what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

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tdicks
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what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby tdicks » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:36 pm

i'm new to all this application stuff and am trying to get a handle on where i stand. i see terms like "strong softs" and "weak softs" thrown around a lot, and am just wondering what kinds of things fall into these categories? so far it seems like strong softs are basically curing cancer or winning the nobel prize. i guess i get that, as you're trying to make yourself stand out among a really strong applicant pool, but then what are decent softs? if i have the numbers to get into a school, but crap softs, how much will that hurt my chances? for that matter, what exactly is a soft? just things on your application/resume that aren't your gpa or lsat score?

sorry if this is a duplicate, i tried to search but with all the posts talking about softs i just gave up.

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glitter178
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby glitter178 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:38 pm

tdicks wrote:i'm new to all this application stuff and am trying to get a handle on where i stand. i see terms like "strong softs" and "weak softs" thrown around a lot, and am just wondering what kinds of things fall into these categories? so far it seems like strong softs are basically curing cancer or winning the nobel prize. i guess i get that, as you're trying to make yourself stand out among a really strong applicant pool, but then what are decent softs? if i have the numbers to get into a school, but crap softs, how much will that hurt my chances? for that matter, what exactly is a soft? just things on your application/resume that aren't your gpa or lsat score?

sorry if this is a duplicate, i tried to search but with all the posts talking about softs i just gave up.


pretty much everything is a weak soft. working 70 hours a week through undergrad isn't a good soft, like many people seem to think.
single-handedly building a space shuttle and then riding said shuttle to the moon, solo? decent soft.

GPA and LSAT are all that matter.

cold_logic
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby cold_logic » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:43 pm

But recognizing that any soft will be trumped by numbers, we can still label softs as "strong" and "weak" relative to each other. I think there's a more interesting answer here than "All softs are weak", and I'd like to hear it.

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dpk711
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby dpk711 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:44 pm

Unless you we're the president of Trinidad or Tobago, softs won't overcome a poor LSAT/GPA.

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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby Straw_Mandible » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:48 pm

dpk711 wrote:softs won't overcome a poor LSAT/GPA.


I think that point is clear, but we can still rate how certain softs might fare against others among applicants with comparable numbers. That's what the OP is interested in.

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glitter178
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby glitter178 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:51 pm

Straw_Mandible wrote:
dpk711 wrote:softs won't overcome a poor LSAT/GPA.


I think that point is clear, but we can still rate how certain softs might fare against others among applicants with comparable numbers. That's what the OP is interested in.


The OP seems interested in knowing if lack of softs (or lack of good softs) are going to result in a bad cycle despite competitive numbers. The answer is no.

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dpk711
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby dpk711 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:52 pm

glitter178 wrote:
Straw_Mandible wrote:
dpk711 wrote:softs won't overcome a poor LSAT/GPA.


I think that point is clear, but we can still rate how certain softs might fare against others among applicants with comparable numbers. That's what the OP is interested in.


The OP seems interested in knowing if lack of softs (or lack of good softs) are going to result in a bad cycle despite competitive numbers. The answer is no.

exactement

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:52 pm

Something I have learnt from forums like this is that perhaps 90% of people seem to believe they have above average softs. People seem to think that working during college is a good soft, or being in a frat, or playing in a local sports league, or volunteering for a week or two part time over summer.

I came across a profile on LSN yesterday for someone who had worked as an editor of a well known regional newspaper and won national awards for her writing. That struck me as a genuinely good soft, and her results seemed to indicate that it helped her slightly over-perform her numbers.

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Deuce
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby Deuce » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:54 pm

It might hurt you a little if your resume is completely blank, but it won't help you much/at all if you were president of xyz student organization.

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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby expat17 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:01 pm

Deuce wrote:It might hurt you a little if your resume is completely blank, but it won't help you much/at all if you were president of xyz student organization.



i agree. IMO, the most useless softs: frats/sororities, student clubs (student anythings, really), TAs, volunteer work (unless it was Peace Corps or something slightly more committed), mock trials, interning/paralegal-ing at law firms, working at your local senator's congressman's office ... you see where i'm going.

award winning writer? good soft. so is professional opera singer. emmy award winner. innovative engineer or tech developer. war reporter. conservationist/science researcher who's discovered a new species of some bug i don't care about or a way to speak with dolphins. all of these are genuinely interesting softs, but there is a common thread here: it's people who have followed their passions and are genuinely successful, interesting, and/or different in their fields. no amount of resume-padding can produce this, it just happens because people lead focused lives, and thus, apply to law schools with narratives that bring a different voice.

i know softs get a lot of trash on this board, but there are definitely a few schools that look favorably upon some of these stronger softs, to the point that you may be able to overcome the predetermination of your numbers by, say, .3 of a GPA point and/or 3-6 LSAT points. if you have the numbers for a school you want, will you get punished for not having these strong softs? likely not. but you won't get that potential reward either.

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tdicks
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby tdicks » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:10 pm

thanks for all the replies! i haven't discovered any new species, but i haven't been under a rock, either. i guess i'll stop worrying about softs for now and go back to obsessing over my lsat studies :)

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sanetruth
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby sanetruth » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:16 pm

I know people might disagree with me here, but I think there are some 'softs' that are purely intrinsic or circumstantial, aka not purely an extracurricular activity, which schools like, such as growing up in a foreign country or coming from a non-traditional UG (conservatory of music, deep springs [if you don't know what deep springs college is look it up]).

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SemperLegal
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby SemperLegal » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:21 pm

I think I slightly outperformed my numbers (and crushed my numbers at NU) due to my one soft. Pretty sure my handle gives away what that is.

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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby bdubs » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:23 pm

An important soft for some schools is that you have prior WE. Having 1-2 years (or more) of experience in a substantive post-graduate job seems to be the tie breaker now at a number of top schools.

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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby unc0mm0n1 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:23 pm

SemperLegal wrote:I think I slightly outperformed my numbers (and crushed my numbers at NU) due to my one soft. Pretty sure my handle gives away what that is.


Nice. I'm Army I think that helped me a lot. I got a pretty special award from the Army as well so I most definately think that helped. (Not Medal of Honor but still pretty cool)

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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby flpackerfan » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:24 pm

If all you're submitting is an LSAT score and a GPA both around the medians, you're going to be at a disadvantage against other applicants who have similar numbers and decent softs. How else would schools make decisions between those people?

I would define a decent soft as anything that would set you apart from most people, but actually require some commitment and work to achieve.
Last edited by flpackerfan on Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

parsi
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby parsi » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:27 pm

dpk711 wrote:Unless you were the president of Trinidad and Tobago, softs won't overcome a poor LSAT/GPA.


FTFY...

Is Phi Beta Kappa a decent soft/worth anything?

Ive already been accepted to LS, but I just got an email the other day saying I was invited to join and am not sure if its even worth it at this point

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St.Remy
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby St.Remy » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:31 pm

My softs were nothing special, I didn't really have many extracurriculars and I spend a couple summers doing nothing. It didn't change my cycle at all so far as I can tell.

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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby 03121202698008 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:33 pm

Being a veteran helped me...both with admission and $ (not including GI bill).

06162014123
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Postby 06162014123 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:34 pm

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Last edited by 06162014123 on Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby firemed » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:35 pm

AntipodeanPhil wrote:Something I have learnt from forums like this is that perhaps 90% of people seem to believe they have above average softs. People seem to think that working during college is a good soft, or being in a frat, or playing in a local sports league, or volunteering for a week or two part time over summer.

I came across a profile on LSN yesterday for someone who had worked as an editor of a well known regional newspaper and won national awards for her writing. That struck me as a genuinely good soft, and her results seemed to indicate that it helped her slightly over-perform her numbers.



I know someone on here who wrote a book (I have it on my wishlist on Amazon, so it is for reals) and also overcame significant hardship (srs bsns) in their life.... it seemed to help that person outperform their numbers.


I have noticed softs help with scholarship $$, splitters, and people just below the median. It is also a great tie-breaker... people with similar numbers will be judged on their softs. I haven't really noticed it anywhere else. The below is entirely my opinion, based off what I have seen this cycle for myself and others...

Great softs: Political office at a state or higher level, Nobel Prize, olympic or professional athletics, published author of national or international renown (ditto for artist of same caliber), having received the Congressional Medal of Honor, curing a disease, etc.

Good soft: published author, PhD, overcoming a life-threatening illness, starting a charity, having survived genocide or some other heart-breaking condition, saving babies in the DRC with the UN, etc.

Decent soft: Work experience, Military service, or significant volunteer experience with a reputable charity or NGO, great athletic performance at the college level while maintaining grades, etc.

Weak soft: In a Frat, volunteered for a semester somewhere, on a college team as a benchwarmer for one season, etc.

Keep in mind that these can be combined. Ie: significant work experience combined with overcoming a serious illness plus a semester of volunteer work would count as a great soft.

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SemperLegal
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby SemperLegal » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:37 pm

unc0mm0n1 wrote:
Nice. I'm Army I think that helped me a lot. I got a pretty special award from the Army as well so I most definitely think that helped. (Not Medal of Honor but still pretty cool)


Firstly nice to "meet" two more T14 veterans, especially one who broke into the Trinity, it makes all of our brothers and sister veterans look good.

My military career was less distinguished, and I decided not to have my squad leader write a LOR due to his extremely poor grasp of the English language (in retrospect, probably a mistake.)

However, my experiences did provide good PS fodder and certainly helped in the two interviews I did (both admits at the next decision date).

From my anecdotal experience on this board and on LSN, military service is one of the very few softs that makes an appreciable difference across the board, but only the equivalent of 1-2 LSAT points.

EDIT: To include blowhard

EDIT: There's no such thing as the Congressional Medal of Honor, there's a Medal of Honor and a Congressional Gold Medal, two very different things.
Last edited by SemperLegal on Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby jrockstar80 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:38 pm

expat17 wrote:
award winning writer? good soft. so is professional opera singer. emmy award winner. innovative engineer or tech developer. war reporter. conservationist/science researcher who's discovered a new species of some bug i don't care about or a way to speak with dolphins. all of these are genuinely interesting softs, but there is a common thread here: it's people who have followed their passions and are genuinely successful, interesting, and/or different in their fields. no amount of resume-padding can produce this, it just happens because people lead focused lives, and thus, apply to law schools with narratives that bring a different voice.



agreed with the boldface part of this quote - leading a focused life that leads you naturally to law school as the extension of your passion is pretty much the kind of soft they're looking for (aside from the obvious people that have cured cancer etc). however, i don't agree that you need to win a major award or make some sort of important discovery. i didn't, and i vastly outperformed my numbers because my softs demonstrated that i have a career-long commitment to the area of law i intend to practice.

06162014123
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Postby 06162014123 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:41 pm

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unc0mm0n1
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Re: what are strong softs/decent softs/weak softs?

Postby unc0mm0n1 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:50 pm

SemperLegal wrote:
unc0mm0n1 wrote:
Nice. I'm Army I think that helped me a lot. I got a pretty special award from the Army as well so I most definitely think that helped. (Not Medal of Honor but still pretty cool)


Firstly nice to "meet" two more T14 veterans, especially one who broke into the Trinity, it makes all of our brothers and sister veterans look good.

My military career was less distinguished, and I decided not to have my squad leader write a LOR due to his extremely poor grasp of the English language (in retrospect, probably a mistake.)

However, my experiences did provide good PS fodder and certainly helped in the two interviews I did (both admits at the next decision date).

From my anecdotal experience on this board and on LSN, military service is one of the very few softs that makes an appreciable difference across the board, but only the equivalent of 1-2 LSAT points.

EDIT: To include blowhard

EDIT: There's no such thing as the Congressional Medal of Honor, there's a Medal of Honor and a Congressional Gold Medal, two very different things.


I had the regimental SGM of the JAG Corps write me a letter of reccomendation, I was deployed with him for almost a year. And he did the write up for my award.




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