Podcast: What It's Like Applying to Law School, Part 2 (Interviews)

In this episode of Status Check with Spivey, Spivey Consulting COO Anna Hicks-Jaco checks in with "Lucy," u/Accomplished-Body785 on Reddit, an applicant currently in the middle of her law school application process. We are interviewing Lucy at several points throughout her cycle to check in about how things have been going, what she's been up to in terms of her application process, and how she's feeling about it all. You can find Part 1 here.

This episode is primarily focused on interviews! Lucy has had a number of law school admissions interviews at this point, including one group interview and a Kira interview, and she shares how those interviews went, what sorts of questions they asked, and how she prepared. She also shares some of her first decisions.

You can listen and subscribe to Status Check with Spivey on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, YouTube, SoundCloud, and Google Podcasts.

Full Transcript:

Anna: Hello and welcome to Status Check with Spivey, where we talk about life, law school, law school admissions. I'm Anna Hicks-Jaco, Spivey Consulting's Chief Operating Officer, and today we are returning to our ongoing interview series with an applicant from Reddit who we're calling Lucy. We are following her throughout her cycle as she goes through her application process, but we should note that she is not your typical applicant. She has super high numbers, she's been out of college for a number of years, and she has a very strong application. Last time we spoke to her, which was in early August I believe, she was just getting ready to submit most of her applications. Now she's submitted, she's had a number of interviews, and she's even gotten a few decisions already. We talk a little bit about why she's been hearing from schools so quickly while many other applicants have only gotten radio silence this early—it's only early November—and then we spend the majority of our conversation talking about interviews.

Lucy has had four interviews so far with admissions officers, one of which was a group interview, and she's done one Kira assessment where you get the questions on your screen and then record your answers talking to the computer. So we spend a great deal of time talking through the structure of those interviews, the sorts of questions she got, and how she prepared for the interviews. If you're getting ready for a law school admissions interview, I would certainly listen to her advice and her process, because there's some great stuff in there. So without further delay, here's my conversation with Lucy.

We are here today with Lucy who has gotten some decisions, had some movement, had some interviews since the last time we spoke. So things are moving quickly. Can you give us a general update, Lucy?

Lucy:  Yeah. Pretty quickly after we last talked, I submitted my applications. It was actually I think around a week or so after we recorded the podcast last time. I was like coming back from a wedding and I got the notification from LSAC that my recommender had submitted her letter. It's like, “Oh my gosh, finally.” And so then the next day I submitted pretty much all of them really quickly. I have all my applications in except for Columbia. I'm one of those people who is like really adamant about not applying until I get a fee waiver from Columbia. So at this point, it's their move. But yeah, after that things started to move a little more quickly than I expected. Within a couple weeks of submitting my applications, I got some interview requests. I've interviewed now I think with four schools and I found out pretty quickly that I was going to interview with UVA and WashU like within a couple days of each other. And so I did both of those interviews and found out that I got it in pretty quickly after them. So it's been a really exciting month or so, but I definitely didn't expect things to be moving along this quickly.

Anna: Yeah, yeah, things are moving quickly. One thing that I do want to note on that as far as pacing and timing is that I expect a lot of our listeners probably have not been having that same movement. Maybe they've heard from one school or maybe they've heard from a couple of schools or maybe many, many applicants I'm sure have not heard from any schools in terms of decisions, certainly most applicants have not received decisions yet and then even interviews. I'm sure lots of people have not received any interviews or any contact from schools at all at this point.

One thing I want to note is that the cycle does tend to move more quickly for people like you who have very high numbers, oftentimes those are the first sort of applicants that law schools look at. Those applicants are the ones who they know, “Okay, we can admit this person and no matter what we decide our target medians are or whatever, they're going to be above them,” because you just have super high numbers. I know you have a really strong application also, so it makes sense that you've been hearing back from schools pretty quickly. But I do want to disclaim that the vast majority of people who are going to be admitted to these schools, who are going to be interviewed at these schools throughout the course of the cycle have not heard anything back yet.

So certainly don't freak out if you are listening to this and you're thinking, “Oh my gosh, Lucy has heard so much and I have heard not a peep from a single law school,” that is very normal. We're recording this in early November. So the cycle in many ways has just begun.

But I'm very excited for you. I'm very happy for you. You mentioned WashU and UVA. So first of all, what was the turnaround time from the interview to receiving a decision?

Lucy: Yeah, it was pretty quick for both of them. For UVA actually, I interviewed with the Dean and she sometimes I think admits people at the end of the interview. So I had that experience right at the end. She was like, “Oh, well before you go I have something to tell you.” And I was like, “Oh my gosh.” Because I kind of knew it was possible and I was like really excited but I, I kind of had to pretend that I was surprised that it was a possibility that that would happen. But it was really cool to have that happen as one of my first interviews. And then for WashU, I got a call, I think it was the day after my interview, but I've had friends who have been interviewing with them and it seems like they don't have super consistent turnaround times for when you get your decision versus when you interviewed. And even last cycle, I think I heard people have that experience. My partner applied last cycle and he interviewed with WashU and I think he didn't get a decision for like two months afterwards. So it definitely is pretty variable. So I wouldn't freak out if you haven't heard back from them. It seems like their process just isn't as consistent as some schools.

Anna: Was your partner ultimately admitted?

Lucy: Yeah, he was.

Anna: Okay. So he had an interview, he was admitted. He ended up with the same outcome as you had the next day, but it was just a longer timeline. And I'm sure many applicants during that two months would be looking at other people who had interviewed and then heard back immediately thinking, “Oh man, there's no way I'm going to get admitted. They would've admitted me already,” but that turned out to not be the case. That's a fun contrary example. I like that from your personal life. That's great.

Lucy: Yeah, so I was really surprised when I heard back because I remembered him waiting for like a really long time. He was getting really antsy about it because he really liked them and was like, “Why aren't they getting back to me? Like it seemed like they were happy with me.” But then he ultimately found out. And I guess like you know, everyone starts school on the same day so it doesn't really matter.

Anna: Yeah, that is the thing, if you are admitted in October or November, you get the same admission as someone who gets admitted right off of the waitlist in August. You're in the same class, you are starting law school at the same time. Certainly it is nice to hear back early, but that is not the case for everyone and you still oftentimes end up with wonderful outcomes. Not to harp on the timing stuff too much.

Let's talk a little bit more about interviews. So you've had a couple of other interviews in addition to UVA and WashU. We're not going to mention specific schools apart from those where you've already been admitted. But tell me a little bit about how those interviews went, sort of generally how you felt about them, what was the same about them, what was a common thread between your various interviews, and then what were some differences?

Lucy: Yeah, I think that I have been kind of struck by how most of the interviews that I've had are pretty short, and that's something that I knew getting into it. But when it actually comes to the day of the interview, I always feel like it really goes by super quickly. Pretty much all the ones I've had, and I can talk about Georgetown as well because they seem to be interviewing like a lot of people. Theirs was the only one that was more than 20 minutes and that was because it was a group interview. At least for the ones that are one on one, I think Georgetown is definitely like an outlier in that regard.

It seems like a lot of the pretty common questions are around, “Why law in particular?” Maybe if you were someone who had like a super intuitive ‘why law’, that wouldn't be something that came up. But sometimes someone who is kind of pivoting from a different career I think that's something that I've been asked a lot. Also like, “Why do you want to go to law school?” And then into, “What would you want to do with your degree in this short-term or in the more long-term?” And then definitely like the, “Why do you want to go to this school in particular?” A lot of the questions that I've gotten are just kind of variations on that. So those were definitely the three kinds of things that I tried to make sure that I thought out. Not that I was memorizing an exact specific answer, but that I had kind of a trajectory of like three or so main points that I wanted to hit on for each of those questions.

The other questions that I found coming up a lot were like ones that specifically related to my application. So I found it really helpful to go through my apps for whatever school I was interviewing with and just read it, the transmitted PDF on LSAC just to like kind of see what someone would see when they were looking at my file and think about like, oh what kind of questions might come up from this and like what might jump out to them. I’ve definitely gotten questions about my job and about certain things on my resume that I think people would be curious to learn a little bit more about. So it was helpful for me to go through those and think about them.

But I was very, very nervous going into interviews because you know a lot of times they are kind of vibe checks on like you as a person and as a student. And for me personally, like it would hurt a little bit more to get rejected like on the basis of my interview performance versus my application itself because then it's like, “Oh you actually saw me, and you didn't like me enough to admit me.” Which I know is not the case for a lot of times when people get waitlists or rejections after interviews, but I think as candidates it's pretty easy to internalize it that way. But I've been really positively surprised by like how low stress interviews are like once you've actually done them. And I think that's something I've, I've tried to communicate to people that I've talked to or going into them.

Anna: In terms of the way that you prepared for the interviews, I think that you did everything just right. And so if you are listening to this and you have an interview coming up and you're thinking about, “Okay, what should I do to prepare?” Honestly everything that Lucy said was just spot on. So thinking about those main questions, those main types of questions that really are the most common in law school admissions interviews. That sort of, “Why are you going into law school or the legal profession in general?” “Why are you interested in our specific school?” Those are questions that are going to come up in a lot of law school interviews. So really thinking through how you would answer those types of questions is important for preparing for an interview.

But you made another really important clarification which is that you were not memorizing anything, you were not scripting it out, you were not writing out your answers, you were just thinking through sort of the main points that you wanted to move through and I think that that is a really, really important distinction. Because some people do fall into this trap of sort of thinking about, “Okay, I'm definitely going to get this question,” or, “I'm very likely to get this type of questions, I'm just going to write down and get it all perfect and then I'm going to know exactly what I'm going to say,” and then it ends up coming across as really inauthentic. Because you're reciting this scripted thing that you have written down and memorized and that just doesn't come across as sincere at all. So I think that the way that you prepared for interviews was spot on.

You mentioned that you had those core themes of interview questions that we just talked about. Did you have any sort of outlier weird questions, any that you really weren't expecting or any that struck you as outside of those sort of normal core of questions?  

Lucy: I had one interviewer that asked me about my interest section on my resume, which isn't like a huge outlier. Like that's something I knew that they could ask but it kind of like shocked me like, “Oh you read that. In kind of a positive way because you know they mentioned that they had kind of a similar interest in something and it was kind of fun to talk about. But it was a nice surprise and something that I tried to think about when preparing for interviews is that oftentimes you get questions that are just like, “How are you? Like are you doing anything fun this weekend?” It can be kind of hard not to like freeze up sometimes in those moments because it's, I'm just talking to someone and I think that is something that I've tried to stay prepared for and just like not get into like the rigid interview mode.

Anna: Definitely that's great advice. We actually have a consultant Karen Buttenbaum, she's been on our team longer than anybody except for Mike Spivey. She was the one-time Director of Admissions at Harvard Law and she actually did most of the work of developing their interview program. So back when they were first starting out with an interview program, obviously now it's a very robust interview program. Everybody knows that Harvard does a ton of interviews. But when she was just starting out with that, she really liked to start the interview off with just sort of a, “Hey how's it going?” which she mentioned threw a lot of people off because they had this very sort of serious demeanor and they were ready to answer all these hard questions and then they would get on the phone at the time it was on the phone with someone and it was just sort of a regular person saying, “Hey how's it going?” Like, “How are you today?” That kind of thing. And what you said that people can sometimes freeze up is absolutely true. So to some extent it sort of gives the interviewer perspective on how you might respond to an unexpected situation. And then on the other hand, it also I think to some extent is there to just disarm you a little bit and maybe get you into a little bit more of an informal headspace.

I think a lot of law school interviews are more conversational than they are sort of, “Here's my question, now you have, you know, 30 seconds to answer"—Kira interviews notwithstanding of course, talking about those interviews where you're not talking to a human, sort of just prompts show up and then you're supposed to record your answer. That's very different, of course.

But when we're talking about interviews with an actual admissions officer, oftentimes they are very conversational, they're very friendly, you know, they just want to talk to you as a person and as you said, I liked your terminology of sometimes it's sort of a vibe check. They want to see how you will interact with people, how you will interact with your professors and with your peers and with interviewers for employment. I think that that's important too.

But you also made another really important distinction which is that if you are waitlisted or rejected after an interview, not only is it maybe not due to your interview, in most cases it's probably not due to just your interview. So that varies probably from school to school. Some schools will interview people as, you're sort of probably already in the presumptive admit bucket and then you screw it up and then you get out of that bucket. But that's not the case for most law schools. So try not to take it personally, although your point is a valuable one, that's easier said than done.

One other thing that you said that I want to double click on is that you reviewed your actual application before your interviews to see sort of what stands out to you. What might they have more questions about? What might come up from reading this application that could then lead to an interview question? I think that that is a great strategy. Oftentimes admissions officers will read through your application right before getting on the interview with you. And certainly if there are questions that come up in your mind when you're reading it, they probably came up in the admissions officer's mind as well. So they might or might not ask you anything that is specific to your application, but it's definitely a good idea to read through it and just sort of be familiar with your own applications and the questions that might come up.

One thing that I would add is to maybe look at your transcript as well. Sometimes there are sort of transcript things that can jump out as like, “Oh what happened in this semester where you had like three Ws?” or something like that, or “Why did you take a break for this period of time?” or whatever it might be. I would look at your transcript as well.

So it sounds like these interviews by and large went pretty well. Do you feel good about them? Do you feel like, "okay, I feel like I presented myself positively in all of them"?

Lucy: Yeah I think so. I actually did do one Kira interview as well. I forgot to mention that. And that was definitely the one where I felt, “Oh that was like a little bit awkward,” and I think a lot of people have that experience with them. It's harder to like interact with the computer versus with a human interviewer. That was the one I came out of feeling like that wasn't my best work, even when my phone rang in the middle of it because I forgot to silence it and then I just awkwardly silenced it on the side. And I think I came back okay from that, but that one was a little awkward. And I think maybe it's easier to be like self-critical when you're just talking to yourself versus another person. But for the most part though, the rest of them I felt pretty good about. I found them actually kind of fun, especially getting to learn a little bit more about the school itself. Every single interview I've had has had pretty ample space for questions and so trying to think about stuff that I really would want to know about the school and especially like just really subjective opinion-based questions, the answers. So those have been really interesting for me and there have been some things I found out about schools that I'm interested in that really changed my perspective or made me think more about them.  

Anna: That’s really cool. To the extent that you're comfortable, can you tell us the sorts of questions that you asked?

Lucy: Yeah, I try to always do one that's a little bit more fun about like a place on campus or somewhere to eat or something like that where it's truly like the admissions officer's opinion. I always find that kind of cool, like learning about other places. I usually try to pick something that talks more about the character of the student body, how the admissions officers perceive it because they get a chance to interact with a lot of current students as well.

Anna: Those are great questions, and I think that if you're listening to this and you have an interview coming up, you could totally base the questions that you plan to ask on sort of those general themes that you were talking about, of sort of opinion based and more qualitative. If you're asking something that can be easily Googled, that's probably not ideal. Something that is more opinion-based and that is more sort of personal is typically a good idea. So I think that those sounded like great questions. I do want to briefly return to your Georgetown interview since you mentioned it specifically and since it is a very different format from sort of the typical interview. Can you tell us a little bit about the structure of that interview and how it went?

Lucy: Yeah, when I was researching the interview I found that there was a lot of information online about it so I definitely would recommend anyone listening that has theirs coming up to like look at the 7Sage sample questions list and people's experiences on Reddit because I found that that was pretty true to the experience that I had. I think I was in a room with—a Zoom room of course—eight other candidates and we were basically going through scenarios as a sample like admissions committee with Dean Andy and it was kind of evaluating like borderline cases of applicants or admits when they had something like kind of wrong with their file or like a glaring error. I think the cases that we had to do, they were mostly to do with plagiarism or sloppy errors on applications and kind of how we would evaluate those from an admissions officer's perspective and like how disqualifying or not disqualifying that kind of mistake would be.

So it was definitely a very interesting interview format. I thought it was really fun getting to read through the scenarios and seeing other applicants in the flesh was really cool for me. I did come away from it thinking like what exactly are they getting from this interview about us? Other than that we're like nice normal people that can interact with each other. Everyone in my group was nice and fine and I saw no reason to like reject any of us on the basis of this. So it was definitely the one where I was like a little confused about why they're so adamant on sticking to that structure.

Anna: That's fair. Although there is certainly some value to that assessment that you made of your group of, “Okay these are just sort of nice, normal people who can interact with each other.” That certainly is not always the case. So you started to answer what was going to be my first part of this question already about you don't feel like anybody really said anything wrong or negative. You didn't feel like there was anything that stood out to you as like, “Oh that was a bad answer,” or “Oh this person is negatively differentiating themselves.” Did you get a sense from anybody's answer the way that anybody sort of interacted with the group or with the prompts? Did you feel like anything that you saw in that interview sort of stood out as a positive?

Lucy: I felt like I was kind of in my own head the whole time that it was almost hard to focus on the other people's answers but I did really appreciate people that based their answers around other people's in the group in a way that like showed that they were listening really well but honestly like everyone came across as really articulate and like thoughtful in my group I was like very impressed and a little intimidated by everyone. I assume that's not always the case.

Anna: It's certainly not always the case, although I do think that a lot of the time it is. And one thing that applicants don't necessarily talk about or think about because it's not related to their primary goal in an interview is that interviewers, they serve multiple functions and it's different for different schools. But in addition to assessing you, an interview also for a lot of schools is an opportunity for them to sell themselves to you, to sell their law school to you. So oftentimes that's why they ask you if you have any questions. Although it might be a byproduct of that, it's typically not to like assess the nature of your questions or like whether you ask good questions, it's so that they can genuinely answer your questions about the law school and paint the law school in a positive light for you. Because part of the admissions job is recruiting, once they admit people, you know they want you to come, they want you to have a favorable impression of their law school.

And I think that that comes across in sort of a different way in the Georgetown interview because you not only get to interact with an admissions officer who is almost certainly not going to be a part of your sort of day-to-day life at a law school, but you also get to interact with some of your potential future peers which can leave you with a really positive impression or it cannot depending. But I think oftentimes when you are applying to a school like Georgetown, a lot of your fellow applicants are really smart, articulate people who have done cool things in their lives and have great perspectives to offer. So I think that that can certainly be a positive part of that experience and I'm glad to hear that you had that positive part of that experience, even if it left you a little confused in some ways, which I also think is fair.

Lucy: Yeah Dean Andy, I mean he is a super funny guy. I would love to chat with him sometime but he was talking about, “Oh like you know the interviews are our secret sauce at Georgetown and you know no one gets into Georgetown if I don't see you in an interview and I don't love you.” I mean I think he interviews like everyone that gets in and I was like, “How do you keep track of this? How do you even remember people?” I would not be able to do that. But I think every interview I've had has left me with a more positive experience of the school and that was the same for Georgetown. I mean just seeing like here are all these people who are interviewing and like taking time out of their day because they feel lucky to be here and you know would love to get a spot at this school. It really reinforced to me how awesome all these schools are and you know how lucky I am to have a shot at them and being kind of forced to like research them and, and think more about them. It's definitely like that’s me thinking more about the schools that I've interviewed at so far and I think that's definitely intentional like you said.

Anna: Definitely. So I understand that you also had one interview where you were given a list of potential questions beforehand. How many questions did they give you?

Lucy: It was a pretty big number. I think it was about like 30 or 40 questions. I don't remember the exact number but it was definitely like pretty hefty.

Anna: Were they all sort of along those lines of what we have been speaking about with things about your background, things that might be in your resume, why law, why our law school, what are you interested in doing after graduation? Did they all sort of fall into that bucket or were there some that sort of occupied a different category?

Lucy: Yeah, I think that for that school in particular, it seemed like those were some of the big categories but I also noticed there were a few other things they were looking for. It was a lot of pretty behavioral interview questions which if an applicant has prepared for like job interviews, it's probably something that people are pretty familiar with. The kinds of questions that you know, address your responses to situations and leadership and things like that. There were a lot of those. But then also kind of the pretty standard ‘why law school’, ‘why the school in particular’. I think the number of questions really threw me off to begin with, but once I started like really looking through them it became a lot less intimidating. Because there were all these pretty common themes throughout each of them where there was always like two or three questions that could probably be answered with the same answer itself. And in the interview they wouldn't have time to ask every single one of them and that's what they were kind of communicating that they'd be picking a handful of them.

Anna: Definitely that makes sense. I actually really liked that move and I wonder if other law schools might follow suit and start doing something similar. I feel like it puts everybody on sort of a level playing field where even if you're not the person who's online doing research or who is asking their friends who applied to that law school, “What questions did you get?” or whatever it might be, everybody sort of has those potential questions. And then I think it also is a little bit of a potential trap—I don't know if they conceived it this way at all; I certainly wouldn't purport to know their motives—but it also does present sort of an opportunity, a potential trap for if you are a super type A person who's applying to Yale and you, you know, have been overachieving in everything in your life and you see this list of 40 questions—I do think that there are some people who would feel compelled to write out answers for every single one of them and memorize those. So I do think that it sort of presents this opportunity of, okay, how are you going to respond to not just the interview questions in the moment but to getting this list of potential questions, this huge list of potential questions? Certainly not all of which you're going to get. So I think that's really interesting, and I like it personally, but we'll see how applicants respond to it and whether other law schools start doing that.

I am curious about the behavioral type questions since we haven't really spoken much about that. Did you get any of those in your actual interview or were they just on the list beforehand?

Lucy: I got one of them in my interview that was about conflict and like how I responded to a situation that had conflict in it. I thought it was kind of like an interesting question and I felt like I was able to share something about myself that was like nowhere else on my application and like really just highlight something specific. So I thought that that was cool that they were able to incorporate that into the interview. And I definitely agree with you about having like the list beforehand, I think that it was definitely a little stressful I mean just seeing like that long of a list. Like my initial response was like, “Oh my goodness, I only have this many days to prepare. This is going to be so much.” Once I actually started practicing it became a little bit less intimidating. But I think overall like ended up being to my benefit and I think that especially for applicants that aren't as chronically online, I think it would be really helpful

Anna: Fair, fair. How did you prepare for those behavioral type questions? What did you think about when you were first looking at those and then going through your preparation process?

Lucy: I think being like not straight through undergrad was to my advantage for this one because you know, I went through like a job search process like right after undergrad and I had done those kinds of questions to death. I mean not those exact ones.

Anna: That sort of genre of question.

Lucy: Yeah. And so it was helpful to just feel generally comfortable with addressing them. I mean I'm sure there's plenty of KJDs who did a bunch of consulting interviews in undergrad that would like absolutely crush them, but at least for me they didn't come up in the same way until like I was looking for post-grad jobs. So I kind of approached them from that background. I tried to like practice out loud more than I did writing notes. Literally like on my way home from work I would have someone call me and ask me like a few random questions until like basically they were like, “I think you're ready.” And I think that worked out pretty well.

Anna: Nice. I like that. I don't think I've ever spoken with someone about that particular interview preparation technique, but I like it. And it seems like it worked well for you just being able to sort of talk through those things to an actual human on the other side, it sounds like that was probably pretty useful. It sort of reminds me of how Mike loves to give people this LSAT strategy, if you are in a place where you feel really comfortable with the substantive material of the LSAT—which obviously is sort of a prerequisite, so don't do this if you feel like you still don't understand how to diagram a certain type of logic game or whatever it might be—but if you already feel really solid about the materials, he likes to tell people to try taking a few minutes off each section when you do the practice test, sort of "narrowing the goal posts" if we're going to use a sports analogy. And it sounds kind of similar to this where like, okay, if I can do an interview and if I can like, kill my answer when I'm in the middle of terrible traffic and miserable, then I can totally do it from home in the comfort of my home office or living room or whatever it might be.

So you've done a number of interviews, you have a couple more that are coming up, is that right?

Lucy: Yeah.

Anna: So you have a couple more coming up, you've done several interviews, you've done a group interview, you've done a Kira interview, which by the way almost everyone I've ever spoken to who’s done a Kira interview, has walked away feeling exactly the same way as you of, “Oh that was awkward, that was strange. That felt a little weird.” So that's totally fine obviously. And you've received a couple of decisions also both from schools where you interviewed. So how are you feeling about the process at this point? Where is sort of your anxiety level, where is your mindset as far as thinking about the future? Are you like, “Okay I've gotten admitted to one of my top choices,” I know UVA is one of your top choices. “I'm good.” Tell me a little bit about where you are right now.

Lucy: I think overall I feel pretty good and I definitely like feel very grateful to be in this position. I know that if I had heard myself talking about this a year ago, I would've been like “Ah, like how could you have any problems now,” obviously like a very good situation to be in. For the most part pretty low anxiety. The interviews I have in the next couple weeks are weighing on me a little bit, but knowing that I have one option that I really, really love is amazing.

I think that now my mind has kind of like started to linger a little bit to the more distant future of actually like picking a school and the kinds of considerations that are going to go into that especially like financially. That's something that I've thought about a little bit. But now knowing that I'm probably going to have to weigh different levels of debt after law school and things like that is something that's started to kind of creep up on me. And I haven't really received any scholarship information back so far, but I imagine that will be something that comes up more in maybe like early springtime. That's probably going to shape a lot of my decisions and something that I, I want to make sure that I deeply consider. So it's kind of a weird place where I'm very happy where I am, but I don't have a ton of closure yet and I didn't expect to, it's only November. But time will tell I guess.

Anna: Yeah. All of that makes a lot of sense. In my experience, applicants do tend to have sort of a decrease of the pressure and the internal anxiety once they have at least one admit. Especially for applicants who are just like super anxious and in their head about this process. I will often recommend, Mike will often recommend applying to a school where you have like a really solid shot numbers-wise first. Typically where you get admitted the quickest or at those schools where you are above their medians. So oftentimes that's sort of a strategy that we recommend just in terms of like anxiety management because once you have that sort of first admit, you can breathe the sigh of relief a little bit even if it's not your top choice, even if it's not a school where you think you're very likely to attend. Having at least one admit can really make a big difference in terms of sort of mindset and ability to move forward in the most effective way. So I would say that that's pretty normal.

Scholarships are certainly an interesting part of this process that you, it sounds like you haven't really started getting any notifications yet. So you haven't heard anything about financial aid or a scholarship award from either of the schools where you've been admitted yet?

Lucy: No I haven't. And actually one interview that I kind of forgot I had is WashU is doing scholarship interviews for everyone who gets in now. So you get on the phone with an admissions officer and kind of talk through your priorities in law school and like the kinds of experiences you'd be interested in and the kinds of funding you would like to look for. And supposedly they're drafting like letters with your financial aid for everyone individually. So I think it's going to be like a bit more of a labor-intensive process on their end. So the person I talked to said she's expecting it to take like a month or two for those admits at least, that might go up as applicant volume increases and they have more stuff to work through.

I haven't really heard from in terms of scholarship money from any school except for ASU and I did actually, I applied to Alabama and got in and that kind of came out of scholarship anxiety where I was like, “Oh what if I get no money from any of the schools I get into,” and I sent an application to them.

Anna: So were you awarded a full scholarship?

Lucy: Yeah, I was.

Anna: Well congratulations! That's wonderful to have a backup where like, “Okay, I have a place where I will not have to pay tuition.” That is a wonderful option. So I'm glad that you have that sort of in your back pocket as, “Okay, I'm not going to end up with $300,000 worth of debt no matter what I do." Like, "I have options.” Although I suspect you will certainly receive substantial scholarship offers from other schools as well. But sort of in the same vein of what we were talking about with getting that first admit, I think that that kind of thing is really nice to have sort of as an option for yourself, even if it's not the most likely outcome for you to end up actually taking.

And I think that what you're saying with scholarship timelines for other schools is pretty normal. Schools do scholarships very, very differently, so it varies quite a bit from school to school. Some schools try to make most of their scholarship offers with the initial admit, other schools will take a substantial amount of time in between, and a lot of that also depends on the time of year in addition to the school.

I am curious about your WashU scholarship interview. You talked a little bit about that, but how did that process sort of go? Did someone reach out to you about it and then you scheduled it in advance? Was it sort of similar to a regular interview in that way? Did you prepare for it or was it sort of posed to you as a more informal conversation? Tell me a little bit more about that.

Lucy: Yeah, I think that the term ‘interview’ for that was maybe not the best one to choose. I think it was really more of just a conversation. I didn't do anything to prepare for it and I think they said in the email invitation that I got not to do anything to prepare for it. And the questions were more just about like my interests in law school. Like whether I was someone who wanted to have funding set aside for public interest internships after 1L and 2L, whether I was someone who could potentially need like a childcare stipend or something like that. So I really appreciated that they were trying to take into account the unique needs of different students and it's a really cool process that they're going through and I'm curious to see others’ experiences with it as well.

Anna: Yeah, definitely. Most of the time people's financial situations are not so simple that they can be captured in sort of a FAFSA form or whatever it might be. So I'll be interested to see how the scholarship packages shape up and you know, how individual they are. But I'm glad that you had that opportunity to talk through those things.

So you were talking a little bit about looking forward into the future, a prospect of, “Okay, I am going to have to make a decision at some point in this process and decide where I am actually going to attend.” So to what extent have you started thinking about that and where is your thinking right now? And of course it's going to change over the next however many months, but where are you right now with it?

Lucy: Yeah, I definitely haven't gotten super far into it. Kind of before I got any decisions I felt like I had a really easy time thinking through like hypothetical situations. But now that I kind of have some answers back, I feel like it's a little bit more cloudy. Especially like thinking about the more long-term impacts of like choosing certain schools, it's easy to say like, “Oh now I can handle like some debt and like I'll just pay it off after law school.” But trying to imagine myself 10, 15 years in the future, what life stage am I going to be in at that point? Am I going to be like trying to start a family? Am I going to like be wanting to maybe like buy a home or something like that and how would that impact it?

So there's definitely a lot of things that can go into that and I've been trying not to like stress out over it too much. Especially because I know that a lot of schools in the T14, you know they're very good about loan repayment programs and they do have really robust financial offices that'll work with students to talk through like different kinds of loans and their options. I think that that is something I definitely want to fully explore and talk to people who've worked with other students about before I like finally make a choice. So right now it's just like really thinking about what the decision could be like I'm, I haven't gotten super far into it.

Anna: That certainly makes sense at this point, especially given that you do not yet have scholarship offers from most schools. It's one thing to think about, okay, what would attending UVA look like, with this hypothetical scholarship versus this hypothetical scholarship when you don't have an actual answer yet. And I think this sort of financial aid aspect is going to be a big part of our conversation later on in this cycle when you do have more of those answers, when you do have more concrete offers to compare and contrast. I think it's great that you're already thinking about things in those sort of concrete terms of, “Okay, what would my actual debt look like? What would repaying that look like? Where am I going to be in my life at that point and what will that impact in my life when I am repaying it however many years down the road?” So I think it's great that you're already thinking about those things and I think we'll definitely want to talk about that further when you're more in that process of actually making decisions.

So I think we have lots to talk about in future conversations once you've received more decisions, once you're thinking about other aspects of this. So please reach out to me and let me know when you feel like we can have another conversation. But is there anything else that you want to talk about for now as far as your process so far?

Lucy: I don't know about my process. I guess I would underscore for any applicants listening to this that everyone moves at a different pace and I'm sure it can probably be frustrating seeing people hear back when you haven't yet. And I've definitely like had friends who have had similar experiences and it's kind of hard to navigate how much of the process to share online because I definitely don't want to like put out information that makes other people feel bad about their cycles. But I know I'm personally the kind of person who likes to like hear about decisions and like have that data accessible to me. So that's kind of why I've been trying to put information online for the posterity of applicants. But I did just want to like underscore that if you're listening to this, you're probably someone who's done your due diligence and you're going to do a great job with law school admissions and have a great cycle.

Anna: That is a great place to end on. That's a good point about if you're listening to our law school admissions podcast, you probably are far more prepared and knowledgeable about this process than the majority of applicants. So try not to worry too much. I know that it's so much easier said than done. We have some great podcasts about anxiety and waiting, so maybe check those out. But thank you Lucy, I greatly appreciate your time as always and I'm looking forward to catching up with you at a later point in this cycle and seeing where things bring you.

Lucy: Yeah, of course.

Anna: Okay, we'll talk soon.