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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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:50 pm

eav1277 wrote:Interesting. Thanks. I think the retake is highly encouraged on the site. I retook in February. I hope I'll be one of the beautiful snowflake outliers you referenced. :lol:


Retaking makes since in most cases, and almost can't hurt. So it is not the retaking that is the issue, it is the notion that "I will retake and score a 175 when I got a 165" that harms people. The more certain people are that this will happen, the more despondent they get when it does not.

Oh I thought of another one that is worse and more prevalent and will address soon. I owe Mr Rizzle an answer now.

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Rahviveh
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby Rahviveh » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:52 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
eav1277 wrote:Well, on Behalf of all of us here/TLS, Thank you Tls is a great resource. Your posts make it that much better. Since you've been on the other side of the process you bring invaluable information/a different perspective. I think you may have answered this previously but are there any things you have read/assumptions/pieces of advice on The forum that surprise you or are entirely wrong. Just curious


One of the biggest misconception I see on here is the statement along the lines of "I plan on retaking the LSAT and scoring x higher when x is 5 points or more. I have years upon years of empirical data that shows that is highly unlikely, especially for people who have already scored in a higher percentile than most. The problem is that people who actually did score 5 or more higher, of course gravitate to this threads and say "yes yes you will" (and of course there are beautiful snowflake outliers). But again, one of the worst things you should do is "plan" on scoring much better. It very rarely happens, the internal consistency of the LSAC is very high. This is a credit to their psychometricians who I think very highly of.

I could go on and on about this topic but people seem so sensitive about it even though I am talking about macro-data, not any individual.


Couldn't agree with this more. Its so easy for someone who is done with the LSAT and was successful with it to tell others to retake. There are a lot of success stories, but there's also a lot of people who study for months and months and never improve that much.

TCR is still to aim for the highest score possible, but at some point most people will hit a wall.

Mike, since you've seen the data, do you disagree with the general TLS sentiment that just about everyone is capable of scoring a 160+ on the LSAT?

I always assumed there is a huge chunk of the LSAT test-taking population that flat out does not study or prepare for the test, and could get 160+ scores if they did.
Last edited by Rahviveh on Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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eav1277
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby eav1277 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:54 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
eav1277 wrote:Interesting. Thanks. I think the retake is highly encouraged on the site. I retook in February. I hope I'll be one of the beautiful snowflake outliers you referenced. :lol:


Retaking makes since in most cases, and almost can't hurt. So it is not the retaking that is the issue, it is the notion that "I will retake and score a 175 when I got a 165" that harms people. The more certain people are that this will happen, the more despondent they get when it does not.

Oh I thought of another one that is worse and more prevalent and will address soon. I owe Mr Rizzle an answer now.


Thanks for the clarification. I agree there. Also I think it is definitely easier for some to retake and expect much higher score than others. Depending on how much time a pwrson can dedicate to the lsat due to work schedule, family commitments, money,etc.
Last edited by eav1277 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby wannabelawstudent » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:55 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
One of the biggest misconception I see on here is the statement along the lines of "I plan on retaking the LSAT and scoring x higher when x is 5 points or more. I have years upon years of empirical data that shows that is highly unlikely, especially for people who have already scored in a higher percentile than most. The problem is that people who actually did score 5 or more higher, of course gravitate to this threads and say "yes yes you will" (and of course there are beautiful snowflake outliers). But again, one of the worst things you should do is "plan" on scoring much better. It very rarely happens, the internal consistency of the LSAC is very high. This is a credit to their psychometricians who I think very highly of.

I could go on and on about this topic but people seem so sensitive about it even though I am talking about macro-data, not any individual.

I got a 19 point improvement. :twisted: (but really it was due to an epic choke the first time rather than improving my lsat ability)

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John_rizzy_rawls
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby John_rizzy_rawls » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:57 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
John_rizzy_rawls wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:John, Check your message board. I noted, since I Pm'd you, you do not count :) Also, I noted you thanked me immediately. I only mentioned that through PM, not here, just in case you didn't want me to call you out on here.


I actually don't see a PM from you after that way-too-long PM I sent you last night but thanks anyway Mike!


Oh snap, you are right, it's not in my sent box. Maybe the same thing happened to all the individual "thanks" messages! Basically I said "I just posted a message on TLS, it does not apply to you for the following reasons (a) I Pm'd you, not visa-versa, (b) you responded immediately and said thanks, and (c) I haven't even answered your question yet"

Now I feel guilty and will answer your question now, versus tomorrow.


That's not necessary but many thanks anyway :)

If you could also weigh (here or in PM) in, whenever you have a chance and if it's not too much trouble of course, on my chances at the schools and goals I outlined in PM from an admissions perspective, that would incredibly helpful. Thanks!
Last edited by John_rizzy_rawls on Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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eav1277
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby eav1277 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:59 pm

Daaaang. 19. Congrats. I have heard of 19 point jumps from diagnostic test to lsat But on the actual lsat...congrats. Ill stop hogging up space now. Leave room for more valuable contributions/questions.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:01 pm

John_rizzy_rawls wrote:Mike,

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.

Thanks!


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!!

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:02 pm

wannabelawstudent wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:
One of the biggest misconception I see on here is the statement along the lines of "I plan on retaking the LSAT and scoring x higher when x is 5 points or more. I have years upon years of empirical data that shows that is highly unlikely, especially for people who have already scored in a higher percentile than most. The problem is that people who actually did score 5 or more higher, of course gravitate to this threads and say "yes yes you will" (and of course there are beautiful snowflake outliers). But again, one of the worst things you should do is "plan" on scoring much better. It very rarely happens, the internal consistency of the LSAC is very high. This is a credit to their psychometricians who I think very highly of.

I could go on and on about this topic but people seem so sensitive about it even though I am talking about macro-data, not any individual.

I got a 19 point improvement. :twisted: (but really it was due to an epic choke the first time rather than improving my lsat ability)


Did they investigate you? Feel free to PM if you'd rather but, I mean, if you do you have to say thank you. Oh wait, I have to.

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John_rizzy_rawls
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby John_rizzy_rawls » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:08 pm

MikeSpivey wrote: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!!


Thanks for the detailed answer Mike!

1. Oh I definitely know this. I factor in the Fs into every GPA calculation I do. Given this, is the CC classes and rigor to pad my GPA something I should worry about? I've heard Yale may do a double-take but Harvard and the rest don't care much.

2. This helps a lot and is different from advice I've gotten here. So if you were me would you wait until mid-December or apply early then supplement with Fall grades? I'm thinking you're suggesting wait. I'll do that. Do you mind explaining why? Is the early app boost overstated at the top schools, like you outlined? Do your initial numbers have more impact than supplemented ones? Just curious.

Also does the very low number of AA URMs with those stats have any bearing on this?

Thanks a lot, this has been eating at me.

3. By go-go you mean more competitive cycles? Either way that sentiment is really encouraging.

I'll be sure to snag your book once it comes out :)

Thanks Mike!

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby wannabelawstudent » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:01 am

MikeSpivey wrote:
wannabelawstudent wrote:I got a 19 point improvement. :twisted: (but really it was due to an epic choke the first time rather than improving my lsat ability)


Did they investigate you? Feel free to PM if you'd rather but, I mean, if you do you have to say thank you. Oh wait, I have to.

Surprisingly they did not (or at least didnt notify me of anything). For full disclosure I had a 148 in Oct 2010, a 158 in Oct 2011, and a 167 in Oct 2012. And consistantly scored in the 163-168 range in PTs. In 2010 it was nothing but a epic choke/anxiety. 2011 I was best man in a wedding that day(my efforts to get them to change the date did not work) and chalk it up to being out of town and rehearsal dinner the night before. So for me it was not a 'just studied harder the second time and improved my ability' type thing that many hope to do/people you reference. I like to think this somewhat works in my favor because I'm a splitter student and at least I have some documentation of gradually getting better at something since college...

(Ill also probably scrub this later so please don't quote. Thanks in advance)
Last edited by wannabelawstudent on Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:13 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby Steve2207 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:24 am

..
Last edited by Steve2207 on Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:16 am

gatorgirl2012 wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:
wannabelawstudent wrote:What are your thoughts on sending an LOCI before a decision? I'm trying to get into WUSTL, got a 167/2.5 and went complete 1/04, I know they've already passed me based on other people reporting, and it looks like I may be part of a mass wave of either rejections or waitlists in mid-march. It's my top choice and I'm just a little worried. Too soon?


I need to make sure I disclaim I am in no way speaking for WUSTL, but on a much more broad level why would you ever send a LOCI after a decision is made? I would always send before the decision is rendered.


This is very interesting!

So if you expect to get WLed at a school, should you be sending one if you haven't heard back after a while? As opposed to right after you get WLed, which is what I did for two schools already....


Gatorgirl,

I would send a school a very toned down one even if you expect to get admitted to that school. You don't want to say things like "if admitted, this is where I be" as I think that may have the potential to have negative consequences on scholarship negotiation, particularity if you later get a large scholarship from a different school and start backing down from the statement.

BUT, simply letting a school know you are interested in them can never hurt. I promise. Actually, to be on the hyper-paranoid safe side I shouldn't say never. So I can not see a scenario where a very soft "I am very much interested in X law school because of the following reasons..." could hurt.

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby wannabelawstudent » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:32 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:Gatorgirl,

I would send a school a very toned down one even if you expect to get admitted to that school. You don't want to say things like "if admitted, this is where I be" as I think that may have the potential to have negative consequences on scholarship negotiation, particularity if you later get a large scholarship from a different school and start backing down from the statement.

BUT, simply letting a school know you are interested in them can never hurt. I promise. Actually, to be on the hyper-paranoid safe side I shouldn't say never. So I can not see a scenario where a very soft "I am very much interested in X law school because of the following reasons..." could hurt.


Has anyone ever offered to pay double tuition if they are admitted? Kinda a reverse scholarship negotiation type thing. What would happened if someone did that? (Not that I'm thinking about actually doing that....unless it would actually have an effect).

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby Ramius » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:50 pm

wannabelawstudent wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:Gatorgirl,

I would send a school a very toned down one even if you expect to get admitted to that school. You don't want to say things like "if admitted, this is where I be" as I think that may have the potential to have negative consequences on scholarship negotiation, particularity if you later get a large scholarship from a different school and start backing down from the statement.

BUT, simply letting a school know you are interested in them can never hurt. I promise. Actually, to be on the hyper-paranoid safe side I shouldn't say never. So I can not see a scenario where a very soft "I am very much interested in X law school because of the following reasons..." could hurt.


Has anyone ever offered to pay double tuition if they are admitted? Kinda a reverse scholarship negotiation type thing. What would happened if someone did that? (Not that I'm thinking about actually doing that....unless it would actually have an effect).


Are you seriously suggesting you'd pay double for any law school in the country?! I understand the sentiment, but seriously? What if you got HYS, paid $500k for it, and still ended up unemployed after 5 years of BIGLAW and only ~half of your debt paid off? Is an HYS degree really worth that much more to you?

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby wannabelawstudent » Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:00 am

I'm more curious if it has ever happened and how would a law school handle a situation. Just seems humorous if negotiations could go the other way. If I told you a week ago which is more likely, the LSAC has a robot, Dennis Rodman will chill in North Korea, or an applicant can pay more than the sticker to go to the law school he wants to if he REALLY wants to go there, I think you'd choose the latter.

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:12 am

Well, it is hardly ever that overt. But surely you are aware that people are donors to law schools and at various levels, and that such donations can far exceed three years tuition and be much greater than 2x tuition. There are probably some benefits that large donors get but that is not really an admissions office office.

I'm not speaking for any individual school but rather from higher education broadly and historically.
Last edited by MikeSpivey on Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Ramius
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby Ramius » Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:16 am

I think anyone would agree that if you donate a wing (or a new library, et al), you can probably get someone into the program. But if rich mommy and daddy aren't footing this bill, it would be beyond ludicrous to me. It's an interesting proposition, but hardly new in this world of money buying you anything.

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby Dr. Gaius Baltar » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:02 am

MikeSpivey wrote:
Gatorgirl,

I would send a school a very toned down one even if you expect to get admitted to that school. You don't want to say things like "if admitted, this is where I be" as I think that may have the potential to have negative consequences on scholarship negotiation, particularity if you later get a large scholarship from a different school and start backing down from the statement.


Ooops. Is "I sincerely hope to be a member of your upcoming class" or variations of that too much commitment?

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:05 pm

Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:
Gatorgirl,

I would send a school a very toned down one even if you expect to get admitted to that school. You don't want to say things like "if admitted, this is where I be" as I think that may have the potential to have negative consequences on scholarship negotiation, particularity if you later get a large scholarship from a different school and start backing down from the statement.


Ooops. Is "I sincerely hope to be a member of your upcoming class" or variations of that too much commitment?


Dr. Gaius,

I think that is very well said and won't be misconstrued. Well done!
-Mike

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby Dr. Gaius Baltar » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:28 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:
Gatorgirl,

I would send a school a very toned down one even if you expect to get admitted to that school. You don't want to say things like "if admitted, this is where I be" as I think that may have the potential to have negative consequences on scholarship negotiation, particularity if you later get a large scholarship from a different school and start backing down from the statement.


Ooops. Is "I sincerely hope to be a member of your upcoming class" or variations of that too much commitment?


Dr. Gaius,

I think that is very well said and won't be misconstrued. Well done!
-Mike


Awesome. Thanks. :)

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:32 pm

Again, I want to thank everyone who had suggestions on my website. I've made a number of changes (some big, some small) and I am almost done with the exception of populating my speaking schedule and (perhaps) getting a quote from a heavy-hitter (e.g. Dean of a Law School, Managing Partner or CEO for home page.

http://spiveyconsulting.com/

I am also now able to do polls on my blog and my first will be a question on what blog topic will help the most (out of 4 or 5). Hopefully this will be a small gift back for those that helped, i.e. you can pick what i write on in detail.

I really appreciate the input and tried to reflect as much as I could on the homepage.

For me, I have not been this excited since Dennis Rodman hung out with Kim Jong-un.

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby John_rizzy_rawls » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:36 pm

Hey Mike,

Sorry to bug again. Just as a follow up, so the issue of CC classes and rigor isn't really an issue during the admissions process? Even at H or S for example? I'm excluding Y because I figure everything matters there.

Thanks!

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:40 pm

John_rizzy_rawls wrote:Hey Mike,

Sorry to bug again. Just as a follow up, so the issue of CC classes and rigor isn't really an issue during the admissions process? Even at H or S for example? I'm excluding Y because I figure everything matters there.

Thanks!


You are in a really good way, from all of the input I have and especially given you had the wherewithal to factor in the LSAC gpa. I'm probably going to be repetitive and I try to be very open that I can not speak for any individual school, but all of my experience tells me you are going to hit a homerun. I think your strategic decision to take said classes and boost your gpa was spot-on.

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby John_rizzy_rawls » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:42 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
John_rizzy_rawls wrote:Hey Mike,

Sorry to bug again. Just as a follow up, so the issue of CC classes and rigor isn't really an issue during the admissions process? Even at H or S for example? I'm excluding Y because I figure everything matters there.

Thanks!


You are in a really good way, from all of the input I have and especially given you had the wherewithal to factor in the LSAC gpa. I'm probably going to be repetitive and I try to be very open that I can not speak for any individual school, but all of my experience tells me you are going to hit a homerun. I think your strategic decision to take said classes and boost your gpa was spot-on.


You're awesome dude. Thanks so much.

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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby johmica » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:51 pm

Thanks so much for offering this service.

My question pertains to my unorthodox work history since undergraduate school. I graduated in 2000 with dual B.A.s in Philosophy and German from Berea College. I was awarded the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, allowing me a year of independent study abroad (I spent time in eastern Europe). After my Fellowship year abroad, I began studies in a graduate program, but withdrew from the university after completing a year's coursework. For personal reasons that I won't go in to in detail, I decided that my graduate studies would be best postponed until my two young children had grown a bit older, and a bit less dependent upon my attentions.

Fast-forward thirteen years. My children are now 16 and 13 years old, and I am hoping to begin law school in the Fall semester of 2014. I understand that many law school admissions officers view favorably work experience in their applicants, but I suspect that the work experience they most value is of the white-collar variety. I've been a licensed plumber for the last eight years or so, you see.

I hope to be competitive in the T14. My uGPA is not exceptional by any standards, falling somewhere in the 3.35 range, but I'm hopeful that the 13 years between that performance and now will mitigate the damage. I have not yet taken the LSAT (scheduled for June), but am consistently scoring in the 177-180 range on timed practice tests, and study nightly. My biggest concern is how admissions officers will view the last 13 years I've spent working in the construction industry. Will it be a deterrent to admissions in the Harvard/Columbia/UChicago circle, will it be relatively innocuous, or could it possibly be viewed as a strong "soft."

I've posed this question in different threads on this forum before, but because of the unusual nature of my circumstance, the general consensus tends to be "it's anyone's guess." You, however, seem to be in a position to offer real-world insight. I thank you for any advice you have to offer.


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