Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

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heyduchess

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Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby heyduchess » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:50 pm

Hello, hello.

I've been snooping on the T-14 Google Sheets and can't help but notice the row of self-graded softs. It's interesting that people are rating themselves as Highly Unique, Below Average, etc. It's not like there's a bell curve of softs out there. (OR IS THERE?)

How do you self-grade your softs? What's average? What's above average?

I'm applying for Fall 2018 and hoping that my softs will boost my application, which features a mediocre GPA from a Top Public. (ie: Mich, UCLA, UVA, UNC, or Berkeley... though I won't say which.)

Obviously, an Olympic gold medal is Highly Unique and not doing anything is Below Average, but outside of those two examples, what qualifies as Average, Above Average, Below Average, Unique, and Highly Unique? :?:

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:56 pm

For my money:

Highly unique- Olympic medal, Pulitzer, etc.
Unique- Non-traditional work experience, Ph.D
Above average- well-regarded publication, graduate degree, high-level work experience, military (I think this is borderline-unique)
Average- work experience for a well-known enterprise, wrote a thesis, chaired student groups
Below average- minimal work experience, some student group involvement

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perfunctory

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby perfunctory » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:57 pm

What I think -
Average: having gov't/legal internships, being on student-run organizations
Above average: prior ibanking career, extensive involvement in politics
Highly unique: olympic medal, diplomat

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby waldorf » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:01 pm

.
Last edited by waldorf on Tue May 09, 2017 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby perfunctory » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:03 pm

sjs12 wrote:I considered myself very slightly above average..
-Phi Beta Kappa & summa cum laude, graduate of the Honors college at my undergrad institution
-Very extensive political experience, including being very high up in a top gubernatorial race at a young age (received two shining LOR's from pretty well known people in politics thanks to this)
-Unique (somewhat rough) upbringing/background (but relative of course to other applicants)
-Fluent in two foreign languages
-Several campus leadership positions including running a counter protest during a protest at my undergrad that received national attention
-Writer for multiple online publications (political centered, but these are a dime a dozen, so I don't think this is at all rare)
-I will also say that writing is my strength so I think that my PS and other essays were quite good

I'd say it's slightly above your average applicant, but not amazing. None of this is very rare at all, but it's a step above "I was president of my sorority for a year and participated in two other clubs," which I'd say is pretty average for a KJD or close to it (I took one gap year).

I think what is defined as average/above average/below average, etc. also depends on your age/how long you've been out of school. My political experience would be a lot less impressive if I were 26 and had been working for several years, imo.


you're pretty amazing

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:05 pm

Several-- actually, many-- years ago, I read law school admissions books written by former directors of admission at T-14 law schools. As I recall, there was a significant amount of discussion on this topic. One point that I remember is that most admissions officers try to build a class of diverse students so that what is considered a strong or weak soft may vary year to year, as well as by school. Regardless, applicants need to package their softs in a convincing fashion. Stick to a theme (marketing) & sell yourself.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby waldorf » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:06 pm

perfunctory wrote:
you're pretty amazing


I think it depends on where you're applying as well. Compared to the resumes of people that I've seen applying to T14s, I don't think I'm that impressive. Compared to the resumes of people that I know who are hoping to go where I went for undergrad (barely a T1), my resume is more impressive. It's all relative, really, unless you have something that REALLY stands out - like an Olympic gold medal, curing cancer, etc.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby Future Ex-Engineer » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:08 pm

sjs12 wrote:
I think what is defined as average/above average/below average, etc. also depends on your age/how long you've been out of school. My political experience would be a lot less impressive if I were 26 and had been working for several years, imo.


I think I'm gonna disagree with this part - I think if there is someone who is 26 trying to go LS and say they have 5 years of W/E after a bachelors working a STEM job for DoD contractor, I'd consider that a very above average soft. It's something that proves they're capable of being useful as a human/achieving something/doing something with their life (which in my mind is kind of the point of 'ranking' softs outside of an adcom being able to put a blurb in promotional material).

Why would a few years of political experience be less important at age 28 than age 25?

Edit to make my point a little clearer: My disagreement is with my assessment that you're saying the longer you're out of school, the less impressive work experience is? Maybe I'm misinterpreting what you're saying, but that's how it came off, and I'd wager legitimate work experience is even more valuable to adcoms with a continuous history of good work (assuming you can make a compelling statement for why you are going to LS).
Last edited by Future Ex-Engineer on Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby DrSpaceman » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:08 pm

sjs12 wrote:I considered myself very slightly above average..
-Phi Beta Kappa & summa cum laude, graduate of the Honors college at my undergrad institution
-Very extensive political experience, including being very high up in a top gubernatorial race at a young age (received two shining LOR's from pretty well known people in politics thanks to this)
-Unique (somewhat rough) upbringing/background (but relative of course to other applicants)
-Fluent in two foreign languages
-Several campus leadership positions including running a counter protest during a protest at my undergrad that received national attention
-Writer for multiple online publications (political centered, but these are a dime a dozen, so I don't think this is at all rare)
-I will also say that writing is my strength so I think that my PS and other essays were quite good

I'd say it's slightly above your average applicant, but not amazing. None of this is very rare at all, but it's a step above "I was president of my sorority for a year and participated in two other clubs," which I'd say is pretty average for a KJD or close to it (I took one gap year).

I think what is defined as average/above average/below average, etc. also depends on your age/how long you've been out of school. My political experience would be a lot less impressive if I were 26 and had been working for several years, imo.


This strikes me as exactly average. The only soft factors that seem to matter are things that would make you more employable. Thus, PhD (especially in hard sciences or economics), military, significant professional experience seems to have gotten my friends in where they wouldn't on their grades alone. Otherwise, being a good student (with the other stuff that usually goes with that, like campus involvement and what not) is assumed and captured in the hard parts of your application. They don't care about things that make you a cool or interesting person; they value stuff that will help you get jobs and make the school look good.

ETA: not taking a shot at sts12, just using that as an example to make my point for OP.
Last edited by DrSpaceman on Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby waldorf » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:10 pm

mrgstephe wrote:
sjs12 wrote:
I think what is defined as average/above average/below average, etc. also depends on your age/how long you've been out of school. My political experience would be a lot less impressive if I were 26 and had been working for several years, imo.


I think I'm gonna disagree with this part - I think if there is someone who is 26 trying to go LS and say they have 5 years of W/E after a bachelors working a STEM job for DoD contractor, I'd consider that a very above average soft. It's something that proves they're capable of being useful as a human/achieving something/doing something with their life (which in my mind is kind of the point of 'ranking' softs outside of an adcom being able to put a blurb in promotional material).

Why would a few years of political experience be less important at age 28 than age 25?


Absolutely agree with you.

On a personal note, I think my role in the campaign was impressive because I got the job at such a young age and did very well at it at a young age, while balancing a full courseload until I graduated in May. I was 20-21 while almost everyone else at my level was 30+. That's where I'm coming from. I think that my role would have been less impressive if I was 30.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby Future Ex-Engineer » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:11 pm

sjs12 wrote:
mrgstephe wrote:
sjs12 wrote:
I think what is defined as average/above average/below average, etc. also depends on your age/how long you've been out of school. My political experience would be a lot less impressive if I were 26 and had been working for several years, imo.


I think I'm gonna disagree with this part - I think if there is someone who is 26 trying to go LS and say they have 5 years of W/E after a bachelors working a STEM job for DoD contractor, I'd consider that a very above average soft. It's something that proves they're capable of being useful as a human/achieving something/doing something with their life (which in my mind is kind of the point of 'ranking' softs outside of an adcom being able to put a blurb in promotional material).

Why would a few years of political experience be less important at age 28 than age 25?


Absolutely agree with you.

On a personal note, I think my role in the campaign was impressive because I got the job at such a young age and did very well at it at a young age, while balancing a full courseload until I graduated in May. I was 20-21 while almost everyone else at my level was 30+. That's where I'm coming from. I think that my role would have been less impressive if I was 30.


Ahh, I get it. That was a one-off thing, not a career thing. Makes much more sense.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby waldorf » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:12 pm

mrgstephe wrote:Edit to make my point a little clearer: My disagreement is with my assessment that you're saying the longer you're out of school, the less impressive work experience is? Maybe I'm misinterpreting what you're saying, but that's how it came off, and I'd wager legitimate work experience is even more valuable to adcoms with a continuous history of good work (assuming you can make a compelling statement for why you are going to LS).


I missed this before I replied but I hope my reply made it clearer? It definitely depends on the WE.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby heyduchess » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:13 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Several-- actually, many-- years ago, I read law school admissions books written by former directors of admission at T-14 law schools. As I recall, there was a significant amount of discussion on this topic. One point that I remember is that most admissions officers try to build a class of diverse students so that what is considered a strong or weak soft may vary year to year, as well as by school. Regardless, applicants need to package their softs in a convincing fashion. Stick to a theme (marketing) & sell yourself.



I'm more in the camp of sticking with a theme, I guess. I know Dean Faye (SLS) is all for the thematic softs. But then, you get to whether or not you include or highlight things that are more impressive, but don't fall into your theme.

FWIW, I am not a KJD. At the time of my application, I'll have 4 years of pretty interesting WE, a prestigious (but completely irrelevant and off-theme) award, and extensive volunteer work in the Public Interest field I want to pursue.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:15 pm

DrSpaceman wrote:This strikes me as exactly average. The only soft factors that seem to matter are things that would make you more employable. Thus, PhD (especially in hard sciences or economics), military, significant professional experience seems to have gotten my friends in where they wouldn't on their grades alone. Otherwise, being a good student (with the other stuff that usually goes with that, like campus involvement and what not) is assumed and captured in the hard parts of your application. They don't care about things that make you a cool or interesting person; they value stuff that will help you get jobs and make the school look good.

ETA: not taking a shot at sts12, just using that as an example to make my point for OP.


I kind of want to push back a bit on the idea that weird/unique softs don't get considered. I know that my weird background helped me get scholarship and admissions offers that should probably have been less of a sure thing for me. Granted, I'm also devilishly handsome and incredibly charming, but I think that some softs that wouldn't be obviously classified as "employable" have a bit more of an effect.

All this said, softs don't come anywhere near LSAT/GPA in terms of determining where you go to school. I honestly found them to be much more important in the financial aid phase than in admissions.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby waldorf » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:17 pm

DrSpaceman wrote:
This strikes me as exactly average. The only soft factors that seem to matter are things that would make you more employable. Thus, PhD (especially in hard sciences or economics), military, significant professional experience seems to have gotten my friends in where they wouldn't on their grades alone. Otherwise, being a good student (with the other stuff that usually goes with that, like campus involvement and what not) is assumed and captured in the hard parts of your application. They don't care about things that make you a cool or interesting person; they value stuff that will help you get jobs and make the school look good.

ETA: not taking a shot at sts12, just using that as an example to make my point for OP.


Yep, that's why I think it depends on where you're applying/who the applicant pool is consisted of when gauging where you're at (which is impossible, because you won't know the resumes of every other applicant). I would consider myself average or a smidge above compared to those I know applying to T14s (excluding say, HYS), but fairly above average compared to the people I know who are applying to where I went to undergrad (and other regional lower T1s/higher TTs). The latter contains more people who did pretty well in school, had maybe one leadership position, and participated in one or two other organizations (they're also all KJDs, so I wouldn't necessarily put them below average relative to their peers).

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby Blue664 » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:19 pm

Hmm...but with between a quarter and half of students at most T14s coming straight out of undergrad, and the average age of incoming students ~24-26, isn't a few years of work experience automatically "above average"? Assuming of course you have something interesting to say about it, but doesn't have to be ibanking, international-focused, politics-focused, making national news, etc.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby BigZuck » Thu Feb 02, 2017 8:10 pm

All this talk about soft strength is distracting you guys and taking precious time away from prepping for your LSAT retakes.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby star fox » Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:34 pm

heyduchess wrote:I'm applying for Fall 2018 and hoping that my softs will boost my application, which features a mediocre GPA from a Top Public. (ie: Mich, UCLA, UVA, UNC, or Berkeley... though I won't say which.)

So UNC?

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby lymenheimer » Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:08 pm

star fox wrote:
heyduchess wrote:I'm applying for Fall 2018 and hoping that my softs will boost my application, which features a mediocre GPA from a Top Public. (ie: Mich, UCLA, UVA, UNC, or Berkeley... though I won't say which.)

So UNC?

:lol: was thinking the same thing but didn't want to disrupt the grandeur.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby Kinch08 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:58 am

I think that you're all setting way too high a bar for "average." I would agree with you if we were talking "average for someone who's applying to T6 and is depending on their softs to get them in because their numbers are borderline," but I was under the impression that we were talking average across all TLS posters/lurkers. Plenty of people, even on here, aren't even really aiming at top 14--I honestly think that simply working for a couple of years and having a couple of extracurricular leadership roles or whatever gets you pretty close to that 50th percentile.

That said, my softs are below average by just about any metric you wanna choose, lol. 'S why I'm going to law school, though--I remember applying to college as a kid and being like "man, this is a hassle, I wish they'd just look at my numbers and ignore everything else." And now look at me, living the dream.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby ToGetIntoTheBoysHole » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:07 am

Very simple,

If you have a named scholarship, very prestigious WE, or something else that is truly unique --> above average

If you think you have above average softs (like pretty much every other law school applicant) --> average

If you have admitted to yourself that you have average softs --> below average

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby AJordan » Fri Feb 03, 2017 5:58 am

It probably depends. "Military" is super ambiguous for what it's worth. Someone who has done ten+ years with multiple deployments is not the same as an ROTC grad who did his 4 years and got out.

I agree with the poster who posits "softs balance." If everyone is applying with political experience the guy with the military background is stronger than vice versa. We are at the mercy of others in our applicant pool.

That said, I don't believe anything in "student organization" would be anything above average. I also think "leadership experience" is overrated. Learning how to follow is just as (more?) important in legal work guessing.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby warmcherrysoda » Fri Feb 03, 2017 6:33 am

From the 2015-2016 admissions spreadsheet thread:


xylocarp wrote:
smccgrey wrote:Just looking at the spreadsheet fields... What do you think defines Average or Above Average softs?

Below Average would likely be non-URM K-JD with little work exp. or community involvement, but what takes someone from average to above average, if they aren't URM and don't have military experience?

This was discussed a lot in last year's spreadsheets thread, and the general consensus was that it's very, very difficult to define.

Here's one list that was floating around:

iamgeorgebush wrote:"Highly Unique" : Rhodes, founder of a nonprofit/startup, chef at a Michelin starred restaurant, NFL player, published novelist, etc.
"Above Average" : Marshall/Gates/Fulbright/Truman, MBB Consulting/bulge bracket Investment Banking, production assistant at CNN, paralegal at the ACLU, software engineer at a venture-funded startup, officer of a state or national student organization, etc.
"Average" : student government, student newspaper, neighborhood outreach, fund raising, officer at a student club or two, etc. (some combination of at least three of these)
"Below Average" : one or two of "average"
"Weak" : few to no ECs/internships

But obviously it's not comprehensive and there was a lot of disagreement about it, so take that with a grain of salt.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 7:11 am

Kinch08 wrote:I think that you're all setting way too high a bar for "average."


Then I think you aren't setting the bar high enough. People going to law school tend to be people who have done something in college. Being a steady participant in your school's mock trial team isn't really a stand-out attribute.

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Re: Gauging My Softs: What Even Is "Average"?

Postby Wipfelder » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:25 am

AJordan wrote:It probably depends. "Military" is super ambiguous for what it's worth. Someone who has done ten+ years with multiple deployments is not the same as an ROTC grad who did his 4 years and got out.

I agree with the poster who posits "softs balance." If everyone is applying with political experience the guy with the military background is stronger than vice versa. We are at the mercy of others in our applicant pool.

That said, I don't believe anything in "student organization" would be anything above average. I also think "leadership experience" is overrated. Learning how to follow is just as (more?) important in legal work guessing.


This. Military in and of itself isn't a great boost. People I know who killed it in the admissions cycle had unique deployment experiences and/or shiny medals and stuff.



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