"Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
User avatar
3v3ryth1ng
Posts: 295
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:48 pm

"Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:14 pm

I am 28. I finished undergrad in 2006. Since then, I've earned an MA (in education) with a grad gpa of 3.99. I've been teaching English in the inner city for 4 years, and I'm now the English department chair at my school. By many objective measures, I have been very successful at my job, and I've even earned our school some high-profile media exposure for our test scores and dramatic increases in achievement.

Here's my question:

How much will "soft" factors such as those described above impact an application that is "on the brink?"

My hard numbers should look something like this:
LSAT- 160-163 (projected score)
Undergrad GPA- 3.3 (UCI)

My soft factors include:
-MA in Education (USC), 3.99 gpa.
-4 years hs teaching experience with leadership positions.
-Internship at public defender's office (in 2007).
-Strong LOR's (validating claims made above).

Assuming I have a personal statement that is great (stands out, well-written, high above average), what are my chances at the following schools, and to what extent would the "soft" factors affect my acceptance?

Loyola
Hastings
UCI
UCLA

I know hard numbers determine almost everything, but does the fact that I have a track record of real-world success change anything? How would I fare in a pool of new undergraduates with no real-world experience, but slightly higher hard numbers?

User avatar
fatduck
Posts: 4186
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:16 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby fatduck » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:16 pm

you will be above-average among applicants with 3.3 gpas and no lsat scores

User avatar
ebo
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 4:49 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby ebo » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:17 pm

From what I've gathered here on TLS, softs won't do much for you unless you cured AIDS or were a contestant on the Bachelorette

scammedhard
Posts: 642
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:17 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby scammedhard » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:25 pm

Softs are like filler: one needs them, but by themselves they aren't worth much.

Your UGPA is low and, therefore, you have to score better than in the low 160s in the LSAT to make law school worthwhile. Focus on improving your LSAT score.

User avatar
cinephile
Posts: 3469
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:50 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby cinephile » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:29 pm

If you're on the brink, then yes it will help. But to get to that point aim for the highest LSAT score you can achieve.

User avatar
3v3ryth1ng
Posts: 295
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:48 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:46 pm

cinephile wrote:If you're on the brink, then yes it will help. But to get to that point aim for the highest LSAT score you can achieve.


Thank you. My question is related specifically to schools where I'd have a "shot," but not a great one. For example, by some projections, an applicant with my same gpa and a 161 has about a 5.26% chance of getting into Hastings (about 1/18). That's not a great shot, but apparently these schools DO occasionally accept people who are demonstrably competent/intelligent yet did not "slay" the LSAT. If softs make a difference in that scenario, would mine make me competitive?

P.S.- I know there are people who are children of politicians, and people who performed some one-in-a-million tasks. I mean on average.

User avatar
bport hopeful
Posts: 4913
Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:09 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby bport hopeful » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:48 pm

If you could aquirea Nobel Prize, it might help some.

scammedhard
Posts: 642
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:17 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby scammedhard » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:54 pm

3v3ryth1ng wrote:My soft factors include:
-MA in Education (USC), 3.99 gpa.
-4 years hs teaching experience with leadership positions.
-Internship at public defender's office (in 2007).
-Strong LOR's (validating claims made above).

Your softs are strong indeed.

3v3ryth1ng wrote:My question is related specifically to schools where I'd have a "shot," but not a great one. For example, by some projections, an applicant with my same gpa and a 161 has about a 5.26% chance of getting into Hastings (about 1/18). That's not a great shot, but apparently these schools DO occasionally accept people who are demonstrably competent/intelligent yet did not "slay" the LSAT. If softs make a difference in that scenario, would mine make me competitive?

But I don't think they are as strong as to get into Hastings with a 3.3/161.

scammedhard
Posts: 642
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:17 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby scammedhard » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:56 pm

bport hopeful wrote:If you could aquirea Nobel Prize, it might help some.

No Nobel winning laureate would waste his/her time on law school.

User avatar
3v3ryth1ng
Posts: 295
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:48 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:03 am

scammedhard wrote:Your softs are strong indeed.
But I don't think they are as strong as to get into Hastings with a 3.3/161.


Again, thank you for your insight, because I was seriously asking this question.

So, what are some practical things I could do in the mean time to help my application become what you would consider strong? I'm not applying for a few more months.

To the other guy: yes, if I were a nobel laureate that might change things. But if I go that route, why don't I just become president instead? I mean, since we're talking about realistic possibilities and all...

User avatar
bport hopeful
Posts: 4913
Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:09 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby bport hopeful » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:05 am

3v3ryth1ng wrote:
scammedhard wrote:Your softs are strong indeed.
But I don't think they are as strong as to get into Hastings with a 3.3/161.


Again, thank you for your insight, because I was seriously asking this question.

So, what are some practical things I could do in the mean time to help my application become what you would consider strong? I'm not applying for a few more months.

To the other guy: yes, if I were a nobel laureate that might change things. But if I go that route, why don't I just become president instead? I mean, since we're talking about realistic possibilities and all...

The honest answer to your question is retake. Thats not me being an asshole, but if you want to make your app stronger, thats what you should do.

User avatar
JamMasterJ
Posts: 6688
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:17 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby JamMasterJ » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:15 am

3v3ryth1ng wrote:
scammedhard wrote:Your softs are strong indeed.
But I don't think they are as strong as to get into Hastings with a 3.3/161.


Again, thank you for your insight, because I was seriously asking this question.

So, what are some practical things I could do in the mean time to help my application become what you would consider strong? I'm not applying for a few more months.

To the other guy: yes, if I were a nobel laureate that might change things. But if I go that route, why don't I just become president instead? I mean, since we're talking about realistic possibilities and all...

A better LSAT is truly the only thing that can do much for you. You have the life experience that schools look for in a non-trad applicant; now you need the numbers to match. It's gonna be tough to get into California schools with a lower gpa, but if you want any shot, you need a goo LSAT score.

ebo wrote:From what I've gathered here on TLS, softs won't do much for you unless you cured AIDS or were a contestant on the Bachelorette

Jersey Shore character is also credited. Seriously, one of them was in a class taught by a Manhattan LSAT tutor.

User avatar
3v3ryth1ng
Posts: 295
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:48 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:18 am

bport hopeful wrote:
3v3ryth1ng wrote:
scammedhard wrote:Your softs are strong indeed.
But I don't think they are as strong as to get into Hastings with a 3.3/161.


Again, thank you for your insight, because I was seriously asking this question.

So, what are some practical things I could do in the mean time to help my application become what you would consider strong? I'm not applying for a few more months.

To the other guy: yes, if I were a nobel laureate that might change things. But if I go that route, why don't I just become president instead? I mean, since we're talking about realistic possibilities and all...

The honest answer to your question is retake. Thats not me being an asshole, but if you want to make your app stronger, thats what you should do.


Thanks :) Well then I'll cross my fingers that it came out on the high end of my range (worst case 160, possibly as high as 166). 2 more weeks!

Thanks to anyone who chimed in.

User avatar
JamMasterJ
Posts: 6688
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:17 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby JamMasterJ » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:27 am

3v3ryth1ng wrote:
bport hopeful wrote:
3v3ryth1ng wrote:
scammedhard wrote:Your softs are strong indeed.
But I don't think they are as strong as to get into Hastings with a 3.3/161.


Again, thank you for your insight, because I was seriously asking this question.

So, what are some practical things I could do in the mean time to help my application become what you would consider strong? I'm not applying for a few more months.

To the other guy: yes, if I were a nobel laureate that might change things. But if I go that route, why don't I just become president instead? I mean, since we're talking about realistic possibilities and all...

The honest answer to your question is retake. Thats not me being an asshole, but if you want to make your app stronger, thats what you should do.


Thanks :) Well then I'll cross my fingers that it came out on the high end of my range (worst case 160, possibly as high as 166). 2 more weeks!

Thanks to anyone who chimed in.

Good luck and join us in October if it doesn't go as well as needed!

User avatar
Scott Tenorman
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:09 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby Scott Tenorman » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:32 am

3v3ryth1ng wrote:Thank you. My question is related specifically to schools where I'd have a "shot," but not a great one. For example, by some projections, an applicant with my same gpa and a 161 has about a 5.26% chance of getting into Hastings (about 1/18). That's not a great shot, but apparently these schools DO occasionally accept people who are demonstrably competent/intelligent yet did not "slay" the LSAT. If softs make a difference in that scenario, would mine make me competitive?



They accept black people with those numbers.

User avatar
Rock-N-Roll
Posts: 319
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:16 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby Rock-N-Roll » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:18 am

3v3ryth1ng wrote:I am 28. I finished undergrad in 2006. Since then, I've earned an MA (in education) with a grad gpa of 3.99. I've been teaching English in the inner city for 4 years, and I'm now the English department chair at my school. By many objective measures, I have been very successful at my job, and I've even earned our school some high-profile media exposure for our test scores and dramatic increases in achievement.

Here's my question:

How much will "soft" factors such as those described above impact an application that is "on the brink?"

My hard numbers should look something like this:
LSAT- 160-163 (projected score)
Undergrad GPA- 3.3 (UCI)

My soft factors include:
-MA in Education (USC), 3.99 gpa.
-4 years hs teaching experience with leadership positions.
-Internship at public defender's office (in 2007).
-Strong LOR's (validating claims made above).

Assuming I have a personal statement that is great (stands out, well-written, high above average), what are my chances at the following schools, and to what extent would the "soft" factors affect my acceptance?

Loyola
Hastings
UCI
UCLA

I know hard numbers determine almost everything, but does the fact that I have a track record of real-world success change anything? How would I fare in a pool of new undergraduates with no real-world experience, but slightly higher hard numbers?


I strongly believe that softs only come into play once your numbers are at or near a school's medians. Also, your graduate GPA is a non-factor as far as I know. UG only.

If you can get a 170+ it will be a game changer. TLSers this year got into T6 schools with GPAs around yours and 170+ on the LSAT.

Curious as to why you want to leave your current job? From what you write it seems that you are good at what you do and what you do is certainly really worthwhile.

User avatar
3v3ryth1ng
Posts: 295
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:48 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:42 am

Rock-N-Roll wrote:
3v3ryth1ng wrote:I am 28. I finished undergrad in 2006. Since then, I've earned an MA (in education) with a grad gpa of 3.99. I've been teaching English in the inner city for 4 years, and I'm now the English department chair at my school. By many objective measures, I have been very successful at my job, and I've even earned our school some high-profile media exposure for our test scores and dramatic increases in achievement.

Here's my question:

How much will "soft" factors such as those described above impact an application that is "on the brink?"

My hard numbers should look something like this:
LSAT- 160-163 (projected score)
Undergrad GPA- 3.3 (UCI)

My soft factors include:
-MA in Education (USC), 3.99 gpa.
-4 years hs teaching experience with leadership positions.
-Internship at public defender's office (in 2007).
-Strong LOR's (validating claims made above).

Assuming I have a personal statement that is great (stands out, well-written, high above average), what are my chances at the following schools, and to what extent would the "soft" factors affect my acceptance?

Loyola
Hastings
UCI
UCLA

I know hard numbers determine almost everything, but does the fact that I have a track record of real-world success change anything? How would I fare in a pool of new undergraduates with no real-world experience, but slightly higher hard numbers?


I strongly believe that softs only come into play once your numbers are at or near a school's medians. Also, your graduate GPA is a non-factor as far as I know. UG only.

If you can get a 170+ it will be a game changer. TLSers this year got into T6 schools with GPAs around yours and 170+ on the LSAT.

Curious as to why you want to leave your current job? From what you write it seems that you are good at what you do and what you do is certainly really worthwhile.


I love my job, and the years I've spent here are absolutely irreplaceable. However, it's an extremely emotionally taxing job that cuts deeply into my personal life. After so many years of dealing with students, once can become "burned out." However, effective teaching requires 100% passion at all times. I just can't have the same passion for the class of 2018 the same way I had passion for 2012. Further, the stress of being responsible for the order of an otherwise rambunctious group of young individuals can, at times, make one want to quit on the spot. It's also extremely political- my every action is thoroughly reviewed, assessed, commented upon and debated by all interested parties. If I succeed, the praise is short-lived. If I ever fail, the humiliation will be extremely public and the shame will be permanent. The pay isn't too great for the workload, but it's also being cut every year. Add in the commute, gas prices, the cost of living, students getting shot, getting cursed out by parents...
It's not sustainable for me. These years are very special, and I need to keep them special quitting before I end up hating this job.

As for law, intellectually, it makes sense. I could be a great lawyer. I've wanted to be a public defender for a long time. I know exactly what they do (I was there for 10 months as an intern), and I know I could do it well. I just need to get there. Could I get burned out on public defense? Yes, quite possibly. It's not as stressful as teaching though, I know for a fact, so the chances are slimmer. I will cross that bridge when I get there, as it's at least 4 years away.

User avatar
DocHawkeye
Posts: 640
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:22 am

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby DocHawkeye » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:07 am

Speaking as someone who is in a boat similar to yours - 3.3 UGPA, relatively low LSAT score (although I hope yours is better than mine), but with two grad degrees in the humanities and 4 years experience as an adjunct instructor at a community college, I found softs to be helpful in the admissions process. I was admitted to a school or two where I was under both medians. I was awarded scholarships at all but the highest ranked school to which I was admitted, including some where my LSAT was just at the median. Admittedly, virtually all of these schools were T2 but I was heavily recruited by a number of these schools and was successful in negotiating away any stipulations on my scholarship at the school I will be attending in the fall. So some will say that softs aren't worth very much, but I believe that if they're unique enough, they're worth something.

User avatar
happyfeet
Posts: 63
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:28 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby happyfeet » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:23 am

softs do help, but you should definitely aim high on the LSAT. i was just accepted off the waitlist at University of Chicago with a 171 (retake) and a GPA way below their median. i think my softs were definitely what got me in (no nobel prize but 10+ years out of undergrad with a masters degree, and really cool domestic and international work experience, including senior leadership positions) but i'm sure they wouldn't have even considered my app unless i had at least one of my hard numbers within their range. since undergrad is set in stone, the LSAT really is your best bet at making sure they seriously consider your great softs.

i also got offered 90,000 at georgetown, where i am also below their gpa median.

good luck!!

User avatar
cinephile
Posts: 3469
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:50 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby cinephile » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:15 am

JamMasterJ wrote: A better LSAT is truly the only thing that can do much for you. You have the life experience that schools look for in a non-trad applicant; now you need the numbers to match. It's gonna be tough to get into California schools with a lower gpa, but if you want any shot, you need a good LSAT score.


Agreed. The good thing is that you have several months to study and improve your score.

User avatar
ElvisAaron
Posts: 313
Joined: Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:03 am

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby ElvisAaron » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:42 am

By most accounts my softs and LORs are A+++, but I really don't think they got me anywhere that my numbers wouldn't have. At best all they did was offset a couple small things that might otherwise be a detriment.

User avatar
seancris
Posts: 676
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:10 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby seancris » Wed Jun 15, 2011 10:53 am

Retake, get a 165 in October and you'll get in to Hastings with those softs.

bp shinners
Posts: 3091
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:05 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby bp shinners » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:52 pm

3v3ryth1ng wrote:For example, by some projections, an applicant with my same gpa and a 161 has about a 5.26% chance of getting into Hastings (about 1/18).

P.S.- I know there are people who are children of politicians, and people who performed some one-in-a-million tasks. I mean on average.


Those 5.26% of people who applied with your numbers and gained admissions were not the average - they were the crazy backgrounded people/children of politicians. This is who you'll have to compete with for those below-median numbered slots.

Your softs are certainly strong, and stronger than average, but you really can't tell who will be applying with you. A 5% chance means that you have a chance; if you can raise your LSAT, though, you'll have a better chance (much more so than adding more softs). I'd focus on the LSAT, then write an amazing PS and roll the dice. Softs aren't going to redefine your application chances, but they do sometimes help you roll the hard six.

User avatar
Rock-N-Roll
Posts: 319
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:16 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby Rock-N-Roll » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:19 pm

3v3ryth1ng wrote:I love my job, and the years I've spent here are absolutely irreplaceable. However, it's an extremely emotionally taxing job that cuts deeply into my personal life. After so many years of dealing with students, once can become "burned out." However, effective teaching requires 100% passion at all times. I just can't have the same passion for the class of 2018 the same way I had passion for 2012. Further, the stress of being responsible for the order of an otherwise rambunctious group of young individuals can, at times, make one want to quit on the spot. It's also extremely political- my every action is thoroughly reviewed, assessed, commented upon and debated by all interested parties. If I succeed, the praise is short-lived. If I ever fail, the humiliation will be extremely public and the shame will be permanent. The pay isn't too great for the workload, but it's also being cut every year. Add in the commute, gas prices, the cost of living, students getting shot, getting cursed out by parents...
It's not sustainable for me. These years are very special, and I need to keep them special quitting before I end up hating this job.

As for law, intellectually, it makes sense. I could be a great lawyer. I've wanted to be a public defender for a long time. I know exactly what they do (I was there for 10 months as an intern), and I know I could do it well. I just need to get there. Could I get burned out on public defense? Yes, quite possibly. It's not as stressful as teaching though, I know for a fact, so the chances are slimmer. I will cross that bridge when I get there, as it's at least 4 years away.


I wanted to thank you for your frank post. I'm sorry to learn that your experience teaching wasn't more fulfilling.

It's actually a strong personal belief of mine that much more focus needs to be put into strengthening our educational system here in the US and too many of our resources are currently being applied towards what I consider issues of much lower priority. The state of the educational system including teacher recruitment and retention is a huge issue which needs to be addressed.

User avatar
3v3ryth1ng
Posts: 295
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:48 pm

Re: "Soft" application items- how far can they take you?

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:14 am

Rock-N-Roll wrote:
3v3ryth1ng wrote:I love my job, and the years I've spent here are absolutely irreplaceable. However, it's an extremely emotionally taxing job that cuts deeply into my personal life. After so many years of dealing with students, once can become "burned out." However, effective teaching requires 100% passion at all times. I just can't have the same passion for the class of 2018 the same way I had passion for 2012. Further, the stress of being responsible for the order of an otherwise rambunctious group of young individuals can, at times, make one want to quit on the spot. It's also extremely political- my every action is thoroughly reviewed, assessed, commented upon and debated by all interested parties. If I succeed, the praise is short-lived. If I ever fail, the humiliation will be extremely public and the shame will be permanent. The pay isn't too great for the workload, but it's also being cut every year. Add in the commute, gas prices, the cost of living, students getting shot, getting cursed out by parents...
It's not sustainable for me. These years are very special, and I need to keep them special quitting before I end up hating this job.

As for law, intellectually, it makes sense. I could be a great lawyer. I've wanted to be a public defender for a long time. I know exactly what they do (I was there for 10 months as an intern), and I know I could do it well. I just need to get there. Could I get burned out on public defense? Yes, quite possibly. It's not as stressful as teaching though, I know for a fact, so the chances are slimmer. I will cross that bridge when I get there, as it's at least 4 years away.


I wanted to thank you for your frank post. I'm sorry to learn that your experience teaching wasn't more fulfilling.

It's actually a strong personal belief of mine that much more focus needs to be put into strengthening our educational system here in the US and too many of our resources are currently being applied towards what I consider issues of much lower priority. The state of the educational system including teacher recruitment and retention is a huge issue which needs to be addressed.


Teaching is fulfilling, it's just not sustainable for me. It probably makes a difference that I teach in a very rough neighborhood.

There's a lot to say about our education system as a whole, but the short version of the story is that no one knows what's wrong with it, so no one knows how to fix it. If only it were as simple as just teaching and learning. lol.




Return to “Law School Admissions Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests