First, let me support my strong claim that I would have been accepted based on the numbers. Harvard’s class of 2016 LSAT scores at the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles are 170 – 173 – 175. After my 3rd practice test, I scored a 164, which was the 89th percentile for that exam. Not good enough. But, then I would have taken 50 practice tests (of real exams given the previous years). I’m sure I would have increased my score to the low 170s, at least, because the LSAT is very learnable.
Second, Harvard’s class of 2016 GPA at 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles is 3.77 – 3.88 – 3.95. My Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) GPA is 4.08—because LSAC counts an A+ as a 4.33 GPA and I have 38 A+ credits. So, my GPA is well above Harvard Law’s 75th percentile and probably around its 95th percentile.
170 LSAT, 4.08 GPA
173 LSAT, 4.08 GPA
If I raised my LSAT score by six points after another six months of studying and 50 practice tests, which is reasonable, then I have a 75% chance of getting in according strictly to the data points. A nine-point increase with the same amount of prep and time is a 173 LSAT and a 87.5% chance of admission to Harvard Law. Of course, there are other factors to getting accepted.
Beyond the numbers, I also believe my resume and extracurriculars were adequate enough as being president of two student organizations, having various quality internships, completing a senior thesis, and doing other activities. Also, people from Miami University get into Harvard Law regularly, so my undergrad school is not a problem in my chance of admissions.
A major unattractive feature of Harvard and many law schools is the tuition and housing costs. One source reported the total debt-financed cost of attendance is $277,772 at Harvard. My parents were not going to pay for law school and I certainly did not want that debt on my shoulders for a decade. (Although I explain many ways to pay for it in this post titled how to fund graduate school.)
Yet, the ultimate deciding factor was not the cost of attendance, but my interests. I initially wanted law school for the prestige, competition, and self-accomplishment it would provide, which isn’t exactly the best reasons to make this big of a life decision. I could get these three elements in another area where I was completely invested—and wouldn’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Although I studied over 750 hours for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), I know I personally made the right decision in choosing a different path. For some people, going to law school is their calling and the best decision for their future. It’s just not my interest. Also, I don’t want to come off as bashing Harvard Law. It is an incredible institution and produces some of the finest legal minds in the world.
So my point in this story, is to share the importance of constantly evaluating your daily actions and long-term goals to make sure they align. Make it a priority to reflect each month, because if you can save yourself years of going down the wrong path, it will be worth it. Your reflection can be brief, just ten minutes of focused processing will get the job done.
It was difficult to give up law school after dedicating the majority of my college years to this goal, but it would be far worse to go to law school and be a lawyer if it wasn’t what I wanted.