Standing Out – Are the Numbers in your Favor?

While some law schools have yet to seat their incoming class, a significant number of programs across the country have commenced their fall semesters.  Typically, the focus is on the seated class and the unique students that have elected to join a specific program.  While stats are certified by the LSAC at the beginning of October (they are currently uncertified [and may not be]), you can find the University of Houston Law Center’s newest class profile available for review.

As we celebrate those that enter into this storied profession, let’s take a moment to understand just how difficult the admission process is to select the Law Center’s incoming student body.  The Admissions Office received 2,565 applications for the Fall 2016 entering class.  Numerically, the applicant pool presented GPAs ranging from above 4.0s to sub 2.0s and LSAT scores ranging from above 175 to below 125.  Regardless of GPA and LSAT, every completed application received full file review as the Admission Committee evaluated each candidate for admission.

The statistics should illustrate the importance of working hard to have your application stand out as admission officers across the nation read and review your application and application materials.  In contrast and as an example, take a look at the top 5 undergraduate programs applicants represented as well as the top 5 majors for applicants:

Applicants represented more than 450 undergraduate programs, the top programs represented were:

  • the University of Texas-Austin,
  • Texas A&M University,
  • the University of Houston,
  • Sam Houston State University, and
  • Baylor University

There were more than 100 different majors represented in the applicant pool. The top majors were:

  • Political Science,
  • Psychology,
  • Criminal Justice,
  • English, and
  • Economics

As you can see, this is not terribly dissimilar from the incoming student profile.  Taking advantage of the multiple programs offered by the Law Center’s Admission Office (Information Sessions [online and in-person], Group Advising, tours, etc.) as well as re-applicant counseling, offers options for applicants to understand the importance of their submission and the relevant pieces of their application both as an incoming student or as a transfer student.

To misquote Public Enemy, “lemme hear you say fight the [numbers]” and educate yourself how to stand out as an applicant.

Admitted Student Events

Spring is in the air, and the sunnier days and warmer weather mean one thing in the law school admissions world ~ the Admissions Committee is diligently reviewing applications for the entering fall class, and admitted students are carefully weighing their options.  But don’t panic ~ if you haven’t received a response from us yet, it’s an ongoing process, and you’ll be hearing from us soon!

For those applicants who have already been admitted, there are quite a few events that you’ll want to go ahead and mark on your calendars.  Our office will be sending out more detailed invitations via email to our admitted students, so keep your eyes peeled as we’re still hard at work finalizing the details for these events!

March-April: Admitted student dinners with faculty members.  Our phenomenal Law Center faculty will host small dinners for admitted students at some fantastic area restaurants.  Watch your emails for more information on these.

April 4th: Admitted Students Preview Day.  This is a all-day opportunity for admitted students to come to the Law Center and hear from professors, current students, and alumni, as well as get information from our various programs.  You will also have the chance to sit in on a mock class and take a tour of our facilities.

April 15th: Part-time Admitted Students Preview Evening.  Visit the Law Center to attend an evening class, take a tour, and enjoy dinner with current students and professors.

April 18th: John Black Moot Court Competition, Final Round (6:00-8:50 pm at the Law Center).  Hear about our Trial Advocacy teams from current students and have a light dinner prior to watching the competition.

A brief description of the competition:

Mandatory Rounds 
Each spring, every 1L participates in the mandatory rounds by preparing and delivering one argument, with a partner, on the same topic as the Lawyering Skills and Strategies (LSS) brief that the student will be writing concurrently. This exercise is part of the LSS curriculum and will comprise part of each student’s LSS grade. While the Advocates assist in the planning and execution of the mandatory rounds, these rounds are primarily under the authority of the LSS department.

Competitive Rounds
After the mandatory rounds are over, the Advocates host a full-blown competition for all interested 1Ls. The competition is optional, and the winning teams usually receive cash prizes. Teams competing in the competitive rounds will use the same “problem” (fact pattern, research, etc.) that they used in the mandatory rounds.

July 17th: Admitted Students Preview Day.  This event will be later in the afternoon, and includes a reception with faculty, alumni, and current students.

We hope that you will be able to attend at least some of our events geared toward admitted students!  As always, if you have any questions, please email our office at lawadmissions@uh.edu.

Professionalism in the Admissions Process- Email

The New York Times recently published an article on college students and email.  While much of the article focused on students’ desire to avoid email, one student quoted in the article expressed confusion about the level of formality required by email as compared to text messages.  Based upon some of the emails that arrive in my inbox, I know her confusion is not uncommon.  Here are a few tips to assist you in your email communications with admissions offices, professors, and future employers.

Though emails between friends and close colleagues can be informal, emails to those whom you do not know well or to those in a superior position (such as a professor or work supervisor) should generally be written using formal conventions.

  • Include a brief, descriptive subject line.
  • Include a salutation and address the person formally.  If the person is a Dean or Professor, they should be addressed as such.  If you’re not sure about the title, it is better to use “Mr.” or “Ms.” than to use a first name only. For example write, “Dear Dean Dillon” rather than “Jamie” or “Hey, Jamie!”  I get “Hey, Jamie!” a lot.
  • Include a closing such as “Best wishes,” “Thank you,” or “Sincerely”.
  • Include your first and last name.  If you are in the application process, you should also include your LSAC account number (L number).
  • Use complete sentences with proper punctuation.
  • All words should be spelled out except for common terms such as LSAT (for Law School Admission Test) or UHLC (for University of Houston Law Center).  Although we might recognize many common text acronyms, they are not appropriate for email.
  • Emails should be of a reasonable length.  If you find that you have complicated or numerous questions, it is a good idea to schedule an in-person or phone appointment.
  • Don’t take templates from admissions chatboards.

Composing a professional, well-written email will take longer than writing a text message-style email, but it is an important skill to master.  It will set you apart from your peers in the application process, and it will be expected of you later in your legal career.

If you would like to read the full article, it can be access here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/fashion/technology-and-the-college-generation.html?smid=pl-share.

It’s the little things!

Yes, as you can see, it has been quite some time since the UHLC Admissions Blog has been “active.” The Office of Admissions extends apology and promises to be better, promises to provide you more and promises to not let months go by without a single solitary post.  Thus, if you’ve read this far in the post, we’ll assume that our apology has been received as sincere and earnest and that you, as are we, are excited about the new activity you will roll out on the admissions blog!

After spending some time talking to applicants about the different parts of the application, I felt it necessary to highlight an oft missed part of the application.  What I will discuss herein is the “little things.”  What are the little things?  The little things are those things that fall outside of the “Big 6” – application, personal statement, resume, LSAT Scores, GPA breakdown & Letters of Recommendation – more specifically, the formatting of the resume and personal statement, review of the information submitted on the application and providing a pre-addressed and stamped envelope to your recommender.

I raise the issue of the little things because with little effort and attention to these small details, you, the applicant, can affect change in the review of your materials.  Granted these are not things that will make or break a decision, but they are important nonetheless.

1)      The Application: DOes it dRive you crazy when you SEE FonT formatting issues?  The Office of Admissions as well!  While you may not be inputting the information into the E-APP available from LSAC, you are still responsible for it, take some time to review your application (for the umpteenth time) and make sure there were no funny formatting issues or abbreviations that LSAC placed within the application (extra credit to the commenter that can identify all of the issues in the first sentence).  It’s the little things!

2)      The Personal Statement: While the Office of Admissions consists of young, hip, and ironic staff members, we’re not that young, not that hip, and not that ironic (oh the irony).  Keep this in mind when you’re thinking about using 8 point font, narrow margins and single spacing for your personal statement to get everything you want to say into the document.  If you’re electing to pursue formatting versus editing, you may want to rethink that strategy.  The easier the personal statement is to physically read, the more likely our committee members will be in a better/good mood while reading your application (versus a sour/foul mood). It’s the little things!

3)      The Resume: While no specific recommendations for formatting the resume–our office sees all types–keep in mind the purpose of the resume and how it interacts with other parts of the application.  Specifically, a purpose or objective statement is not necessary for inclusion when considering the other steps you have taken in the application process (we understand that you want to apply to/attend a top law school). It’s the little things!

4)      The LSAT: take the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations that you can expect at the test site.  No one wants to be the person that has their cell phone ringing, on their person, in the middle of the test (LSAC especially). While a little time consuming to read all of the fine print, don’t be the person with a ringing cell phone. It’s the little things!

5)      The GPA Breakdown: It can take some time for schools to process your transcript request. Give yourself, as well as the staff members you’re working with, PLENTY of time so that you don’t have to call and request any sort of extension beyond the Law Center’s posted deadlines.  Expending energy on whether a transcript has posted to your LSAC account is the last thing you want. It’s the little things!

6)      The Letters of Recommendation: Which option would you choose to help your cause to get the best letter of recommendation possible? A) Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr./Prof.  X, we’ve known each other for Y years in the following capacities, a, b, c, & d.  I respectfully request that you write a letter of recommendation in support of my dreams to attend law school.  In order to make the process as easy as possible, I have included the necessary form (completed) as well as an envelope addressed to LSAC as well as stamped for the correct post amount.  Thank you for all of your help!  Signed, JQA (John/Jane Q. Applicant). B) Write me a letter of recommendation, send it here and I need it done like three days ago, Thanks Bye byee!  If you selected B as your answer, I have to ask, do you really say “bye byee?”  It’s the little things!

Don’t forget, it’s the little things and as always, we’re here to help!  Know that you can always contact the UHLC Office of Admissions to answer any questions you may have!  Best of luck as you craft and collect the documents for your application!

Waitlist Q & A – Pilar Mensah

Q:  Is the waitlist ranked?

A:  The waitlist is not ranked.

Q:  When will you look at the waitlist?

A:  The Admissions Committee will review applicants on the waitlist after all decisions have been mailed.  Review of the waitlist usually occurs in late May to mid-June.

Q:  Can I send in addendum or supplement my application?

A:  Applicants may submit additional new information, such as updated resumes and statements of interest.  This information may be sent directly to our Office.  As a waitlisted candidate, you no longer have to submit information through LSAC.

Q:  What percentage of applicants are admitted off the waitlist?

A:  There is no set number of applicants that are admitted.  Every year the number of applicants that are admitted off the waitlist is different.  It depends on the applicant pool for that year, how many of those that we admit accept and decide to attend UHLC, and the number of applicants on the waitlist.  The process is not entirely in our hands, as we have to wait to hear back from admitted students on whether or not they will attend.

Q:  UHLC is my #1 choice, what can I do now to strengthen my chances of being admitted?

A:  We recommend you submit a letter of continued interest.  You should wait to submit the letter until mid-May (for Full-Time Applicants) or mid-June (for Part-Time Applicants).  If you submit the letter too early in the process is will not be as relevant as a letter we receive right before we begin the second review of your file.  Remember, if you choose to send a letter of continued interest, only one will be added to your file, so make it count!