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.

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SPerez
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby SPerez » Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:14 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
SPerez wrote:. All in all, this is another thing I put in the category of "Things applicants worry about that they shouldn't because they can't do anything about it".


I actually think these are very legitimate things to consider and know the answer, as much as we all can, to. In other words, why not ask for an answer to these?


I've always been the Type-B person among my Type-A brethren. My attitude is, so you have that answer. Then what? What does an applicant do with that information? You can't change your race/ethnicity. You can't/shouldn't lie on your application. Does it really matter to know that your chances of acceptance at a school are 67% instead of 60% (knowing that such specificity is unknowable)?

If it would change where you apply, why would it? Am I too much of a romantic to believe that students should apply to schools based on things like location, employment, programs, and fit? Does a dream school become less of a dream if you know that your odds of getting in are actually 10% instead of 20%? Wouldn't you still apply regardless, and wouldn't you still apply other places you had a better chance knowing it was still unlikely?

If you're goal is elite schools, then you already sort of don't care about location and are chasing name and prestige. If you're in the other 90%, most of that group is looking in certain geographic region and will probably apply to a subset of the schools in that region, regardless of their odds of getting in (especially in these days of fee waivers for all). Knowing just the median LSAT and GPA of a school is almost always specific enough for a student to know what schools to apply to in their Reach/Middle/Safety categories, IMO.

I just think that students are much better served by spending time studying for the LSAT, working on their PS, improving their grades, finding work experiences, etc. than worrying about things they have no control over.

Dean Perez

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:24 pm

Before things like law school predictor, TLS, etc...I personally know African American and Hispanic students who were going to apply to a limited schools, not their dream schools, because of a lack of information. Some of these individuals who I was lucky enough to talk to while I was at Vanderbilt were able to get more scholarship money and applied to their dream schools with greater understanding. I am really happy about this and think that many times knowledge is power.
Last edited by MikeSpivey on Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SPerez
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby SPerez » Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:28 pm

smallbrownbear wrote: In retrospect, it was pretty clear from your first post, but given that I have always heard exactly the opposite, it was hard to wrap my mind around. In all honesty, I figured (wrongly) that you may have been using the term "URM" in more of a lay sense than in an admissions sense, just because I was so surprised by the information. Apologies if it seemed like I was questioning unnecessarily!

It's really, really wild to hear that. I've been lurking here for the better part of two years, and have seen many, many threads about what counts as a URM. Most if not all have said something along the lines of "Black, hispanic, native american are URM, everyone else is an 'over-represented minority' and aren't considered URM at all, by any school".


No problem. I totally understand what you're saying. What you've experienced is the tendency of advice and opinion on this board to be reduced to the point that it borders on misleading. Every bit of nuance - the "most of the time", "unless", "provided", and "it depends" - is eventually lopped off until you're left with "Got cancer? RETAKE!"

In this case, the "M" in URM stands for minority. By definition, whether under- or over-represented, minorities "count" in a school's stats for minority percentage. For my class at Texas Tech, the fact that there are a disproportionate number of Asian students in California law schools doesn't mean jack. That's just not the case out here (or in the majority of the country).

Dean Perez

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teampeeta
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby teampeeta » Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:37 pm

teampeeta wrote:Another question for Mike and Karen:

How is a lower retake viewed by admissions committees? I got a 173 on the October test and was hoping to be competitive for scholarships at top 14 schools and admission to the top 3 schools. I think on the right day I could do significantly better (177-180), but who knows whether that would happen on the day of the December LSAT or not. There's obviously a risk of doing worse any time you retake the LSAT.

How detrimental would it be to my chances if I retook the test and didn't improve significantly? FWIW, I have taken the LSAT before October and I am an URM for law school admissions purposes.


Sorry for re-posting, but I didn't get a response.

Mike or Karen,

In your experience, how detrimental was a lower retake score to a person's application. I'm trying to decide whether to retake the LSAT in December- and I'm leaning towards not doing so because even though I think I could score higher, I'm also concerned about the risk of doing worse. I thought it made sense to ask the experts.

Thanks!

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:38 pm

teampeeta wrote:
teampeeta wrote:Another question for Mike and Karen:

How is a lower retake viewed by admissions committees? I got a 173 on the October test and was hoping to be competitive for scholarships at top 14 schools and admission to the top 3 schools. I think on the right day I could do significantly better (177-180), but who knows whether that would happen on the day of the December LSAT or not. There's obviously a risk of doing worse any time you retake the LSAT.

How detrimental would it be to my chances if I retook the test and didn't improve significantly? FWIW, I have taken the LSAT before October and I am an URM for law school admissions purposes.


Sorry for re-posting, but I didn't get a response.

Mike or Karen,

In your experience, how detrimental was a lower retake score to a person's application. I'm trying to decide whether to retake the LSAT in December- and I'm leaning towards not doing so because even though I think I could score higher, I'm also concerned about the risk of doing worse. I thought it made sense to ask the experts.

Thanks!


There is almost no risk at all. If I were in your shoes and I thought I could do higher I would 100% retake.

Sorry for the delay the thread got hijacked a bit.

sancho
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby sancho » Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:22 pm

Hi Karen,

I was hoping you could shed some light on this rather absolute-sounding statement from HLS:

"Many successful transfer candidates typically place very near the top of their first-year law class and would have also been admitted or wait-listed as first-year students on the basis of their pre-law-school credentials."

http://www.law.harvard.edu/prospective/ ... index.html

If I am interpreting this correctly, that statement means UGPA can override first year law grades when it comes to transfer admission (i.e. someone may have UGPA beneath the HLS floor but be #1 at T14 school after the first year and still be out of luck). Has this in your experience been true?

Thanks.

ZVBXRPL
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby ZVBXRPL » Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:23 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:Sorry for the delay the thread got hijacked a bit.

Blame it on the Dean.

smallbrownbear
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby smallbrownbear » Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:26 pm

SPerez wrote:In this case, the "M" in URM stands for minority. By definition, whether under- or over-represented, minorities "count" in a school's stats for minority percentage.


I think I, like a lot of people, thought there was a difference between simply being a minority and being an under-represented minority. Asians are the best example of this. The prevailing wisdom is that in order to be a URM (and receive any of the associated "benefits") you had to fulfill two criteria: You had to be a minority, and then, on top of that, your minority group had to be under represented in law schools as a whole. There's even a term for minorities that TLS doesn't think fulfill the UR part of that: "ORM" (over-represented minority). Asians are a minority group, but are over-represented in law school and so we figured they didn't get the URM boost. I think a lot of us didn't realize how heavily the "minority boost" was influenced by USNWR, and that, subsequently, anything considered a minority by USNWR counted equally for that part of the rubric and could, theoretically, be subject to the same "urm" boost.

Does it change things for asians or mixed-race individuals? I don't think it changes where anyone will apply and it sounds like it will have a minimal effect on where anyone gets in. But, is it really useful information, and did TLS as a group have it really, really wrong? Yes, so it was a good correction by you and Mike.

Law school applicants, by nature, want to have all pieces of the puzzle, no matter how seemingly unimportant. For example, I think I mentioned that I'm caucasian, so this doesn't affect me in the slightest. But it's just one more insight into the admissions game, and for that, I'm grateful to you and mike for taking the time to share your knowledge with the rest of us :)

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:30 pm

smallbrownbear wrote: Law school applicants, by nature, want to have all pieces of the puzzle, no matter how seemingly unimportant. For example, I think I mentioned that I'm caucasian, so this doesn't affect me in the slightest. But it's just one more insight into the admissions game, and for that, I'm grateful to you and mike for taking the time to share your knowledge with the rest of us :)


100% for certain they do. In no universe does the consumer want to be uninformed.

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jordan15
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby jordan15 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:29 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
SPerez wrote:
smallbrownbear wrote:
SPerez wrote:What's confusing you is probably the tendency on TLS for people to not consider Asian as a "real" minority because of their (real or perceived, depending on what school you're talking about) over-representation in higher education. They are, however, absolutely considered an under-represented minority in American law schools generally, even if they may constitute a larger proportion of the class at any specific school than in the general population of that school's region.

In case anyone is wondering, the ABA categories (many universities use more detailed, nuanced categories) are:

Non-Resident Alien (not counted as "minority")
Race and Ethnicity Unkown
Hispanics of Any Race
American Indian or Alaska Native
Asian
Black or African American

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

White
Two or More Races

It can get a little complicated sometimes, but it's usually easy to figure out as long as the student gives us enough information. E.g., someone who is of Afro-Cuban descent would go in the "Hispanic of any race" category, while Tiger Woods would go in the "Two or More Races" category. On the other hand, someone who is, say, half European and half Middle-Eastern would count in the "White" category since both are included in the description for that category.

Dean Perez



thanks Dean Perez. One more question: Do asians, then, get the corresponding URM boost in admissions? the thing is, I have always heard exactly the opposite. I mean, I'm sure they get no boost and no "punishment", but I heard that a while ago it could have hurt you to mark asian because there were so many in law school. I don't think that's the case anymore, but I've also never heard that they get a "urm boost". Do they? what about a mixed race (say, white/asian), do they get a URM admissions boost?

Thanks to Dean Perez, and also Mike and Karen for a) starting and/or contributing to this awesome thread, and b) letting it get sidetracked momentarily :)



That reads to me like the same question I answered, but let me put it another way.

Asians are reported as minorities.
Multi-racial students are reported as minorities if one of the two races is one of those that I bolded in my original list.

It's up to each school to decide whether or not that, in and of itself, is of value sufficient to influence the admissions decision. And even if it is, then they must decide if that influence is significant or not. All in all, this is another thing I put in the category of "Things applicants worry about that they shouldn't because they can't do anything about it".

Does that clarify things?


Let me elaborate because I think the answer I am giving is more towards what applicants want to know and because I am free to speak without having a school behind me and the political ramifications this entails. All of the highlighted go to the ABA and count towards URM as Perez says. But of major consideration to YOU ALL, where is the "admissions bump" at? While it is up to the individual school, again as Perez indicates, the "bump" is not nearly as substantial for Asian students at the vast majority of schools as it is for Hispanics of Any Race American Indian or Alaska Native Black or African America



I'm sorry to belabor the point, but since the schools will report all mixed races as "two or more races," then would there really be any incentive to give a bigger bump to someone who is AA/NA over someone who is Asian/white?

For example, a school could be seen as AA-unfriendly if they admitted many half AA students but no full AAs, because all we would know is that although there were many "two or more races," there were zero AAs.

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KarenButtenbaum
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:02 pm

sancho wrote:Hi Karen,

I was hoping you could shed some light on this rather absolute-sounding statement from HLS:

"Many successful transfer candidates typically place very near the top of their first-year law class and would have also been admitted or wait-listed as first-year students on the basis of their pre-law-school credentials."

http://www.law.harvard.edu/prospective/ ... index.html

If I am interpreting this correctly, that statement means UGPA can override first year law grades when it comes to transfer admission (i.e. someone may have UGPA beneath the HLS floor but be #1 at T14 school after the first year and still be out of luck). Has this in your experience been true?

Thanks.


Not necessarily. The UGPA and the LSAT are both predictive measures of first year performance; sometimes predictions are wrong. Actual first year performance holds a lot of weight in the transfer process (but other factors are not ignored). If you are #1 at a T14 and are interested in applying as a transfer at HLS, I would not discourage you to do so based on a sub-par UGPA.

Cheers,
Karen

sancho
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby sancho » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:08 pm

KarenButtenbaum wrote:
Not necessarily. The UGPA and the LSAT are both predictive measures of first year performance; sometimes predictions are wrong. Actual first year performance holds a lot of weight in the transfer process (but other factors are not ignored). If you are #1 at a T14 and are interested in applying as a transfer at HLS, I would not discourage you to do so based on a sub-par UGPA.

Cheers,
Karen


Thank you Karen.

linkx13
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby linkx13 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:36 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
linkx13 wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:
cannibal ox wrote:Any word on the number of October LSAT takers? I heard rumors of a 13% drop from last October but it sounded unconfirmed.


10.9%


How could you know this?


Total # this Oct = 33,673 (we tweeted this right after LSAC released scores, fyi) down 10.9% from 2012. Total LSATs administered is 57,670 compared to 63,003 from last year.

A link from our twitter shows this, some more, and a pretty graph.


The site you quoted from on your twitter (--LinkRemoved--) has a link only for the newest LSAC release as proof (http://lsac.org/lsacresources/data/lsats-administered). There are no October numbers yet. Is there some inside view?
Last edited by linkx13 on Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

wolfgang
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby wolfgang » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:43 pm

^ woah.

Mike's not really that type of guy... Just take a look at all of his contributions on this thread alone, and I can't even begin to tell you how much time/advice he's given me just out of the goodness of his heart. Hired his company to help with my PS, and mike and karen both spent a ton of time giving me advice with other stuff via phone and email. Your mileage may very, but my point is that they're not the type to scam twitter traffic.

As a side note, if that WAS to get twitter traffic, you should be thankful. follow them, you'll be glad you did.

linkx13
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby linkx13 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:10 pm

wolfgang wrote:^ woah.

Mike's not really that type of guy... Just take a look at all of his contributions on this thread alone, and I can't even begin to tell you how much time/advice he's given me just out of the goodness of his heart. Hired his company to help with my PS, and mike and karen both spent a ton of time giving me advice with other stuff via phone and email. Your mileage may very, but my point is that they're not the type to scam twitter traffic.

As a side note, if that WAS to get twitter traffic, you should be thankful. follow them, you'll be glad you did.


Think you're right after looking over thread. My apologies for coming off strong :D

wolfgang
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby wolfgang » Thu Oct 31, 2013 1:29 am

linkx13 wrote:Think you're right after looking over thread. My apologies for coming off strong



:) let's be friends again. I'm not usually a fighter, but mike of all people deserves a little backup! welcome to the spivey army.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby MikeSpivey » Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:58 am

Happy Halloween, everyone!

californiauser
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby californiauser » Thu Oct 31, 2013 11:41 am

jordan15 wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:Let me elaborate because I think the answer I am giving is more towards what applicants want to know and because I am free to speak without having a school behind me and the political ramifications this entails. All of the highlighted go to the ABA and count towards URM as Perez says. But of major consideration to YOU ALL, where is the "admissions bump" at? While it is up to the individual school, again as Perez indicates, the "bump" is not nearly as substantial for Asian students at the vast majority of schools as it is for Hispanics of Any Race American Indian or Alaska Native Black or African America



I'm sorry to belabor the point, but since the schools will report all mixed races as "two or more races," then would there really be any incentive to give a bigger bump to someone who is AA/NA over someone who is Asian/white?

For example, a school could be seen as AA-unfriendly if they admitted many half AA students but no full AAs, because all we would know is that although there were many "two or more races," there were zero AAs.

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haus
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby haus » Thu Oct 31, 2013 11:49 am

MikeSpivey wrote:Happy Halloween, everyone!

I like the avatar

sillymike
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby sillymike » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:24 pm

wolfgang wrote:
linkx13 wrote:Think you're right after looking over thread. My apologies for coming off strong



:) let's be friends again. I'm not usually a fighter, but mike of all people deserves a little backup! welcome to the spivey army.



AAAHHHHHH the original post got edited post facto. I was hoping for some halloween drama...

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KarenButtenbaum
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:36 pm

jordan15 wrote:
I'm sorry to belabor the point, but since the schools will report all mixed races as "two or more races," then would there really be any incentive to give a bigger bump to someone who is AA/NA over someone who is Asian/white?

For example, a school could be seen as AA-unfriendly if they admitted many half AA students but no full AAs, because all we would know is that although there were many "two or more races," there were zero AAs.


I'll chime in here with a few points that I hope will help clarify:
--> Schools can report things differently than the ABA breakdown for marketing purposes without manipulating real numbers/people. For example, they can include all of the "two or more" races in with a broader "students of color" percentage. Or they can identify the number of Native Americans on their website by including all that checked that box (even if they checked other boxes). So, there is some benefit strictly on a numbers reporting basis.
--> It actually matters to an admissions officer beyond the numbers reporting who the individual is and what they can bring to the classroom and the community. The 'bump' motive is not solely based on what the admissions office can report.

I hope this helps a little!
Cheers,
Karen

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KarenButtenbaum
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:38 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:Happy Halloween, everyone!


Me no likey (the avatar makes me :cry:)

californiauser
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby californiauser » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:40 pm

KarenButtenbaum wrote:
jordan15 wrote:
I'm sorry to belabor the point, but since the schools will report all mixed races as "two or more races," then would there really be any incentive to give a bigger bump to someone who is AA/NA over someone who is Asian/white?

For example, a school could be seen as AA-unfriendly if they admitted many half AA students but no full AAs, because all we would know is that although there were many "two or more races," there were zero AAs.


I'll chime in here with a few points that I hope will help clarify:
--> Schools can report things differently than the ABA breakdown for marketing purposes without manipulating real numbers/people. For example, they can include all of the "two or more" races in with a broader "students of color" percentage. Or they can identify the number of Native Americans on their website by including all that checked that box (even if they checked other boxes). So, there is some benefit strictly on a numbers reporting basis.
--> It actually matters to an admissions officer beyond the numbers reporting who the individual is and what they can bring to the classroom and the community. The 'bump' motive is not solely based on what the admissions office can report.

I hope this helps a little!
Cheers,
Karen


Awesome. Thanks! I think your answer is what we were thinking, but it's nice to see it reiterated by you.

sancho
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby sancho » Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:15 pm

KarenButtenbaum wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:Happy Halloween, everyone!


Me no likey (the avatar makes me :cry:)


I agree! It's :twisted: and incongruous with his otherwise friendly demeanor. Hopefully he changes it in a few hours!

ETA: Yikes! On Twitter too?
Last edited by sancho on Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sancho
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby sancho » Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:18 pm

I was reading an old post by Brian Tamanaha (http://balkin.blogspot.com/2011/09/tran ... -with.html) in which he mentioned an interesting idea regarding transfer students' LSAT scores (emphasis mine):

Whatever one might think of the transfer phenomenon, it is likely here to stay (unless US News, bending to the urging of critics, decides to count the LSAT scores of transfers). We should discuss it more openly, without hint of scandal or taint. And we should treat transfers as valued students who have earned a place in their new school.


Do either of you have an idea if the underlined is going anywhere?


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