Tips for the Admissions Committee

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AdCom
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Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:35 pm

Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby AdCom » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:47 pm

I recently received appointment to the Admissions Committee of a tier-one law school in the South. I cannot state which, but hopefully that won't affect this too much. The committee will be meeting soon to discuss ideas for our upcoming admissions cycle, and I am coming here for input.

When I applied to law school, I had some thoughts and tips on how it might run more smoothly. I wished I had a forum to voice an opinion that would be listened to. This is now that place. I believe many applicants will have the same complaints regardless of where they applied. Some of those might simply be a product of the application process, which cannot be fixed. Others might be addressable by a committee looking to resolve issues.

If you'd like to feel like you contributed to an admissions committee who is actually interested in your opinion, please respond.

1. What was your biggest complaint about the admissions process?

2. What was the biggest factor you considered in determining where to apply? (rank, cost, location, area of study, etc...)

3. Did you apply to any safety schools?

4. Are you more concerned with going to law school or going to a good law school?

5. Of the schools you applied to, what did the admissions committees do that you liked? What did they do that you didn't like?


Please feel free to answer any and all of these questions. The more information we have, the better the process may become.


Thank you in advance.

admisionquestion
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby admisionquestion » Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:16 pm

1. A lack of honesty on the part of law schools. It is incredibly rude for a multi-million dollar public institution to lie, mislead or even simply keep everyone in the dark about the real standards they use for admission. What would really be hurt by saying, "We basically only consider your LSAT and GPA and URM status, other factors only matter if you mess up"

Other examples of this include the decision to send fee waivers--is completely secretive and obnoxious. The decision to not post all relevant profile stats on their websites (lots of schools state medians OR 75ths and some just say their range).

2. Rank, Location, campus vibe

3. I applied broadly within my range--Safety=Negotiation material.

4. If I didn't have the stats for a top school I would not attend law school in this economy--regardless of my personal goals--I would find something else to do, or retake.

5. I love schools with good phone services, I love schools that did everything as they said they would (got apps up on time etc) I love schools that word their questions well. I hate schools that write me misleading or stupid form letters.

If I were going to make two suggestions to an adcom they would be:
1. Pressure LSAC or do what you need to do, to get the status checker system built into lsac instead of spread out over each individual school's sites.
2. Be more transparant about how you will be handing out fee waivers.

MumofCad
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby MumofCad » Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:56 pm

Congratulations on your new post! I wish you the best of success!

1. What was your biggest complaint about the admissions process?

The time it takes to receive a decision. I really appreciate both UVA and Duke for recognizing that there is no reason to make all candidates wait for 3 months to get a decision. Since law schools are increasingly attracting non-traditional applicants, it would be really nice to be able to make a decision early on in a cycle about which school you need to be buying a house near, having a significant other find a job near, etc. Even without these considerations, the process is stressful enough without having to wait endlessly to hear a response.

2. What was the biggest factor you considered in determining where to apply? (rank, cost, location, area of study, etc...)

All of the above factored into my decision. I only applied to schools in a certain range T-12, then narrowed it further based on where I felt would be a good fit for me in terms of location and areas of study. Except for HYS, I crossed off schools where I couldn't find compelling reasons to write a Why X. Schools I hadn't considered, like Michigan, won me over with really great marketing of the environment at the school and location. Those sorts of well-thought out mailings that included fee waivers encouraged me to look into what the school offered academically. When I found clinics and research programs I liked, I was in. Other schools were instantly factored out despite rank/programs because of the location (Columbia and NYU since I'm not interested in spending 3 years in NY). Finally, cost will be huge for me in making a final decision. I'm willing to go slightly lower in rank to take on less debt and thus risk. When I combine the more collegial and collaborative atmosphere at some slightly lower ranked schools against the fierce competitiveness of others...it will be a tough choice for me. I do think I am slightly unique in the weight of my considerations though because I have 3 small children and a husband to consider.

3. Did you apply to any safety schools?

I planned on it, but an early acceptance to a top school put that plan by the wayside. So no, I didn't apply to anything I considered a safety though others might feel differently. If the requirement was being above both 75th percentiles then I suppose I did apply to safeties, but I saw plenty get WL with my numbers in previous cycles.

4. Are you more concerned with going to law school or going to a good law school?

Good law school. I wouldn't go otherwise because of the economy, but I would certainly go to a really strong regional school in the state I wanted to practice. That was my intended safety and I still might apply depending on the $$ I get at the T-12 and acceptances in the T-3 range.

5. Of the schools you applied to, what did the admissions committees do that you liked? What did they do that you didn't like?

As I mentioned before, quick turnaround is probably the kindest thing an adcom can give an applicant. I also really liked how Dean Z at Michigan personalized with a few words each of her fee waivers and her focus in her 2 page fee waiver letter on way the school thinks of itself and the atmosphere they try to create. I'm not so much into the feeling of being "special" because everyone knows that it was done to all letters, but its more that the little touch of personalization makes you feel like they really do care and take pride in the make-up of their incoming class. That's the sort of place I want to study law, not in that place described in 1L, or as just a number in their log-book. Based upon the changes that have occurred in the recent decades in law schools, I have a feeling I'm not alone. As a higher end numbers-wise person that attracts me, and I would guess the same would ring even more true of those wondering if an application is worth it on the lower end - the idea that they will be read holistically as an applicant might encourage them to apply despite poor numbers.

I don't like how the status checkers seem virtually useless once your are under review. It would be nice to know more about when decisions and scholarships are going to be issued. I could see for a regional school that offering a 30 day turnaround or something would be particularly useful and attractive to candidates, who might simply prefer to have the cycle over with rather than ride out a 4 month process at a school only marginally better.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:48 pm

Does your law school admissions committee include any student members ? Thanks in advance !

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SisterRayVU
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby SisterRayVU » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:04 pm

GG! I'm applying as soon as my LSAT score comes in, but I'll answer what I can.


1. What was your biggest complaint about the admissions process?

None so far.

2. What was the biggest factor you considered in determining where to apply? (rank, cost, location, area of study, etc...)

Location and rank are going to be the biggest factors, but a couple schools have some intangible, endearing qualities and I'm applying to them regardless of rank (still in a location I'd like to be in though)

3. Did you apply to any safety schools?

I will be.

4. Are you more concerned with going to law school or going to a good law school?

The latter. I'm assuming I won't get a scholarship since I'll be applying ED and either way, I doubt my numbers (specifically GPA) will demonstrate that I should get a good chunk from anywhere. So to justify paying sticker out of state, I'd need the school to offer me the best employment prospects possible. If the economic situation of attending/working wasn't what it is, I'd be more down for going because I like learning and the law interests me. But yeah, even though that's true, I need to be a little smart if I'm going to incur a significant debt. Even beyond that, I wouldn't take a full ride at a lower school if I have the chance of attending a top school. Employment prospects are that important to me.

5. Of the schools you applied to, what did the admissions committees do that you liked? What did they do that you didn't like?

I haven't applied anywhere yet, but I requested a needs-based waiver from a school and they got back to first thing the next morning and seemed very willing to accommodate my situation. I know it's not a big deal, but that amount of compassion (even if it's just to ultimately reject me) and understanding meant a lot to me and they're probably my top choice if I score high enough on the LSAT.

AdCom
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby AdCom » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:09 pm

Yes, I believe there is at least one student rep. Thank you all for the quick responses. Please keep them coming.

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Veyron
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby Veyron » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:14 pm

AdCom wrote:I recently received appointment to the Admissions Committee of a tier-one law school in the South. I cannot state which, but hopefully that won't affect this too much. The committee will be meeting soon to discuss ideas for our upcoming admissions cycle, and I am coming here for input.

When I applied to law school, I had some thoughts and tips on how it might run more smoothly. I wished I had a forum to voice an opinion that would be listened to. This is now that place. I believe many applicants will have the same complaints regardless of where they applied. Some of those might simply be a product of the application process, which cannot be fixed. Others might be addressable by a committee looking to resolve issues.

If you'd like to feel like you contributed to an admissions committee who is actually interested in your opinion, please respond.

1. What was your biggest complaint about the admissions process?

Gamesmanship between schools concerning scholarships.

2. What was the biggest factor you considered in determining where to apply? (rank, cost, location, area of study, etc...)

Quality of students and professors. Rank. Location.

3. Did you apply to any safety schools?

No.

4. Are you more concerned with going to law school or going to a good law school?

Both since a good law school provides a much higher chance of getting to gainfully practice law.

5. Of the schools you applied to, what did the admissions committees do that you liked? What did they do that you didn't like?

See 1 regarding gamesmanship. I liked when ad coms would put me in touch with current students who shared my background (UG, home state) after I was admitted.

Please feel free to answer any and all of these questions. The more information we have, the better the process may become.


Thank you in advance.

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bk1
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby bk1 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:20 pm

1. Length of the process. I understand that it takes a lot of time to go through all the applications, but if some schools can start cranking out decisions quickly then the other schools should be able to as well.

2. Prestige and cost are pretty much co-factors as most important, followed by location.

3. Yes.

4. Good law school.

5. I liked the adcomms who were blunt and to the point. I liked having information ASAP via email (and I don't mean via email where you have to then click a link). I did not schools who tried to drag out the admissions process or sent too many updates trying to blow smoke up my ass.

MumofCad
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby MumofCad » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:44 pm

Also, I would say with the current economic climate, if you are looking to poach people from higher ranked schools based upon your regional strength then I would focus heavily in your recruiting of those with really high numbers on the advantages you have with state players. I know I debated heavily whether T-14 even with money was worth it given my career objectives. I'd be highly interested in connections with Attorney General's offices and what not. I'm most worried about having to end up in Big Law, which I def don't want, because I chose a T-14 and don't have the local connections I need to end up in the location I want to live (Colorado). I could be tempted away from a full ride at a T-14 if a regional school put in touch with the right alum.

iowalum
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby iowalum » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:10 pm

1. What was your biggest complaint about the admissions process?

Some schools make it a point to emphasize that they do not just focus on the numbers, but actually do just that. It is unfortunate that many times personal statements, letters of rec, etc. seem to be completely ignored for those of us who do not have the 'diversity' element. Also, it would be nice to have more transparency when it comes to admissions standards - many of the decision trends at some schools seem to be arbitrary, or at best inconsistent. Finally, the school I applied to has no status checker whatsoever, so it makes it difficult to know where you are in the process.

2. What was the biggest factor you considered in determining where to apply? (rank, cost, location, area of study, etc...)

Honestly, I only applied to one school because I don't want to move and it is the closest school. I am lucky that it happens to be fairly highly ranked and I (hopefully) have the numbers for it. But, I believe that the school has enough regional prestige to warrant being worth the investment. I will be re-applying this year after being waitlisted.

3. Did you apply to any safety schools?

No. Because I was waitlisted last year I took another year off.

4. Are you more concerned with going to law school or going to a good law school?

Both, but as described above I have limited myself to only one option. I know that many people are very pessimistic about the job prospects for law students, but, at least for what I want to do, I believe professional connections and strong work experience can make up for the economic disadvantages.

5. Of the schools you applied to, what did the admissions committees do that you liked? What did they do that you didn't like?

The adcom at the school I applied to was very receptive to questions and always had someone available when I called. During my visit they had a structured program for me and I was able to have a personal meeting with one of the deans. Also, my fee waiver was sent relatively quickly.

I do not like the uncertainty that you are often subjected to in the admissions process. My school waited until late March to waitlist me when I sent my application in early October. I understand that schools need to leave their options open, but the uncertainty makes it incredibly difficult to plan and explore other options. Also, they did not have a status checker.

AdCom
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby AdCom » Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:27 pm

Thank you all very much for your answers. Please feel free to update or contribute further as you continue the application process.

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ThreeRivers
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby ThreeRivers » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:05 am

1. What was your biggest complaint about the admissions process?
Length, length, and length

To those stating schools not being honest and admitting they are USNews whores and just go by gpa / lsat, can you really blame them? It would look horrible to admit that although stating something along the lines of "Although GPA and LSAT will be weighed heavily in our admission process, other factors such as..." would be a little better I guess.

2. What was the biggest factor you considered in determining where to apply? (rank, cost, location, area of study, etc...)
Employment after graduation, cost, and location

3. Did you apply to any safety schools?
Yes

4. Are you more concerned with going to law school or going to a good law school?
T14 first, if not a semi-affordable school with good job placement in a location I would like to live for the long-term (since I would probably have to live there after school)

5. Of the schools you applied to, what did the admissions committees do that you liked? What did they do that you didn't like?
Obviously quick responses are the best.
I hate the "Why X" questions, I'm sorry I know schools want someone who's lifelong dream was to attend their school, but most likely their factors are just similar to mine (Either want to go there because of ranking, cost, or a good regional school after missing the T14).

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emkay625
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby emkay625 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:23 am

1. What was your biggest complaint about the admissions process?

I don't really have any yet, but my application cycle has just begun. The one complaint I would have is the amount of time it takes some schools to respond.

2. What was the biggest factor you considered in determining where to apply? (rank, cost, location, area of study, etc...)

1. Rank. 2. Employment Prospects. 3. Minimizing the amount of debt I will graduate with.

3. Did you apply to any safety schools?

Yes, three of them.

4. Are you more concerned with going to law school or going to a good law school?

Definitely going to a good law school.

5. Of the schools you applied to, what did the admissions committees do that you liked? What did they do that you didn't like?

I don't really have any input either way. I think the admission committees everywhere are doing the best job they can of selecting a class.

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Yeshia90
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby Yeshia90 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:02 pm

I'm only starting to go through this endeavor now, so I can't speak as someone who's come out the other side. That said:

1. What was your biggest complaint about the admissions process?

Two answers here, one serious, one kind of petty. I already know that this is going to be dragged out for months, even with an ED application. If Duke and UVA can get back to applicants in 2 weeks, I don't understand what's stopping every school from responding so quickly. The other issue would be the number of emails I've received from schools I never had any intention of applying to. It's almost obnoxious to have your phone buzzing every hour with an email from Thomas Jefferson School of Law or St. Thomas or Quinnipiac.

2. What was the biggest factor you considered in determining where to apply? (rank, cost, location, area of study, etc...)

I didn't apply to any schools further west than Michigan or further south than Duke, because my only goal is to work in New York when I graduate. It was geographical consideration of the best law schools I thought I had a reasonable shot to get into. And when I make my decision, should I not get the ED admission, employment prospects will likely be the deciding factor. I'm going to law school to get a job, not for any other reason. And I'm not biglaw or bust, but I'm willing to bet on myself. Cost isn't a huge issue.

3. Did you apply to any safety schools?

I would have, if I hadn't already gotten into Duke. I had apps ready to go for 3 "lesser-ranked" schools that I almost certainly would have received admission to, but that became needless after I had a T14 acceptance in my pocket. I'm still applying to schools lower ranked within the T14, but because I'd consider going to them, not simply to leverage scholarships or anything like that.

4. Are you more concerned with going to law school or going to a good law school?

I've wanted to be a lawyer for a while, but that JD means nothing if I don't have a job that requires it. Going to law school for law school's sake is meaningless.

5. Of the schools you applied to, what did the admissions committees do that you liked? What did they do that you didn't like?

Duke, UVA--Quick turnarounds
Michigan--personalization of materials
GULC--call me a sucker, but I like the videos
Michigan/Penn/Cornell/Columbia: Mailing out viewbooks with fee waivers. I liked to curl up and read them and imagine how life would be at those schools.

Overall: I liked schools that invited "Why X" responses, because they forced me to do a little research before even applying. It made me realize what I was prioritizing in a law school, and in the case of Michigan, turned it from a "should I bother applying?" to "one of my top choices."

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ThreeRivers
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby ThreeRivers » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:02 pm

Yeshia90 wrote:I'm only starting to go through this endeavor now, so I can't speak as someone who's come out the other side. That said:

1. What was your biggest complaint about the admissions process?

Two answers here, one serious, one kind of petty. I already know that this is going to be dragged out for months, even with an ED application. If Duke and UVA can get back to applicants in 2 weeks, I don't understand what's stopping every school from responding so quickly. The other issue would be the number of emails I've received from schools I never had any intention of applying to. It's almost obnoxious to have your phone buzzing every hour with an email from Thomas Jefferson School of Law or St. Thomas or Quinnipiac.

2. What was the biggest factor you considered in determining where to apply? (rank, cost, location, area of study, etc...)

I didn't apply to any schools further west than Michigan or further south than Duke, because my only goal is to work in New York when I graduate. It was geographical consideration of the best law schools I thought I had a reasonable shot to get into. And when I make my decision, should I not get the ED admission, employment prospects will likely be the deciding factor. I'm going to law school to get a job, not for any other reason. And I'm not biglaw or bust, but I'm willing to bet on myself. Cost isn't a huge issue.

3. Did you apply to any safety schools?

I would have, if I hadn't already gotten into Duke. I had apps ready to go for 3 "lesser-ranked" schools that I almost certainly would have received admission to, but that became needless after I had a T14 acceptance in my pocket. I'm still applying to schools lower ranked within the T14, but because I'd consider going to them, not simply to leverage scholarships or anything like that.

4. Are you more concerned with going to law school or going to a good law school?

I've wanted to be a lawyer for a while, but that JD means nothing if I don't have a job that requires it. Going to law school for law school's sake is meaningless.

5. Of the schools you applied to, what did the admissions committees do that you liked? What did they do that you didn't like?

Duke, UVA--Quick turnarounds
Michigan--personalization of materials
GULC--call me a sucker, but I like the videos
Michigan/Penn/Cornell/Columbia: Mailing out viewbooks with fee waivers. I liked to curl up and read them and imagine how life would be at those schools.

Overall: I liked schools that invited "Why X" responses, because they forced me to do a little research before even applying. It made me realize what I was prioritizing in a law school, and in the case of Michigan, turned it from a "should I bother applying?" to "one of my top choices."

Shocked you actually liked the "Why X" responses. Idk I never feel I'm learning that much about a school by researching it on the internet and always feel like I'm inadequate to respond to it. I feel the only way to truly answer this question is by actually visiting the school. Once I'm accepted / debating between a couple schools I'll obviously visit before deciding my future, but I'm not in a financial position to fly around the country to debate if applying is currently worth it.

Seneca
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby Seneca » Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:54 pm

I had a fairly uncommonly short cycle - I ED'd to UVA on 9/1, but was prepared to apply to a number of other schools in case that didn't work out - but I thought I might still offer my insight.

1. What was your biggest complaint about the admissions process?

As I said, mine was over fairly quickly, but it's excruciating knowing your file is under review and having to wait, even just a week or so, to hear a decision. Like other posters, I appreciated UVA's expediency. I also despised getting bombarded with emails from schools in which I had no interest - it's one thing to get one email from NYLS, for instance, but it's quite another to get multiple unsolicited emails from the same school. I could see that potentially turning me off a safety-range school about which I had otherwise been neutral.

2. What was the biggest factor you considered in determining where to apply? (rank, cost, location, area of study, etc...)

Rank was the biggest factor, with location a close second. I also eliminated a number of schools based on location alone, and also considered applying to a couple regional schools based on the confluence of location, rank, and placement in the region.

3. Did you apply to any safety schools?

No, but I did strongly consider applying to two strong regional schools (different regions) for reasons mentioned in (2).

4. Are you more concerned with going to law school or going to a good law school?

I was more concerned with going to a good law school. I planned to apply strategically to three or four schools in the T14, and may have considered one just outside it, but otherwise I would not have attended law school, at least not this cycle.

5. Of the schools you applied to, what did the admissions committees do that you liked? What did they do that you didn't like?

I had an excellent experience with UVA's admissions committee. I spoke with a couple different people in the office throughout the process (calls were to consolidate an element of my app that a prof mailed, discuss my application, and extend an offer of acceptance) and every person with whom I spoke was not only extremely professional, but also seemed to have read my file very closely. After those first calls and before the acceptance, I was so impressed with the school and how my app was handled that even if I had not been admitted, I knew I would have been comforted by that fact that my app had at least been carefully considered, and I think that says quite a bit about a school.

I also liked the schools that offered prompts for additional optional statements. I prepared a couple, and I felt that it really showed the school was interested in specific things about an applicant and was willing to offer an applicants some extra space and time to present a fuller picture of himself as a person.

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NiccoloA
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby NiccoloA » Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:47 pm

Thanks for doing this. :)

I'll respond to all of those I'm applicable (i.e. not 1. and not 5.)

AdCom wrote:

2. What was the biggest factor you considered in determining where to apply? (rank, cost, location, area of study, etc...)


In order of importance,
Cost/Scholarship potential
Rank
Location
/

3. Did you apply to any safety schools?


I'm applying to about 3 safety schools and by safety I mean big scholarship.

4. Are you more concerned with going to law school or going to a good law school?


I'll survive if I don't go to law school, but I don't know what my prospects would be if it weren't a top law school in its region.

bdubs
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Re: Tips for the Admissions Committee

Postby bdubs » Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:06 pm

My suggestion is to increase both speed and transparency of scholarships. See if you can get your university to approve a scholarship budget before the admissions season begins and make scholarship award amounts known to admits as quickly as possible.




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