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

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Black_Swan
Posts: 238
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby Black_Swan » Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:24 pm

KarenButtenbaum wrote:
Black_Swan wrote:Karen,
I apologize if this has been asked before, will you walk us through the admissions process? What happens from the moment my application is complete at a school in the HYS range?
Who looks at the file and makes the decision to schedule an interview? And does the interviewer have final authority on who gets in? How many people read a student's application?
Do admissions officers all sit at a table and debate accepting an applicant or does this happen only when an applicant is below median? Does the Dean gets involved? Professors? and if so, at what point?
Many questions, just curious how this important decision is made when one receives thousands of files to review.
Thanks!


The process really is different at every school, but basically here goes: Once your application is complete, it is usually sorted in some way (usually - but not limited to - LSAT/GPA). This usually done to make distribution of the reading load easier to manage for the admissions staff. It does not mean that if you are in one pile you are doomed and in another and you are in - all applications will be read eventually. Some piles are read quicker than others.
An admissions officer will read the file and recommend action, usually by assigning a score to the application. People who read the file vary from school to school, but it is a safe bet that there are more than one or two people reading thousands of files.
The interview is a part of the evaluation process, so it is an element that will be considered. The interviewer certainly has a voice in the process, but is not always the final decision maker.
There is sometimes a faculty admissions committee that plays a role in the decision making process, and this role varies drastically from school to school. It is rarely the case where they all sit around the table and discuss each and every application -- or even a large portion of applications. That would take an awfully long time. Decisions are made usually by a combination of the scores from each reader/interviewer, and the Dean of Admissions is usually the final decision maker (except Yale - their process is pretty transparent on their website).
The Dean of a Law School generally does not play a role in the admissions process at all.

Over the course of each year, I probably read about 1,500 - 2,000 files from October to May. I read most of them from home on nights, weekends and holidays, reading 30-50 files at a time (which is why I think a good personal statement can make a huge difference!). I think this is how most admissions officers read.

I hope this is helpful!


Thanks so much! :D

sarahnd21
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby sarahnd21 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:39 am

Hi Mike and Karen,

I got my Dec score today (it was on hold) and got a 167. I know 167 isn't a bad score, but I'm really bummed about it. My first PT (without any studying) was 163 and after that I was consistently scoring in the 170s. My last 3 PTs were 175, 180, 175.

December was the first time I took the LSAT (I decided in late fall that I wanted to apply) and I only studied for about 6 weeks. However, I was very confident going into the test and felt well prepared. I tested at UW Madison and the power went out in the middle of the test (with 2 1/2 mins left in the first section, which was logic games for me - ugh!). We had to wait for an hour, and then had to move locations. Needless to say, it was very disruptive and I think it messed with my score. LSAC will be including a letter in my file indicating that this happened and that it "may" have had an affect on my score - but who knows how much law schools will pay attention to that.

My top choice for schools is UW Madison (in-state), but I've also considered applying to U Michigan (for their child advocacy program), U Minnesota and Northwestern.

For some background, I graduated in 2009 (fifth year out) with a 3.8. I then did a teaching program similar to TFA for 2 years and received my Masters in Education (3.9 GPA) and have since been working at a health care consulting firm for the last 2.5 years.

My main question is this - should I retake the LSAT in February and attempt to get a higher score? I'm pretty confident I could get into UW Madison with my current score (median = 161, 25-75% = 156-163), but I was really hoping for a significant amount of scholarship money from them (ideally, a full ride). I'm not sure how much an increase would affect my scholarship chances - say if I increased to the 170-175 range?

If I do decide to retake in February, should I still apply now and mention that I'll also be taking in February? Will they still review my application now and then possibly add scholarship money later? I don't want to apply too late in the cycle and really, really don't want to wait another year.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks in advance!

random number
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby random number » Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:34 pm

Thanks so much for taking questions; this thread is a fantastic resource!

I am currently in my last year of undergraduate and am planning to take a gap year before starting law school. In order to complete my degree, I only need to take a couple of classes this spring. Will being enrolled part-time for one semester (in addition to working a part-time job) look bad/lazy to admission committees (particularly at T-6/T-14 schools)?

Thanks!

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Clearly
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby Clearly » Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:39 pm

random number wrote:Thanks so much for taking questions; this thread is a fantastic resource!

I am currently in my last year of undergraduate and am planning to take a gap year before starting law school. In order to complete my degree, I only need to take a couple of classes this spring. Will being enrolled part-time for one semester (in addition to working a part-time job) look bad/lazy to admission committees (particularly at T-6/T-14 schools)?

Thanks!

I wouldn't worry about it, particularly if that time overlaps on your resume with a job. I do have to ask though, what is your GPA? Taking additional classes in that year might be a good opportunity to pad your GPA if you are borderline.

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Clearly
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby Clearly » Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:45 pm

sarahnd21 wrote:Hi Mike and Karen,

I got my Dec score today (it was on hold) and got a 167. I know 167 isn't a bad score, but I'm really bummed about it. My first PT (without any studying) was 163 and after that I was consistently scoring in the 170s. My last 3 PTs were 175, 180, 175.

December was the first time I took the LSAT (I decided in late fall that I wanted to apply) and I only studied for about 6 weeks. However, I was very confident going into the test and felt well prepared. I tested at UW Madison and the power went out in the middle of the test (with 2 1/2 mins left in the first section, which was logic games for me - ugh!). We had to wait for an hour, and then had to move locations. Needless to say, it was very disruptive and I think it messed with my score. LSAC will be including a letter in my file indicating that this happened and that it "may" have had an affect on my score - but who knows how much law schools will pay attention to that.

My top choice for schools is UW Madison (in-state), but I've also considered applying to U Michigan (for their child advocacy program), U Minnesota and Northwestern.

For some background, I graduated in 2009 (fifth year out) with a 3.8. I then did a teaching program similar to TFA for 2 years and received my Masters in Education (3.9 GPA) and have since been working at a health care consulting firm for the last 2.5 years.

My main question is this - should I retake the LSAT in February and attempt to get a higher score? I'm pretty confident I could get into UW Madison with my current score (median = 161, 25-75% = 156-163), but I was really hoping for a significant amount of scholarship money from them (ideally, a full ride). I'm not sure how much an increase would affect my scholarship chances - say if I increased to the 170-175 range?

If I do decide to retake in February, should I still apply now and mention that I'll also be taking in February? Will they still review my application now and then possibly add scholarship money later? I don't want to apply too late in the cycle and really, really don't want to wait another year.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks in advance!

If you were taking those PTs under legit conditions, and scoring that high, you owe it to yourself to retake. You will have a good cycle even with your current numbers, but it seems you have a lot of potential on the LSAT, and scoring anywhere near your PT scores will open up serious opportunities given your GPA. I do think significant money to UW Madison is coming your way, even without a retake, but I would do it to see what better options you might have after scores come out ($$$ at NU/Mich). I'd apply now with your numbers, and register to take Feb personally.

random number
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby random number » Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:52 pm

Clearly wrote:I wouldn't worry about it, particularly if that time overlaps on your resume with a job. I do have to ask though, what is your GPA? Taking additional classes in that year might be a good opportunity to pad your GPA if you are borderline.


Thanks for the reply. My GPA is above median for the T-14, and I am at the point credit-wise where a couple extra classes would not impact my LSAC GPA.

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Clearly
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby Clearly » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:05 pm

random number wrote:
Clearly wrote:I wouldn't worry about it, particularly if that time overlaps on your resume with a job. I do have to ask though, what is your GPA? Taking additional classes in that year might be a good opportunity to pad your GPA if you are borderline.


Thanks for the reply. My GPA is above median for the T-14, and I am at the point credit-wise where a couple extra classes would not impact my LSAC GPA.

Then I'd just go ahead and take the required classes while you start working.

bostonbrewer
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby bostonbrewer » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:07 pm

Is there any inference that one can get from your application status not changing? I've been stuck at "Application Complete" for a couple months at some schools, while other people have seen movement/decisions. I feel like it can't be good news.

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JustHawkin
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby JustHawkin » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:12 pm

bostonbrewer wrote:Is there any inference that one can get from your application status not changing? I've been stuck at "Application Complete" for a couple months at some schools, while other people have seen movement/decisions. I feel like it can't be good news.

Check out the "What to Expect When Expecting" thread in the Acceptances Forum. Basically, some school operate different than others.

Lwoods1020
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby Lwoods1020 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:17 pm

If you have already addressed this topic, I apologize. But please help! I was just offered a full ride at Penn State but I really want to go to South Carolina. I heard it is hard to negotiate scholarships with some state schools and I am at the 75th percentile for LSAT for SC and over their 75th with GPA. Please direct me on how and when. Should I offer to retake the LSAT? It is hard to justify 20k a year vs free (both excluding housing costs) but I really want to go to SC. Thank you for all the help you are able to give me.

bostonbrewer
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby bostonbrewer » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:25 pm

JustHawkin wrote:
bostonbrewer wrote:Is there any inference that one can get from your application status not changing? I've been stuck at "Application Complete" for a couple months at some schools, while other people have seen movement/decisions. I feel like it can't be good news.

Check out the "What to Expect When Expecting" thread in the Acceptances Forum. Basically, some school operate different than others.

Thanks!

random number
Posts: 231
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:26 pm

Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby random number » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:27 pm

Clearly wrote:
random number wrote:
Clearly wrote:


Then I'd just go ahead and take the required classes while you start working.


Thanks!

ZVBXRPL
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby ZVBXRPL » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:52 pm

mccllln2 wrote:
oceanmd wrote:
ZVBXRPL wrote:
oceanmd wrote:Karen and Mike,
I apologize if this has already been asked...

No need to apologize. An 'I don't know if this has already been asked but...' would suffice. Save apologies for serious issues like running over your neighbor's dog, ignoring people's texts while binging on Star Wars, or getting pulled over. But in all seriousness, perhaps you should change your application year on LSAC's website.
Before I change the status, should I email the schools, or just change the cycle in LSAC and that's it? Thank you


Just want to reiterate this question, is it a good idea to contact the schools?. My intended application year has always been 2015 on LSAC but I'd still like to hang onto the fee waivers I've received this year as well as my PT invite from Duke. Thanks!

Hanging on to the fee waivers makes sense. I suppose you could contact the schools next cycle and tell them you got a waiver from them the year prior. Might work. ...Or you could change the date on LSAC and risk not having leverage next cycle. But contacting LS's seems like overkill.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby MikeSpivey » Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:02 pm

JustHawkin wrote:
bostonbrewer wrote:Is there any inference that one can get from your application status not changing? I've been stuck at "Application Complete" for a couple months at some schools, while other people have seen movement/decisions. I feel like it can't be good news.

Check out the "What to Expect When Expecting" thread in the Acceptances Forum. Basically, some school operate different than others.


Completely varies for school to school.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby MikeSpivey » Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:02 pm

Any Penn State undergrads/football fans in here?

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:55 am

Top 10 law school facilities, here you all go:

http://spiveyconsulting.com/blog/the-to ... acilities/

Straight back to work for me, sorry for a lack of presence here this past week.

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lawschool22
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby lawschool22 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:14 am

MikeSpivey wrote:Top 10 law school facilities, here you all go:

http://spiveyconsulting.com/blog/the-to ... acilities/

Straight back to work for me, sorry for a lack of presence here this past week.


Nice work! Some of those surprised me though

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nothingtosee
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby nothingtosee » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:25 am

When can we expect the number of December LSATs administered to come out?

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 am

nothingtosee wrote:When can we expect the number of December LSATs administered to come out?


Early feb is my guess.

I wonder of someone just called LSAC and asked if they would say, though. It worked for me for several law schools who had not reported their data.

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Vincent
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby Vincent » Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:21 pm

lawschool22 wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:Top 10 law school facilities, here you all go:

http://spiveyconsulting.com/blog/the-to ... acilities/

Straight back to work for me, sorry for a lack of presence here this past week.


Nice work! Some of those surprised me though


SLS's new building is gorgeous. I'm not sure the old one quite matches the standards of the rest of campus. Who am I to complain, though?

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:55 pm

Vincent wrote:
lawschool22 wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:Top 10 law school facilities, here you all go:

http://spiveyconsulting.com/blog/the-to ... acilities/

Straight back to work for me, sorry for a lack of presence here this past week.


Nice work! Some of those surprised me though


SLS's new building is gorgeous. I'm not sure the old one quite matches the standards of the rest of campus. Who am I to complain, though?


When I speak there I think they always put me in the oldest, drabbest building. It is kind of sad.

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Serett
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby Serett » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:20 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:Top 10 law school facilities, here you all go:

http://spiveyconsulting.com/blog/the-to ... acilities/

Straight back to work for me, sorry for a lack of presence here this past week.


I'm surprised to see Marquette on the list, not because it isn't gorgeous, but simply because I figured it would be overlooked. I've never seen the interior, but even so, it's a striking building to drive past.

Big Dog
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby Big Dog » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:27 pm

personally, I found 'SC a little grungy.... grounds maintenance has been reduced over the past years....or, do the voters award the Hon mention to South Carolina?

NYstate
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby NYstate » Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:13 pm

Spivey:

I'm getting ready to leave for a few months but I have to ask you a question before I go: How often do you advise students to take time off and retake (and reapply)? The past few weeks when I've been back on the forums it seems there are still many 0LS who will refuse to retake, don't understand the reality of law school and hiring, and think that any school can get them where they want with a career. How do you handle these folks if you get them in your practice? Do they listen to your advise more than TLS because they pay you?

Have you noticed any increase in students' understanding that numbers are crucially important and that the LSAT is learnable, or has it remained the same over the past few years?

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officers

Postby MikeSpivey » Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:58 pm

NYstate wrote:Spivey:

I'm getting ready to leave for a few months but I have to ask you a question before I go: How often do you advise students to take time off and retake (and reapply)? The past few weeks when I've been back on the forums it seems there are still many 0LS who will refuse to retake, don't understand the reality of law school and hiring, and think that any school can get them where they want with a career. How do you handle these folks if you get them in your practice? Do they listen to your advise more than TLS because they pay you?

Have you noticed any increase in students' understanding that numbers are crucially important and that the LSAT is learnable, or has it remained the same over the past few years?


Where you go?

In respect to (1), it is highly individualized. Many clients we do, because most can do better and better matters. That doesn't mean we encourage them to take a cycle off often, but we highly encourage most to work the cycle.

For (2), I think there has always been a pretty strong understanding that numbers are deeply important, at least since I've been at this since 2000. The stakes are higher now because the scholarships are much more lucrative and employment is much more iffy, so in that sense perhaps there is more of a finepoint of school outcomes. But people with 169 freaked out over not getting 170's in 2000 about as much as they do now, trust me. It's just in our nature.
Last edited by MikeSpivey on Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.


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