« on: December 22, 2006, 12:02:44 AM »
I'm actually not too worried about next semester...I think it'll be nice to start at the beginning again when I can take it (relatively) easy. It'll also be nice to hit some new topics.
Messages - oscarsonthepond
Thanks alot OnthePond
No problem...great to hear that it has helped somebody...let me know if you come up w/ any other questions
Do you have to be Christian?
No...in fact I think it is not uncommon for Muslims to go to BYU because the honor code tends to match up w/ a lot of their practices...I know there's a Muslim Student Association, and my guess would be that there's something similar for other religions as well. I suppose you could even be atheist or agnostic as long as you were willing to attend religious services. Like I said I didn't attend as an undergrad so I'm not totally familiar with all the specifics (i.e. what if your religion doesn't have regular services). If you have any questions you can contact the Honor Code Office at (801) 422-2847. But in response to your question - no, you are definitely not required to be Christian.
Before I came to BYU Law I had a hard time finding out what life was like here...so I figured I'd do my best to give an objective view (I am a Mormon, but I joined the Church as an adult during my undergrad years...so I know what it's like from both perspectives). I originally wrote this after a month here, and have now modified it a bit having finished a full semester. Since it's been linked on wikipedia it's gotten a lot of views...please note that I don't speak for the University and I make no promises except that this is a good faith effort by an individual who loves going to school here to make a candid assessment of what it's like. Suggestions/Questions are greatly appreciated.
Student Body - The class size is always ~150 (~450 total at the school) and I would guess in each class there are around 10 or so non-Mormons. I can think of at least 7 in my class, and I certainly don't know everybody. It is definitely not a situation where there are only one or two non-Mormons at the school, but if you've done the math you can tell that for sure the majority are LDS. However, it is not at all segregated between members and non-members. It's not a topic that comes up regularly (or much at all really), and I'd say most people have no idea who is and who isn't (and probably haven't given it much thought to begin with). In looking at the student directory, it seems our class is about 35% female and 65% male. Many students are married - I'd say around half. Also, my guess would be that a majority of the guys are married, and a majority of the girls are single. Of the married students, probably half have kids. I'd say at least a third of the class went somewhere other than BYU for undergrad...perhaps closer to a half. As to the question of whether they favor LDS applicants or not...I really couldn't tell you. In general I get the sense that the non-members in our class are on par intellectually/academically with the members. My guess is that if there were two completely equal candidates they would choose the one who was a member of the church that owns the school, but in most cases they would just choose the better candidate...that is a total guess though, and I didn't go to BYU for undergrad so I really have no idea if that's true or not.
Social Life - Seeing as most law schools are very VERY big on drinking, the social life here is very different. I'd say if you're not a big drinker then you'll like it more because people have to be a lot more creative in how they go about having fun. They have a "Law Partners" group for the spouses of the students, which in turn has a playgroup for kids. They have singles activities (BBQs, etc.), and it seems like people enjoy those a lot. The student center has a large bowling alley and arcade. Basically the Provo/Orem area has two rather large schools (BYU and UVSC) along with some smaller ones, so it's pretty much just a bunch of college kids looking to have fun in ways that don't include sex/drugs/alcohol/etc. It is undoubtedly a very friendly environment. Whether it is fun & enjoyable depends on your definitions of those words. Certainly everyone that I've met thus far really enjoys it (LDS or not).
Competition - It is definitely a competitive place, but in a different way than other schools are. It's competitive in that most people here are pretty smart and pretty hard working. The GPA/LSAT scores are pretty high, even higher than many schools ranked above it by U.S.News. My guess is that this is because 1) Many Latter-day Saints go here even if they get into schools ranked considerably higher, and 2) Some students who get into higher ranked schools go here for financial reasons. Anyways, this translates to pretty hard working individuals and fairly stiff competition. Having said that, it is different from other schools in that it's really not cut-throat. People are always willing to share notes/outlines/etc. Like I said, it is a very very friendly environment...everybody pretty much likes everybody. No one is going to attempt to sabotage you or anything like that. People will, however, attempt to work harder than you.
Honor Code - A major difference between BYU and other law schools is the honor code. I know that some people would never come here because of this alone. However, I have friends at school who aren't LDS and came here just because they wanted an environment where people had values like their own. The honor code requires, among other things, that you agree to:
Religion - Religion does enter the classroom on occasion, but in general I'd say it's in a way that very few people would be offended by. Morning classes might have an opening prayer depending on the professor. Some professors will bring up a scripture once in awhile at the end of class (both the Bible and other LDS Scriptures)...but it's never in a preachy manner or trying to convince anyone to believe anything...in fact I'd say most all of the religious references are based around morals and values. There is a definite sense at the law school that they are trying to produce a group of lawyers that are firmly committed to ethics.
Politics - The law school is certainly more conservative than most, but definitely not in an exclusive way. Ideas from all perspectives are certainly free to flow, and having gone to a UC myself for undergrad, I felt that that experience was farther out to the left than my experience here has been to the right thus far.
Library/Technology - The library is really nice....they remodeled it about 10 years ago, and besides Stanford it is the highest ranked law library west of the Mississippi (even higher ranked than Harvard!). One very nice thing about the school is that everybody gets their own carrel (desk), that includes wired internet, many power outlets, a light, two large cabinets, two drawers, and a file cabinet (all of which have locks on them). They are very convenient for studying, but they also breed competition cause you're right next to all your classmates and you see right away who is hard-working and who isn't. There's wireless internet throughout the school, and I've never had any problem at all connecting anywhere (they'll have like 8 access points in one classroom). Everyone is required to have a laptop (you take all your tests on them), and they'll give you an extra loan for it if you need it.
Cost/Financial Aid - As you probably know, the law school is DIRT CHEAP! For a private religious university law school experience you'll generally be paying in the $35k/year range. For BYU it's currently $8200/year for Latter-day Saints and $16,400 otherwise. I've heard of people complaining about the higher price for non-members. My guess as to the reason for this difference is that the tuition is highly subsidized by the tithing that members of the Church pay. Even if you aren't a member, half of your education is being paid for by members of the Church. This being the case, to me it only makes sense that tuition would be less for members, and to have tithing subsidize half of the tuition for non-members is in my opinion very generous. On top of that, I think over half of students receive some type of grant or scholarship...even with the tuition being so low. Also, they have a special law student loan so that if you need money beyond your Stafford loans, they'll give you an extra $9k/year so that you don't have to start turning to higher rate loans.
Socratic Method - Professors generally use the socratic method, but they're usually not real harsh or anything (i.e. if you don't know the answer they won't keep dwelling on you, and a lot of professors will go down the row when calling on people rather than picking at random).
That's about all I can think of...hopefully that gives you a better impression of what it's really like. Everybody I've talked to so far (male/female, Mormon/non, etc.) truly loves the law school. They have a three day orientation before classes begin that is a lot of fun and extremely helpful in getting you adjusted. It has been an incredible experience so far and I can truly say that I'd rather be here than at any other law school in the country. If you have any questions at all or suggestions for updates, PM me and I'll respond as soon as I can. Thanks for reading
My top school asked for my fall grades.....is this a good thing or a bad thing? I would think it means I'm borderline admit/waitlist as opposed to borderline reject/waitlist (I'd assume in the latter case they'd just waitlist me). My grades were poor, but just slightly below my overall GPA (I'm a splitter).....any thoughts on whether this is all good or bad? what are they looking for? How much will this influence them?
« on: February 24, 2006, 03:37:42 AM »
warning #1) I now work for Kaplan (I'm in training)
warning #2) I didn't bother to read the whole thread
I just wanted to mention that it seems like a lot of the things people talk trash on Kaplan about are things of the past (ie "they don't use real questions" or "the course is too short"). The curriculum has changed quite a bit in the past few years (they update it every year, and 2006 was a substantial update), and currently they not only use real LSAT questions, but if you take the course and do all the homework/workbooks you will see every single LSAT question that you can possibly get from LSAC (ie every Q from preptests 1-50 or whatever it is). I also think that Kaplan's current curriculum is truly excellent. They are by far the biggest test prep company out there, and thus pump a ton of money into their curriculum. I've seen much of Testmaster's stuff, and I can honestly say that I am not nearly as impressed by it as I am by Kaplan's....think about it...Testmasters is pretty much Robin Singh and a few others creating this supposedly incredible method...Kaplan is this huge corporation w/ lots and lots of money and about 30 people overhauling the course every year who are all complete LSAT nerds (my trainer is one of them).
Anyways...for what it's worth I think Kaplan is great...they have by far the best "higher score gaurantee" in the business....I would say the key is that you really have to buy into the methods and go all out...if you just use their methods half way, and don't practice them a ton then you'll get the right answers using them but probably go fairly slow and won't do very well (as opposed to if you practice a ton then you'll have them down and move quickly, stil getting the answers). Also...Kaplan does have some really cool stuff like the fact that you can go down to the center and take any LSAT (1-50) anytime you want...you can then enter your answers into a computer, get your score instantly, and get detailed explanations for every single question on every test.....in addition, they also have by far the best online tools and their course is very integrated w/ the online stuff.
Kaplan's weakpoint compared to others is almost certainly its teachers. Testmasters requires a 172 and pays $50/hr....Kaplan requires a 163 and pays $20-30/hr. Its sort of a no brainer which one will attract better teachers. However, that pretty much speaks to the minimum qualities required in a teacher....that doesn't mean that all Kaplan teachers are 163'ers. In fact, most if not everyone at the center I work at scored 17X on the real test, and after teaching the courses and becoming very familiar with the test and whatnot they are high 17Xers. There are undoubtedly dud teachers, but they'll usually get weeded out fairly quickly. I would talk to people who've gone there and find out who the good teachers are...I think most centers have at least 2 or 3 teachers, so find out who the best one is, go all out practicing the methods and you will definitely see a large increase in your score.
As a side note...when I took the test I prepped using Nova's along w/ lots of full length practice tests and if you're on a tight budget it's definitely a good option, however to compare what you learn in that book with what you get from Kaplan's course is in my mind ridiculous...they are not in the same realm at all.
If anybody has specific Kaplan Q's, PM me.
Any knowledge regarding the following questions would be very helpful:
1) I'm married w/ a child. My wife is a stay-at-home mom. I am going into law school straight out of undergrad (read: no savings). Has anybody else been in this (or a similar) situation before? Do you think my family and I can squeeze by on the budget the law school gives me, or will we have to find other sources of income? If the latter is the case, will it all be private loans...and could I even get additional "student" loans, or would they be higher-rate private loans?
2) My EFC is 0...what kind of need-based aid can I get? In CA as an undergrad last year I received ~13k in grants from the state...will I see anything like that in law school?
3) When do schools usually give you a full financial aid proposal? Will I not see that until I accept? Is there any chance I'll hear about need-based aid before the decision deadline?
4) Since my EFC is 0, does this mean that every school will find some way for me to pay for their budgeted amount in some way other than private loans? I know this is the case for undergrad. For law school the budget is usually ~45k. 18.5k in federal loans still leaves 25k+ to pay for...how will this be made up in their financial aid package? Do they sometimes offer loans from the school? Will it all be scholarships/grants?
Any help is greatly appreciated...thanks.