Thanks a bunch for taking questions.
Two questions -
1) How much does transcript matter? For example, I'm a CC--->T20 transfer. During one bad semester (of which I actually have a very legit addendum for) I got 2 Fs. Other than that my GPA is ~3.9. To make up for the Fs I've taken quite a few less rigorous classes at my UG and a CC to boost my GPA as high as possible. I'll end up with a ~3.5/3.6. How heavily is this taken into account? Is it looked down on?
2) I'm applying this upcoming cycle (c/o 2017). Gunning hard for HYS. Would you recommend applying the day apps are open with a 3.5x/172ish or mid-December with a 3.6x/172ish? Is the time trade-off worth the small GPA boost. I know I can wait for Yale without penalty so I'm moreso asking for Harvard and Stanford (throw in CCN, Berkeley, and Penn as well). I've heard applying day 1 then updating with my transcripts is the best option, I'm just paranoid at being rejected before I have a chance to update with Fall grades in mid-December and Winter grades in late January.
I ask because my stats + URM register as almost auto-admit everywhere but Yale on myLSN but when I look beyond the numbers most applicant with my LSAT break the 3.6 threshold. So I'm just not sure how much those extra few points matter compared to the early application boost at rolling-admissions schools.
For the record I'm AA male URM with pretty above average softs (lower than Olympian/Rhodes, higher than TFA/WE/campus involvement) and no C&F.
Okay, there is a lot in here so I will try to take it piece by piece and hopefully finish up with a momentous opus combing all of the components, although that seems highly unlikely.
1. My concern with your transcript is that your LSAC computed uGPA is going to look a lot different than what you may suspect. Those 2 F's will factor in to the gpa all law schools get, fyi. you may have already calculated that but if not, be prepared. This shocks a number of applicants ever year. I am much more concerned with this than the CC classes or course rigor.
2. This is a bit of a guess, mostly because we do not know what the admissions cycle next year will look like. What I will say is that most good admissions offices (and I think HYS do this) "stagger" their admits so they do not fill up too many slots too early to hurt strong applicants later. So in theory you should not be hurt by waiting a bit (I think I would in your shoes). THAT SAID, some admissions offices can be more selective early on based on the previous year's data and then get less selective later if the numbers are down. Again, good ones do not, they are data-centric and follow this very carefully. Another way of looking at this, if your file is "held" for a long time, it likely means that office knows what it is doing (from their perspective of what they need to do). if I were you I would wait and work a bit on the gpa, even for .1 points, but there are some variables we can not know now. Or, as you allude to, apply but ask them to wait (which they will) until your semester grades are in.
3. Finally, given your PM to me and more data I have, I have seen people with very similar applications get admitted to HYS during the go-go years of admissions, so regardless of any of the above I think you are in a pretty good way!
Sorry for the PM glitch. Hope this helps!!