Thanks very much for the message, and the incredibly kind words at the end of your message—I really appreciate them!
Let's try to address various parts of what you said, and I'll give you my honest, unfiltered opinion on each:
HotTubber wrote: ↑Wed Apr 14, 2021 3:32 pmGiven that all my stats have increased in (what i view as) notable ways since my first set of applications, I was disappointed for my results to come back worse than ever before... I've assumed the reasons for this include:
1. a much more competitive cycle
2. me having said no to Chicago and Columbia in the past, and them being annoyed by that?
3. me applying later in the cycle (late December compared to September).
4. my sharing a bit more of my "radical" side in my application this cycle. I.e., in my personal statement I wrote about my multiple activism-related arrests (all nonviolent acts of civil disobedience).
I think your first 3 items are spot-on; I don't think your 4th played a negative role. Of the first three, the impact was likely 1+2 having the greatest effect, 3 a lesser effect. With the 2nd, yes, many schools take a "once bitten, twice shy" approach. You turned down Chicago and Columbia once when it was less competitive, if I was in those admissions offices I'd feel that since you didn't like us then, why would you like us now any better? A lot of schools have strong institutional memory, and people being people they remember past slights.
HotTubber wrote: ↑Wed Apr 14, 2021 3:32 pm
I'm essentially deciding between attending NYU this year, or waiting and reapplying next year with hopes of attending Yale or Harvard, and would appreciate any advice I can get.
Just a general comment about the T3, one that applies to you and everyone: there are never
any guarantees at these schools. It's just a crapshoot up there, and I see them reject many, many great applicants every year. Reapplying even with a less competitive cycle is no guarantee at all next year. And, what I'm seeing right now is a ton of people opting out of this cycle into next year's cycle, which means every day it's getting more competitive. I don't think it will be quite as bad as this year, but it's still going to more competitive than last year by quite a bit from the looks of it.
HotTubber wrote: ↑Wed Apr 14, 2021 3:32 pm
- I first applied in 2019. I applied at the beginning of the cycle with a 172 and a 3.95. I was admitted to Columbia, Chicago, NYU, and Berkeley, but rejected from the T3. I decided to complete an MA from NYU instead.
- I applied to the T3 in 2020. I applied in December, and while I now had an MA (with a 3.95gpa) and 2 letters of Rec from my MA, my numbers and essays were all largely the same. I was waitlisted at Yale, and denied at Harvard and Stanford.
Given that all my stats have increased in (what i view as) notable ways since my first set of applications, I was disappointed for my results to come back worse than ever before
- I applied to the T6 this cycle. I applied in December/early Jan, this time with a 174, with a published journal article and a book chapter on the way, with an RA job at Harvard Law, and with overhauled essays. I was denied at the T3, waitlisted at Chicago, put on Reserve at Columbia, and admitted to NYU.
First, congrats on your general results over the years—you achieved some great results and should be commended for that! Second, let's look at what changed here over time:
- GPA: 3.95 uGPA stayed the same
LSAT: 172 174
Grad degree added MA, 3.95
Softs published article, RA job, new recs from MA
With your LSAT, that's a solid jump, which regrettably was offset by the LSAT scoring bubble we just experienced. Thus, you are likely below Harvard's median this year (previously 173, and I'm expecting it to be 175 this year; Yale probably equal or higher by 1).
For the grad degree, as I've mentioned many times on our blog and in our podcast, grad degrees are discounted in this process since not everyone has one and the GPAs are widely believed to be inflated. I'm also not sure how you worked your MA into law school, but if it wasn't handled adroitly, it could have raised questions.
For the softs, I don't see those moving the needle significantly. The new recs should have helped, but again, it's hard to know for sure without seeing them.
In essence, while you unquestionably spent the time improving yourself and incrementally improving your application, due to circumstances such as the scoring bubble, it's probably note quite the leap in the eyes of the law school that it is to you. That sounds harsh, and I'm sorry—I don't mean it to be that way. I'm trying to give you a sense of how T3 adcomms would view these things, and the competition at the top is brutal and ruthless, and so are the evaluations they give.
HotTubber wrote: ↑Wed Apr 14, 2021 3:32 pmI'm ultimately most interested in an academic career, and my analysis essentially boils down to if:
a) my opportunities for an academic career would be markedly better going to a T3 rather than NYU?
b) my results would be any different if I waited and reapplied next year?
I'll address b) first: I don't believe they will be different next year. Anything is possible of course, but you've made repeated changes over three years and they still aren't biting. Next year will still be tough, and so I don't think you'll see a significantly different result overall.
With a), NYU is clearly a nationally respected program and showing up with them on your resume is going to be a plus. How that compares exactly to Harvard is harder for me to tell because I don't spend a lot of time looking at that particular outcome or comparison. Instead, I'd direct you to NYU's ACP
—they can address this question more directly and with more knowledge than I can!
I know the above is long and perhaps not what you wanted to hear at times, but I hope you find it helpful. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks!