Here are some stats from a recent Businessweek article on the declining LSAT scores at U.S. law schools:
- Since 2010, 95% of the 196 U.S. law schools (those at least partially accredited by the ABA) lowered their standards for students in the bottom quartile of students (at the 25th percentile).
- Emory University saw the largest drop in LSAT scores for 25th percentile students with a 5% drop (nine fewer points) from 2010 to 2013.
- Across all schools examined by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), LSAT scores for this bottom quartile dropped an average of three points.
- The median LSAT score across all schools declined 1.7 points since 2010.
- First-year enrollment in ABA law schools is down 28% since 2010. (At Emory, enrollment declined 21% in this time period.)
According to the BW article, “LSAT scores matter because they tend to correlate closely with scores on one section of the bar exam, so when schools admit lower-scoring students on the former test, they risk producing more graduates who have a hard time passing the bar.”
ABA-Accredited Law Schools that Saw the Greatest Drop in Scores among the 25th Percentile:
It’s winter, and many of you probably haven’t started thinking about next year’s MBA applications yet. But now is actually an excellent time to get started – not just on test prep and boosting GPAs, but on taking time to examine your community service. At most top b-schools, community service is virtually a requirement, and if yours is on the weak side, then you have just enough time to start bulking up your experience…if you start NOW.
First let’s discuss what “community service” is and isn’t. I define it as:
“Active participation in and assumption of responsibility for your community.”
That is an intentionally broad definition that includes taking an active role in sports teams, professional organizations, alumni groups, churches, literacy programs, political campaigns, environmental causes, fund raising for immigrant assistance groups…whatever you define as your community. Community service almost always does – and should – reflect your values and priorities.
The operative phrases in the definition are “active” and “responsibility.” Writing checks is not enough. And helping your elderly neighbor occasionally makes you a nice person, but doesn’t mean you are taking responsibility for your community. Community service requires commitment.
So why is community service important?
1. It provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate attributes that young applicants frequently can’t reveal in the classroom or in their jobs: leadership, initiative, interpersonal skills, and the ability to handle responsibility. It expresses your willingness to contribute.
2. A foundational principle of admissions is “Past behavior predicts future behavior.” To adcoms a history of activism and participation evidences that you will be an active participant in their student and alumni communities. That’s exactly the impression you want your application to make.
3. It indicates breadth and well-roundedness. Surprise. Surprise. Top MBA programs don’t want workaholic nerds.
At the most competitive schools, community service and extracurricular activities frequently make the difference between who is accepted and rejected among otherwise competitive applicants. If you have been involved in community service, great. Keep up the good work and strive for a leadership role. If you haven’t been an active participant or leader, become one. Choose an activity, cause, or organization that you would like to contribute to. And then be consistently and actively involved so that you will have a commitment to write about other than school and work. You may even find that you enjoy it.
When I was Admissions Director at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, I asked my colleague and friend, Dr. Robert Bloomfield, who led our Ph.D. program, “What characteristics do you seek in the Ph.D. candidates you invite to interview?” Rob’s answer sounded oddly familiar. A few weeks earlier, I had asked my brother Mark, who led U.C.L.A. Anderson’s Ph.D. program, the same question. In fact, as I began to ask faculty in various departments and schools what they sought in their doctoral candidates, the answers were always the same: intelligence, unquenchable curiosity, subject matter passion, persistent stamina, criticism-seeking, ethical, self-aware individuals who offer a well-written Statement of Purpose (SOP) and a solid academic foundation for their area of study.
While I am not an accountant, a few years back, I was reviewing information in FASRI and ran across an article Rob Bloomfield wrote that I always kept in the back on my mind when helping my Ph.D. and MFE clients outline their SOPs. The outline is great, but what really sticks out for me and works for any essay are five simple words, “Show me. Don’t tell me.” Maybe its because I love theatre and these words are a simplification of a line from writer/playwright/physician Anton Chekhov, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
As an admissions director, “Show me. Don’t tell me” was my way of seeking evidence to support my applicants’ assertions of greatness, passion, achievement and even failure. Who knew Chekhov would help guide my clients into the best undergraduate and graduate programs in the world? Rob Bloomfield knew.
Offering examples, gives the reader the opportunity to understand the subject matter from your perspective and evaluate your claims: a responsibility the admissions committee must assume. So when you sit down to write your statement of purpose, essays or conduct an interview, rather than stating that you have subject matter passion, show that you have subject matter passion by describing recent readings, experiences and outcomes. For example, I could state that I have a passion for puzzles or I could explain that on Sunday, I solved the New York Times crossword in 40 minutes, a 4X4 Rubik’s cube in 10 minutes, and a complex logic puzzle in 5 minutes and watched my Netflix obsession The Bletchley Circle.
In other words, “Show me. Don’t tell me.”
By Natalie Grinblatt Epstein, an accomplished Accepted.com consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.
Thinking of launching a disruptive start-up? Dying to attend a leading entrepreneurial MBA program? Well meet Nick Hinrichsen and Chris Colemen, founders of the start-up Carlypso, which Tech Crunch calls a “brilliant concept.” Oh, and they earned their MBAs in 2013 from Stanford GSB.
Listen to the recording of this intriguing interview as we discuss the founding of Carlypso, life as a Stanford GSB MBA student and the impact of the Stanford experience on the Carlypso launch.
00:1:37 – You asked, Linda answers! Linda explains why you should only give ONE example or story when application questions ask for one example. Adding more than one can do more harm than good.
00:5:08 – What is Carlypso?
00:7:30 – Where did the idea for Carlypso come from.
10:39 – Who benefits from using Carlypso?
12:40 – Did their Stanford MBA degree really help them?
19:10 – Are people overestimating entrepreneurship at Stanford?
21:42 – The Stanford MBA’s impact on Nick’s and Chris’s work.
23:10 – The $50,000 coffee that helped start Carlypso.
26:14 – Interested in attending Stanford? Nick and Chris give tips on how to get accepted (and rejected).
27:45 – Fail, and fail gracefully, but don’t do it again.
*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.
- Tushar’s comment and my response
- Carlypso Could Change Everything About How We Buy And Sell Used Cars
- Stanford GSB Essay Tips
- Life as an HBS MBA
- Dr. Douglas Stayman Shares the Scoop on Cornell Tech NYC
- Business, Law and Beyond: An Interview with John Engelman
- The Stanford MSx Program for Experienced Leaders
- Which Schools are Good for PE/VC and VC-Backed Entrepreneurship
- Jeff Reid on Entrepreneurship
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