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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mist4bison
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby mist4bison » Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:45 am

KarenButtenbaum wrote:
mist4bison wrote:Quick question after reading the response to salander's question above...

If I were to have a "publications" section on my resume with op-ed pieces, is there a chance adcoms would actually read those pieces? Would listing those on my resume give me a boost? Caveat: the one op-ed I care about showcases my interest in the environment and also discusses a unique experience, but it also mentions an illegal act (trespassing onto a heavily guarded mountain top removal site and documenting the site). So, I'm not sure if this would hurt or help in the end? Super cool experience, though. I actually thought about using it for my PS and discussing my interest in environmental law.


There is a slight chance that someone will take a look - it is quite small though. As long as you are fully disclosing anything necessary (if you didn't get caught there is nothing to disclose) there is nothing to worry about it. Sounds like it could make for a pretty interesting PS!

Cheers,
KB


Thanks!

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby MikeSpivey » Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:46 am

mist4bison wrote:
KarenButtenbaum wrote:
mist4bison wrote:Quick question after reading the response to salander's question above...

If I were to have a "publications" section on my resume with op-ed pieces, is there a chance adcoms would actually read those pieces? Would listing those on my resume give me a boost? Caveat: the one op-ed I care about showcases my interest in the environment and also discusses a unique experience, but it also mentions an illegal act (trespassing onto a heavily guarded mountain top removal site and documenting the site). So, I'm not sure if this would hurt or help in the end? Super cool experience, though. I actually thought about using it for my PS and discussing my interest in environmental law.


There is a slight chance that someone will take a look - it is quite small though. As long as you are fully disclosing anything necessary (if you didn't get caught there is nothing to disclose) there is nothing to worry about it. Sounds like it could make for a pretty interesting PS!

Cheers,
KB


Thanks!


I would definitely list them. Differentiating in a good way and I think that section will pop for a number of schools.

LifeGoals
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby LifeGoals » Thu Jul 30, 2015 1:13 pm

Is an otherwise strong academic recommender who says they feel the need to mention one negative (some examples of the type of stuff I'm thinking of are mixed attendance or late assignments) worth including if they're probably your only shot at a good academic recommendation?

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KarenButtenbaum
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:31 pm

LifeGoals wrote:Is an otherwise strong academic recommender who says they feel the need to mention one negative (some examples of the type of stuff I'm thinking of are mixed attendance or late assignments) worth including if they're probably your only shot at a good academic recommendation?


I don't see the need to include a negative, but I've seen it in many LORs and know that many professors feel it is necessary to provide context or somehow legitimize the praise. It won't hurt unless it is something really bad - and the rest of the letter needs to be strong as well. My advice would be to use your best judgement to be sure that this is going to be an overall strong letter - even with a little negative thrown in there. Can you ask the recommender if it will be a strong one overall?

rose.1070
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby rose.1070 » Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:37 pm

KarenButtenbaum wrote:
rose.1070 wrote:With one more semester of college left to complete, I will graduate with a B.S. in Biology (Pre-Health Focus), as well as a B.S. in Political Science. While my cumulative GPA is a 3.43, my Political Science GPA is a 3.96 and my Biology GPA is a ~3.3 (it can still fluctuate depending on my final semester). With the most popular major for law school applicants being political science, how do I get admissions to look deep into my 3.43 cumulative GPA and convey to them that not only did I beat 99% of political science applicants in that field of study, but I also did it while doing Biology/Pre-Med on the side. And if there is a way, how can I do this without sounding completely pompous (like I probably sound right now).


They will get your transcript and should be able to see the general trend on there, but you can (and probably should) highlight this on your resume. It won't look pompous on the resume :)

Cheers,
KB

Sounds great, thank you for the advice!

lurkin_hard
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby lurkin_hard » Thu Jul 30, 2015 4:54 pm

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Last edited by lurkin_hard on Thu Mar 03, 2016 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

LifeGoals
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby LifeGoals » Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:12 pm

KarenButtenbaum wrote:
LifeGoals wrote:Is an otherwise strong academic recommender who says they feel the need to mention one negative (some examples of the type of stuff I'm thinking of are mixed attendance or late assignments) worth including if they're probably your only shot at a good academic recommendation?


I don't see the need to include a negative, but I've seen it in many LORs and know that many professors feel it is necessary to provide context or somehow legitimize the praise. It won't hurt unless it is something really bad - and the rest of the letter needs to be strong as well. My advice would be to use your best judgement to be sure that this is going to be an overall strong letter - even with a little negative thrown in there. Can you ask the recommender if it will be a strong one overall?


They said it would be strong overall and there would be no negative comments about my academic ability.

They seem to be confused, though, and now I'm confused as well; is the LOR requested by LSAC just a general LOR that doesn't ask specific questions? They seem to think the LOR asks specific questions about the applicant and whatnot, but my understanding was that those are the evaluations, which I don't need for T14 schools. Is this correct?

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DerekMeeker
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby DerekMeeker » Fri Jul 31, 2015 9:02 pm

cdotson2 wrote:to piggy back on that last question, how much do Admissions officers care about more than just your cumulative gpa? would a 4.0 in both of my majors and high upward trend on a 3.7x cumulative help me outperform my numbers? is it a noticeable boost?


It is a distinguishing factor among candidates with similar numerical credentials. And it can be particularly helpful for splitter candidates.

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DerekMeeker
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby DerekMeeker » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:41 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:My understanding of rolling admissions is that files get read as submitted, but that decisions are only quickly made on the strongest & weakest applications while the middle gets saved for a later day/cycle decision.


I would say that is generally true, i.e., applications get reviewed in the order in which they are completed, and that decisions are made more quickly on the strongest and weakest applications. It's not that the middle files necessarily "get saved for a later day;" rather, those files are often reviewed by additional committee members. A common review model is that an admissions officer or two will review an application and make a recommendation. The file then goes to the dean of admissions, who will review the file, consider the recommendations made by the admissions officers, and either make a decision (admit, reject, or waitlist), or hold (which could either mean they are referring the file on to other committee members, such as faculty or law students, or delaying a decision because they want to see additional material from the applicant or simply want to see how the pool shapes up). Some schools have a formal "hold" communication, i.e., they will inform the applicant that his or her application is being held for further review; other schools say nothing and will simply issue the final decision when they are ready to do so.

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shump92
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby shump92 » Sat Aug 01, 2015 7:38 pm

I have a very specific LOR question.
I am a URM (White/Chicano) applicant without extensive work experience. My LSAT is upper 160s and GPA 3.9. I know a retake would probably make the most difference but I am trying to maximize my other potential tie-breaking factors since another LSAT try is not really a good option.

My transcript is the strongest part of my application, so I am trying to emphasize those achievements as much as possible. I know who my 2 main recommenders will be, but I am wondering if a third letter might help me a little more. My thesis advisor was from a different department than either my major or minor and he got to know me decently throughout that process. I think his letter would be good and from a different perspective, but I am worried that he might not know me well enough. I was never in any of his classes because he was a graduate professor and we only met in person about 5 or 6 times to discuss my thesis, though he did think my writing was strong and asked me to stay in touch with him.

Should I include this letter? I am leaning no, but I also think I am going to be a borderline applicant for several of my target schools.
Thanks for this thread!

CJ.
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby CJ. » Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:55 pm

Do you have any thoughts on the insane amount of tuition your school(s) charge law students to attend? Do you ever discuss the shocking debt burdens with other administrators who benefit from a price tag that has outpaced inflation for years now? If yes, what are your thoughts? If not, why not?

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DerekMeeker
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby DerekMeeker » Mon Aug 03, 2015 11:51 am

shump92 wrote:I have a very specific LOR question.
I am a URM (White/Chicano) applicant without extensive work experience. My LSAT is upper 160s and GPA 3.9. I know a retake would probably make the most difference but I am trying to maximize my other potential tie-breaking factors since another LSAT try is not really a good option.

My transcript is the strongest part of my application, so I am trying to emphasize those achievements as much as possible. I know who my 2 main recommenders will be, but I am wondering if a third letter might help me a little more. My thesis advisor was from a different department than either my major or minor and he got to know me decently throughout that process. I think his letter would be good and from a different perspective, but I am worried that he might not know me well enough. I was never in any of his classes because he was a graduate professor and we only met in person about 5 or 6 times to discuss my thesis, though he did think my writing was strong and asked me to stay in touch with him.

Should I include this letter? I am leaning no, but I also think I am going to be a borderline applicant for several of my target schools.
Thanks for this thread!


Trust your instinct: If you are leaning toward no and have that much doubt, don't include it (especially if your other 2 letters are both academic). LORs usually only add value when the writer knows the applicant well and can write a detailed letter that is specific.

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shump92
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby shump92 » Mon Aug 03, 2015 12:13 pm

deanmeeker wrote:
shump92 wrote:I have a very specific LOR question.
I am a URM (White/Chicano) applicant without extensive work experience. My LSAT is upper 160s and GPA 3.9. I know a retake would probably make the most difference but I am trying to maximize my other potential tie-breaking factors since another LSAT try is not really a good option.

My transcript is the strongest part of my application, so I am trying to emphasize those achievements as much as possible. I know who my 2 main recommenders will be, but I am wondering if a third letter might help me a little more. My thesis advisor was from a different department than either my major or minor and he got to know me decently throughout that process. I think his letter would be good and from a different perspective, but I am worried that he might not know me well enough. I was never in any of his classes because he was a graduate professor and we only met in person about 5 or 6 times to discuss my thesis, though he did think my writing was strong and asked me to stay in touch with him.

Should I include this letter? I am leaning no, but I also think I am going to be a borderline applicant for several of my target schools.
Thanks for this thread!


Trust your instinct: If you are leaning toward no and have that much doubt, don't include it (especially if your other 2 letters are both academic). LORs usually only add value when the writer knows the applicant well and can write a detailed letter that is specific.


Thank you. Your brevity was very helpful.

curious cat
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby curious cat » Mon Aug 03, 2015 2:51 pm

Thanks for all your help and insight throughout this thread. I will be applying this upcoming cycle and I have a question:

I was offered a full-time job by the small law firm I am interning at this summer. I want to graduate a semester early (December 2015) so I can take this job for about 9 months before law school. The downsides are that it means I won't be able to finish a second major--so I will graduate with only one major and no minor--and I feel like there is a general stigma against those who graduate early. The upside is that 9 months of law firm work might teach me more than a few extra classes in college. This situation leaves me with a few questions.

From a purely admissions standpoint, is it worth it? How would I signal this decision to adcomms without an interview, so there is an explanation for the early expected graduation date on my resume? And finally, for schools that really like work experience and have lax deferral policies (e.g. HLS), would it worthwhile to mention during the interview that if I were accepted, I would consider deferring for a year to continue to work (bringing my total WE to ~2yrs upon matriculation)?

Thanks!

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KarenButtenbaum
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:05 pm

curious cat wrote:Thanks for all your help and insight throughout this thread. I will be applying this upcoming cycle and I have a question:

I was offered a full-time job by the small law firm I am interning at this summer. I want to graduate a semester early (December 2015) so I can take this job for about 9 months before law school. The downsides are that it means I won't be able to finish a second major--so I will graduate with only one major and no minor--and I feel like there is a general stigma against those who graduate early. The upside is that 9 months of law firm work might teach me more than a few extra classes in college. This situation leaves me with a few questions.

From a purely admissions standpoint, is it worth it? How would I signal this decision to adcomms without an interview, so there is an explanation for the early expected graduation date on my resume? And finally, for schools that really like work experience and have lax deferral policies (e.g. HLS), would it worthwhile to mention during the interview that if I were accepted, I would consider deferring for a year to continue to work (bringing my total WE to ~2yrs upon matriculation)?

Thanks!


I think that the concern that schools may have for students who graduate early is tempered or corrected with the additional work experience that you will be receiving. I wouldn't advise making the decision based solely on your application but what you want to do. If this seems like the best next step for you, then I'd say go for it.
I'll also add that there is no general stigma for graduating early, but there may be a concern for the applicant's maturity level or readiness for law school.
And as far as the HLS question - yes you can bring it up if it isn't already asked :)

Cheers,
KB

curious cat
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby curious cat » Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:21 pm

KarenButtenbaum wrote:
curious cat wrote:Thanks for all your help and insight throughout this thread. I will be applying this upcoming cycle and I have a question:

I was offered a full-time job by the small law firm I am interning at this summer. I want to graduate a semester early (December 2015) so I can take this job for about 9 months before law school. The downsides are that it means I won't be able to finish a second major--so I will graduate with only one major and no minor--and I feel like there is a general stigma against those who graduate early. The upside is that 9 months of law firm work might teach me more than a few extra classes in college. This situation leaves me with a few questions.

From a purely admissions standpoint, is it worth it? How would I signal this decision to adcomms without an interview, so there is an explanation for the early expected graduation date on my resume? And finally, for schools that really like work experience and have lax deferral policies (e.g. HLS), would it worthwhile to mention during the interview that if I were accepted, I would consider deferring for a year to continue to work (bringing my total WE to ~2yrs upon matriculation)?

Thanks!


I think that the concern that schools may have for students who graduate early is tempered or corrected with the additional work experience that you will be receiving. I wouldn't advise making the decision based solely on your application but what you want to do. If this seems like the best next step for you, then I'd say go for it.
I'll also add that there is no general stigma for graduating early, but there may be a concern for the applicant's maturity level or readiness for law school.
And as far as the HLS question - yes you can bring it up if it isn't already asked :)

Cheers,
KB


Thanks for the quick response! It is definitely what I want to do, I just wanted to see if it would have any weird admissions implications. You mentioned that any hesitation over the early grad date would be corrected by the work experience. Aside from the few schools that interview, how can I signal my legal job offer to explain the early date?

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KarenButtenbaum
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:23 pm

curious cat wrote:
KarenButtenbaum wrote:
curious cat wrote:Thanks for all your help and insight throughout this thread. I will be applying this upcoming cycle and I have a question:

I was offered a full-time job by the small law firm I am interning at this summer. I want to graduate a semester early (December 2015) so I can take this job for about 9 months before law school. The downsides are that it means I won't be able to finish a second major--so I will graduate with only one major and no minor--and I feel like there is a general stigma against those who graduate early. The upside is that 9 months of law firm work might teach me more than a few extra classes in college. This situation leaves me with a few questions.

From a purely admissions standpoint, is it worth it? How would I signal this decision to adcomms without an interview, so there is an explanation for the early expected graduation date on my resume? And finally, for schools that really like work experience and have lax deferral policies (e.g. HLS), would it worthwhile to mention during the interview that if I were accepted, I would consider deferring for a year to continue to work (bringing my total WE to ~2yrs upon matriculation)?

Thanks!


I think that the concern that schools may have for students who graduate early is tempered or corrected with the additional work experience that you will be receiving. I wouldn't advise making the decision based solely on your application but what you want to do. If this seems like the best next step for you, then I'd say go for it.
I'll also add that there is no general stigma for graduating early, but there may be a concern for the applicant's maturity level or readiness for law school.
And as far as the HLS question - yes you can bring it up if it isn't already asked :)

Cheers,
KB


Thanks for the quick response! It is definitely what I want to do, I just wanted to see if it would have any weird admissions implications. You mentioned that any hesitation over the early grad date would be corrected by the work experience. Aside from the few schools that interview, how can I signal my legal job offer to explain the early date?


You could put the job with a future date on your resume.

CJ.
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby CJ. » Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:45 pm

KarenButtenbaum wrote:
curious cat wrote:Thanks for all your help and insight throughout this thread. I will be applying this upcoming cycle and I have a question:

I was offered a full-time job by the small law firm I am interning at this summer. I want to graduate a semester early (December 2015) so I can take this job for about 9 months before law school. The downsides are that it means I won't be able to finish a second major--so I will graduate with only one major and no minor--and I feel like there is a general stigma against those who graduate early. The upside is that 9 months of law firm work might teach me more than a few extra classes in college. This situation leaves me with a few questions.

From a purely admissions standpoint, is it worth it? How would I signal this decision to adcomms without an interview, so there is an explanation for the early expected graduation date on my resume? And finally, for schools that really like work experience and have lax deferral policies (e.g. HLS), would it worthwhile to mention during the interview that if I were accepted, I would consider deferring for a year to continue to work (bringing my total WE to ~2yrs upon matriculation)?

Thanks!


I think that the concern that schools may have for students who graduate early is tempered or corrected with the additional work experience that you will be receiving. I wouldn't advise making the decision based solely on your application but what you want to do. If this seems like the best next step for you, then I'd say go for it.
I'll also add that there is no general stigma for graduating early, but there may be a concern for the applicant's maturity level or readiness for law school.
And as far as the HLS question - yes you can bring it up if it isn't already asked :)

Cheers,
KB


Law schools literally do not care one iota whether you graduated a year early. It doesn't matter either way. They won't even consider your "maturity" unless there are indicia otherwise. What's you LSAT/GPA - those are the only two things that matter, and these are the two things these consultants cannot help you with.

CJ.
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby CJ. » Mon Aug 03, 2015 4:00 pm

curious cat wrote:
KarenButtenbaum wrote:
curious cat wrote:Thanks for all your help and insight throughout this thread. I will be applying this upcoming cycle and I have a question:

I was offered a full-time job by the small law firm I am interning at this summer. I want to graduate a semester early (December 2015) so I can take this job for about 9 months before law school. The downsides are that it means I won't be able to finish a second major--so I will graduate with only one major and no minor--and I feel like there is a general stigma against those who graduate early. The upside is that 9 months of law firm work might teach me more than a few extra classes in college. This situation leaves me with a few questions.

From a purely admissions standpoint, is it worth it? How would I signal this decision to adcomms without an interview, so there is an explanation for the early expected graduation date on my resume? And finally, for schools that really like work experience and have lax deferral policies (e.g. HLS), would it worthwhile to mention during the interview that if I were accepted, I would consider deferring for a year to continue to work (bringing my total WE to ~2yrs upon matriculation)?

Thanks!


I think that the concern that schools may have for students who graduate early is tempered or corrected with the additional work experience that you will be receiving. I wouldn't advise making the decision based solely on your application but what you want to do. If this seems like the best next step for you, then I'd say go for it.
I'll also add that there is no general stigma for graduating early, but there may be a concern for the applicant's maturity level or readiness for law school.
And as far as the HLS question - yes you can bring it up if it isn't already asked :)

Cheers,
KB


Thanks for the quick response! It is definitely what I want to do, I just wanted to see if it would have any weird admissions implications. You mentioned that any hesitation over the early grad date would be corrected by the work experience. Aside from the few schools that interview, how can I signal my legal job offer to explain the early date?


Put it on your resume that you have a job??

That will be $3000.

curious cat
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby curious cat » Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:23 pm

CJ. wrote:
Put it on your resume that you have a job??

That will be $3000.


1) I'm not sure what you're upset about. I asked a quick question and got a quick response. Obviously, like all the questions here, it wasn't worth hiring a consultant over. Which is why this free-advice thread exists, but...

2) Why would you care if somebody pays for a consultant? There are enough niche communities and sources of free info online that you could solve practically any problem for free if you spent the time. But there's a reason people hire electricians or personal trainers or math tutors--sometimes its not worth the hassle to sort through the murky info you find online.

3) Not sure if you read my op, but I am not working there yet nor will I be until months after I submit my apps. It wasn't obvious to me that I should put a mere job offer for the future on my resume.

CJ.
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby CJ. » Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:33 pm

curious cat wrote:
CJ. wrote:
Put it on your resume that you have a job??

That will be $3000.


1) I'm not sure what you're upset about. I asked a quick question and got a quick response. Obviously, like all the questions here, it wasn't worth hiring a consultant over. Which is why this free-advice thread exists, but...

2) Why would you care if somebody pays for a consultant? There are enough niche communities and sources of free info online that you could solve practically any problem for free if you spent the time. But there's a reason people hire electricians or personal trainers or math tutors--sometimes its not worth the hassle to sort through the murky info you find online.

3) Not sure if you read my op, but I am not working there yet nor will I be until months after I submit my apps. It wasn't obvious to me that I should put a mere job offer for the future on my resume.


Electricians have specialized technical knowledge that requires years of training to develop. You might literally die if you try to do what an electrician did without the assistance of one. Personal trainers are a toss up: some are scammy, some aren't. Math tutors teach difficult concepts in an accessible way to people who might otherwise never figure it out.

If you are suggesting that admissions consultants pitch their services as simply "time savers" you are 100% wrong. Check out their website: they promise that if you pay them, they will show you "tricks" and "secrets" - their words - to getting admitted. They don't know any tricks, and they surely don't have any secrets. There is nothing they could tell you that is not right on this site. There is nothing they could tell you that is not painfully commonsensical.

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cdotson2
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby cdotson2 » Mon Aug 03, 2015 9:14 pm

CJ. wrote:Electricians have specialized technical knowledge that requires years of training to develop. You might literally die if you try to do what an electrician did without the assistance of one. Personal trainers are a toss up: some are scammy, some aren't. Math tutors teach difficult concepts in an accessible way to people who might otherwise never figure it out.

If you are suggesting that admissions consultants pitch their services as simply "time savers" you are 100% wrong. Check out their website: they promise that if you pay them, they will show you "tricks" and "secrets" - their words - to getting admitted. They don't know any tricks, and they surely don't have any secrets. There is nothing they could tell you that is not right on this site. There is nothing they could tell you that is not painfully commonsensical.

I feel like that was completely unnecessary. this is something you could have pm'd the guy instead of pissing all over the people who are nice enough to be giving free advice to people itt.

pittsburghpirates
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Postby pittsburghpirates » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:01 pm

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CJ.
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby CJ. » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:06 pm

pittsburghpirates wrote:Hi guys, thanks for all that you do in offering this advice, it's much appreciated. I do have a question for you regarding writing an addendum for a big increase (8+ points) on the LSAT. Would this be something that would be needed given that most schools seem to already focus primarily on the high score?


Absolutely not. What would your addendum even say? You studied more the second time and knocked it out of the park? Don't make your application any longer than it needs to be.

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