J.Y.: Hello, and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I'm J.Y. Ping, and today we're presenting a webinar with Jill Steier, who was the assistant director of admissions at NYU Law, and more recently, a reader in the admissions office of Columbia Law. David asks Jill about the admissions process of each school, and then Jill fields questions from the audience.
Without further ado, here's the webinar.
David: Hello everyone. If you don't know me, I'm David I'm a partner at 7Sage and I am really pleased to host Jill Steier. Jill has worked in the admissions offices of NYU and Columbia, and Jill, I'm just going to let you introduce yourself.
Jill: Hi, everybody. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us. I am Jill Steier. My pronouns are she/her/they, coming to you from my beautiful library. For those who are going to listen to the podcast, it's just my scene background. It's a stock image. You really don't want to see what's behind me. Admissions officers are just like you. We hide our stuff behind scene backgrounds, and we also wear sweatpants on Zoom calls.
Thank you all for joining us tonight. As David said, I am Jilll Steier. I worked as assistant director of admissions at NYU Law, and then I was a contracted JD admissions officer at Columbia Law School, and soon I will be working at Temple University Beasley School of Law as associate director of admissions, and excited to talk to you a little bit more about the law school admissions process.
I'm going to try to be as transparent as possible while also respecting the privacy of the deans that I worked for and the incredible people that I've worked for at NYU and Columbia. But I'm happy to help try to pull back the curtain a little bit and answer some of your questions.
David: Jill, it's funny that you mention the fake Zoom background. I do want to know what's behind the fake Zoom background of law school admissions. But when someone hits submit, what's really going on? Who reads their files? How are they evaluated? What happens basically? Can you talk about NYU in particular?
Jill: Yeah, applications open up September 1st and it is a whirlwind up until orientation. That's actually something that I wanted to point out later, is that your cycle does not end May 1st. It will end once you started orientation.
So once somebody submits their application, Columbia and NYU have incredible teams to work on the processing, making sure that everything that you have is considered complete before it gets sent to the admissions officers for review.
So not everybody who you may meet in admissions office may review the application. There are some employees who will work on the processing side, some that work on the communication side, some that work on the tech side, some that help with events, sometimes a combination of all of them. That's kind of what I did at NYU. I did a little bit of everything.
So, once your file is marked as complete, it will be distributed amongst the senior staff who review the files. Typically, every application that is admitted, every student that is admitted will have to be reviewed by the dean of admissions. So, if you are admitted to a law school, know that the dean did see your application.
So what that may mean is that when we look at a pool, the very tippy-top of the pool, and this is just when I say the top of the pool, this is just, you know, your hard factors, your LSAT scores and your GPA, those will typically go to the dean for review. Everyone else will be distributed amongst the admissions officers.
Now, there could be a variety of different reasons why admissions officers may receive your application or may not. Some schools will use those hard factors to divvy it up. Some schools will do it randomly. The pool changes greatly each year. So that's a thing that can also be difficult to predict because law school admissions is comparative in nature.
So we try to, even if you think that you're going to split it up by, you know, highest LSAT score and GPA, that may not necessarily mean that that's an even split for each admissions officer. So that's why it may be a bit more randomized, just to make sure that every admissions officer gets, you know, around the same number.
Now, once an application is reviewed, there will always be another person taking another look at it. Even if an application that I may come across may be a student that I think should not be admitted, there will always be another person to take a look at it.
There are some times that we may have a committee review on an application. A committee can consist of faculty members, administrators, some schools may use alumni, some schools even use upper-level students, 3L students, so that you know that you're not going to be at school at the same time and they have to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Typically, those may be, you know, those 3L students may be students who are from underrepresented groups who are reading applications of applicants who are also from underrepresented groups. So, typically, applications that may go to committee for review are applications that it's not a clear admit or deny.
And that's actually the majority of applications that we get. Just because you may submit your application early doesn't necessarily mean that you may hear back early. Although I do recommend, I tell everyone, apply early. I think that that is great advice because, as I said, law school admissions is comparative in nature and the pool changes.
So law school admissions offices may want to hold on to your application to see what the rest of the pool looks like. That was especially important this past cycle, as those, as it was the, you know, as we were reviewing Flex scores, and Flex scores were different than the traditional LSAT. And so it was difficult to predict what that pool would look like, who would be applying, what scores they would have, what kind of experiences that they would have. It was a really unique cycle this past cycle.
So law school admissions offices may hold off until later in the cycle where they get to evaluate all the applications that they have before making a decision on it. So, for example, it's kind of like a puzzle. You may want to wait and flip over all the pieces before you start to connect them and put them all together.
David: Does NYU put applicants with high scores in a presumptive admit pile?
Jill: It's not a presumptive admit. Scores aren't everything. If it just came down to scores, I would be out of a job. There's a reason why we have human beings in admissions offices, because there are those soft factors that come into play.
And there are people who I have seen have a 4.0 and a 179 not be admitted because there are other factors. They might have not followed directions on their admissions application, or we might have felt like they weren't ready for law school yet, or there might have been some questionable letters of recommendations.
There's a variety of reasons why there may be somebody with, you know, those high scores and high GPAs that may not be admitted, but yes, the very tippy-top of the pool would go to the dean, and then the dean would also review everyone else that, who the admissions officers would recommend for admission.
David: And what about the flip side of that? So you mentioned that some people with incredibly high scores are rejected. Are some people with incredibly low scores or at least relatively low scores admitted? And if so, what would make you go to bat for someone like that?
Jill: Yes, definitely. I mean, whenever I would give admissions presentations, I would always tell students, don't focus on the medians.
I think everyone is very focused on what that median LSAT score is, and they think of it as a minimum. Do not confuse median with minimum. I think that the most helpful numbers to look at are the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile. And keep in mind that 50% of students are between those two scores, and 25% are below and 25% are above.
But also, you know, there are, 25% is quite a large chunk at a school like NYU, which had, you know, around 400 incoming students. That's 100 people that were coming in with below the 25th percentile LSAT score. So there's a variety of different reasons.
You know, if somebody has impressive work experience, if somebody has really shown that they've grown with their graduate studies, if they have completed impressive volunteer experiences, if they have a Fulbright or a Marshall scholarship, or if they have demonstrated a sincere interest in the school, and we feel like there's a high likelihood that they're going to enroll and be a positive part of the community.
I mean, of course every school wants intelligent students, but we would really be doing us a disservice if we just had smart students who didn't want to get involved. So, you know, you're looking for people who are going to contribute to the law school community while they are in law school, and then also as an alum.
When we're reviewing an application for admission, we're not just looking at how they would perform in their three years. We're looking at how they would engage with us as alumni, because they will have that alumni title for the rest of their lives. And so that's something that we take into consideration as well.
David: What might indicate that they're going to keep in touch as alumni and represent you well?
Jill: So I'll look at how they might have been engaged in their undergraduate school. Now, I also keep in mind that not every student may have had the time or means to volunteer as a tour guide or join clubs.
And there are instances where I take into consideration if a student had to work throughout their undergraduate schooling to help pay their tuition. And so feel free to disclose that to us, because that is something that we like to know. We're not always looking for the most prestigious internships.
Not everybody can afford to take on an unpaid internship, and that's okay. We just want to see that you're active and engaged, whatever you're doing, whether that you're a cashier working in retail or whether you are president of student government association. We just want to see that you have a commitment to community.
David: When you're reviewing a file, what happens at the end? How do you assess it? Do you write a paragraph of notes? What happens?
Jill: Okay, I'll walk it through for what I do. So, first thing I do is I review the CAS report, and the CAS report is something that, it's a standard form that the LSAC creates, and it will, it's sent with every single application and it helps give us information.
I'll look at things like what is the LSAT college mean? So, for example, this number that's on your CAS report is a number that will tell us what's the mean LSAT score of everyone who takes an LSAT from that particular school. Now, that's just one bit of information, but that helps give us some information about the types of candidates that come from this type of school.
We'll look at your GPA percentile. So how did you fare compared to your peers? Also in the CAS report is your writing sample. I will skim through the writing sample, make sure that you don't just like kind of doodle and not take it seriously, because some people don't take it seriously. They think that it's never going to be read. So I'll skim through that.
I'll look through the letters of recommendation. I'll see if there's any specific concrete examples of how you were a great student or intern or employee. I'll look to see if there's any information about how you may fare compared to your peers. Then we'll look over at the application, look down, and I'll make sure that everything is filled out correctly.
Your submitting your law school application is a great exercise in following directions and being detail-oriented, which are two things that you really need to master as a lawyer. All of those additional questions that law schools may ask that may be different, I'll make sure that, you know, those questions are answered, and answered correctly.
I'll look through the character and fitness section. I'll see if there's anything that should be flagged. I will look through the resume and then I'll read the personal statement. I'll go back to the resume. I'll try to see if it's all cohesive. Then I'll try to read all of these additional statements.
Then I may go back to the CAS report. Then I may go back to the application, and then all in all, I'm kind of writing my notes at the same time, so it can vary. Sometimes I may write a sentence if it's a student that I really don't think should be admitted.
If it's a student that I think should be admitted, I'll highlight the reasons why I think that they should be admitted. And then if it's a student who I think that I really need to fight for, I'll write a little bit more.
David: This last year you were with Columbia Law School. Could you compare NYU's admissions process with Columbia's?
Jill: I can try. Well, first I'll say law school admissions officers, actually, for the most part, all know each other. So I was kind of familiar with my peers at CLS before I went over there.
That's been actually one of the saddest things about the pandemic is because typically we all get to chat with each other on the road as we travel from forum to forum, or school to school at law school admissions events, and we all know each other. And so keep that in mind too.
We exchange best practices with one another. So it was great transitioning over to CLS. I will say it's very similar from what I've seen, and keep in mind, you know, the dean of admissions is the one person who really gets to see everything, really gets the bird's-eye view.
I would say that the biggest difference is, a, Columbia interviews, and you have limited time, so CLS uses that time to have the admissions officers interview prospective candidates. NYU also has limited time. They spend the time calling every admitted student. So both have value. It's just, you know, the preferences of the deans. And also keep in mind at any time this could change at any cycle, so this may be different next cycle, but that would be, a, the first difference.
The second difference, I think that, from what I saw, I felt that CLS had a much larger what they call reserve pool compared to NYU's hold or waitlist pool, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes some students just want to know. They'd rather know earlier whether even if it's a deny, some students would rather like to have the application held on for, you know, maybe they're taking the LSAT again and they'll submit a new score. They'd rather have their application held onto. So it's neither a good thing or a bad thing. It's just different.
David: Do you think that one school puts more weight on one factor than the other school? Like applying early decision, or recommendations, or the essays?
Jill: Not really. I really haven't noticed a difference. I think that there's shared goals of creating a class that is not homogenous, creating a class that has intelligent, engaged, proactive students, that can be demonstrated in a lot of different ways, but there were a lot of similarities, I would say, more than differences in what they were looking for.
David: One thing that's different, at least from the point of view of the applicant, is the personal statement prompt. NYU has a very open-ended prompt. Columbia asks you to talk about your motivation and your goals. Did you read the essays differently when you were working at Columbia than you did when you were at NYU?
Jill: Well, as I said before, we want to make sure that students, that applicants follow directions. For the most part, most students did follow directions. And I did review them kind of similarly, but also keep in mind when we review applications, we have to keep in mind, is this somebody who I, personally, as a law school admissions professional, would want in the class?
Is this somebody who the dean would want in the class, the dean of admissions? And is this somebody who the dean of the law school would want in the class? I don't want to get into too much detail about personal preferences of the deans. I don't want to speak for them. There are a couple little things, but overall, it is quite similar.
Now, for me, personally, there are some things that I don't like to see in personal statements, and some of my peers may feel differently, and that's kind of, that's the art of law school admissions. It's an art and a science. We're humans. There's a human preference that comes into play. That's what can be so unpredictable about law school admissions.
Certain things that I personally don't love to see, you know, are these really, like, detailed stories about childhood that I think are maybe embellished or exaggerated a bit, or if somebody is telling the story of somebody else. So if they're talking about a mentor or a family member who they admire.
Or, you know, these copy-and-paste reasons for wanting to go to law school, throwing in at the end, "I want to go to X school because it is the best school to help me achieve my goals." Well, how? What is there? It's a very clear, very evident copy-paste. So those are a couple things that I don't love to see in a personal statement.
David: What do you love to see in a personal statement?
Jill: Well, if it's not already in a separate "Why X" statement, specific reasons for being drawn to a school, and it's okay if these are like nonacademic reasons as well. If you are drawn to going to CLS or NYU because it's in New York City and you are a New Yorker, you have family in New York, or if you like going to art museums and you want to go to the Met or the Frick, or specific reasons for why you're interested in a school is always helpful.
I mean, we all have websites. We put a lot of work into our websites. You have a computer in your pocket usually at all times. If you can just throw in a couple of reasons why you want to go to that specific law school, that goes a long way. But also keep in mind that I look for these reasons to be cohesive.
So, if you say that you're interested in going to X school because you want to pursue immigration law, I want to see, were you part of any student organizations that worked with immigrants? Did you volunteer at all? Did you have any work experience in this realm? I want to see it all kind of tie together.
Other things that I like to see, striking that balance between your authentic voice while also demonstrating mature writing skills is something that's a tough balance to strike. And when I see it, I really appreciate it. It's finding that perfect tone where you come across as authentic. I can get a sense of who you are and your voice, but it also demonstrates your writing skills, that you can talk from a mature viewpoint, and that I feel confident in your ability to be a successful writer in law school.
David: That leads right to my next question. So do you think a personal statement is a writing test, a personality test, a synopsis of what you've done? None of the above, or all of the above?
Jill: Well, all of the, well, it depends. It depends on the school. It depends on what the school is looking for. I love law school admissions, because there is not one path to law school. You don't have to be a pre-law major. You don't have to be a paralegal to go to law school.
And I love law school admissions because I get to meet people with such an array of backgrounds: dancers, Uber drivers, scientists, parents, veterans, international students. It's one of the best things about law school admissions, is just getting to be able to meet so many incredible different people.
Now, if you do not have any experience in the legal world, It is helpful to give us some information about why you feel law is the path for you and what you hope to get out of law school.
Now, it's not required for you to know exactly what type of law you want to practice. And, in fact, I even tell students, keep your options open, even if you think you know what you want to do. Keep your mind open because you may change your mind once you get to law school.
If you are somebody who has had exposure to law, maybe you were a pre-law student, maybe you were a paralegal, it may not be necessary to talk about why you feel like law is the path for you or what you intend to get out of law school. It depends on the applicant. Yeah, it's a balance, though, between letting us know your personality while also showcasing your writing skills. It's both.
David: Let's summarize some of your great personal statement advice. So I'll try to put them in bullet points and you'd tell me why I'm wrong and elaborate.
Number one, you don't want a personal statement that's a total departure from the resume. You don't want people to be coming out of left field saying that they want to go into animal rights law when there's nothing in their background to indicate that.
But on the other hand, it sounds like you want it to complement the rest of their application if the rest of the application does not express their motivation. That's when a personal statement can stand in.
Jill: Correct. Great. Thank you, David. You said it better than I could.
David: Well, I'm just basing this on what you said. So you want them to be genuine unless they're genuinely immature, in which case you just want them to show that they're mature.
David: It is, in some ways, a writing test that matters to you.
David: But it is also a showcase of who you are and what you might bring to the class.
Jill: Right. Correct.
David: Okay. So where does the diversity statement fit in, if you even talk about the diversity statement?
Jill: Yeah. Great question. So, as I mentioned before, deans do not want a homogenous class. And when they talk about diversity, they mean diversity in the most broad sense. And that means, you know, factors like if you're coming from a rural place or an urban place, if you were a veteran, if you are a child of veterans, if you are an underrepresented group within the legal field, if you are first-generation, if you come from a low socioeconomic status background. It is so broad.
So when you write your diversity statement, again, it should complement the rest of your application materials. So if you already talk about it in your personal statement, there's no need for you to reiterate the same sentiment in a diversity statement. There's no need to submit an additional one, but we want to talk about how your diverse viewpoint will be an asset to our law school.
How can our students and our faculty and our greater community learn from you? What do you hope to contribute to our community? Those are things that we're asking ourselves and would like to learn about when we review your diversity statement.
David: NYU asks you to note if you're part of an underrepresented group and to elaborate on it. Does that mean that if you're not a racial or ethnic minority, or if you don't come from low socioeconomic status, that you should not write a diversity statement in the addendum, or should you go ahead and write a diversity statement about being adopted or growing up all over the world or something like that?
Jill: Yeah, I definitely think that you should should write it. As I said before, it's such a broad interpretation. Don't feel discouraged. As I said, there's so many different factors that come into play when you're thinking about diversity. It's not just racial, ethnic, gender, finances. It's if you are a woman in STEM, it's if you grew up in a foreign country. All of these things help make a very rich, robust class.
It's something that we look for. It's something that we love to see. So don't feel discouraged. Please. Please submit a diversity statement.
David: Jill, can I ask you some short, unrelated lightning round questions?
David: Are international students at a disadvantage?
Jill: Oh, great. Yeah, such a short lightning round question. No, international students are not at a disadvantage, so to speak, because being an international student gives you a diverse viewpoint. And I commend international students. I mean, such independence is required for you to leave your country and study somewhere else.
I will say, if you're coming from a foreign country where English is not your first language, we may compare your personal statement and the writing section from your LSAT.
And I also may pay attention a little more to, you know, if there's anything in your letters of recommendation, if any of the faculty members talk about if there's any fluency issues, also, you know, scan your transcript to see if there were any classes that you took in English, any classes that, you know, required you to perform reading and writing skills in English.
So those are things that we're, we just want to make sure that the fluency level is there.
David: Okay, lightning round question number two. How can students demonstrate their interest to NYU and Columbia, and should they?
Jill: Absolutely. Definitely, you should. Now, keep in mind, there's, I think that there's sometimes misguided attempts of doing so.
So, for example, at an LSAC forum, sometimes I have to take my name tag off before using the restroom because people will try to chase me down to introduce themselves, to put a face to a name as I'm trying to figure out where the restroom is. That's not appropriate. Or coming to an office to ask questions that they already know the answer to just to have face time.
In fact, that's more annoying. I'd rather you just email me than come and try to make up questions that you already know the answers to because you feel like you want me to know your face or state your case. I just don't think that that's appropriate.
But there are things that you can do. Attend events, whether, hopefully, in person soon, but digital events are always really helpful, learn as much as you can about the school, submit a "Why X" statement, that is very helpful, and have concrete reasons for why you're interested in that specific school.
And then reasons that make sense. Look into the scholarship of the faculty members, look into the centers and institutes, look into the clinics, get a sense of the types of courses that are offered. Talk a little bit more about what you want to take advantage of.
And even if you don't know what exactly it is you want to do, you can still learn about all the general resources that the office of career services provides. Or you can look at the type of social events that the school has. A thoughtful "Why X" statement really does go far. A bad "Why X" statement can definitely hold you back, even if all of the other factors are good.
David: Lightening round question number three is a hypo. Your dean comes to you. Your dean tells you, "Jill, we only have one more spot and I want you to make the decision," and you get two identical twins who apply. They have the same GPA, they have this same background. They write equally good, in fact, they write the same essay because they're identical twins.
The only thing that's different is that the first one has a single LSAT score of 171, which is, let's say, 1 below your target median, and the other has seven LSAT takes, ranging from like a 151 to a 172, which hits your target. Which of these identical twins gets the nod?
Jill: There's things that I would want to look at. Number one, if somebody has seven LSAT scores, the first thing that I want to see is how far apart they are. How long ago was the one in the 150s? And did they jump around or did they, like, steadily increase? That would be one of the questions I would ask myself, first and foremost.
But if I had a quick pull, I would probably go for the one and only score with a 171, as opposed to somebody with seven LSAT scores. I always tell applicants that you want to go into the LSAT with the mindset that you're only taking it once, and my gut would be to go to the person with that one LSAT score, because with somebody that has all these LSAT scores that jump around, there's a lot of questions I'd be asking myself, like, are they trying to, like, game the system? Was that 172 a fluke?
There'd be some questions that I'd be asking myself. So my gut reaction would be to go to the first person.
David: Last lightning round question. Are GRE applicants evaluated differently?
Jill: No. Yes and no, it's a different test. So I guess, at its core, it does have to be evaluated differently. We're looking at the percentiles, well, every school does it differently, but typically we look at the percentiles and want them to be kind of similar to the percentiles of the 25th, 50th, 75th percentiles for the LSAT.
But if a school wanted an LSAT instead of a GRE, they would say LSAT only. There are plenty of applicants who do get admitted with the GRE. There really isn't a difference or a preference. I just always tell students that every law school accepts the LSAT, not every law school accepts the GRE, so think carefully about what schools you'd like to apply to and make sure that you're not limiting yourself.
Something to keep in mind, though, if there is somebody who has a GRE in addition to an LSAT and you're submitting it because perhaps, like for example, NYU requires you to submit all scores within the past five years, feel free to let us know, you know, I took the GRE, or let them know, I have to get used to saying that, to let the school know, you know, I took the GRE with the intention of going to graduate school years ago. I didn't take it with the intention of going to law school. And that's something also that they keep in mind. How long ago it was, and if you were taking it with the intention to go to law school.
David: Okay, our last mini topic is Columbia's interview. My first question is, who gets offered an interview? Is it a strong signal of Columbia's interest?
Jill: Yeah, I would say it is a strong signal of their interest. It's typically students who, or applicants who we may have questions for, and we may want to hear them answer those questions, or students who we want to see, we want to gauge their readiness or maturity and how they present themselves and how they conduct themselves in an interview.
These are typically applicants who, yeah, we're kind of on the fence about, and we'd like more information about. There are some people who, we review their applications again right before the interview, and there some people who I think are going to have a great interview and bomb, and people who, I think, you're a little bit hesitant about, thinking, I'm surprised they got to this stage, and they do excellent in an interview.
David: How do people bomb the interviews? What are some things that our listeners can avoid?
Jill: Not knowing anything about the school, not giving reasons for why they're interested in the school, being inappropriate or not professional with some of their disclosures or how they speak, not really seeming ready, not giving any, it seems like law school is an afterthought, or saying that they want to go to law school because their parents are lawyers and they think it's what they should do.
Or because they said, "I don't think I could get a job. I guess I'll just go to law school now." Having an unclear "Why law" is probably the most common negative thing that I see.
David: Thank you so much. We're going to open it up to questions now, so if you have a question, please raise your hand. I'll call on you.
I'm going to ask you to limit yourself to only one question, because we have a lot of people and we'll get to as many people as we can. So Vincent, we're going to go to you.
New Speaker: Well, thank you for accepting my question. My question is, I had a low GPA from freshman year. I was a pre-med student. Would I be able to write an addendum asking NYU or Columbia, for example, to please consider my double major GPA, which I believe reflects my actual academic abilities instead of my overall GPA from undergrad, which is included in the science courses I took that did not go very well for me freshman year?
Jill: Thank you, Vincent. Thank you for your question. That is something that law school admissions officers look for when we review transcripts. We're not just looking at the GPA in a bubble.
We're looking at the major you've selected. Was there a change in major? Was there a double major? Did you progress over time? What were the grades and the courses related to your major? How did you fare compared to your peers? All of these factors are taken into consideration.
It's very common for students, it's very common for us to see students changing majors, typically from like a pre-med track with a lower GPA earlier on. So keep in mind that typically admissions officers will notice that. But it will be helpful if you'd like to submit an addendum and give an explanation as to why you changed your major and how you grew and that type of information is helpful.
David: Okay. Thank you so much for your question. We're going to move on to Jonvy.
New Speaker: Hi. I just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to just share all of this really wonderful advice and insight. My question was, you mentioned earlier that when you're reviewing an application that some character and fitness issues might be flagged.
And I don't know if this is too broad of a question, but I was just wondering if you could elaborate on what issues are typically flagged or would really be cause for concern versus what would be minor, and how, I guess, forgiving law schools typically could be with those kinds of issues. Thank you.
Jill: Thank you so much for your question, Jonvy.
So we ask these character and fitness questions because we don't want students to have any issues with the bar down the line. We don't want you to go through law school and then realize later on that you may have any issues with the bar.
Things that may cause us concern, if there are any, like, physically violent issues, if there are repeated issues when it comes to academic dishonesty or just repeated issues in general. So, you know, don't feel discouraged at all if you have a noise violation in your dorm or even a drinking violation.
Now, if there's a lot of them, if there's repeated offenses, that's an issue. And also if there's no remorse in your character and fitness about these issues, that also kind of raises a flag a little bit too. So those are things that we are looking at and considering when we review character and fitness declarations.
David: Okay. Thanks, Jonvy. Tanisia, you can ask your question.
New Speaker: Hello? Okay, I just wanted to make sure you guys can hear me. First of all, I just want to thank you guys for your time. And then I had a quick question about situations where if someone transferred from a community college and their score was lower, and at their actual degree-granting institution, they had a higher GPA.
And in the event that this applicant is per se a splitter where they have a low GPA and a high LSAT score, how does NYU or Columbia go about that?
Jill: Well, again, we're looking at the application as a whole, so we're looking if you progressed over time. And so we take that into consideration if your grades did improve once you transferred to your degree-granting institution. If there's any reasons why you didn't perform to the level that you felt that you were capable of while you were in community college, you know, please let us know.
Please feel free to submit an addendum. Let us know if there was anything going on externally that you think it's helpful for us to know about.
Splitters, that's kind of the second part of the question, splitters. When it comes to splitters, especially if it's a low GPA, it is helpful for us to note the rigor of the program that you were in, and by program, I mean the major you selected as well as your undergraduate school, the time that has passed from when you graduated, any work experience that you have, and any graduate school experience that you have.
So we're going to start to look at all those other factors to see if there's anything else that can really showcase your academic ability. I will say when I do fight for somebody, I'm often fighting for people that may have a low GPA, but it, you know, might have been years ago or there might've been external factors, because you can always retake an LSAT, but you can't redo your undergrad GPA.
David: Okay, thanks so much for your question, and good luck. Wusang, you can ask your question.
New Speaker: Hello. Thank you so much for this opportunity to ask a question. So my question is that I transferred college twice, so I went from college A to B to C, and then back to B. And this was because I was diagnosed with this mental illness and I had to move to different locations within America and South Korea.
Now, would this have to be disclosed in the addendum that we are discussing at the moment? I don't know the exact part of the application, but it seems that we have to fill some paperwork out. So is something do you think I should disclose, like the mental illness and having to transfer college two, three times, or should I just not talk about it at all and just send in my transcript? Because my GPA isn't low or anything, but it's still like a traumatic experience for me and I don't want to just let it slide, you know.
Jill: Of course. Thank you so much for that question. Addenda, and, well, addendum are optional statements. You don't have to submit any, but it is helpful because you don't want to have the admissions officers left asking questions. It's not a good thing. We don't want to write in our notes questions that we wish we knew. Like, why did he do this? Why did he move there? Why did they perform this way? Why were they not in student organizations? Why weren't they doing anything over the summers? We don't want to have any questions.
So please feel free to submit addendum to help give us context. I do think it's appropriate to use an addenda in this case, for you to disclose why you had to move. Again, it's not something that's, well, sometimes if there's questions, admissions officers or deans may think of worst-case scenario. Did they have to move because there was an academic issue, a behavioral issue?
So it is helpful for us to know that, you know, it was related to health. So please feel free to submit one.
David: Okay, thanks for your question. Elizabeth, we're going to call on you now.
New Speaker: Thank you for taking the time to be here. I wanted to ask about resume gaps, and I went from undergrad straight into working full-time for nearly 10 years. And then I was a part of a mass layoff in 2019, and I had no idea what landscape I would be entering with the pandemic and everything.
So I have been working towards applying for the past nearly two years now, and I didn't want to find a job just merely to put it on my resume. So do you think that's something I should explain in my application somewhere? Because I feel like that might make admissions officers cringe. Thank you.
Jill: Thank you, Elizabeth. I will say, you know, I have seen admissions offices be much more lenient this past year with gaps in a resume. We understand that it is an incredibly competitive job market right now, and there's more leniency and understanding. I would say feel free to disclose it or write an addendum and explain why there is that gap.
I think that employment gaps are a great reason why you should submit an addendum. But, you know, also let us know what you were doing during this time, even if it was, you know, the books that you were reading or hobbies that was taking up your time, or if you were traveling. We just want to see, you know, what were you doing?
Even if you were just like looking for jobs, is there anything else that you can let us know to learn a little bit more about how you did spend your time? It doesn't necessarily have to be professional or academic. It is helpful for us to know.
David: Okay. Thanks for your question. Camilla, we're going to call on you now.
New Speaker: Thank you so much for accepting my question and for taking the time. I just wanted to know, if someone is reapplying for the next admission cycle because they didn't get in the first time, and essentially the entire application is the same minus a higher LSAT score, would you recommend rewriting personal statements and all the other essays, even though your reasons for attending law school are the same?
Jill: That's a personal choice, but I would definitely have fresh eyes on it. 7Sage has great consultants that can take a look at it, and I would recommend getting fresh eyes on it. Also, it is helpful to know why you are reapplying, and that is another kind of way to demonstrate interest, that you didn't get into X school, and this is a school that you really wanted to go to, and so that's why you are reapplying.
Also something to keep in mind, although you never want to go to a law school with the intention of transferring, there are many students who do transfer. And if you start to attend law school admissions events for the schools that you're interested in, it may behoove you to also get information about what they're looking for in a transfer applicant.
Just something to keep in mind. You don't necessarily have to transfer, but it's always good just to have that information in your back pocket.
David: Okay, thanks so much for your question. And we're going to go to Ian.
New Speaker: Hi there. Thanks so much for your time, and I also really appreciate you introducing yourself with your pronouns. That's really important. My question is really focused on how students who want to or need to write a diversity statement, and you talked about kind of some things to highlight, but do you have any recommendations on things to avoid doing in the diversity statement?
Jill: Great question. Using verbatim the same things that you talked about in your personal statement. Time is limited, the space is limited. No need to copy and paste it again.
Other things that I would maybe avoid is just sometimes I see diversity statements that just give statistics about how their particular identity is underrepresented without giving me any other information about contributing to the community as a whole.
Same thing, it's something similar that I see in "Why X" statements is like, I want to go to X school because this faculty member works there. Okay, but how do you want to learn from this faculty member? How do you want to work with them? What do you want to get out of it and how do you want to contribute? Taking it the next level is something that we're looking for.
David: Thanks for your question, and thanks to everyone else who is raising their hand. Unfortunately, we are almost out of time and we're not going to be able to take any more questions. Jill, I was hoping that you could leave us with one final piece of advice.
Jill: Okay, well, David, I'm going to say I don't have just one.
David: Okay, great.
Jill: I took a couple of notes of advice that I want to give. One, apply early. Of course are people who do get admitted when they apply, typically some deadlines, maybe February 15, so if they apply February 14th at 10:00 PM, but you really put yourself in a better position if you apply early. So that would be my first bit of advice.
Second is use test prep resources. 7Sage has incredible free resources. Khan Academy has incredible free resources.
The other bit of advice that I would give would be learn about law school, not just the particular law schools that you want to go to, but law school in general. Go to info sessions for law schools, go to LSAC forums, the L-S-A-C forums. Go to all of their panels. Just try to soak up as much as you can.
The other bit of advice that I would give is keep in mind that scholarships are not free money. You have to work to get scholarships. So I know sometimes it's a pain to write all these extra essays and do interviews, but it's because they're, you're getting thousands of dollars. So please just keep that in mind, and do the work, apply for all scholarships that interest you.
My other bit of advice is be patient. As I said, law school admissions is comparative in nature. We may want to see what the whole pool looks like. That means that you may not receive a decision until May. That means that you may not receive a decision until August. The cycle does not end May 1st. Law school admissions offices are reviewing what their class looks like up until orientation.
And we are checking who goes to orientation. And if you're not at orientation, we are calling you to see if you're actually going to be coming, because if not, that's a spot that we can give to somebody, and that might be you or somebody else. So the cycle doesn't end May 1st.
And last but not least, my bit of advice is be realistic, but you never know until you try. Don't reject yourself before you can even put your application in the ring.
Feel free to ask for fee waivers. Some schools are very giving with their fee waivers. Some schools may give out fee waivers through CRS, so please sign up for CRS. It's the Candidate Referral System or Service. It's a way for law schools to get your information before you even apply, and that's a way for you to get fee waivers.
And submit your applications to those reach schools. I think that it's helpful to keep in mind that, as I said, that 25th percentile is quite a large chunk. And so you never know until you apply.
I hope that I could be useful in some way. I really urge you to utilize some of the incredible resources that 7Sage provides. I decided to work with David and 7Sage because they have such integrity and such a commitment to helping students be as informed as possible through this law school admissions process. And so I hope that I could be helpful too.
David: Jill, that was very helpful. Thank you. On this question and on all of your questions, you gave us more than we asked for. So I really appreciate your time and your knowledge.
And I really, really want to thank everybody who came. I know this is a super stressful process and I hope it helps a little bit to know that there are thoughtful people like Jill on the other end.
So I wish all of you good luck, and good night, everyone. Thanks for coming.
Jill: Thanks, everybody. Have a great night. Thanks, David.
J.Y.: Hey, it's J.Y. again. Thanks for listening. As always, if you're studying for the LSAT, applying to law school, studying for your law school exams, or studying for the bar, come visit us at 7Sage.com. We can help.
Take care of yourself and see you next time.
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