(203) Admissions Blog

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203 Redux

Welcome back!

I've been increasingly getting writer's block when sitting down to write for the blog, and realized recently that it might be because we've been blogging now for SEVEN YEARS and have already covered a lot of ground.  In fact, I feel like it's time for me to move to another platform: I'm going to start Tweeting this fall.  I'm not going to lie -- this terrifies me.  I'm not good with change (I still used my yellow Sony sports walkman with mix tapes until about 2007, when my office staged an intervention and confiscated it and gave me an iPod nano) so it's going to take me a while to get up and running.  I'm not abandoning the blog completely -- I'll be back from time to time -- but I'm hoping that the 140 character limit might entice me to offer some tips, tricks, and insight into the admissions process more frequently.  Maybe I'll like it so much that I'll replace the 250-word essay with a 140-character one.  In any case, you can follow me at @DeanAsha.  Please be patient with me.  And please follow me. Right now I only have four followers, one of whom is my former law school roommate (thanks, Jen!).

In the meantime, many of my older posts cover some of the questions we consistently get during our recruiting visits, so I thought it was worth a recap post highlighting some of the more pertinent ones to this time of year.

Of course as you prepare your Yale Law School applications you should review the P.S. Boot Camp series, which highlights some of the the things that are -- and are not -- typically successful in our admissions process.  I also wrote an older post on personal statements generally, as well as one on common pitfalls in writing the 250-word essay.  This post about how to format your application also ought to cover many of your questions.  Finally, I've been told by applicants and admitted students that my posts about diversity and diversity statements were very helpful. 

One of my favorite posts which I don't think gets a lot of traffic, but offers some insight into how different schools evaluate law school applications, is this collaborative effort between Yale and several peer schools to answer some freqeuently asked questions.  The post takes you to appropriate areas of those schools' websites/blogs, so you can get a sense of how to tailor your application to specific schools. 

As my reading load increases and the days start getting shorter (between November and March -- so pretty much most of admissions season), I get inspired to write my Bad Idea Jeans posts, which offer some honest advice, like the importance of proper punctuation and keeping your crazy under control in your application. 

Finally, I would like to especially draw your attention to the posts about character and fitness, like this one and this one.  (DO NOT LIE IN YOUR APPLICATION. Thx.)

I hope (notice I did not say "hopefully"!) that this will give you some entertaining, if not informative, reading to keep you occupied until you decide to submit your Yale Law School application (and until I can get this Tweeting thing down).  Good luck -- we're as anxious to start filling the Class of 2018 as you are!

Posted: Oct 17 2014, 12:00 PM by asha | with 27 comment(s)
Filed under: ,


asha said:

@It's a Secret: Hmmm.  These are the kind of questions that pose a slight conflict of interest for me as an admissions dean.  So, are you under an *obligation* to disclose that you left TFA?  Probably not -- it's not a C&F issue or anything, and people leave jobs all the time, even before their commitment is up (I'm thinking here of people, for example, who might leave two year finance or business analyst positions, or even people who leave grad programs early for non-academic or disciplinary reasons, etc.).  Sometimes you realize something is not a good fit.

If I'm reviewing your application, however, and I get the sense that you've cut out early from something that you had wanted to do (and unless you omit any mention of TFA completely -- which would be a bit misleading -- I would know that), yes, I'd probably want to know why.  I don't think it has to be dramatic and drawn out, but I'd want to know, at the very least, that law school is something that you've thought about and are moving towards, rather than that you are escaping from something you don't like and it's an easy way out.

To that end, I think an addendum is fine.  On Yale's application, we ask you what you've been doing if you've been out of school more than 3 months (this is why it's likely I would know that you did TFA), and you could always briefly mention there that you left after one year because you realized that your interests were in x, y, and z, and that you discuss these things further in your personal statement.

BTW, please note that I am speaking for myself here, and not for any other law school's admissions process: I'd guess they'd be coming from the same place but you'd want to ask/verify that with the individual school.  I hope this helps!

# October 22, 2012 3:38 PM

It's A Secret said:

Most helpful. Thanks.

# October 22, 2012 5:09 PM

An Indian undergrad student said:


Thank you for your valuable posts. I am a student from India and I am doing my first degree in law. I wanted to know whether there are any specific requirements for the LLM programme at Yale (which is meant for law teaching)? As I am still a law student, yet I want to join the field of academics, my PS would still be naive to an extent. Does the LLM PS have to be mature due to its nature or will my 'young law student' approach work?


# November 21, 2012 11:50 AM

Sue said:

@Indian undergrad: Our office does not handle LLM admissions, but you can find the contact information for the Graduate Programs Office at www.law.yale.edu/.../gradpro_contact.htm.

# December 12, 2012 10:37 AM

Mark said:

When I came to your blog, the first thing I looked for was some form of "top 5 posts", FAQs, or a list of a few blog posts that will give the new reader a feel for the flavor of the blog. I think this post would serve said purpose perfectly!

# February 27, 2013 7:15 PM

Lola said:

Thank you for your informative and hilarious posts--they have been the bright spot on my otherwise gloomy admissions horizon. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into demystifying the process for us. Know that we value and look forward to your posts.


# March 7, 2013 3:21 PM

Candelaria said:

Hey Asha!

I am from Uruguay , and I was thinking to go to Yale Law School , please help me!! I am 17 now, do you think it is possible_


# September 8, 2013 10:38 AM

BookScholar said:

If there is an alumnus/alumna from your undergraduate who is at Yale Law School now, would it be possible to get in contact with him/her through admissions to ask about their experience? (I know this has the potential to be very strange or even dangerous request.)

# September 19, 2013 9:37 PM

Kate said:

I've been scouring your PS boot camp posts as I prepare my own statement, and I've been mulling over the following question... Do I tiptoe around personal flaws? Conventional wisdom surrounding personal statements and applications more generally is that it's a sell and any mention of personality flaws (such as tendency toward caprice or struggling with discipline) is probably a bad idea. That said, one of my goals for the PS is a display of depth that I'm not sure can be achieved without some mention of past character traits which law schools find might find unfavorable (i.e. a lifelong battle with hedonism over hard work). The last thing I want it for my personal statement to have a surface level "cover letter" thing going on. How do you recommend treating less than attractive character traits?

# September 20, 2013 12:09 AM

Sue said:

@BookScholar: Given the small size of our school, we generally like to "reserve" our student body resources for admitted students. Should you be admitted to YLS, we would be happy to try to connect you to current students from your undergraduate institution. As a prospective applicant, you might want to contact your undergraduate career services office to see if they have a database of alumni who currently attend or recently attended YLS.

# September 20, 2013 11:11 AM

Sue said:

@Kate: We don't see the personal statement as a "sell" so much as a way for us to understand more fully who you really are, where you've come from, where you're headed, and what you're all about. A discussion or mention of personal flaws or struggles could certainly be part of this picture (we know that nobody's perfect!), depending, for example, on what the flaws are and how they are treated or dealt with in the essay -- and for this, you should just use your best judgment!

# September 20, 2013 11:21 AM

Esoteric said:

I've been reading some of your posts Asha, and I love the advice that I need to "BRING IT" if one area of my application is weak. So, what if an applicant has two weak areas (*cough* 150-158 LSAT range and 3.5 GPA)? Is it realistic that someone with these numbers has a shot of admissions?

# September 26, 2013 10:34 PM

IvyV said:

Asha, I enjoy and look forward to your posts- thank you for your insight and wicked sense of humor! I am a 'nontraditional student' in my early thirties and am about to finish up my Bachelor in Australia after taking a double course load (I am a Aus/US citizen)which is typically undertaken over 3 years in 1.5 years, finishing with a projected GPA of 3.66-75. As I am a full time carer for my son who has extensive medical issues I have been unable to have any notable extracurricular interests/employment history. I am considering either doing an 'honors' year or a double Masters before applying to YLS. However, I am concerned that my age and lack of 'extras' will translate into being an undesirable candidate. What would be your advice as choosing between honours or a double masters? Would graduating with a 3 year bachelor and 2 masters degree satisfy admission requirements? I appreciate your time and insight. Thank you!

# September 27, 2013 8:59 PM

Eun Hye said:

Dear Asha,

I went to a community college for two semesters and transferred to a 4-year institution. Would it be okay for me to get a recommendation from the community college professors? Furthermore, I have a mentor who knows everything about me. She was my middle school ESOL teacher and ever since we have a strong relationship of 7 years. Will it be okay for me to get a recommendation from her?

Do extracurricular activities play a strong factor during the application process? I plan to graduate my undergraduate in two years due to financial reasons. Because of that, I believe I am, perhaps, not a strong candidate in terms of extracurricular activities. I play Women's Rugby and teach Korean at my school.  I never had an opportunity to do an internship as I had to help my family's business whenever I had time or was on break.  Also,  does graduating in two years affect my application negatively or positively? Does it count as diversity?

Also, how diversity is YLS? I am a female student who came from S. Korea seven years ago. Do you know how many Asian females have been accepted last year?  I could not find the number from the website. What does YLS consider as "diversity"?

I appreciate all your help with my questions.

Thank you,

Eun Hye

# September 29, 2013 6:32 PM

Adithya said:

Hello Ms. Asha,

I have been working since I graduated from University of Texas at Austin (Masters in Computer Science). I am very interested to pursue patent law at Yale. One of your blogs state that at least two recommendation letters are needed from a school I studied. However, its been more than 6 years since my graduation and one of the professors who I worked with closely has retired.

1. Would my chances of admission still dwindle to zero if I submit two non-academic letters. I can however, submit a letter from a JAG officer from US Army with whom I worked closely when I was in the US military.

2. Also, does Yale admit veterans discharged Honorably but who has some service-connected disability. Nevertheless, am pursuing LSAT and my dream of becoming a patent attorney.

Your answers would greatly be appreciated.

# October 10, 2013 5:05 PM

Sue said:

@Esoteric: While it is likely to be a bit tougher for an applicant to get accepted with "two weak areas" as opposed to just one, that's not to say that it's impossible or hasn't happened in the past. As you may have read or heard, our review process is very holistic, so we will be looking closely at much more than just your GPA and LSAT (e.g., your recommendation letters, your essays, your experiences outside of school, your passions and interests).  And in fact, GPAs don't tell the whole story, so we look to other things in your undergraduate record to give us some context for interpreting your GPA.  Maybe you selected a very difficult major or took the most difficult courses offered in order to really challenge yourself.  Maybe there is a lot of grade inflation at your school, so that a 3.5 GPA is actually a stronger GPA than it would be at a school with massive grade inflation.  Every year we have students who tell us that they thought, based on their numbers, that admission was impossible and that they very nearly did not apply - but good thing they did!  If you are interested in our program, why not give it a shot - numbers aren't everything to us, and you really never know...

# October 11, 2013 9:29 AM

Sue said:

@Candelaria: It is certainly possible - we accept a number of international students every year.  As you are still very young, I think the best advice we can give is to (1) really make sure that you want to go to law school, (2) do as well as you can in school, and (3) try to figure out what you are really passionate about and spend your time pursuing those passions.  Good luck!

# October 11, 2013 9:37 AM

Sue said:

@IvyV: It's always tough for us to give advice that depends so much on your personal circumstances.  You are definitely in the best position to decide what would be the most appropriate program for you given your interests, abilities, what you stand to gain from each program, and the amount of time you would be able to devote to your additional studies.  That said, your age and lack of extracurriculars will not, in and of themselves, make you an "undesirable candidate."  Everyone's circumstances are different, and we have accepted many nontraditional students and people who, because of various personal reasons, could not devote a lot of time to extracurricular activities.  If you would like to explain the lack of extracurriculars in your case, you should feel free to do so (briefly) in an Addendum to your application.  As for whether a "3 year bachelor and 2 masters degree" would satisfy our admission requirements, a bachelor's degree is sufficient.

# October 11, 2013 9:48 AM

Sue said:

@Eun Hye: You are of course free to seek recommendation letters from anyone you want; however, you would probably better off submitting a recommendation from someone who taught you at the 4-year institution, if only because they had you in class more recently/later in your college education and can give us a better sense of what you would be like as a student NOW than someone who taught you in your first two years of college. (This is, of course, assuming that there is someone at the 4-year institution who would write you a reasonably strong letter.) Similarly, it is totally up to you whether to ask your middle school teacher for a recommendation letter, but you should just consider that she is someone who taught you many, many years ago, when you were just a kid, so her comments would likely be weighed accordingly.

Extracurriculars are certainly taken into consideration in our process and often give us a very good glimpse of what the applicant's interests and passions are and how he/she was spending time outside of school. That said, everyone's personal circumstances are different, and not everyone is able to participate in extensive extracurricular activities. We certainly understand and consider that as well - we generally try to interpret everything in your application in context.

Graduating in two years, in and of itself, shouldn't really have an effect on your application - it's really a question of what you did in those two years.

As for diversity, we do try to put together a "diverse" class, where diversity is defined pretty broadly to include many different dimensions - everything from gender and ethnicity/country of origin to age to socio-economic background to political views to academic and personal interests. I don't have a specific figure for how many Asian females we accepted last year (it also depends on how you are defining "Asian") but anecdotally, they are very well represented in our student body.

Best of luck to you!

# October 11, 2013 10:13 AM

Sue said:

@Adithya: For applicants who have been out of school for a long time (and I think 6+ years would qualify as a long time), we understand that it might be difficult to track down professors you worked with or secure letters that have the kind of detail and specificity that we are looking for. What we typically recommend in this case is to seek letters from people who can comment on the kinds of things that a professor would have been able to discuss -- for example, your writing ability, your analytical and problem-solving skills, your ability to comprehend difficult material, etc. Your chances of admission wouldn't "dwindle to zero" with two non-academic letters (particularly given your circumstances), but they would be improved to the extent that you could obtain letters that would be LIKE letters from faculty. A recommendation that just talks about what a fabulous, compassionate, and reliable person you are is going to be less helpful than one that speaks concretely about skills that would translate to success in law school. As for your second question, your service-connected disability should not preclude you from gaining admission to YLS. We have actually been admitting an increasing number of veterans over the years and have a wonderful and tight-knit veterans' student group!

# October 11, 2013 10:34 AM

JoshuaCW said:

My GPA junior and senior year was relatively low. Should I add an addendum explaining that my junior and senior year courses required me to read on average 250 pages a night to add context to my GPA? The dean designed the curriculum to produce more PhD applicants in English; would a letter from her help provide even more context for a relatively low GPA?

# October 13, 2013 2:02 PM

Sue said:

@JoshuaCW: It's not unusual for applicants to submit a (brief) addendum to explain some aberration or anomaly in their academic record, so you absolutely can send one to give some more context to your junior and senior year grades. If you do choose to submit an addendum, our would just be to make it short and sweet.  Regarding a letter from your dean, I'm not convinced that would add much more than an explanation from you (in your addendum) about the purpose/design of the curriculum and the reason for its rigorousness.  We like to assume that our applicants are telling the truth, so if you tell us, we'll believe you!    

# October 15, 2013 11:09 AM

Suzzane said:

Hi Asha,

I wanted to know to what extent does a "withdrawn/dropped" course on a student's transcript influence the admissions decision. I was initially taking six courses but due to the heavy academic course load and extra curricular activities, I decided to drop one, however, I am concerned that this may impact how law schools view my transcript. Please let me know.


# October 24, 2013 1:33 PM

Sue said:

@Suzzane: We definitely have seen our fair share of applicants who have withdrawn or dropped out of a course.  As long as it doesn't appear to be a pattern throughout your transcript, the fact that you withdrew from a course shouldn't really "break" you.  We do understand that sometimes applicants may take on too much, or they may have other circumstances (e.g., family issues) that make it necessary for them to drop a course.  If you would like, you are welcome to explain why you withdrew from the course in a brief Addendum to your application.  That will give us some additional context to interpret the withdrawal on your transcript.  

# October 25, 2013 11:31 AM

FutureYalieMaybe? said:

On the application, there is no section that mentions ethnicity. Is ethnicity/race and whether an applicant is LGBT on the LSAC report that Yale receives with an applicant's completed application?

# December 8, 2013 8:47 PM

Sue said:

@FutureYalieMaybe?: The CAS report from LSAC does not provide any information on LGBTQ status but sometimes provides information on ethnicity (depending on whether the applicant has volunteered such information).

# December 16, 2013 10:50 AM