Re: Extracurricular activities

<p>I've been lurking on cc for awhile now, but I've been hesitant to post anything because I haven't taken the LSAT yet (and I'm aware that the LSAT is one of the most, if not the most, important, factors used for admissions). The main reason I've been putting the LSAT off is my hesitation about whether I would even have a chance at the T14 with a good LSAT + GPA, given my almost complete lack of extracurricular activities. I am an incoming senior at a top public university and I have a 4.09 LSAC weighted GPA (3.99 unweighted).</p>

<p>Most online forums I've looked at have given me the impression that admissions are based almost solely upon LSAT scores + GPA; what worries me, however, is that law school admission sites seem to indicate otherwise -- claiming that while LSAT +GPA are important, they are not the only things that matter. If I am able to score well on the LSAT (i.e. > 170), do I have a shot at T14 schools even if my extracurriculars are really weak (as in nonexistent)? I work about 20-25 hours per week, so that is my only "extracurricular" activity, if it can even be called such. Would I have a shot if I had good essays and very strong letters of recommendation? Is it too late to try to pad my resume with activities during my senior year? And would it be a good idea to take a year off to work before I applied?</p>

<p>Thanks in advance for any feedback.</p>

<p>Don't listen to the adcomm's ********. It's 98% GPA+LSAT, just as everyone says. They just don't want to admit it because it makes them look bad.</p>

<p>The fact of the matter is that most people need more than just outstanding LSAT scores and GPA to get into top law schools. However, without scores that are "in the range" for a given law school, you are highly unlikely to get in. </p>

<p>In other words, you need to be above the 50th percentile of LSAT and GPA scores at top law schools to have a decent chance of being admitted. Once you are "in the range", it is your personal statement, recommendations, work experience, extracurricular activities, interests, activities in the community, demographic factors, etc. that will determine who from the large pool of people with scores "in the range" will actually be admitted. </p>

<p>It is not wise to listen to reports that so-called soft factors are going to make up for otherwise lacking LSAT scores and GPA. It is similarly unwise to listen to reports that it is all about your LSAT score and GPA (unless you have perfect scores, in which case you were never in the pool of people with scores "in the range", but rather floating above that pool).</p>

<p>@sallyawp</p>

<p>I guess what I'm wondering is whether soft factors would matter if I managed to score high enough on the LSAT to put me above the fiftieth percentile for T14 schools (which I realize is no small feat).</p>

<p>Generally, your soft factors are not going to make your 168 on the LSAT look like a 174. However, when compared with others with similar LSAT scores (within a couple of points) and similar GPAs, your soft factors make all the difference. </p>

<p>How else would law schools choose among so many candidates with similar scores?</p>

<p>"However, when compared with others with similar LSAT scores (within a couple of points) and similar GPAs, your soft factors make all the difference."</p>

<p>On what do you base this claim?</p>

<p>@EMM1 - What criteria do you believe law schools use to make determinations among similarly situated candidates for admission? Do you believe that top law schools simply ignore personal statements, letters of recommendation and resumes?</p>

<p>My statement makes sense rationally, and based on my experience with the admissions process over the years, is an accurate representation of how the system at many (if not all) of the top law schools works.</p>

<p>My advice to you is not to go to law school.</p>

<p>I know that is not what you want to hear, but there are way way way too many lawyers.</p>

<p>I was given this advice thirty years ago, and dismissed it (foolishly)</p>

<p>^^So if someone has a passion to be a lawyer (or any career for that matter), they shouldn't do it just because the job market is weak?</p>

<p>You have a good GPA, and if your LSAT score prediction is correct you should be able get admitted into good law schools. Will it be financially affordable? You will have to figure that out.</p>

<p>"My statement makes sense rationally, and based on my experience with the admissions process over the years, is an accurate representation of how the system at many (if not all) of the top law schools works."</p>

<p>Did you actually sit in on the admissions decisions?</p>

<p>@EMM1 if not by extra factors such as the aforementioned, how is it that law schools will distinguish between two numerically statistical cacandidates? throw some darts and see which application gets hit and that person is accepted? um... no. It is such factors that determine one candidates desirability over another</p>

<p>Your error is assuming that there are enough numerically qualified applicants for them to be picky about extracurricular activities. This is only the case at places like Yale, etc.</p>

<p>^I agree.</p>

<p>Almost everyone with the stats to get into Harvard get in.</p>

<p>Now I'm perfectly willing to believe that that each of these schools gives some consideration to truly extraordinary ECs (major league baseball players, Nobel Peace Prize winners, etc.) But unless someone who has actually sat on an admissions committee at one of those institutions (not some self-styled admissions "expert") tells me otherwise, I remain skeptical about the significance of the significance of ordinary ECs at even the very top law schools.</p>

<p>For some reason, they cut off the first part of the message. Here are actual numbers:</p>

<p>About 150,000 took the lsat last year.
Approx. 50% registered twice.</p>

<p>Taking</a> the LSAT</p>

<p>Figure two thirds of those actually took it twice.</p>

<p>That gives us 125,000 test takers, giving 1250</p>

<p>Figure one third of those (conservatively) are not absolute top students.</p>

<p>That gives us about 825, and there are differentiations among them.</p>

<p>Total entering class at Harvard, Yale, and Stanford a little over 900.</p>

<p>Figure 10% URMs who need bumps (reported figures include other groups).</p>

<p>You do the math.</p>

<p>You don't know me, and you certainly don't have to listen to my advice.</p>

<p>However, when you do a significant amount of recruiting from top law schools over a period of many years, as I have done, law schools do a whole heck of a lot to sell their students to you. That includes meetings with admissions staff who walk you through their processes. Law schools often reveal statistics and qualitative data about their students that are not available to the general public. </p>

<p>I guarantee that law schools rarely tout high LSAT scores as a selling point. Instead, the admissions professionals talk about the writers, doctors, investment bankers, accountants, teachers and former military officers among their students. They talk about the moving personal statements they have read, and the persuasive letters of recommendation presented to them. They assure us that they created a diverse class to foster classroom discussion and debate. The proof is in the many interesting and well-rounded students I have met over the years. </p>

<p>So, no, I have not actually sat in on admissions decisions, but I doubt that EMM has either.</p>

<p>I'm not the one who claimed to know that extracurricular activities played a significant role in the admissions process. But in any event, this discussion has no real world importance. Law school aspirants should worry about getting all A's and being in the 99th percentile on the LSAT. If it happens they don't get into HYS, they'll get into Columbia, Penn, etc. and still have very good job prospects, even in this market.</p>

<p>Okay, so you want to talk numbers . . . </p>

<p>LSAC</a> - LSATs Administered</p>

<p>This chart shows that over 155,000 LSATs were administered in 2010-2011, over 171,500 were administered in 2009-2010, and over 151,000 were administered in 2008-2009. Considering that a significant number of law students at top law schools have years of work experience under their belts before applying, it is conservative to look back to three years of test takers (the measure could arguably be 5 years. So, 477,500 LSATs were administered over the last three years. </p>

<p><a href="http://www.lsac.org/LsacResources/Research/TR/TR-11-01.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.lsac.org/LsacResources/Research/TR/TR-11-01.pdf&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>This research report discusses repeat LSAT takers. Between 20% and 30% of all LSAT takers are repeaters. We'll use 30% as the most conservative estimate.</p>

<p>Therefore, if 477,500 LSATs were administered, and 30% were repeaters, than there were approximately 334,250 unique test LSAT takers that may apply to law school during any given cycle.</p>

<p>So, how large is the pool of applicants who are "in the range" for T14 law schools in any given year?</p>

<p>Approximately 4% of all test takers will obtain a 168 or higher on the LSAT. Therefore, there are approximately 13, 370 potential applicants in that pool. </p>

<p>Approximately 3% of all test takers will obtain a 170 or higher on the LSAT. Therefore, there are approximately 10,000 potential applicants in that pool. </p>

<p>The following is the most recent T14 information available:</p>

<p>In Yale's class of 2014, 3173 people applied, 252 (8%) were admitted and 205 matriculated. </p>

<p>In Harvard's class of 2013, 7610 applied, 833 (11%) were admitted and 561 matriculated. </p>

<p>You can do the math on the rest if you wish. Approximately 4,600 students matriculate at T14 law schools every year. Many of those students have applied to several, if not all, of the other T14 law schools. Therefore, the pool of candidates with qualifying LSAT scores is several times larger than the number of potential applicants with numbers "in the range". Sure, some may not have the requisite grades. Of course, not everyone who takes the LSAT will apply to law school in a given year.</p>

<p>The fact remains that because applicants typically apply to more than one T14 law school, there are many, many more applicants with high LSAT scores that put them "in the range" than there are spots in the T14. Some applicants will be admitted to every law school to which they apply. Some will fail to be admitted anywhere. The difference is in the personal statement, letters of recommendation and resume. </p>

<p>I will leave you with a quote from the Stanford Law admissions blog (January 2011):</p>

<p>
[quote]
At this stage in the game, there a three groupings of completed applications – easy admits, easy denies and those in a holding pattern. This latter group is the largest by far right now. These are candidates whose files are strong, but I’ve put them on “hold” until I see the larger pool or see something else that will convince me to nudge the application into one of the other two groups – hopefully the one with the corresponding thick envelope. If you’ve received notification indicating that your file is in review and you’ve not heard from us, treat this as an opportunity to update your file. What you submit may be that nudge I need. Keep in mind, that this is not an invitation to clutter my in-box with non-essential information or to call me with weekly updates. Although I really don’t mind chatting with you on the phone or opening up yet another email, I suspect my time is better spent reading applications. So, use your best judgment when thinking about how to update your file.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>As I have other things to do and this is getting tiresome (and, as I suggested above is of no practical value) this will be my last post</p>

<ol>
<li><p>The idea that the relevant pool is 455,000 is (fill in your favorite prejorative term). While I don't know of any empirical study, the most plausible assumption is that most credible candidates for T14 schools will apply once and only once--whether it be in the year that they take the LSAT or some other year. Therefore, counting all three years together is fundamentally misleading.</p></li>
<li><p>The question is not LSAT's alone, but LSAT's and grades alone, which reduces the pool greatly.</p></li>
<li><p>168 is not even in the range for a standard white candidate at Yale Law School.</p></li>
</ol>

<p>Yale</a> Law School | Entering Class Profile</p>

<ol>
<li><p>If you take that statement from the Stanford admissions blog at face value, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for you to look at. Most of the applications might be formally on hold at some point in the process but the admissions officer will know that most of them are going right in the trash unless something dramatic happens in the world. Further, there is nothing in the statement that suggests that the rest will not fall into line statistically as the process moves forward.</p></li>
<li><p>Anyone who knows anything about the law school world knows that deans live and die with the US News rankings--even at the below HYS T14 level. Penn wants to beat Columbia, Georgetown wants to be above Michigan, etc. In order to compete in the rankings, they need to pursue the applicants with the best numbers, period.</p></li>
<li><p>I have no doubt there will probably be some true statistical ties for the last three or so positions in the admissions process at some or all T14(not the difference between 171 and 173, or 3.85 and 3.9 gpa, but true statistical ties). In trying to allocate those three positions among say five candidates, I don't doubt that the admissions officer will read personal statements to see if something jumps out at her. But the question was not about personal statements (even though I suspect that in most cases they will also be of limited significance) it was about ECs. Ask yourself--if you were an admissions officer at a prestigious law school would you want to take the time to sift through resumes to see who was in the marching band?</p></li>
</ol>

<p>Over and out.</p>