I think it's a good idea to invest in applying to the reach schools. **Say you estimate you have a 10% chance, and spend $720 applying to the 10% schools. You have a good chance of acceptance at one of them but let's say it's still just 50%.** If you do get accepted and attend, you're likely to earn >$10,000 more per year starting than you would have at your safety/regular schools.

So for $720 you take a 50/50 risk of earning $10,000 +

Sounds like a good investment to me.

Of course this assumes you will attend those schools, those schools cost relatively the same amount (etc. etc.)

Edit: I'll make you a deal. I'll front you the $720 cash, but on terms that you have to go if you get accepted, and I get 50% of the marginal difference in your first three years salary compared to the average starting salary of the school you pick as where you would have gone otherwise.

I've been wondering about the reliability of this sort of calculus. My s.o. did some stat stuff for me when I got my LSAT to make me feel better, and told me that applying to 4 schools where I have a 25% chance gives me a 75% of getting into one of them.

I guess from a purely statistical standpoint this is true, but just from trolling through LSN and looking at where people get in, this doesn't seem to be borne out in real life. My guess is because admissions calculators/school-supplied grids give inflated estimates of admissions chance? It just seems to me that people don't actually get into schools where they have a "25% chance" 25% of the time.

Granted, 9 out of my 12 apps went to reaches, so I don't really know what I'm talking about.

Oh I wholly agree. What the pure statistics don't include are the soft factors. Getting in at the bottom 25% of the pool might include mostly/only those with excellent soft factors that the applicant may not have - and this is something I considered when making out my own applications. I may be in the borderline of some T14s but I lack any solid soft factors, which almost surely dropped me down to 0% if you factor in the lack of those compared to other candidates. Likewise, a 180/4.0 with a criminal record that requires several pages of addendum will probably exclude you from a lot of schools.

But even if you cut your odds down further still, spending $1,000 or even $2,000 on reach schools if even for a 3-5% chance of earning $X more per year makes sense, especially if you're still young where it could mean that amount factored over 30-40 years of your career.