Tajira: When it comes to feeling like there are certain things that we might be lacking, I wouldn't necessarily put anything in a personal statement to highlight that. A lot of times there are candidates who do that, but the personal statement is really about your strengths and your journey.
J.Y.: Hello, and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I'm J.Y. Ping, and on today's episode, admissions consultant Tajira McCoy attends a lively Q&A session hosted by a group of 7Sagers who met on the discussion forums and then formed their own study group on Discord. The participants were invited to submit some questions in advance, which Tajira tackles first, before opening the room to questions from members of the group. So, without further ado, please enjoy the conversation.
Tajira: Well, hello again, everyone. My name is Tajira McCoy. I also go by Taj. I am an admissions consultant over at 7Sage. I worked in law school admissions at various law schools across the country over the course of about 11 years. I've worked for two publics, two privates, a Jesuit, and an HBCU and a T14. I've also worked for a year and a half in law school career development, so I've kind of seen both the front and the back ends when it comes to the admissions process itself and when it comes into going out there and starting your very first job after law school.
When it comes to 7Sage, I help with admissions strategy, I help with editing, I help with talking through school lists and really trying to help make sure that the applications that are submitted are polished and tell a really strong narrative. As an admissions person, I am a big-picture person, and so I'm looking through applications to try to find folks that I feel fit a community, that they fit what we're looking for, that they help us to meet our goals, and that they're going to be contributing members to our community. And so as I'm helping clients for 7Sage, those are the same kinds of things that I'm looking at as I'm reviewing different documents that our clients are putting together.
To start with some of your questions, the first question that I have received, and I might actually go out of order a little bit with these questions, just to kind of deal with some of them, because some of them are a little lengthier in the response that's needed. I think one of the easier ones is the recommendation for the number of schools to apply to. Typically, I would say somewhere in the ballpark of 10 to 15 schools makes a lot of sense.
You want to have some schools that are targets, some that are reaches, some that might be a super reach, but you want some safeties too. You want a good spread because you want to have multiple options to choose from later on, and you want to base that list off of what your goals are. And so your goals might be scholarship, it might be a high-rank school, it might be a specific region where you know that you want to practice. It might be a school that has a really strong program in terms of the area of law that you want to practice in.
So there's going to be a lot of things to consider. I strongly recommend that as you're getting ready to do this process, that you write down what your priorities are, because in the springtime, when everybody's talking money, a lot of people forget what those priorities were and they focus on the awards as opposed to everything else that was on that list. And so you want to be able to have something that helps to ground you, something that you can come back to later to remind yourself of, of what you're discussing and what you're kind of really focused on.
That was one question. Let's see, the pros and cons of applying early decision. I love this question. I think it's actually really an easy one. With early decision, there's the side that just wants to have an answer right away, and then there's the side that wants to be able to see all of the decisions and negotiate. If you fall on this side at all, do not apply early decision, because you won't have the opportunity to do any of those things that you want to do in terms of considering those other schools.
Early decision is really about communicating to a school that you have a number one choice, and no matter what else happens, no matter who else you hear from, no matter what opportunity they give you, you will still drop everything and go to that school. That is essentially what you're communicating to a school that you apply early decision to. You're making a commitment. If you are of the frame of mind where you're like, you know, I'm applying to all of the T14, I'm going to apply early decision to Berkeley, but I really kind of want to hear from Harvard and you, that doesn't help you.
Berkeley's decisions will come out on December 7th, and then you're stuck, and so now you automatically have to withdraw all of your applications if you receive an offer of admission. You really want to make sure that, whatever school it is you choose as your early decision school, you're happy with that decision, because if it's a binding program, those schools will talk if for whatever reason you ultimately decide not to enroll in that binding program.
If you happen to have a binding admission and start applying to other schools, that can cause an array of issues later on down the line. I have seen admissions offers rescinded, and so it's just important to know, going in, you know, what your options are and what your priorities are.
There was a question that said, okay, so if we're offered a scholarship, how can we best ask follow-up clarification questions such as, "Will the scholarship apply to summer coursework?" without seeming like we're asking for too much? And I thought this was a great question. Know that scholarship offers, actually, the ABA requires that schools provide the particulars when it comes to scholarship offers when they send the scholarship offer.
And so normally that's either going to be in paper or it's going to be via email. It'll often have a link to all of the terms and conditions that apply. Typically, it's going to say right in the letter that it applies either primarily just to each semester so that it's not covering summer classes, or it's going to tell you how that spread works. All of that information should be very easily attained for you, and if it's not there, then it's often posted within an admitted student's portal page. They're typically very clear when it comes to the standards for their scholarship, because they have to be.
Application tips for people with weak softs. This was one I actually asked Alina, did she happen to know what kind of softs we're talking here? And so I'm going to talk through a couple of different answers for this question, because it depends on what softs we're talking. So, soft factors obviously include your written materials, it might include your resume, it might include your work experience, it might include the explanations that you provide if there happen to be some weak points within your application.
And so, depending on what it is that you think is going to be considered a weak point, you can provide context up front to help answer the questions that you think that we might have. One of the things that I like to tell people is, you know, when we are reviewing applications, the biggest thing, the biggest no-no is kind of leaving us with a bunch of questions that are unanswered.
If we don't feel that we have all of the information that we need, it is really hard for us to make a favorable decision. However, if you provide us with the context and the background to help us understand what might be a perceived weakness, then it's really easy for us to go back to our admissions committee and say, well, this is the reason, and this is why I think that, you know, that's a blip, and this is what they're really going to be able to do.
So if it happens to be that there's something on someone's background, maybe they have a character and fitness statement that they have to write, or maybe they have some experience that they feel like isn't sufficient for a particular school, let's say they're applying to Northwestern, and Northwestern happens to like a good amount of work experience and they might have six months versus a year, but they've decided to apply this cycle, that might be something you want to address head-on.
And so, in doing that, it really does help you get a sense of, what is it that I need to explain? If there's anything that you think the admissions office is going to have a question about, you want to do that up front because in 9 times out of 10, the admissions office will not have time to come back and ask questions. Every once in a while they will, but most of the time you want to answer those questions up front.
I'm seeing a question in the chat. Does 7Sage disclose to law schools which students have received admissions consulting or essay editing? No, we're not required to do that. However, some schools will ask on applications if a student has received assistance. Yale asks it outright, and there are others that do too. However, most admissions officers assume that someone has received at least some help, whether it's paid or not paid. Somebody read your documents, somebody proofread for you, someone kind of looked things over. So I think the reason most schools don't ask is because there's an assumption that you had somebody look at everything.
There's definitely those moments where, you know, in reviewing documents where we want to see what your raw writing will look like, and that's why that writing sample from the LSAT is required, because it's the only piece of paper that no one else gets to touch, and so that can be very telling for us.
Another question that was asked was the insights with regard to applying to dual or joint-degree programs. It's funny because so many schools offer these programs, but there actually aren't a ton of students that sign up for them. It can actually be a rarity, and what I find is most students end up determining that for whatever their career path is, the law degree is sufficient and they don't actually need that added degree, that added debt, that added, you know, tuition cost, and so it just really depends.
There are every once in a while folks that are going into a really niche area where it makes sense to have that MBA or maybe that MPH and then go from there with their law degree. But in most instances, we find that people don't need both. And so though we market them and though the schools have consortium agreements to allow for these types of programs, there are very few folks that actually go through them all.
Tips for applicants with degrees outside of the US and Canada. The biggest things here are just allowing time for transcript evaluations if your transcripts happen to be in another language. Because those things have to go through LSAC, it does take a substantial amount of time longer than a US or a Canadian transcript would in being considered and evaluated, and so that process can be lengthy and there's no guaranteed time by which they'll have everything done.
And so that's the thing that I think is the biggest barrier when it comes to international applicants. Everything else is the same. We look at these applicants the same, we look at all of the documents the same, and it's really about getting a sense of the story. I've never worked at a law school, and I've now worked at five, where, I've never worked at a law school where we've had any kind of quota that, or threshold number that we couldn't admit a certain number of international students. It's always been about, you know, who's going to be the best fit regardless of where they're from.
And similarly for the schools that I've worked at, scholarship has been for everybody, and so it's really about making sure that, as you're looking at the schools you're applying to, how do they communicate that information specifically for international students? What information do they provide on their website?
And you can actually see on their 509 report, which is something that they're required to do for the ABA, how many international students they admitted based on the rubric that they have, because they have to do a breakdown of everybody that's admitted by sex, by race. For international students, the race gets assigned as, it's a very specific, I think it's nonresident alien. I hate that word, but that's what they get assigned on the actual 509 report. And so that gives you a really good sense of how many people happen to be international applicants and are admitted.
At some schools, you might see that it's like one person, but other schools you might see it's like 40, and that's a big difference because then you have a sense of how their offices work. In asking questions about abilities of, you know, if you happen to be on a student visa, you definitely want to get in touch with their career services office, because they're going to also have some constraints on what they can do in terms of OPT and CPT time if you happen to be, want to be able to work during your summers while you're in law school as well. For my international students, definitely keep that in mind. So, yeah, it's really just about the transcripts, then.
So I think I've answered all of the questions that I received up front, but I am happy to discuss any part of the admissions process with you all. I've worked at a bunch of law schools, so I can give you context based on kind of some different perspectives at different schools as well. So the question really is, you know, if you apply ED, what if you receive an acceptance from a school, but they didn't provide enough scholarship money for the candidate to be able to attend? Is the candidate obligated to attend due to the rules of applying early admissions?
If it's a binding program, absolutely, you're required to attend. The issue there is, that's a part of a reason why not to apply early decision. There are very few schools that have guaranteed scholarships when it comes to early decision. One would be Berkeley. One would be Northwestern. You need to know that that award is enough. And if that award is not enough, and you're hoping that they might negotiate that up, I would not apply early decision because there's no guarantee of that.
If you happen to apply to a school that doesn't have any kind of guaranteed scholarship assigned, you're definitely not necessarily going to get what you think you're going to get or what you want. And so the ability to negotiate is going to be paramount there. If you need a certain amount to ensure that you can attend a specific school, do not apply early decision.
I have a question that says, does legal status such as DACA affect chances, specifically negatively? Absolutely not. Nobody looks at that status. For some schools, they can't even see that status as they're reviewing. A lot of schools suppress that question specifically so that there isn't an ability for anybody to have any kind of negative anything towards that.
Do schools notice when your personal statements are personalized and tailored to each school? Is it usually the case that students do this? It depends, and the reason why it depends is because some schools will also allow for those "why X?" school statements. If they allow for that statement, you really don't need to personalize your personal statement because you're giving them something that's very school-specific in another statement.
However, there are certain schools where they give you the instruction that they want that information in the personal statement, because they don't accept a "why X?" statement. So, for instance, USC is one of those schools. They do not want a "why X?" statement, they want it in their personal statement. They'll allow a third page for the personal statement, so you can specifically talk to them about what attracts you to their school.
Conversely, Berkeley, UCLA, they have specific statements that they want you to write about them. And so even though Berkeley requires a two- to four-page personal statement, they don't expect you to talk about Berkeley at all in that statement because they have a "why X?" "why Berkeley?" statement, and they want you to write that too. Feels like a ton of paperwork, but what Berkeley's trying to do is give you the opportunity to tell more of your story, because they don't have an interview process and they don't have the bandwidth to start one.
Similarly, UCLA has, they don't have a "why X?" statement, but they have a programmatic contribution statement. And so with that, what they're trying to do is see what area of law or program is it that they offer that you feel like you can't get anywhere else, what's really attracting you to them, and they want that in a separate statement. Similarly, there are ones like the core value statement at Penn, or Georgetown takes a "why Georgetown?" statement.
And so it just depends. There are little niches here and there. And then there are schools that say that they don't take a "why X?" statement, but they actually do. So, like, UT, for example, on their application, it says, "we don't accept this document," there's nowhere to upload it, but if you email it to them, they'll take it. So it's just a matter of having a sense of what all of these different schools are looking for, how they accept their information, and, really, what it is that they ultimately want to receive.
So, I have more questions in the chat, and I have some hands up. I'm going to kind of go back and forth so that we can make sure we're hitting everybody. But I think that, is it Alon? You had your hand up first?
New Speaker: Yeah, I have a question, two questions in one, but if you get accepted, is it possible to move your seat to the next cycle to start law?
Tajira: It's possible, but it depends on the school. So what you're talking about is a deferment. There are schools that will outright offer deferments. A lot of time schools accidentally overenroll. That just means that more people committed than they really planned on it. What they'll do is they'll offer students the opportunity, like let's say you're going to be relocating to go to school. You know, they might say, hey, if you would like to defer to next year, you can do that.
Some schools will even allow a scholarship award to defer from one year to the next, while others will say, we'll reconsider you for scholarship in the year that you actually choose to attend. So be really watchful of that part because that can get kind of sticky, and some schools, when they do deferrals, they make them binding, so that stops you from being able to apply to other schools in the next cycle.
So watch that as well, because if your plan is, I actually want to retake the LSAT and then see if I can get more money, you want to be careful. Just watch that a little bit.
New Speaker: Okay. Yeah, I think you kind of answered it, but would they be able to rescind the scholarship that they potentially offered for, if you deferred it, would you still be able to keep the same offer?
Tajira: It's possible. It's going to depend on the school and what their scholarship and deferral policies look like. For some schools, they're not allowed to defer scholarship, and so what they do is the second that they start reviewing people for scholarship in the next cycle, which is the next cycle where you're going to be entering, that's when they'll consider you for scholarship. For others, it says it right within their documentation.
Some of them have you do like a deferral request form, and it asks you then, are you requesting to be able to defer your scholarship? And you say yes, then often they'll just let it carry over to the next year, and it'll just start with you when you start school.
New Speaker: Okay, thank you.
Tajira: You're welcome. Okay, the next question I had here was, if a candidate applies in October, November, is that still considered early? Typically, yes. There are going to be some caveats there, though, because there's, in the T14, there's just a substantial amount of applications that come through those doors, and so it's important to understand kind of context. I'll use Berkeley because that's the one I'm most familiar with, but I can also kind of insert some thoughts on some other schools.
So for Berkeley in years past, pre-pandemic, we used to receive about 5,000 or 6,000 applications each year. We would receive about 2,000 to 3,000 before Christmas, and then the other half we would receive in January. In that instance, October, November was still relatively early. Once the pandemic hit, it was like this huge influx of applications came far earlier, and instead of receiving that 5,000 or 6,000 applications, Berkeley received 8,000, and the typical 8,000 applications that NYU was receiving, well, they received 10,000. Then, October, November wasn't as early as it was in years past.
I do think we're getting closer to what the previous normal was in terms of application numbers, and so I do think, I do still think October, November is early. September is very early. Are there schools that are already reviewing applications and making offers in September? Yes. Berkeley starts reviewing applications in September. Georgetown starts, Texas starts, USC starts, and admissions people are very friendly and a lot of us travel together and know each other really, really well.
The dean of admissions at Berkeley happens to be besties with the dean of admissions at NYU. A lot of times when they're making plans or creating programs, they actually are talking to each other as they're doing these things. Even though it feels like this is crazy competitive school to school, and we're all fighting each other, we actually know each other and are all quite very friendly, and so that's something to keep in mind.
Let me see. Alina, you had your hand up.
New Speaker: Yeah. So I'm going to compound some questions.
Tajira: Okay. Let me drink some coffee.
New Speaker: Yeah, there you go. It's going to be a long one. Okay, so kind of going off what you were talking about, you know, I really kind of commiserate with [unintelligible] in terms of perhaps not having the same, you know, intellectual achievements as some of the other applicants or, you know, super high-ranking professional experience, and in those cases, I'm wondering, like, would you recommend writing an addendum to that?
And to further expound on that, you know, you yourself are a writer, you're a writer. So I'm wondering, like, in terms of, is it better to write an addendum or is it more strategic to perhaps like craft it into the personal statements to, you know, like if you have something that is not necessarily, that wasn't exactly gained from your, you know, your undergraduate or professional experience, that you could highlight in your personal statement? I hope that sort of fizzles out into something clear.
Tajira: I kind of have more questions, actually. So when it comes to feeling like there are certain things that we might be lacking, I wouldn't necessarily put anything in a personal statement to highlight that. A lot of times there are candidates who do that, but the personal statement is really about your strengths and your journey. Sometimes people will talk about somewhere where they, like a starting point, and then at the finish, they're very strong, but other times there are candidates who kind of weave into their personal statement some of the things that they think are weaknesses to try to hit them off at the bat and like immediately address them early on, and that's not necessary.
When it comes to your addenda, that's really what those are there for. Addenda really are, essentially, optional statements where you're allowed the space to explain something that you feel needs it, you know, like your personal statement should stay that really strong journey statement, your narrative, what you're about, why you're moving forward in this way, how you see yourself being successful, maybe what your goals are. It doesn't have to hit all those things, but it should be kind of in that ballpark.
Whereas these addenda, they can be like short and sweet, like one page or less about a specific instance or a specific circumstance or just something that you feel needs to be addressed. And for some people, that could be a gap in education, it could be that life was happening one semester and we had to work full-time to help support the family. It could be we were grieving during specific times and things just didn't happen.
It could be that we had to just take time away because things are hard right now, you know, like there's a lot of things going on, and I think the important thing to remember is admissions folks, just like applicants to law school, we're all human. We get it. As long as you give us context for what was going on that you think that we might think is weak, then it helps us. I think there's a lot of folks who are afraid to talk about mental health, but, you know, that's a real thing.
And I think there are more and more candidates who are getting a little more comfortable in kind of talking about the things that they've struggled with that affect them and that may affect grades, that may affect other things, and just kind of shedding a light on that to see how they can move forward and how they can describe those things in a positive light. It's really about talking about your way through it so that you can say, okay, I dealt with this. This is where I am now, and this is how I know I'm stronger.
New Speaker: So, I have two unrelated questions, so I'll just start with one and then follow with the second one. So, back to, I wanted to go back to the application timelines about applying on the early side. In your experience, at what point do you think that the admissions outcomes change enough to a point where you would consider saying it might be a good idea to delay or reapply on the next cycle?
Because applications are expensive, you want to make sure you're putting your best foot forward. Some of us are going to be taking the LSAT in August, September. You know, if we don't get the scores we want, we might be taking it again. At what point would you say, okay, at this point, in order to get your best possible outcomes, it might be a good idea to push it off until the next cycle?
Tajira: You know, it really depends. If you're applying to T14 schools and you're taking the November LSAT, I'd be a little concerned just simply because December puts you a little bit behind, and a lot of times people don't start their documents until after they've got the LSAT where they want it to be. And so it's really important, let's say you were taking the November LSAT. It would be really, really important then to make sure you are kind of working on the other soft factors as you go.
It's going to be really, really difficult to turn around a full application after you've gotten your score back from November and still feel like you're ahead of the curve. When it comes to that December to January kind of slide, it's, there's this huge influx of applications that comes in right around that time, and so it really can be the difference between getting a decision in January versus getting a decision in sometimes like February, March, because there's just so many that come in all at the same time that it just, there ends up being a kind of a backlog.
Does that make sense? If you're not applying T14, or I would say T30, then I would say, you know, like the November LSAT wouldn't necessarily be as much of an issue. And so it really depends on where you're applying and what their particular application cycle looks like when it starts to kind of backlog. If it happens to be a school that does have like a February 1 or February 15 application deadline, then that December application is going to feel a lot later than it will for a school that has like an April or a continuing deadline.
New Speaker: Perfect. Thank you.
New Speaker: And then my second question is around letters of recommendation. So I've seen some conflicting advice on this point, so I'd be curious for your feedback. So I've been out of school for seven years now, so I have not maintained contact with any of the professors since my, since I've graduated. I did have good relationships with a couple of them, though, and I'd be curious at what point would admissions officers be, you know, okay with just getting professional recommendations or if it's worth it to reach back out to one of those academic professors, even if it is, you know, has been a few years since you've last spoke to them, if you think that you can get a good recommendation. So I'd be curious to get your feedback on that.
Tajira: That's a great question. You know, when it comes to letters of recommendation, the important thing to remember is you're applying to a school, and when it comes to the admissions committee, there tend to be a good number of faculty members on the admissions committee. Faculty members respect faculty members.
And so if you can get an academic letter, even after all this time, it's going to have some good weight to it because it's going to be able to attest to your abilities while you were in school, especially if you can have someone who had you for multiple classes, so they can talk about your growth over time, they can talk about your critical thinking, they might be able to talk about your group work and your writing. That's going to be a really strong letter. And so if you can get it, try.
They do understand, though, if you're more than five years out, there's not a huge expectation. If you're within five years, there are some schools that just outright require it. So if you're at that four-year mark and you haven't been in touch with anybody, you want to make sure you are. If you're at the seven-year mark and you still have a relationship where you could like reach out to them and kind of jog their memory based on some of the projects that you did, or maybe you were in their office hours quite a bit, that would be a good thing to do.
Just to have one letter, because there are some schools that take up to four letters to have something that's academic have some professional and maybe have something that can kind of talk to maybe some of the volunteerism or other things that you've done. That's a good kind of well-rounded set.
I saw that, yeah, of course. I saw that, is it Alon asked a question? Is it a red flag if you have four LSAT scores? Maybe. It can be, it depends. And so, and I hate that because I know we say it all the time, it depends. But you're going to hear that all through law school. With four LSAT scores, the difficulty with four or more is that they start to kind of all blend in together after a while. When you have one, it's very definitive. If you have two and there's kind of a difference, you can explain that away. Two or three, it's kind of easier to explain and give context for each of them.
The more that you have, the harder it is to say that one particular score is most reflective over all of the other scores, and so it starts to get kind of difficult. Now, if there's like one score that is substantially different from everything else, and by substantially, I mean, like 5, 7, 10 points different, then that's something that where you can kind of distinguish, but you need to make sure that you're giving the full context.
And so that's where an LSAT addendum is going to come in really, really handy, and you're probably going to want to talk about the scores one at a time. Similarly, if you have a bunch of cancellations, we can see that you canceled. And so, like, know that that's something else that we can see. We can see if you canceled, we can see if you didn't show up. All of that information is provided to us. And so if you have multiple cancellations, you might want to provide some context for that too.
If you have where you have like two scores and then one went higher, and then you took it again, and then there was a drop, that can be problematic because, again, it's going to be like, well, how do you know that that high score was the one that's most reflective of your performance and not the most recent score? There's going to be some difficulty in making that explanation, so you just want to make sure that you provide all the context you can for what was going on.
I understand that there have been a lot of tech issues. There have been a lot of different things that have kind of hindered people's ability to feel like they're performing at their best. You want to just make sure that you're giving all of that context. Go ahead and talk. I know you have something to say about it.
New Speaker: Do you not recommend canceling the first score if you have a score preview?
Tajira: If you have a score preview, it's not a score you want, right?
New Speaker: No, it's not a bad score, but no.
Tajira: What would be the bonus in keeping it?
New Speaker: I got a 161, but it's like, it's not a 150-something, you know what I mean? But it's definitely not what I want. That's like my perspective.
Tajira: Yeah. I mean, if it doesn't help you, why keep it?
New Speaker: I see. And then would it still be a red flag if you canceled one and took two more or three more?
Tajira: Not necessarily. Is that your only cancellation?
New Speaker: I just got my scores today, or yeah, today.
Tajira: Yeah. I wouldn't, like, if you have one cancellation or one absence, I'm not questioning that. If you have three cancellations, then I'm like, what's going on here? Give me some context for that. But one, I'm not going to have an issue with that.
New Speaker: Okay. Okay, cool. Thanks.
Tajira: Okay? No problem. I see Yasmin asked a question. In your experience, are there any topics or things that people talk about in personal statements that don't look good to schools? Yes. There are many. Okay, oftentimes, anything that's TMI is going to be something to avoid. Bodily fluids are often things where I'm like, ew, stop it, no. You know, it just depends. But there are things where people kind of talk about things, and you're like, I would use the gauge of, you know, if you would come to my office in admissions and talk to me about it, then it's probably okay. But if it's something that you wouldn't say to my face, I'd leave it out.
If it's an Aristotle quote, leave that out. If it's any quote, really, just leave that out, unless it happens to be a quote that's actually like your family mantra or something that you say to yourself every single day. A lot of times people do these things at the beginning of a personal statement to sound super profound, and it's cute and all, but no. It's just not helpful because at the end of the day, like now I've got someone else's voice in my head instead of yours. Right?
Similarly, there will be times when people will tell this incredible story about grandma, and grandma was this pioneer and she did all this badass stuff, and she's amazing. And now I want to admit grandma, but I don't know anything about you. And so you shot yourself in the foot because you told me a great story, but it's not, it doesn't have anything to do with your abilities. Right? And so we want to remember what the eyes on the prize are because, you guys are cracking me up in the comments, but like, but it's true.
It's one of those things where it's just like, you know, you want to make sure that at the end of the day, you are the star of these documents, right? If you're going into this career of advocacy and of being a legal practitioner, pretend this is your first case, and you're making the case for you to be a law student. Think about it in those terms. And so, in giving the story, yes, we can touch on grandma, but grandma inspired me to do this, and this is what I did with it. Then you take it and you make it your own.
Winnie says, upon applying, are you automatically considered for scholarships or should you research and apply separately for each school? It depends. For merit-based scholarships, you're automatically considered. For need-based awards, you often have to do an additional form. Sometimes that might be the FAFSA, sometimes a school may have a school-specific, sometimes you might have a school-specific form that you have to do, but it depends.
There are schools that will also have scholarship essays that they collect when you submit your application. Berkeley, NYU, those two happen to have a lot of different scholarship essay options with their application. UCLA does, I believe Northwestern does as well. So you just want to look really closely. The hard part is you don't actually get to see the current application instructions until the current application comes out, and so that'll be right around September 1st.
Every once in a while, there are a couple of schools that will let their applications out a little early. Arizona State did that last year. They let it out sometime in mid-August. So you can watch that because they were sending out admissions offers quick. And so you just want to make sure that you have a sense of what's going on there. So it just depends, but definitely keep a look. The ones that require an essay tend to be the bigger dollar amounts, and so those are ones that you want to really consider.
If you happen to be eligible for those, make sure you get those applications in specifically by the deadline that they set, because those go, once those admissions committees convene to consider you for a scholarship for those particular named scholars, those are big awards. A lot of them tend to be like 30,000 to full rides. Some include additional living stipends and things like that. So you want to make sure that you have a sense of, you know, what your opportunities are. I would start looking at that stuff now.
How important are demographics in application, like race and ethnicity? It depends. If you're applying to some schools, especially public schools, there are some schools that actually can't consider race and ethnicity, like Berkeley, like UCLA, like UC Irvine and Davis. There are other state schools in other states that may have a similar proposition to Prop 209, but that specifically blocks them from being able to consider that.
So when we receive your application, all of the questions that have to do with race and ethnicity are suppressed. We can't consider that as we're making our admissions decisions. However, you know, you do have the opportunity to write a diversity statement, and so that can talk about the perspective that you're going to bring into the classroom, and that's one way to kind of introduce it into your application in a way where we can look at it. Even though it can't necessarily be considered for admissions at those particular schools, it can be a part of the overall holistic approach and review.
And so it's, there's never going to be a diversity admit or a diversity scholarship per se at one of those schools, but it doesn't mean that it didn't factor in onto the whole. At private schools, they tend to have a lot more flexibility when it comes to diversity and considering it in the admissions process, and so they might be able to just kind of outright talk about, okay, well, I want to make sure that we're improving our diversity numbers this year. How do we do that?
And so they might have a full strategy and plan in place, and often that's something that is set forth by the dean or often by the university senior administrators themselves. So there's a lot that goes into those considerations. The way I'll say it is, you know, you want to make sure that you include all of your information when you're answering those questions on the application, and if there is anything diverse about your perspective, you want to make sure that you give that perspective and why it's uniquely you and how you're going to use that as you move forward through your legal career in a diversity statement.
There's a lot of times where students think it doesn't matter, or it won't have any weight to it, and the thing is, all of your different admissions materials, it's like an onion and you're peeling back all these different layers. It's an opportunity for you to tell more about yourself, and because you're limited in page space in your personal statement, you want to use that page space for your diversity statement and for the other optional statements so that you give them the biggest, clearest picture of who you are, why you're a good fit, how you're going to make an impact and a difference on their community, what kinds of things that you're going to, like, just hit the ground running when you get on their campus, the ways that you picture yourself making a difference, and the ways that they can help you achieve your goals. And so if you can give them all of that within your application package, then you're doing a really good job.
Regarding PS topics, again, say I want to talk about my hometown and community work. Is that topic overused and cliche? It's not overused and cliche because it's not you. The thing is, you and I could be from the exact same place, we could have gone to the exact same school, we could have had the exact same job, but the way that we tell our stories is going to be different, and so it's really important to remember it doesn't matter how many people talk about their hometown.
How you talk about your hometown stands out and is unique because it's about you, and so don't worry that, oh, they've probably read this kind of personal statement this many times. We haven't read yours, and so it's really about making it your story, giving us your voice, having us understand what it is that you've been through and why your hometown is significant to you, and really, those things that really impacted your decision to move forward in the way that you have. Those are the things that give us a sense of what you're about and what's important to you.
And then those things like your diversity statement help to layer on top of that the ways that you identify and the ways that you see the world. And then your resume will give us the ways that you've gained experience and the things that you're really strong at. And then your optional statements will tell us about really interesting, quirky things. And then your "why X?" statement will tell us why you think you're a great fit.
And then your addenda will tell us, these things might be weaknesses, but this is what I went through to get here. And then your transcript is going to tell us, well, this is how I performed. All of the different documents within your application serve a different purpose, and so making sure that you give us everything, you know, it really helps to enrich the application and give us a wealth of information so that we really can go to our admissions committee and fight for you.
SS asked, would 7Sage provide any bonuses or promo toward consulting? I know it's $200 off right now, but the cost is still hard to manage. So just hoping for assistance. I can ask. It's always worth asking the question, so we can follow up on that, but let me check with David first.
Alina asked, regarding diversity statements, does low income, poverty level fall? Yes, it does. Socioeconomic hardship falls into it. It could be race, it could be ethnicity, it could be LGBTQ status. It could be gender identity. It could be anything that you feel is a marginalization. It could be mental health, it could be learning disabilities or any kind of disability. It could be something that you feel sets you apart that gives you a perspective that not everybody in the room is going to have. Maybe someone in the room might have it, but not everybody.
And so it's really interesting to see, you know, the different ways that people consider themselves to be diverse. And so, for me, right, I would be, I'm a woman, I'm black, I'm Asian, I'm plus size, I'm queer, you know, like there's all kinds of ways that we identify, and all of those to me are things. I have an autoimmune disease, so I have a disability, right? Like all of those things are things that make me different. I could write about all of them or I could pick one, and either way, I'm still telling the admissions committee something about myself.
Kyle. I'd be curious to hear more thoughts about diversity statements. Are there situations where you would recommend not writing one? What if your resume work experience is the only thing that you'd consider writing a diversity statement about? Great question. And I answered part of it, but I can answer a little bit more. There are times where we have folks who are like, I don't think I should write this because maybe it doesn't feel applicable to me.
I definitely have clients where they're like, okay, well, I'm a white guy. Like, what should I do? And I'm like, well, you could still be diverse. You know? It just depends. But if you feel like it doesn't apply to you, it's perfectly fine not to write a diversity statement. I have seen some kind of cringy ones where it's like, you know, I'm just going to talk about the fact that I know I have privilege. That's great. Not necessary, but great. And so it's just a matter of determining how you feel your perspective sets you apart.
I've had some where they've been, folks who maybe they don't have like a physical thing that creates a diversity for them, but they were in the military, or they're a nontraditional student and they've been out of school for seven years, or they've, you know, had things that distinguish them in another way. Age and distance from graduation, that makes you a diverse student. You know, having had seven years of work experience is a big deal, you know? So it's a matter of perspective and thinking through the different ways that you might fit that bill. And so it might not be about race and ethnicity, but it might be something else that sets you apart.
Okay, Steven. Would it be wise to emphasize relevant work experience in the law? Is that something that can help someone stand out or does it sound too showoffy or smug? Should it be an ancillary matter or can it be the central focus?
So for a resume, because, big point, and I think this was Yasmin's question earlier, you know, like things to kind of avoid for personal statements. We don't want you to regurgitate your resume in your personal statement. Right? All of your work experience, I want to see all of it on your resume. All of it, all of it. Like there's so many times where people will take out certain jobs because they're like, oh, they don't care that I worked at Starbucks. Yes, I do. I did too, thank you. Hello, baristas. And it's one of those things where like, first of all, I want to know all the experience you've had because it gives me a better picture of, over time, what you've done.
Like maybe in college, you were a team lead at McDonald's. That may not sound like a huge deal, but at the same time, you were someone who was trusted to lead a team, you gave exemplary service, you managed money, you dealt with managing other people, and you still had to do food service, you had to clean, there's all kinds of things that are a part of that job that tell me about the experience that you had and the type of person that you're probably going to be in the community.
There's a whole lot of things that you don't see within that experience that I see as an admissions person, and that's why it's important. People like to pull out their college jobs because they think that they're not relevant because they may not be law-related. I want to see the law-related stuff, and I want to see the stuff that's not law-related. It's not showoffy to talk about your law stuff, but it's also not showoffy if you have great experience elsewhere. I want to see all of that.
On your resume, you should be talking about the honors you received, you should be talking about the scholarships you received. If you have any publications, any professional affiliations, your strengths when it comes to language, your interests. I want to see all of them. I don't need the weird, like, weird formatting changes. We kind of like the standard resume in admissions world because it's easier to kind of read through everything. I want education, I want experience, right? Like, boom, boom, boom. But I still want you to be able to cover those things.
If it ends up being on a second page or even a third page, that's okay, as long as you give me all the things. I don't want you to go onto a fourth or fifth page, if you can avoid it. But two to three is okay. If you go, and if you just have a really, really short one-page resume and it feels really thin, then I'm worried, because I'm not seeing extracurriculars, I'm not seeing the things that could have been happening, like where are the summer jobs? Were you an RA?
You know, like what kinds of things were you involved in? Were you involved in nothing? If you were involved in nothing, then I expect to see work experience. So where's the work experience? All of those things should line up. And so your resume should tell me a whole lot about you that you don't necessarily need to cover anywhere else, because I'm going to read that thing page for page.
How often do you see leadership skills in a resume? How big of a difference does it make, and what does it say to the admissions officers? It depends. You don't necessarily need to put leadership skills separately from the work experience and different tasks that you were responsible for at your jobs, because a lot of times your jobs will be able to signify those leadership skills directly, and so we'll kind of be able to see those leadership skills in action.
So, like, for instance, I just did this major overhaul of a resume today, and one of the things was like, "led specific types of behavioral groups through these types of therapy," right? Like, the different ways that you lead, you can specifically put that on your resume. The different ways that you facilitate something, if you took ownership or more proactive and created something, make sure that you're using the action verbs within your job descriptions that tell us that.
You know, like a lot of times people just kind of give us the "assisted with," "assisted that," but where you took ownership of something, where you coordinated, where you facilitated, where you led, where you managed, give me those action verbs so that I know that that was yours. Show me that you were accountable for it, and then that way I already know that you led it. You don't have to have a separate leadership skills section.
Two-page resume is the standard, yes. I know I talk fast, so that was probably a little overwhelming. You guys are great. Like, listen, when it comes to this stuff, it's a little scary, but at the same time, all of the admissions folks are just like me. We're approachable people. We're mostly friendly. Even if we're not smiling and we look kind of mean, we're fine.
But the thing is, like, definitely reach out to admissions offices, talk to them, interact with them, attend their info sessions, get to know them, and it actually does help your application when it comes to "why X?" essays and all that stuff to be able to talk about the interactions that you have with their faculty, with their current students, but more importantly, to get your questions answered. Don't be afraid to reach out to them. They're not scary. They're not going to bite you.
And it is important to interact with them because some of them actually do notate in your file that you've had interactions with the school or that you've attended certain events. Having that understanding that, oh, you know, Alina has, she came to an open house virtually, she's done a tour, she must really be interested, as opposed to the person who has never had any contact, just sent in an application, has never emailed, has never asked any question. We look at that, we look at interactions, we get a sense of who's really interested, and sometimes that makes the difference.
If I can see that one person clearly has had open communication with us and that, you know, some of the people on my team remember them, that's a good thing. And that can go a long way, because I usually, I used to keep a list of people who were kind of like right on the bubble, right? Like they were, maybe one of their numbers was below median, and so I wasn't able to make that outright decision, but I was like hanging on to them because I didn't want to waitlist them.
And so there would be times where, you know, the dean of admissions might say, like, is there anybody that's on the bubble that you really want right now? Yes. I have this list over here. These are the people that I want. Boom, boom, boom. These are the things about them that I really, really like. I just, you know, I was just hesitant because of this. And they'll be like, bring that person on. Because you want good people in your class. You want to have a good mix, but you also want to have people where you're like, these are the people I want to have coffee with. So you don't know that if you never make connections with anybody.
New Speaker: Do you have any sort of general guidelines for how to, you know, email either deans or people on the admissions committee, or professors that you're interested in, without, you know, being like...
Tajira: Yeah, well, with admissions in general, I would just email their general email address. You don't necessarily need to email the dean because they're super busy, but, you know, if you email the general admissions office, a lot of times you're going to reach like either their assistant director or director, and they'll be super friendly, they'll answer your questions. Sometimes they'll schedule time to talk with you and everything like that.
But just email them, say hi, I'm so and so, I'm applying this year, I'm curious about these things. Does someone have time to talk to me or would this be better, you know, addressed in a different format? You know, and then that way, let them kind of dictate the conversation, but it's pretty easy. You know, similarly with faculty, just introducing yourself, letting them know that you happen to apply this fall, you're really interested in that particular school.
And for that particular professor, you know, faculty, they're academics, they like their egos stroked a little bit. Oh, I saw that you teach this, you know, or you happen to run this clinic. I'm really interested in that. I would love to know more. Do you happen to have time for like a 5- or 10-minute Zoom so that I can pick your brain a little bit about the ways that I could get involved if I were offered admission? They love to talk about things that they do, so they're going to say yes, as long as they happen to be available.
The one thing to remember is, you know, during the summer months, most of them are traveling, and so that's a time when some of them are going to answer your emails and some of them are not. But in the fall especially, they tend to be very responsive, and if you happen to be coming to visit the school and you're like, oh, I would love to, you know, grab coffee with you, I'm going to be there taking a tour at this time, sometimes they come on the tour with you.
You know, a lot of these folks, they're just regular people, and so they get excited when people are excited about them and their programs, and they're really excited about people who seem like they're going to be a great fit, and those faculty members that you connect with that think you're a great fit, they're going to tell admissions that too. So it's important to make those connections and reach out because sometimes those faculty members do impromptu letters of recommendation, and you have no idea they've done that.
New Speaker: Thank you so much.
Tajira: It's my pleasure.
New Speaker: Very, very, very helpful.
Tajira: Good, good, good, good. Well, it's my pleasure. I'm happy to do this with y'all again at some point if you'd like to, but keep in touch. You're welcome to give the whole group my email address, Alina, and, you know, if there is, I can't remember who asked the question now about the discount thing, but I will ask David and I will follow up with you, Alina, about that. So.
New Speaker: And yeah, also like David is on our Discord and Scott's on our Discord, so I can also just send you a link to join, and then in case anybody has any questions, they can like directly message you. I want to say thank you again so much, and I know I'm not the only one who's very grateful you came on. So I'm sure everybody gleaned a lot from this, and we'll be in touch clearly after this. It was too good of a session to let you go, so unless any last remaining questions?
I just hopped on and I feel so bad because I know you want to hop off.
Tajira: Oh, you're fine.
New Speaker: I want to know if it's bad to kiss ass to some of these deans, because I feel like I do it accidentally, like I vibe with them and then I'm like, oh shit. Like, did I come off as a kiss-ass to the rest of the group? And then I'm like, I don't know if that looks bad. I don't know if that's a good thing, because now when I join some of these Zoom calls, they remember me. I can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I've also been doing this. I've been studying for like two and a half years now, so I've been joining like every single session that they put out. So I don't know if that's a reason too, but yeah, just, I would love to know if it's a good or a bad thing.
Tajira: If they're like, oh my God, it's you. Hi, how you doing? That's not a bad thing. They're like excited to see you because like the hard part with admissions a lot of times is you put on events like these and every time you do them, it's different faces. So there's never any familiarity, there's never any recognition. So when you have those folks that are memorable, who come to more than one thing, it does stand out in your mind.
First of all, because you do tend to remember the folks that you see more than once, but it's also nice because it's like, okay, well, I know if I'm going to tell a bunch of stories during the course of answering questions, I'm going to think back to, okay, well, what did I tell last time? Because I don't want to be repetitive and have you hear the same stuff over and over again, but I also want to make sure that, you know, like I'm giving as much information as I possibly can, because when I have people that are, that come back and are repeating, that means that they're genuinely interested.
And so that's a good thing. That's always going to be a good thing. Nothing about that comes across as ass kissing. I will say like, I mean, there can be levels to that, right? Like, so it's like, okay, well, if you're like, oh my God, Tajira, you look so cute today, we don't need to do that in the middle of a Zoom session, right? We could do that separately because then they're going to be like, okay, so what's that about, you know? And it's really, you're just kind of like pissing off the other people in the room.
The admissions person probably doesn't care, and they're like, oh my God, she noticed. Like, you know, whatever, but like, it's fine. It's just one of those things where it's like, okay, well, there's certain things that we could probably talk about just one on one, and then there are other things where it just makes sense along the group and the forum, you know, like you could do follow-up questions even, and have some questions that no one else will have thought of because you've been to a previous event.
And so you could be like, you know, you happen to mention something last time, and I just really, you know, I've been thinking about it and I really wanted to follow up and ask this. Right? Like that's actually going to help everyone in the room. And so in that instance, I think that it's really important for you to be there and for you to have experienced something else, because then that way, you're moving the needle for everybody and you're kind of bringing the conversation up to where you were.
New Speaker: Gotcha. Okay, that's actually helpful. I kind of want to follow up on that. Like, is it not like, you know, now that I've been going to these for like two and a half years, does that kind of ring a bell to them? Like what's going on? Why hasn't she applied yet?
Tajira: Not at all.
New Speaker: Is that not really a question that they're thinking? Because part of me is like, damn, do they think like I'm just taking my time or I just [unintelligible].
Tajira: Some of them might assume that you started coming as a freshman. Yeah. Like it's really just one of those things where like some schools, like there are candidates that often come, start coming to open houses in their very first year of college. We have sometimes where like high school students come. And so like, it's never really a question of, oh my God, I'm seeing you again. How come you didn't apply last year? It's really more of, oh, it's great to see you again. Like, is this the cycle that you're applying, you know?
And so a lot of times what they're trying to do is they'll gauge like, well, is this the year for you? Because if it is, then I want to make sure that I'm looking out for your application. And so like, make sure that when it is the year that you're applying, that you alert them, especially the ones that recognize you, because they're going to be looking for you. You want them to be looking for you. That's a good thing.
New Speaker: That's helpful. Thank you for spending your last minute answering that.
Tajira: Oh, no problem. No problem. It's my pleasure. Well, you guys are wonderful. I had a blast, and I'm looking forward to next time already. So, Alina, I will follow up with you once I talk to David, but certainly, you know, you all are welcome to reach out to me if you have any questions or if you want to have a quick chat, you know, kind of offline, I'm happy to do that.
And in the meantime, I wish you all the best. If you're preparing for the LSAT, if you're starting to get ready, are you guys all applying for this year? Yeah?
New Speaker: Most of us are. Yeah, fingers crossed. Hopefully. Hopefully.
Tajira: Well, fantastic. Well, definitely reach out, and I will see if I can find out some information about some discounts and we'll go from there, okay? But I'm sending you all my best. Regardless of what you do, just shoot me an email and let me know where you land. Okay?
New Speaker: Thank you so much.
Tajira: My pleasure. Y'all take care.
New Speaker: Have a great day.
Tajira: You too.
J.Y.: Hi, it's J.Y. again. Thank you for listening. As always, if you are 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.
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