« on: January 23, 2011, 11:14:57 PM »
1. I'm sorry for the late response. I only get e-mail notifications when someone messages me personally, but not when someone replies to my posts on a thread.
2. I want to know if she has taken, or is taking, any LSAT prep course? I would highly recommend taking an LSAT prep course (well) before she sits for the exam. I am not an expert on LSAT preparation, so I cannot give substantive advice as to how she should tailor her studying to best prepare for the exam, but I can say that time is a huge issue for everyone on the exam, not just her. This is why taking a prep course is so important, particularly for those people who also have to deal with growing up speaking a native language other than English. An LSAT prep course will help her develop techniques that will save precious time. So, once again, I highly recommend that she take an LSAT prep course--and practice as much as possible--if she hasn't already. Message me if financial reasons make it impossible to afford an LSAT courses, there are some resources out there for instances as such.
3. As for the discrepancy with her LSDAS GPA, I would work to resolve that as soon as possible. LSAC sometimes has a different GPA calculation rubric than one's degree-granting college.
4. When considering which schools to apply to, look at their applicant profile on LSAC's website. Look at more than just the LSAT/GPA chart. One technique I used that seemed to work for me when I was applying to law school years ago, was seeing how many people of my ethnicity were represented at the law school. I applied to law schools where students of my ethnicity were the most underrepresented, because--to the extent law schools even take race and ethnicity into account--being an applicant of a background that is significantly underrepresented is an advantage. (For example, if you are Cuban-American, and you apply to UMiami where many other Cuban-Americans apply and matriculate, the URM advantage can be less substantial than if you apply to a law school that has a much lower amount of Cuban-American applying and matriculating). Does that make sense?
5. If she plans to apply to Boston College Law School, or Boston-area law schools, we should get in touch so I can give more school-specific advice. With that said, attending tier 1 law schools that are far from the region one wishes to ultimately practice law should not necessarily be viewed as an impediment. Employers don't care so much about the location of the law school one attended as much as they care about a demonstrated commitment to permanently live and practice in the employer's region.
6. She may want to consider supplementing her personal statement with a diversity statement, (if adding such a statement would better explain the past circumstances that affect her performance). From my own experience, the difference between a personal statement and a diversity statement is that a diversity statement focuses more on the application process and how your special diverse background created special obstacles or circumstances that affect your candidacy to the law school. In contrast, your personal statement is a more general opportunity to personalize yourself on your application. If you can successfully incorporate both into one essay, then you don't need both. But in her case, and in the case of many other Latino/as who grew up speaking a language other than English, I would err on the side of writing a supplemental diversity statement.
7. As for whether or not to wait or take the LSAT now: I think over-preparation is better than under-preparation, so in that respect I would wait for the next cycle if I were feeling uncertain about my all-important LSAT score. One thing that I've heard other applicants doing with regards to the LSAT is actually going in to take the test and trying their hardest, but if they sense the test is going really bad--like worse than their practice tests--they cancel the score on the spot, rather than get stuck with an LSAT score lower than their practice test scores. I didn't use that method myself, but I know of people who have cancelled more than one test until they get the "right test" and score really high. It's risky in the sense that (1) the admissions committee will know that you cancelled, and (2) one can only take the LSAT so many times and cancel before it begins to look ridiculous. On the reverse side of the coin, if you DO chose to take and score an LSAT in which you perform well below your expectation, if a law school really wants to accept you, there is a potential for the school to actually contact you and encourage you to re-take the test (and if you score reasonably higher they likely will accept you).
Finally, I'm sorry to hear about her mother, and I wish you both the best of luck. Never give up on the process because you think you're not good enough.
Message me if you have questions or comments.