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

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kaseyb002
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby kaseyb002 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:04 am

How exactly do law schools keep track of numbers? Do they have a big spreadsheet in their office or something that's calculating this? Or do they just look to see if an applicant is above or below last year's medians and go from there?

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:02 am

kaseyb002 wrote:How exactly do law schools keep track of numbers? Do they have a big spreadsheet in their office or something that's calculating this? Or do they just look to see if an applicant is above or below last year's medians and go from there?


I like that question because from all my years I have never heard an applicant ask that.

I can see a scenario where least sophisticated law schools simply look at the previous numbers. That said, the majority, are running daily reports (importing from the database into an excel spreadsheet) based not only the current status of admits but the applicant pool as a whole. So it will look like something like this:

Applicant Pool: 160, 3.50
Admits: 169, 3.82
Seat Deposits Paid: 167, 3.72

And some of the decision making will stem from how the above looks on a daily basis.

Great question! (sorry for answering out of order, I feel guilty when I do that!)

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North
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby North » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:48 am

Hey Mike, glad you're back at this thread. Couple questions:

1. I'm working on a few Why X essays for schools I applied to. I'm worried that, despite my genuine interest, the essays are going to sound false and contrived to an AdComm who reads them all the time. What can I do to avoid that? What differentiates a Why X that sounds genuine from a Why X that sounds like the writer just mined the school's website?

2. Is it bad form to send supplementary information (Diversity Statement, Why X, etc.) after an application has been submitted through LSAC and gone complete?

Thanks for taking the time.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:03 pm

North wrote:Hey Mike, glad you're back at this thread. Couple questions:

1. I'm working on a few Why X essays for schools I applied to. I'm worried that, despite my genuine interest, the essays are going to sound false and contrived to an AdComm who reads them all the time. What can I do to avoid that? What differentiates a Why X that sounds genuine from a Why X that sounds like the writer just mined the school's website?

2. Is it bad form to send supplementary information (Diversity Statement, Why X, etc.) after an application has been submitted through LSAC and gone complete?

Thanks for taking the time.


North,

I just was discussing (1) with a client. I agree that a lot of admissions offices will treat the first with a degree of skepticism, because of past experience where they get burned. That is obviously human nature and no fault of theirs or yours.

My advice to my client is two-fold. One, sincerity sells. I'm about to blog about just that. So if you are genuine it obviously trumps if you force reasons. I think humans in general (probably for some evolutionary reason or whatever) are good at detecting sincerity over puffery. So say what comes to mind, not what you think you should say. Does that make sense?

if you are indeed genuine you will also likely stay in touch. If you are very interested in X school you may visit, email numerous times, etc. Again, I can't speak for any one school but most will track this. All your emails will be printed or forwarded and placed in your file. A record of sustained contact PLUS a sincere "why x" compliment each other nicely and provide valuable intelligence for the admissions folks.

For (2), not in the least. No real difference, in fact.

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wert3813
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby wert3813 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:19 pm

.
Last edited by wert3813 on Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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wbrother
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby wbrother » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:29 pm

Well first +1 to the URM Questions, woud love to hear from you on that.

Secondly, you already touched on how adcoms view one time C&F offenses, but how would look at a shoplifting infraction (not a misdemeanor or felony) if it's over a year old. Only offense, take full responsibility.

Thanks for all the help you've given so far!

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:06 pm

wert3813 wrote:You've said it is a great year to apply to LS and that high scores in particular are dropping off. I've also heard in the past that HYS are somewhat immune.

Is that true this year? Seems like based on LSN a 75% GPA + a 172 or higher gives you a better than even chance at one of HYS in years past. Could that LSAT number drop a point or two this year?


Wert, you know better than I from LSN. In other words, while yes in the past, including last year, those three were very much inelastic the the market in general, all I know this year is what I've seen on LSN as well. My hunch, based only on this, is that there will be more competition between those three, that there will emerge a winner(s) and loser(s), and that perhaps the selectivity for all three may go down. I think at this stage it is near impossible to say, though. Sorry I can't help more here!

ndel21
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby ndel21 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:00 pm

Mike,

I was wondering how important softs really are and how are softs are evaluated? I have heard many different perspectives over the past few weeks. I have very strong soft that i would rather talk about them on a private message. Thank you for all your information.

amitty1019
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby amitty1019 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:12 pm

Mike,

I was recently deferred EA and sent a short (2-sentence) email to the school saying I still wanted to be considered RD. I was also planning on mailing a short LOCI in the next week or two, but I am wondering if that would be redundant/annoying to the admissions committee. Do you think it will help/hurt my chances? Thanks!

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Rahviveh
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby Rahviveh » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:14 pm

Mike, do you think you can shed some light on yield protection and whether this actually happens? I asked on page 2 and I think you said you'd get to it. It would be awesome, and this is a fantastic thread :)

Economist Erik
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby Economist Erik » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:18 pm

Hi Mike,
I have a PhD in economics from Northwestern University (ranked #7 among econ PhD programs), and have published a number of articles on legal issues such as antitrust and intellectual property, some in legal journals and one in a legal textbook. Essentially all of my research has been on legal subjects. I also garnered a 3.99 GPA as an undergrad.

My question is this: Will my prior experience allow me to gain admittance to an elite program without achieving an elite LSAT score?

I ask because I do not have much time to study the LSAT, nor am I particularly motivated to do this...

Any comments would be greatly appreciated!

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North
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby North » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:28 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:North,

I just was discussing (1) with a client. I agree that a lot of admissions offices will treat the first with a degree of skepticism, because of past experience where they get burned. That is obviously human nature and no fault of theirs or yours.

My advice to my client is two-fold. One, sincerity sells. I'm about to blog about just that. So if you are genuine it obviously trumps if you force reasons. I think humans in general (probably for some evolutionary reason or whatever) are good at detecting sincerity over puffery. So say what comes to mind, not what you think you should say. Does that make sense?

if you are indeed genuine you will also likely stay in touch. If you are very interested in X school you may visit, email numerous times, etc. Again, I can't speak for any one school but most will track this. All your emails will be printed or forwarded and placed in your file. A record of sustained contact PLUS a sincere "why x" compliment each other nicely and provide valuable intelligence for the admissions folks.

For (2), not in the least. No real difference, in fact.

Good advice, that's what I'll do. Thanks, Mike. More than anything, I'm surprised that schools print out e-mail correspondence and keep it in an applicants file. That's definitely good to know.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:43 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.


Wolf, I blog about this exact process on my blog. I'd link it but I'm not sure what the Terms of Service are for TLS. It's proably pretty easy to find through google and I believe it was my first or second blog post.

In essence, you got it right in that strong files are read first.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:47 pm

chem! wrote:How much can significant work experience, stellar LORs and a 4.0 in a Master's degree mitigate a hideous 20 year old uGPA and a rather unimpressive (but not awful) LSAT score? My understanding is that it really won't matter that I'm a non-traditional student because numbers are numbers, but I thought I'd ask.


The fact that your uGPA is 20 years old is in your favor, for certain. I've talked about this before, the "unique and beautiful snowflake factor", just keep in mind that you are not in a vacuum. In other words, almost everyone has stellar LOR. I think what you have going for you is that you are non-traditional and I would attach an addendum to this effect, and that your new gpa (most people do really well in masters programs as well) is much more relevant than a 20 year old uGPA.

I actually think you have a compelling case, despite what I say above which I hope does not come across as negative but rather just the lay of the land. What you are up against is US News Rankings considerations.

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chem!
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby chem! » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:11 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:
chem! wrote:How much can significant work experience, stellar LORs and a 4.0 in a Master's degree mitigate a hideous 20 year old uGPA and a rather unimpressive (but not awful) LSAT score? My understanding is that it really won't matter that I'm a non-traditional student because numbers are numbers, but I thought I'd ask.


The fact that your uGPA is 20 years old is in your favor, for certain. I've talked about this before, the "unique and beautiful snowflake factor", just keep in mind that you are not in a vacuum. In other words, almost everyone has stellar LOR. I think what you have going for you is that you are non-traditional and I would attach an addendum to this effect, and that your new gpa (most people do really well in masters programs as well) is much more relevant than a 20 year old uGPA.

I actually think you have a compelling case, despite what I say above which I hope does not come across as negative but rather just the lay of the land. What you are up against is US News Rankings considerations.


Thank you again. I appreciate your feedback, and did not view your response as negative.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:14 pm

Arculease wrote:At the risk of sounding like a broken record, thank you so much for doing this.

I have a rather simple question and one that no one has been able to adequately quantify for me: how do dropped misdemeanor charges (lets say, for example, assault on a female, breaking or entering, and interference with emergency communications) affect an applicant? I would think that because the charges were dropped that it shouldn't be too much of a determining factor.

Thanks again!


Arculease,

First, many thanks to you and everyone for the "thanks". This is genuinely fun for me to do, and I wish I had more time to be more timely with my responses!

Now to the question. I am assuming the three are lumped together, so in other words charges were brought against an applicant for "assault on a female, breaking or entering, and interference with emergency communications" and said charges were dropped.

Let me start by saying you are correct that there is a void of difference between the charges being dropped and someone being convicted of the above. I would go so far as to say a conviction would mean the applicant would not be going to law school, at least not in the near future. Dropped charges do not have this kind of absolute resolution.

That said, there is a reason why law schools ask you to report this, even though it is dropped. Let me be entirely frank here--the worst thing an applicant can do is go in to the application process saying "charges were dropped so it is none of your business and it does not matter because they were dropped" (I realize you did not say this, I am bringing up one extreme, of which I have heard numerous times for various infractions). The BEST thing the applicant can do is document the heck out of it INCLUDING and in particular why the charges were dropped. While I usually espouse being concise over wordy, here is a case where a wordy addendum makes sense. The applicant will need to put the admissions folks to rest and I do not see a terse email doing this, but rather the opposite.

Thanks for the question, I hope this helps!

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:20 pm

skri65 wrote:Do applicants that are just under the medians need something truly special to gain acceptance or is there a "margin of error."? In other words, assume a school has a 3.5/165 median, how significant is the difference between a 165/3.6 applicant and a 164/3.45 applicant?

Also, what are the chances of applicants who are exactly at the previous years median? Is there a MORE than 50% chance of admission, assuming average softs, or is it a complete toss up?


Skri, I think I've tackled the essence of this question but feel free to PM me if you have any follow-up or if I have not.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:27 pm

wert3813 wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:
wert3813 wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:

Wanna offer a thought as to how much what you are saying is different for Yale/Stanford? Since it seems its not as straightforward at those two schools?


Well again, I do not speak for any one school in general. At the very very top, think three school, much of the data shows that they are more inelastic to the market and therefore still can play by their own rules. In other words, they are still greatly favored in the supply/demand equation. I can say categorically that the sales pitch, per se, from Yale has been vastly different than all others schools in the past. I once saw an advertisement for Wharton B-School on a train that said something along the lines of "Wharton is the best business school in the world, too bad you can't get in" and Yale has had a similar marketing pitch in the past.


Still, the general principles are still the same. YHS want applicants above both their medians, they will admit splitters, they will take people off the waitlist (much much fewer at Yale than any other school--all of whom are waiting on Yale to make their admit decisions) and they will lose applicants to other law schools. So a good deal of the advice I am giving in general may very well apply to an applicant to these schools.

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eav1277
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby eav1277 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:48 pm

Thanks for taking time out of your day to do this.

As a few others before me, I am particularly curious about how URM applicants are evaluated. Any information on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:19 pm

eav1277 wrote:Thanks for taking time out of your day to do this.

As a few others before me, I am particularly curious about how URM applicants are evaluated. Any information on the subject would be greatly appreciated.


eav, et al. I am going to be off the grid most of tonight but will give (what I hope) is a thorough and detailed explanation of the dynamics of how URM applicants are evaluated tomorrow morning. Sorry for the delay on this important topic!

Mike

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eav1277
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby eav1277 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:18 pm

Thanks Mike. I know a lot of people will be very happy to hear the perspective of a former admissions officer.

M458
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby M458 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:16 am

MikeSpivey wrote:
eav1277 wrote:Thanks for taking time out of your day to do this.

As a few others before me, I am particularly curious about how URM applicants are evaluated. Any information on the subject would be greatly appreciated.


eav, et al. I am going to be off the grid most of tonight but will give (what I hope) is a thorough and detailed explanation of the dynamics of how URM applicants are evaluated tomorrow morning. Sorry for the delay on this important topic!

Mike


Thanks so much, Mike! Your advice has been extremely valuable. If you could throw in a mention of how International URMs are evaluated (or if there is even such a thing), that'd be great.

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North
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby North » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:27 am

An LSAT-related question in honor of tomorrow:

Okay, we know that AdComms are happy to gloss over the first score if an applicant retakes the LSAT and scores higher. But what if he scores lower on the retake? Would that weaken an application the application considerably?

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:46 pm

North wrote:An LSAT-related question in honor of tomorrow:

Okay, we know that AdComms are happy to gloss over the first score if an applicant retakes the LSAT and scores higher. But what if he scores lower on the retake? Would that weaken an application the application considerably?


Nope. It is almost risk free. So for everyone retaking the LSAT tomorrow, go in there confident there is nothing to lose and everything to gain!

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Q&A with former Admissions Officer

Postby MikeSpivey » Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:24 pm

eav1277 wrote:Thanks for taking time out of your day to do this.

As a few others before me, I am particularly curious about how URM applicants are evaluated. Any information on the subject would be greatly appreciated.


Let me start by addressing some facts--the specific numbers of which I imagine are very easy to find through a google or LSAC.org search,

The pipeline for URMs ( URM generally consists of Hispanic, African-American, Native American, and Alaskan Natives although quite frankly any given law school can decide what constitutes "URM" particularly if that law school has a much lower or non-existent percentage of that ethnic/racially defined group relative to the applicant pool or overall populace of law school or the nation) So in other words, generally speaking these groups and for individual law schools perhaps a different set of the population are underrepresented in law school and in the law school application process. I would venture to say at the vast majority of law schools these groups named above are grossly underrepresented.

Because of this under-representation and because of the very few amount of applicants from these groups applicants who are URM are highly coveted by most law schools. Why are URMs coveted beyond a simply supply/demand equation? Well, my former Dean, Kent Syverud, at both Vanderbilt and WUSTL, said this is his expert testimony to the Supreme Court for the Grutter case:

http://www.vpcomm.umich.edu/admissions/ ... verud.html

This can be a heated issue, of course. Personally I agree with Kent on this topic 100%, indeed it was one reason I went to WUSTL from Vanderbilt, because I respected his opinion on this matter and commitment to racial heterogeneity in law school and in the legal employment world.

So the vast, vast majority of law schoosl see that they have a compelling interest to promote class diversity for underrepresented groups. Put in admissions terms, or at least my admissions terms, URMs gain an elevating factor in the admissions evaluation process. Put in terms for applicants, if I were a URM applying to a law school I would not get caught up in the schools overall median LSAT and (less so) GPA. I certainly would not avoid applying to a law school because my LSAT were lower than that law school's median.

It's impossible for me to say specific numbers for every school, i.e. if the school's median LSAT/GPA are x and you are URM with Y scores should you apply? I can do this one-on-one, of course, and law school numbers, etc surely help.

What I can say is that I do not know of a single school that fails to consider URM as an elevating factor. From all my travels and great fortune to get to know a number of law school admissions officers, and from my great fortune to get to consult for a number of law schools, recruitment, matriculation, and retention of URM law students is a significant mission in the admissions process.

I hope this helps!

Mike


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