From a 162 to YLS - a case for retaking

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
bobloblaw7

New
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:40 pm

From a 162 to YLS - a case for retaking

Postby bobloblaw7 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:28 pm

I have been meaning to write this for years, and I feel bad for not doing so earlier. TLS is the reason I was accepted at Yale and I figure I owe it to the site to share my story to maybe help others who are struggling. Since freshman year of college, my law school goal was Stanford, and I knew that it would always be a long shot, but nevertheless that’s where I set my sights.

This is mostly about the LSAT, but for context, I am a first generation college student, grew up in the rural Midwest and graduated from a very low ranked large public university with a 3.97 GPA.

I first took the LSAT in 2011 in my last semester of college after taking a Kaplan course I received for free from a raffle type thing. I got a 162 and was pretty disappointed. Two close family members had passed away right before I took the test, and I was pretty sure it affected my score. I immediately signed up to take the test again and prepared my applications in the meantime. I got my second score, a 169, just in time to apply to 12 schools, basically the top-14 minus Harvard and Yale and a few regional schools near me.

I was accepted to every school but waitlisted by Stanford. The best scholarship opportunities I had were half rides at Duke and Northwestern, and a small scholarship at UChicago. After reading countless TLS posts, I decided to wait another year and try again, hoping more work experience would help. At that point, the idea of taking the LSAT again was too daunting so I decided not to retake.

The following year, I applied to 8 schools, including (of course) Stanford. I was accepted to all but waitlisted by Stanford again. I had followed up on my application the year before with one LOCI, and did so again shortly after being waitlisted the second time. I was very, very close to accepting a half-tuition scholarship at UChicago (as in I walked to the mailbox with my deposit check and acceptance letter signed), but I couldn’t get this Stanford goal out of my head. Again, after lurking through TLS I finally decided the right thing to do was to take ANOTHER year and to retake the LSAT.

I moved across the country and got a low-paying job where I earned just enough money to get by and dedicated all the remainder of my time to the LSAT. For 6 months I treated it like a full time job. I also took other aspects, like my emotional and spiritual health, very seriously so that I could be as best prepared on test day as possible. The work paid off – I ended up scoring a 174. (though really, after that much time and work, how did I not score even higher?? That test is fucking hard.)

So I finally had what I needed, a solid GPA (3.97) and a 174 with interesting work experience and three years to perfect my personal statements. In case it’s helpful, I wrote an addendum about my initial score of 162 and individualized all of my personal statements. I had two generic recommendation letters from professors and then individualized the third (my third for YLS coming from a TA). I applied to 7 schools this time: Yale, Harvard, Stanford, UChicago, Northwestern, Berkeley and a regional school. I got into all seven, with a full ride from Northwestern.

Obviously, I ended up at Yale. Why not Stanford? Honestly, when I got there, I realized I had a big chip on my shoulder about being waitlisted for so long. I was accepted 2 years, 7 months and 4 days after my first application. It was hard to be around straight-throughs who seemingly got in easily (of course that’s not true, they worked very hard and were geniuses, but I felt a big inferiority complex). Why not Harvard? The name alone was very tempting, but I had a negative experience during my visit and didn’t want to spend three years in that environment. When I visited Yale, I had only applied my third year, so I didn’t feel like I wasn’t as good as everyone else. At Yale, I felt welcome and like I fit in with all of these super weirdos. It’s such a cliché and I hate to repeat it here but it really is an incredibly unique place where every single person has an interesting story and incredibly diverse interests.

Actually being at Yale is another topic – I can confidently say that waiting three years and taking the LSAT three times was worth it to get into Yale. Now, anyone can retroactively justify his or her decisions and I am sure that if I had gone to UChicago that first year I would be saying that that was the right decision for me. But the point of this thread is to give hope to retakers – and I’m here to show that it can be done and in a lot of cases, should be done.

In the three years I applied to law schools, I took a cross-country road trip, fell in love, worked at both wonderful and totally shitty places, challenged myself, and came into my own. I was so ready to go back to school by the third year. Law school felt like three years of vacation where my only responsibility was learning, an incredible luxury you can appreciate even more when you have been working in the real world for a while. While at Yale, I traveled across the world doing human rights work, met the most interesting people, (honestly) partied even harder than in college, all without worrying about grades. I now work in the Midwest where my salary is the equivalent of making $335,536 in New York City.

I know this won’t be applicable to some people, but I think it will be to a lot of you, especially those just graduating from college. I am sure you can come up with reasons why your situation is different, and why you really can’t take more time to retake. I’m also sure this all sounds like it was an easy breezy plan that all worked out fine (and it did!) but it was a really tough process. I felt crazy at times for turning down scholarships at good schools (and was certainly made to feel so by friends and family) and I felt wholly incompetent at other times that I couldn’t reach this one goal and that I was never going to be good enough. I felt like both an idiot and a failure every day of those three years, but I just kept holding out for better. Law school is a huge commitment, and it would be irresponsible to not do everything in your power to get into the best law school possible with the most scholarship money as possible. Sometimes you just need someone to say 'I believe in you, you can do better because you ARE better.' For me, that was TLS. I hope this thread can give a few people hope/motivation and that I can in some small way pay forward everything TLS gave me over those three years. Okay, sorry, rant over!

TL;DR: I took the LSAT three times over the course of three years, applied to law schools 27 different times and ended up at YLS. Please retake!

icechicken

Bronze
Posts: 302
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:09 pm

Re: From a 162 to YLS - a case for retaking

Postby icechicken » Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:59 pm

Great post. Thanks for this.

cavalier1138

Gold
Posts: 4954
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:01 pm

Re: From a 162 to YLS - a case for retaking

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:01 pm

Can we sticky this?

rc8

New
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2014 9:47 pm

Re: From a 162 to YLS - a case for retaking

Postby rc8 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:57 pm

wow this is inspiring. thank you for this.

User avatar
Prudence

New
Posts: 100
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:39 pm

Re: From a 162 to YLS - a case for retaking

Postby Prudence » Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:21 pm

This is awesome. Just a thought, did u change your personal statement each year you applied or did u just update it/make slight changes?

damask_rain

New
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:14 pm

Re: From a 162 to YLS - a case for retaking

Postby damask_rain » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:56 pm

I needed this today. Everyone is telling me to not waste a year of my life retaking the LSAT, but I have bigger goals.

peege

New
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:21 pm

Re: From a 162 to YLS - a case for retaking

Postby peege » Thu Dec 28, 2017 3:45 pm

This was really good to hear after spending months convincing my parents why time off will be worth it.

User avatar
Johann

Diamond
Posts: 19700
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:25 pm

Re: From a 162 to YLS - a case for retaking

Postby Johann » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:41 pm

Glad it worked out for you but waiting 3 years is not the best thing given everyone’s life circumstances. This is just anecdotal evidence the same way y’all bash it when it suits your narrative.

I also got a 162 on my first take and didn’t retake, which has worked out well for me. Not that anyone should use that story as a reason not to retake.

Lots of times, retaking is the smart thing to do, especially when one can do so in the same year without delaying their life. But sometimes, delaying your life 3 years is not the best solution for that person. For example, you might have received the same outcome with your initial law school choices from duke for a cheaper price.

The right law school for the right individual is an inherently personally specific decision and TLS should learn that.

cavalier1138

Gold
Posts: 4954
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:01 pm

Re: From a 162 to YLS - a case for retaking

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:05 pm

Johann wrote:Glad it worked out for you but waiting 3 years is not the best thing given everyone’s life circumstances. This is just anecdotal evidence the same way y’all bash it when it suits your narrative.

I also got a 162 on my first take and didn’t retake, which has worked out well for me. Not that anyone should use that story as a reason not to retake.

Lots of times, retaking is the smart thing to do, especially when one can do so in the same year without delaying their life. But sometimes, delaying your life 3 years is not the best solution for that person. For example, you might have received the same outcome with your initial law school choices from duke for a cheaper price.

The right law school for the right individual is an inherently personally specific decision and TLS should learn that.


Most people don't have to wait three years, and the vast majority of people screaming about how they absolutely, positively cannot retake are around the age of 23.

Everyone can wait three years for law school. Most people just don't like thinking about it.



Return to “Law School Admissions Forum?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests