Law School Discussion

"soft factors" vs "hard factors"

"soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« on: July 13, 2006, 09:43:07 PM »
I'm curious as to why so many people on this board believe that the only factors that matter in your application are your numbers to the point where I'm getting the impression that most believe that the only time an adcomm will take more than a minute perusing through the rest of your application are if your numbers are "iffy."

I obviously understand a T14 outright rejecting someone with a 2.8, 152 without more than a cursory glance at other materials.

But why is there so much "your letters of reccomendation aren't that important," paranoia about adcomms not looking over your transcript to see an upward grade trend, and debate on the importance of a personal statement in admissions? Why would the adcomms even ask for these things if they didn't want them?

I honestly think that, while the LSAT is amazingly important, in some ways, the personal statement is even moreso. Because for every 3.8, 175 student, there are many, many more at that level and above. The personal statement helps distinguish you from the other 200 people with your stats.

I might be mistaken about the process or the views of the board, and if so, please lmk. I'm not trying to be confrontational or snide, just curious as to why we're such a number-centric crew around here?

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2006, 09:57:45 PM »
I was once like you... Surely there was some nobility to the process I thought... surely I was a person, not just another piece of paper in the pile...surely the adcomms will take interest in me as a person...

With the cycle well over now, for the most part, I have become a realist. Hard factors, I.E. your LSAT, especially, and your GPA, are ALL that matter 95% of the time. Yes, Yale will look at soft factors because they have an abundance of 175+ 4.0+ applicants... Yes, other top schools do the same to some limited extent. However, most of us, the only time soft factors make a difference is if you are borderline.

Which leads me to point number two. NO matter how cool you think you are, or how glamorous your resume looks... your life isn't nearly as interesting as about 500 other applicants in a given cycle. Lol.

So anyways... to sum it up, LSAT IS KING...which irritated me to no end when fools would say that about a year ago... now I realize it was I who was the fool for thinking otherwise.

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2006, 09:58:01 PM »
Well, even though I'm not one of these "numbers only" people, I think the numbers are the only way of positively knowing you will get in to X school.  Granted this isn't true for any of the top 20 schools, but I think if someone has a 165 and 3.9, they can have HORRENDOUS soft factors and still know they will get in for sure at nearly every 40-100 school.  On the other hand, great soft factors won't mean *&^% if you have a 2.8 and 150.  Essentially, numbers alone can get you in at many many many good schools, while soft factors alone can't get you in hardly anywhere.  That being said, they're both very important, especially at the top schools.

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2006, 10:13:28 PM »
I was once like you... Surely there was some nobility to the process I thought... surely I was a person, not just another piece of paper in the pile...surely the adcomms will take interest in me as a person...

With the cycle well over now, for the most part, I have become a realist. Hard factors, I.E. your LSAT, especially, and your GPA, are ALL that matter 95% of the time. Yes, Yale will look at soft factors because they have an abundance of 175+ 4.0+ applicants... Yes, other top schools do the same to some limited extent. However, most of us, the only time soft factors make a difference is if you are borderline.

Which leads me to point number two. NO matter how cool you think you are, or how glamorous your resume looks... your life isn't nearly as interesting as about 500 other applicants in a given cycle. Lol.

So anyways... to sum it up, LSAT IS KING...which irritated me to no end when fools would say that about a year ago... now I realize it was I who was the fool for thinking otherwise.

I am definitely not arguing that point. I said that a PS has the ability to distinguish you from other applicants -- just something that makes you memorable and not just numbers.

I went to jr. high school with a math/science genius, but when it was time to test for high school English, he was placed on the remedial track because "I can't express myself with words" (his words, I was in his class and he threw a hissy fit when he got his results back and it's stayed in my mind ever since). Now, I know this is Jr. High, but I honestly can't imagine that an adcomm would accept a 3.8, 180 on the spot before seeing that the candidate has straight A's except for 2 C's in his required composition classes and reading the PS and figuring out he can't write for sh!t.

Maybe I'm going to be like you, naive until my cycle is over, or just naive forever. It's not like I'm not studying for the LSAT or anything. It's just I can't wrap my head around the idea that all this hard work putting the application together is for naught (maybe it's practice as to how I'll feel when I am reading 100 pages for class during 1L in order to understand the meaning of one sentence on page 472, haha).

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Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2006, 10:31:08 PM »
I went to jr. high school with a math/science genius, but when it was time to test for high school English, he was placed on the remedial track because "I can't express myself with words" (his words, I was in his class and he threw a hissy fit when he got his results back and it's stayed in my mind ever since). Now, I know this is Jr. High, but I honestly can't imagine that an adcomm would accept a 3.8, 180 on the spot before seeing that the candidate has straight A's except for 2 C's in his required composition classes and reading the PS and figuring out he can't write for sh!t.

I don't think there are many posters here that imagine adcomms accepting any applicants 'on the spot'. However, if one's numbers are sufficient, it does seem that the applicant has to hurt himself in someway to get rejected, rather than stand out in order to accepted (with the exception of a very few schools). Writing an adequate, if not excellent, personal statement isn't too difficult for the vast majority of LSD posters.

By looking at LSN, there seems to be very few schools where the personal statement itself could have a significant impact on my admission, unless it was really good or really bad. With my numbers at least (3.83/172), I go from schools like NYU, where there were about 40 accepts and no rejects/WL with people with similar numbers to me, to schools like Columbia, where about 70% with same index as me got accepted, rest waitlisted (this is likely to be a school where my PS would matter) and then to schools like Harvard and Yale, where only one out of ten people with my numbers get accepted.

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2006, 10:53:57 PM »
Your argument is understandable, paige84.  It sucks, I agree, but it's inevitable.

Unfortunately, the most effective evaluation tool for them is the LSAT because it's easy: they only need to glance at the score.  On the other hand, soft factors require more deliberation to assess, which is both time-consuming and tiresome.

In other words, if an applicant has good numbers, adcoms just need to refer to the soft factors to look for a reason to REJECT the applicant.  Unless they find something fishy or awkward, they won't need to spend much time reviewing the application.  Easy as pie.
On the other hand, if an applicant has low numbers, adcoms must now refer to the soft factors to look for compelling reasons to ACCEPT the applicant, which is much more difficult.  Sadly, adcoms won't spend much time reviewing unless they immediately find something spectacular.

It hurts, I

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2006, 11:02:50 PM »
accidentally hit "Post."  :-[

anyway.

It hurts, I agree, but we can't expect all adcoms to be as altruistic as we would like.  To the adcoms, the admissions process is like gambling.  As much as they need to select competent applicants for admission, they need to avoid the risk of admitting an incompetent applicant who will not succeed academically.  They are working under stringent time constraints, and we can't really blame them for playing it quick and safe.

One fact that somewhat justifies their lack of a more effective assessment method is that transfer applicants are assessed almost solely on first year grades. 

ok, I'm done taking the side of adcoms.  you can shoot me now.  please.

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2006, 11:16:11 PM »
P.S.  I think it's a psychological thing - like the difference between $999 and $1000.50...I was a little upset when I found out my LSAC GPA was 0.02 lower than my transcript GPA.

don't you just love how gas stations take advantage of that to list gas prices??

(e.g. "$3.25 9/10). 

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Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2006, 12:10:44 AM »
accidentally hit "Post."  :-[

anyway.

It hurts, I agree, but we can't expect all adcoms to be as altruistic as we would like.  To the adcoms, the admissions process is like gambling.  As much as they need to select competent applicants for admission, they need to avoid the risk of admitting an incompetent applicant who will not succeed academically.  They are working under stringent time constraints, and we can't really blame them for playing it quick and safe.

One fact that somewhat justifies their lack of a more effective assessment method is that transfer applicants are assessed almost solely on first year grades. 

ok, I'm done taking the side of adcoms.  you can shoot me now.  please.

On the plus side, a numbers based admissions process gives us a decent understanding of where we fit in relation to our peers.  Could you imaging picking schools without being able to use numbers as a big indication of the possibilities?  Plus, you know what the rules are when you start the game.  You know you need a good GPA and a High LSAT... as opposed to having no concept about what is "good" and what is "average" etc....

I"m not saying numbers based is perfect, but it does have some advantages for the applicant.

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2006, 12:20:24 AM »
accidentally hit "Post."  :-[

anyway.

It hurts, I agree, but we can't expect all adcoms to be as altruistic as we would like.  To the adcoms, the admissions process is like gambling.  As much as they need to select competent applicants for admission, they need to avoid the risk of admitting an incompetent applicant who will not succeed academically.  They are working under stringent time constraints, and we can't really blame them for playing it quick and safe.

One fact that somewhat justifies their lack of a more effective assessment method is that transfer applicants are assessed almost solely on first year grades. 

ok, I'm done taking the side of adcoms.  you can shoot me now.  please.

On the plus side, a numbers based admissions process gives us a decent understanding of where we fit in relation to our peers.  Could you imaging picking schools without being able to use numbers as a big indication of the possibilities?  Plus, you know what the rules are when you start the game.  You know you need a good GPA and a High LSAT... as opposed to having no concept about what is "good" and what is "average" etc....

I"m not saying numbers based is perfect, but it does have some advantages for the applicant.

That's a good point. ive never really thought about that.