alexonfyre wrote:First of all, thank you guys for taking time out to answer questions for us.
I am currently getting ready for the Fall 2012 cycle, but I am a pretty severe splitter (2.8/166, going to retake). UCI is probably my number 1 pick because of the opportunity to help build what will certainly be a top-flight law school in the years to come. My entire resume is about creating new organizations and opening up new opportunities for others (helped establish an award winning international dorm-life program at my UG, current work experience is opening new markets for the small company I work for.)
I have a demonstrated passion for these sorts of things, but I worry that my numbers and other factors (weak community service experience, particularly) will make me an auto-deny. What can I do to showcase my enthusiasm, and even if I do that well, do I have a shot?
I am not part of the admissions committee (nor is any other student at UCI) so I will try to get you the best advice without sounding too generic. What you've described about yourself will certainly help you to stand out as a candidate. I am uncertain if they will be practicing the same admissions methodology as they did in the past, but in the past I know that they read the personal statement prior to any other assessment and evaluated based on the statement whether they even wanted to get into the more conventional evaluative criteria.
You make it clear that you understand the position you are in, being a splitter. I hope you find encouragement in that many students at UCI are splitters. One that I can think of actually had a 2.9 GPA but had a higher LSAT to offset that. Since your "soft" factors seem to be outstanding (creating an award winning program of anything at a undergraduate institution is just sick), I would say the best way to raise your chances on getting in is doing better on your LSAT.
To more directly answer your question, to showcase your enthusiasm, make sure your personal statement makes it clear not only what you have done, but why you have done it, and how you plan to use those skills to contribute to the institution-building culture of UCI. I should warn you though, that it is important to incorporate the most important things you have done or things you are passionate about without seeming like you are simply listing your credentials. In other words, try your best not to sound pretentious. I'm not sure how much you would want to take that advice to heart, seeing as how I'm not on the admissions committee. But I've spoken with a few administrators and faculty about how they made their admissions decisions and what always lit the "warning light" on and they commonly said something to the effect of "people who came off as really arrogant in their personal statements." As for your lack of community service, while having some service will certainly help, not having it will certainly not hurt. I was a candidate who had ZERO (really, zero) extracurriculars, and I know that there are quite a few of us that were like that as applicants. So I would not say that having zero community service would tank your chances.
And to answer your other question, of course you have a shot! You sound like an incredible applicant from the little that you've revealed. I wish you the best. And I apologize for this painfully long reply.