Law School Discussion

Admissions Process Q&A: The Inside Perspective

Hurley97

Admissions Process Q&A: The Inside Perspective
« on: September 20, 2004, 08:08:39 AM »
First, I'd like to thank you all for your LSAT advice so far on the other "...after a 159.." thread.

I feel that I would like to give back to this community and so I am starting this thread.

For the past year I have been employed as a Clerk in the law-admissions office of a top-20 school.  When employed, I had to sign a confidentiality agreement, but I won't be violating it by giving you information here.  Most of the details I must keep confidential are things that you wouldn't want to know about anyway (how to get into the office after hours, where they keep the file-room key, etc.)

My hope is that I can help to ease some of the fears out there by making the admissions process a little more transparent.  It is often easier to prepare for something when you know exactly how it works.  There is a lot of folklore out there, and having reviewed hundreds of applications and asked several questions at the office, I believe that I would be able to help some people here.

So, ask away!

Lipper316

Re: Admissions Process Q&A: The Inside Perspective
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2004, 08:15:48 AM »
ever hearany adcoms make fun of the applicants, liike, "is this guy crazy applying here, AUTO-REJECT!! GET OUTTA HERE!!!!!!!!"

Hurley97

Re: Admissions Process Q&A: The Inside Perspective
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2004, 08:22:34 AM »
I can't believe that this is the first question.  I'll go for it anyway.

One time we got an application submitted online in which the person listed "drug dealer selling crack to school kids" in his employment history.  He even listed suppliers as reference contacts.  Under "experience" he listed a couple prisons he served time in.

Needless to say, he was not accepted and the admissions committee handed it over to the police.  I highly doubt that anything in the essay was legit anyway, but he needed to pay the $70 to submit it online, that is what confuses me.  Perhaps he found a loophole and/or hacked his way in.

The admissions people tried to take each and every application as seriously as possible, and when they rejected/accepted someone the reason was always noted in the file.  They were very thorough and efficient in case the applicant called to ask for reasons behind their decisions, or if an applicant wanted to appeal.

So, no I never actually heard them speak in a derogatory way about any applicants

Re: Admissions Process Q&A: The Inside Perspective
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2004, 08:28:39 AM »
What kind of application package gets the best reception - electronic or paper? For paper applications, do things like paper type/quality, font size/type, etc. make much difference? I'm asking because these subjects get a lot of attention here on these boards, and they're silly little details that are driving me crazy now that I've gotten all the big worries out of the way (LSAT, LOR's, PS, etc)and it's time to start actually applying.

Hurley97

Re: Admissions Process Q&A: The Inside Perspective
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2004, 08:46:55 AM »
Kaycee,
  This is a fantastic question, and I am glad to have the opportunity to answer it, really. I think that there is a lot of myth out there regarding this so hopefully this will put an end to it once and for all. 

Electronic vs. Sending it in

Whether an application is sent in via the mail, or submitted on-line, it will reach the admissions committee in paper form.  Each night, a law office will leave the printer on and the electronic applications will print, forming a large stack of between 2 and one hundred applications.  These applications are organized by clerks and work-study students.  The process is supervised, so you don't have to worry about human error (however, there is something you should know about).

I would highly suggest submitting online for the following reasons:

1. When you submit online, all of your info is automatically uploaded to the database.  This means that an admissions-office worker will not need to manually type in all of your details to establish your file.  The people who do the data-entry are NOT involved in the admissions-decision committee, so you will not be giving the office an opportunity to give a closer look to your application as it has been believed. 

2. Your file will get through the process more quickly and smoothly.  When the online applications print out, a label sheet is printed afterward.  These labels get stuck on folders and the online applications are placed inside.  Your application is officially on file, and another form with the online-applicants names on it is printed and sent off to LSAC to order your LSDAS report.  Those who submit via mail will need to wait until the admissions workers input their info, and when things get really busy around late November/early December there are often several tubs of back mail piling up and full of applications.  During this time, electronic applications are still processed daily, so they get to the committee faster.

3.  Applications that are manually mailed in are disadvantaged not only because of a slow input process, but also because of the risk of human error.  When the office starts getting A LOT of mail, they need to find a way to speed up the process.  Most offices have an electronic mail-opening machine that the clerks use because it is tough to manually open those thick envelopes by hand.  One time, a clerk didn't pat down the envelopes like she should have, and it sliced everyone's applications in half!  I freaked.  When I was matching up letters of recommendation to files, I found a bunch of letters taped back together through the middle.  I knew exactly what caused it. :)

The admissions committee knows that these kinds of things happen, so it is not like they look down on an applicant when they have a taped-up application.  However, it only makes the nice applications stand out more, and you are at an advantage by applying online.

Hurley97

Re: Admissions Process Q&A: The Inside Perspective
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2004, 08:49:31 AM »
Now, let me get to your second question.

Appearance of the Application:  Paper Quality, Presentation, etc.

A little perspective....

Here is what you need to keep in mind as we approach this topic.  Those who have high LSAT scores and high GPA's, and especially from well-known schools, do not need to worry about too much.  As long as they have all of their info submitted on time, and they spell their name right, they will get in.  I'm talking about people with 175 LSAT's and 3.9 GPA's.  Those with scores that are much lower (140's and 2.5's) will only help themselves out by applying to a lower-tier school.

Everyone else in the middle, and that means most of us, will need to read this very carefully.

Admissions committees usually will see an application as soon as it is finished.  That means the application has been submitted, the LSDAS report has been ordered and matched up with the file, and all of your signature letters, certifications letters, and application payments have been complted.  Admisssions people will either read the files while they are working or they may even take a stack home with them.  Last year, a bunch of admissions readers came by and took a tub or two home with then during the Christmas break!

A little more perspective...

Those who fall within this 'middle' category have their applications read one, two, sometimes up to three times.  However, don't get discouraged.  It is amazing how many of these people knock themselves out of contention right away.  Some people forget to fill in sections of their application (SS#, work experience, last name, etc.)  Some people fill out their application in pencil, pink-colored ink, or even CRAYON!!  Not wise..

By having a clean application, typed (ideally submitten online), and well-written you will already be ahead of 30-40% of the people you are up against.


Stylistic Paper, and Special Folders

You can do this, but in my opinion it doesn't count as much as just submitting a clean application with a good personal statement, on-time and maybe early (before January/February).  Before Thanksgiving would be ideal if you would really like them to read your application thoroughly.  Online applications are printed on high-quality white paper anyway, so it is best to just stick with that.  If you really think that you will stand out, then you could submit your resume on nice, manilla-colored paper, but you would need to submit it manually and early.  Be sure to include your SS# on the resume so that they can match it to your file right away.

Some applicants like to submit their applications inside special folders, hoping to draw more attention to their packet.  This is not a good idea.  The admissions committee only reads an application once it is sorted and filed in its own folder.  Those special 'extras' get tossed right away, or the clerks use them to hand in a paper for one of their classes. 

My advice?  Just put all of your energy, time, and money into submitting a very clean and professional application.  Believe me when I tell you that not many people do this.  They print out a crappy application on nice paper.  Your application will stand out if you just pay attention to detail.

Also, don't ever send an angry or snobby email to the law office.  They usually print out all correspondance and they can possibly put it into your folder.

Additional Materials

Some people do what the chick in "Legally Blonde" did by submitting a video tape of themselves.  Others submit books they'vewritten, books they've READ, or newspaper articles about them.  One person even included a tapestry that they made.

Not a good idea.

Remember, you need to make your application simple and clear.  Those extra materials get placed in a large bin somewhere mysterious, and the admissions committee never sees them.  Sure, they have your data attached to them, and a small note goes into your application that you included something, but when the admissions people have thousands of applications to read there is really no time to go searching for a CD-ROM or a tape.




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Re: Admissions Process Q&A: The Inside Perspective
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2004, 08:54:40 AM »
Does name drop, or having an influencing person calling the dean
increases an applicants chances of getting admitted?  If the student gpa/lsat fell within the 25%/75% range of the school. 

thanks.

louieleftwing

Re: Admissions Process Q&A: The Inside Perspective
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2004, 09:05:09 AM »
My questions have to do with the selection process itself and how the rankings game is played...

I know many schools use an index number to get an overall idea of an applicant's potential or for sorting purposes. But, in playing the rankings game, an index number isn't as valuable as LSAT and GPA medians. Do schools set target medians, and if so, when in the application season do they do this?

Also, say a school sets target medians of 166 and 3.6. This is what they feel they need to stay competitive in the rankings. Say Student A has a 3.4/164 and Student B a 3.0/166. In this case, Student A's index is higher, but he gives the adcomm none of the median targets. Student B's index is lower, but he gives the school at least one target median. Do schools even go through a thought process where it may be argued that Student B is actually more valuable? Have you seen examples of B types chosen over A types for just this reason?

Thanks!

Hurley97

Re: Admissions Process Q&A: The Inside Perspective
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2004, 09:15:53 AM »
Does name drop, or having an influencing person calling the dean
increases an applicants chances of getting admitted?  If the student gpa/lsat fell within the 25%/75% range of the school. 

thanks.

It couldn't hurt if you had a heavy hitter call the office, but there is no guarantee that the person whom your friend speaks with will be the same person who reviews your application.

If your grades fell then it is to your advantage to submit an "addendum" which briefly describes:

1.  The semester/year/period in question

2.  The circumstances leading to the grade drop (don't whine though, just be professional and clear)

3.  Evidence that it was only a one-time thing.  Show past and subsequent semesters in which your graded went back up again, etc.

Re: Admissions Process Q&A: The Inside Perspective
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2004, 09:22:22 AM »
What types of UG majors does the Adcom view as difficult majors, if there are any?
If there are, do they view them differently or give more weights?

What types of UG schools does the Adcom view as difficult schools, if there are any?
If there are, do they view them differently or give more weights?