Importance of Softs

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z0rk
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Re: Importance of Softs

Postby z0rk » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:56 am

willwash wrote:When I apply for the 2013 cycle I will have 6.5 years active duty Navy, including 2 combat deployments, over 1,000 hours in the E-2C Hawkeye (earning 2 air medals) and over 150 arrested landings. I transferred to a more prestigious undergrad halfway through college, then I got married between my junior and senior years and had to wait tables to support my pregnant wife all through my senior year. The Navy then took an extra 6 months processing my application after I graduated, so for almost 2 years we, a family of 3 and then (and now) 4, were on food stamps, until I joined the Navy. Now I am a LT (O-3) making about 100k a year. I had to set aside my lifelong dream of going to law school because my personal situation became such that I needed to obtain immediate gainful employment, and only now, 5 to 6 years after graduating, am I revisitng the idea of law school.

And yet, even with these outstanding softs, with my 3.49 UGPA, many doors are closed to me no matter how highly I score on the LSAT. I'd probably be an auto-deny at HYS+Columbia and NYU even with a 180. I think my only realistic shot at t14 is if I get at least a 171 and apply in-state, ED to UVA, or if I somehow bust a 176+ and apply ED to splitter-friendly Chicago and rely on my softs to give me a little extra forgiveness of the UGPA. I guess I'd probably get into GULC with 3.49/17X with those softs as well...but it all hinges on an outstanding LSAT score.

Tennis and SGA are great, but the other responders are correct in that they will probably detract from your academic performance now, and that that distraction will overwhelmingly cancel out any marginal benefit to your application that may be derived from participation in these activities. If I could trade all of my softs for a .31 higher UGPA, my law school prospects would improve drastically.


I would like to think that a background such as this, a compelling PS, and a decent lsat scote (168+) give you a very good shot at t-14 with money and potentially some of the schools you count yourself out for. You are not as conventional of an applicant as the bulk of prospective students who apply straight out of undergrad.

With regards to the OP, I think that softs CAN be a factor in one's application but your softs are not extraordinary. I am applying to law school, I was also heavily involved in my school's SGA and sports programs. I am willing to be that several other candidates have simillar backgrounds as well. Many on these boards cite TFA/Cure for Cancer/Veteran as an example of softs that actually make an impact. To be quite blunt, I think they are treating softs to an extreme.

All of this being said. Your application is reviewed most heavily based upon your scores and GPA. Don't take these two factors for granted. In the meantime, work hard and continue to seek out experiences that contribute to your professional interests and development. Don't shy away from internships and opportunities simply because you feel your scores and grades are the most important thing. Get some experience and enjoy yourself in the process.

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soj
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Re: Importance of Softs

Postby soj » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:25 pm

willwash wrote:When I apply for the 2013 cycle I will have 6.5 years active duty Navy, including 2 combat deployments, over 1,000 hours in the E-2C Hawkeye (earning 2 air medals) and over 150 arrested landings. I transferred to a more prestigious undergrad halfway through college, then I got married between my junior and senior years and had to wait tables to support my pregnant wife all through my senior year. The Navy then took an extra 6 months processing my application after I graduated, so for almost 2 years we, a family of 3 and then (and now) 4, were on food stamps, until I joined the Navy. Now I am a LT (O-3) making about 100k a year. I had to set aside my lifelong dream of going to law school because my personal situation became such that I needed to obtain immediate gainful employment, and only now, 5 to 6 years after graduating, am I revisitng the idea of law school.

And yet, even with these outstanding softs, with my 3.49 UGPA, many doors are closed to me no matter how highly I score on the LSAT. I'd probably be an auto-deny at HYS+Columbia and NYU even with a 180. I think my only realistic shot at t14 is if I get at least a 171 and apply in-state, ED to UVA, or if I somehow bust a 176+ and apply ED to splitter-friendly Chicago and rely on my softs to give me a little extra forgiveness of the UGPA. I guess I'd probably get into GULC with 3.49/17X with those softs as well...but it all hinges on an outstanding LSAT score.

You are one of the few people on this site with truly great softs and I wish you the best for your cycle.

By the way, Columbia and NYU are not out of the picture for you. You'd need about 172, and preferably mid- to high-170s, but you certainly have a shot. Chicago is not that splitter friendly: it's the least splitter friendly school of CCN. If you can get a high LSAT score, you're probably better off aiming for (and possibly EDing, if you're willing and your LSAT is marginal) CLS/NYU.

You might want to check with other posters and LSN about in-state at UVA. I have a feeling with a 171, you shouldn't be applying ED there, since they'll probably throw some money at you RD.

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willwash
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Re: Importance of Softs

Postby willwash » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:20 am

z0rk wrote:
willwash wrote:When I apply for the 2013 cycle I will have 6.5 years active duty Navy, including 2 combat deployments, over 1,000 hours in the E-2C Hawkeye (earning 2 air medals) and over 150 arrested landings. I transferred to a more prestigious undergrad halfway through college, then I got married between my junior and senior years and had to wait tables to support my pregnant wife all through my senior year. The Navy then took an extra 6 months processing my application after I graduated, so for almost 2 years we, a family of 3 and then (and now) 4, were on food stamps, until I joined the Navy. Now I am a LT (O-3) making about 100k a year. I had to set aside my lifelong dream of going to law school because my personal situation became such that I needed to obtain immediate gainful employment, and only now, 5 to 6 years after graduating, am I revisitng the idea of law school.

And yet, even with these outstanding softs, with my 3.49 UGPA, many doors are closed to me no matter how highly I score on the LSAT. I'd probably be an auto-deny at HYS+Columbia and NYU even with a 180. I think my only realistic shot at t14 is if I get at least a 171 and apply in-state, ED to UVA, or if I somehow bust a 176+ and apply ED to splitter-friendly Chicago and rely on my softs to give me a little extra forgiveness of the UGPA. I guess I'd probably get into GULC with 3.49/17X with those softs as well...but it all hinges on an outstanding LSAT score.

Tennis and SGA are great, but the other responders are correct in that they will probably detract from your academic performance now, and that that distraction will overwhelmingly cancel out any marginal benefit to your application that may be derived from participation in these activities. If I could trade all of my softs for a .31 higher UGPA, my law school prospects would improve drastically.


I would like to think that a background such as this, a compelling PS, and a decent lsat scote (168+) give you a very good shot at t-14 with money and potentially some of the schools you count yourself out for. You are not as conventional of an applicant as the bulk of prospective students who apply straight out of undergrad.


I hope you're right! In any case, I haven't taken the LSAT yet so I'm way too big of a wildcard to predict my admissions chances. With my GPA, VA residency and softs, I think I will have a solid shot at UVA as long as I do reasonably well on the LSAT (high 160s) and apply ED. That's my going in game plan anyway. If somehow I really crush the LSAT I'll think more seriously about switching my ED to Columbia or Chicago (I really like Chicago!) and use UVA as a safety...but it's probably never a good idea to count a t14 school as a "safety" with a 3.49 UGPA.

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S-IV
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Re: Importance of Softs

Postby S-IV » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:34 am

Glad to see you're taking your law school path seriously pretty early on, OP. But, I have to say that I was having similar thoughts when I was in my second year of UG. I thought that I could maintain my GPA and prep hard for the LSAT while enhancing my softs.

Since then I've done just about everything on a college campus that a student can do to increase their softs. You name it. The problem is I regret it. When looking ahead at the situation I thought I could take it all on and conquer it; I now realize that there really are only 24 hours in a day. This had a huge impact on my GPA and my LSAT prep especially. While my numbers aren't bad, they could be much better. As a result, I likely won't be admitted to any of my top choice schools.

I'm telling you this because you still have a chance to forego all of the campus activity and take your numbers very seriously. I think it's great that you're taking on leadership roles on your campus because your personal growth will be enhanced much more as a leader than it will with your nose in an LG Bible for the next year or two. So, unless you're extremely naturally gifted and can kill the LSAT and your GPA while taking over your campus, I would be careful, bud. Best of luck!

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annyong
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Re: Importance of Softs

Postby annyong » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:35 am

As other posters have said, it's best to think of softs in a marginal sense - your numbers will get you in the right admissions pile, softs will give them a reason to keep you there over another candidate of similar numbers, and some schools are demonstrably more "holistic" than others.

I also think it's important to remember that when applying to a high caliber school, almost everyone will have similar "softs" which is how great undergrad and work activities become "average." It really may be true that you are excelling at your university - but don't you think other applicants have excelled at theirs? Maybe not through student body president, but extracurriculars, awards, debate teams, internships, etc. Etc.

The collective wisdom comes across a little as "you are the all singing all dancing crap of the world" but I think it's just that while you may be a special snowflake at YOUR undergrad, other qualified applicants were likely the special snowflake at theirs.

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soitgoes9
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Re: Importance of Softs

Postby soitgoes9 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:39 pm

As willwash shows its a numbers game.

@ willwash what about Northwestern or ED to GW for a full ride... just my .02

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willwash
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Re: Importance of Softs

Postby willwash » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:43 pm

soitgoes9 wrote:As willwash shows its a numbers game.

@ willwash what about Northwestern or ED to GW for a full ride... just my .02


I'm a VA resident, and I'll have the GI Bill so cost isn't quite as important. My current plan is to blanket the top 10 except for any school on the west coast with applications, and explain via addendum/PS how getting married, wife getting pregnant before my senior year, and joining the military shocked me into maturity (I got about 3.8 my senior year with 3.49 overall UGPA...do the math), and therefore my UGPAverage is not representative of my true abilities. Hopefully this statement will be backed up by a stellar LSAT score. If my lsat is 16X, I will ED UVA and safety Wm and Mary and UNC. If it's 170-172 it'll be a tweener whether I still ED UVA and reach higher, or whether I ED Columbia/Chicago and try to safety UVA (still applying to W & M/UNC too). 173+ and I'm solidly setting my sights on Chicago/Columbia/NYU (probably ED either Chicago or Columbia), and safety UVA/GULC, and supersafety W & M.




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