NayBoer wrote:I usually assume that under-performing numbers is due to lack of softs, poor LORs, or poor essays, assuming no criminal history. Sure it's 95% a numbers game, but softs do matter if you have almost none.
Schools aren't really number-whores so much as number-sluts. You can't totally buy them; you need the semblance of romance so they can tell themselves that they accepted you for the stuff you learned those 4 weeks helping poor people in Honduras and that student government office sophomore year, not just for your 75th GPA and median LSAT. Just a theory.
Also, you can waste ED if you overshoot. If you do a strategic ED (instead of ED for love) then be practical. And UVA ED is dramatically overrated (much like the LS).
What makes sense is if schools put you in one of three piles. Auto-Admits (above 75% LSAT & GPA and overall quality application), Auto-Reject (below 25% LSAT & GPA, nothing to account for low grades/LSAT or anything that makes you special), and the tough decisions. The tough decisions come down to the view of the "overall class." Here's where I think applying early helps. Each applicant becomes a package, their numbers and their softs/diversity. In other words, what would they bring to school? With the LSAT/GPA they are capable of completing the work, but how will they help the university. It could be URM, raising LSAT/GPA median, leadership, extracurriculars, career interests, connections to university, geographic diversity, interesting life experiences, etc. If someone fits into the certain hole in the class, they don't need another person with the same characteristics. The law school would benefit from someone with different characteristics--even if they have a lower LSAT (note: as long as it doesn't reduce the median).
OP, baring any application omissions/errors, you WILL get into a top-50 school. I wouldn't count on a T14, but you never know. PS- you've heard from maybe half of your schools, I wouldn't judge your cycle based on that.