Archive for the ‘Law School Application’

Dreaming New Dreams03.05.13

For over the last two years, it has been my dream to get into a law school. A very specific law school that is two blocks from a condo I bought partly due to proximity to said law school. I started telling people back in January 2011 that I will be attending law school some day so that they could help keep me honest with my goal. A year ago, this law school rejected my application with the recommendation that I take some advance writing composition class and reapply. Even though it broke my ability to think clearly for a moment upon receiving this rejection, I recovered well enough to work my ass off at the local community college, which resulted in my best college academic quarter yet.

I reapplied. Then I worried over how I would take it if I was rejected again. I dreamed a horrible dream that I was rejected again, and the admin told me once again to re-apply. There will be no more re-apply. I started this process when I was 34, I’m about to turn 37 in another month. Still, I walked around with this identity of a law school hopeful, and wore it like a favorite cloak that I refused to take off. This cloak gave me a sense of purpose even though it started wearing on me after a couple years of people constantly asking which law school I was attending when I had not been accepted into any school yet.

About a month after my re-application, I got an email from Seattle U with the subject, “Important Information from…” I nearly had a heart attack, because last time I got an email from them, it was the rejection email. Then I read it, and it said my application was being reviewed for their special program for people with either bad LSAT score or (in my case, REALLY) shitty undergrad grades.

I told my friends of my progress in application and they high-fived me for maybe getting into a special program that will provide additional help. Then we laughed over how when we were younger, being placed in a “special” program would be a personal insult. Somehow, now that we’re older, if someone wants to give us extra help, we’re all over it. In hindsight, if I wasn’t too full of pride to ask for help when I was drowning in undergrad, my grades might not have been as embarrassing.

My partner and I planned our trip to Australia, which is the final bit to my law school bucket list. He wanted to go for a week because of work, and I told him, “This is going to be my last big hurrah before hunkering down for the next three-four years, so if you really don’t think you can go for two weeks, I can do this alone.” We will be gone for two weeks in April, time split between Melbourne, Sydney, Cairns and Fiji. I started scheduling around starting law school this summer. I rejected plans based on, “I can’t do this in July because I will be in law school.” Each time I said that, I felt a sense of dread of what it would be like if I didn’t get in, again.

A few days ago, on my little brother’s 18th birthday, while I was trying to figure out dinner plans with him, I got an email with the subject line, “Congratulations from Seattle University School of Law”. I opened it and read it. Then I handed my phone to my partner and asked him if I was reading it correctly. He replied yes, stood up to give me a hug, and I started jumping up and down in our little home office while cheering. I texted my little brother that I got in first because he’s applying to undergrad, and we’ve both been asking each other if the other has heard anything yet from schools. There were far too many sad no-not-yet’s. Then I texted my friends who promptly replied, “DRINKS! NOW!”

We went out and toasted to Sandy. While I can’t quantify how much difference she made in my application, I can honestly say she made so much difference in my level of calmness during the holiday season while trying to wrap up my personal statement writing. I credit her with keeping me sane during a very stressful time. It’s people like her that reminds me this is why I wanted to get into law, to help people who simply don’t know how to help themselves in certain situation.

I took off my law-school-hopeful cloak that day. It felt odd and still feels odd right now as I type this. It’s like taking off that 50 lbs mountaineering backpack after a long trek. Like I’m suddenly so light I can almost fly, but the warmth on my back and the familiar weight that has been grounding me is gone. There’s not a chance in hell I want to put that giant pack back on, but there’s a sense of uncertainty without it.

So for those who have been rejected from law school and are reading this: Rejection from law school is not the end of the world. Reapplication can work. Sometimes, if you dream it hard enough, and work toward that dream just as hard, it does happen. You no longer only know someone who knows someone that this happened to.

Posted in Law School Application, Personalwith 1 Comment →

Just Take the “F” Out of Way01.16.13

Now that there’s nothing to left to do but panic about whether I get accepted or not, I have a lot more time to write. Last year, after I turned in my application, things became dead quiet around here because I was afraid of talking about the application because I might jinx it. Seeing as to how that turned out, I might as carry on my merry ways. Also, last year, I didn’t think I was ready for law school and was quietly praying that no one else noticed. This year is different because in spending most of a year trying to convince a law school I’m a good candidate for their school, I have convinced myself I’m a good candidate for law school.

Previously, I mentioned I took an LSAT Prep course, and I felt like it was money well spent if only for the help that Sandy provided. That feeling was reinforced on my second application. After my wrote my first draft of personal statement, I sent it off to Sandy to ask what she thought of it. I honestly expected her to come back with some polite variation of, “Seriously lady, you paid for our LSAT prep service back in April 1, 2011. It’s now a year and a half later and you still want my help?” This prep service didn’t charge a separate application help fee and it’s not even part of their “sell” feature, I would have gone to them with or without the application help, so this was something they added to be nice. Instead of telling me to move along, Sandy gave me some editing advice and said she’ll be available to read future drafts. She’s very sweet like that. And she held my hands until the end–even during the holidays. I can’t express enough thanks for her.

After sending her my second draft along with a link to my blog, she wrote back that she didn’t like my first essay and, “I tried to dance around it last time but because you sent me to your blog, I have found out you are a really good writer and there is some great stuff in there.”  She concluded this long email full of extremely helpful advice with, “Write like you are writing for your blog.” When I tell my friends what Sandy wrote, they all cringe for me, and I have to reel them back in with, “No, no, she said lots of good things.” I suppose your average person would get upset if someone told them they don’t like certain piece of their writing. However, I think most writers who are semi-prolific writers would have to know they have plenty of writings that are complete duds. It could be because they were experimenting with tones, trying a new point of view, or experiencing hormonal flux. Also, after taking a writing class where we do writing workshops, I’ve learned that I improve the most from people who are critical with specific details. “I loved what you wrote,” while it massages my ego for a moment, doesn’t help me write any better.

I really appreciated Sandy’s honesty throughout the editing process. As I wrote not too long ago, I was helping my seventeen year old brother with his college essay. The first essay he sent me made me wince in pain from trying to follow it. He wrote it like he was trying way to hard to impress some college board. There were so many big words and dramatic flare that I imagined if someone were to read it out loud, they would have to do some artsy Shakespearean bow to show, “I too know how douchey and pretentious I’m about to sound.” I’ve had emails from my brother where I had to double check who sent me the email because it’s incredibly well thought out and articulate, so I know he’s capable of stringing words together beautifully. So I’ve advised him, “Write like you are writing for a very good friend.” In the end, he loosened up his tie but the wool ascot still itched a little.

Of course it’s always easier to give advice than take it. I didn’t write my essay like it was for a friend or my blog. So before a complete rewrite of my essay, I spent a couple days thinking about the difference in how I wrote my first essay and my blog. My first thought was my blog was different because I wrote it for myself. I put a certain word after another for no reason other than: Because it pleases me so. This blog is written with myself as the target audience. Then I thought, is it? I mean if it’s just me, would I spend so much time crafting a sentence that might make me crack a smile from time to time? Extra points if I’m laughing out loud? That’s when it came to me, I write this blog for my ADHD id. I write this for a future self that stopped caring about her past self and will only read this if it has something more to offer than a quick trot down memory lane. I’m Lindy hopping for my id. Also, Sandy is telling me the admission counselors are all really my ADHD id with dressier shoes. Which, I guess if someone has to go through two thousand plus applications, that would not be a poor assumption.

My absolute favorite piece of advice is her recommendation against using mountaineering as a comparison to law school because she has “heard from several law schools that they are tired with the ‘I have climbed a mountain, therefore, I can do law school’ essay.” That is simply brilliant to me. Taking a step away from my mountaineering self, I would say to me, “Give me a fucking break, you put one foot in front of the other for hours, it’s not like you’re a hero saving orphans or anything!”

To get the admission board out of my mind as I’m writing my personal statement, I closed Microsoft Word and opened up the WordPress editor on my blog. I wrote it like another post with all the expletives that I would normally use. In the end, I wrote a post that was so informal and personal, I worried it would get rejected out of inappropriate familiarity. It read too much like a crumpled page of my diary that I didn’t even bother to smooth out before sending it in. However, it did put the “personal” in my personal statement. Then I went back and deleted all the “fuck” and changed “shit” to “poo”, because the only time I’ve read a college entrance essay with “fuck” that worked was a war-hero quoting his drill sergeant.  And we have already established the fact that I’m no hero. Unless you count the time I put a bucket over a giant fucking wolf spider that was beelining for my cousin. And then I did the heebie-jeebies dance for the next half hour. That dance could rival the fiercest war dance in heroism. *insert dramatic Shakespearean bow here*

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It’s That Time of the Year01.03.13

Once again, it is the time of the year to work very hard on that New Year’s resolution — for the next two weeks. For some of us, it is also that time of the year to get our law school applications sent out.

I’ve had quite a few people stumble onto this site because they too got rejections in the mail last year. So, maybe some of you are going through the drill with me again this year. Does it get easier? No, it really doesn’t. It’s not like, “Oh, after the first baby, the second time around is much easier.” This is what it is, “I was rejected the first time, and ohmygod please don’t let that happen again second time around!”

The nice thing about second time around? I’ve spent an entire year thinking about nothing but: “Is this what I really want!?” Of course I thought about the same thing while applying the first time around, but that was in the midst of studying for LSATs and applying for the first time. When I had a queasy knot in my stomach, I couldn’t tell you it’s from LSAT panic, thinking about applying, or indigestion. Quite often, it’s (D) All of the above.

I had a very good year to calmly reflect on whether this is what I really want for my life.

It still is, almost more so with the two years I’ve already committed at this point. The three years that I had previously whined and bitched about seems almost inconsequential now. This year, if I get rejected from the same school again, I will have to study outside of this city. I didn’t apply to any “safety school” last year, because I really wanted to stay in the area. This is something that I’m changing this time around.

So what is my obsession with staying in the area? Well, aside from the obvious, wherever you go to school is where you make your connections for future jobs, so if I wish to work in Seattle area, making my connections here seem like a good idea. I want to stay here for my mother.

I’m at that age where most of people of my age group start to infantilize their parents. Around this point, the parent/child roles get reversed and we worry about our parents more. As an immigrant with immigrant parents that never learned to speak English well though, that role has been a part of my life since I learned enough English to be helpful. I’ve always had to take care of my parents. I even took care of my parents’ friends. Around the age of ten, my uncle drove me to the hospital to help translate for a friend of the family. I had to figure out how to translate “when was your last menstrual cycle” between two languages that I did not understand it in. That was before hospitals legally require translator present.

Last time I took my mother to her mammogram, a translator magically appeared. When I tried to dismiss her, she said she’s required to be there. Apparently hospitals have been having issues with family members leaving out vital information on symptoms or lying to the patient when they tested positive for cancer. I wanted to know where was this translator when I had to blushingly figure out how to say “period”. My mother had a false positive first scan. Sitting there, waiting for a re-scan, I realized this is information I would hate to receive if I was across the country. She is at an age where her mortality is more real to me, being around for her is something I want very much.

Reapplication! I turned in my application on December 28th. I probably could have gotten it in much much sooner because most of the file was complete already from they year before. I only needed to add a new transcript and a new personal statement, but I dragged ass on the essay. I understand procrastination stems from the subconscious’s attempts to save the conscious mind from potential failure and embarrassment from said failure, but my subconscious does such a shitty job at saving me. I say this because as I was in the last stages of writing and trying to tie all the needed information together with reddish imprints of my fingers on my temple, I found myself staring at my sudsy toilet bowl with brush in one hand and spray bottle in the other. What the hell am I being saved from that was soooo bad that scrubbing the toilet seems like the better alternative? I love writing, so one would think the better alternative to something I already love would be freaking awesome. Like I should be writing one moment, and find myself on a ski lift the next moment. However, I have to say, having a mostly sparkling toilet without remembering how it got that way is something of a treat, I wouldn’t complain if my laundry got washed and folded that way.

If you got rejected from law school last year and are reapplying this year, know that you are not alone in your journey and I wish you the best of luck.

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Law School Rejection03.18.12

My lack of updates to this blog is because I’ve been quietly holding my breath, waiting for replies from schools.

On Friday late afternoon, the letter of rejection from my law school of choice came to my email. I was having a drink with my sister at her bar. From just the subject of email, I knew it was bad news. It mangled my ability to think at all and I was teary eyed beyond my own control. I canceled dinner plans with friends and asked my boyfriend to pick me up so I could go home and mourn, in private, the death of my dreams of starting law school in summer of 2012.

Unlike the mourning over a loss of a love one to illness or old age, dreams are more heartbreaking in that you feel like you directly controlled the outcome somehow. This particular outcome felt like I’ve failed myself. And the many friends I had to call to let them know about the outcome: that I’m not going to start law school this summer after all. Of course like all good friends, my friends did their best to cheer me up, but a mourner fresh in mourning is not ready to be consoled yet.

There’s an episode of a television series called “Castle” where the protagonist’s daughter applied to Stanford, and despite being an amazing student, she was rejected. She cried and cried and called herself a failure. I rolled my eyes and thought she was being such a silly drama queen. Oh, I judged too quickly.  A rejection letter was a rejection because it found the candidate wanting. It was hard to not feel like a failure for a moment.

If a lady is rejected by a male suitor, we tell her to not worry because there are plenty of fishes in the sea, and this is also true with schools. However, I do not wish to relocate. A big part of why this particular school has become so ingrained in my dreams is that I spend so much time looking at it. I can see it from my living room windows. Every time I drive myself or my boyfriend to work, I drive by it. Because I can run over and lick the building at a moment’s notice, it’s so easy to visualize myself being there. The dream is so much more real when it’s not a nebulous cloud. I do feel this school is a good fit for my needs and would allow me to be available to help my family by staying near.

View of snow covered trees lining SU from my living room.

After I settled down, I went back to reading the email. For a rejection letter, it was actually kind. Not kind in the “I’ll just be overly polite in telling you you suck” sort of way, but kind in that the letter stated I was a strong candidate but they felt I could use an advance writing course before I reapply and that guidance will be provided for courses I should take if I choose to go that route. Also, I should get my application in before December 31st (curse you letter of recommendation that held me up for over a month!).

I won’t lie. Worries about writing ability have been haunting me. I’ve written so many words on multiple blogs, but it wasn’t until I had to write my college essay that every single word came out like jogging through hip deep snow. It wasn’t that I lacked the words to splatter across the page as I’ve done before, it’s that I worried about how my writing would be critiqued. Another thing I worry about is that I can’t outline to save myself from poorly displaced fat on my body.

At the age of 36, it’s tough to know I have to wait another year. Nevertheless, I am pretty excited about taking a writing course though. It’s something that I’ve talked about doing for far too long. While I’m at it, I would like to check out that accounting , public speaking and psychology class that I’ve been dying to take. Hopefully this next year will not be a wasted year. Diving in Great Barrier Reef is back on my pre-schooling list.

The end of a dream, whether it is achieved or missed, makes room for more new dreams.

Edit: It seems a lot of people stumble on this particular blog entry and I don’t want people leaving on a sad note. Here’s a link to the update on this situation. I wish you good luck on your college application.

Posted in Law School Applicationwith 1 Comment →

5 Tips for Law School Letter of Recommendation01.10.12

As part of the LSAT prep class I took, one of our instructors gave helpful advice with law school application process. Sandy, who specialize in helping us with all questions applications related, talked us through much of the navigating the LSAC website and preemptively answered questions she knows we will have. She gave us many helpful advice regarding Letter of Recommendation and sadly, I ignored her advice out of smugness, smugness that caused me many weeks of sleeplessness and anxiety during the holiday season.

I’m sharing her advice, some of which I took, but all of which I wish I had heeded.

  1. Who to ask?
    I’ve covered this topic in an entire post. Key thing to note from what Sandy said, if you have been out of school for two years, you are right on the cusp of needing at least one letter from your professor. Less than two years, you really should have at least one letter from a professor.

    Another thing, as much as you want a shining recommendation, at the end of the day, it’s the letter writer that bothers writing at all that completes your file, so make sure you find someone reliable.

  2. ASK FOR MORE THAN THE REQUIRED NUMBER OF LETTERS!!
    If the required number of letters is 2, ask 3-4 people to write letters for you. You will have the option of assigning letter writers to schools when you apply, at which point, if someone failed to write the letter on time, you can choose from the submitted letters. Trust me, even if you really prefer to have a certain special someone write the letter, when your file sits as incomplete long past personal deadline, you will settle for a letter written in puked up crayon from your neighbor’s 3 year old cat if it will close your application as complete. I’m only partially joking in the last sentence but mostly because I don’t know if LSAC will accept a bloody paw-print as signature.

    This could have saved me so much heart ache and disappointment if I did this. I asked two good friends of mine, both of whom were producers of multiple projects I’ve worked on and I’ve known for over ten years, to help with the letter writing. Letter Writer #2 got the letter sent in and processed in a very timely fashion. Letter Writer #1 who also happens to be my best friend and whom I’ve been griping to about the law school applying process since last January, still haven’t sent in the letter as of my writing this. He said yes to the letter writing a full year ago and I even asked if he would like me to make other arrangements for the letter writing when his letter wasn’t turned in by December 9th. He didn’t respond to my text message asking about the letter on December 22nd. In the end, I broke down and begged another friend, also ex-coworker, to write me a letter two days before Christmas. This made for the worst Christmas gift ever, for my boyfriend especially because he got to hear me cry about this for the entire month. I cry like a maimed animal, it’s absolutely terrible and you just want to put it out of its misery, so hanging out with that for a month is about as fun as it sounds.

    My heart still breaks when I think about the fact that my friend never responded and never sent in the letter. I don’t even want to know what happened at this point because it doesn’t change this simple fact:
    My applications sat in incomplete status for a month longer than intended because I had to wait for two letters of recommendation. Rolling admissions at my target school started in early December and I wasn’t a shoo-in applicant, so this would really hurt my chances being late by a month.

  3. Letters of Recommendation or Evaluation?
    Sandy said she spoke to a few office of admissions about their preference and it sounded like Letters of Recommendation was still the way to go. Some schools would accept evaluations, but just about every school would accept LORs. That said, one very helpful tip that Sandy gave us: print copies of the evaluation questions to give your letter writers for guidelines.

    There is a link from the “Letters of  Recommendation and Evaluations” section to “Current Evaluation Questions”. Copy and paste that to emails or a word doc to print out for your letter writers. It really gives the letter writer a better idea of the type of information law schools want to know about you.

  4. Things to Include In Letter of Recommendation Package
    Make sure you include the LOR Form. There is a line that is optional for you to sign, it waives your rights to read the LOR, Sandy’s advice is to just sign the thing. It shows that you have confidence in the people writing your letters of recommendation. I will admit to not having signed the paper for my 3rd letter writer because leeway time was something I lacked, so I just emailed the PDF file to him.

    With my first two letter writers, I had time to spare, I made the proper package to mail out. Things to include:
    1) LOR Form, signed and dated to waive your rights.
    2) Stamped envelop with the address for LSAC written.
    3) Copy of “Current Evaluation Questions”.
    4)If you don’t speak to this person regularly, include some basic explanation of what the evaluation questions is for and making sure the LOR is signed.

  5. Thank You Letter
    Because my letter writers are long time friends of mine, whom I have failed to send gifts during important holidays and birthdays (I’m a bad friend, yes), I got each letter writer a large gift basket from Costco full of meats and pate.

    Obviously if you are on a student budget, elaborate gift baskets are not necessary. However, a letter of appreciation is still a must. From the standpoint of someone who stressed for a month because someone failed to write the letter, I can tell you, when someone does NOT write the letter, you truly appreciate the ones that come through for you. And you should do your best to let the person know you appreciate it, whether or not you selected their letter to bundle with your application.

Another thing to note, LSAC will accept fax letters even though they don’t recommend it, but I do wonder if it’s faster than mailing it. Second thing to note, LSAC is closed from Christmas to New Year’s Day. This means if your letter, like mine, arrives during that time or right after, it’ll take nearly a week for them to get to your letter of recommendation and process it due to the week long pile up. Again, I do wonder if I had the letter faxed, if this would improve the timing.

Getting the letters of recommendation ended up being my biggest hurdle, which it really shouldn’t be had I planned it better.

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The Expected08.18.11

It’s mid-August, which means I should be frantically working on my personal statement and I’ve been trying to start on it since the beginning of the month. However, because I made good effort in everything I do, I wrote down “Work on Essay” on my planner for yesterday.

Problem with planning is, life gets in the way and I had more important things to do. Things I did between yesterday and today instead of my essay:

  1. Wash three loads of laundry. You can’t possibly expect me to write my personal statement in dirty underwear, can you?
  2. Cook breakfast and lunch. I might be the queen of take-outs, but cooking is my writing muse, so this had to be done!
  3. Vacuum the entire condo. Writing in a filthy environment is just so wrong!
  4. Did the dishes. It’s summer, if I leave it alone too long it might stink up the place.
  5. Played hours worth of Tiny Tower. It’s a free game, I can’t not take advantage of the “free” part.
  6. Scrubbed both toilets. Okay, I might be reaching for something to do here at this point.
It is said that procrastination is the brain’s way of rescuing you from possibly embarrassing yourself, and maybe this is a sign that writing my personal statement on my most embarrassing moment involving me mooning a whole lot of people by accident isn’t a great idea. Wait. That’s not what I’m going to write about. I think what’s failing me is my utter lack of reward system here. I should reward myself with ice cream from the local home-made ice cream shop.
Alright, I’m off to get some ice cream now. You say that’s not how reward system works? I say I will have home-made ice cream five minutes from now and you don’t, I will feel plenty rewarded. Thank you.
p.s. I’m a little under the weather lately with fever and chills, which means I may be dying. If so, I can’t be remembered as the “girl who worked on her essay on her last days”, I think “girl who loved home-made ice cream” has a much better legacy to it.

Posted in Law School Application, Personalwith No Comments →

Letters of Recommendation07.26.11

As I was thinking about applying to law school, I sat down to look at everything that went into the application. LSAT by itself was scary enough, that I agonized over it for a week. Soon as I came up with a game plan for that, I thought everything else would be cake. Then I saw something I hadn’t thought about since 1994: Letters of Recommendation. I was baffled.

I’m currently working for my family at the moment, so asking them for letters of recommendation would be out of question. It’s not just that it would appear too self-serving, it’s that it’s actually very self-defeating because my immediate family’s English is terrible. My sister and brother speaks English fluently, but their grammar is even more embarassing than mine. My mother can barely string an entire spoken English sentence together. It really doesn’t matter though, letters of recommendation from family is highly discouraged.

From the Steven Klein course, we were told that if you’re within two years of graduating from college, at least one of the recommendation should be from a professor . Don’t pick a professor just because the professor is impressive. Pick a professor that honestly knows you. It is better to get a well-written letter from a professor that can talk about your learning ability than a letter from the well-published professor that only knows you by your letter grade.

I’ve been out of college for over 11 years. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t anyone’s favorite student by the time I graduated anyhow. It took me a long time to figure out where to get the letters.

Then I realized, before I started working for my family, I was plenty of project leader’s/producer’s favorite. I worked very hard. I have studio head’s and producer’s number. That’s my plan.

I have other people in my situation asking where they should go. I would say to look for them at work, volunteer coordinators, or religious leader. I used to volunteer very actively, but I never answered to a certain coordinator so that would not be a viable option for me.

I would even consider asking my mountaineering course instructor if I was still in dire need of a letter. He watched me train my scrawny little 105lbs frame to carry 50+lbs up a mountain, so while he can’t say much about my prose writing skills, he understands my tenacity and drive.

In the end, it’s about finding someone that can truly say they know something positive about you and can help you shine. Don’t ask some you don’t know well no matter how impressive the person is. It’s you that needs to be impressive.

 

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