think.

Look at statistics if you don't believe me. 178/3.8 are not auto-admits at HYS and some even never get accepted.

By the way, I also want to hear some stories.

eskimo wrote:The answer to this question is really very simple. A "good soft" is a good soft, if it meets two criteria.

1) It is rare. Rhodes scholar, olympic medal, started a very successful company at a young age, etc. These are not things everyone can do. Honor societies do not count. Sororities do not count. You get the idea.


This reminds me of that genious, I think he was Chinese. Does anyone remember who I'm talking about?

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UFMatt
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby UFMatt » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:37 pm

Barring any surprises, my cycle is going exactly as predicted in terms of acceptances. I do feel, however, that my PhD has gotten me a bit more scholarship money than I otherwise might have gotten (looking at LSN). I think the single most important criterion for a soft is whether it will be benefit the school in a tangible way. With my science background, I'll have a strong shot at a high-paying IP law job. This, in turn, can help the school's placement stats and thus their USNWR. Someone else with, let's say, powerful political/business connections also would have a stronger shot than most at landing a solid job, helping the school in a similar manner. I think that is the key to determining strong softs, but of course this is merely speculation on my part. The bottom line is that you want strong stats so that you don't have to hope that your softs sneak you in.

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TheLuckyOne
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby TheLuckyOne » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:38 pm

There you go: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=95013

Sit down before reading that..


Here is some other thread on topic: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=95024
Last edited by TheLuckyOne on Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Dany
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Re: Bad/Good/Great Softs

Postby Dany » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:39 pm

TheLuckyOne wrote:
eskimo wrote:The answer to this question is really very simple. A "good soft" is a good soft, if it meets two criteria.

1) It is rare. Rhodes scholar, olympic medal, started a very successful company at a young age, etc. These are not things everyone can do. Honor societies do not count. Sororities do not count. You get the idea.


This reminds me of that genious, I think he was Chinese. Does anyone remember who I'm talking about?

Yes, I know what you're talking about, but can't for the life of me remember the specifics. Grr.




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