Simulated Overlap Report

What's an overlap report?  It's a printout provided to each law school by Law Services. It shows the school how many people have applied to itself and other schools, their median gpa and LSAT, where they were admitted and where they enrolled. It looks kinda like the report below, from what I hear.   

  Caveat:  This simulation is entirely made up, a fabrication, a fiction.  
The numbers are just to show you how the report works.
 

Okay, our law school is Princeton.  (You know there's no such school, right?) We have a median gpa of 3.9, a median LSAT of 168, and about 5,000 applicants.  We make about 1,000 offers a year to fill 350 seats.  Here's what Law Services tell us:  

3500 people applied to our school and Yale, 4,000 applied to our school and Harvard, and 2,000 applied to our school and Stanford -- there's just not as much overlap with the west coast.  But that's 9,500 applications, and we only get 5,000!  I guess a lot of people applied to all four schools.  

Of the students we admitted, 800 were also admitted to Yale. Of these 800, 150 have paid us a seat deposit, 500 have paid Yale a seat deposit, and 150 haven't paid either of us a seat deposit. These 150 may have not paid anyone yet, or they might have paid one of the other schools; all we know is that they haven't paid either us or Yale yet.   Of the students we admitted, 200 were also admitted to Stanford.  Of these 200, 25 have paid us a seat deposit, 100 have paid Stanford a seat deposit, and 75 haven't paid either of us a seat deposit. Again, these 75 may have not paid anyone yet, or they might have paid one of the other schools; all we know is that they haven't paid either us or Stanford yet. If we don't want our law school to have a "primarily east coast" reputation, we'll have to go after the California crew more aggressively.  (That's one use of overlap reports; they're marketing tools.)   Note that it looks like we admitted 1,500 so far, but I said we only admitted 1,000.  There must be substantial overlap among the four schools.  

Of course, LSAC doesn't tell us this in a nice chatty letter; they send us a report that looks approximately like this:

School

Applied
to both

avg
gpa

avg
LSAT

Admitted
 to both

avg. gpa
of adm

avg. LSAT
of adm

Paid
Us

avg
gpa

avg
LSAT

Paid
Them

avg
gpa

avg
LSAT

Paid
Neither

avg
gpa

avg
LSAT

Yale

3500

3.5

164

800

3.9

172

250

3.9

168

600

3.9

172

150

4.0

170

Harvard

4000

3.6

161

500

3.9

170

200

3.7

170

400

3.9

169

100

3.9

172

Stanford

2000

3.5

165

200

3.9

168

25

3.8

168

100

3.8

168

100

4.0

168

As we look at schools where factors besides USNews ranking come into play, we'll see a different pattern:

School

Applied
 to both

avg
gpa

avg
LSAT

Admitted
 to both

avg. gpa
of adm

avg. LSAT
of adm

Paid
Us

avg
gpa

avg
LSAT

Paid
Them

avg
gpa

avg
LSAT

Paid
Neither

avg
gpa

avg
LSAT

Georgetown

4500

3.3

164

300

3.9

170

75

3.9

168

75

3.6

170

200

3.7

171

Boston College

1000

3.6

158

100

3.9

167

40

3.7

170

20

3.9

169

60

3.9

172

Minnesota

200

3.5

160

20

3.9

168

5

3.8

168

18

3.8

168

0

n/a

n/a

Notice that we're pretty even with Georgetown; we each got 75, although We got the high grades bunch and They got the high LSAT bunch; maybe They offered scholarships.  We're hands-down winners over Boston; we're close enough to New York that They don't get a more urban crowd, and we're so far ahead of them in reputation that most people choose Us.  Who chooses Them?  Legacies, people with families routing them to Boston, and people to whom they gave a lot of money.  But what's going on with Minnesota?  How did They beat Us?  We're more prestigious, we have New York, we're even warmer!  Oh.  They're a public school; they have resident tuition.  We lose.  

Do you understand overlap reports now?  Good.  Now that you understand the marketing function of the overlap report, I'll show you the wait list function.  To see that, we have to add time to our equation.  So we don't get too confused, I'm going to ignore gpa and LSAT, and just discuss the number of deposits.

Our first seat deposit is due April 15; so is the deposit at all the other schools we're considering.  We tell LSAC who paid us a deposit, and on May 1 they send us the report we started out with (minus the gpa and LSAT numbers):  

School

Applied
 to both

avg
gpa

avg
LSAT

Admitted
 to both

avg. gpa
of adm

avg. LSAT
of adm

Paid
Us

avg
gpa

avg
LSAT

Paid
Them

avg
gpa

avg
LSAT

Paid
Neither

avg
gpa

avg
LSAT

Yale

800

250

600

150

Harvard

500

200

400

100

Stanford

200

25

100

100

Georgetown

300

75

75

200

Boston College

100

40

20

60

Minnesota

20

5

18

0

We admitted 800 people who also were admitted to Yale.  150 haven't given either of us money, so 650 have paid us or Yale -- or both.  It looks like 200 have paid both of us:  we hold a combined 850 deposits from 650 people. So only 50 of the Yale people are "solid" -- going to Princeton as of May 1.  Of that Harvard and Stanford crew, not even one is solid!  Subtract the "neither" column from the ones admitted and you get the number in the "Them" column.  Every single person on our overlap report who paid us a deposit also paid one to Harvard; the same is true for the students admitted at our school and Stanford.  So from the top three schools, we may have filled as few as 50 seats!  If we want those applicants, we'd better do something!  

From the next three schools, we've filled a few more seats.  Of the 150 who've paid us and Georgetown, 50 paid us both and 25 are solid; 20 of the ones who applied to us and BC are solid, but only 2 from Minnesota are.  But that's okay; 2 is enough to meet our demographic needs for the state.  Let's make sure we waitlist a few, or admit a few more from Carleton and U of Minnesota, just to be sure.  

So as of May 1, from those six schools, we've filled as few as 47 or as many as 795 (the total of all we've admitted).  Until the Harvard and Yale picture clarifies itself, we'd better not admit anyone else.  

Our next Overlap Report arrives June 1.  Here it is:  

Now we have 100 of the Princeton-Yale overlaps.  (800 minus 200 whom neither of us have makes 600 that one of us has; even if they keep all 500 that they have right now, we have 100.)  We still have no one definite from among the Harvard overlaps, but that big a number is a potential overenrollment problem.  Don't recruit them, and keep watching.  

We've been working on the Stanford batch, convincing them of the joys of the east coast, and we're succeeding.  Ten of the 20 are definite, with only 10 more to resolve themselves.  We've also confirmed 50 of the Georgetown group:  300 - 225 = 75 total; 25 overlap, so we have 50.  We have at least 30 from BC and 2 from Minnesota.  

So as of June 1, looking at these six schools, we have 192 solid deposits.

We may give up on the Harvard overlaps. since we got none so far.  We'll predict as many as 50 more of the Yale group, since we've done well there so far.  If we vigorously pursue the Stanford group, we may get  5 more.  We don't care if we get any more from Boston College, they probably overlap with Harvard, and we'd rather have room for geographic diversity; we'll work to keep the 2 from Minnesota.  Now what do we do about Georgetown?  


And so it goes.  

Law schools get overlap reports twice a month throughout the summer, study them to predict whether they need to admit more people, and pray they don't wind up overenrolled.  They compare the year-to-date results with previous years, overall and by school.  And if they're very good  at their jobs and there are no catastrophic events, like Hurricane Katrina or a drastic change in their US News ranking, they wind up each year within five of last year's number when the doors open in the fall.   But on June 15, a new factor comes into play!

Before 2008, Overlap Reports gave numbers, but they didn't name names; the admissions officers can't say, "Thomas Scarletta paid a seat deposit to us and Harvard; give him a call and see if we can convince him to come here." Then, around 2010, they added a report on July 15th with names of multiple seat holders, so schools could call you and demand that you choose. Then last year, they moved the Named Report Day to June 15th.

Now this year, May 15th is the big day. Admissions officers began meeting with deans as soon as the doors opened. One admissions officer reported an applicant holding SIX seats!

In the week after May 15, seats will fall like dominoes. After two or three waves, the action will end until probably mid-July, when June LSAT scores are released.

More action in July? Of course. If someone gets a 168 in June, doors will open and money will fall from the heavens like manna.

 

 

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