Spooky Halloween Blog: Real Stories of Things That Creep Out Admissions Offices


For Halloween this year, we'd like to share some peculiar stories from some of the Spivey consultants' days as admissions officers at top schools such as Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, Penn, Michigan, Duke, and many more. If you want to avoid spooking the person making a decision on your file (and making a lasting bad impression), avoid these creepy tactics!

Nikki Laubenstein, former Assistant Dean for Enrollment Management at Syracuse University College of Law, had a coworker who was once told by an applicant that he had legally changed his middle name to her name.

Emily Allen, former Director of Admissions for Lewis & Clark Law School, once had a student wait for her on the hood of her car in a dark parking garage.

Tom Robinson, former Director of Admissions at Harvard Law School, once saw that a student had noted on social media that admissions would likely be releasing decisions soon – giving the reasoning that this was likely because their cars were in the parking lot on a Saturday. He has also had applicants follow him to his car after a law school fair and notes, "really anything to do with an admissions officer's car" is creepy.

Danielle Early, former Associate Director of Admissions at Harvard Law School, once received a thank you note for an interview that mentioned how cute her dog was when he stuck his head out the window… of her apartment… which meant he had figured out where she lived.

We've decided to keep it off the record which school this happened at, but one member of our team read an LSAT Addendum from an applicant claiming that he suffered from some sort of anxiety attack "with symptoms similar to sexual arousal" during the test, and that's why his score wasn't predictive of his abilities.

Nick Everdell, former Director of Recruitment at Yale Law School and Associate Director of Admissions at Columbia Law School, once asked a prospective applicant at a law school fair if he could hold on for a second while he ran to the bathroom — and the applicant responded by saying that he had to go too, walked with him, and then proceeded to ask questions about Columbia's clinics while using the urinal next to him.

Derek Meeker, former Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid for the University of Pennsylvania Law School, once had a prospective applicant walk up to him at a law school forum and say, "I'd cut off one of my appendages to get into Penn." (His response: "Please don't.") He also encountered the grandmother of an applicant who kept sending cookies after her grandson was denied; the admissions office was convinced she had put poison in them. Lastly and most alarmingly, Derek had a re-applicant who had been denied the prior cycle actually show up at his apartment building on a Saturday and tell the doorman that she was a friend of his and wanted to surprise him.

Karen Buttenbaum, former Director of Admissions at Harvard Law School, was once at a bar with a group of admissions officers after an LSAC Forum when they received a round of drinks from a prospective applicant. We're sure he felt like he was doing something cool, but to them it felt like a creepy stalker.

Shannon Davis, former Assistant Dean for Admissions and Communications at Lewis & Clark Law School, once had someone from an applicant's past contact her to tell her not to admit the applicant because he was abusive, vindictive, and a liar, and should not be able to practice law. This was after he had already been denied — and screamed at her for denying him, calling her a coward for not telling him why (although she had). Needless to say, it was the right decision. Security was called, and the admissions office immediately started looking into getting panic buttons.

Another one that we'd rather keep anonymous: one Spivey team member was conducting a waitlist interview that was going quite well for the applicant, until she asked him if he had any questions. He proceeded to ask her about her wedding plans and engagement story from her wedding website that he had found in a Google search. It was definitely creepy to have a stranger ask her about her maid of honor’s running habits and how she felt getting engaged in a hot air balloon.

Laura Wrobel, former Senior Admissions Officer and Director of Financial Aid at Duke University School of Law, went for a run while on a recruitment trip in Nashville. About a mile into it, she realized that one of the candidates she had met with was also "out for a run" — in jeans and a hoodie — about 20 feet behind her. She moved over and stopped to tie her shoe, hoping he would just keep going by, but instead he stopped and said, "I've been following you from your hotel and was trying to figure out a way to talk to you that wouldn't make you think I was a stalker."

Mike Spivey, former Associate Director of Admissions at Vanderbilt Law School and Assistant Dean at Washington University in St. Louis Law School and University of Colorado Law School, once denied a former Olympic athlete who had been kicked off the U.S. team for steroid use — and when she got the denial, she told him on the phone she was "getting on a plane to come kick his ass."