I am a fan of Yale Law’s admissions blog, 203. An Admissions Blog, but I have to take issue with a recent post, New Questions, specifically the author’s response to the question, “Is it still okay to have an admissions consultant give me guidance on my application?”
The author, Asha, states clearly that applicants who use consultants “won’t be automatically penalized or rejected,” but implies strongly in her answer that use of an admissions consultant somehow distorts the “level playing field” upon which she wants to evaluate applicants — although she has no such issues with applicants taking LSAT courses, which can cost much more than a law school admissions consultant and exist to improve applicant performance on the LSAT.
That “distorted playing field” canard really reflects Asha’s abysmal ignorance of the field. Admissions consultants help disadvantaged applicants level the playing field:
- Sites like Accepted provide a lot of free advice — for all.
- If an applicant has a writer, an attorney, or perhaps a Yale alum as an acquaintance, friend, or relative, that applicant has an advantage over the applicant from a blue-collar family studying at a state college with limited pre-law advising.
Using an experienced, knowledgeable consultant can help that student, the immigrant, the first-generation college graduate, or the non-traditional applicant overcome disadvantage. And for far less than the $5K high-end figure that Asha cites.
Here’s another line that merely amounts to spreading mis-information about a growing and increasingly influential field in law school admissions: “I’m interested in evaluating the ideas and writing of the applicant, not those of an admissions consultant.”
- Ethical admissions consultants don’t write personal statements for applicants and don’t “package” applicants as Asha alleges elsewhere. We, like the undergrad advisers that are mysteriously viewed positively in her post, provide guidance to applicants in telling their story in their own voice. We play the role of mentors, coaches, and critics.
- All writers need editors. That’s why published authors all have editors. It’s amazing to think that only non-professionals are too good to benefit from that fresh, critical eye.
Finally she states “Moreover, your PS is not necessarily the most important part of your application.” It may not be the most important element, at least until an admissions representative claims that law school admissions is “holistic.” But let’s face it — when the band of accepted GPAs and LSATs is as narrow as it is at YLS and the accepted percentage is as small as it is at YLS, what are application readers going to base a decision on? Thin air? Yes, the admissions office will consider your activities, and leadership roles, and the difficulty of your courses, and your work experience. And definitely the LSAT. But they aren’t going to waste time reading a personal statement if it doesn’t play a role in the evaluation process.
I invite Asha and other law school admissions offices to follow the example of their b-school colleagues and work with the law school admissions consultancies that are striving to help ALL applicants — not just one school’s current students, one’s friends, or one’s family — present themselves at their best.
We are trying to aid applicants in giving you the information you need to make informed decisions based on the applicant’s story — whatever role it plays in your decision-making process and whatever the applicant’s background.