« on: June 14, 2004, 11:19:50 AM »
The best advice I recieved, and what I and many of my friends did was to apply to 2-3 "likely" schools, 2-3 possible schools, and a couple of "reach" schools. A likely school being one that from all numerical calculations you "should" be admitted; meaning the admittees have substantially lesser credentials than you possess- your LSAT score being 4-5 points higher than the schools average, your gpa being a good point higher, etc. Possible schools are where your credentials are about equal to the average for those admitted (not those applying keep in mind). "Reaches" are obvious- the best advice being to apply to schools that are reasonable reaches. If you score a 155 don't waste your money applying to Stanford- that is not a dream, that is being stupid. Along those same lines... if you score a 170, don't waste your money applying to T4 schools when most likely T2 schools are "likely" schools for you.
The exception being if you fall in that highly unpredictable LSAT range. If you've got a good GPA from a good school, and get a score on the LSAT between a 162 and a 168 your chances of getting into a school in the top 50 are very hard to calculate. You have a 50% chance at most schools #15-30 and so it is a good idea to apply to more than just 3 or 4, if you can afford it. For example, I have a 162 and was admitted out of state to UT Austin (#15) but waitlisted at George Washington.
Key things to keep in mind however is that the numbers you see posted are numbers from two years ago (this fall the numbers will be from the adademic year for 2003-2004) and with the astronomical amount of applications it is smart to add at least 2 if not 3 to the ranges for LSAT and GPA that the school has listed. Meaning, if the school's 25%-27% LSAT is listed as 162-165, assume that those numbers are now 164-168, certainly for the top 50 schools, and most likely for the full top 100, and apply based on those calculations.
2 main pieces of advice- First, take your LSAT early. That way you can know what your scores are when you apply and can make better decisions about your chances at certain schools. This allows schools to get their information to you early, especially from schools that you might qualify for scholarships from, and allows you to get your applications in early. Second, do your research about schools before you apply. Lots of people apply to 20 schools, spend $1000, and then get accepted to schools and realize they truly do not want to go there. If you can figure that out before hand, you will be better able to direct your time and money. If you can figure out what size of school you are looking for, what kind of law you think you might want to go into, an area of the country where you think you want to live. More important than knowing what you do want though, is knowing what you don't want. If you hate the cold, it would be silly to apply to Michigan (even though they are a fabulous school). For you, it probably makes sense to apply to a sligthly less fabulous school in an area of the country you will find more enjoyable.
Finally, apply to all those schools you would actually consider that offer you fee waivers. This costs you nothing and opens up your options. These schools are also more likely to accept you, and even offer you money. I came very close to attending a school I hadn't given much thought to until I received literature and a fee waiver from them in the mail in October.
Good luck and as insane as this process is, don't let it get you too crazy.