Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

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born4law
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Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby born4law » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:02 pm

By now it should be common knowledge here that law school applications are down like never before. But I'm wondering what kind of effect this has on the traditional wisdom of applying early during the cycle.

My own experience has been that I applied extremely late (a day before the deadline) and still got accepted to a T20 with a nearly full-ride scholarship just two weeks later. My stats were in the 75%+percentile for both GPA and LSAT at this particular school.

I've scoured this forum up and down for advice related to timing your app submission and I consistently see statements like, "Anyone who applies late will either get rejected, waitlisted, or if they're lucky enough to get accepted, will have no scholarship money made available to them."

Well, given my experience, that's just not true.

Of course, the disappointing applicant numbers this cycle has a lot to do with my surprisingly happy outcome. In fact, I'd like to open a discussion about how applicants should adjust their submission timing to account for this new admissions landscape.

There are 2 questions here:
1) Do law school adcom playbooks have contingencies for massive down years such as this one?
2) If there are contingencies, do they dictate that schools delay decision-making soas to get a better picture of the incoming pool?
3) If that's the case, would it no longer matter to apply early?

onionz
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby onionz » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:07 pm

born4law wrote:By now it should be common knowledge here that law school applications are down like never before. But I'm wondering what kind of effect this has on the traditional wisdom of applying early during the cycle.

My own experience has been that I applied extremely late (a day before the deadline) and still got accepted to a T20 with a nearly full-ride scholarship just two weeks later. My stats were in the 75%+percentile for both GPA and LSAT at this particular school.

I've scoured this forum up and down for advice related to timing your app submission and I consistently see statements like, "Anyone who applies late will either get rejected, waitlisted, or if they're lucky enough to get accepted, will have no scholarship money made available to them."

Well, given my experience, that's just not true.

Of course, the disappointing applicant numbers this cycle has a lot to do with my surprisingly happy outcome. In fact, I'd like to open a discussion about how applicants should adjust their submission timing to account for this new admissions landscape.

There are 2 questions here:
1) Do law school adcom playbooks have contingencies for massive down years such as this one?
2) If they do not, would it actually be beneficial to submit later than usual?


First. I think even in the best of times, applying with 75th+ percentile numbers got you a lot of success. Applying early is still the best advice, although it is probably less meaningful this year (and has be admitted such, which you would see when you scour this forum."

No law schools do not have contingencies for massive down years like this. Why would it ever be beneficial to apply later?

born4law
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby born4law » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:10 pm

onionz wrote:Why would it ever be beneficial to apply later?


It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but at least for the 2012-2013 cycle, isn't it possible that law schools get stymied by the change in applicant numbers and therefore make some odd decisions early in the cycle, for which an applicant applying later could take advantage of if these schools feel they need to make "corrections"?

Do you get where I'm going with this? I could be off about this theory. It's just an idea I want to kick around on here with the rest of you anxious and intelligent TLSers :)

cgw
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby cgw » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:12 pm

born4law wrote:By now it should be common knowledge here that law school applications are down like never before. But I'm wondering what kind of effect this has on the traditional wisdom of applying early during the cycle.

My own experience has been that I applied extremely late (a day before the deadline) and still got accepted to a T20 with a nearly full-ride scholarship just two weeks later. My stats were in the 75%+percentile for both GPA and LSAT at this particular school.

I've scoured this forum up and down for advice related to timing your app submission and I consistently see statements like, "Anyone who applies late will either get rejected, waitlisted, or if they're lucky enough to get accepted, will have no scholarship money made available to them."

Well, given my experience, that's just not true.

Of course, the disappointing applicant numbers this cycle has a lot to do with my surprisingly happy outcome. In fact, I'd like to open a discussion about how applicants should adjust their submission timing to account for this new admissions landscape.

There are 2 questions here:
1) Do law school adcom playbooks have contingencies for massive down years such as this one?
2) If there are contingencies, do they dictate that schools delay decision-making soas to get a better picture of the incoming pool?
3) If that's the case, would it no longer matter to apply early?


The fact that it is less advantageous to apply early (provided, of course, your stats are within a school's range), does not in any way imply it is beneficial to apply late.

It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but at least for the 2012-2013 cycle, isn't it possible that law schools get stymied by the change in applicant numbers and therefore make some odd decisions early in the cycle, for which an applicant applying later could take advantage of if these schools feel they need to make "corrections"?


That's why adcomms invented waitlists. Also, this is not the first year admissions have declined.

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scruffy556
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby scruffy556 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:32 pm

Ancedotal, but applying early can absolutely be the difference between an admit and a ding for those below medians. I'm below both medians at the school I will be attending in August, and I was told in not so many words the only way I was going to be accepted there was if I applied before November. The current round of dings showing on LSN backs that up pretty well.

born4law
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby born4law » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:28 pm

scruffy556 wrote:Ancedotal, but applying early can absolutely be the difference between an admit and a ding for those below medians.

True, but again, this year (and the past 2 years) present a new situation in which that may not be the case as much anymore.

scruffy556 wrote:The current round of dings showing on LSN backs that up pretty well.

Not necessarily. The dings could have just been from people that applied in the past several months, not necessarily at or near the deadlines. Did you see people that submitted apps 2-3 weeks ago already report dings? I doubt it.

One other point is that if you look at LSN (and the data for past years), you'll see that perfectly qualified applicants get rejected early on too, in December-January, before the deadlines.

So there's really two things to look for here:
1) Has applying early ever helped admission?
2) Has applying late ever hurt it?


It's tough to find causation between LSN data points and app submission dates to try and prove either of those questions.

If we are to believe that applying late still hurts admissions chances, then wouldn't my experience with the T20 school be an anomaly? Shouldn't I simply have been admitted with little to no scholarship money, despite my stats? It doesn't make sense. The fact that I was so aggressively courted by that school could only be explained by one of two factors:

1) They somehow uniquely fell in love with my application and no other school will appreciate me the same way (i.e. applying late will hurt me elsewhere as per the commonly accepted wisdom).
2) Apps are down --> schools are hurting --> applying early doesn't matter at all --> the rest of my applications will resolve in favorable outcomes just as if I had applied back in October or November

I'm picking option 2, and not just out of some blind optimism. But I'm curious to hear feedback to this line of reasoning.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:37 pm

There was some evidence last cycle that people were better off getting waitlisted rather than accepted right away at certain schools, but I don't know if applying later would have helped.

bp shinners
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby bp shinners » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:54 am

Completely anecdotal, but after going through many application seasons with a large number of applicants, my students that applied early tended to have better luck with their reach/target schools that my students who applied late. For safety schools/low targets, no difference whatsoever.

20141023
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby 20141023 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:31 pm

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Last edited by 20141023 on Mon Feb 16, 2015 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Borg
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby Borg » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:40 pm

I think the advice to submit early in the cycle applies much more to reach and target schools than it does to safeties. It has probably always been the case that if you're at the 75th percentile like you were you would still be accepted, though maybe without such generous financial aid. I was expecting a waitlist at best from both Harvard and Stanford, but I applied early on in the cycle and lo and behold...

Big Dog
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby Big Dog » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:48 pm

The fact that it is less advantageous to apply early (provided, of course, your stats are within a school's range), does not in any way imply it is beneficial to apply late.


Alternatively, it appears to be less dis-advantageous to apply late. Based on lsn, it still appears that some law schools dipped below their medians from the early acceptees. Right now that is not happening.

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JXander
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby JXander » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:53 pm

Just to clarify: is this just within the context of being admitted, or is this also open to a discussion of being admitted with a substantial scholarship? I ask because I think you may be somewhat correct in proposing that early applications are insignificant, yet you might be overlooking the fact that those later applicants who are accepted tend to not receive as many scholarship offers.

born4law wrote:I've scoured this forum up and down for advice related to timing your app submission and I consistently see statements like, "Anyone who applies late will either get rejected, waitlisted, or if they're lucky enough to get accepted, will have no scholarship money made available to them."

Well, given my experience, that's just not true.

If so, then I am interested as to whether you were presented with hefty amounts of money to the schools to which you applied late.

born4law
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby born4law » Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:42 pm

kappycaft1 wrote:Of course, I will never know what my outcomes would have been if I had applied later in the cycle, but I still think it gave me a boost.

Yea, this just seems like something really hard to prove.

JXander wrote:I am interested as to whether you were presented with hefty amounts of money to the schools to which you applied late.

Out of the 8 schools I've applied to, I've only gotten one decision back, which was that T20 acceptance with the nearly-full scholly, so I can't answer this question yet.

Borg wrote:It has probably always been the case that if you're at the 75th percentile like you were you would still be accepted, though maybe without such generous financial aid.

That financial aid is what's the kicker here. It's what makes me say: "Whoa, it doesn't matter when you apply!" But again, that only holds assuming this particular school wasn't somehow uniquely in love with me.

Borg wrote:I was expecting a waitlist at best from both Harvard and Stanford, but I applied early on in the cycle and lo and behold...

This actually makes me really nervous. That sucks. I'm at the 25th percentile for HYS, lagged the apps because of family/health reasons, and now I'm wondering: will I really pay the price? My first T20 acceptance with the scholly was a ray of hope, a sign that all the rules went out the window this cycle. I'm still hoping that's the case.

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Borg
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby Borg » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:24 pm

born4law wrote:
Borg wrote:I was expecting a waitlist at best from both Harvard and Stanford, but I applied early on in the cycle and lo and behold...

This actually makes me really nervous. That sucks. I'm at the 25th percentile for HYS, lagged the apps because of family/health reasons, and now I'm wondering: will I really pay the price? My first T20 acceptance with the scholly was a ray of hope, a sign that all the rules went out the window this cycle. I'm still hoping that's the case.


To clarify, I'm almost done with school, not on my way in. I have no idea how things have worked out this cycle.

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Crowing
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby Crowing » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:09 am

born4law wrote:My own experience has been that I applied extremely late (a day before the deadline) and still got accepted to a T20 with a nearly full-ride scholarship just two weeks later. My stats were in the 75%+percentile for both GPA and LSAT at this particular school.


Well that's why it didn't hurt you. Late apps have never been a problem for over-qualified applicants. It's only when you're borderline that you'll really notice the difference.

I applied in February last cycle and also got a "nearly full-ride" to a T20. I also struck out of the T14.

I reapplied for this cycle in September with no significant differences to my app and am already in at a T6.

The story is anecdotal, sure, but I think it's more reflective of the situation than your anecdote because my numbers were/are borderline.

born4law
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby born4law » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:26 am

Crowing wrote:I applied in February last cycle and also got a "nearly full-ride" to a T20. I also struck out of the T14.

Wow, this is not good news for me. I'm frankly getting really nervous about my whole cycle now that I hear anecdotes like yours. It's just so extreme to get so much money from some T20 and then not even get accepted to a T14 (with borderline numbers). You would think a school in T10-14 would still offer some money, and then you'd get accepted with no money at a T6-T10 and then T0-6 would be a crapshoot.

Crowing wrote:I reapplied for this cycle in September with no significant differences to my app and am already in at a T6.

How were you able to reapply with no major differences to your app and still get admitted at a T6? I thought the rule with re-applying was that you had to have some kind of compelling new angle to your application: a better LSAT score, better GPA (if you're still in school), some kind of awesome work experience... You can just re-apply with the same app and get in to tough schools simply by applying earlier in the cycle?

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guano
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby guano » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:28 am

It's been we'll documented how adcoms work (generally):

Apps get reviewed more or less in the order they come in
However , if you have strong numbers, your app goes toward the top of the pile, regardless of when you submit
If you gave a great app, you get admitted; if you suck you get rejected
Maybes either get waitlisted or shuffled back into the pile for a closer look at a later date (strong maybes)
They've got spreadsheets that track scores and applicants.

Basically, if you're a strong candidate you'll get accepted regardless of when you apply, and same thing if you're a wreak candidate (albeit rejected)
For everyone else, there is a first-mover advantage, but its not that strong. If you're hovering around median, it helps to be reviewed early, when there are still plenty of spaces. Same if you have some special quality that'll help you sneak in while there are more spots for sub-par scores.

Toward the end of the cycle, the treatment is different. Some schools have gotten enough great candidates that they don't need to worry about their medians, so they're more willing to accept lower scores. Other schools will be struggling desperately to shore up their medians and will predominantly be looking at numbers. Lastly, some schools will have resigned themselves to the fact that their medians have dropped and will be acting accordingly (though probably still desperate to not drop too much)

In all likelihood, all schools are gonna be struggling with their medians this year, meaning that the later you apply, the more your numbers matter

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Crowing
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby Crowing » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:40 am

born4law wrote:
Crowing wrote:I applied in February last cycle and also got a "nearly full-ride" to a T20. I also struck out of the T14.

Wow, this is not good news for me. I'm frankly getting really nervous about my whole cycle now that I hear anecdotes like yours. It's just so extreme to get so much money from some T20 and then not even get accepted to a T14 (with borderline numbers). You would think a school in T10-14 would still offer some money, and then you'd get accepted with no money at a T6-T10 and then T0-6 would be a crapshoot.

Crowing wrote:I reapplied for this cycle in September with no significant differences to my app and am already in at a T6.

How were you able to reapply with no major differences to your app and still get admitted at a T6? I thought the rule with re-applying was that you had to have some kind of compelling new angle to your application: a better LSAT score, better GPA (if you're still in school), some kind of awesome work experience... You can just re-apply with the same app and get in to tough schools simply by applying earlier in the cycle?


Well to be fair I didn't apply to GULC last year and I'm pretty sure I would've gotten in there even with a late app, but applying late definitely didn't do me any favors overall. I am also a splitter which certainly lends itself to more unpredictability.

Logically one would expect schools to try to keep the acceptances rolling fairly steadily throughout the cycle to get the best applicants but for whatever reason in reality this isn't the case for many schools. NYU for example is pretty much done admitting people by the end of January.

As for your second question, well, honestly I don't know. My numbers were pretty much the same - my gpa is a little higher this time around due to my second semester grades but it's not enough of an increase to really matter. I did rewrite every essay and got one new LoR. I also got some FT WE but it was a pretty boring job so I doubt that made much of a difference. My apps last year were quite rushed though (since I was already freaking out from being so late) and were certainly more polished this year. But once again who knows how much difference those individual aspects have made.

I wouldn't worry too much if I were you though because this cycle is at this point down 20% applicants from last year, so past practices and tendencies are probably not going to hold totally true. It's hard to imagine that schools won't be forced to dig deeper this year to maintain medians and class sizes.

born4law
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby born4law » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:22 pm

I finally had a chance to read through Mike Spivey's excellent Q&A on this forum (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=197451) and noticed this highly relevant tidbit:

MikeSpivey wrote:It is almost always better to get things in earlier rather than later (unless you are waiting for a new LSAT score or some other pivotal factor to change) so early= better.

This year, however, that advantage should be greatly diminished. School are going to move very slow based on the craziness and "summer melting" (what we use in admissions to refer to what happens when you lose seat deposited admits to another school and then take off your waitlist and the domino effect ensues). IF you are a strong applicant above both medians or with some other compelling factor that makes you attractive (e.g. URM with strong credentials) you will likely benefit even more by applying early--particulary in the scholarship pool where resources can become exhausted early) and applying early as possible is greatly to your advantage. If you are right at or right below a school's medians I would expect a long "hold" this year where you might not hear a thing as schools try to get a handle on the applicant pool.

leo2013
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby leo2013 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:10 pm

I am on the same boat with you. Extremely late app, get in a T20 where I am 75% and get full ride. I do get one T14 2 days ago.

So my answer is: apply late still hurts, but not hurt as bad as usual.

and for T6 I think it probably hurts a lot.
born4law wrote:
Crowing wrote:I applied in February last cycle and also got a "nearly full-ride" to a T20. I also struck out of the T14.

Wow, this is not good news for me. I'm frankly getting really nervous about my whole cycle now that I hear anecdotes like yours. It's just so extreme to get so much money from some T20 and then not even get accepted to a T14 (with borderline numbers). You would think a school in T10-14 would still offer some money, and then you'd get accepted with no money at a T6-T10 and then T0-6 would be a crapshoot.

Crowing wrote:I reapplied for this cycle in September with no significant differences to my app and am already in at a T6.

How were you able to reapply with no major differences to your app and still get admitted at a T6? I thought the rule with re-applying was that you had to have some kind of compelling new angle to your application: a better LSAT score, better GPA (if you're still in school), some kind of awesome work experience... You can just re-apply with the same app and get in to tough schools simply by applying earlier in the cycle?

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sublime
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby sublime » Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:12 am

..

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alwayssunnyinfl
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby alwayssunnyinfl » Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:15 am

OP, it sounds like you're just trying to talk yourself out of reapplying in the fall if you don't get the offers you want.

If you underperform your numbers and you're not comfortable with that, reapply in the fall.

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PDaddy
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby PDaddy » Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:18 am

born4law wrote:
onionz wrote:Why would it ever be beneficial to apply later?


It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but at least for the 2012-2013 cycle, isn't it possible that law schools get stymied by the change in applicant numbers and therefore make some odd decisions early in the cycle, for which an applicant applying later could take advantage of if these schools feel they need to make "corrections"?

Do you get where I'm going with this? I could be off about this theory. It's just an idea I want to kick around on here with the rest of you anxious and intelligent TLSers :)


Due to the high volumes in recent years, schools have delayed their evaluation processes, and they would appear to be forced to do the same now due to the uncertainty presented by the currently low volumes.

Applicants with weaker numbers always have some advantage by applying early in the cycle, but that advantage can vary depending on the year and school. By waiting, all an applicant does is subject himself to the risk that adcoms will look to shore up their numbers or ad-hoc class size reductions - and trust me, they have occurred.

No matter what the adcoms are doing, I can find little or no value in purposely submitting applications later in the cycle. If nothing else, your application gets read by fresh, energetic eyes, and your topic is more likely to feel fresh to the adcoms. By mid-cycle, the adcoms have usually read it all and give less attention.

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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby fLaw School Bound » Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:04 pm

This is just further anectodal evidence, but I am also in the 'very late in the season' application category. most I applied for in early February, but were held awaiting my February LSAT retake scores until March 8th. So far I'm two for two including in at GW where LSAC's calculator only gave me a 10% chance of getting admitted (i'm a splitter 170/2.77 ten years out of school with pretty good softs). I was also accepted to the University of Georgia.

I might be a little screwed in the scholarship department, but think as far as acceptance I really may have been better off applying late. As both total applicants and scores for those applicants that did apply were down significantly this year, there's a chance that schools were more open to applicants, especially splitters, that they normally wouldn't have been once they began to get desperate.

bp shinners
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Re: Applying Early No Longer Beneficial?

Postby bp shinners » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:17 am

fLaw School Bound wrote:This is just further anectodal evidence, but I am also in the 'very late in the season' application category. most I applied for in early February, but were held awaiting my February LSAT retake scores until March 8th. So far I'm two for two including in at GW where LSAC's calculator only gave me a 10% chance of getting admitted (i'm a splitter 170/2.77 ten years out of school with pretty good softs). I was also accepted to the University of Georgia.

I might be a little screwed in the scholarship department, but think as far as acceptance I really may have been better off applying late. As both total applicants and scores for those applicants that did apply were down significantly this year, there's a chance that schools were more open to applicants, especially splitters, that they normally wouldn't have been once they began to get desperate.


A massive splitter with 10 years work experience will break every prediction tool out there, so I wouldn't put much stock in that 10% chance. Your GPA becomes comparatively less useful as a predictor for law schools the further away from it you are, time-wise. You're also above GW's 75% for LSAT, so it doesn't surprise me you were admitted there.

Could this be evidence that a splitter applying late has a better shot? Sure. But I'd still bank on someone with your background being better off sending in an application sometime in October. They have data from LSAC on test takers, and they knew they'd need some high-LSAT people (170+s are very rare nowadays), so I would have expected the same outcome with an early application, albeit with more nailbiting because you'd be waiting for a response longer.




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