January 2008 - Posts
The Blue Pearl
130 Court Street @ Orange
About a 5 block walk from the Law School
Location and décor: Downtown, but on a relatively quiet
(dare I say deserted) street. Inside,
the restaurant looks like an uber mod nursery – all blue and pink and white
(ugh). And yet the furniture is modern
white plastic and leather, no armrests on the couches, very loungy. “The Shining” was playing on the TV screens
behind the bar. For a Thursday night, it
was awfully empty inside.
-Savory fondue (artichoke, parmesan, and crème fraiche)
-Wine and champagne (of course)
So I have to admit, I was skeptical of this place whose
signature seemed to be seafood and cheese.
I don’t know, something about the idea of dipping a jumbo prawn into a
vat of blue cheese just sounded wrong.
But, after scanning the menu, I found lots of items that sounded good –
steak, salads, macaroni and cheese, fondue and french fries. (Halfway through our meal, we overheard the
bartender talking about how much she wanted the macaroni and cheese so I’ll
have to try that next time.)
In the end, I picked a “savory fondue” (as opposed to the surf
and turf fondue or the sweet fondues) of artichoke, parmesan, and crème fraiche. Provided for my fondue-rific dipping
pleasure: carrots, cucumber, chunks of bread, crackers, broccoli, grapes, and
apples with fennel. Armed with my little
fondue spear, I dug in.
Though it looked like a stomach ache waiting to happen, the
fondue was surprisingly light and the chunks of artichoke really broke up the
cheesiness of it all. Okay, so as
expected, the chunks of bread and crackers dipped in cheese tasted good. I think the problem came when someone thought
that cucumbers or carrots dipped in boiling cheese would be a good idea. We decided that fondue really hinges on the
porousness of the food you’re dipping.
Bread, porous, good. Crackers,
porous, good. Broccoli, well, everyone
can appreciate broccoli and cheese. But
cucumbers and cheese? The hot cheese
just slips and slides right off the cucumber.
Same with the carrots. And,
cucumbers and hot cheese just sounds, well, about as appealing as the jumbo prawn
and blue cheese that I had envisioned before.
The grapes, I confess, I ate all by themselves. But I think the real winner of the night was
the apples sprinkled with fennel. The
fondue adhered well, and it was a surprisingly good combination. Overall, I’d say the savory fondue thing was
a hit. Remember – just stick to the
The french fries were good, not steak cut, but not too
thin. Served very hot with a side of
ketchup and garlic mayo (which we didn’t try).
I hear that the best side for french fries is champagne.
If you’re not all fondue-d out, you can try a sweet fondue
for dessert. They had everything from
s’mores fondue to white chocolate to espresso.
Personally, by that point, I was leaning toward the key lime pie or the
The service was good, friendly, and quick and it was a
comfortable, loungy place to chat. The
fondue thing is fun, and if nothing else, good for laughs and entertainment!
I know the deadline to apply to YLS is approaching, but I can't seem to figure out what to write about for my 250-word essay. I'm not sure what the Admissions Committee is looking for. Help!
Sigh. The 250-word essay. I remember putting off my Yale Law School application because of the 250, too (good thing that applying late to YLS doesn't affect your chances of admission!).
The 250 word essay, in case you haven't checked out our application, is an essay on any subject of your choice, which the Admissions Committee uses "to evaluate an applicant's writing, reasoning, and editing skills." In other words, this is your first exercise as a potential lawyer: say something meaningful in a limited space, and make it good. You'll be asked to do this repeatedly in the future: law school papers have page limits, and there are judges who will throw out motions or briefs that exceed their word number guidelines. Being persuasive and concise is the quintessestial lawyerly skill, and we want to see that you have it.
Honestly, though, the 250-word essay is really a gimme. It gives you a second bite at the personal statement -- after all, given all of your goals, interests, opinions, accomplishments, backgrounds, and hobbies (just to name a few aspects of yourselves), you couldn't have possibly covered everything important about who you are in a two-page personal statement. So the 250 is a chance for you to explore something you care about that might have ended up on the cutting room floor in writing your personal statement. Maybe it's a policy argument. Maybe it's a piece about a hobby or passion of yours. Maybe it's a personal anecdote. There's not much you can't write about.
In fact, there are tons of "Dos" in writing the 250, and just a few "Don'ts." So it might be more helpful if I list the five major mistakes people make in writing their 250s and you can avoid them, thereby increasing your success rate exponentially. These mistakes are:
1. Not Keeping Your Essay at 250 Words or Less. Yes, it seems like it would be obvious that a 250-word essay should be, well, 250 words. I'm not sure why people choose to ignore this. Because they think what they have to say is so special that the limit doesn't apply? They didn't read the instructions? They don't know how to use the word counter on their computer? Not clear. Look. It's an excercise. The faculty who came up with this application requirement a billion years ago do not like to be mocked. Do I or the faculty reading your application actually count the words? Maybe -- do you want to take the chance? Bottom line: Don't go over 250 words. If what you have to say is longer, edit it. And yes, definite and indefinite articles and prepositions count.
2. Writing the 250-Word Essay about Writing a 250-Word Essay. There are always a couple of hundred applicants each year who think they are pret-ty clever. So they write an essay which will go something like, "So I have to write a 250-word essay. Actually, now I have written 20 words so it's actually a 230-word essay! Wait, make that a 224-word essay!" And it will go on in this vein, subtracting numbers until the applicant has managed to write 250 words about absolutely nothing.
3. Giving 250 Words in Stream-of-Consciousness Prose. So, another couple of hundred people think that they can just barf out everything they didn't mention in their personal statement, putting a period after 250 words. As in, "I obtained my black belt at age 15. I like to sleep with my window open. My cat has fleas. I can bake an awesome apple pie." And so on. OK. So I indicated above that the 250 is an opportunity for you to talk about things you may not have mentioned in your personal statement. BUT YOU STILL HAVE TO INCORPORATE THEM INTO A COHERENT ESSAY. We are not asking for 250 words' worth of random facts about yourself. Remember: "writing, reasoning, and editing skills." This type of essay gets an F in all categories.
NOTE: I have never seen anyone using tactic 2 or 3 be admitted.
4. Not Proofreading Their Essay. Somehow, it seems, the 250-word essay is really prone to grammatical and typographical errors. Probably because people are putting it off till the last minute, therefore not going over it with a fine-toothed comb as they have done with their personal statement (though those sometimes have issues as well). Please ask someone to read your essay. There are things that spell-checker will not catch, but are still wrong. For example, "peek" vs. "peak," "Untied" vs. "United," "affect" vs. "effect," you get my point. Again, remember that this is a lawyerly exercise, and no one wants a sloppy lawyer.
5. Using the 250-Word Essay as an Addendum, or a "Why Yale?" Essay. This is not as egregious as the first four, but I mention it because I really think people who take this route lose an opportunity. First, you can add an addendum -- about the C you got in Calculus, or the alarm that was going off during the LSAT -- in addition to the required essays. The 250 doesn't preclude that (just keep it brief). Second, a listing of the courses or programs at Yale which intrigue you is nice, and shows that you've researched the school, but doesn't really add to the Admission Committee's knowledge about you (they already know Yale's courses and programs are great, they teach them!). You should really try to take advantage of the 250 to showcase your writing ability, and pursue a topic other than an explanation of the components of the application or a list of things that caught your fancy on our website. We want to find out more about what makes you tick!
I hope that the above pitfalls are helpful in guiding you in what not to do, and therefore in pointing you in the direction of what to do. The 250-word essay is rarely a dealmaker or breaker. Mostly, it offers the Admissions Committee a window into some small snippet of who you are, carefully and thoughtfully condensed into a few short, but meaningful, paragraphs. Think this isn't possible? Remember that the Gettysburg Address is only 272 words -- 22 words short (or long) of being the ultimate Yale 250.
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To the outside observer Yale Law School is probably not the most likely of stops on a Boston Red Sox post-World Championship thank you tour. But when the Red Sox visited Connecticut last Friday, they made sure to stop by to thank their rabidly loyal YLS fan base. At a small event held in the Dining Hall, only open to the YLS community, Red Sox president, CEO, and YLS alum, Larry Lucchino, proudly showed off their last two World Championship trophies and thanked their many YLS supporters. Head of Yale Law School’s chapter of the Red Sox Nation, Dean Harold Koh, offered enthusiastic greetings to the Red Sox entourage. Students, faculty, and staff had the opportunity to pose with the trophies and meet with mascot Wally the Green Monster and pitcher and Yale College alum Craig Breslow.
One of the two trophies was making its second visit to YLS. The Red Sox visited the Law School for a small victory rally after their 2004 World Championship win. When the Red Sox win their next Championship, I’m sure we’ll be welcoming back the 2004 trophy for a third time. Until then, you can view a video and photos of their recent visit and a video of their 2004 YLS rally.
YLS alum Bharat Ramamurti, Sox pitcher and Yale College alum Craig Breslow, Wally the Green Monster, Dean Harold Koh, and Red Sox president, CEO, and YLS alum Larry Lucchino, pose with the 2004 and 2007 World Championship trophies.
Sleeping Giant State
If you are the kind of outdoorsman who likes hiking as long
as you have marked trails, a restroom close by, and a path cleared of poison
ivy, Sleeping Giant State Park
is for you! Named for its likeness to a
ginormous man sleeping on his back, Sleeping
Park offers several wide, well marked trails of
relatively short length (generally 2-3 miles).
The trails are well-shaded and offer a slow and steady incline.
On Saturdays, especially in the fall, the Park is a popular
place for picnickers, for families who want to hike with their kids, for people
who want to jog the trails with their dogs, and for couples who want to be
romanced by 360 degree views of the New
The Tower Path, probably the most traveled trail in the
Park, is only 1.6 miles each way and leads you to a stone tower at the
summit. Stone Tower
is a three story old stone building, which provides a view all the way to the
ocean from its top level.
If you attend YLS, you are sure to visit Sleeping Giant at
least twice: Dean Koh takes 1Ls there for a hike and picnic lunch during their
first month of law school and then again during their 3L year to book-end their
time here at Yale.
The Park is just a short drive from the Law School
and great for dates, solo time, or even parental visits. If you’re tired of the “city” or just need a
study break, I recommend checking it out.
I took one year off after undergrad and I'm currently in grad school. Will my grades in grad school be weighted the same (or less or
greater) than my undergraduate grades?
Apologies for the three-week hiatus from the blog: we've been busy in the Admissions Office processing your applications and reading them very carefully, so there was a good reason (though I have to admit I snuck in a few hours to catch The Biggest Loser finale last month -- will a woman ever win that show?)...
So grad school. Generally speaking, your undergraduate grades will carry the most weight in your application. Your graduate grades will be taken into account, but if anything they will be given as much or less weight than your undergrad grades. This is for several reasons. First, we need a common basis upon which to evaluate applicants and, since most of our applicants do not have advanced degrees but all have a college degree, the undergraduate GPA is the best point of comparison. Second, the undergraduate GPA usually represents coursework over a span of four years, and usually across several disciplines, while a Masters is only for one or two years and in a very specific subject area (which is sometimes not very closely related to law). Finally, I rely a lot on the LSDAS report to give me data, and the data they give me -- for example, the breakdown of individual grades by units, the percentile rank of your GPA compared to applicants from your own undergraduate institution for the last three years, and the percentage distribution of GPAs at your institution -- is based on your undergradate grades (yes, we do look at all of that information!).
Honestly speaking, then, a stellar graduate transcript may not necessarily obviate the relevance of your undergrad GPA. However, doing well in grad schools does tell us that you are capable of doing well in graduate level work, which is important in assessing your academic potential. And you should not hesitate to provide a reference from a professor in grad school if there was a class in which you excelled or if you got to know a professor extremely well -- my comments above refer only to GPAs, not to the weight given to recommendations from grad school.
Happy New Year to you and all of our 203 readers!
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