Sunday, November 11, 2007

Observations on Applications

As I finally start to get ahead of the endless torrent of applications I'm filling out, a few observations I wanted to get down on virtual paper. Most are recommendations and/or complaints to the shadowy cabal that designs these cursed things.

- The more you can let me send in online, the better. Making me send a thirty-five page writing sample by mail, rather than upload it, is ridiculous. However, I do actually give Chicago a minor exemption here, because they require it to come in with my transcript -- meaning it's the transcript office that has to deal with it, not me.

- Exception to the preceding rule: transcripts should not be submitted online -- at least until colleges start providing a mechanism for transmitting them. Until then, it's just awkward.

- Admissions office mailing addresses need to be reasonable. Name of office, street #, city, state, zip code is fine. Name of office, name of person, hall, room #, street #, city, state, zip code is not. Stanford, I'm looking at you.

- The more information you can give me about my chances of admission, the happier I'll be. Yale Law School, for example, breaks down its last three years of admissions into a grid matching LSAT scores to GPAs. I am gratified to know that my 177 LSAT raises my admissions chance from about 5% to 10%. Depressed, but gratified. The University of Virginia also scores points in this category. Places that just say "higher than this score", by contrast, are useless -- I don't know if being higher than that means my chances are good, or that they won't just use my application for paper football. This is particularly so when (as so often is the case for me), my LSAT/GRE scores are on opposite side of the cut-off from my GPA.

- The degree of centralization the LSDAS has managed to put together is truly impressive -- and welcome. I can do nearly everything online (except, oddly enough, submit recommendation forms, which seems to be a gimme). Grad schools are sort of following suit, and there appear to be a variety of different online services that manage applications. So Brown and Princeton are with one group, while Yale and Columbia are in another. However, if you're going to use an online service, make sure it's stable. Nothing is more aggravating than being in the middle of an application and having "Embark" crash on you. Like it does about once per session, on average.

- Also, be intelligent when designing your applications. NYU wouldn't let me preview my application until I checked the box acknowledging I had previewed my application. I do not appreciate being forced to lie, NYU.

- December 1st deadlines are really inconvenient for a college whose term ends on November 20th. December 15th is fine, though.

- Finally, at this stage in the game, I'm feeling roughly equally positive towards the schools that let me know their decision promptly as am towards the ones that actually admit me. This might change if I start the Winter Term on a five school rejection streak.

No comments: