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Messages - hunterhogan

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Law School Admissions / My new PS
« on: May 17, 2005, 08:50:48 AM »
Tour Guides and Trailblazers
Most leaders are tour guides covering familiar terrain. Their predictable speeches and their conventional routes teach us in a comfortable way. Without them, each generation would repeat the same mistakes and chaos would be king. Nevertheless, we also need trailblazers; we need leaders that challenge convention and show us new paths. My past experiences and my future plans show that I am a trailblazer.

My mother is an interior designer and I grew up working in her business. So, it was natural for my wife and me to open our own interior design business serving the booming new housing market in Houston. To differentiate ourselves from the extensive competition, I introduced various financing programs. Our “90 days same as cash” program was so successful that all of our competitors copied the program within six months. This and other innovations helped to contribute to the success of our business.

In 1993, a new game was released called Magic: the Gathering. Although the original premise was to create a fantasy-based card game, it quickly became a sophisticated strategy game like chess or bridge. Hasbro now prints it in seven languages and millions of people worldwide play at over 80,000 official tournaments each year. I started playing in 1994 and won enough tournaments to make a living. Traveling around the country playing in tournaments and improving my strategies lead to my winning the North American Championship. This allowed me to write strategy articles and have a sponsor. I was the first person to play the game professionally partly because I was able to perceive opportunities and solutions where many other people did not perceive them.

The technology behind the World Wide Web was invented in 1993 and entrepreneurs were using this technology to pioneer new business concepts. I learned this new technology and in 1996, went to work for a healthcare staffing company. The marketing manager at this company was very progressive and had created their initial website himself. He hired me to maintain and expand the website he had created. While the website was functional, it had some drawbacks and it limited our ability to find new healthcare workers on the Web. After only two weeks, I proposed that we completely redesign the website; I prepared a prototype of the new design and explained the advantages of adopting my idea. Over the next year, the website progressed from generating 5% of the new employment applications to 40%. The changes and the positive results that followed were primarily due to my problem-solving skills.

A few years later, I felt that I was not a well-rounded person because I spent most of my day working on logical problems. I was satisfied with my rational abilities, but I felt emotionally underdeveloped. I decided to take a job at a quality restaurant to learn more about the epicurean arts and to improve my social skills. My family questioned if I would be able to handle working as a waiter. However, my adaptability and desire to improve myself helped me to learn enough about food and people to be successful in this new environment.

A natural extension of my desire to improve myself is the desire to help other people make their own changes. When given the opportunity, I jumped at the chance to teach computer certifications at a small vocational school. My students were typically unskilled workers, with poor reading and math skills, and they hoped to find a better job by earning computer certifications. Most of them had to balance 20 hours of class a week, additional reading at home, their family, and a full-time job. Furthermore, approximately 30% of my students spoke English as a second language. When I started at the school, our dropout rate was close to 50%. I had a hard time reconciling the burning desire of our students and the thousands of dollars they were spending with the poor completion rate. I felt that we could do more to help them, so I turned to a member of our staff who was a former schoolteacher. She showed  me educational theory and practical teaching skills. With this knowledge, I completely redesigned the curriculum, created hands-on labs, and offered my students self-assessment exams. Learning to create labs and curricula challenged me to use new methods and mediums for communication. Additionally, I worked with each student on a personal basis to help him or her stay focused and optimistic. With the help of others in the school, the dropout rate for my students was 5%. I feel that my communication skills and my ability to motivate others helped me to be an effective instructor.

In the months prior to the Iraq war, I was distressed not only by the decision to go to war, but also by the process we used to make that decision. I started writing articles and posting them on my website,, as a way to share my views of the situation and the process. I never thought that I would stop the war, but I hoped that I would help temper the war mongering and decrease the likelihood of future wars. I have a strong desire to contribute to others, and I would like to be able to do this in my work and not just as a hobby.

To be a successful trailblazer one must have the vision to know where a trail could be and not be limited by where the trail currently is. Over the last few years, I have identified many issues and ideas I would like to research. The following are some of the issues that I could learn more about by studying law.

Many researchers are publishing about the connection between poverty and violence, and world leaders are beginning to notice. For example, the UN recently published the Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. They cite an interesting study that linked the likelihood of civil war to the gross domestic product per capita of a nation. I would like to study how laws and treaties promote and prevent poverty.

I would like to study the current ways that our government collects taxes and appropriates expenditures. I want to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the current system and explore alternatives. Specifically, I suspect that eliminating the general fund and tying all appropriations to specific taxes will have a profound effect on the way government spends money. There are obvious logistical problems with this idea, but it may focus debates on individual issues instead of having a general debate about deficits and surpluses.
For the last few decades, people have criticized voter apathy in the United States. I feel that a portion of the voter apathy can be linked to our highly centralized government. Local elections are relatively unimportant because virtually all issues in local government are heavily influenced at the state and federal level. For example, voting for a new city council member will probably not have a real impact on the efficiency of your local government. I want to study the advantages and disadvantages of centralized government and examine ways to get more citizens involved in government.

One of the most significant aspects of our legal system is the concept of checks-and-balances. My current understanding is that the system is mostly horizontal - the different branches regulate each other, and somewhat vertical - the federal government regulates the lower governments. I would like to understand how the system could be made significantly more vertical. It seems to me that individual citizens, local governments, and state governments should all have effective ways to check the power of the other levels of government. There are some mechanisms currently in place (e.g. lawsuits), but I would like to explore more extensive and more efficient methods.

I would like to study the connections between education, poverty, and crime. Publicly funded education was a major contributor to America’s economic success yet it remains a lightning rod for controversy. Increasing access to education has often been shown to lower crime rates in communities, but we rarely debate education as an issue of crime prevention. I would like to understand how the education system is currently legislated and explore changes to improve access to education.

Law school is an important and necessary step for me to understand these issues. To quench my thirst for knowledge, I will need to study fields such as education, sociology, economics, and political science. And to fulfill my desire to make positive changes in my community, I will need to propose changes in the law. I would like to learn about the law now, so that I may study all of these issues from the perspective of the legal system.

I am a trailblazing leader. I am innovative, adaptable, perceptive, and a good motivator; I have a strong desire to improve myself and contribute to others; I have strong problem solving and communication skills. Most importantly, I have a clear vision of where I want to go.

Law School Admissions / Re: My addendum explaining my low GPA
« on: May 17, 2005, 07:15:56 AM »
Nice job, no wonder you got into so many schools! Your gonna be a great lawyer for sure.
Wow. You def. stayed focused. Congrats. You worked hard for it.


Law School Admissions / Re: My addendum explaining my low GPA
« on: May 16, 2005, 06:39:17 PM »
Filling the Void: Indicators of My Success
Using validated studies from LSAC, a school can moderately predict first year grades from an applicant’s LSAT score and standardized GPA. Since my GPA does not fall into the guidelines of the studies that LSAC conducted, it is not a reliable predictor of my grades. (Recall that my GPA is atypical because it incorporates grades from high school and because of the many un-graded hours from Excelsior.) I can fill this void with other indicators of my success.

I submit that a first-year student with strengths in all of the following areas will be successful in law school:
  • Intellectual capacity
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-awareness
  • Comfort with the law school grading system
  • Excellence in competitive environments
  • Strong motivation

If you examine my accomplishments, then you will find that I have all of the above qualities.

Intellectual Capacity
I have strong analytical and problem-solving skills as evidenced by my successful career troubleshooting computers. My ability to acquire and use knowledge in a wide array of fields helped me to succeed as a business owner, at a Fortune 500 company, and at a startup company in fields as diverse as interior design, computer hardware, and healthcare staffing.

From June 2003 to September 2004, I took nine exams for credit. For the most difficult of these exams, I studied an average of 35 hours per week for five months (for only this exam). During this time, I was also working full-time. I had the self-discipline to pass this exam and all of the other exams with no outside direction.

A student that is aware of his strengths can more efficiently capitalize on them than a student that is unaware. More importantly, a student that knows his limitations and weaknesses is much more likely to seek assistance than a student that is not self-aware. For example, when I was teaching computer classes, I lacked a complete understanding of educational theory. In our small company, we had a veteran schoolteacher, and I worked closely with her to learn more about how to be an effective instructor.

I have taken thirteen certification exams and five college exams that are very similar to the law school experience. In each of these cases, I studied the material at length and took only one test.

There is a multi-million dollar professional circuit for a strategy card-game called Magic: The Gathering. For almost two years, I played this intellectual sport professionally. Besides being the North American champion, I was the first person to play the game as my sole means of income.

My motivation for applying to law school is straightforward – I want to study law and I would like to teach at the college level. My thirst for knowledge will propel me through most of law school, and my pragmatic goals will bring me through the rest.

Law School Admissions / Re: High LSAT/Low GPA - New PS
« on: May 16, 2005, 06:26:36 PM »
I wrote my original PS in Oct 04. I didn’t want to write a PS that was about overcoming obstacles, but I knew it was a powerful theme. If I did write from that perspective, then it would help to explain my low GPA. So, I tried to be clever; I mentioned the topics I could have used and then didn’t use them. This was a silly idea. It placed a lot of emphasis on my low grades, didn’t explain them, and wasted a page of my PS.

Over the next few months, I found this board and worked on my application to the Chicago-Kent Honors Program. I devised the following:

1. Write one simple, factual page explaining my academic history (this was a modification of “Notes about my Academic Summary” another post in this thread)
2. Write one page that explains what qualities I have that will help me to be successful in law school (“Filling the Void: Indicators of my Success” another post in this thread)
3. Write my PS with the mindset that I earned a 3.5 GPA from the University of Texas (another post in this thread)

If the AdComm does not believe that I have the capacity to do well in law school by time they read my PS, then I will not get in. It was important that I use the supplemental materials to prove that I can succeed in law school. The PS is to separate me from the other people that can do well, not to prove that I can do well.

Law School Admissions / Re: High LSAT/Low GPA - How AdComms See You
« on: May 16, 2005, 08:45:28 AM »
When I first applied to the schools, I thought that the admissions committees would be able to see past my 2.19 and that many of them would consider admitting me.

In March, I had a conversation with the director of admissions at one of the schools to which I applied, and she told me I was wrong. Basically, there is a good chance that admissions personnel can understand my GPA, but that faculty will almost never understand.

Different schools have different admissions procedures. I will almost certainly be rejected by the schools that have all applications reviewed by a committee mostly made up of faculty. However, I have a much better chance at schools were the admissions officers make the majority of the decisions.

For example, Rutgers-Camden admitted me the same day that my application was complete. I think (but did not check) that this was because my application never went to committee. I think that an admissions officer saw that I could do well and just let me in.

Here is a better example. This is how I think (again, I don’t know for sure) the early admissions process works at Georgetown. I think that early admissions applications are initially reviewed by only the admissions officers. They place everyone into three groups - yes, no, and maybe. The yes and no groups get accepted or denied. The maybe group gets “deferred” and goes to committee. I got deferred and then rejected. I think that the admissions officers saw that I had potential, but that the committee (which had faculty) thought I wouldn’t be able to cut it at Georgetown.

If I had to do the whole process over again, I would do two things differently. One, I would call every school that I was interested in and ask them about their review process. For the schools that let admissions officers make many decisions I would be more likely to apply. The schools that have lots of faculty on the AdComm would make me less likely to apply. Two, I would apply to many more schools earlier in the process. With my numbers and story, it is impossible to predict who is going to accept me (except some schools like Cooley). By applying to more schools, I will have more choices. I am very lucky that Chicago-Kent and Rutgers-Camden accepted me; I was disappointed with my choices until that point.

On a related note, get fee waivers! With a high LSAT score, many schools will waive your application fee. Also, if you don’t make much money, LSAC has a standardized form that you can use to request a fee waiver from schools. There is no point paying for application fees when you don’t have to.

For instance, I don't know why this guy got rejected at Houston:

But if he were black, would they still reject him? I doubt it. I'm undecided about the merits of AA. It doesn't affect me personally very often. However, I'm not convinced that the policy achieves it's goals as far as law school admissions is concerned.

I think I was rejected from Houston and other schools because they couldn't get past my low GPA. However, you can decide for youself - I posted my application materials here,33427.0.html

Law School Admissions / Re: High LSAT/Low GPA - My PS and my LoR
« on: May 11, 2005, 10:20:49 AM »
Letters of Recommendation

Getting my LoRs was a mixed bag. The one I posted above was easy, and I was happy with the results (let's call this one LoR B). The second letter that I wanted took forever (LoR F). It took so long that I asked someone to write a third letter (LoR W).

I originally wrote all of my application materials in October 2004 after taking the LSAT. I asked two people to write letters for me (B and F). I asked that they write them by 1 Nov. That would give enough time for them to be processed and sent to the schools.

For both of the writers, I provided the most recent drafts of my resume, academic summary notes, and personal statement. I gave them both Overnight Express envelopes with the postage paid. I also gave the writers lists of attributes that admissions committees were looking for. (How to Get into the Top Law Schools pgs 287-289). I talked to them about why I wanted to go to law school and how they could help me get in. I am very lucky to have them both. They were very interested in helping me, and they thought that law school was a good choice for me.

For LoR B, I drove all of the materials over to her, and she completed everything on time. I think that the LoR she wrote was very effective. It confirmed claims that I made in my PS, it provided information that the AdComms couldn't get from other sources, and she demonstrated that she was qualified to make these subjective and objective statements.

LoR F is a busy executive. He owns/runs two companies were listed among the 25 fastest growing companies in America, plus he was getting married. He knew that he wouldn't have much time, but he wanted to help. He asked me to write a draft that he would revise. I sent him two copies of the LoR draft that I wrote. The first was just the letter. The second was an annotated draft. I explained what each section was about and suggested changes. Here is an example (the comments are in brackets):

I first hired Hunter almost nine years ago to work on our company’s website. [If you remember why you hired me, you might add that here.] [If you interviewed a lot of people, this might be a good quantification.]

I had a hard time writing this LoR. I was constantly feeling like I was bragging, but that is what the letter called for. If I had to do this over again, I would get over that mental issue and write a stronger letter. I think this letter was good, but not great.

The other problem is that it took F over two months to send the letter. I applied to schools by 1 Nov because I read that it was better to apply early. But, since he took so long, many of my applications were not complete until Jan! I was finally so frustrated that I asked W to write a third letter for me. If F wasn't done, then I was going to tell schools to use W instead of F.

W is an old friend. We have known each other since we were 14. It is unusual to have a friend write a LoR and I do not recommend it. However, he was a good alternate for me because he could talk about the High School/College program we were both in. I got bad grades in the program and left, but he finished. I wanted him to talk about his struggles and why it was understandable that I had a hard time. Again, I asked him to write a LoR because I needed two LoR and I couldn't get F to finish. So, this was a decent substitute.

EDIT: W gave me the letter recently. It is much better than I was hoping for. It is included much lower in this thread and my comments will likely follow it.

My recommendations for LoR:
  • Start getting the LoR as early as possible! (A 3-month lead-time is a good idea.)
  • Get as many good LoR as you can. If you can get four, then get four.
  • Get LoR from as many different perspectives as possible.
  • Give lots of information to the writers. Make it as easy as possible for them.
  • Check-up on them regularly.
  • If you have to write one yourself:
    • Force yourself to use a different voice than your PS
    • Do not be afraid to brag
    • Do not exaggerate 

Law School Admissions / Re: High LSAT/Low GPA - My story
« on: May 10, 2005, 11:03:36 AM »
Thank you for the reminder of what this forum is for.  I too got caught up in the competition and forgot that I may also have experiences that could help others.

And thank you!

Law School Admissions / Re: High LSAT/Low GPA - My story
« on: May 10, 2005, 10:37:39 AM »
Letter of Recommendation – Hunter C. Hogan

  I have had the privilege to work professionally with Hunter Hogan as an administrator of instructional programs at CyberTex, a computer training company based in Austin, Texas. As I worked closely with Hunter, he proved himself to be an indispensable asset to the company.

  Prior to my employment with CyberTex, I was a coordinator for the gifted and talented program and a mentor teacher in Cleveland ISD for new teachers. I was responsible for identifying gifted students and mentoring teachers working with gifted students. I am very familiar with the characteristics of gifted individuals. I have 18 years of experience in the Texas public school system, and currently teach in Austin ISD.

    Hunter is not just a gifted individual. He is what I consider to be profoundly gifted. As such, his life has been a series of overcoming obstacles. His biggest obstacle has been to learn to “suffer fools gladly” to avoid alienation from mainstream culture. Being highly gifted does not always work to one’s social advantages. As Hunter’s natural ability to teach evolved into a highly effective and successful style, his students taught him to become more aware of his communication skills and helped him to develop confidence in his leadership ability. I watched as Hunter, through his teaching, grew into a more tolerant, compassionate individual.
     It was a joy to work with Hunter as he learned more about best teaching practices, as he was an inquisitive, eager, and extremely fast learner. He applied everything he learned and had many discussions with me to clarify and perfect his teaching methods in any situation he encountered. Of course, “whys” were of primary importance and interest. Hunter welcomed challenges as opportunities to learn, and frequently read teaching methodology books I brought to work He enjoyed discussing concepts, questioning various philosophies and applying what he was learning. As an instructor, Hunter researched the latest developments in technology and sought increasingly higher skill levels in technical expertise. He was an independent learner, preferring to read technical self-study guides and work the accompanying exercises to obtain 8 certifications. Hunter passed all 8 certification exams in less than a year while he was a full time instructor. He demonstrated excellent mastery, as he passed all 8 exams on the first try with very high scores.
    Hunter has a wide range of interests. Though Hunter prefers to teach himself through reading, he often enjoys sharing insights and debating fine points of educational techniques and philosophies to psychology of learners and political systems to technology issues and beyond. He designed several websites - one addressing web design and another, current political issues. Enthusiastic debates and engaging discussions filled the classroom and hallways at break times. Hunter created a climate of learning and a community of learners engaged in reflections and self-expression to surround him.

    Hunter’s enthusiasm was contagious, and his students reflected this in their excellent attendance. He always taught with passion and a sense of humor. He was the most popular instructor, and consistently achieved high marks on his evaluations. Hunter quickly gained rapport with students, as he was able to connect with them on an individual and personal level. He achieved a high rate of success in his teaching despite a frustrating lack of motivation displayed by some students. Hunter was able to set aside his own tendency toward perfectionism to reach out and provide assistance to those students needing some hand holding to be successful. Hunter devised a system to help monitor student success, build in confidence and help students pass a difficult certification test in a very short framework of time.

     Hunter was reliable and responsible, missing only one sick day in all the time he worked with CyberTex. He made sure instruction began on time, and taught until time for students to go home. He was concerned that the students got their moneys’ worth, as he knew these lower income students were paying a high tuition in order to quickly obtain a decent paying job. He took his job seriously, and felt personally responsible for students grasping tough technical concepts in a very fast paced, accelerated program. Hunter was dedicated to their success. Despite working full time under a stressful workload, Hunter made himself available to his students to call him outside of working hours, on his cell phone, with any questions they may have, or if they just needed encouragement or advice. He also volunteered to hold several outings outside of school for students to socialize and enjoy time together free from the pressures of school. Students enjoyed playing Frisbee in the park, and had a get together at Hunter’s house to watch a UT football game.
    Hunter and I worked very well together. I am a planner, and have depended upon my organizational skills for years. Hunter, fortunately, also was a planner and extremely organized. The CEO’s of the company were focused on day-to-day concerns, often making radical shifts in direction based on information at any given moment. Hunter and I were often forced into negotiations at these times to help the company accomplish long-range goals while remaining sensitive to the short-term issues. Usually, Hunter’s suggestions made during these meetings were termed as “brilliant” and consequently acted upon. Though many hours of curriculum development and his program designs were at stake, Hunter was able to creatively solve the problems facing the team. His analytical thinking and creative solutions saved the company time and money. And if Hunter did not know the answer to a question, he researched it until it was resolved. I never worried about Hunter meeting project deadlines, because he always managed to beat them.

     Hunter was an ideal lead instructor, but also had many other job responsibilities.
He was a self-starter, envisioning solutions for problems many others did not forsee. Hunter took initiative to create and revise curriculum for new instructors, coordinate scheduling of classes, procure and maintain classroom and networking equipment, assist with web design, and set up a newsgroup website for students to post messages, see job announcements, and much more.

   He also created new marketing strategies, and designed an operating expense budget for CyberTex. Hunter was always willing to undertake new projects, and in time became an influential, yet democratic team leader. Hunter became able to take his own work and synthesize it with ideas offered by others, creating a well-designed project that had support from the entire company.
     Hunter’s strength of integrity was sometimes a bane to others less concerned with “principles”. If Hunter perceived a lack of integrity in some area of the business, he would bring it to the attention of those who could correct it. At times, Hunter found himself caught in a conflict between his sense of justice, fairness and integrity and some business decisions made by the company. Hunter’s conscience did not allow him to say or do some things requested by a CEO. Hunter was trusted and admired, but maligned at times by some for his noncompliance. Hunter remained true to his beliefs.
    Hunter prioritized and organized projects and goals in his mind. He rarely needed reminders because he was able to remember exactly what was needed and when it was due.
If he scheduled events, he used a palm pilot. He helped others on the team to organize various company projects through creation of a spreadsheet accessible through the file server.
   Hunter would often be asked to abandon one project to begin work on another. Though he found this difficult, he would comply and throw his energy and creativity into the new project, and work on the former one as time allowed until it too was completed. Hunter always had a sense of the bigger picture as he worked to satisfy the changing priorities of the CEO. He had a need to see these projects through to realize his vision.

   Funding sources for students entering the programs dried up, and Hunter began looking for work. He gave the company 2 weeks termination notice before leaving, and worked at a reduced rate of pay, offering to work part time if needed on projects. Unfortunately, the owner ultimately laid off the entire workforce, substituting family members for his paid employees.
    Hunter was an exceptional key employee. I know he will succeed in any endeavor because he has:
-a drive to know and a passion for learning
-patience to research a problem until he thoroughly understands it
-analytical skills to dissect problems and find the critical elements
-creative ability to address problems in a way to minimize conflict
-persistence and determination to realize his goals
And Hunter is a meticulous visionary- an unusual and successful combination of characteristics.

     Hunter has a strong drive to learn and achieve in his chosen career. He has a passion for issues of social justice, and a strong sense of ethics. He would be a lawyer deserving of trust.

But I believe Hunter will go beyond practicing law. He will, in some respect, be involved in teaching the principles, as he is a natural teacher equipped with the skills and passion to be whatever he desires. And he will always be a great student, as learning will be his lifelong pursuit.

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