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Author Topic: Construct your own Admissions system  (Read 8142 times)

redemption

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2006, 12:48:53 PM »
GPA

Considerations of an applicant’s GPA are far less significant and interesting. What does it show? Not much. If you were lucky enough to pick the right major, to be enrolled at an UG with a generous curve, to have matured at 19 rather than at 21, to have remained healthy throughout, to have not had to work etc., you too will have a 4.0. Boring. If, on the other hand, you worked 40+ hours, or had mononucleosis, or if you were in an abusive relationship - your GPA would be seriously mitigated. If you studied Classics at Chicago, or engineering at Cal Tech, have since been awarded a Ph.D. with distinction, or have been doing serious analytical work for a few or more years, it would be hard to argue that your GPA was the relevant metric by which to (even partially) judge your application.

The GPA, in my view, is not even worth glancing at, and in my capacity as my Top School’s admissions officer, I probably wouldn’t ask for it, and nor would I review it.

Essays and Statements

I would place the greatest emphasis in this part of the applications process.

I would consider my job as being one that is in the service of the faculty that will actually have to teach the incoming class that I am selecting, and more generally, in service of the school whose reputation and standing will be burnished or tarnished by this class and its accomplishments when they graduate.

I would like all of the people that I admit to be interesting, thoughtful, and original. I would like the class as a whole to be diverse in every way - along class, ethnic, racial, national, and geographic lines, as well as in terms of the disciplinary and work backgrounds that they represent. There is a diminishing marginal utility to enrolling white, male, 22 year-old Harvard graduates who majored in Economics. And this is not a matter of aesthetics so much, as it is a matter of the academic environment that my faculty has a right to expect, and of the educational experience that would most benefit the student body.

A Lit major, say, can bring to bear her/his knowledge of narrative theory, semiotics, deconstruction, and rhetoric in the analysis of judicial opinions, either in class or in study groups; an economist can shed some light on the problems with the Coase Theorem or with rational choice theory; a sociologist may chip in with insights on the interplay between law and institutions; an anthropologist can highlight some of the cultural assumptions that make our understanding of law, justice and its purposes contingent rather than absolute.

In any case, I would be most interested in three different (though perhaps interrelated) facets of an applicant’s suitability for my school: character, promise, background, and perspective.

I would, therefore, require three separate essays from applicants:

1. A Personal Statement of any length and on any subject whatsoever

2. A 10-20 page essay in response to the question “What is justice?”

3. An essay of any length in response to the prompt “Why This School?”

From the first essay, one can infer - from topic choice and from the way that it is written - what makes the applicant tick. I would not have believed this quite so much as I do if I had not read my fair share of personal and diversity statements from people here on LSD. Some of the statements were breathtaking in their honestly and vitality, and I found myself thinking that it would be really wrong if they were not to be admitted into the school of their choice. Other statements were not so great - they demonstrated little life, no passion for law or anything else, and one got the impression that law school was simply something to do for lack of plausible alternatives.

From the second essay, I would infer the originality, sophistication of the applicant’s manner of thinking, and would gauge the extent to which s/he has made a personal connection with law, which I believe to be important. I would not favor essays that told me what Bentham or some other geezer said over someone else’s honest effort to struggle through and come to terms with what justice means (or doesn’t mean) to them. I would look for an ability to range across multiple disciplines and perspectives, for subtlety and for thoughtful originality in the way that the essay was put together. This is what I would use as an alternative to a perusal of the GPA and transcript.

The third essay would serve to gauge the fit between the applicant’s hopes for a law school experience and the school’s hopes for a student body. Yale, for example, is not Harvard, and Columbia is not Chicago. Each school has a certain culture and tempo and this would be the place to identify the fit between applicant and school.

Interview

Unlike GJ, I would not interview widely. Distances and expense are too great for some and would put them at a disadvantage. There are, among the thousands of applicants, likely to be a handful that are hard cases: I would interview those people personally, over a couple of hours or so, in a coffee shop.


Work Experience

I would do away with an evaluation of work experience altogether. To he extent that events in one’s life have any significance, they will show up in the essays and statements. If they don't merit mentioning there, then they're really not as significant as all that, are they?


Conclusion

What does this add up to? What I believe to be a “holistic” applications process:

a) the role of the LSAT is made explicit and its influence reduced;

b) the GPA/Transcript pretense is scrapped altogether;

c) a much greater role is awarded to self-expression in the form of three required essays

d) there is no role for work experience


Summa

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2006, 04:21:45 PM »
GPA

Considerations of an applicant?s GPA are far less significant and interesting. What does it show? Not much. If you were lucky enough to pick the right major, to be enrolled at an UG with a generous curve, to have matured at 19 rather than at 21, to have remained healthy throughout, to have not had to work etc., you too will have a 4.0. Boring. If, on the other hand, you worked 40+ hours, or had mononucleosis, or if you were in an abusive relationship - your GPA would be seriously mitigated. If you studied Classics at Chicago, or engineering at Cal Tech, have since been awarded a Ph.D. with distinction, or have been doing serious analytical work for a few or more years, it would be hard to argue that your GPA was the relevant metric by which to (even partially) judge your application.

The GPA, in my view, is not even worth glancing at, and in my capacity as my Top School?s admissions officer, I probably wouldn?t ask for it, and nor would I review it.

Essays and Statements

I would place the greatest emphasis in this part of the applications process.

I would consider my job as being one that is in the service of the faculty that will actually have to teach the incoming class that I am selecting, and more generally, in service of the school whose reputation and standing will be burnished or tarnished by this class and its accomplishments when they graduate.

I would like all of the people that I admit to be interesting, thoughtful, and original. I would like the class as a whole to be diverse in every way - along class, ethnic, racial, national, and geographic lines, as well as in terms of the disciplinary and work backgrounds that they represent. There is a diminishing marginal utility to enrolling white, male, 22 year-old Harvard graduates who majored in Economics. And this is not a matter of aesthetics so much, as it is a matter of the academic environment that my faculty has a right to expect, and of the educational experience that would most benefit the student body.

A Lit major, say, can bring to bear her/his knowledge of narrative theory, semiotics, deconstruction, and rhetoric in the analysis of judicial opinions, either in class or in study groups; an economist can shed some light on the problems with the Coase Theorem or with rational choice theory; a sociologist may chip in with insights on the interplay between law and institutions; an anthropologist can highlight some of the cultural assumptions that make our understanding of law, justice and its purposes contingent rather than absolute.

In any case, I would be most interested in three different (though perhaps interrelated) facets of an applicant?s suitability for my school: character, promise, background, and perspective.

I would, therefore, require three separate essays from applicants:

1. A Personal Statement of any length and on any subject whatsoever

2. A 10-20 page essay in response to the question ?What is justice??

3. An essay of any length in response to the prompt ?Why This School??

From the first essay, one can infer - from topic choice and from the way that it is written - what makes the applicant tick. I would not have believed this quite so much as I do if I had not read my fair share of personal and diversity statements from people here on LSD. Some of the statements were breathtaking in their honestly and vitality, and I found myself thinking that it would be really wrong if they were not to be admitted into the school of their choice. Other statements were not so great - they demonstrated little life, no passion for law or anything else, and one got the impression that law school was simply something to do for lack of plausible alternatives.

From the second essay, I would infer the originality, sophistication of the applicant?s manner of thinking, and would gauge the extent to which s/he has made a personal connection with law, which I believe to be important. I would not favor essays that told me what Bentham or some other geezer said over someone else?s honest effort to struggle through and come to terms with what justice means (or doesn?t mean) to them. I would look for an ability to range across multiple disciplines and perspectives, for subtlety and for thoughtful originality in the way that the essay was put together. This is what I would use as an alternative to a perusal of the GPA and transcript.

The third essay would serve to gauge the fit between the applicant?s hopes for a law school experience and the school?s hopes for a student body. Yale, for example, is not Harvard, and Columbia is not Chicago. Each school has a certain culture and tempo and this would be the place to identify the fit between applicant and school.

Interview

Unlike GJ, I would not interview widely. Distances and expense are too great for some and would put them at a disadvantage. There are, among the thousands of applicants, likely to be a handful that are hard cases: I would interview those people personally, over a couple of hours or so, in a coffee shop.


Work Experience

I would do away with an evaluation of work experience altogether. To he extent that events in one?s life have any significance, they will show up in the essays and statements. If they don't merit mentioning there, then they're really not as significant as all that, are they?


Conclusion

What does this add up to? What I believe to be a ?holistic? applications process:

a) the role of the LSAT is made explicit and its influence reduced;

b) the GPA/Transcript pretense is scrapped altogether;

c) a much greater role is awarded to self-expression in the form of three required essays

d) there is no role for work experience



The great emphasis on the LSAT and GPA allows little room for academic dishonesty. On the other hand, one can easily hire a great writer to conjure up a personal statement and responses to your questions.  Hence, an admission system weighted heavily on essays would make it easier for applicants to “beat” the system and damage the credibility of the application process.
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John Galt

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2006, 06:17:08 PM »
Bump for those thad didn't have the opportunity to read redemptions reply earlier.

SCgrad

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2006, 09:01:05 AM »
I'll keep this short,

I like the range thing for the LSAT.  I would have a bar and not go below it with the exception of extreme cases.  other than the bar, I would weigh the LSAT as 25% but more like 50% for merit scholarships for rankings prestige whoring purposes (other factors are shrunk).  I like 156-180, 1 point for each.

I would weigh GPA/WE at 25% with the ratio determined by years outside of college.  Straight out, 25% GPA, 0% WE, 1-3 years 16.66% to 8.33 percent GPA/WE, 4-9 years out 8.33 to 16.66, more than 10, 0 GPA 25% WE (WE would be subjectively ranked from 2.0 to 4.0.  GPA max would be 4.0.  nothing higher would matter).  The scale starts at a 2.0 GPA/WE which equals the same as a 155 LSAT, nothing.  4.0 equals same as a 180, 25 points.

20% personal essays.  one on anything (10), one on something law related that would change each year. and one on why are you unique (diversity sort of) (5 each)

10% ECs (with contact info.  call first one on list and rank worth 1-10.  Any left blank = -10)

10% Phone interview (same as above)

5% legacy (5 if you got it, zero if you don't)

5% AA (2% for being black, hispanic, or native, extra 3% if poor)  This would serve as a de facto tie breaker. Basically, it is like getting 2 or 5 LSAT points.

75% of scholarships would be merit based.  the other 25% of scholarships would be strictly for public interest students.  no scholarships for being poor or diverse. you get help getting in that way, but if you are poor and trying to get a fat job with a fat paycheck, unless you have the LSAT, etc., you get nothing.  of course, if you want to do public interest, you still apply.  This would be money doled out conditional on doing the PI program and staying in PI for at least 5 years (Signed contracts and the whole deal).  This program would make up at least 10% of the matriculating students.


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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2006, 09:20:15 AM »
Although this thread is a lot more detailed, I'd like to point you to this related discussion from the recent past: http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,51506.0.html
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Yale College Inferno

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2006, 11:34:08 AM »
Lol! I would rather have attractive males though.

Duh, mto. Eliminate women = more men = higher likelihood of hot ones!
I've seen too many hot LSD guys get rejected from the schools I'm likely to attend..  ;)
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redemption

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2006, 11:37:21 AM »
do we already have a consensus on exactly what sort of student body we want? 

Only a vague one: a student body that it would be a pleasure to teach; a student body whose members that would learn from each other; a student body (in my Top School case) that would have the highest chance of achieving extraordinary societal outcomes through law.

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mto83

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2006, 03:46:55 PM »
Lol! I would rather have attractive males though.

Duh, mto. Eliminate women = more men = higher likelihood of hot ones!
I've seen too many hot LSD guys get rejected from the schools I'm likely to attend..  ;)

yes, higher likelihood, but i wouldn't want to leave that up to chance. ;)

shaz

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2006, 02:56:33 AM »
"...the 35 year old war vet who got a 165 on the LSAT but who got kicked out of BYU for smoking pot and having sex with a mormon girl while drinking coffee."

truly, one of your best lines ever.  ;D


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lsatflunkie

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Re: Construct your own Admissions system
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2006, 10:44:05 AM »
I think I've been distracted by the sexual threads on the off topic side- I missed this thread entirely... ::)

First, chairman, I love your humor.  At first, as I read your post about women and law school, I was floored; then, as I continued reading, I realized you were joking- nice job confusing me while making my blood pressure rise :)

Second, Chairman, I think you've summed up why the LSAT shouldn't be so heavily weighed- good job.

I have to add my 2 cents and my years of experience and respond to Red's suggestion about  work experience not playing a role.  As someone who has been in the legal field for several years,  I am speaking from my personal experience with recent law school graduates and their lack of ability when it comes to certain aspects of the practice of law. While they have the skills to research an issue that arises and they have the ability to find cases on point to draft a memo of law or a motion, they sometimes lack the ability to make a simple decision on how to handle a particular situation without having some case in front of them to analyze and compare against or to the matter at hand.  I find this to be of great concern, especially since there's certainly a lot of cases of first impression- as obviously not all issues have been heard and tried.  A lawyer is supposed to be able to make quick decisions on how to handle a particular issue that arises in a moments notice- sometimes without a case to refer to or without a case bearing any comparison.  While one can pull some issue from a case not exactly on point to try to form an argument based upon that other case's issue- I think "lawyering" is more of an innate ability that is merely magnified by law school. Those that have the innate ability become the greatest lawyers.  And, while I think law school can teach "lawyering," I certainly do not think this is taught in the first year.  If one does not have the innate ability to think like a lawyer, then training one's mind to think like a lawyer comes from experience in real practice.  However, most law schools do not offer "real practice" clinical types of experience usually until the 3rd year.  Furthermore, we have to look at the countless LS graduates that despise what they do.  If there was a requirement of sorts- that each applicant spend 2 years in a legal environment, I think we'd have a much better representation of not only those who have the innate abilty to "lawyer" but also a better pool of lawyers.   

Which leads me to my next differing opinion- the LSAT.  The LSAT does not serve as a good measure for admittance to law school for several reasons.  While the LSAT measures one's ability to reason and to do so quickly, it does not measure one's ability to argue or to argue something that hasn't been argued before.  It does not measure one's ability to draft a compelling, well written argument. It does not measure one's innate ability to formulate an argument based upon a given set of facts, elements of law, and applying those facts to the law.  Except of course, perhaps the writing sample - which touches on this in a very miniscule way, but that isn't part of the score- so it doesn't count for much.  Utilizing the LSAT alone to measure one's success in law school is contradictory, since it merely measures one's success in the first year. (And  by measuring one's ability to "learn" the LSAT.)  Furthermore, how can success in the first year of LS be measured when there is not a fair representation of High LSAT scorers vs. Low LSAT scorers because the low LSAT scorers aren't getting into law schools in the first place?

Just some things to think about...