Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

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DerekMeeker

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:41 pm

AccountExpired wrote:Dear Dean Meek,

Do you think a school will have a soft quota for the number of international students (without GPA) in their class? I have a competitive LSAT for a school I want to go. However, I am a late January applicant and that school has already admitted an unusual number of international students this year. I am afraid they do not want any more internationals.

Thank you in advance for any input!


Hi there. Really, it's more about 1) whether your LSAT will help their statistics, 2) you wrote a compelling application, and thus are someone they'd see as contributing to the class and law school community, and 3) whether you articulated why law school in the US and what your career goals are. If by "competitive LSAT" you mean at or above the school's median, then you should still be competitive even as a later applicant if you accomplished 2 and 3. They have to see you as someone who will add value and be employable. If you're below the median LSAT, it is more difficult to get admitted later in the process because you have have neither an LSAT nor GPA that helps their stats (better to apply early in the cycle in that situation, in which case your soft factors may be enough to sway them).

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby pjohnstron0626 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:26 pm

Dean Meeker,

Thanks so much for all the wisdom! I was wondering, at this stage in the cycle, what the best way to ask for merit consideration would be? Also, could you provide some insight on double (or even triple) depositing? If a school makes a small merit offer, what are the best ways to ask for that offer to be increased? Let's say a kid has an original offer from a school like Michigan for lets say 10k/year and a larger offer from a school like ND, let's say 25/year. Should we be proactively reaching out to other schools we have been admitted to and disclose our offers and interest for merit consideration? What do you think?

Ultimately, law school is a big commitment. After getting in, how can kids give themselves a better chance to get a small award if they are below medians (I.e. lucky to have even gotten in)?

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:18 pm

RJ20 wrote:Dean Meek,

I just had two quick questions for you. My apologies if they have been answered already:

1. Is any substantial weight or consideration placed on what particular undergrad institution you attend--particularly one in the T10--or is it all about your cumulative GPA at the end of the day? Is it really just a numbers game?

2. Are study abroad programs (i.e., exchange programs to Oxbridge, LSE, etc.) looked upon as additional softs if they are composed of actual, rigorous courses taught by faculty from the respective university? Or do they elicit a more neutral, perhaps even a negative response (compared to just being at your own school for that semester)?

Thanks for all your help!



Hello. Undergraduate institution is definitely considered as part of the application review (and I would say the more selective the law school, the more weight it is given). Basically, it is a distinguishing factor among applicants with similar numerical credentials, and can also give an applicant a boost if his or her numbers are right around a school's margins (e.g., just below medians.) The bottom line is, there are many applicants (to the top schools) that have either both an LSAT and GPA that are above the school's median, or one or the other above median. Within this pool, particularly the splitter pool, the admissions committee will only be able to make a certain number of admissions offers (and scholarship offers for that matter); quality of undergraduate institution is among the factors considered when making those choices. Attending a top 10 undergraduate institution can be a significant boost for splitter candidates; a school is more likely to admit a splitter applicant from a top-ranked school. If you are a graduate of a top-ranked undergraduate school and are a splitter candidate (or just below medians), apply early, apply broadly, and go for serious reaches.

As to your second question, you've basically answered it: it really depends on the quality of the institution, program and coursework. So, yes, it absolutely can be an additional soft in the example you present.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby Iwanttolawschool » Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:09 pm

Hey Dean Meeker, Thanks so much for all your help.

I also have a question about deposits, sorry.
If I just don't deposit at a school, am I considered withdrawn? I know this may vary school to school, but for example WUSTL's website says "your seat in the class may be lost".

I was wondering if I could just not deposit to schools which have not offered me enough money yet, but then email them the day after the deposit (presuming they now have a refilled bank of money to redistribute) asking to be considered for a higher scholarship?

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:40 pm

pjohnstron0626 wrote:Dean Meeker,

Thanks so much for all the wisdom! I was wondering, at this stage in the cycle, what the best way to ask for merit consideration would be? Also, could you provide some insight on double (or even triple) depositing? If a school makes a small merit offer, what are the best ways to ask for that offer to be increased? Let's say a kid has an original offer from a school like Michigan for lets say 10k/year and a larger offer from a school like ND, let's say 25/year. Should we be proactively reaching out to other schools we have been admitted to and disclose our offers and interest for merit consideration? What do you think?

Ultimately, law school is a big commitment. After getting in, how can kids give themselves a better chance to get a small award if they are below medians (I.e. lucky to have even gotten in)?


Well, the best position to be in for scholarship negotiation is to have a scholarship offer from a peer school (or at least one that is closely ranked) to your desired school. Michigan is unlikely to be swayed by an offer from a school that is ranked #22 (especially for a difference of $15k/year). That said, it never hurts to ask, especially in this market. But whether you have a scholarship offer from a peer school or a lower-ranked school, my advice is to do more than simply present that offer and ask for scholarship consideration (or reconsideration as the case may be); also make a case as to why they should award you a scholarship (or higher one). This presents an opportunity for you to showcase your advocacy and persuasive writing skills. Why is the school the best fit for you/your goals, and more importantly, how will you contribute? I know — you may be thinking: didn't I prove that already through the application process; isn't that why I got admitted? And maybe if you are in the position of already having a scholarship offer from a peer school AND having an LSAT and GPA the school may need (i.e., at or above medians), you don't need to advocate so much. But the fact of the matter is, as the dean of admissions, I was certainly more inclined to reward someone who approached the process from the position of — here is why I think your school is a great fit for me, and why I am a great fit for your school — and did so in a way that was professional, mature, and articulate (i.e., illustrated stellar communication and interpersonal skills - someone I want as an ambassador for my school). So, in short, yes, be proactive, but be truthful, respectful, and gracious, and make the extra effort to show what you have to contribute/how you would be a great ambassador. The cost of attending law school is exorbitant, and obviously, your ROI is of the utmost importance. So you should be asking tough questions and seeking any financial assistance you can get; just do so in a way that shows you're also worth the investment.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:22 pm

Iwanttolawschool wrote:Hey Dean Meeker, Thanks so much for all your help.

I also have a question about deposits, sorry.
If I just don't deposit at a school, am I considered withdrawn? I know this may vary school to school, but for example WUSTL's website says "your seat in the class may be lost".

I was wondering if I could just not deposit to schools which have not offered me enough money yet, but then email them the day after the deposit (presuming they now have a refilled bank of money to redistribute) asking to be considered for a higher scholarship?


Hi there. Schools have definitely become more flexible in the current market with regard to deadlines, and the WUSTL language is leaving the door open. That said, the better practice would be to contact them before the deadline — even if it's a day or 2 before the deadline. You can request an extension on the deadline and reconsideration of your financial package. It's not as if the day after the deadline, they'll know exactly where they stand in terms of deposits and accepted scholarship money. They'll have a pretty good sense, but it's always a moving target (and even more so in this market). Current yield, deposit extensions, applicants holding multiple seats, continued scholarship negotiation, and waitlist activity of higher-ranked schools (of which there will likely be quite a bit) will continue to affect the "bank" over the next few months. Point is — waiting until the day after the deposit deadline is not going to make a significant difference, and it is better practice to engage with them beforehand.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby RubyRod » Fri Mar 27, 2015 3:36 pm

Dear Dean Meeker,

Thank you for offering to take questions. I'm not sure how much you will be able to speak to this, but two of the schools I'm considering are going through changes in their law school deans. One is starting with the class of 2018, the other school's dean has announced a plan to step down and is just waiting on a replacement. Does this create an negative side effects for students, or is it something that will not necessarily affect us directly?

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby Zadleez » Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:06 pm

Good afternoon Dean Meek,

I have a 3.9 GPA from Mizzou and a 160 LSAT. During the interview process, my interviewer seemed concerned I wouldn't get enough of a scholarship and mentioned that the school would consider the June LSAT if I decided to take it. I am admitted now and currently have a 45k scholarship. I would just like to know if you have ever heard of that before and what my results could possibly be if I told them I would take the June LSAT

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Tue Mar 31, 2015 5:58 pm

mec896 wrote:Dear Dean Meeker,

Thank you for offering to take questions. I'm not sure how much you will be able to speak to this, but two of the schools I'm considering are going through changes in their law school deans. One is starting with the class of 2018, the other school's dean has announced a plan to step down and is just waiting on a replacement. Does this create an negative side effects for students, or is it something that will not necessarily affect us directly?


Hi there. That is not something that should affect you directly. There are unlikely to be radical changes, particularly if the school has been doing relatively well in terms of enrollment and placement. If you are comfortable with the quality of the school's reputation, curricular offerings, culture, and, most importantly, what your cost will be vis a vis likely employment opportunities, that is what matters most. That said, as you consider your options, this does give you the opportunity to look at the deans' past records, i.e., how their prior schools fared under their leadership (if they are coming from leadership positions at other schools), and to ask what the priorities and goals of the new administration are. How committed are they to improving the professional development (and placement) of their students - and increasing financial aid? This could provide you with some additional insight as you choose your school.
Last edited by DerekMeeker on Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:10 pm

Zadleez wrote:Good afternoon Dean Meek,

I have a 3.9 GPA from Mizzou and a 160 LSAT. During the interview process, my interviewer seemed concerned I wouldn't get enough of a scholarship and mentioned that the school would consider the June LSAT if I decided to take it. I am admitted now and currently have a 45k scholarship. I would just like to know if you have ever heard of that before and what my results could possibly be if I told them I would take the June LSAT


Interesting that THEY brought up this topic first. It sounds like they are trying to gauge how interested you are in attending and what it will cost to get you to enroll. The reality is with a 3.9 GPA, you are at or above every law school's median GPA (except Yale's 3.91), so raising your LSAT would absolutely position you for more scholarship money, not just at this school, but at a number of other schools as well. But only you know based on your past experience with the test and your preparation whether that is even realistic. Also, are you satisfied with your admission and scholarship offers at this point? Feel free to PM me if you want to chat in a bit more detail.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby iVi » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:37 am

deanmeekerconsulting wrote:
Zadleez wrote:Good afternoon Dean Meek,

I have a 3.9 GPA from Mizzou and a 160 LSAT. During the interview process, my interviewer seemed concerned I wouldn't get enough of a scholarship and mentioned that the school would consider the June LSAT if I decided to take it. I am admitted now and currently have a 45k scholarship. I would just like to know if you have ever heard of that before and what my results could possibly be if I told them I would take the June LSAT


Interesting that THEY brought up this topic first. It sounds like they are trying to gauge how interested you are in attending and what it will cost to get you to enroll. The reality is with a 3.9 GPA, you are at or above every law school's median GPA (except Yale's 3.91), so raising your LSAT would absolutely position you for more scholarship money, not just at this school, but at a number of other schools as well. But only you know based on your past experience with the test and your preparation whether that is even realistic. Also, are you satisfied with your admission and scholarship offers at this point? Feel free to PM me if you want to chat in a bit more detail.


To piggyback on the OP's question, is retaking in June for the sole purpose of upping an existing scholarship offer a reasonable strategy? Specifically interested in how an increased score could affect grant awards at T14s, assuming the school didn't bring it up in the first place since that seems very unusual.

My worry is that, as someone fully committed to attending this cycle (barring perhaps a miraculous 180), schools will have made all their scholarship commitments by the time scores are released in July, meaning that a few extra points would matter little. I believe I can do better, and a two- or three-point bump would put be at or above the median at nearly every school on my list, but if there's no upside I'll save myself the time and stress.

In case it's relevant, my GPA is median at the lower T14s and below at the rest.

Thanks in advance~

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:02 pm

deanmeekerconsulting wrote:
Zadleez wrote:Good afternoon Dean Meek,

I have a 3.9 GPA from Mizzou and a 160 LSAT. During the interview process, my interviewer seemed concerned I wouldn't get enough of a scholarship and mentioned that the school would consider the June LSAT if I decided to take it. I am admitted now and currently have a 45k scholarship. I would just like to know if you have ever heard of that before and what my results could possibly be if I told them I would take the June LSAT


Interesting that THEY brought up this topic first. It sounds like they are trying to gauge how interested you are in attending and what it will cost to get you to enroll. The reality is with a 3.9 GPA, you are at or above every law school's median GPA (except Yale's 3.91), so raising your LSAT would absolutely position you for more scholarship money, not just at this school, but at a number of other schools as well. But only you know based on your past experience with the test and your preparation whether that is even realistic. Also, are you satisfied with your admission and scholarship offers at this point? Feel free to PM me if you want to chat in a bit more detail.
iVi wrote:
deanmeekerconsulting wrote:
Zadleez wrote:Good afternoon Dean Meek,

I have a 3.9 GPA from Mizzou and a 160 LSAT. During the interview process, my interviewer seemed concerned I wouldn't get enough of a scholarship and mentioned that the school would consider the June LSAT if I decided to take it. I am admitted now and currently have a 45k scholarship. I would just like to know if you have ever heard of that before and what my results could possibly be if I told them I would take the June LSAT


Interesting that THEY brought up this topic first. It sounds like they are trying to gauge how interested you are in attending and what it will cost to get you to enroll. The reality is with a 3.9 GPA, you are at or above every law school's median GPA (except Yale's 3.91), so raising your LSAT would absolutely position you for more scholarship money, not just at this school, but at a number of other schools as well. But only you know based on your past experience with the test and your preparation whether that is even realistic. Also, are you satisfied with your admission and scholarship offers at this point? Feel free to PM me if you want to chat in a bit more detail.


To piggyback on the OP's question, is retaking in June for the sole purpose of upping an existing scholarship offer a reasonable strategy? Specifically interested in how an increased score could affect grant awards at T14s, assuming the school didn't bring it up in the first place since that seems very unusual.

My worry is that, as someone fully committed to attending this cycle (barring perhaps a miraculous 180), schools will have made all their scholarship commitments by the time scores are released in July, meaning that a few extra points would matter little. I believe I can do better, and a two- or three-point bump would put be at or above the median at nearly every school on my list, but if there's no upside I'll save myself the time and stress.

In case it's relevant, my GPA is median at the lower T14s and below at the rest.

Thanks in advance~


Hi there. Whether retaking the June LSAT for the sole purpose of upping an existing scholarship is a "reasonable strategy" really depends on each individual's circumstances (e.g., their current LSAT and UGPA, likelihood of increasing the score, how many times they've already taken the LSAT, the schools at which they have offers, the likelihood of those schools engaging in negotiation. etc.). But the fact of the matter is, there have been T14 schools that have negotiated based on June LSAT results. I wouldn't say it happens a lot, but that door has been opened in the past. There is a dearth of 170+ LSAT scorers in this application cycle, so they are in high demand. So if you can get there on the LSAT, you will have a very valuable commodity and some schools will be open to negotiating. Feel free to shoot me a PM with your specific numbers and what your current options are.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby AnonymousApplicant » Fri Apr 10, 2015 12:52 pm

Hi, thank you for everything that you are doing here, the help is much appreciated. But basically, I just have one question: how much do grades from one's masters degree program matter when one's law school application is being evaluated. I'm working on a masters degree now, on scholarship and from an Ivy League school, and anticipate graduating in May with a 3.48 gpa (they don't actually give gpa's but it is possible to calculate anyway). Though this is not necessarily bad, it is lower than my undergraduate gpa, which was a 3.79. Will this be a problem for me? IF it weren't for this, I think that I would be able to put together a pretty competitive application, being that I on top of my undergraduate gpa, my LSAT scores will be high (that is, if prep tests are any indicator) and that I am an AA male. I'm just worried however about my graduate gpa. So what do you think -- should I be worried, or is it not really all that big of a deal?

P.S. Please don't quote my post if you can help it, I intend to alter it later because I don't want my identity to be inferred from what I've written. Again, thanks.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby Broncos15 » Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:55 pm

Hello,

Would i be impacted in a negative way from any URM advantage if I am struggling in a Spanish course in UG?

I was born and raised here but my mother is Hispanic. Because of the influence i have had Spanish spoken around the home and was exposed to it....but not so much the grammatical nuances in a course. I feel having this influence helped me test out of Spanish 1 and 2 at my UG institution since I got the credits without prior studying..., but then in Spanish 3 I felt totally unprepared since the teacher gave us exercise problems without teaching the material or giving an explanation to the correct answers

Now I am in Spanish 4 ( the most advanced one needed for my graduation) ....and struggling since this is my first time getting formal teaching in a Spanish course in 5 years.


From a URM perspective: would struggling in this course and getting a C ( which is a possibility, although a B is very possible at this point as well) hurt me anymore than a C in a History course for example

The reason I ask is because Adcoms will look at how being a URM has made you a diverse applicant that brings a unique and different perspective, not just simply checking off an ethnicity box on LSAC or your application. ...While grades are certainly not the only way to show that a URM has a diverse perspective to bring to the law school community and there are other ways to dispay this such as student involvement on campus, i think grades do give some key info ( for instance in a hypo if you had a Hispanic student getting C's and D's regularly , it is not a far leap for Adcoms to think the Spanish background has influenced them less compared to another Hispanic applicant who made A's in all Spanish coursework)

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:26 pm

Broncos15 wrote:Hello,

Would i be impacted in a negative way from any URM advantage if I am struggling in a Spanish course in UG?

I was born and raised here but my mother is Hispanic. Because of the influence i have had Spanish spoken around the home and was exposed to it....but not so much the grammatical nuances in a course. I feel having this influence helped me test out of Spanish 1 and 2 at my UG institution since I got the credits without prior studying..., but then in Spanish 3 I felt totally unprepared since the teacher gave us exercise problems without teaching the material or giving an explanation to the correct answers

Now I am in Spanish 4 ( the most advanced one needed for my graduation) ....and struggling since this is my first time getting formal teaching in a Spanish course in 5 years.


From a URM perspective: would struggling in this course and getting a C ( which is a possibility, although a B is very possible at this point as well) hurt me anymore than a C in a History course for example

The reason I ask is because Adcoms will look at how being a URM has made you a diverse applicant that brings a unique and different perspective, not just simply checking off an ethnicity box on LSAC or your application. ...While grades are certainly not the only way to show that a URM has a diverse perspective to bring to the law school community and there are other ways to dispay this such as student involvement on campus, i think grades do give some key info ( for instance in a hypo if you had a Hispanic student getting C's and D's regularly , it is not a far leap for Adcoms to think the Spanish background has influenced them less compared to another Hispanic applicant who made A's in all Spanish coursework)


Hi there. If the grades you got (or will get) in your Spanish 3 and 4 courses are inconsistent with (i.e., lower than) the majority of your grades in other courses, you could certainly write a brief addendum to explain why you struggled in these courses. Otherwise, I don't think you need to be too concerned. There is not an assumption that you, a native English speaker, would necessarily excel in advanced Spanish courses because you have a Hispanic parent and had exposure to the language in your home.

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby Keilz » Sat May 30, 2015 8:38 pm

Dear Dean Meeker,

I read this entire forum and was amazed at the amount of information I learned. Thank you for your wonderful answers so far!

I have a few questions as I am starting to really make some decisions about applying this Fall.

My last practice test I got a 168, and I believe that I can achieve a 170, or even a 172 by October when I am planning on taking the test. I have a 3.73 in international relations from a top ten public university.

1) My GPA started well with a 3.6, but I got two 3.3 semesters end of freshman year/start of sophomore year. After that, I got two 3.8s, two 3.9s and ended my final semester with a 4.0. Is there anything I should do to highlight this trend? Is it a large enough trend to make a difference? Once I decided I wanted to finally pursue law, I became very disciplined with my studying and that's what caused my grades to go up. Also, how would my GPA fare for Penn (where I really want to go!), considering it's below the median but my most recent coursework was 3.8-4.0? Would these schools take this trend into account?

2) I am an assistant paralegal at an immigration law firm. My firm does pro bono work and I have inquired about assisting at our pro bono events, but I have yet to attend anything, even though I would like to help! Would having this experience help me OR would not having this experience hurt me in anyway? I saw that in the Penn values essay one of the values was pro bono work, and I would love to be able to discuss an experience with my firm's efforts, but worry I won't be able to be involved in time.

3) I was very involved in undergrad with positions I had many years experience in (president of the orchestra, RA, unit leader at a camp, etc.) but during the last year working I have been focusing on work and studying for the LSAT, so I haven't had any activities. Would this hurt me?

4) I have a recommendation in from one of my professors, and my orchestra conductor who is also a professor has agreed to write one. Would schools want more of an academic recommendation? While my professors always knew my name because I participated so much in class, I didn't feel that I really knew a professor more than the one who has already written me one. I am also thinking about asking my supervisor at work, or one of the attorneys who I work closely with as I write a lot of cases and they both review my casework. Is this helpful? Both my supervisor and the attorney review my casework equally, would it be better to ask the attorney, or my supervisor? Would this even help since I've only been at my job for a year?

Thank you again! These questions have been plaguing me for awhile!

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:09 pm

Hi there. Thank you for reaching out. I'm glad to hear you found the information helpful. My responses to your other questions are below.

Lynnb wrote:Dear Dean Meeker,

I read this entire forum and was amazed at the amount of information I learned. Thank you for your wonderful answers so far!

I have a few questions as I am starting to really make some decisions about applying this Fall.

My last practice test I got a 168, and I believe that I can achieve a 170, or even a 172 by October when I am planning on taking the test. I have a 3.73 in international relations from a top ten public university.

1) My GPA started well with a 3.6, but I got two 3.3 semesters end of freshman year/start of sophomore year. After that, I got two 3.8s, two 3.9s and ended my final semester with a 4.0. Is there anything I should do to highlight this trend? Is it a large enough trend to make a difference? Once I decided I wanted to finally pursue law, I became very disciplined with my studying and that's what caused my grades to go up. Also, how would my GPA fare for Penn (where I really want to go!), considering it's below the median but my most recent coursework was 3.8-4.0? Would these schools take this trend into account?

Yes, you can write a brief addendum to explain why your grades were lower in those two semesters. I don't know if there were any other circumstances that affected your performance, but if it was simply a matter of not being focused or disciplined enough and perhaps not managing your time or priorities appropriately, you could explain that. Own the mistake, make it clear that you learned from it, and express how you changed your behavior (e.g, prioritizing school work, engaging with professors, modifying your study habits, i.e., whatever changes you implemented to improve your academic experience and grades). Based on that "evidence," emphasize that your last five semesters are more indicative of your potential in law school. Keep it tightly written and concise; you should be able to address it in a half page.

While Penn places great emphasis on GPA, the admissions committee thoroughly reviews the academic record and takes into account rigor of coursework, quality of institution, and grade trends, as well as how that fits into the applicant's experience overall. Evidence of strong writing is taken seriously, as well as professional skills development, so keep that in mind as you compile your application. Those things will further compensate for a "below median" GPA.


2) I am an assistant paralegal at an immigration law firm. My firm does pro bono work and I have inquired about assisting at our pro bono events, but I have yet to attend anything, even though I would like to help! Would having this experience help me OR would not having this experience hurt me in anyway? I saw that in the Penn values essay one of the values was pro bono work, and I would love to be able to discuss an experience with my firm's efforts, but worry I won't be able to be involved in time.

There is no doubt that pro bono work or community service is looked upon favorably in the admissions process, but it won't hurt you not to have it. It is more important that your application is genuine and reflective of you, your perspective, your goals. The admissions committee cares more about the substance of the work you are doing, i.e., how it is challenging you, the skills you are learning and honing, the broader perspective you are developing as a result, and less about the type of work. In other words, the more sustained work you have been doing and the skills you have been honing as a paralegal are going to be more valuable in your application. A very short stint or limited experience in any type of work isn't going to add a whole lot to your file. If you are genuinely interested in the pro bono opportunities at your firm and have the time to get involved, then do it. There is tremendous value to be gained, personally and professionally, from that type of work. But don't feel you need to do it for the admissions process. And here is a tip with regard to that Penn values essay: you want to write a focused and substantive essay. Many applicants write Penn essays that reference several of those values; they try to throw in as much as possible and the result is a shallow essay with little value (pun intended!). You want to hone in on a few values that really resonate with you and that you can back up with a substantive and genuine discussion.


3) I was very involved in undergrad with positions I had many years experience in (president of the orchestra, RA, unit leader at a camp, etc.) but during the last year working I have been focusing on work and studying for the LSAT, so I haven't had any activities. Would this hurt me?

No. I think given the type of work you have been doing in the last year, and the longevity, diversity and quality of your other activities will be just fine. Besides, as you are well aware, the LSAT will do more at this point to bolster your application and your chances for admission to a top school.


4) I have a recommendation in from one of my professors, and my orchestra conductor who is also a professor has agreed to write one. Would schools want more of an academic recommendation? While my professors always knew my name because I participated so much in class, I didn't feel that I really knew a professor more than the one who has already written me one. I am also thinking about asking my supervisor at work, or one of the attorneys who I work closely with as I write a lot of cases and they both review my casework. Is this helpful? Both my supervisor and the attorney review my casework equally, would it be better to ask the attorney, or my supervisor? Would this even help since I've only been at my job for a year?

When you are applying directly from college or a few years out, most schools (top schools in particular) do prefer 2 academic letters. But the quality of the letters is really what matters. You want letters from people who know you well and can provide substantive, specific information. Having additional strong letters from others, such as an employer or advisor for a student organization, is ideal. So, in short, the 3 letters you have mentioned would be great. Your orchestra conductor and your employer can discuss skills and attributes that are vital to success in law school and in practicing law, such as discipline, focus, leadership, interpersonal skills, maturity (in the case of your orchestra leader), and judgment, writing, analytical, and communication skills (in the case of your employer) to name a few. As to whom should write the employer letter, if both review your casework equally and know you equally, then go with your supervisor. But if you feel the attorney knows you better because you interact more frequently and openly, then go with the attorney.

Thank you again! These questions have been plaguing me for awhile!


You're welcome. Best of luck!

starsandstripes41

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby starsandstripes41 » Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:33 pm

Hello Dean thanks for all this great information! I have really enjoyed reading all of your great responses.

As for my question and I apologize if this question has been asked already...I have only gotten to page 6 in the thread so far. I am an active duty Marine now stationed in Japan. Obtaining my Bachelor's degree online (Penn State World Campus) seems to be the only feasible option right now. How much with this impact my school choices and is there any way to minimize the damage if any through personal statements etc. Is a Top 14 school a realistic option if GPA and LSAT are at or above median? Thank you for your time! I look forward to reading your response.

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Talarose

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby Talarose » Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:25 am

If I am an extreme splitter, what is the latest date you suggest applying? I took the June LSAT. The only reason I registered for it was because I thought the June test date was the best option for applying early. That being said, I don't feel as if I was prepared for it, especially still being in school and dealing with finals. I anticipate a 170, but my goal was a 179/180. Do you recommend canceling my score? Is that even a factor in the admissions process? And if I take the October LSAT, should I wait to apply until I get my results? Will sending in my application with a 170 and then sending in the October Score make a difference? Sorry for the over abundance of questions. I'm just trying to understand the purpose of score canceling on the LSAT and how the October test will affect my admissions cycle. Thank you in advance!

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DerekMeeker

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:49 pm

starsandstripes41 wrote:Hello Dean thanks for all this great information! I have really enjoyed reading all of your great responses.

As for my question and I apologize if this question has been asked already...I have only gotten to page 6 in the thread so far. I am an active duty Marine now stationed in Japan. Obtaining my Bachelor's degree online (Penn State World Campus) seems to be the only feasible option right now. How much with this impact my school choices and is there any way to minimize the damage if any through personal statements etc. Is a Top 14 school a realistic option if GPA and LSAT are at or above median? Thank you for your time! I look forward to reading your response.


Hi there. I'm glad you've enjoyed reading the thread.

I will be very direct in saying that obtaining your BA online could negatively impact your application at the top schools. While online education is becoming more common, based on my experience (and recent discussions with colleagues at top law schools) faculty are still skeptical of the quality and rigor of online programs. I do think there are certain schools that will be more open to your application if that is the route you decide to go, and I'd be happy to discuss if you want to send me a private message. But to get to the crux of your question, i.e., how can you "minimize the damage," having an absolute stellar academic record is imperative. And, as you note, an LSAT that is above the school's median (and ideally 75th percentile) would also help. Those two factors will be the most compelling because they get to the heart of the issue, which in the faculty or admission committee "mind" will be: does this person have the appropriate academic training and analytical and critical reading/thinking skills to succeed not just in law school, but in our law school. You have to show them that you do - by taking and excelling in courses that will require extensive writing, research, critical reading, and analytical/problem solving skills. And, of course, by nailing the LSAT. :) Aside from that, you will want to focus on your unique strengths, particularly those that are important for success in law school and for success as a lawyer: discipline, focus, commitment, MATURITY, judgment, and strong interpersonal, teamwork, and communication skills. These are all skills that I am sure you have honed and mastered via your military experience. One of the things that has become increasingly important in the admissions process is: Is this person employable? Thus, showcasing qualities and skills -- based on actual experience -- that are relevant and desirable to legal employers will beef up your application and further compensate for the online degree program.

Do let me know if you have other questions. And best of luck!

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:07 pm

Talarose wrote:If I am an extreme splitter, what is the latest date you suggest applying? I took the June LSAT. The only reason I registered for it was because I thought the June test date was the best option for applying early. That being said, I don't feel as if I was prepared for it, especially still being in school and dealing with finals. I anticipate a 170, but my goal was a 179/180. Do you recommend canceling my score? Is that even a factor in the admissions process? And if I take the October LSAT, should I wait to apply until I get my results? Will sending in my application with a 170 and then sending in the October Score make a difference? Sorry for the over abundance of questions. I'm just trying to understand the purpose of score canceling on the LSAT and how the October test will affect my admissions cycle. Thank you in advance!


Hello. Whether to cancel is truly a personal decision because only you can assess your performance level on that test (or at least make an educated guess!) Keep in mind that having a cancellation or a lower test score (if you retake in OCT and do better) on your record will not affect your application; in other words, there really is no penalty with either option. That said, if you really feel like you bombed the test and are predicting that your score will be well below the level at which you were scoring on practice exams, cancellation may be the better option. The one thing to keep in mind with having two test scores is that, the greater the disparity, the greater expectation for an explanation (via an addendum). Most of the top schools state on their websites that they want to see an explanation when there is a significant disparity (~more than 5 points). My recollection from when I checked several months ago (there's a post somewhere in this thread!) is that Harvard, Berkeley and Northwestern were the only schools that explicitly stated on their websites that they simply "take the higher score." I don't want to overstate this point, though, because the reality is that pretty much all schools take the higher or highest score. It is just that many of them expect an explanation when there is great disparity between scores.

I would advise you to submit your application no later than November. That will still be very early in the process. Thus, you can wait until you get your score, but you should have your application ready to go so that you can pull the trigger shortly thereafter. Let me know if you have other questions!

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby sideout09 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:38 pm

Hello. Thank you for your service here. I have a bit of a non-traditional flavor to my application, and I think someone with your experience will be better suited to answer these kinds of question given my unique-esque experience/background.

I graduated in 2009 from Berkeley with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. My GPA was 3.1 and let's say my June LSAT score is going to be around 165, given my PTs up until that point. Reasons for my low GPA is a combination of immaturity during my first couple semesters, ~20 hr workweeks throughout sophomore and junior years, and getting into a bicycle accident one semester when I took a few weeks off from classes but did not withdraw due to financial reasons (I don't know if that's legitimate or naive, but there it is). Since graduation, I've worked at a couple different engineering companies, and during the last two years, I've been working as a patent engineer for a reputable IP law firm doing patent prosecution. I have every intention in becoming a patent attorney, and I believe I can write a compelling personal statement regarding this. My recommendations will most likely come from the partners at my firm including one of whom is a lecturer at a local law school and with whom I took a patent law class. I'm wondering what your thoughts are at my chances of getting into a top 20 school like UCLA, USC, and Northwestern? I've heard that Northwestern might be doable given that they have a reputation of favoring people with work experience. Any other school? If these schools seem unlikely, would you recommend taking the LSAT again in October (assuming the 165), and if so, what should my target score be?

Lastly, I've been reading that schools are starting to seriously consider a candidates' marketability. While I don't mean to be haughty about this, I've been told that my background in EECS combined with my experience with patent prosecution make me very marketable for patent law, but I'm not sure how much this plays into my admissions chances. If you can shed some light into this, that would be great too.

Once again, thank you very much.
Last edited by sideout09 on Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Talarose

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby Talarose » Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:47 pm

deanmeekerconsulting wrote:
Talarose wrote:If I am an extreme splitter, what is the latest date you suggest applying? I took the June LSAT. The only reason I registered for it was because I thought the June test date was the best option for applying early. That being said, I don't feel as if I was prepared for it, especially still being in school and dealing with finals. I anticipate a 170, but my goal was a 179/180. Do you recommend canceling my score? Is that even a factor in the admissions process? And if I take the October LSAT, should I wait to apply until I get my results? Will sending in my application with a 170 and then sending in the October Score make a difference? Sorry for the over abundance of questions. I'm just trying to understand the purpose of score canceling on the LSAT and how the October test will affect my admissions cycle. Thank you in advance!


Hello. Whether to cancel is truly a personal decision because only you can assess your performance level on that test (or at least make an educated guess!) Keep in mind that having a cancellation or a lower test score (if you retake in OCT and do better) on your record will not affect your application; in other words, there really is no penalty with either option. That said, if you really feel like you bombed the test and are predicting that your score will be well below the level at which you were scoring on practice exams, cancellation may be the better option. The one thing to keep in mind with having two test scores is that, the greater the disparity, the greater expectation for an explanation (via an addendum). Most of the top schools state on their websites that they want to see an explanation when there is a significant disparity (~more than 5 points). My recollection from when I checked several months ago (there's a post somewhere in this thread!) is that Harvard, Berkeley and Northwestern were the only schools that explicitly stated on their websites that they simply "take the higher score." I don't want to overstate this point, though, because the reality is that pretty much all schools take the higher or highest score. It is just that many of them expect an explanation when there is great disparity between scores.

I would advise you to submit your application no later than November. That will still be very early in the process. Thus, you can wait until you get your score, but you should have your application ready to go so that you can pull the trigger shortly thereafter. Let me know if you have other questions!


Thank you for your response, I truly appreciate it. Is it necessary for me to wait until I personally receive my October LSAT score to send in my applications? Or can I submit everything and send the LSAT score once I receive it? Also, how does November submission play into merit?

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby supersplittysplitter » Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:06 am

Hey Dean Meeker,

What's your advice for keeping in touch with admissions offices? If we're on the WL and we already sent a LOCI back in April or May, should we send a brief email once a month throughout the summer to express our continued interest? Or should we only reach out again if we have significant updates? I don't want schools to think I've forgotten about them, but I also don't want to sound really repetitive, so I'm in a tough spot.

Thanks!

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DerekMeeker

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Re: Former T14 Dean of Admissions taking your questions

Postby DerekMeeker » Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:19 pm

Talarose wrote:
deanmeekerconsulting wrote:
Talarose wrote:If I am an extreme splitter, what is the latest date you suggest applying? I took the June LSAT. The only reason I registered for it was because I thought the June test date was the best option for applying early. That being said, I don't feel as if I was prepared for it, especially still being in school and dealing with finals. I anticipate a 170, but my goal was a 179/180. Do you recommend canceling my score? Is that even a factor in the admissions process? And if I take the October LSAT, should I wait to apply until I get my results? Will sending in my application with a 170 and then sending in the October Score make a difference? Sorry for the over abundance of questions. I'm just trying to understand the purpose of score canceling on the LSAT and how the October test will affect my admissions cycle. Thank you in advance!


Hello. Whether to cancel is truly a personal decision because only you can assess your performance level on that test (or at least make an educated guess!) Keep in mind that having a cancellation or a lower test score (if you retake in OCT and do better) on your record will not affect your application; in other words, there really is no penalty with either option. That said, if you really feel like you bombed the test and are predicting that your score will be well below the level at which you were scoring on practice exams, cancellation may be the better option. The one thing to keep in mind with having two test scores is that, the greater the disparity, the greater expectation for an explanation (via an addendum). Most of the top schools state on their websites that they want to see an explanation when there is a significant disparity (~more than 5 points). My recollection from when I checked several months ago (there's a post somewhere in this thread!) is that Harvard, Berkeley and Northwestern were the only schools that explicitly stated on their websites that they simply "take the higher score." I don't want to overstate this point, though, because the reality is that pretty much all schools take the higher or highest score. It is just that many of them expect an explanation when there is great disparity between scores.

I would advise you to submit your application no later than November. That will still be very early in the process. Thus, you can wait until you get your score, but you should have your application ready to go so that you can pull the trigger shortly thereafter. Let me know if you have other questions!


Thank you for your response, I truly appreciate it. Is it necessary for me to wait until I personally receive my October LSAT score to send in my applications? Or can I submit everything and send the LSAT score once I receive it? Also, how does November submission play into merit?


You're welcome! No, it is not necessary to wait until you receive your score to send in your applications. In fact, you may even send them before you sit for the exam. They won't review your application until after they receive the OCT test score; in fact, most schools won't even start reviewing applications until early November (with the exception of Early Decision applications). In any case, submitting in November is still very early in the process. It will not affect merit scholarship chances.



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