Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

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ksllaw
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Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby ksllaw » Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:47 pm

*See Thread Title*

To add on to it, does the strict numbers-based approach to law school admissions not have a significant drawback/loophole in potentially incentivizing students to game the system when it comes to GPA? One could hypothetically inflate one's GPA through a number of means:

a.) taking easy courses/professors
b.) avoiding tough courses/professors
c.) taking on an "easy" major(s) (at least relative to oneself)

etc...I'm sure there are more.

On the other hand, we might ask why the strength/rigor of an applicant's program of study would not matter (at least not significantly it seems)? Would it be unreasonable, for example, to consider a 3.4 GPA from a CalTech physics major just as good, if not better, than a 3.75 film studies major from a student at Cal-State Long Beach? Looking past just the numbers, would a holistic approach to admissions evaluations be better at determining the value and strength of an applicant?

If a purely numbers-based approach is ultimately flawed (this can be taken as a point of contention), then do the schools not care about the consequences of such admissions criteria in regards to building the most capable and deserving student body?

What are people's thoughts on LS admissions relying mostly a a strict numbers protocol?
Last edited by ksllaw on Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

rad lulz
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby rad lulz » Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:47 pm

USNWR rankings are why

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prezidentv8
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby prezidentv8 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:48 pm

ksllaw wrote:Do the schools not care about the consequences of such admissions criteria in regards to building the most capable and deserving student body?


Not really, no.

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h_jane_w
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby h_jane_w » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:10 pm

ksllaw wrote:

Do the schools not care about the consequences of such admissions criteria in regards to building the most capable and deserving student body?


The answer to this is probably yes, they don't care. That is very sad.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:19 pm

ksllaw wrote:One could hypothetically inflate one's GPA through a number of means:

a.) taking easy courses/professors
b.) avoiding tough courses/professors
c.) taking on an easy major(s)

Yep, which is pretty much what everyone here will advise applicants to do. (You didn't think undergrad was about learning anything, did you?)

To play devil's advocate just a tiny, tiny bit - actually trying to compare the true value of applicants' GPAs would have to be a nightmare. Sure, maybe we'd all agree that the 3.4 CalTech physics major took harder classes than the 3.75 film studies Cal-Long Beach major (although that doesn't mean the film studies person didn't work hard and perform really well, or, for that matter, that the CalTech physics major would actually earn a 3.75 in a film studies major at C-LB). But what about a 3.4 CalTech physics major versus a 3.6 math major at U Indiana? Or 3.2 econ major at Princeton? What did any of those classes actually require? How do you compare writing a 120-pp film studies undergrad thesis with biology lab courses with a fine arts senior project? What about grade inflation at the different institutions - how does that factor in? You could sort of do the comparison at the extremes, but especially in law school admissions, that's not going to rule out very many people.

So if you want to be able to compare GPAs at all, you have to just take them all at face value. And you can say, don't consider GPAs at all, but then all that would happen is people be admitted based 95% on their LSAT score and 5% on everything else. Because GPA and LSAT are just about the only hard data that can be used to draw distinctions between people, and the adcomms' job is to draw distinctions between people.

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RhymesLikeDimes
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby RhymesLikeDimes » Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:28 am

As a former pre-med, the med school admission process is MUCH more holistic than LS. I think a lot of that comes from the fact that an MD pretty much guarantees a job, so rankings aren't all that important. Med schools are far less profitable than law schools are, so a MS isn't going to take on students without a thorough evaluation.

You hear it said a lot that there is no such thing as a bad medical school (even most DO schools have good reputations), so there is a lot less competition between schools. To put it simply: they're graded on the quality of the doctors they produce, not the quality of applicants they bring in. Improving doctor quality requires an institution-wide overhaul, improving admissions data requires you to focus on applicant numbers.

Personally, as someone with much better numbers than "softs", it works for me. But, I think it should be obvious that the med school process is far superior.

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Elston Gunn
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby Elston Gunn » Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:44 am

I actually think it's a genuinely interesting questions why law schools are more numbers-obsessed than any other kind of grad program. I wonder what historically caused that to happen.

But, again as a devil's advocate, I actually think it's kind of cool. Maybe the fact that you made a poor choice of major at 18-20, went to an unknown undergrad and couldn't get a prestigious first job will keep you out of Harvard Business School, but it won't keep you out of Harvard Law School. It's not ideal the way they do it, but it is something of an equalizer.

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Br3v
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby Br3v » Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:07 pm

rad lulz wrote:USNWR rankings are why

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dingbat
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby dingbat » Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:14 pm

Another thing to consider is that (excluding the last few cycles) there are many more top scoring candidates than there are places. So, Yale, for example, can throw away every applicant with an LSAT below 170 and a GPA below 3.8, have several hundred applicants left and choose holistically between those.

Further down the line, Georgetown can get rid of anyone below 165/3.4 and still have enough room to choose holistically between the remainder.

Adcoms do give a little leeway to students with excellent softs (especially military), but the truth of the matter is that, until recently, there were twice as many law school applicants as there are spots. At the top of the food chain, schools reject 9 out of 10 applicants, and while I'm sure there are a lot of hail marys there, a good number of those are borderline candidates. Hell, they need to be numbers oriented just to keep their workload reasonable

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wert3813
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby wert3813 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:17 pm

.
Last edited by wert3813 on Mon Nov 03, 2014 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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sinfiery
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby sinfiery » Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:17 pm

Ivies and other "top schools" already have far more lenient curves in practice than TTT UGs.

Also, you do realize Cal Tech teaches from the same book as your local UG in X state. They just probably have the professors who wrote the book teaching the class too.

I, for one, love the unambiguous nature of LS applications and hope they continue to minimize the impact of such subjective opinions. /biased.


Unless you want to make a hierarchy of UGs and UG majors and definitely claim X is better than Y and be willing to defend any criticism surrounding your decision.

Kind of like the USNWR rankings for LS but far more invasive and far-reaching in stated purpose.

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dingbat
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby dingbat » Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:40 pm

sinfiery wrote:Also, you do realize Cal Tech teaches from the same book as your local UG in X state. They just probably have the professors wrote the book teaching the class too.

There's a difference between teaching from the book and teaching from knowledge. They have the same book in the library, too.

Having worked with truly exceptional persons, there really is a difference between someone who is very smart and someone who gets it. For example, on a particular legal matter I dealt with, having gone back and forth between partner at a V4, general counsel at my company and the global head of that division at a V30 for about a week, the problem was brought to the expert in the field, who, within a few hours replied with an answer that found the loophole and explained it quite simply.

Big Dog
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby Big Dog » Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:45 pm

As a former pre-med, the med school admission process is MUCH more holistic than LS.


Actually, that is only true up to a point. The numbers score an interview. After an interview, the soft factors come into play. But without numbers, there will be no interview.

spyke123
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby spyke123 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:49 pm

Big Dog wrote:
As a former pre-med, the med school admission process is MUCH more holistic than LS.


Actually, that is only true up to a point. The numbers score an interview. After an interview, the soft factors come into play. But without numbers, there will be no interview.


how tough/significant are the interviews?

im thinking interviews must be a big deal... since I definitely know a few people with killer gpa/mcat score who have been struggling to get into any med school.

spyke123
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby spyke123 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:53 pm

rad lulz wrote:USNWR rankings are why


the question is why do they care about USNWR rankings? UG/med/bschool are all also ranked by USNWR but they seem less bothered by the rankings..

2ndtime
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby 2ndtime » Sun Jan 13, 2013 1:51 pm

Medical schools admissions offices are probably almost as concerned about numbers as law schools are on an individual school basis. The difference is that the applicants aren't as concerned about which school they get into, so they don't obsess about the numbers at a particular school as much as law school applicants do. However, I can assure you that the concerns are just as strong among the applicants at the bottom who are struggling to get into any medical school. They are also obsessing about medians and every single point on the MCAT or tenth of a point on their GPA. They deal with that by applying to 30 or 40 schools and hoping for the best.

So, for example, while few if any law school applicants would turn down Harvard or Yale for UCLA becasue they have family in L.A., that would be a very reasonable and common choice for a med school applicant to make, since the med school you attend doesn't matter as much. In fact, the benefits of med school reputation are more comparable to the benefits of undergrad reputation than to law schools'.

Also, since all med schools are considered to be good, performance at medical school will often allow a good student to get letters of recommendation that will get them into a good residency, and similarly, doing well in residency will get you a good fellowship, and each step will let you climb the ranks of reputation. But in the end, reputation matters very little, since there are jobs for everyone, and since someone coming out of residency can always start their own practice.

As far as the interviews go, they are part of the final review process. They are only given to a small percentage of applicants, and not all interviewees are accepted. However, I have always heard that while interviews are often given to marginal candidates, once you have the interview, you are considered competitive. But you won't get the interview unless your numbers are within that school's range, regardless of the great story you tell.

That said, there is some cachet to having gone to HYS et al for med school and residency, and there are some residencies at top universities that seem to be filled entirely with Ivy League graduates. But again, you don't have to go there. In the end, not only don't patients care where you went to school, other doctors rarely ask or care either.

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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby ksllaw » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:05 pm

dingbat wrote:
sinfiery wrote:Also, you do realize Cal Tech teaches from the same book as your local UG in X state. They just probably have the professors wrote the book teaching the class too.

There's a difference between teaching from the book and teaching from knowledge. They have the same book in the library, too.

Having worked with truly exceptional persons, there really is a difference between someone who is very smart and someone who gets it. For example, on a particular legal matter I dealt with, having gone back and forth between partner at a V4, general counsel at my company and the global head of that division at a V30 for about a week, the problem was brought to the expert in the field, who, within a few hours replied with an answer that found the loophole and explained it quite simply.


I don't know for sure...But, I still tend to think that one could reasonably argue the existence of a definite difference in rigor between institutions like CalTech and CSULB. This is not to say, however, that students at CSULB are necessarily incapable of the work at an instituation like CalTech, nor necessarily "bad" or inferior students, but merely that grades may mean potentially vastly different things between different schools (in terms of the work done and requirements for a degree).

For sure, I am comparing the extremes here (arguably the best technical school in the world versus an institution that we can reasonably argue lacks a comparable prestige and reputation of academic rigor). As another poster noted above, it may be more difficult to compare schools falling within the same ballpark of academic rankings and reputation, but I think it wouldn't be completely unreasonable to think that at the extremes grades can mean significantly different levels of accomplishment in the same subject.

For what it's worth, CalTech from what I understand starts students off in their introductory Calculus/Freshman Math classes doing proof-based work. An example of an introductory syllabus in Calculus/Freshman Math 1a at CalTech is found here:

http://www.math.caltech.edu/~2011-12/1term/ma001a/#des

This is a sample HW problem set:

(1) Prove that there is no real number x such that x2 + 1 = 0.
(2) Let x and y be two arbitrary real numbers with x < y. Prove
that there is always at least one rational number r (hence infinitely many) with x < r < y and at least one irrational number
z (hence infinitely many) with x < z < y.
(3) Find which of the following sequences is convergent or divergent
and prove it. For the convergent ones compute the limit:

an =n2/3 sin(n!)/n + 1
an =3n + (-2)n/3n+1 + (-2)n+1
an = 1 +n/n + 1cos(n2)

I'm not sure how many here would have found the above problem set comparable to the work in your own freshmen Calculus classes, but it does seem more advanced than what a typical CSULB introductory Calculus class would entail.

Here's a sample syllabus of Calculus 1 at CSU Dominguez Hills:

http://www.csudh.edu/math/syllabi/MAT19 ... labus.html

While sample problem sets aren't available at the CSUDH page, the objectives part of the syllabus seems to imply more of a computational-based focus of learning for Calculus 1 there, which is arguably "easier."

One could perhaps continue this experiment of taking syllabi of equivalently labeled courses from two different schools to compare their requirements and rigor to see if an argument cannot be made that there is a potentially vast difference in the type of work required for a degree in the same subject.
Last edited by ksllaw on Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:05 am, edited 2 times in total.

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NoodleyOne
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby NoodleyOne » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:03 pm

If students at cal tech are so much smarter, they'll rock the lsat and be fine.

Holistic admissions is often subtle socioeconomic discrimination. I'm glad it's numbers based, and only significant soft factors, such as military service, give a significant boost.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:19 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:If students at cal tech are so much smarter, they'll rock the lsat and be fine.

Holistic admissions is often subtle socioeconomic discrimination. I'm glad it's numbers based, and only significant soft factors, such as military service, give a significant boost.

Exactly. For one thing, the difference between who goes to CalTech and who goes to CSU Dominguez Hills is rarely the degree of raw scientific talent.

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dusters
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby dusters » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:20 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:If students at cal tech are so much smarter, they'll rock the lsat and be fine.

Holistic admissions is often subtle socioeconomic discrimination. I'm glad it's numbers based, and only significant soft factors, such as military service, give a significant boost.

It is mostly numbers based, but URM get a boost to those numbers.

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Grond
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby Grond » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:32 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:If students at cal tech are so much smarter, they'll rock the lsat and be fine.

Holistic admissions is often subtle socioeconomic discrimination. I'm glad it's numbers based, and only significant soft factors, such as military service, give a significant boost.


The holistic admissions process was created to promote racism. Read The Chosen, by Jerome Karebel. Spoiler alert: Woodrow Wilson was a racist SOB.

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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby cinephile » Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:42 pm

I don't think anyone has touched on the real reason yet: law school is essentially another undergraduate degree. It'd be silly to compare it to med schools or other graduate programs because you can come into law school knowing nothing and you'll learn nothing you need to know there. Who cares if you know physics or film as neither will help you perform on a law school exam. So if we need some arbitrary distinction between applicants, might as well make it clear cut and numbers based rather than a touchy-feely balancing of the factors approach.

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ph14
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby ph14 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:43 pm

ksllaw wrote:See Thread Title.

To add on to it, does the numbers based approach to law school admissions not encourage a gaming of the system in terms of GPA? One could hypothetically inflate one's GPA through a number of means:

a.) taking easy courses/professors
b.) avoiding tough courses/professors
c.) taking on an easy major(s)

etc....I'm sure there are more. On the other hand, why would the strength/rigor of a person's program of study not matter? Would it be unreasonable to consider a 3.4 GPA from a CalTech physics major just as good, if not better, than a 3.75 film studies major from a student at Cal-State Long Beach? Yet, law school admissions doesn't seem to do that (at least not rigorously and comprehensively/thoroughly enough). It seems still heavily numbers based without much room for qualitative comparisons and evaluations.

Do the schools not care about the consequences of such admissions criteria in regards to building the most capable and deserving student body?


Why do you think a holistic methods process is better than a numbers-based approach?

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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby curious66 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:47 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
NoodleyOne wrote:If students at cal tech are so much smarter, they'll rock the lsat and be fine.

Holistic admissions is often subtle socioeconomic discrimination. I'm glad it's numbers based, and only significant soft factors, such as military service, give a significant boost.

Exactly. For one thing, the difference between who goes to CalTech and who goes to CSU Dominguez Hills is rarely the degree of raw scientific talent.


And the fact that most CalTech students would pick better career choices than Law School. Seriously though, I do think some weight needs to be given to the major one takes. OP's post and concern are legit but frankly -- one of the first rules of being a lawyer is to know the loopholes in the system and know how to exploit them!! Most engineers/scientist struggle with that :)

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jetsfan1
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby jetsfan1 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:23 pm

The biggest problem I think with numbers game is comparing gpas across schools, not so much bc of the quality of the school, but bc of different levels of grade inflation. My UG, for example, is known for fighting grade inflation and making a significant effort to keep grades down. For instance, after one semester when the cumulative gpa of all students jumped, the administration emailed all the profs and told them to start grading harder. Our econ department curves to a B-, or a 2.66. Compare this to somewhere like Brown, where 2/3 of all grades given out are As. ( http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162- ... st-grades/ ) Not that my school is as good as Brown, but the point remains that when you have different levels of grade inflation, the same gpa can have vastly different meanings at different schools that are about equal in prestige, which makes it even harder to compare them.




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