Admissions Process Q and A
Can you describe the archetypical student for your school?
NYU: New York University School of Law is a large, dynamic community located in the heart of New York City and enrolls an entering class of about 450 students. We attract an extraordinarily diverse student body representing the widest possible range of students based on background, interests, experience and perspectives. While I could take this opportunity to turn on the usual viewbook noise, let me try to be more helpful and candid. NYU is an incredibly busy place. Thanks to our location in New York City with our 29 centers and 66 student groups the calendar is chock a block with events every week. Students who come here embrace the energy and dynamism and are able to balance many competing interests.
Columbia: Apart from being intellectually and academically prepared to succeed in what is a very challenging JD program, and having a record of engagement and dynamism, we actually prefer that our students have little else in common. The reason is simple: the strength of student body lies within its differences. Our students nevertheless value the sense of community derived from being among people with such varied backgrounds, experiences, and interests, while simultaneously sharing common goals of engaging in superior scholarship and training, as well as collaborating with and learning from one another. They also embrace the advantages of being part of a truly great University and an even larger campus—New York City. The end result of this emphasis on variation has consistently been a cohesive and vibrant learning community, and the prevention of anything resembling an "average Columbia Law Student."
Michigan: So true! I have a sort of stock answer when people ask me to describe the typical, or the ideal, Michigan Law student—there’s no such thing. It is absolutely the case that it is precisely all the differences among our students that make the student experience here so rich and engaging. That said, to really thrive and be happy here, a student should be engaged both in intellectual life and in community life. This isn’t a great place to come if your ideal law school experience is attending class and then quickly departing to conduct the rest of your life; a huge part of the benefit of Michigan Law is active interaction with everyone else around here—the law students and faculty, and the greater University community. And one myth I have to bust: although we’re a public institution, only about 20% of our class is from the state of Michigan—the number of people relocating from the coasts outnumber the Michiganders themselves by a ratio of two to one, and even outnumber the people from the Midwest as a whole.
Chicago: I think our student body is one of the top reasons for coming to the University of Chicago Law School. We have a very diverse student body and I define diversity very broadly. We have ethnic and geographic diversity as we have students from all over the country and even world. They bring with them their history and experiences. We have many different ideologies present and active in the community include liberal, conservative and libertarian. Many voices get heard in the classroom which enriches that educational experience for each student. Chicago is a place where students take an active role in learning through the discussions inspired both in and outside the classroom. Students come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences which furthers the goals of the legal education. Students hear many sides of a given argument while voicing their own perspective which is great preparation for the practice of law in a very diverse world.
Yale: I didn’t know Michigander was a word. Anyway, I think all of us agree that we can’t describe a “typical” student, because we each admit individuals, not characteristics. However, I will say that Yale is probably less structured than most law schools, with only one term of required courses. We offer a “choose your own adventure” approach to law school, meaning that people with similar interests will often take very different paths to get to the same goal, and that is encouraged. We don’t offer students a checklist of how to do x,y, or z, but we advise them on options. So I would say that a common feature of Yale students is that they are very entrepreneurial – a good number of our clinics, social impact projects, and even academic workshops are student-created.
Stanford: Let me echo what my colleagues have all mentioned – there is no such thing as a typical student. Students will choose us over another school for a variety of reasons – whether it’s because we’re on the west coast or because of our interdisciplinary focus or because of our size and the absolute ease with which you are able to build relationships with classmates and faculty that run deep and last a lifetime or because of the strength of the intellectual experience you will experience. Not surprisingly, you may find yourself admitted to all the schools – NYU, Columbia, Michigan, Chicago, Yale and Stanford. The overlap in admissions decisions is not all that unusual. The decision as to where you will end up is entirely yours. Maybe you’re accustomed to the urban life and Palo Alto is a bit quiet for you. Maybe you’re from a small town and want the big city experience. Maybe you want to be in an environment where you know each of your classmates. Maybe you want an experience vastly different from your small liberal arts undergraduate experience. All the offers are coming in and each school has some similar aspects and some different aspects. But, the real issue is this: What is it that YOU are looking for in the school where you will spend the next three years of your life? What is it about our school that resonates with YOU?