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Author Topic: Construct your own Admissions system  (Read 7773 times)

John Galt

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Construct your own Admissions system
« on: February 25, 2006, 01:11:28 PM »
Ok, since I hear AA is unjust. Unqualified students continuously get in, here is a thread where YOU have the power. Construct your own admissions system with the criteria that is imporant to you. How should LSAT vs GPA be weighed. Are non academic factors considered? How much. Is there any way to compensate for a low LSAT or GPA? How will you get diversity?  Construct any way you see fit and justify what kind of class it will result in. I'm interested to see some ideas on this topic.

John Galt

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2006, 04:42:59 PM »
excellent response, James. I wish there were more takers on this, but that was excellent. I think I agree with pretty much everything you wrote.

mto83

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2006, 11:25:51 AM »
Lol! I would rather have attractive males though.

redemption

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2006, 12:45:09 PM »
Save for a later post...

Great idea for a thread, JG

The Professor of Parody

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2006, 01:25:35 PM »
Justice Thomas writes that “the use of tests and other measures to ‘predict’ academic performance is a poor substitute for a system that gives every applicant a chance to prove he can succeed in the study of law.” (Grutter v. Bollinger dissent.) Since I have your eye for a moment, I would like to consider how we might provide such an opportunity for all to prove their aptitude for law school.
We might take community colleges as our model. Imagine a one year school, with relatively open admissions, which would teach basic legal courses. A student at this institution would earn grades in a law school environment, thus providing an accurate indicator of her prospects for legal study. Admissions based on such grades should prove more rational and humane, and less prone to racial or class disparities, than admissions reliant upon LSAT scores.
Students who did not pursue legal careers would also benefit. Someone considering becoming an attorney could experience a taste of law school without worrying about being labeled a drop out if he chose not to continue after a year. Community activists, business leaders, government officials and others could enhance their understanding of the law without expending the time, energy, and money required to obtain a J.D.
Making Justice Thomas’ vision a reality would obviously require a tremendous effort. But if Yale leads the way, other schools will likely follow. And the return - a demystified admissions process and a demystified legal system - should more than repay the investment.

likewise

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2006, 01:56:42 PM »
1)  Scrap the LSAT.  Require a timed writing sample instead.
2)  Weigh--
    a) GPA and quality of courseload
    b) Experience--voluntary or professional
    c) Personal Statement and Writing Sample (above)
    d) LORs
    e) Hardship--through an optional essay (race-impacted, health-impacted, financial, etc.)

Just a few thoughts.  Honestly, I think AA is important, but I think scrapping the LSAT and looking at the whole person is more important. 

You might say, adcomms don't have enough time to review applications, especially considering that you're requiring the applicant write more.  Solution:  charge a flat $250 or $500 per app fee that can be waived if hardship can be shown.

mto83

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2006, 05:28:12 PM »
Lol! I would rather have attractive males though.

You know, of anything I have ever posted, with the intent of trying to be offensive and to me at least, point out the absolute hypocrisy I see in many anti-AA threads through humor, I was stunned by the lack of any response. This was the one I expected to get tarred and feathered for. I thought for sure I would be labeled a misogynist, or that people would not be able to see through the sarcasm and get the point, whatever it might have been in my mind at the time.

But no, it was completely left untouched, not even the OP responded, not a single chick took me to task for my comments. I only mananged to attract a response from a gay man (that seems to be my luck quite often actually).

So I apologize, mto 83, how could I be so self centered as to forget to offend people based upon sexual orientation! That was not very un-PC of me.

Let me ponder on a way for AA to work against straight people as well, and I’ll see if I can come up with a modified system that might be more appealing to you.  ;D


I guess I just saw it as humorous instead of offensive. LOL! Don't try to hard...

John Galt

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2006, 06:29:21 PM »
Ok, since I hear AA is unjust. Unqualified students continuously get in, here is a thread where YOU have the power. Construct your own admissions system with the criteria that is imporant to you. How should LSAT vs GPA be weighed. Are non academic factors considered? How much. Is there any way to compensate for a low LSAT or GPA? How will you get diversity?  Construct any way you see fit and justify what kind of class it will result in. I'm interested to see some ideas on this topic.

My ideal law school admission system would use the LSAT/GPA combo to weed people out, but they would not solely determine who gets offered a seat. LSAT/GPA would be given a value of 0-10 points. There would be a sliding-scale in place; if the GPA is higher, the LSAT can be lower, and vice versa. There has to be an LSAT score which indicates general competency to pass the bar, or if not a solid number there must exist a range, e.g., 150-180 may suggest ability to pass the bar, where 120-149 suggest the person would not pass. The main vehicle for decision making would be the personal interviews. There will be a candidate grading system based on interview performance. Each candidate would have to interview on 3 levels: a group of 4-5 current students (0-5 points); at least one member of full-time faculty (0-7 points); and with me (0-10 points). I would have unquestioned discretion to admit or deny any candidate. The student interviewers could show disfavor for a candidate beyond the score by filling out a form. Faculty members will have limited auto-deny rights. For faculty to auto-deny, the must present a substantive reason. Candidates will have a chance to set themselves apart with 0-8 floating points. Floating points would be given out based upon individual characteristecs we find impressive. For instance, a person who speaks 6 languages fluently would have a chance to have it noticed, as would the person who worked with habitat for humanities or Goldman Sachs. People who have done nothing but study for 4 years would face a grave disadvantage under the 40 point system. Good GPAs are a dime a dozen. Good people, however, are not.

We would promote diversity of all sorts: racial; cultural; socio-economic; religious, or lack thereof; idealogical; gender; sexual orientation; work history, and many more.

I can't really think of much else right now. I am too excited about leaving work :P

Bolded part - classic George Jefferson. I would expect nothing else.  How would the racial, religious, cultural part fit in? Would it also be on a point system? Would you get X points for being black or hispanic? Given Grutter, do you think that's feasible? Or are you as an evaluator taking that into account based on each individual applicant? For example, race plays no set point in the criteria, but is in the back of your mind when evaluating each candidate.

Nice system. What tier school do you think this sort of setup would work for? I like it because it brings in the interview dynamic, but seems to be fair enough where one person's whim (unless yours of course) won't be enough to admit or crush your chances.


Also, redemption, I'm looking forward to reading about your system too.

gameswizard

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2006, 08:32:53 PM »
I think Northwestern and Minnesota have it close to perfect.  They care about diversity (and diversity of interests, geography, and opinions).  They care about grades, and take the higher LSAT allowing for people who screwed up.  Most importantly they are one of the only schools that emphasis's interviews.  I think the committee should make every effort to get to know the people they let in.  People are just that people, which is obviously more than numbers.  Oh and I think Emory does a good job of focusing on Essays.  Writting is important in this profession.  Along those lines...
 
Also I think if one can get a paper published in a prestigous law review or business journal then that should be given some serious weight.  However I am biased becuase I am trying to do this. 

redemption

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2006, 12:36:43 PM »
Props to JG for the idea for this thread.

Here are my own thoughts, and, true to my usual pattern, they are likely to run a bit long.

Some principles

1. Law schools are private enterprises, and as such should be able to have plenty of room for discretion in how to construct their incoming 1L class.

2. On the other hand, law is a profession that is different in kind from others, and that difference has consequences for the society in which we live.

3. The key, obviously., is in achieving a balance between private discretion and public consequence.

4. Less obviously, striking this balance is more an art than a science. I would reject points-systems because of the very reason that they create auto-admit/auto-reject expectations, raise suspicions about who “deserved’ to be admitted to a particular school and who didn’t; and because these types of suspicions - raised by the apparent  preeminence of quantitative factors in the current admissions process - cause hard feelings that are somewhat avoidable. It gives the impression that, say, this or that URM candidate was admitted despite his/her numbers rather than because of the strength of his/her  candidacy overall.

Rather than attempt  to propose a scientific criterion that ALL law schools should follow, I am, rather, going to describe how I would go about things if I were the Admissions Director at a representative "top" law school.

I will discuss each of the major ingredients of my proposed Admissions process and explain, or try to explain, why I’d treat them as I do;

On the LSAT

I do think that the numerical indicators are useful (I think that many of the claims that the LSAT is useless etc. are overdone), and so I would use those, although with some care, and although I would recognize the limits to their utility.

The LSAT, as I think that I’ve asserted many times before, measures (with some degree of precision) a very particular quality that it is important for an Admissions Director to know: it measures the applicant’s [readiness to deduce, to infer, to identify points of disagreement between two or more assertions, to read and understand moderately complicated text across a variety of disciplines, and, finally, to understand why some analogies are valid and others are not. And all of this under some time pressure. These skills, it seems to me, are important in the study of law: the analysis of case law not only relies, but is almost entirely dependent, on the ability to read a substantial volume of text, to understand how the arguments in judicial decisions have been constructed, to compare arguments either within a single case (prosecution v. defense, say, or majority v. minority opinion), or across cases.

Having said that, however, the LSAT is a better indicator of (1) performance during the   immediate period following enrollment  in law school, rather than for the first year as a whole; (2) is a better indicator for the first year than it is for the entire three years; and, finally, (3) is a better indicator for overall law school performance than it is for “success” in the practice of law.

That this is so is not at all surprising: the very skills that the LSAT tests for are actually taught in law school (what else does “thinking like a lawyer” involve, other than constructing/deconstructing/comparing arguments?), and with teaching and plenty of practice, those skills are quite highly developed in most if not all law students, so that the disparities in skills at reading, reasoning etc. under the pressure of time tend, over time, to zero.

If there is this tendency toward zero, then, why place such a heavy emphasis on the LSAT score?

One answer is that the first set of exams in law school occur only three months in, and play a very large role in determining one’s opportunities for Law Review, and the career opportunities that depend on it. Someone with a very low LSAT score is unlikely to make up the deficit in reasoning proficiency within such a short space of time. Another answer is that in some (maybe most) schools, there is still extensive use of the socratic method. It is unlikely to be beneficial to either the student at hand or to her/his section-mates, if s/he is completely and consistently unable to quickly understand and articulate the logical structure of the case that s/he has been called on to state, and if she can’t manipulate hypos quickly and with some dexterity.

I think that it is reasonable to expect applicants to have adequately prepared for the LSAT prior to taking it, rather than placing the bulk of the responsibility on the law school to make up for the deficit in straightforward reasoning proficiency.

For one reason and another (which I won’t go into here), I don’t place much credence on the argument that the LSAT redresses the GPA disparities between this particular UG and that, between this discipline and the other, and therefore provides a “neutral” or “uniform” standard against which all applicants are measured.

I do think, though, that we should pay attention to the disparity in LSAT performance between particular minority groups and the majority. To the extent that this performance gap reflects problems in the test itself - rather than reflecting problems in the performance of the educational institutions in which those minority groups have been previously enrolled - the test should be redesigned to eliminate this bias. If, however, the LSAT is showing up a systemwide problem in our educational system we should address the educational system, rather than the test. To do otherwise would be absurd. And counterproductive, too, in the long-term.

So, then, how would I use the LSAT if I were an admissions officer at my Top School?

1. I would establish a cutoff score, somewhere between 160 and 165. This would be absolute,  nonnegotiable, and advertised upfront.

2. I would always take the most recent score. I would not average (a particularly pointless thing to do, and, I am convinced, only done for the benefit of US News). I would not take the highest score: anyone who has worked in the real world knows that one’s brain often atrophies severely in that context; one’s thinking ability is often not the same after having worked, as it is when fresh from school. I’d like to know how you think NOW, and not so much how you used to think once upon a time.

3. I would be interested in differences between a 165 and, say, a 175, but these differences would in no way be dispositive: just another thing to mull over, along with the other factors to be considered.


More to come (believe it or not)