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 Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:12 pm

dingbat wrote:How much do numbers matter?
A) if someone has stellar numbers, will s/he basically be admitted if not an axe murderer?
B) if someone has horrible numbers, would s/he have a chance?


Dingbat, I recognize your name so I think I have read some of your posts before.

Numbers are essentially the sine qua non in admissions; if you do not have at least one of the two above the median of the school you are applying to you will likely not get in, and if you are above both medians you will highly likely not get in. As you know, you do not need me or other mealy-mouthed types lie me to tell you, there are wonderful sites that aggregate and predict your chances purely based on numbers. So yes, LSAT and then GPA are far and away the two most important factors.

In this book I seem to be not writing on law admissions I flat our say "IF you are above both medians at the school you dream of attending, don;t buy or read this book". You still could be denied, (and perhaps I should add that at the very top of the food chain there are one, two, or three schools where you should probably still read my book) but for all other the things you would be denied with are things that no advice could undo anyway.

But here is the rub, per se. Most people apply to a range of schools, some of which are safeties and more of which they either split the medians or are slightly below the medians. Put another way, there are a highly limited number if applicants who are above the gpa and LSAT of ALL law school, and most applicants rightfully want to reach upward.

School waitlist a lot more people than I think most people realize, and schools rely heavily on splitters. No one school, even Yale with their huge yield, has a class of people all above both medians. Of course not. So if you split the medians, or if you are slightly below both, there are a huge number of "small ball" type things you can do to elevate and increase your chances.

Does this help and make sense?

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slawww
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby slawww » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:07 pm

Hey Mike thanks for doing this! I hop you have time for this question:

How do Admissions officers usually look at applicants at or above LSAT median with a GPA below the 25th Percentile.

For example, for most of the schools I'm applying to I'm at or above the LSAT medians, but I'm below most of the 25th percentiles in GPA, with a very significant upward trend. Thanks!

TheColonel
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby TheColonel » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:50 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:I am a bit saddened by the fact that no one asked me how my Fantasy Football team did this weekend.


Sounds like someone started Doug Martin.

And piggybacking on slawww's question, if you were applying to law schools today would you rather be at the schools LSAT 75th percentile and GPA 25th percentile or visa-versa?

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JCFindley
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby JCFindley » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:53 pm

Mike, thanks for doing this and even though I have already been through the admit process I find it fascinating reading.

FWIW I was one of those unusual applicants that was well below my school's numbers and was actually admitted because of my softs. I have no doubt your book would have come in handy for me and am sure it will help countless others when it comes out.

Oh, and how did your fantasy football team do?

ejrubin
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby ejrubin » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:17 pm

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your responses so far. Could you comment on how adcomms approach applicants who are exactly at median?

Thanks.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:21 pm

Breaking news (a night late), my FF team won, even without the inimitable performance of D. Martin. Thanks for asking.

JCFindley, I'd be interested to hear your softs, please feel free to message me here or email me. I should stress that people below both medians get in to just about every school every year--it is just exceptionally less common. 'Grats on that,

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JCFindley
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby JCFindley » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:23 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:Breaking news (a night late), my FF team won, even without the inimitable performance of D. Martin. Thanks for asking.

JCFindley, I'd be interested to hear your softs, please feel free to message me here or email me. I should stress that people below both medians get in to just about every school every year--it is just exceptionally less common. 'Grats on that,


I'll pop you a PM with them.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:24 pm

ejrubin wrote:Hi Mike,

Thanks for your responses so far. Could you comment on how adcomms approach applicants who are exactly at median?

Thanks.


It is rare to be exactly at both schools medians but certainly does happen. In this cycle I like your chances, especially if you go the risk averse route and make sure to dot every i and cross every t. Hope this doesn't sound terse, I simply think if everything else checks out your are likely in a good way.

SPerez
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby SPerez » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:35 pm

Hey! Get outta here, Mike. There's only room for one of us professional-types 'round these parts. Haha...

Just kidding. I'm just jelly that in 3 days you're halfway to the number of pages my thread has after nearly a year.

Travel safe and good luck with your book!

Dean Perez

PS Learn to quote, ya' n00b. :)

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:46 pm

SPerez wrote:Hey! Get outta here, Mike. There's only room for one of us professional-types 'round these parts. Haha...

Just kidding. I'm just jelly that in 3 days you're halfway to the number of pages my thread has after nearly a year.

Travel safe and good luck with your book!

Dean Perez

PS Learn to quote, ya' n00b. :)


You too, miss you guys on the road. Travel safe!

ejrubin
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby ejrubin » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:54 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
ejrubin wrote:Hi Mike,

Thanks for your responses so far. Could you comment on how adcomms approach applicants who are exactly at median?

Thanks.


It is rare to be exactly at both schools medians but certainly does happen. In this cycle I like your chances, especially if you go the risk averse route and make sure to dot every i and cross every t. Hope this doesn't sound terse, I simply think if everything else checks out your are likely in a good way.


Thanks Mike. I am exactly at median at BC, and it is my dream school. Hard to believe I'm exactly at median, it's almost comical when it comes to predicting my chances. I retook the LSAT four times. How much do you think this (retaking) hurts applicants? For what it is worth, I did not send an addendum because the only reason I scored so miserably was nerves...I just choked twice.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:43 pm

bgoodrick wrote:Most schools say that they view applications "holistically," how much does this take into account? Unfortunately I chose a tough major (mechanical engineering) at a top school and so my GPA suffered, so now I'm applying with a good LSAT, and a worse GPA than I could've had.

Did I basically screw myself out of a top school because of my major choice?

Thanks for any help you can give.


bgoodrick, this is a great year to apply to law school. I think with a good LSAT (above a school's median) and a tough major at a top school you are looking good, based purely on that information. For strong schools with a good number of applications you may have to ride out the waititlist for awhile, but I think (again based on what I have) a strong LSAT is going to be highly coveted this year, as it was last. In other words, do not let the waitlist freak you out--indeed many law schools take a majority or near majority of their matriculates from the WL.

Good Luck!
Last edited by MikeSpivey on Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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NoodleyOne
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby NoodleyOne » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:45 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
bgoodrick wrote:Most schools say that they view applications "holistically," how much does this take into account? Unfortunately I chose a tough major (mechanical engineering) at a top school and so my GPA suffered, so now I'm applying with a good LSAT, and a worse GPA than I could've had.

Did I basically screw myself out of a top school because of my major choice?

Thanks for any help you can give.


bgoodrick, this is a great year to apply to law school. I think with a good LSAT (above a school's median) and a tough major at a top school you are looking good, based purely on that information. For strong schools with a good number of applications you may have to ride out the waititlist for awhile, but I think (again based on what I have) a strong LSAT is going to be highly coveted this tear, as it was last. In other words, do not let the waitlist freak you out--indeed many law schools take a majority or near majority of their matriculates from the WL.

Good Luck!


This may be the most encouraging thing I've read on this entire site.

GoCats56
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby GoCats56 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:54 pm

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Last edited by GoCats56 on Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:06 pm

GoCats56 wrote:I'm concerned about Character and Fitness issues.

Background: I'm at a T15 undergrad institution. 3.67 GPA 172 LSAT. HAD a flawless criminal/disciplinary record up until this week (not so much as a parking ticket).

On 11/4/12 I was formally warned by my university for using a university network to download copyrighted material. In addition, the copyright holder threatened to sue.

I have taken full responsibility for my actions, and settled with the rightsholder in exchange for a full release from liability. Obviously the offending conduct will not continue going forward. I plan on disclosing all this fully in my applications.

Obviously the recency of the conduct is a major concern. Additionally, the material actually infringed on is of an...adult...nature. Nothing illegal in and of itself, but certainly embarassing.

I guess my question boils down to, how bad is this really? Am I totally screwed, or should I be OK if I fully disclose and take responsibility? I'm pretty ashamed and embarassed to have jeopardized my future in such a stupid way.

GoCats56 wrote:I'm concerned about Character and Fitness issues.

Background: I'm at a T15 undergrad institution. 3.67 GPA 172 LSAT. HAD a flawless criminal/disciplinary record up until this week (not so much as a parking ticket).

On 11/4/12 I was formally warned by my university for using a university network to download copyrighted material. In addition, the copyright holder threatened to sue.

I have taken full responsibility for my actions, and settled with the rightsholder in exchange for a full release from liability. Obviously the offending conduct will not continue going forward. I plan on disclosing all this fully in my applications.

Obviously the recency of the conduct is a major concern. Additionally, the material actually infringed on is of an...adult...nature. Nothing illegal in and of itself, but certainly embarassing.

I guess my question boils down to, how bad is this really? Am I totally screwed, or should I be OK if I fully disclose and take responsibility? I'm pretty ashamed and embarassed to have jeopardized my future in such a stupid way.


Again, I speak in general terms and not for any school specifically--I can not know for sure.

All of that aside, disclose it fully, take full responsibility and don't sweat it. From what I know this one time offense should not hurt you. Admissions committees are generally looking for trends character issues and one-time offenses are often minimized. The worst thing you could do would be to make excuses and blame others, and that does not sound like you at all.

*I really can not field any more questions on this thread but will try to answer all of the above over time* Thanks for understanding.

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cahwc12
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby cahwc12 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:16 pm

Possibly out of your ballpark, but what's your best advice on negotiating merit aid?

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dingbat
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby dingbat » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:20 am

For international students (i.e. without a GPA), is admissions heavily weighted towards LSAT? How much does the prestige/difficulty of the UG, or the grade, matter?

basketball law guy
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby basketball law guy » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:27 am

I was late to the party for this thread- I thoroughly enjoyed reading these 3 pages of posts. I hope you return for some more questions, I have a couple.....

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howlery
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby howlery » Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:32 pm

Can you shed some light on URM admissions? Specifically what if anything you might prefer to see in a URM applicant and just how much of a boost different groups enjoyed at your institution. Sorry if this is inappropriate. Not trying to incite any debate. I'd like to know a bit more about how adcomms will treat my app.

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NewYorkL
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby NewYorkL » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:06 pm

NewYorkL wrote:How much does being a URM impact upon an application? Some people speculate that it can add points to your LSAT depending on if your AA, Puerto Rican, Mexican etc. Is this true or simply a myth?


Also is a diversity statement a must to highlight your diversity or should it be in your personal statement or should I be prepared to submit both a diversity statement and personal statement?



I do not believe you touched on the URM boost if there even is such a thing. Let us know thanks.

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jrsbaseball5
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby jrsbaseball5 » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:48 pm

I have a couple of questions that I don't think have been answered here and I would appreciate your input.

1. How do admission officers view applicants with families? Is it considered a plus, not considered, negative? Is it considered if an applicant doesn't have all of the traditional softs such as club involvement, or other extracurricular activities because of family responsibilities? I'm approaching this as if the applicant has numbers near median so it isn't an automatic ding.

2. For students applying to the top three schools is there any advice you have particularly for those schools? Again assuming that you are at or near median in LSAT and GPA.

Thanks for doing this, as a fellow FFballer I hope your team does well this week as long as you don't have Stafford who I'm playing against :D
Look forward to hearing about your book release!

M458
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby M458 » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:02 pm

Wormfather wrote:
NewYorkL wrote:
NewYorkL wrote:How much does being a URM impact upon an application? Some people speculate that it can add points to your LSAT depending on if your AA, Puerto Rican, Mexican etc. Is this true or simply a myth?


Also is a diversity statement a must to highlight your diversity or should it be in your personal statement or should I be prepared to submit both a diversity statement and personal statement?



I do not believe you touched on the URM boost if there even is such a thing. Let us know thanks.


I am also interested in this question.


+1. I've always been curious as to how Internationals are reviewed during admissions, especially ones that would qualify as URMs if not for the fact that they (we) are non-citizen/non-residents.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:54 pm

gunner3 wrote:How important is WE? I have the opportunity to go work an ibank and was wondering how much value-add that would be to my app?


Ok, I need to wake up the echoes, apologies for the delay over Thanksgiving.

Gunner, That would give you very much value-add when you are applying for a job. Indeed, I know a managing partner at a firm who is advising his daughter to do exactly that, i.e. work for a few years then go to law school (much to my chagrin btw because this admissions cycle is less competitive than I have ever seen it), entirely because of the fact that the legal job market is so difficult WE will really come in to play.

For law school admissions decision-making, valuable and salient work experience are very slight elevating factors. In other words, I think they would matter if you are right on the bubble and likely late game off the waitlist when a law school's numbers are set. So as a practical matter, i would not go work as a means to impressing an AD COM. I hope this helps!

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:34 pm

skri65 wrote:Three questions for you:

1. If an application is exactly at median from the most recently published statistics, do adcomms look to softs or are these applicants likely in?

2. If an applicant is slightly below median (ie. -1 lsat, -.1 GPA) at a given school, do these applicants need to have something special in the rest of their application to gain acceptance to that school? Or are applicants that are "around median" kind of pushed into the same group and softs decide this group?

3. What role do you think declining medians will have on this coming cycle?


Skri65, the first I addressed earlier so feel free to peruse that answer. In the second, yes I would say you need something that highly differentiates/diversifies your application. Just keep in mind, as I have said many many times over the years, that everyone thinks (and in a sense is) a unique and beautiful snowflake. If you are below both the schools medians you are hurting that school by admitting you, from a numbers/US News Rankings perspective. Put even less politely, it is the job of the admissions office to not admit you. I realize that sounds very harsh and I apologize for this---and indeed people below both medians definitively WILL be admitted. But, when they admit you they need to matriculate someone above both medians (which costs them $$$$) to balance it out. So you need to REALLY stand out. The vast vast majority of applicants below both medians will not be admitted and the majority likely won;t make it to the waitlist stage,

As far as declining medians, I see (and have seen projections) that this trend will continue, particularly in LSAT and particularly LSAT scores at 165 and above. So if I were looking at past data to decide where I apply, I would cast a broad net. Also keep in mind schools loathe, absolutely abhor, going down in medians so look for more remission (what people here call scholarship money) this cycle. This is a GREAT year to apply to law school.

I hope this helps!

Mike

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:38 pm

Swimp wrote:Thanks for taking questions, Mike. Recent cycles seem to have been relatively kind to splitters (which I'm using to mean people below a target school's GPA median, but above its LSAT median). Do you foresee the current cycle to proceed even further in this direction? I'm relatively risk-averse, but I'm wondering if this could be a time to, for instance, ED CLS instead of NYU.


Swimp, I've thought and looked long at hard on this. I'll answer from two perspectives.

For applicants, yes I think this cycle will continue to be kind on splitters, probably even more so than last year. This makes sense because high LSAT scores will be coveted, and law school place a premium on LSAT scores (too much so, fyi, at many schools) because of their slightly heavier weight in US News rankings. So with a continued emphasis in keeping LSATs at or above last year's medians coupled with a downturn in the supply of high LSAT scores (but not a downslide in Ugpa), I think this will be a very friendly splitter year.

My second answer is that if I were an admissions office, I would do the exact opposite. Strategically, I would fold my cards, per se, and shoot early to keep my LSAT stable and would target a high uGPA. But, since no one here is a law admissions office this is sort of me thinking out-loud.


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