Wednesday, May 2, 2012

el rechazo

dear friends and family,
i need not tell you all that per usual, i miss you all dearly. i do however, feel that it is necessary to emphasize the fact that this post seeks neither pity nor kind words.

i am writing to tell you all about my desire to go to law school. ultimately, i want to go to the hague and fight for human rights. i want to help bring about justice.

in order to pursue this goal, i applied to georgetown law´s early assurance program. i was rejected.

what does this mean? that instead of getting a pass, i now simply have to put my head down and study like mad for the lsat just like everyone else.

my questions for you all here then, are what advice do you have for me about the lsat? about law school in general? about how to prepare for a big test? if anything, i view this as a blessing in diguise in that over the course of the past 48 hours i have been forced to consider whether or not i would go out west. or whether or not i would head up to new york. earth-shattering questions!

i assure you that i am not trying to jump the gun. all questions are pending the results of that infamous 3.5 hour long test. nevertheless, i am almost positive that unless my score is absolutely abysmal, now that i have the opportunity, i would like to take the gamble. even if i am "below the median" (picture wincing face of advisors here jaja,) i think that i would like to try for the nation´s top law schools. worse comes to worst they reject me. been there, done that.

so this is a please, a por favor, a per favore, you all are the ones that know me well. in fact, sometimes much better than yours truly. where do you guys see me spending three years of my life? what advice can you give about getting myself there? any and all words of wisdom are welcome.

one of my favorite quotes is a winston churchill "if you are going through hell keep going." since i currently feel as though i am waltzing through a blissful vacation, continuining on ought not to be too hard :)


  1. Cousin Katie,

    I am really glad you emailed me this morning, although I don't know what time zone you were in when you sent it ;). I am very sorry to hear that you didn’t get the news that we were all hoping for from Georgetown law’s early assurance program, but I am definitely sure you can make the most of this situation with some planning and effort. You can still apply regular decision. My law school applications are submitted and I have received my share of denials, acceptances, wait lists notifications and some with still no response. I applied to a range of schools, for the same reasons that high school counselors recommended that we apply to a range of colleges.

    1. How does one think about which schools to apply?

    Most people go by the US News rankings, which I think is a good starting point. The schools that land in the same ranges Top 14, 14-20, 20-30, are about the same each year so I would trust those. If you go by the raw score from the US News rankings, Yale is number 1 head and shoulders above 2-5. The numbers are important because they group the schools in a quantified way, but there are other differences that are unaccounted for in this system. Sometimes, the quality of schools is hard to quantify. For examples, I found differences between schools of similar rank that made me want to go to one and avoid another (high pressure urban environment vs. collaborative rural atmosphere). Once you’ve figured out where you might apply, you can think about the next step.

    2. How to manage the application process?

    It is going to be a frustrating experience, but a valuable one. In other words, expect it to suck and you won’t be disappointed. I think it tests how much you want to go to law school. I went into the process with a rough idea and after writing and rewriting my personal statement I had a better understanding of “why.”

    Next - the LSAT, personal statement and letters of recommendation. These are the three parts to the law school application process. Similar to other grad school applications, but from what I have been told, law school is entirely different (mostly because of the LSAT). You’ll need to register for the Credential Assembly Service at—it’s like the common app for law schools, this is where you can log into see if your application materials and test results have been posted for schools to see. Work on getting your personal statement almost perfect and letters of recommendation from your professors* sent to LSAC (start right now). Test preparation is going to require a very significant amount of your attention and focus from now until test date. You want these important details nearly complete so that in the three weeks or so when you are waiting for your test results you can have them priority mailed and processed at LSAC. That way, by the time your test results are available your applications will be complete and eligible for review by law schools.

    3. When do you take the LSAT?

    Most people take the LSAT in June or October, when people aren’t happy with their score they take it again in December and if they absolutely must—again in February. The earlier you apply, the better your chances probably are for acceptance at any given school. If it’s a tough school to get into, don’t wait too long to apply!

  2. 4. How are you going to do on the LSAT?

    Last year, I started studying for the LSAT in August and took it in October. I had a horrible self-preparation routine that consisted of zero pedagogical foundation. I learned that taking practice tests over and over is a complete waste of time if you do not properly learn from your mistakes (even if you take 40 practice tests before the real one). I got a 152 (The median is a 151). Yep, horrible! The test is not rocket-science but you need to prepare, and you need to have a good method. I signed up for a Kaplan** Advantage course (the basic one) and it was full of relatively simple-minded folk, that bothered me because I knew I would eventually score much better than any of them (and I did). I was not in the class for high scorers because I wasn’t ready for it. I had to cover the basics and so I registered for the ~1 month crash course that they call “Advantage.” If I had to do it over again, I would have registered for the “Extreme” course as soon as I thought about taking the LSAT (6-12 months in advance of my test date). After the class and 15 hours of private tutoring (which was all they would allow me to use in ~1 month) I practiced and did the assignments they gave me and saw my score keep going up and up each time. The week before I took my last LSAT in February I scored a 164—which I was pleased with.

    It is completely obvious to me now that if I had started my preparation with Kaplan earlier, I would have at least had the chance of finding my strengths & weaknesses with respect to LSAT skills and perhaps even the chance of correcting them. The difficulty of a score increase from 150 to 160 is hard, and as you go up it gets progressively hard. I am sure I could have hit 170 with more preparation. Preparation, that’s all there is. My girlfriend started in the high 140s, studied for 1 full year full time with 3 Kaplan classes and a private Kaplan tutor and scored in the 99% percentile on her practice tests (176) and got a 167 on her third test day; with that, you can’t get into a top 14 school with certainty, or at all really. Shit happens, but it is still a great score.

    Take a practice LSAT under testing conditions and you’ll see where you stand. The sooner the better.

    5. What about Test Day?

    On test day, I got a 159. Test day is different than practice, it feels harder. When you register for the test, you pick a testing location. Testing locations are not all created equal, I took the October LSAT on a cramped desk in a crowded 300-person lecture hall at U of Michigan and in February I took it in a tiny catholic college classroom with 8 other people who were quiet. I had my own entire table. I was stressed, but less stressed than I would have been without Kaplan. To do better, I know I needed to start preparing earlier.

    *Many schools have a policy for recommenders, but as a rule you might want to consider getting 2-3 of these from professors you know well.

    **Kaplan teachers are better qualified than Princeton Review. At least in Ann Arbor, they are a lot better. You register for a Kaplan class online and start using the online videos immediately. There is a set of books that you need for the homework but it wouldn’t be a waste to start watching them anyways.

    Disclaimer: Sorry, I wrote this so fast. Please write back with questions as I am more than happy to clarify.

    Love you Katie! I hope this helps.


  3. Hi Katie!
    I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get into Georgetown via early decision, but that’s only the first pass and you can always apply regular decision later. I know exactly how you feel right now - I had dreamed of going to the University of Michigan Law School and got rejected too. In that moment I was having a hard time processing what that meant, because I had always had the notion that if you work hard enough for your goal, you can always achieve it. Yet it didn’t work out. I’ve come to terms with the fact that everything happens for a reason and I think that my decision to attend Washington and Lee School of Law in Virginia will be a much better experience for me.

    I busted my butt on the LSAT and did pretty well - the 95th percentile, after studying at the 99th percentile for a few weeks. I would highly recommend enrolling in some test prep course (either Kaplan or Princeton Review, although I like Kaplan more).

    I would also recommend creating a study schedule stat. When are you planning on taking it? If in October or December, go easy on the credit load this upcoming semester - trust me. Spend as much time as physically possible prepping for it. Start with 3-5 hours a day, then work up to 8 hours a day with a practice test every other day.

    I don’t know if you have a problem with test anxiety - that killed my second test score. I had it really bad, where I had nightmares every night and couldn’t eat anything but applesauce. True story. You will be fine. Call Dan, email me (, call your parents, go for a run. The LSAT plays with your brain, and it’s a sick game, but all they want to test is how well you handle pressure and learning a set of skills (like how to solve a logic game).

    I’m sure you will do great, and you have all summer to prep for it - I think October would be your best shot. Enroll in a course now and work off some of your nervous energy by diving right into it. If you have any questions at all (about Kaplan, about the LSAT, about the admissions process) feel free to email me - I worked at Kaplan for a year and prepped there for months so I’m pretty knowledgeable about all things law school admissions-related.

    Good luck and hope to hear from you soon!
    - Jennifer (Dan’s girlfriend)