A little background...
[Skip this and go straight to the questions]
When dinosaurs roamed the earth–which was about the time I began my career in law school admissions–and every year since, some entrepreneur, writer, test prep company, etc. comes up with a nifty new book, Web site, directory or other idea to provide the “inside scoop” to help applicants. It is occasionally well-intentioned, but there is usually a strong profit motive–“buy my product and learn the secrets to success.” It usually takes the form of an interview with a dean of admissions, a request for data sliced in a new way, or a series of probing questions designed to unlock the mystery of the application and decision making process.
This year was no exception. During the height of the admissions cycle when admissions officers are up to their eyes in applications, a magazine developed a series of questions and asked for responses from admissions officers across the country. There was nothing really remarkable about the questions–we had all been asked and answered similar questions a thousand times before for different publications.
One of my terrific colleagues at another leading law school had the great idea that we could join forces and provide our collective “wisdom” to answer these questions and give the answers to our applicants – for free. The questions and answers could be posted on our Web sites or blogs.
My colleagues from Chicago, Columbia, Michigan, Stanford, and Yale circulated the questions, and each of us took the lead on at least one question. In round robin fashion we answered all the questions and had an opportunity to add to our colleagues responses. This turned out to be a great collaboration, and we think the result is very good indeed. We hope you agree.
Kenneth J. Kleinrock
Associate Dean for Admissions
(Please note that some of these questions link out to the school with the first response. This is indicated in parentheses after the question.)
1. What are some of the common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted? (Michigan)
2. What can applicants do to set themselves apart from their peers? (Michigan)
3. Which component carries the most weight: LSAT, GPA, work experience, or recommendations? Which carries the least weight? (Stanford)
4. Can you give a brief description of the lifecycle of an application? What’s the timeline applicants should expect? (Yale)
6. Can you describe the archetypical student for your school? (NYU)
7. What do you look for in recommendation letters? (NYU)
8. What’s the typical or expected amount of work experience from an applicant? (Columbia)