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

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

Postby MikeSpivey » Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:03 am

benwyatt wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:
benwyatt wrote:Hi all,

I'm curious, when you had reapplicants, how often did you actually pull up their old applications? If it was rare, why did you decide to pull up those particular applications?

It was in their file and I almost always checked to see if they at least took the time to do a new PS. Then while I was there I often read the old one too.

Thanks for the answer!

I've written a new PS and have new LORs, I just know that my application from two cycles was objectively pretty bad so I'm trying to gauge what influence that might have this time around.


It might have a positive one seeing that you are (1) still committed to their school (YP data point) and (2) That you have improved. I wouldn't worry too much about it, I always liked self improvement. I liked self-awareness even more (hint hint for some PS folks).

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

Postby MikeSpivey » Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:03 am

Could a few people be so kid as to list their favorite 2-3 law school websites? Many thanks!

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

Postby haus » Thu Aug 20, 2015 12:27 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:Could a few people be so kid as to list their favorite 2-3 law school websites? Many thanks!

http://spiveyconsulting.com
http://lawschoolnumbers.com

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urbanist11
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haus
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby haus » Thu Aug 20, 2015 2:45 pm

urbanist11 wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:Could a few people be so kid as to list their favorite 2-3 law school websites? Many thanks!


Assuming you're asking about the websites of law schools I think NYU, Penn, and Northwestern's are slick. Cornell as a closer runner-up. To be fair I haven't seen the websites of most schools though.

Hmmm, given that I only considered schools with part-time programs which would no require me to move or change jobs, I had a fairly small sample set that I bothered looking at. That being said, I cannot think of any of them that had a website with noting.

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

Postby Gray » Thu Aug 20, 2015 3:44 pm

As a web designer (former web designer as of tomorrow at 5) I have to say that I really hate Northwestern's new site. It looks modern at first but the responsive design is a really annoying trend and the execution is mediocre at best.

I'd say the best websites from a visual appeal/user friendliness perspective in the t14 are NYU, Georgetown, and Cornell

Broncos15
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby Broncos15 » Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:26 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:Could a few people be so kid as to list their favorite 2-3 law school websites? Many thanks!


http://abovethelaw.com/

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

Postby MikeSpivey » Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:57 am

Thanks for the input, all. I agree that NYU has the best page, especially when looking at both desktop and mobile.

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

Postby MrBalloons » Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:53 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:Could a few people be so kid as to list their favorite 2-3 law school websites? Many thanks!

It's clear that Stanford's sucks hard. That's all I know.

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

Postby oliverotis » Mon Aug 24, 2015 2:27 pm

.
Last edited by oliverotis on Fri Oct 02, 2015 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bklaw44
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby bklaw44 » Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:02 pm

deanmeeker wrote:
cam89 wrote:Hi all,

I wanted to hear your opinion on writing a "why" essay for Columbia. It seems that most TLSers say not to, yet on their FAQs they seem to imply that they would like one. Thanks so much!


Funny, I just asked Mike and Karen this question the other day. My inclination was "yes," and they agreed. Now, I wouldn't say that EVERY applicant should write a "why Columbia" essay. There certainly will be candidates that are numerically competitive for admission to Columbia and that have backgrounds and experiences that seem to be a good fit for Columbia, and thus, they may not need to write the supplemental essay. (Plenty of applicants that don't write such an essay get admitted.) But if Columbia is your first choice, or if you are a splitter or marginal candidate, then I say, yes, write the essay.



Following up on this question, do you think applicants should write a "why" essay for NYU? Their admissions page does not specifically mention this as a potential reason to include a supplemental essay. Thanks for taking questions, even from a lurker!

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

Postby landshoes » Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:31 am

Hey there. One of my friends is ex-military, and I was wondering if you could give me some info for him about whether he should expect a significant boost in terms of his applications? And is there anything specifically he should do to make his military service stand out (i.e. is it a good topic for a diversity statement?)

Thanks!

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jetsfan1
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Re: Q&A with former Harvard, Penn, Chicago, Vandy Admissions officers

Postby jetsfan1 » Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:45 am

Hey all,

I was just looking over my academic summary report and was wondering about the average LSAT/GPA they show for each school. Since you guys have all seen thousands of these I was wondering what you would consider a high average LSAT? What is the average average GPA? What type of average GPA would indicate grade inflation? What would indicate grade deflation? Thanks again, you guys are the best :D

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

Postby mist4bison » Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:53 pm

I have a question regarding writing an addendum, or even multiple addendums. I have two issues that I'm considering writing addendums for, but am unsure if they are necessary or if they might even have negative effects.

1) GPA -- My LSAC GPA is a 3.5. I definitely did not do as well as I could have for a number of reasons. I started college in high school and wasn't ready, but I don't think that's worth mentioning in an addendum. I also worked at least 40 hours a week the entirety of my college career out of necessity. I had to put myself through college, meaning tuition, rent, food, etc. I also helped my family by occasionally giving them money. I also had to deal with having a tumor removed (and the subsequent medical bills) during my sophomore year. In addition to working, I also participated in extracurricular activities--a position in my sorority, Mock Trial, and volunteering. I know that the reasons I listed affected my GPA, but I'm not sure if the reasons or my GPA warrant an addendum. If I don't write an addendum, is there a box on applications where I can list my extracurriculars/jobs, aside from my resume? I'm assuming that filling in such a box would be just as good as an addendum?

2) Quitting TFA -- I was a 2013 corps member and had to quit in April of 2014, before I had completed a full year of the two year commitment. My school was being shut down the end of the year anyway and it was a pretty terrible situation (we're talking kids and teachers getting stabbed with pencils, myself included). I had already planned on quitting TFA once the school closed, but fractured my spine in February. I actually injured it at school by slipping down an outside staircase caked in ice that served as the only entrance into the building. Anyway, I took about 3 weeks to heal, went back to school, and couldn't deal with the back pain that working caused. For context, I was working a full 11 hours without sitting down, due to my school's budget constraints. I was also restraining children with severe behavioral issues, which took a toll on my back. By my doctor's orders, I was supposed to have an assistant in the classroom, but the school never supplied one. Basically, I quit because of the impact that working had on my back. I'm worried that quitting TFA, which I'm sure every adcom knows is a 2 year commitment, will look bad when I'm applying. Is it worth writing an addendum, or would it look like I'm reaching for an explanation for quitting?

Sorry for the long post. Any help is appreciated. You guys are amazing!

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

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Tue Aug 25, 2015 2:48 pm

oliverotis wrote:Hey guys,

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. I have two questions for y'all:

(1) Should I list my GPA on my résumé? They obviously see this in my academic summary report, but the successful resume examples on HLS' application checklist page list GPA (http://hls.harvard.edu/dept/jdadmission ... omponents/)

(2) Any sense of how adcomms view teaching LSAT classes? Could being an LSAT instructor diminish the value of a high score?

Thanks!


They will certainly get your GPA and your academic record from the CAS report, but it's not a bad idea to add your GPA to the resume if it is something to highlight!

I am certain that the views on teaching LSAT vary from school to school and from person to person. Your score is what it is, and they will be happy to take a high score in the end as long as the rest of the application is solid. I'm not sure that it diminishes your score, but I think some people will want to see other work and activities in addition to this.

Cheers,
KB

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

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Tue Aug 25, 2015 2:52 pm

landshoes wrote:Hey there. One of my friends is ex-military, and I was wondering if you could give me some info for him about whether he should expect a significant boost in terms of his applications? And is there anything specifically he should do to make his military service stand out (i.e. is it a good topic for a diversity statement?)

Thanks!


It is a feather on the scale, so it is likely to give a little boost, but it is impossible to quantify the boost in a vacuum. The admissions process is a comparative one, and so much matters on what the applicant pool looks like. But having this experience can be seen as a positive and differentiating factor.
It will be on his resume too, so that will stand out without trying, but I could also see it working as a PS or even a DS.

Cheers,
KB

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

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Tue Aug 25, 2015 3:19 pm

jetsfan1 wrote:Hey all,

I was just looking over my academic summary report and was wondering about the average LSAT/GPA they show for each school. Since you guys have all seen thousands of these I was wondering what you would consider a high average LSAT? What is the average average GPA? What type of average GPA would indicate grade inflation? What would indicate grade deflation? Thanks again, you guys are the best :D


Keep in mind that this GPA is based on the number of students applying to law school, so it is somewhat self-selected group and may not reflect the school's average GPA for everyone in the school. I can't really remember the LSAT, and quite frankly that matters less on this type of comparison.
As far as GPA, in my experience, this number has gone up over the years (indicating grade inflation), but there are a few standouts in my mind. The average GPA (also known as GCM) also comes with a rank where the applicant stands in relation to her college peers who are also applying to law school, so the GPA alone doesn't help as much as both numbers together. I don't remember exact numbers, but Harvard had a very high average GPA but Princeton's was lower, reflecting their stance against grade inflation. The lowest average that I remember are from the military academies: West Point, Annapolis, etc.
To illustrate what I mean (and I really don't remember the numbers, so this is NOT accurate - just for illustration) a West Point graduate with a 3.5 is likely to be around the 75th or 80th percentile and West Point has around a 3.2 GCM. A Harvard graduate with a 3.5 is likely to be in the 35th or 40th percentile and Harvard has a 3.6 GCM.
I am not sure that I've answered your question, but you might find that interesting - I do!

Cheers,
Karen

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

Postby Zwiff » Wed Aug 26, 2015 5:38 am

My LSAC GPA is significantly lower than the GPA on my university transcript (.09 lower). Is it fine to include my university GPA on my resume? Law schools will obviously see my LSAC GPA on the LSAC report.

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

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:51 pm

Zwiff wrote:My LSAC GPA is significantly lower than the GPA on my university transcript (.09 lower). Is it fine to include my university GPA on my resume? Law schools will obviously see my LSAC GPA on the LSAC report.


Yes, your resume can reflect the GPA on your university transcript, but you are right that they will get your GPA from the LSAC report. No harm in putting your transcript GPA on the resume tho!

Cheers,
Karen

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

Postby aventura » Thu Aug 27, 2015 1:49 am

If one of our recommenders attended a school that we are applying to for a Masters or Doctoral degree, but not a JD, would a targeted letter help? Or could it backfire as appearing too political?

thanks for the help

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

Postby DerekMeeker » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:58 pm

bklaw44 wrote:
deanmeeker wrote:
cam89 wrote:Hi all,

I wanted to hear your opinion on writing a "why" essay for Columbia. It seems that most TLSers say not to, yet on their FAQs they seem to imply that they would like one. Thanks so much!


Funny, I just asked Mike and Karen this question the other day. My inclination was "yes," and they agreed. Now, I wouldn't say that EVERY applicant should write a "why Columbia" essay. There certainly will be candidates that are numerically competitive for admission to Columbia and that have backgrounds and experiences that seem to be a good fit for Columbia, and thus, they may not need to write the supplemental essay. (Plenty of applicants that don't write such an essay get admitted.) But if Columbia is your first choice, or if you are a splitter or marginal candidate, then I say, yes, write the essay.



Following up on this question, do you think applicants should write a "why" essay for NYU? Their admissions page does not specifically mention this as a potential reason to include a supplemental essay. Thanks for taking questions, even from a lurker!


I don't think it is necessary for NYU; however, if NYU is a top choice, and you are a splitter or reverse-splitter, I would advise doing it. In other words, if there is a significant weak point that hinders an otherwise strong application, go the extra mile and do the essay.

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

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Sat Aug 29, 2015 10:30 pm

mist4bison wrote:I have a question regarding writing an addendum, or even multiple addendums. I have two issues that I'm considering writing addendums for, but am unsure if they are necessary or if they might even have negative effects.

1) GPA -- My LSAC GPA is a 3.5. I definitely did not do as well as I could have for a number of reasons. I started college in high school and wasn't ready, but I don't think that's worth mentioning in an addendum. I also worked at least 40 hours a week the entirety of my college career out of necessity. I had to put myself through college, meaning tuition, rent, food, etc. I also helped my family by occasionally giving them money. I also had to deal with having a tumor removed (and the subsequent medical bills) during my sophomore year. In addition to working, I also participated in extracurricular activities--a position in my sorority, Mock Trial, and volunteering. I know that the reasons I listed affected my GPA, but I'm not sure if the reasons or my GPA warrant an addendum. If I don't write an addendum, is there a box on applications where I can list my extracurriculars/jobs, aside from my resume? I'm assuming that filling in such a box would be just as good as an addendum?

2) Quitting TFA -- I was a 2013 corps member and had to quit in April of 2014, before I had completed a full year of the two year commitment. My school was being shut down the end of the year anyway and it was a pretty terrible situation (we're talking kids and teachers getting stabbed with pencils, myself included). I had already planned on quitting TFA once the school closed, but fractured my spine in February. I actually injured it at school by slipping down an outside staircase caked in ice that served as the only entrance into the building. Anyway, I took about 3 weeks to heal, went back to school, and couldn't deal with the back pain that working caused. For context, I was working a full 11 hours without sitting down, due to my school's budget constraints. I was also restraining children with severe behavioral issues, which took a toll on my back. By my doctor's orders, I was supposed to have an assistant in the classroom, but the school never supplied one. Basically, I quit because of the impact that working had on my back. I'm worried that quitting TFA, which I'm sure every adcom knows is a 2 year commitment, will look bad when I'm applying. Is it worth writing an addendum, or would it look like I'm reaching for an explanation for quitting?

Sorry for the long post. Any help is appreciated. You guys are amazing!


You don't want to overdo it with addenda, so I am not convinced that both are necessary. And my general advice is always to keep it brief if you do decide to write one.
In general, there is a lot that an admissions officer can get from your application in terms of how you spent your time during school working and with activities - the application form often asks for hours per week or something like that for work and activities.
TFA is known as a 2 year commitment, so it will be a question that the admissions folks will wonder about. I'd probbaly lean towards addressing it in your application somewhere - of it doesn't fit anywhere else, an addendum might be worth it. Keep it simple.

Cheers,
karen

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jettison63
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Postby jettison63 » Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:33 pm

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

Postby KarenButtenbaum » Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:29 pm

jettison63 wrote:Hi! Quick question here:

I'm writing an addendum because I didn't do amazingly in undergrad (approx 3.5 gpa). I say in my current draft of the addendum that my sister was in and out of the hospital regularly. Truth is she was in and out between 20 and 30 times, often in the ICU and ER. Is that worth mentioning (specifically, the frequency of her visits)? I don't want it to sound like I am trying to explain away a mediocre GPA because my sister had her tonsils removed......

Thanks in advance for any and all help.


It's hard to say exactly what you might want to mention since tone, content and context matter so much in an addendum, but in general, it sounds like it might be a good idea to add these numbers for context.

Cheers,
KB

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

Postby Helioze » Mon Aug 31, 2015 10:43 pm

KarenButtenbaum wrote:
jetsfan1 wrote:Hey all,

I was just looking over my academic summary report and was wondering about the average LSAT/GPA they show for each school. Since you guys have all seen thousands of these I was wondering what you would consider a high average LSAT? What is the average average GPA? What type of average GPA would indicate grade inflation? What would indicate grade deflation? Thanks again, you guys are the best :D


Keep in mind that this GPA is based on the number of students applying to law school, so it is somewhat self-selected group and may not reflect the school's average GPA for everyone in the school. I can't really remember the LSAT, and quite frankly that matters less on this type of comparison.
As far as GPA, in my experience, this number has gone up over the years (indicating grade inflation), but there are a few standouts in my mind. The average GPA (also known as GCM) also comes with a rank where the applicant stands in relation to her college peers who are also applying to law school, so the GPA alone doesn't help as much as both numbers together. I don't remember exact numbers, but Harvard had a very high average GPA but Princeton's was lower, reflecting their stance against grade inflation. The lowest average that I remember are from the military academies: West Point, Annapolis, etc.
To illustrate what I mean (and I really don't remember the numbers, so this is NOT accurate - just for illustration) a West Point graduate with a 3.5 is likely to be around the 75th or 80th percentile and West Point has around a 3.2 GCM. A Harvard graduate with a 3.5 is likely to be in the 35th or 40th percentile and Harvard has a 3.6 GCM.
I am not sure that I've answered your question, but you might find that interesting - I do!

Cheers,
Karen



Where would someone be able to view this GCM data?


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