Could being young hurt my chances?

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baconpuffs
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Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby baconpuffs » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:18 pm

Hey TLS,

First off, I'm taking the LSAT on Monday and will be applying to schools starting in the fall, so this will likely be the first of many posts.

My question is this: Do colleges disfavor younger applicants? I know it's a weird question, but let me explain. I was born at a weird time (school district's cut off date was November, I was born in September), and thanks to AP classes in high school, I'm graduating my undergrad institution in 3 years. I'll only be 20 in September, leaving me in a pretty hilarious position where I could enter law school without being legally able to drink. Many people I've talked to say that I should take time off from school and do something for a year or two, but, without regards to the merits of that option (I still haven't decided), do law schools want students with such experience? Like, could the fact that I haven't experienced much, especially because I'll be at least a year younger than most 1Ls, harm my admission chances?

Thanks for the help!

Mike19
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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby Mike19 » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:21 pm

doesn't answer your question.

but im in the same boat. Graduating in only 3 years and turning 20 in December. I'm not seeing it as a big deal.

d34d9823
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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby d34d9823 » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:21 pm

You're obviously talented, I hardly think that could work against you. Law schools don't tend to discriminate on age anyway.

As for your life decisions, I think you have to decide that for yourself.

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby Hey-O » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:24 pm

I don't think it will be a huge favor, but it might be taken into consideration. Older students (mid twenties) usually do better and admissions might think that a 19 year old would be immature. Maybe ask one of your recommenders to mention your maturity or talk about it in your PS.

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merichard87
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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby merichard87 » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:27 pm

I think your age would only hurt if schools were choosing between you and an equally qualified candidate with WE. With that said: if you are planning on applying to Northwestern say a little prayer first.

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baconpuffs
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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby baconpuffs » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:32 pm

Mike, nice to know someone's in the same boat as me. Hey-O, that seems like solid advice, I'll probably do something like that.

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bk1
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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby bk1 » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:46 pm

I think that the fear for a school would be lack of maturity. If you come off as mature in your application then I doubt they will have any reason to doubt this.

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wadeny
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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby wadeny » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:46 pm

Your age probably won't make a difference for your chances at most places, especially compared to your GPA/LSAT. Out of curiosity, though, why are you rushing to law school? I mean, if you have the #s to get in to a solid school and have a genuine interest in going now, that's great, but it's not like the option of law school isn't going to be there in a couple years.

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby TCScrutinizer » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:51 pm

This poster seemed to suffer somewhat from being young (19 at time of application).

I deleted a wordy reply to say this instead: take time off and join the full-time workforce for a few years before you pursue a professional degree. I would recommend this to any person of any age who has not had to depend upon their own labor to pay the rent and feed themselves. You will hate it, but you will learn lessons that academia is not capable of teaching to anyone, at any time.

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby baconpuffs » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:55 pm

Wade, that's a question I'm ask a lot. But the truth is, I really enjoy school, I don't have any burn out at all. Plus, I definitely have a genuine interest in the law and want to get into it deeper. I'm actually really excited for law school, because I love all my classes that I really have an interest in, and I can't wait until I'm only taking classes I'm interested in.

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby Thane Messinger » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:58 pm

The short answer is that law schools will look much more to your LSAT/GPA combination. Where your age will come into play is in the soft factors in a reach school--but it won't necessarily cut against you, depending upon your many other factors. It's possible a committee would be impressed by your drive as much as concerned by too-much-too-soon worry.

The longer answer is that the other advice you're getting is good: it can be an excellent idea to get some work experience before continuing to law school. This is where there really are individual differences, but, on average, your approach to law school and your enjoyment therein will be strengthened by having spent a year or two doing something else. Possibly law related, possibly not. And possibly enjoyable, possibly not. (One of the greatest motivators in law school is the memory of a job you never, ever want to do again. = : )

So, do continue to think about the possiblities of other options first. If they fit your desires and tie in with the legal world (such as some position in a law firm, agency, or non-profit), they are likely to be that additional soft plus that might make the difference in a law school you'd really like to attend at the limits of your LSAT/GPA. And, of course, that extra time might give you the chance to earn that 180.

Best of luck,

Thane.


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bk1
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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby bk1 » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:58 pm

TCScrutinizer wrote:This poster seemed to suffer somewhat from being young (19 at time of application).

I deleted a wordy reply to say this instead: take time off and join the full-time workforce for a few years before you pursue a professional degree. I would recommend this to any person of any age who has not had to depend upon their own labor to pay the rent and feed themselves. You will hate it, but you will learn lessons that academia is not capable of teaching to anyone, at any time.


Didn't that poster also seem to act immature and that probably came off in his/her application?

Also, I would think 19 is drastically different than 20. The "average" person turns 21 during the year that ends their junior year and begins their senior year of college (for those graduating in 4 years). This means that people who were born in Oct/Nov/Dec yet still started school with the majority of people born in the same year as them will be 20 at the time of their application if they are applying at the beginning of a cycle.

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby Hey-O » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:02 pm

baconpuffs wrote:Wade, that's a question I'm ask a lot. But the truth is, I really enjoy school, I don't have any burn out at all. Plus, I definitely have a genuine interest in the law and want to get into it deeper. I'm actually really excited for law school, because I love all my classes that I really have an interest in, and I can't wait until I'm only taking classes I'm interested in.


I don't think he is saying that you will miss school or get burned out but that earning a living and being in the working world is a valuable lesson. I have to agree with him. I really love school and I hated working, but I am so glad that I took time off before I went to grad school. I am much more confident that I am making solid career choices now that I know what a career really is.

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby Thane Messinger » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:05 pm

TCScrutinizer wrote:This poster seemed to suffer somewhat from being young (19 at time of application).

I deleted a wordy reply to say this instead: take time off and join the full-time workforce for a few years before you pursue a professional degree. I would recommend this to any person of any age who has not had to depend upon their own labor to pay the rent and feed themselves. You will hate it, but you will learn lessons that academia is not capable of teaching to anyone, at any time.



As an academician, practitioner, and reluctant-if-partial real-worlder, I have to agree. There's nothing like paying rent for a while to add that special perspective and appreciation for what law school really is (and can be) all about.

Working elsewhere might take you in a different direction--good for you if that's a better direction for you--or it can be something you look back on with appreciation. Either way, it's almost never time poorly spent.

(I will add a personal anecdote: I too graduated early, and was told to "Get a job, any job." I was so offended I plowed ahead in school . . . in what turned out to be the wrong program, for me. So, while I'm still offended in retrospect--it's good to get a job, any job, for you--I also admit that the advice then was partially tongue-in-cheek, and I would have done well to have done exactly that--with the caveat that it would have been hard to find any employer to put up with me. = : )

Thane.

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baconpuffs
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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby baconpuffs » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:17 pm

I really do appreciate everyone's responses, they're actually quite valuable as I decide whether or not to go right to law school. This applies especially to Thane, TCScrutinizer, and Hey-O, lots of great advice, thanks. But I would also appreciate any responses to my original question.

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby Thane Messinger » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:18 pm

bk1 wrote:
Didn't that poster also seem to act immature and that probably came off in his/her application?

Also, I would think 19 is drastically different than 20. The "average" person turns 21 during the year that ends their junior year and begins their senior year of college (for those graduating in 4 years). This means that people who were born in Oct/Nov/Dec yet still started school with the majority of people born in the same year as them will be 20 at the time of their application if they are applying at the beginning of a cycle.



Had to chuckle . . . to the admissions committee, anyone under 25 is going to be considered "young," and presumptively immature. It's a rebuttable presumption, however. There are mature 18-year-olds (just think of bomber crews over Europe in 1944), and there are 28-year-olds we wouldn't trust with our goldfish screensavers.

This is one of those VERY important soft qualities, by the way: The more you can convey the better qualities of maturity and reason, the more chance you have with those reach applications.

Thane.

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megaTTTron
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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby megaTTTron » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:20 pm

baconpuffs wrote:I really do appreciate everyone's responses, they're actually quite valuable as I decide whether or not to go right to law school. This applies especially to Thane, TCScrutinizer, and Hey-O, lots of great advice, thanks. But I would also appreciate any responses to my original question.


I know of at least 3 very young students at my t34. One was 19 turned 20, then other was 18 turning 19. A couple 20 - 21 year-olds. So it's doable, but outside that I don't have much else.

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eandy
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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby eandy » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:23 pm

I will turn 21 in law school. It doesn't matter. It did not seem to affect my cycle at all.

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby bk1 » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:24 pm

Thane Messinger wrote:Had to chuckle . . . to the admissions committee, anyone under 25 is going to be considered "young," and presumptively immature. It's a rebuttable presumption, however. There are mature 18-year-olds (just think of bomber crews over Europe in 1944), and there are 28-year-olds we wouldn't trust with our goldfish screensavers.

This is one of those VERY important soft qualities, by the way: The more you can convey the better qualities of maturity and reason, the more chance you have with those reach applications.


Then being 20 isn't going to hurt ones chances considering that the majority of applicants are under 25?

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby Thane Messinger » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:29 pm

bk1 wrote:
Thane Messinger wrote:Had to chuckle . . . to the admissions committee, anyone under 25 is going to be considered "young," and presumptively immature. It's a rebuttable presumption, however. There are mature 18-year-olds (just think of bomber crews over Europe in 1944), and there are 28-year-olds we wouldn't trust with our goldfish screensavers.

This is one of those VERY important soft qualities, by the way: The more you can convey the better qualities of maturity and reason, the more chance you have with those reach applications.


Then being 20 isn't going to hurt ones chances considering that the majority of applicants are under 25?


In general, correct. Absent some showing of serious (im)maturity, it's highly unlikely that a few months or a year is going to make a substantial difference. The keys are (1) LSAT; (2) GPA; and (3) soft qualities, in that order. (But not quite that simply: #1 and, to a lesser extent, #2 are quasi-binary factors, while #3 comes into play depending upon where in the pool for that law school you're swimming.) #3 is where you show that age--whatever your age is--should be counted in your favor, not against you.

Thane.
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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby Hey-O » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:31 pm

There is a difference between being 19 and being in your early twenties. The brain undergoes significant cognitive development in the early twenties especially regarding critical thinking and responsible decision making, which are two of the most important aspects of an admissions decision. I think that being young can hurt because it could appear to that you are lacking in these qualities. It won't bar you from admission, but I think that softs are going to matter more for your application then they might for another applicant who is a few years old, because they need additional information that you possess those two qualities.

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby Thane Messinger » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:39 pm

Hey-O wrote:There is a difference between being 19 and being in your early twenties. The brain undergoes significant cognitive development in the early twenties especially regarding critical thinking and responsible decision making, which are two of the most important aspects of an admissions decision. I think that being young can hurt because it could appear to that you are lacking in these qualities. It won't bar you from admission, but I think that softs are going to matter more for your application then they might for another applicant who is a few years old, because they need additional information that you possess those two qualities.


True, but it's doubtful that this will be an issue unless it is brought up by the applicant. Also, graduating from college and going to law school (or medical or graduate school for that matter) earlier than age 20 raise a heightened set of questions that really would put this in a different light. While 20 is different from 21 or 22, this is just not high up in the minds of admissions committees, absent something kicking it up.

(Along these lines, it is less unusual to see uniquely young applicants to medical and science programs, for reasons along the lines of Hey-O's response. Still rare, it is less rare in medicine than in law; it's easier to tell science prodigies.)

Of course, with a few years' additional experience before law school, problem solved. = : )

Thane.

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby baconpuffs » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:47 pm

Along the same lines, if I did happen to get rejected from a reach (or even reasonably safe) school and my age appeared to be the mitigating factor, would doing a program like Teach for America and reapplying in a few years help? I guess the real question is, would a school cared if I reapplied when all that's changed is this soft factor? I've been considering Teach for America for awhile, and that's the job I'd like to do if I choose not to go straight to law school.

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby Thane Messinger » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:17 am

baconpuffs wrote:Along the same lines, if I did happen to get rejected from a reach (or even reasonably safe) school and my age appeared to be the mitigating factor, would doing a program like Teach for America and reapplying in a few years help? I guess the real question is, would a school cared if I reapplied when all that's changed is this soft factor? I've been considering Teach for America for awhile, and that's the job I'd like to do if I choose not to go straight to law school.



Yes, this type of program can be a good soft factor, especially if the lessons learned during that time are persuasively crafted into a personal statement with real meaning. It is often an experience such as this that will bring many of the college-and-earlier experiences to a meaningful point, which can make a serious difference in terms of both maturity and application chances. And, substantively, these experiences will tend to make a big difference in your life. Among other things, you'll likely see and experience lives and situations that will change your perceptions and thinking, and that will provide a serious impetus to do better (both for others and personally).

So, yes, this is an excellent option. Other good options are teaching English abroad for a few years, working or volunteering at nearly any legal office (including, with some caveats, advocacy groups), or, believe it or not, joining the military.

I hope this helps,

Thane.

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Re: Could being young hurt my chances?

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:38 pm

baconpuffs wrote:Along the same lines, if I did happen to get rejected from a reach (or even reasonably safe) school and my age appeared to be the mitigating factor, would doing a program like Teach for America and reapplying in a few years help? I guess the real question is, would a school cared if I reapplied when all that's changed is this soft factor? I've been considering Teach for America for awhile, and that's the job I'd like to do if I choose not to go straight to law school.

Be careful not to join TFA simply for the resume booster. Not only is it very difficult to get into, but the amount of dedication and perseverance the program requires is incredible. Not suggesting that is your purpose, as perhaps that really is something you were considering before law school, but I would be quite careful if it is not. That said, TFA is a very respectable program and is a solid soft for your law school application.

On the topic of your age: Even if being young does not affect your law school admissions success, I would not be surprised if it had a more substantial effect on your job prospects after graduating. Work experience seems to be quite valuable to employers who want students to know what they are getting themselves into (as Thane mentioned, having an idea what it is like to meet your monthly rent payments on your own might help you appreciate hard work in the way somebody who has never fended for himself may not), and many "straight-through" law students are having more trouble in this economy (at least, anecdotally). That might be enhanced further in your situation by going straight through and being quite young, to boot. You may be just fine going through without working - many, many students are. But with the economy what it is, taking time to work gives you more space for hiring to normalize and makes you more marketable to employers. I would strongly recommend it.




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