Today I had the opportunity to attend a talk by the Harvard Law School admissions representative. She was addressing UCSB students and a local client invited me to attend.
I thought this would be fun since I used to be the one giving the law school “shpiel” when I was director of admissions at different ABA law schools. I was also hoping it would give me insight to help my law school admission consulting clients, some of whom are applying to Harvard Law School this fall.
What did I learn?
1. The admission committee at Harvard Law School does not watch videos or DVDs (you can’t believe everything you see in Legally Blonde)
2. The Dean loves students and proves it by offering free coffee and hot chocolate in the mornings before classes.
3. The entering Fall 2007 class at Harvard Law School was about 50% people right out of college and 50% people 1-4 years out of college (give or take a few % points each way).
4. The Harvard law admissions committee makes most of its decisions after the December break.
5. Even Harvard agrees: on letters of recommendation, the content matters more than the prestige of the person signing the letter.
6. With the personal statement, address who you are today rather than who you hope to be in the future.
7. This was the most important thing I learned from her presentation: An addendum should be only 3 sentences. Fine to explain a weakness in the application, but be very brief.
8. Multiple LSAT scores? Harvard looks at all of the scores but places more emphasis on the higher test score. (Like 99% of schools).
What bugged me?
1. The repeated statement: “The LSAT and the Undergraduate GPA are not unimportant.” Ok. The double negative sounds nice, but she’s really just saying they are important.
2. The goal of the presentation seemed to be debunking myths about Harvard. We learned that Harvard’s admission committee is not made up of old white men in bow ties and ascots. Rather, 6 or 7 admission professionals each read applications (as does the dean of admissions, who reads all of them) and the faculty admission committee reads those that are “bumped up” from the staff. She did, however, admit that files are categorized according to LSAT and GPA, but said this is basically just as easy as alphabetizing and she didn’t say what impact the numbers had on the process of file evaluation.
What really impressed me about Harvard?
The sliding scale low income debt assistance program. If it really is as she described – a check from Harvard each month for 10 years based on how much you make versus the amount of your loans – then that’s amazing.
I am 32 and have a tenure track position at a prestigious university. I am interested in going to law school for my research purposes, expanding my research field with technical legal expertise and because I would like to participate in international policy. Do my age and goals work against me? I am planning to apply to Harvard. Should I say these things in the application?