« on: November 16, 2005, 10:05:28 AM »
I don't intend to deppreciate Jeb's circumstances and triumphs, but I don't believe that "gay, poor, previously depressed, black cheerleader with poor grades from family of drug addicts" equates to amazing soft factors. Being URM will help him and, depending how he described his reactions to the unfortunate circumstances, growing up poor will contribute to his diversity factor. But soft factors aren't pity factors. In practice, adcomms are not saying, "Oh, we need another gay cheerleader so let's forgive the low gpa." This is law school, not undergrad. Adcomms want people who are going to be strong, hireable lawyers. They want diversity, but not at the expense of success. If I were an adcomm, I'd see Jeb as a huge risk--not because of his background but because of his history of dealing with it. Surely Jeb wrote similar essays to gain Columbia u.g. admission; surely Columbia thought his "will to rise above" would make him a strong student; surely that did not happen for all four/six years. This leaves me wondering, why didn't Jeb make more of his opportunity at Columbia? In law school, will he continue to blame mediocrity on circumstances?
Jeb seems capable of succeeding, but if I were an adcomm, I'd want to see some post-Columbia work experience from Jeb. I'd want to see more of a history of stability and academic/work accomplishment. I don't know too many Jebs, but I do know people with similar URM/socioeco backgrounds who worked and studied a lot, served as mentors to boys like themselves, and still had time for themselves. Jeb's argument would be more compelling if he had volunteered and used his education to help people from backgrounds like his.
Soft factors do not include race/gender/socioeconomic background. Thousands of amazing people apply with these qualities. They contribute to diversity, but are never selected solely because of them. Soft factors are the accomplishments that come from more than just surviving difficult backgrounds (i.e., being a Big Brother/Big Sister for four years in addition to working during UG); from capitalizing on opportunities and great ideas (inventing something, working abroad in a legitimate and challenging job); or from working for a significant period of time in a field that develops expertise applicable to law (i.e., consulting, investment banking, medicine/health, non-profits, environmental groups).
In his LSN profile, Jeb mentioned Yale. People with similar stories do exist at Yale Law, but they also have incredible post-graduate work experience, PhDs/MDs/MAs, and/or great numbers.Forgive me if I sound like a jerk, but let's be real about this game and not add to the expectations of borderline candidates. In the end, that is far more cruel.
I'm not writing to devalue Jeb. If you're reading, Jeb, I genuinely hope you do well. I am not a malicious person, but I'm pretty practical. There will always be a few exceptions, and Jeb I hope you're one of them, but for the most part, people who believe soft factors are about sob stories (and are relying on them for admission) are in for a surprise when they open their law school mail.