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Messages - Amanda H.

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Name recognition matter more than USNews. When thinking about schools in the 15-30 range, where the rankings change every year, you want to think about which schools carry the most weight. A school like ND is always going to have a respectable name and will probably take you farther than a BU. Similarly, a school like WUSTL is going to get you farther than a school like UCONN. But, you also have to think about the market. Fordham is going to place better than WUSTL in NYC, and BC is going to place better in the northeast than GW. Even in their own markets, BC does better than BU although BU is higher ranked; USC does just as well as UCLA although UCLA is higher ranked. So it is all relative.

However, I have to say that the whole thing about national and regional schools is kind of bogus. I find that friends at schools ranked anywher in the top 50 are getting jobs in markets on the complete opposite coast. I have friends at BC with jobs in LA, San Fran, and Chicago, and I have friends at GW with jobs in Texas and Florida. So while these schools dont have the name recognition of a T10 school, it doesnt mean it is not doable.

I think your latter point is valid -- you just want to do better in your class if possible, and you may have to work a bit harder to find the jobs.

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Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: I just wanted to say... (UMich)
« on: November 03, 2005, 05:08:36 PM »


Technically, Michigan is a top 5 / top 10, not a top 14.  (They're always ranked in the top 5 or 6 by lawyers and judges, and have always been ranked between 1-8 in USNews.  Therefore, while they are of course a top 14, just like they're a top 25 and a top 100, "top 10" would probably be the best designation.)

However, it's still good they're nice to you!  ;)

UMich has the greatest admissions people. Not only do they promptly respond to all my inquiries (~1-2 days), but they are just so damn FRIENDLY and personal at the same time. I'm amazed b/c these guys must get SO many emails, being a T14 and all. The lower ranked schools I've applied to don't come close to matching UMich admin people.

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Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Penn > Chicago??
« on: October 25, 2005, 11:03:48 PM »
Okay, so we're in general agreement.  :)



Actually, if you bother to read my post, I only note that others suspect Penn of inflating their student numbers, and that people should weigh the evidence for themselves.  However, if you do some research, you will in fact find that many feel that Penn has essentially falsified LSAT scores by not reporting multiple scores, etc.  This is one reason that USNews changed their methodology with regard to LSAT scores last year.  If you don't believe this, that's fine, but that doesn't mean a case can't be made for it, and you don't hear these kinds of accusations leveled at UC.

From all the available evidence, there's really no question that Penn games them more than most T14's.

If by doing my research you mean searching senseless XOXO threads, then you don't have a very strong argument. Posters make false claims against Penn as a knee-jerk reaction to any shakeup in US news rankings. You really think they have any clue as to whether or not the Penn ad comm  fails to report some multiple score? Sounds to me like you're an Anti-Penn troll, but dont worry, there are many more like you so you're in good company.

You continually suggest that Penn's surge in the rankings and increase in medians has to do with  "gaming" (and that there's really no question that Penn games more than other T14's-- where's your evidence of this by the way?). I guess we can overlook the fact that Penn has seen the most dramatic increase in applications of all the top schools. And that students often give the quality of life at Penn disproportionately high marks. Those factors have nothing to do w/ the rise in Penn's medians-- falsification of the numbers did. If you really did your research though and dig through the XOXO threads to which you defer to so much, you'll find that many ppl believe Chicago yield protects and overvalues the LSAT. Where's your proof that Chicago is more honest and holistic in its evaluations than Penn or any other school is?

About the Leiter and Ciolli studies you reference, I don't dispute that Chicago has traditionally had a better reputation. I also admit that it was an exaggeration for me to suggest that Penn places better than Chicago in the private sector. I was just saying that to provke you. But some recent literature suggests that Penn places extraordinarily well in Vault Top 50 firms, even better than some schools you wouldn't expect (see the law.com article on jd2b.com).

At the end of the day, Chicago still deserves to be ranked higher than Penn. This isn't to say that a student would be crazy to take Penn over Chicago. In fact, it happens all the time and for good reason. But for you to make all these unwarranted claims about Penn based on XOXO speculation is ridiculous and annoying.

For context, I was slated to go to Penn this year and had chosen it over Chicago and Columbia. I eventually got into HYS off the waitlist last minute and am currently attending one of those. Still, I was thrilled at the idea of going to Penn, and it had very little to do with the ranking/medians and more to do with what I perceived as a supportive community and strong exit opportunities at top firms.

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Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Penn > Chicago??
« on: October 25, 2005, 03:14:19 AM »

Second, many suspect Penn of inflating their student numbers, along with their employment numbers.  I'll let others weigh the validity of these claims, but given that Penn was ranked #12 a few years ago, there was certainly motivation for Penn to become more strategic.

So I take it from your post that you think Penn inflates his GPA and LSAT #'s. In other words, you think they make up their medians? Right, genius. There is only a case to be made that they inflate their employment figures, but which school doesn't? And which school doesn't try to game the rankings?


Actually, if you bother to read my post, I only note that others suspect Penn of inflating their student numbers, and that people should weigh the evidence for themselves.  However, if you do some research, you will in fact find that many feel that Penn has essentially falsified LSAT scores by not reporting multiple scores, etc.  This is one reason that USNews changed their methodology with regard to LSAT scores last year.  If you don't believe this, that's fine, but that doesn't mean a case can't be made for it, and you don't hear these kinds of accusations leveled at UC.

You can certainly argue that all schools pay attention to the rankings, but some appear to "game" them much more aggressively than others, usually because they need to.  From all the available evidence, there's really no question that Penn games them more than most T14's.



Also, in the private sector, Chicago does NOT place better than Penn, although I agree that Chicago is a top 4 school when it comes to academia and clerkship placement.


Well, let's look at the two major studies available for national elite-firm placement.

Leiter's study ranks Chicago 2nd, and Penn 10th. 

http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/bleiter/rankings/03_most_national.html


The Ciolli study ranks Chicago 1st, and Penn 9th.  (Note that Ciolli is affiliated with Penn.):

http://www.autoadmit.com/studies/ciolli/ciolli.final.pdf

The above results make sense once you realize that Chicago's reputation rating among lawyers and judges is usually around a 4.7 (close to HYS), while Penn's is usually around a 4.3 (closer to Duke.)  The only schools that are truly comparable to Chicago for national reputation and placement are Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and possibly Columbia. 

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Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: LSAT whores and their johns
« on: October 15, 2005, 06:11:31 PM »
The problem is this flies in the face of the American(perhaps human, but moreso in America) impulse to continuously compare ourselves to others.  Everyone just wants to know how they stack up.
I think this is the main point. People like hierarchies and exclusive clubs (even if they only get to gawk from the outside). That's why we're capitalists. Everyone wants the chance to be the best/ richest, even if it means they could end up at the bottom instead. I think it's just human nature, for better or worse.


See my response to the same post.  I think the primary reason people like heirarchies, and the primary reason we (and pretty much everone else today) are capitalists, is because such systems generally work much better than other systems.  When people and institutions are rewarded according to their abilities and efforts, people tend to work much harder, and tend to perform much better.  Good and services in general are consequently much better in market economies vs. state-run, egalitarian economies, and most people tend to enjoy a higher standard of living.

(A system where people are rewarded according to their efforts, of course, is also arguably even more "fair" than one where everyone receieves the same benefits, regardless of how hard they work, and how much they contribute.)

As noted, there is an equal and countervailing human instinct to resent inequality, and to strike out at those who outperform/outearn the majority.  (No one likes to feel like someone else is theoretically somehow "better" than them, of course.)  Given that about half the people are usually in the bottom half of any social structure, these resentments often play a powerful role in different social systems, and they have led to some truly horrible systems over the last century where anyone who wasn't "average" was punished or executed, where there was little incentive to exert oneself, and where life was generally not only extremely mediocore, but often fairly miserable.

Most people today wouldn't want a system completely devoid of social services and some wealth redistribution for those who have difficulty excelling, for whatever reason (and no market system is 100% fair, either) but it's probably important to be aware of the positive (and negative) implications of all relevant human instincts.


Amanda, I agree that grades in school make people work harder, but I don't think it makes them learn more/deeper. I think most people, when faced with a test, work to learn how to "beat the test", especially in the case of standardized testing. Tests become a way of measuring how people perform on tests. not always/exclusively, of course.

here's my thought experiment: what if every LSAT was taken 'blind', i.e. the test takers did not know the format of the test beforehand. you would know there was a focus on reading comprehension/ logic/ etc., but you wouldn't be able to study the format like you are with the LSAT. that way, taking multiple practice tests would be less beneficial in learning the way the test is structured. there would be problems with this way (people would complain certain people are better at certain formats), but I think it would be even more equalizing than the present manner. what do you think?


I think this last idea is an interesting one.  However, I don't believe it would be "equalizing" in the sense you mean.  If the test were more secretive, then the people with more natural ability would do better, and those without that inherent aptitude would do worse.  In other words, you would eliminate the element of effort that, in my opinion, makes the test a more meritocratic measure of law school aptitude than a pure "abillity" test.  Those who won the genetic lottery with regard to those aptitudes would be more rewarded, while those with a greater work ethic would no longer have the same chance to further develop those skills through diligence.  (Given that this diligence is also very important in law school, it might also make the test a weaker predictor of law school success.)

Of course, those who believe that expensive test-prep courses are vital in LSAT prep would probably support this on the grounds of economic fairness, and they would certainly have an argument.  However, to me, the personal time and effort expended in LSAT prep is far more important than the amount of outside help received, so this (in my opinion at least), would at best only partly mitigate the negative effects.  

In terms of whether grades make people lear better/deeper, I really don't know.  If people are working/studying harder, won't they generally learn more?  If there were no grades in law school, would people really be willing to spend as much time in the library?  If there was no bar exam, would people bother to learn anything until they were actually at the firm?  I think some people might study for no other reason than the joy of learning, but I'm not sure they'd be in the majority, and it would be difficult for employers to identify such students without grades.

But all interesting ideas, definitely.

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Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: LSAT whores and their johns
« on: October 15, 2005, 05:39:50 PM »
I guess the free flow of information makes better consumers.  Didn't Adam Smith say that?  Maybe it would be better if they wrote reports on each school.  Keep track of the stats and everything and make all of it available, but don't publish USNWR's interpretation of the research.  Make like a Fox News "We report, you decide."  The problem is this flies in the face of the American(perhaps human, but moreso in America) impulse to continuously compare ourselves to others.  Everyone just wants to know how they stack up.


I think the first idea might be helpful, as long as students could still "rank" according to the factors they considered important (whether it be LSAT score, GPA, placement, reputation, etc.)  I think one of the most valid criticisms of USNews is that the weight accorded to different elements is essentialy arbitrary.

I think it's important that remember, however, that the desire to "compare ourselves to others" is also what creates excellence.  A far more negative instinct, in my opinion, is the desire to "level" every one, to pretend everyone is the same, and to punish those who display superior abilities.  This is also a very human emotion, and has caused far more problems in recent human history (in my opinion) than the desire to excel or outperform others.

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Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: LSAT whores and their johns
« on: October 15, 2005, 11:45:44 AM »
Okay, that all makes sense, except for the Ugrad reputation thing.  Maybe I am wrong, but I always thought the top private schools had better reps for Ugrad than top public schools.   


Generally speaking, the top privates (ivies, etc.) do have better reps than the top publics.  However, the top publics (Berkeley, UM, UVA) also have very strong overall academic reputations, comparable to the lower ivies. 

Moreover, the truth is that different grad programs have their own reputations that have developed over time.  The various graduate/professional programs at the top public universities are frequently stronger than those at most ivies, and have corresponding reputations.


Also, I see the point about the top of the top of the top.  Those schools get to pick students that don't have flaws, so I can see them being the same.  How about your middle t1 schools?  Would there be more of a change in those, sense they don't get the top students nearly as often?  I just think that if the rankings (which don't actually improve the school directly in any way) were not there, schools could more easily bring in the people they want.  Students who look good in every way except for having a slightly lower LSAT/GPA.  I think a lot of schools do take these students, but they have to worry about it affecting their ranking.

Imagine a school who thinks one person is a better candidate for their school, but doesn't offer him a spot based on the rankings game. 



We also have to worry about our safety schools rejecting us for yeild protection.  That is utter bullsh*t! 

The fact that the top schools haven't changed hardly since the intro of the rankings proves even more that they aren't needed.  Students can find out what schools are better without US News lurking over their decision.  So I guess if you all are right that the students who go to various schools wouldn't change much without the rankings, I can't see a good reaon for them to exist.


You might be right about some non-top schools becoming more flexible in their admissions policies.  However, I think it's debatable whether rankings really add "nothing" to law school quality.  Think about other "rankings", like grades in school, bonuses/salary at work, and consumer reports.  Don't these measures motivate people and companies to work harder, perform better, etc.?  While USNews is highly flawed, things like placement and Bar passage success (at least if better measured) would presumably motivate schools to be certain their student are academically qualified and have jobs upon graduation. 

The safety school point is certainly valid, but this can usually be overcome by simply making clear to the school that you will attend if accepted. 

Finally, the rankings do serve one positive function in that they allow objective improvements in school quality to be more readily recognized by students and firms.  Without an objective measure, traditional prestige would play a much stronger role in reputation and placement, and it would be harder for up-and-coming schools like NYU, WUSTL, and San Diego to distinguish themselves even as their faculties and student body quality improved.

It's also possible, of course, that without ranking by GPA/LSAT, law schools might simply return more to the most traditional admissions measures:  ability to pay, family influence/connections, and legacy status.  With all its flaws, the modern numeric-based approach is far more meritocratic than what existed in the past.  (This is the primary reason standardized tests were instituted, actually.) 

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Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: LSAT whores and their johns
« on: October 15, 2005, 06:44:16 AM »
So, I have a question, or an opinion.  Often times I hear about schools being LSAT whores.  But I don't know if this is fair.  Aren't we the ones that decide where to go?  Aren't we the johns in this prostitution ring.  What would happen if folks in general took schools rankings as something other than the word of God.  I admit it myself.  I want to go to a high ranked school.  My choices aren't directly related to ranking, but not too far off.  Are we any better than the whores?  If rankings didn't exist, would schools 25/75 be similar.  Everyone could still find out what schools are good by recommendations from lawyer friends and other ways, but schools wouldn't have to worry about some magical number given to them by an orgination with nothing but referent power.  Would this change schools admissions policies?


I think your initial points are very valid.  Just as law schools are hypocrites for decrying rankings while simultaneously "ranking" students by numerical criteria, (some) students are also hypocritical for allowing the system they allegedly despise to guide their application decisions. 

However, for what it's worth, I don't think there would be huge changes if rankings were banned overnight.  According to Scott Turow's "One-L" (written in 1977, a decade before USnews began their rankings), the schools most often listed as the top 10 were Harvard, Yale, Michigan, Chicago, Stanford, Columbia, Boalt, Penn, Virginia, and NYU.  These have also essentially been the top 10 ever since USNews began ranking schools.  (Boalt has dropped slightly in overall ranking the past few years, but its reputation ratings remain in the top 10, as does the difficulty of admission.) 

Moreover, Turow notes in the book that most students at the very top schools have LSAT scores above the 99th percentile, and GPA's near 4.0.  In other words, not that much has apparently changed in terms of either school reputation or admissions.

I'm sure that if the rankings were abolished, schools might become somewhat less numbers-focused, and more willing to take a chance on the occasional student with other strong factors.  But I don't think the changes would be immense, if only because there are other factors driving admissions policy -- like the simple fact you have so many students competing for a relatively small number of slots at every school.

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Where should I go next fall? / Re: bare minimum at Georgetown
« on: October 15, 2005, 06:26:52 AM »
Amanda, are you going to GULC? SCGrad said he's sure you'll shine there??


Nope.  I think he was just hinting that I sounded like a booster for gtown, but it's actually not even a personal favorite of mine.  As noted elsewhere, GW has a better environment in some respects, gtown just has somewhat of a placement edge, objectively speaking.  That doesn't mean someone couldn't choose GW over gtown, especially if they got a better financial aid package.   

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This is a terrible approach to life.  You'll never realize your full potential if you never run the risk of rejection/failure.


Nonetheless, I am not really sure I need to receive 5 or 6 rejection letters from schools which I am not obsessed on attending in any case.

Exactly... I could apply to HYS, but I know I'd get the rejection letters and probably remember it for the rest of my life.

I think sometimes it's better to just not know how many law schools there are in the world who don't want you.

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