January 2010 - Posts
It is the first week of spring semester at the Law School, with all of the excitement and energy that this entails. The term begins, like each new term, with the anticipation of a new curriculum and the comfort of catching up with old friends. The beginning of the term is also a great time in the life of a student, before the reading piles up and the paper deadlines draw near, to go see something on the stage. After all, spring semester or not, it is January and it is cold. Isn't this the perfect time to spend an evening nestled in a cozy theater seat?
New Haven is quite possibly one of the best U.S. cities outside of New York for theater going. This week alone you can catch an adaption of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, a brilliantly funny one-man show (The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac), a drama starring Emmy and Tony Award winner, Mandy Patinkin (Compulsion), Wuthering Heights performed as part of the 42nd season of the Yale Cabaret, the musical Chicago, and the world premier of Lil's 90th, a play by Darci Picoult about love and aging.
Yale School of Drama is world renowned and its students and faculty bring an enormous amount of energy and creativity to the theater scene in New Haven. Each season, the Yale Repertory Theater (www.yalerep.org), with its close ties to the School of Drama, brings New Haven interpretations of the classics, emerging artists in experimental theater, and actors who have already achieved their fame on the stage. This week the Rep, located only a few blocks from the Law School, is showing Compulsion in the main theater and The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac on the separate stage at University Theater. Other plays in the 2009-2010 Season include a production of Henry Ibsen's drama The Master Builder, a politically charged tale of psychological warfare, Battle of Black Dogs, and a physical comedy, The Servant of Two Masters. The Yale Rep offers student discounts on tickets and play passes, which keep it an affordable way for law students to see excellent theater.
The Yale School of Drama also brings its own productions to New Haven, featuring the work of student playwrights, directors and actors. From new plays, to productions of Shakespeare and third-year director thesis projects, New Haven audiences have the opportunity to witness the talent of the School of Drama firsthand. These plays are shown in the Iseman Theater on Chapel Street and many of them are free and open to the public. To see more information about the School of Drama's 2009-2010 Season, visit their website: www.drama.yale.edu .
Finally, for new and experimental plays, Yale also has the Cabaret (www.yalecabaret.org), a small theater space where students gather to eat dinner and watch engaging, innovative theater.
Beyond Yale, New Haven is also home to the Shubert and Long Wharf Theaters. The Shubert Theater (www.capa.com/newhaven) in downtown New Haven draws audiences from throughout Southern Connecticut for its productions of shows and musicals from Chicago to Annie. Long Wharf Theater (www.longwharf.org), now in its 45th season, was started by two Yale alumni as a regional professional theater. The offerings in its 2009-2010 Season range from the hit musical, The Fantasticks, to a solo show about teaching in America's education system. This month, the Long Wharf is where you can catch the production of Lil's 90th.
New Haven may be cold in January, but in this winter month it also offers compelling theater for those students who love the stage and their classmates who get pulled along!
We here at 203 are thrilled to know that we aren't the only admissions office on campus that likes to have fun and doesn't take ourselves too seriously:
It's technically a plug for Yale College, but it mentions the Law School (albeit in an inaccurate conext) which makes it good enough for our blog.
To the goods:
Should I include a diversity statement with my application? I have written one for other schools but wasn't sure whether it would help or hurt my application to Yale Law School.
We get this question a lot. The short answer is that you are welcome to include any information which you feel will enable the Admissions Committee to make a fully-informed decision on your candidacy. Which translates into: we don't ask for a diversity statement specifically, but if you would like to include one, it is O.K. to do so.
Explaining some aspect of yourself which you think would make a unique contribution to the Law School is a good thing. The question is whether you really need to provide a supplemental essay to do it. Keep in mind that unlike many law schools, we already ask for an additional essay (the infamous 250-word essay) in addition to your personal statement. Since we do not specify a topic for either the shorter essay or the personal statement, you can include information relevant to an aspect of diversity which you feel is important to your application in either (or both) of these pieces of writing.
Consider the following applicants:
1. A stay-at-home parent who is applying to law school after being out of school/workforce for seven years. The applicant explains that he has spent this time raising his three sons in Question 6 ("If you have been out of school for more than six months, describe what you have been doing in the interval."), and then also writes a personal statement about how he spent several years finding and fighting for special needs educational acommodations for one of his children, which led to his interest in law school.
2. A student who writes a 250-word essay about growing up in a blue-collar family, attending a resource-poor public school, and being the first to attend college. The student includes an addendum explaining that because she had to finance a large part of college herself, she did not have much time for extracurricular activities and asks the Admissions Committee to take that into account.
3. A former military veteran who spent the last five years deployed to Iraq. The applicant includes details on his various duties in Iraq on a resume which he includes in the application, and also provides a letter of reference from one of his commanding officers.
I would submit that all of the above individuals would have their "diversity" (older, non-traditional applicant, socioeconomic background, military experience, respectively) taken into account even though none of them provided a specific diversity statement. In fact, most likely, an additional diversity statement wouldn't really provide any additional information for any of these applicants -- the applicants have already successfully illustrated what makes them different and how it has shaped or impacted their lives just through the regular components of the application. So here is where a diversity statement might "hurt" them, in the sense that it would be redundant, and unnecessary.
Now, it's possible that the above applicants could craft their applications entirely differently, and a diversity statement would make sense. For example, if the military vet did not inlcude a resume (which we do not require), and doesn't know what his officer wrote in the recommendation (because he would wisely waive his right to see the letter), and also used both essay opportunities to discuss personal and academic interests, then it might make sense to include a statement which explains that he has served in the armed forces, has seen combat, and feels that as a result of these experiences he might be able to provide a valuable perspective on x,y, and z issues. Again, that's just a possibilty, and there are other permutations.
The take home point is that while you can include as much information as you like, you also want to be judicious in the number and amount of additional essays/addenda that you provide. You don't want your application to be the one that never ends (that's not a good thing for the reader, or for you). Ideally, you will try to incorporate all the relevant information about yourself into the questions provided on the application. If you feel that there is something critical that really won't fit anywhere else, certainly include it as a supplement.
Finally, I hope that the examples above make clear that we do have a very broad definition of "diversity" which we do consider in putting together our class. However, if you do choose to write a diversity essay, please, PLEASE try to be serious about it and make sure it is something that has truly shaped your experiences and perspective. Do NOT write a diversity statement on how you are "a good listener" or something similar. Seriously, that's just lame.
I hope this is helpful, and I look forward to reading your final masterpiece!
I hope 2010 is off to a good start for all of our readers. We've been busy reading your applications and admitting some of you (contrary to some rumors, we do, in fact, admit applicants). January is traditionally a great time to get a lot of work done because, next to summer, it's the quietest time of the year at YLS. Why is it so quiet? Because, unlike most schools, our final exams are administered after the winter break. For two weeks in January, the lectures, conferences, and symposia all stop and our students focus on their exams and papers.
Now, if finals period conjures up painful thoughts for you of all-night study sessions and disheveled, library-bound, pajama-clad classmates, I'm here to tell you that the exam period here is almost certainly unlike anything you experienced as an undergraduate. To demonstrate, here are five reasons why our finals period is so much better than your finals period:
- Take your exams at the beach (think Fiji, not Long Island Sound). With the advent of the Internet (praise be to Al Gore) and ever-present Internet connections, you can take your exams practically anywhere since almost all of our exams are administered online. Combine this with the fact that many of our library resources are only a mouse click away and you can relax under a cabana while you rock that antitrust final. In fact, many of our students depart New Haven for the winter break and don't come back until the spring term begins at the end of January.
- Take your exams when you want. Are you a procrastinator? Hate all-night cramming? Still trying to catch up on all of those shows you Tivoed during the fall term? If so, you'll love YLS. Many of our exams are self-scheduled. You "check out" the exam and then you have a specified period of time to "check in" your finished masterpiece.
- Don't take exams at all. It's possible at YLS not to have exams in a given term. Many of our classes offer a paper option instead of an exam. If the thought of finals, even those at the beach, puts you on edge or you just like writing papers, then you can choose your courses accordingly. The Bulletin usually denotes which courses have this option.
- Repeat after me, pass/fail, pass/fail. Your fall-term, 1L courses are graded on a pass/fail basis. This system is commonly referred to by students as pass/pass. In fact, you'd have to work at failing a fall-term, 1L course. While this doesn't mean that 1Ls don't study, it does mean that a lot of the pressure is removed from the examination process since your grades will look like everyone else's grades. After your first term, courses are graded on an honors/pass/low pass/fail system. This system is not based on a curve and the low pass and fail marks aren't given very often.
- Massages for students during exam period. Enough said.
With the exam period almost over (wish the 1Ls good luck on their con law exams on Tuesday) our relaxed and tanned students will slowly begin returning to the Law School and the stream of fascinating visitors, lectures, conferences, and symposia will start up again. Until then, we'll be busy reading your applications in relative quiet.
The Cupcake Truck is a quirky and beloved New Haven experience. The flavors change daily and so does the location of the truck. In order to stop by the truck for one of their delicious $2 cupcakes, you will first have to visit their blog (http://fooddriven.blogspot.com) to find out where they are parked for the day. Some days you will get lucky and find that the truck has parked twice. Other days the truck will not appear at all. Perhaps it is the unpredictability of getting your hands on one that makes the cupcake taste so good?! The truck makes stops throughout New Haven, so is certain, eventually, to show up at a spot not far from your apartment or the Law School. The owners are great and when the truck parks people show up!
Salted caramel is one of the best, and you can't go wrong with a chocolate frosted chocolate cupcake topped with M&M bits! Check out their website here (http://followthatcupcake.com/menu.html) for pictures that will be impossible to resist.
If you love their cupcakes, you might also order a do-it-yourself party box, which includes a dozen naked cupcakes you can decorate yourself. The entire truck can also be rented for a party. I can't say if any law school students have tried this out yet, but it sounds fun!
For more information about the cupcake truck their website address is: http://followthatcupcake.com/about.html.