Law School Discussion

"soft factors" vs "hard factors"

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2006, 12:22:30 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.

I definitely think that numbers are an important factor in admissions, and I'm glad to use them to give myself a general idea of what I need to get into my 1st choice. I would never suggest not using hard factors. But if it was all about hard factors, wouldn't adcomms just ask for numbers, then "waitlist" the borderline applicants and ask them for supplemental materials, much like the waitlist process works now? I understand what everyone is saying on this thread about how they're used to divide the middle applicants, but what I don't understand are the posts that say "don't worry about your PS, your numbers will get you in" (esp to some applicants who are shooting for T14). I would hope the T14 are more discriminating than other schools, not only in terms of test scores, but in terms of everything else.

Maybe I'm being way too optimistic though...

But Cassise, yours is an interesting point that I think begs another question. Is it because we are "desperate" applicants trying to figure out where to apply/where we can get in, that we base our interpretation of the admissions process, for the most part, on these numbers?

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2006, 12:47:37 AM »
but what I don't understand are the posts that say "don't worry about your PS, your numbers will get you in" (esp to some applicants who are shooting for T14).

Paige, my advice is to disregard those posts.

as i said before, if you have the numbers, adcoms will just refer to your soft factors to see if there are any reasons you shouldn't be admitted.  even if you have a 4.0 and 180, you won't get into a T14 if your PS said, "Just look at my numbers baby."

people have many different views on this topic.  in the end you'll have to reach your own conclusion. 

SouthSide

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Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2006, 12:59:06 AM »
but what I don't understand are the posts that say "don't worry about your PS, your numbers will get you in" (esp to some applicants who are shooting for T14).

Paige, my advice is to disregard those posts.

as i said before, if you have the numbers, adcoms will just refer to your soft factors to see if there are any reasons you shouldn't be admitted.  even if you have a 4.0 and 180, you won't get into a T14 if your PS said, "Just look at my numbers baby."

people have many different views on this topic.  in the end you'll have to reach your own conclusion. 

This is true. The numbers are by far the most important thing in the application, but they don't make you an auto-admit, at least for the schools with national reputations. I don't think anyone would get in to any of these schools with a PS riddled with grammatical errors, for example. Take the whole application seriously, and you stand a much better chance of getting into those reach schools than someone who just assumes it's all about the numbers.

nukelaw

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Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2006, 11:39:20 AM »
To echo my numberstwin and fellow jaded/realist poster Sdevante, in almost every case, hard factors, especially LSAT, is king. I think Sdevante and I had above average soft factors (unique and detailed work experience, graduate degrees, a clear statement of how we intended to use a JD in our current professions, etc.). Yet both of us ended up at schools that we could've picked through LSN, Chiashu, or the ABA calculator.

I believe this is at least in part a result of the scarce resources in law school admissions offices. They have a high volume of applications, and far less people to review and read them compared to undergrad. Shear time constraints demand that readers be able to review an application in less than ten minutes. The first thing that distinguishes the appliation are the numbers as an easy way of comparing apples to apples when a plethora of paralegals, poli sci majors, and former Capitol Hill interns discuss their plans to devote their lives to public interest, international law, or other noble goals.

Take a look at who Georgetown is letting in off the waitlist right now on LSN. I'm one point off their LSAT cutoff from appearances, but they would rather take a sub-3.0 GPA with a 170+ LSAT to maintain their position in the US News rankings. That's just the way the game is played.

The best move you can make is to ace the LSAT and put yourself into contention at the best school whose median numbers you meet. You should still carefully prepare your application packet (i.e. - LOR's, personal statement, dean's certifications, etc.) and turn it before Thanksgiving, because while hard factors can guarantee denial at a school, they rarely assure admission at a T-25 if you screw up the application (i.e. - listing wrong name of school in personal statement or other glaring typos).

nukelaw

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Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2006, 10:14:35 AM »
As someone who very clearly got into the schools I got into based on my soft factors (and possibly an act of God), I feel like I should say a few words.

I'm sure your 174 LSAT didn't hurt.

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2006, 11:40:41 AM »
Ya i think it was more the 99th percentile LSAT that helped you.

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2006, 01:37:45 PM »
Ya i think it was more the 99th percentile LSAT that helped you.

I think it's unfair to completely discount austen_girl's schooling in Singapore.  Sure, a 174 would get her foot in the door, but her unique experience kept her fresh in the adcomm's minds.

Austen_girl -- I love how you described the "cool factor." And thanks for your anecdotes in which numbers don't matter as much. It's nice to see proof, even if it's an exception to a rule, that at least sometimes, adcomms will deeply consider the personal statement.

3) I think people on this board drastically underestimate the importance of the personal statement. And it's too often homogenized into this 2-page, minimally creative, but not particularly risky, eminently skimmable, piece of boringness.

Ditto. I'm working my a$$ off on mine now bc my numbers are probably going ot be "average" or just above "average" for my top choice and I need something to distinguish me from the crowd.

I'm going to pm you too...I have some questions abt your uber-long PS.

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Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2006, 07:12:26 PM »
<sigh>

Hey folks,

Feel free to check out the old posts from Sdevante and me at the beginning of this cycle. We were once idealists as well, but an admissions cycle will give a lot of folks a reality check.

Austen - Your LSN says you were able to avoid reporting your GPA through LSAC, so I imagine an adcomm's first impression was the 174 LSAT, which probably colored a lot of the other discussions afterward on your application packet. I find your friend with the 157 LSAT getting into Harvard (if non-URM) more impressive. Splitters always end up better with a high LSAT and low GPA. Heck, we might as well not even bother talking about high GPA/low LSAT as splitters.

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2006, 11:46:20 AM »
I think the thing that keeps me lying awake at night is the "close call".  My GPA and LSAT are both just above the 25th percentile for Harvard.  Are they really going to admit someone else over me just because they correctly answered two more questions on the LSAT?  Or because their GPA was .03 points higher?  Or is that the point when soft factors DO come into play?

Re: "soft factors" vs "hard factors"
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2006, 12:28:18 PM »
And if I might chime in on a different note... perhaps the 7 page PS worked for Austen girl...

But it makes you look either incapable or unwilling to follow directions/rules...which is bad in a profession dedicated to analyzing rules for a living.