Monday, December 17, 2007

Proof that Powerful Personal Statements Pay Off

I spend a lot of time on the subject of "Rankings Aren't Everything" and "LSAT Isn't Everything" and for those of you who still don't believe me, I want to share this with you--- it's from a client with a 154 LSAT who e-mailed me tonight:

Oh my god, i just got home and opened a package from Boston College Law School!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I still can't believe it!!! Couldn't have done it without you!


  1. I am currently going through the application process myself and have been following various discussions on your site throughout the process. Initially, I think some of the descriptions you have put forth about admissions officers and the process gave me some hope that at least a fraction of the schools would give consideration beyond my LSAT. I felt my application was a good case study of whether this was true because I would be a shoe in at any top school if it weren’t for my learning disability/test taking issues. Here is my profile below, followed by results from the schools I applied to. My findings so far have been that if your LSAT score does not fall into their specified range, you have no hope even if you are otherwise an outstanding candidate.

    GPA 3.89 (magna cum laude/honors in major)
    Degree from Ivy League school – even had recommendation from president of the university.
    Completed 100 page thesis (graduated in top 5% in major)
    Completed tons of volunteer work (lobbying, internships, student body government)
    International background – I speak a second language fluently, grew up in war-torn country, have lived in numerous countries.
    Boot-strapper – come from poor family, started at community college, greatly exceeded expectations etc. Definitely proved I could overcome obstacles.
    LSAT: 159
    Submitted addendum explaining learning disability and test results. I also included my extremely low SAT score which did not predict college performance.


    I applied to 16 schools in the top 100. Lowest ranked in the 90s and highest being in top 5. So far I have been accepted to two schools, one is a top 30 the other the lowest ranked school I applied to. I have been rejected from seven schools so far. None of them even contacted me for additional information about my learning disability even though they say they don’t discriminate on their site. I applied to all schools by early December.

    Harvard – Rejected
    Columbia – Rejected
    NYU – Rejected
    Cornell – Pending
    University of Michigan – Rejected
    University of Chicago – Rejected
    Northwestern – Rejected (even though they sent fee waiver, and I interviewed with an alumni)
    University of Virginia – Pending (also sent fee waiver)
    Berkeley – Rejected
    UCLA – Pending
    USC- Pending
    Washington and Lee – Pending
    University of Washington – Accepted
    UC Davis – Pending
    William and Mary – Pending
    Santa Clara University – Accepted


    Unless my LSAT score met or exceeded their 25th percentile, I was almost immediately rejected, or put aside until the very end of process. Not one school where my LSAT was even 1 point lower than the 25th percentile has accepted me (or they’ve waited until tail end of admissions process). Even in cases where my GPA exceeded their 75th percentile.

    My guess is that law schools will not do anything that will negatively affect their rankings and that most of the stuff they put on their sites saying an LSAT score isn’t a dis-positive factor is there just as a disclaimer. They probably review all applications to avoid this liability as well.


    If what you have said in the past is true, about some law schools sometimes making exceptions, could you given an example of student profile they might admit despite their LSAT score? It’s becoming difficult for me to believe that this is possible.

  2. Thanks for writing.
    Here are my thoughts:

    1. It's too soon to tell where you'll get in and what schools will take a chance on your candidacy. You have a lot of pending schools.

    2. You can't expect any school to request more information about anything in your file - you have to know what to give them and provide everything right the first time. Disability issues can be "sticky wickets." If they are not presented well to the law schools, explanations may raise more doubts than allay fears. Without seeing your application, it's impossible for me to know whether you did this effectively.

    3. I think you are proving my point rather than disproving it. The fact that you got into U. of Washington with a 159 proves that your other credentials had an impact.

    4. Diversity is great, but without knowing how you presented this information in your application (making sure it didn't read like a sob story, was compelling and unique, etc.) it's impossible for me to know whether you used this attribute in the best possible way in the application process.

    My advice to you is this - hang tight. You have a lot of great schools left to hear from and it's way too soon for you to feel bitter about the results based on your LSAT score. Rejections from the Top 5 schools would follow probably even if you had a 165 or 169....There are so many incredible candidates vying for those spots. It's not about the rankings for the top 5 schools - it's about not needing to take the Amazingly Perfect Applicant with a 159 when they have an Amazingly Perfect Applicant with a 179.

    Good luck in the process and let me know if I can be of help.

  3. Hello Ann,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. In case anyone is following this thread I thought I would give an update. Since my last post I've been accepted to UC Davis, wait listed at UCLA, wait listed at William and Mary, and rejected from Cornell. Right now I'm still waiting on UVA, USC, and Washington and Lee.

    My plan is to write letters to the UCLA admissions office in hopes that it will give me a better chance at getting off the wait list.

    However, its still looking like the LSAT disadvantage is almost impossible to trump. The only school that has taken me with an LSAT under their 25 percentile is Davis - they are ranked about the same as Washington which has added to the confusion - its difficult to know which one would be a better choice...

    Anyway, hopefully others out there are having better luck.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.