Tajira: When it comes down to trying to make sure that you're setting yourself apart, the best way to do that is by being your genuine, authentic self, by making sure that throughout your documents, different facets of you are coming through. That your perspective is very clear.
J.Y.: Hello, and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I'm J.Y. Ping, and on today's episode, admissions consultants Tajira McCoy, Christie Belknap, and Jenifer Godfrey of 7Sage host an Ask an Admissions Consultant Clubhouse room for law school candidates. Tajira moderates the panel, inviting the audience to inquire about the admissions process, specific documents, timing, and application strategy. So, without further ado, please enjoy.
Tajira: Well, good evening and welcome, everyone. I'm Tajira McCoy, but you can call me Taj. I'm a professional writer and law school admissions and administration professional. For 10 years, I worked in law school admissions at four schools, spanning public and private institutions, including two Jesuit schools, a T14 school, and an HBCU. Most recently, I served as the director of admissions and scholarship programs at Berkeley law and the director of career services at the University of San Francisco School of Law, before joining 7Sage as an admissions consultant and project manager.
Tonight, we have a fun conversation planned for you. It's all Q&A. Tonight's panelists, my colleagues and I, represent 7Sage. For those preparing to apply to law school, 7Sage offers LSAT preparation, admissions consulting, and editing services. If you visit our website, 7sage.com, you can create a free account, which gives you access to some sample lessons, an LSAT prep test, and a hundred question explanations.
The free account also gives you access to our discussion forum, where you can ask questions about the admissions process, hear from others who are currently in the process, and learn about other events we have coming up. You can also follow us on Twitter. Our handle is @7Admissions with an S at the end.
The three of us on the panel are admissions consultants and have worked on admissions teams at various law schools across the country. Let's go ahead and get started. So for my panelists, I'm going to ask that each of you please introduce yourself, share which schools' admissions teams you've served on, and then I will go ahead and set the room as far as asking questions. And so, Christie, why don't I start with you.
Christie: Hi, everyone. My name is Christie Belknap. I practiced law in New York City for 12 years, and during that time, I worked as an associate director of admissions at Cardozo Law School. And since then, I've been an admissions consultant at 7Sage for the past three cycles. Thanks for joining us.
Tajira: Great. Thank you so much, Christie. And Jen.
Jenifer: Hi, everyone. My name is Jen Godfrey. I have served in pretty much every region of the country in terms of law school admissions over the course of about a decade-long career. But my most recent position was assistant dean for admissions and scholarships at the William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock, Arkansas. So, super happy to answer any questions that might come our way tonight.
Tajira: Great. Thank you, Jen. To set the room as far as our Q&A session, this entire hour is meant to be a Q&A session for you all. If we find that we're a little light on questions, don't worry, I have some prepared. But to start, we're going to ask that people limit themselves to one question, no follow-up questions, so that we can get to as many people as possible. However, if things slow down, I'll invite those who have asked questions to return for another round. If we have more questions than time allows, I encourage you to ask them on Twitter using the hashtag 7SageonCH for Clubhouse.
And to give you a preview, we have another event scheduled for next Wednesday, which will feature both admissions consultants and some of our professional writers, who are going to discuss brainstorming different law school admission statements. So make sure if you're not already following Club 7Sage, hit that little green house towards the top of the page so that you can follow the Club 7Sage and be pinged whenever we have new events scheduled and/or starting.
And so with that, I invite people to begin raising their hands, and I will call on people one at a time. I'll bring people up to the stage one at a time. You've got one question you can ask and then we'll move to the next so that we can make sure that if everybody has a question, they have an opportunity to be heard.
Okay? I'm going to start with, I believe we've spoken before. Is it Tanisia?
New Speaker: Hi, yes it is. My quick question is, what are you guys's opinions on letters of recommendation that are longer than a page, so about a page and a half?
Tajira: Great question. Christie?
Christie: So I would say that, generally speaking, we want, admissions officers are reading through a lot of files and I guess the thing is, and sometimes scary thing for applicants is that typically, admissions officers spend about seven minutes per application. So, that said, your letters of recommendation, we generally recommend they be about a page. I mean, if it's a little bit over a page, that's okay.
I guess it also depends if it's, you know, fully packed and you just want to make sure that it's substantive and you're not overburdening an admissions officer with too much information. So, generally speaking, a page, a page and a half is probably okay, especially if it's glowing. Yeah, that would be what I would say.
Jenifer: For me, I find recommendations to be highly scannable, so the length of them never really puts me off. Granted, I say that, but I've never encountered one that's five pages or anything, but I honestly would rather see one be a page and a half.
And I feel like, okay, they've really hit it with their best shot to share what they know and admire about this candidate, rather than see something that is very brief, you know, like a single paragraph is not very helpful. And we usually see those sorts of letters when the person really doesn't know you that well.
New Speaker: Thank you.
Tajira: Thank you, Tanisia. The next question is going to be from Dominic.
New Speaker: Hi there. I was wondering if there's an amount that I could add to my GPA, it's a STEM GPA, right? So if I'm putting it into a calculator, I think you guys have one, it's like a 3.3 normally, but I've a STEM GPA, is there now like adding like 0.2 or something?
Tajira: Go ahead, Christie.
Christie: So there's not something that an admissions committee would automatically add, but they definitely take into account the fact that your classes are all STEM classes or what your major is. It's not unusual at all for a STEM major to be, you know, for STEM students to have lower GPAs, and that will definitely be taken into consideration. And also maybe a little bit different than many of the applicants who have more of a liberal arts background.
Tajira: Did that answer your question, Dominic?
New Speaker: Yeah, I was looking for kind of a number, but, you know, definitely answers it.
Tajira: Yeah, we don't actually add numbers to GPAs ever, so that's not something that's done, at least not in the admissions practice, from what I've seen. Okay? Thanks so much. Go ahead, Jen.
Jenifer: Honestly, I feel like when you get into attaching these numeric values to things, it really pigeonholes an admissions committee's ability to evaluate holistically, which is the aim of all law schools. So, honestly, you know, be careful what you ask for. But I will say, with STEM majors, a lot of times we are expecting a little bit lower or accepting of a little bit lower GPA.
But admissions officers will take a look at the transcript and see for courses where, you know, your English courses, your intro-level English courses, anything that might have had a heavy writing requirement, or if you took anything that typically has essay exams, like if you took a political science elective or something like that, they will look to see what the grades are in those courses to see some indicia that you write well despite the lower STEM GPA.
Tajira: Thanks for your question, Dominic. Moving right along, we have, is it Somia?
New Speaker: Yeah, my name is Somia. Thank you guys for speaking with us today. I actually have a really quick question. So I guess because of COVID, it's been really hard to find a professor that I could ask for a recommendation, and then like the professors that I do have in mind, I've had them, I think, two, three years ago. So do you think it's even worth asking them? Because I'm not even sure if she'll remember me after this long. Or do you think I should ask my job manager or someone else?
Tajira: Are you just two years out of school?
New Speaker: No, I'm actually a senior this coming year.
Tajira: The expectation is going to be that you have academic letters of recommendation. Even if you do get a professional letter, schools are still going to expect one to two that are academic in nature. Two years out isn't that long of a time to reach back to a professor and kind of refresh their memory. And you can do that by reminding them what kinds of projects you worked on, how you performed in their class, perhaps if you visited during office hours, et cetera. For professors that you had during COVID or that you currently have, it's still not too late to be connecting with professors if you're not actually done with classes yet.
New Speaker: Okay, thank you.
Tajira: You're welcome. And next is Nathan.
New Speaker: Hi, everyone. Can you hear me?
New Speaker: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I'm a doctoral candidate in history currently, and I'm applying for law school primarily, or a big reason I'm applying is because I'm interested in joining the legal academy, legal academia. I was curious if in reviewing applications like this, there were particular pitfalls or points of emphasis that you all have seen in the past that I should be wary of or focused on.
Tajira: Are we speaking specifically about a certain part of the application, or just in general?
New Speaker: I guess I would, personal statement-wise, or just in general, yeah.
Tajira: Jenifer, would you like to tackle this first?
Jenifer: Sure. I mean, that's a bear of a question, Nathan. I think that a lot of times it can be, you have to have a really good justification in terms of when you're writing in a personal statement about your ultimate career goals with the law. They really have to make sense. So if there's nothing on the resume, for instance, to show any experience with finance, and you're like, I'm a corporate lawyer or bust, the admissions committee gets kind of like, yeah, well, we'll wait and see.
So with you having the goal of ultimately being a part of the legal academy as a scholar, the PhD really plays well. And so speaking on your experiences and your training and your education thus far, and tying that to your goal of ultimately wanting to pursue a professor lifestyle, I think would make a lot of sense for a candidate like you.
Tajira: Anything to add, Christie?
Christie: Well, so I guess I would just say you had mentioned the personal statement. So if you know you want to go into academia, that would be a great way to, I'm not sure what you're going to focus on, but it'd be a great way to say, "And this is what my goal is," if it's not totally clear in your resume or elsewhere in your application.
Tajira: And I think, generally speaking, pitfalls in general would be not necessarily spending enough time with proofreading or not answering a question directly when it comes to a prompt that's given. Those are not uncommon things. We see a lot of times where people will leave experience off of their resume, thinking that we don't want to see it. That would be another pitfall.
So there's a lot of different ways that people can kind of inadvertently shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to their applications. Not being as candid as they should be, not providing context when they can. And so there's tons of ways that pitfalls can be created, but if you kind of take your time with applications and really put forth a thoughtful package where you're looking at how each of these different pieces of the application impact each other, you should be on the right track.
New Speaker: Thanks very much.
Tajira: Thanks so much. Moving on. Is this Tasia?
New Speaker: Yes.
New Speaker: Thank you, guys. My question is about, I would consider myself a nontraditional student, working since college for about four years as a paralegal. You know, in life you go through things that's just... how can I set myself aside from the rest of the applicants? Do I speak towards my professional development, experiences I had as far as that, or by settling that with the diversity statement?
Tajira: I think it's all of the above, honestly. When it comes to you being able to tell your story, no one else can tell your story but you. When it comes down to trying to make sure that you're setting yourself apart, the best way to do that is by being your genuine, authentic self, by making sure that throughout your documents, different facets of you are coming through, that your perspective is very clear.
Your personal statement can talk about parts of your professionalism or something that impacted you or something that helped put you on the trajectory that you're now on toward law school, while your diversity statement can get more personal and into your family dynamic and into, you know, what it is that's driving you forward, what's motivating you, what you're passionate about, that's a part of your identity, that's also a part of what's moving you forward.
And so, like, if, as I was mentioning with Nathan, if you kind of think about how all of these different pieces of an application fit together, then it's almost like a puzzle. And the more clear the picture is when all the pieces are together, the better your chances are. Does that make sense?
New Speaker: Absolutely.
Tajira: Okay, great. Thank you so much for joining us. Our next question is from Aaron.
New Speaker: Oh, hello. My question's a little bit, I guess, a little bit long, but it's kind of, kind of like Nathan's question earlier. So, one of the reasons that I want to go into law school and pursue a career in law is because of my father's incarceration, how it affected my community and my family, and the other one's a mix of mock trial and undergrad, and academically, I have a lot of interest in the field.
But how much is too much on, like, my father's incarceration side, because I'd like to explain that thoroughly, but I really don't want to come off as a sob story. And it's a very difficult thing to do. And whereas I've spoken to professors about it to try to see, like, if they can read over my personal statement to see if it's a little bit too much or too, or not a lot, but as former admissions counselors or former admissions board members, you know, what would y'all consider too much or too little?
Tajira: So, on behalf of my colleagues, I'm just going to put this out there. When it comes to the "sob story," I guarantee you that that was some applicant that came up with that catch phrase, because when it comes to actually going through and reviewing admissions applications and reading your stories and learning about you and what you've been through, none of us are looking at these things as sob stories.
We're looking at these as opportunities to get to know you and who you are. When it comes to sharing a part of your family history or something that you're wanting to impress upon us, the important thing to do in a personal statement especially is to make sure that even if you're telling us a part of your dad's story, you make sure that you bring it back to you so that we still get a sense of who you are in relation to these circumstances and in relation to what happened, because at the end of the day, it's you that's applying to law school.
So I need to get a sense of what is driving you to law school and what's moving you forward. And that's a pitfall that a lot of people fall into. They'll talk about someone in their family who maybe pioneered something. They'll talk about someone who, you know, has been such an inspiration to them. They'll talk about a mentor. And then all of a sudden that particular candidate gets lost because they've used two full pages on that person and only left about a paragraph for themselves.
And so I want you to make sure that you find a right balance when it comes to really giving us a sense not only of what your story is, what happened to kind of drive you to law school, but also what it is about you that's going to really move the needle forward. How are you going to be successful? How are you going to get through when times get hard? And so make sure that you find that balance for yourself as you're moving forward.
New Speaker: Okay, thank you.
Tajira: Thank you. And so the next person on the list is Mahie. I'm so sorry if I'm butchering your name.
New Speaker: Hi, my question is I've heard admissions counselors say before that they prefer applicants to take the LSAT only once, but as someone who's taken the LSAT multiple times, how can I convey to anyone who's reading my application, maybe the reasons for taking it multiple times are how I felt like I improved? Is the addendum a good way to do this, and do you have any advice as to going about doing this?
Tajira: Great question. Christie?
Christie: Yes. So if there are different reasons for why you improved drastically or why you took it multiple times, the LSAT addendum would be the perfect place to explain that. And you want to be factual. You don't want to come off as making excuses for your different performances. You just want to tell them what happened. But yeah, the LSAT addendum would be the appropriate place to do that.
Tajira: Great. Was that helpful, Mahie?
New Speaker: Yes, it was. Thank you.
Tajira: Thank you so much. And our next question comes from Sasha.
New Speaker: Hi, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. So my question is, I applied last cycle and, like a lot of people, I wasn't successful. And so my question is, when you look at reapplicants' applications, what are you looking for, and what can people do to make themselves stand out the second time?
Tajira: That's a great question. Jen?
Jenifer: If you're applying to the exact same school, I think that you really want to use that as an opportunity to have a fresh take on the personal statement, because a lot of times schools and committees are looking to see what you actually changed if they see that you're flagged as a reapplicant.
So in many ways, they're going to give a little skim to that previous application. So you kind of get twice the real estate. So don't waste it by only adjusting like a paragraph or something. I think try to take as fresh of a take on the personal statement as you possibly can. In my opinion, I think that's a good way to go.
I also think you have to dedicate some real estate, whether it be a short addendum or a short piece of the personal statement, to really outlining kind of what you've done in the past year to basically improve yourself and make yourself a more viable candidate for law school.
Tajira: Does that help, Sasha?
New Speaker: Yep, absolutely. I'm taking notes. Thank you.
Tajira: Excellent. Thanks for joining us. Our next person is Supria.
New Speaker: Thank you for taking my question. Can you hear me?
Tajira: Yes, hello.
New Speaker: Hi, cool. Yeah. So, thank you, first of all, for doing this. I've been following 7Sage for a bit and everything you all do is very helpful. My question is about applying early decision. I know that a couple of programs have scholarships attached and others don't. But it's kind of unclear whether there's sort of a "bump" in terms of your likelihood of being admitted if you apply ED the way that there is in undergraduate admissions, or if it's kind of just another way of letting the school know that you're very interested in them. Thank you.
Tajira: Thank you for your question. I can tell you specifically, because I worked at UC Berkeley, when it came to our binding early decision program, it did not increase anyone's chances. The acceptance rate in the early decision program was almost completely identical to that of the regular pool. It did help us get a sense of who felt like Berkeley was absolutely their number one first choice, but it didn't necessarily increase chances. Does that help?
New Speaker: Yes, that does. Thank you so much.
Tajira: You're welcome. The next person is Rachel. Hi there.
New Speaker: Hi, thanks for answering our questions. So I have a gap in my resume, specifically my education, and it is because of a medical condition, the onset of the medical condition. And I'm wondering whether it would be better to discuss it in an addendum or discuss it in a diversity statement, since now that it's managed, it's a condition that I live with.
So I feel like it affects me in that way. Or if there's a way to kind of combine both, like an addendum-type explanation and a kind of diversity impact in one statement and where to put that. If you have advice on that, that'd be great.
Christie: So I think you, if it's something that continues to impact you and something you feel would add, you know, first of all, I do think it should be addressed either in an addendum or in a diversity statement.
And as to where, it really depends on whether, does it explain why you were on the trajectory that you're going on? Does it help explain something about your background that just shows another side of you? If it's more just a factual thing, there was a gap because I had to take a few months or a semester off from school and, you know, it affected my grades in this way, or that's more factual and would be in an addendum.
But if it's something that you feel explains or just impacts you further, then I think it is more of a diversity statement and like how you continue to manage it, deal with it, and how it sort of fills out some other aspect of you that is not clear elsewhere.
New Speaker: Okay. That's helpful. Thank you. Yeah, it definitely is the latter. It was a few years' gap that I have, though, so I'm just, I just wanted to make sure that it won't be looked at as how come I have not addressed it in an addendum?
Christie: Yeah, that makes sense. If it's a few years, yeah, I would definitely, maybe it's more than just an addendum.
Tajira: Right. And given the length of time and that it was during school, there might also be a location on the application where you answer parts of that. So just make sure that you keep a look-out. Once applications open on September 1st, different schools ask about gaps differently, but typically, when there's a gap in education, there's a specific question for that and space on the application to kind of give a short answer as well.
New Speaker: Wonderful. Thank you very much. That's very helpful.
Tajira: You're welcome. Thanks for joining us. Our next question comes from Sophia.
New Speaker: Hi. I was wondering if you guys could talk a little bit more about the rolling admissions process and specifically, how late in the cycle is considered too late? For example, if I was going to take the October, the November LSAT, would that be considered still like a late application or what do you think the trade-off is between waiting to send an application versus maybe taking the LSAT one more time?
Jenifer: Well, earlier is always better in terms of rolling admission. However, if the LSAT puts you to where you're at the 25th percentile or even below for a school, being early is probably not enough to overcome that, and certainly retaking the LSAT is in order. However, once you register to take the LSAT, you are automatically flagged, and all of the schools that you have applied to will see that you have a future LSAT and when that is.
Many schools, not all, pretty much will process you as much as they can go. And then they're not going to move any further on you until they see the new LSAT, unless they already know they want to say yes. So you could always just go ahead, get your application sent in, register for the LSAT, and then just be in communication with the admissions office about whether you need to say or do anything in addition to just the flag to ensure that your application is enacted upon until your LSAT score is available.
New Speaker: Okay, thank you so much.
Tajira: Thank you, Sophia. Our next question comes from Kashif. Hi there, yes.
New Speaker: Great. Thank you so much for doing this. Well, I had a question about addenda, which is a lot of schools only have two slots for addenda, but if I want to write a GPA and LSAT addenda, can I combine them into just one of the slots and use the other for a diversity statement?
Tajira: Well, can you combine an LSAT and a GPA addendum into one addendum? Yes. Can you use the other slot for a diversity statement? That depends on the school, and you want to make sure that you're really following instructions. And so if a particular question allows you to upload a specific document, and then that's the only one that's stated, I would not upload something that's contrary to what their instructions say.
Typically, for a diversity statement, that would be under optional statements. There are a small handful of schools that don't accept diversity statements, and so you're going to want to clarify with that particular school what their preference is.
New Speaker: Yes. Thank you.
Tajira: Thank you so much. So the next question is from, is it Sherry?
New Speaker: Yes. That's right. Thank you.
Tajira: Thank you.
New Speaker: Yeah, thank you for hosting this. I have a quick question. I've heard before that if you have work experience after college, it's good to, in addition to receiving an academic recommendation, also one from your boss or somebody that knew you at work. I just heard that advice for, I think, somebody that had been out of school for a while, so it made more sense.
But personally, for me, by the time I apply, I'll have been at my current job for two years. Would it be important for you as a consultant or for an admission officer to see a letter of recommendation from my work or is it kind of less important than an academic one from back when I was in college a couple years ago.
Christie: So I would say that, so for, I think all, most, maybe all schools, at least one academic recommendation is required, generally speaking. I mean, it depends on how long have you been out. You've been out for two years. It would be nice to see a professional recommendation, but definitely not required. Whereas a second letter, academic letter of recommendation would be welcomed, if that makes sense.
New Speaker: Yep. That makes sense. Thanks so much.
Tajira: Thank you. And the next question comes from Casey.
New Speaker: I hope all is well. My question is, I just wanted to know, how can I bolster my application as a nontraditional student, where I went to community college for two years, and then I transferred at a university and then I graduated the next two years. So I was just wondering if that all, if I should mention that on my application or if I should just focus on the latter two years of my college.
Tajira: Is it the community college that's making you nontraditional, or is there something else?
New Speaker: It's the community college that makes me a nontraditional student.
Jenifer: Well, I think that your transcripts that will be featured in your CAS report will tell the story of how you came to getting your bachelor's degree. So they will see that you came from community college and transferred, but that doesn't tell the story of how that impacted you and maybe any adversity that you faced in having, you know, experienced your education in that way.
If that is a story of yours and that was very impactful, then by all means, tell it in another place in your application. But I don't think that it needs to be explained. Many people go through the community college system, but if there was something about that that really left a lasting impact on you and is motivating your desire to go to law school and it's relevant, then by all means, tie it into some sort of statement that is in the written portion of the application.
Tajira: Yeah, I think I'm, I was kind of stuck on the nontraditional portion because to me, if you went from high school to community college to university, that's not actually a nontraditional route. If you had taken several years away before you went to college, or if you had a whole other career before coming down this path towards law school, I might be looking at you as kind of a nontraditional student, but as Jen said, it's so common to see people go through community college.
That's not really something that I would consider nontraditional, but if there's something about that experience that has really stuck with you and impacted you in a way, then that is something that I would want to hear about. Does that make sense, Casey?
New Speaker: Yes. It makes a lot of sense. Thank you.
Tajira: Thank you so much for joining us. Our next question is from Matthew.
New Speaker: Hi, thank you, everybody, for asking all of the previous questions. All these answers have been incredibly insightful. So one of my questions is as a splitter, since you, I specifically will be a higher LSAT, lower GPA splitter. And I was wondering if there, like, what other factors on the application might potentially raise red flags in regards to an acceptance, for example, if I have a misdemeanor charge, will this be something that, since I'm already coming in as a splitter, might potentially take me from an acceptance to a waitlist or even a reject? Does the question make sense?
Christie: Yeah, your question makes sense. So I think what you want to make sure when you submit your application, first of all, you answer all the questions truthfully. You want to have explanations for the lower GPA, and you could do that in your GPA addendum. Maybe that's related to the misdemeanor in some way, or maybe not. You don't want the admissions committee to have questions. You don't want to leave them with questions after they've read your entire application and all your written materials.
So, yeah, that would be my advice. Just make sure, you know, for the different things that you see as weaknesses, they may, if you have a reasonable, factual explanation, they may not be as bad as you think they are.
Jenifer: I'd just like to add, I totally agree with Christie, but I would like to add to that the consideration that is paid to the character and fitness portion of the application is not going to be influenced by whether you are a splitter or not.
You could be above the median in both regards. If it's a character and fitness issue that is serious enough, a law school may not accept that applicant. So I don't want you to feel like a misdemeanor is going to count heavily against you just because you're a splitter. It may not matter that much, especially once you're able to justify the reasons, but that combination, it doesn't matter.
You could have exceptional numbers and a misdemeanor and you would get the same consideration. So, you know, don't beat yourself up about being a splitter or, you know, having a past. Just be confident in what you put forward in your application.
Tajira: Does that help, Matthew?
New Speaker: Yeah, that's incredibly insightful. Thank you so much.
Tajira: You're welcome. Thanks for joining us. Okay. Moussa.
New Speaker: Hi, I have a two-part question. I was entered on a waiting list and I was wondering what would put someone on the waiting list? Like, is it like Matthew was saying, if someone's like a splitter or is it something, oh, you guys just think this person's almost good enough? And what's more important when you guys are looking at applications? Is it like the LSAT or the GPA, or is it like a little bit of both?
Tajira: So, I mean, the age-old answer that you're probably going to receive across the board is it depends. When it comes down to how things are weighted, it depends on the school, it depends on their goals, it depends on the priorities that have been set forth by their university, their dean of admissions, the dean of the law school, et cetera.
When it comes to a decision to waitlist someone, it depends on, yes, it can depend on the credentials, but it can also depend on the writing. It can depend on how much space is left in the class. There's a lot of factors that play into these decisions and depending on when you apply and when the application becomes complete and what the application is comprised of, that decision may vary depending on when the application is submitted.
So I didn't actually answer either of your questions directly because there's not actually a direct answer I can give, because it really is going to depend on any number of factors. There's no one reason why something lands on the waitlist. There's no one reason why or what would be weighted more heavily. Each school is different. I've worked at five different schools and all of them reviewed admissions differently.
I hope that that helps you a little bit, at least to understand some of the considerations that we're thinking of, but there's no direct answer to your questions.
New Speaker: So, okay. What if this is a little bit clearer? Like, is ethnicity something that's looked into just as much as LSAT score or GPA, because I see that there's a lot of schools post their percentages of like culture or ethnicity of students or, I don't know.
Tajira: Yeah, I wouldn't think so, but Christie or Jen, if you've seen a situation where that mattered more than LSAT or GPA, can you speak up?
Jenifer: I haven't seen a situation like that. I think what it is is that we're valuing pretty much all the different, that's what holistic review is about. You're looking at all of the different characteristics and not really assigning any weight to any one thing. You're looking at total package of that individual, but then also total package of the community that you're trying to build.
What's the personality of this class? What are their life experiences been? What mix of worldviews do we have? So you can't have that with having exactly one carbon copy, this is the student we're looking for, because if we went by a checklist with points, and if it's this, this, this, and this, you're in, you get a class that looks exactly the same. And that's exactly what law schools don't want.
New Speaker: Thank you.
Christie: I would just add one more thing. Unless things have changed drastically since I worked in admissions, I mean, the numbers do matter. So I would say, and this is just a general, LSAT, GPA would probably be, you know, 70 to 80% of your application. And then all of those other soft factors definitely come into play. No one is making decisions based solely on the numbers, but the numbers are important.
New Speaker: Thank you.
Tajira: Thanks for joining us. Okay. Michael.
New Speaker: Hi, thank you all for doing this. I worked a full-time job during all four years of college to support myself. I'll be graduating as a senior this year. Is that something that I should include on my resume, a personal statement, or maybe like an economic diversity factor?
Tajira: Go ahead, Christie.
Christie: So I would say definitely include it in your resume. You know, people sometimes think, well, in college, I did these, I can only list my extracurriculars, clubs, other types of activities like that. But I always think that work experience during college is important to list. And yes, you can also include it in a diversity statement. I mean, if that was the reason you were working all four years of college, because you needed money to go to college, that can be something that's very impactful, and you could discuss your upbringing and your background and why that makes you have a different perspective or a unique perspective.
New Speaker: Perfect. Thank you.
Tajira: Thank you for joining us. So our next question is from Shamiha?
New Speaker: Yes. Hi, thank you so much for having this room open. So my question is related to addenda. I was wondering if it's possible to have too many pieces of addenda. So I'm planning to write basically a GPA addendum. I'm also, I have to also submit a character and fitness, and I'm wondering if it's, for the LSAT addendum, if it's more required or optional. So I do have a 10-point difference in between two of my scores. So I was wondering, would I need to submit an addendum for this, or is it more optional?
Tajira: For a 10-point difference, I would recommend including an LSAT addendum just because then you have the opportunity to tell what you did differently and highlight progress. A character and fitness statement is not an addendum actually at all, because it's a required document. So we don't look at that as an addendum.
New Speaker: Okay. I think that's about it. Thank you so much.
Tajira: Thank you. We've got two questions left. The first one is from John.
New Speaker: Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak with all of us. My question was fairly brief. It's just, as far as the timeline goes, would you have an idea of when schools typically state the current, the new, this coming cycle's personal statement topics, if there are one? Thank you.
Jenifer: Usually you're just going to see that type of information once the application itself opens. Most of those are on September 1. A lot of times, though, however, a good indicator is what was asked in a previous year. And a lot of schools are going to place the previous year's application on their website in PDF format, just for you to look over. Also, of course, read the How to Apply section of the website of schools that you're interested in. Many of those sections will tell you, you know, the nuts and bolts of all the pieces of what goes into putting together your application, and sometimes you will see prompts listed there as well.
New Speaker: Thank you.
Tajira: Thank you, John. Okay. We have reached our final question of the evening. Ryan.
New Speaker: Thank you. Thank you so much for giving the opportunity to, listening to everyone's questions. I just had a, sort of wanted to assess my, so basically, I'm definitely going to be considered a splitter student when it comes time to send my application in. I won't go into the specifics, obviously, my statistics and everything, but I was in a very, very rigorous STEM major, and my university was one of the, it's definitely one of the most, like, on like the top public universities.
And I graduated about a year into COVID. And for the most part, the reason for my academic performance largely came down to having a lot on my plate and my involvement in many different clubs and activities on campus. I wasn't joining things sporadically. For the most part, I was fairly consistent in my extracurriculars and a lot of diversity in that aspect, but really just having my hands in a lot of things made it pretty difficult to really devote the time necessary to really succeed in such a difficult major.
But then during COVID, really, when all of those obligations sort of went away, I had about a year left of school and my academic performance improved significantly, really because I had nothing else to do but my studies and focus on doing really well. And it was a very drastic sort of improvement. But even still with that, it'll definitely categorize me as a splitter student. I was just wondering, is that something I should even mention in like a GPA addendum considering like any of this?
Tajira: Well, I think, you know, the important thing is, do you want to give an admissions officer context, right? Like, so if you know that they're going to be reading through your application and you think that they're going to have questions about your application, it's important to think of it in terms of do they have all the information that they need to say yes? And so if you, if they might need context to get to yes, then you should give them that context.
New Speaker: Okay. Meaning if they were curious as to maybe why there was a, my academic performance was not as proficient in the earlier years, but then there was a sudden upswing towards the last year of college.
Tajira: Right. Because if you're in college for four years and three of those years, the grades aren't great, what was the reason? Right? Like, because like the majority of your years, you have shown a certain type of performance. Only the final year is showing that strong performance. Which one is going to be reflective of your abilities in law school?
New Speaker: I see. Yeah.
Tajira: Does that make sense?
New Speaker: There really wasn't, yeah, definitely, yeah. There really wasn't any incidents, like I know, unfortunately, you know, a lot of students go through some crazy hardship that like reflects poorly on their, maybe they couldn't focus on something, but there really wasn't like an event in my life that caused my performance. It was really honestly just—
Tajira: You were overcommitted.
New Speaker: Definitely. Yeah, it was just a lot of commitments I had and it was difficult to really just lock down and be at the top of my class or anything like that.
Tajira: Well, I think as long as you tell the truth, you know, and you say like, you know, this was my situation, I was involved in a lot of things. I took on leadership roles. I did X, Y, and Z, right? The pandemic hit and I wasn't able to participate in those things, so I really kind of focused. I like hunkered down and I was able to perform a lot stronger.
It would be to your benefit to then make a statement that's kind of like, "Moving forward, this is the work ethic that I would utilize while in law school," so that they can kind of tie that to something and say, okay, well, moving forward, how is he going to be? Is he going to revert back to his old ways, or is he going to, you know, like, they're going to want to get a sense of what you learned from that.
New Speaker: I see. Okay. So a GPA addendum would be beneficial.
Tajira: I think so, yes.
New Speaker: Okay. That's good to know. Thank you. Thank you for clarifying that because I've heard people say, oh, don't even mention it because admissions officers will think you were lazy during those few years and you just weren't trying, and it would be only to your disadvantage if you say that, but I guess if I include, or if I just, if I mentioned the last year and my sort of disciplinary change, it would be better.
Tajira: Well, I mean, there's always something to be said for creating new habits that are good for you, right? And when it comes to, you know, what an admissions officer will assume, we'll only assume if you leave us space to. If you give us the context, then you actually get to control the narrative. Whereas if you leave big gaps, then we're going to make assumptions and it's probably not going to be favorable.
New Speaker: Okay. That makes sense. Thank you very much.
Tajira: My pleasure. And with that, we've now reached the end of our session. Thank you so much to my panelists, to Christie and to Jen for joining us today, and thank you to everyone in the audience for joining us and listening in.
Don't forget that next week, we do have a wonderful conversation that includes both 7Sage admissions consultants and professional writers talking about brainstorming law school statements. So, if you are starting to prepare your law school applications and really just don't know where to get started, make sure that you tune in next Wednesday at 9:00 PM Eastern here on Clubhouse.
And in the interim, if you have questions, shoot us a message on Twitter. Our account is @7Admissions with an S at the end. And you can utilize the hashtag 7SageonCH, or make sure that you join for a free account on 7Sage.com and jump into the discussion forum, where you'll find answers to a lot of the questions that you have here, including some answers from 7Sagers who have been through the process already.
So thank you again and have a great night.
J.Y.: Hi, it's J.Y. again. Thank you 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.
That's it for this episode. Take care of yourself and see you next time.