Spivey Consulting Q&A with Adcoms from Yale, Harvard, Penn, Chicago etc.

Special forum where professionals are encouraged to help law school applicants, students, and graduates.

Which would you prefer most?

Poll ended at Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:05 am

1. Blog advice
0
No votes
2. Podcast advice
0
No votes
3. Video advice
0
No votes
4. Just keep it all on TLS
0
No votes
5. Tweet it
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 0

sancho
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:40 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby sancho » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:21 pm

BruinRegents wrote:What K-JD?


One who has gone straight from Kindergarten through to law school. No work experience, gap year, etc.

User avatar
BruinRegents
Posts: 153
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:11 am

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby BruinRegents » Fri Oct 11, 2013 12:38 am

sancho wrote:
BruinRegents wrote:What K-JD?


One who has gone straight from Kindergarten through to law school. No work experience, gap year, etc.

Gotcha. Thanks.

User avatar
KarenButtenbaum
Posts: 591
Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:39 am

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:46 pm

sancho wrote:
BruinRegents wrote:
sancho wrote:Hello Mike and Karen!

Would you please give some guidance on when baccalaureate GPA starts losing its predictive value and thus importance in the eyes of admission committees? I have read that applicants who have been out of college a while get a bit of a break on a lower GPA. When does this start occurring (i.e. 5 years, 10)? Is it linear?

Finally, does this mean the LSAT is usually weighted more than it would be for a recent grad or does this mean other, perhaps non-numerical, factors are?

Thank you very much!

Not Mike of Karen but I'll give it a try.
I don't think I adcoms weigh the distance from UG GPA to application submission uniformly. Given the myriad methods with which adcoms at different schools view each application. As a corollary, if the applicant has not demonstrated an accomplishment (e.g. job) between UG and application submission, an adcom may be even less inclined to "forgive" a below median GPA a few years removed from UG. Finally, it would stand to reason that the LSAT would carry more weight, not less.


Hey, thanks for the effort.

To clarify for Mike and/or Karen, I never thought the LSAT would carry less weight but perhaps rather equal weight for all applicants (if indeed it wasn't weighted more, which it may be). If the GPA is weighed less for an older applicant, and assuming said applicant has of course accomplished something since college, perhaps those accomplishments/soft factors would be weighted more than they otherwise would be and the LSAT is, in fact, static?

I'm especially curious about how far out the GPA begins to get discounted. Are the aberrant GPAs (read: low outliers) at HYSCCN typically the older applicants with something to their app outside of an index score (Karen especially may be able to give some insight here ;))? Similarly, is the GPA bar higher (or at least less flexible) for the K-JD applicant? (This doesn't apply to me but I am always curious!)


I know this isn't what you want to hear, but there is no universal formula to determine diminished predictive value of a GPA as time passes as schools review applications. But, if you are going to have a bad GPA/semester/year, it is best to have some time separating you from it, and it is best to have a strong something (LSAT, recent GPA if the BA wasn't finished) to counterbalance the previous weaker indicator of success.

The bottom line is that the schools have to report what is in the CAS report as your cumulative GPA, so there needs to be something else attractive in your application (a strong LSAT is usually the best bet). If the GPA is below the 25th percentile, it doesn't matter how far below it is, it's still not going to help the school.

Hope that is helpful!

User avatar
KarenButtenbaum
Posts: 591
Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:39 am

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:56 pm

Seoulless wrote:I've got a question about recommendations:

How many years do you have to be out of school for it to be considered acceptable to use a professional recommendation and an academic recommendation instead of two academic recs?


I'd say two years, but please keep in mind that YOU are going to be the best judge of who is going to say the nicest things about you. The vast majority of LORs are supportive (there are a few uncomfortable letters out there) but an outstanding LOR trumps a mediocre or fair one.

Cheers,
Karen

sancho
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:40 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby sancho » Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:49 pm

KarenButtenbaum wrote:I know this isn't what you want to hear, but there is no universal formula to determine diminished predictive value of a GPA as time passes as schools review applications. But, if you are going to have a bad GPA/semester/year, it is best to have some time separating you from it, and it is best to have a strong something (LSAT, recent GPA if the BA wasn't finished) to counterbalance the previous weaker indicator of success.

The bottom line is that the schools have to report what is in the CAS report as your cumulative GPA, so there needs to be something else attractive in your application (a strong LSAT is usually the best bet). If the GPA is below the 25th percentile, it doesn't matter how far below it is, it's still not going to help the school.

Hope that is helpful!


Hi Karen, thank you for your reply. It is helpful. Your penultimate sentence begs one further question: why do you suppose several top schools have GPA floors below which they do not appear to go? That low GPA is not helping like you say but it is not hurting either. (Aside from the fact it is taking the place of GPA that might help. Let's assume for this question that the low GPA is being offset by a very strong LSAT).

User avatar
MikeSpivey
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun May 03, 2009 4:28 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:48 pm

sancho wrote:
KarenButtenbaum wrote:I know this isn't what you want to hear, but there is no universal formula to determine diminished predictive value of a GPA as time passes as schools review applications. But, if you are going to have a bad GPA/semester/year, it is best to have some time separating you from it, and it is best to have a strong something (LSAT, recent GPA if the BA wasn't finished) to counterbalance the previous weaker indicator of success.

The bottom line is that the schools have to report what is in the CAS report as your cumulative GPA, so there needs to be something else attractive in your application (a strong LSAT is usually the best bet). If the GPA is below the 25th percentile, it doesn't matter how far below it is, it's still not going to help the school.

Hope that is helpful!


Hi Karen, thank you for your reply. It is helpful. Your penultimate sentence begs one further question: why do you suppose several top schools have GPA floors below which they do not appear to go? That low GPA is not helping like you say but it is not hurting either. (Aside from the fact it is taking the place of GPA that might help. Let's assume for this question that the low GPA is being offset by a very strong LSAT).


Mostly because of the psychological barrier it creates but also due to some research individual schools produce that gpa below a certain threshold (which is school dependent of course) produce a substantial drop off in bar passage. The same holds true for LSAT, fyi.

sancho
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:40 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby sancho » Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:12 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
sancho wrote:
KarenButtenbaum wrote:I know this isn't what you want to hear, but there is no universal formula to determine diminished predictive value of a GPA as time passes as schools review applications. But, if you are going to have a bad GPA/semester/year, it is best to have some time separating you from it, and it is best to have a strong something (LSAT, recent GPA if the BA wasn't finished) to counterbalance the previous weaker indicator of success.

The bottom line is that the schools have to report what is in the CAS report as your cumulative GPA, so there needs to be something else attractive in your application (a strong LSAT is usually the best bet). If the GPA is below the 25th percentile, it doesn't matter how far below it is, it's still not going to help the school.

Hope that is helpful!


Hi Karen, thank you for your reply. It is helpful. Your penultimate sentence begs one further question: why do you suppose several top schools have GPA floors below which they do not appear to go? That low GPA is not helping like you say but it is not hurting either. (Aside from the fact it is taking the place of GPA that might help. Let's assume for this question that the low GPA is being offset by a very strong LSAT).


Mostly because of the psychological barrier it creates but also due to some research individual schools produce that gpa below a certain threshold (which is school dependent of course) produce a substantial drop off in bar passage. The same holds true for LSAT, fyi.


Interesting Mike. (That new avatar had me there for a sec.) Your answer kind of brings my line of inquiry full circle in that the GPA is doubtless less representative for older applicants than it would be for the more traditional applicants but nonetheless not discounted due to the reporting requirements. Kind of sad state of affairs for the late bloomers here. :D

Would either of you be able to give a back-of-the-envelope calculation for the percentage of applicants (say across the top 10-15 schools) who would be defined as "non-traditional?" Has there been an upward or downward trend in recent years in the size of this segment of the applicant pool?

User avatar
MikeSpivey
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun May 03, 2009 4:28 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:42 pm

Sancho, very true but think of it this way -- a most predictive LSAT score would be an average, yet no schools care about the average in the least. There may be 1-2 schools that even calculate this, I would guess. (the school sees your scores, of course, and they see how long ago your gpa become finalized).

I'll leave the second question to Karen I think she has a better idea than I do.

Also, I bet some fellow nerds know what my avatar is of!

sancho
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:40 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby sancho » Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:53 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:Sancho, very true but think of it this way -- a most predictive LSAT score would be an average, yet no schools care about the average in the least. There may be 1-2 schools that even calculate this, I would guess. (the school sees your scores, of course, and they see how long ago your gpa become finalized).

I'll leave the second question to Karen I think she has a better idea than I do.

Also, I bet some fellow nerds know what my avatar is of!


That is a good point on the LSAT but unfortunately it has an upper bound even at which some GPAs cannot be remedied... :|

I can appreciate you bowing out on the second question just as I am sure you can appreciate my bowing out on the avatar guessing!
Last edited by sancho on Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
KarenButtenbaum
Posts: 591
Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:39 am

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:20 pm

sancho wrote:

Would either of you be able to give a back-of-the-envelope calculation for the percentage of applicants (say across the top 10-15 schools) who would be defined as "non-traditional?" Has there been an upward or downward trend in recent years in the size of this segment of the applicant pool?


What is your definition of non-traditional? If you are just counting people with work experience (vs. K-JD) it might be higher than you think it is. I'd say the applicant pool is probably about or a little over 50% K-JD, and another good chunk (25-30% maybe) has one to 5 years of work experience.

sancho
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:40 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby sancho » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:35 pm

KarenButtenbaum wrote:
sancho wrote:

Would either of you be able to give a back-of-the-envelope calculation for the percentage of applicants (say across the top 10-15 schools) who would be defined as "non-traditional?" Has there been an upward or downward trend in recent years in the size of this segment of the applicant pool?


What is your definition of non-traditional? If you are just counting people with work experience (vs. K-JD) it might be higher than you think it is. I'd say the applicant pool is probably about or a little over 50% K-JD, and another good chunk (25-30% maybe) has one to 5 years of work experience.


I was thinking K-JD but appreciate all the estimates you gave Karen. I find it really interesting that perhaps 20-25% of the applicant pool has greater than 5 years of work experience. When I look at the age profiles for the top schools I would never have thought it was that high. Maybe the acceptance rate or yield for such candidates is lower (or the bulk of that population segment is not much over 5 years).

Any diversifying points for applicants with more than several years of work experience?

Have you noticed any trends in recent years in the composition of the applicant pool in terms of years out of college?

Thank you!
Last edited by sancho on Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
hiphopopotamuss
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:29 am

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby hiphopopotamuss » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:38 pm

deleted
Last edited by hiphopopotamuss on Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
KarenButtenbaum
Posts: 591
Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:39 am

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:53 pm

sancho wrote:
KarenButtenbaum wrote:
sancho wrote:

Would either of you be able to give a back-of-the-envelope calculation for the percentage of applicants (say across the top 10-15 schools) who would be defined as "non-traditional?" Has there been an upward or downward trend in recent years in the size of this segment of the applicant pool?


What is your definition of non-traditional? If you are just counting people with work experience (vs. K-JD) it might be higher than you think it is. I'd say the applicant pool is probably about or a little over 50% K-JD, and another good chunk (25-30% maybe) has one to 5 years of work experience.


I was thinking K-JD but appreciate all the estimates you gave Karen. I find it really interesting that perhaps 20-25% of the applicant pool has greater than 5 years of work experience. When I look at the age profiles for the top schools I would never have thought it was that high. Maybe the acceptance rate or yield for such candidates is lower (or the bulk of that population segment is not much over 5 years).

Any diversifying points for applicants with more than several years of work experience?

Have you noticed any trends in recent years in the composition of the applicant pool in terms of years out of college?

Thank you!


It's probably more like 1-2 years work experience in that 25-30% chunk.
I think that there has been a trend in the last 10 years or so where there are more students with work experience, but I don't think that it is huge.

User avatar
haus
Posts: 2829
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:07 am

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby haus » Fri Oct 11, 2013 10:27 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:Also, I bet some fellow nerds know what my avatar is of!


Jaqen H'ghar ?

sancho
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:40 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby sancho » Fri Oct 11, 2013 10:37 pm

KarenButtenbaum wrote:
sancho wrote:
KarenButtenbaum wrote:
sancho wrote:

Would either of you be able to give a back-of-the-envelope calculation for the percentage of applicants (say across the top 10-15 schools) who would be defined as "non-traditional?" Has there been an upward or downward trend in recent years in the size of this segment of the applicant pool?


What is your definition of non-traditional? If you are just counting people with work experience (vs. K-JD) it might be higher than you think it is. I'd say the applicant pool is probably about or a little over 50% K-JD, and another good chunk (25-30% maybe) has one to 5 years of work experience.


I was thinking K-JD but appreciate all the estimates you gave Karen. I find it really interesting that perhaps 20-25% of the applicant pool has greater than 5 years of work experience. When I look at the age profiles for the top schools I would never have thought it was that high. Maybe the acceptance rate or yield for such candidates is lower (or the bulk of that population segment is not much over 5 years).

Any diversifying points for applicants with more than several years of work experience?

Have you noticed any trends in recent years in the composition of the applicant pool in terms of years out of college?

Thank you!


It's probably more like 1-2 years work experience in that 25-30% chunk.
I think that there has been a trend in the last 10 years or so where there are more students with work experience, but I don't think that it is huge.


Thanks for clarifying that Karen. That would mean about a quarter have more than two years which seems pretty reasonable.

I have heard talk about applicants with work experience becoming more desirable because they have an easier time ultimately finding employment. Are you able to comment on whether this phenomenon is real at schools such as Harvard or whether it is primarily confined to schools further down the field whose graduates may have had more difficulty in recent years?

User avatar
MikeSpivey
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun May 03, 2009 4:28 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Sat Oct 12, 2013 10:44 am

haus wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:Also, I bet some fellow nerds know what my avatar is of!


Jaqen H'ghar ?


Ding ding ding! (the good kind of ding)

User avatar
bouleversement
Posts: 171
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:50 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby bouleversement » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:21 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
haus wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:Also, I bet some fellow nerds know what my avatar is of!


Jaqen H'ghar ?


Ding ding ding! (the good kind of ding)


I still like the fox...

User avatar
bouleversement
Posts: 171
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:50 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby bouleversement » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:34 pm

Mike,

Any opinion on that sclerotic USNWR? Will they continue to hold back the deluge ad infinitum?

User avatar
bouleversement
Posts: 171
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:50 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby bouleversement » Sat Oct 12, 2013 1:15 pm

Yes, I think the fox is the way to go. Much more professional. But then again I am just some anonymous guy on the Internet!

User avatar
snagglepuss
Posts: 1954
Joined: Sat Jun 15, 2013 4:16 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby snagglepuss » Sat Oct 12, 2013 5:19 pm

Hey Spivey crew,

I saw your tweet on October LSAT cancelations. Is 1,000+ cancelers abnormal? To what degree? And I know the "curve" is set pre-exam administration, but do you foresee any major implications stemming from this info?

Also, thank you Jennifer, Karen, and Mike for all the insight you've shared in this thread.

in the process
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2013 4:43 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby in the process » Sat Oct 12, 2013 5:49 pm

Mike (and co.),

Thanks for all the info. here, it's been tremendously helpful.

Had a question regarding retaking in December. I just took the October and feel okay about it (which would probably place me in the 169-171 range with a slim chance at hitting 172-173).

I was topping out at 173 (which I reached multiple times under testing conditions, experimental section, etc.) and feel that if I spent a couple of months focusing on my weaknesses I could do better.

Due to my financial situation I would only go to LS if I were able to get a decent scholarship from a T14 or possibly something smaller from a T7. I know that this admission cycle is supposed to be even more applicant favorable than the last, so with that being said do I plan on retaking now and begin studying or do I wait it out to see what I score.

Additionally if I somehow managed to pull out a 172-173 should I still consider a retake?



How to proceed?

Thanks in advance!
Last edited by in the process on Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Instinctive
Posts: 436
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:23 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby Instinctive » Sat Oct 12, 2013 6:59 pm

Mike/Karen,

How do you feel about application timing? I'm able to send all of mine in at the end of this week, when my last rec letter arrives at LSAC. Is it too early to send things in, and I may be better off waiting and trying to perfect every single corner of my applications a second time/soliciting a couple more fee waivers? Am I going to hear back from "rolling" places anyway, or is that a thing that schools say they have but isn't really true? I'm basically applying to the Top 10 and UT.

If it helps, I am above everyone's 75th percentile in both GPA and LSAT.

User avatar
KarenButtenbaum
Posts: 591
Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:39 am

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Sat Oct 12, 2013 10:42 pm

in the process wrote:Mike (and co.),

Thanks for all the info. here, it's been tremendously helpful.

Had a question regarding retaking in December. I just took the October and feel okay about it (which would probably place me in the 169-171 range with a slim chance at hitting 172-173).

I was topping out at 173 (which I reached multiple times under testing conditions, experimental section, etc.) and feel that if I spent a couple of months focusing on my weaknesses I could do better.

Due to my financial situation I would only go to LS if I were able to get a decent scholarship from a T14 or possibly something smaller from a T7. I know that this admission cycle is supposed to be even more applicant favorable than the last, so with that being said do I plan on retaking now and begin studying or do I wait it out to see what I score.

Additionally if I somehow managed to pull out a 172-173 should I still consider a retake?

GPA is 3.83 from a top 75 college although it's a BA in Individualized Studies because a good chunk of the credits came from CLEPS and studies abroad.

How to proceed?

Thanks in advance!


In general, if you think you can get a higher score, you might consider retaking to maximize your options. But, if you are above the 75th percentile at your target school, you probably don't need to retake. There is time for you to make this decision after the October scores are released, so you'll be able to make a more informed decision.

User avatar
KarenButtenbaum
Posts: 591
Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:39 am

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Sat Oct 12, 2013 10:58 pm

Instinctive wrote:Mike/Karen,

How do you feel about application timing? I'm able to send all of mine in at the end of this week, when my last rec letter arrives at LSAC. Is it too early to send things in, and I may be better off waiting and trying to perfect every single corner of my applications a second time/soliciting a couple more fee waivers? Am I going to hear back from "rolling" places anyway, or is that a thing that schools say they have but isn't really true? I'm basically applying to the Top 10 and UT.

If it helps, I am above everyone's 75th percentile in both GPA and LSAT.


It's not too early to send things in, but you should look over everything to make sure it is ready to go! And getting a few more fee waivers is probably worth waiting a week or so to save some money. In rolling admissions, theoretically, the earlier you apply, the earlier you'll hear back.
Cheers,
karen

-dasein-
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:52 am

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby -dasein- » Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:22 am

1,000 cancellations. Crazy.


Return to “Free Help and Advice from Professionals”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest