Apply to one of the nation’s top law schools on Monday and get an acceptance letter with a $75,000 scholarship on Thursday. Who does that? Here’s my story.
As you can imagine, this whole applying to law school thing was COMPLETELY stressing me out. But being the type of person that I am, you would never know. I’ve been so great at so many things growing up and in college that everyone just expected me to be so awesome after graduation. That’s a lot of pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very confident in my abilities and definitely believe in my potential, but as I got further into the application process, I started to second guess some things.
Initially, I was going to apply to about 4 schools. Three in Atlanta, which is where I want to be, and one back home in New York just in case. I refused to apply to schools in any other states. Adjusting to living in Atlanta took me two whole years and I was a mess. But of course no one would never know. But now, I love it here and had my mind set on staying. My DREAM school was Emory Law. It was located in downtown Atlanta, had a great reputation not only in Georgia but in the whole country, and has an excellent Transactional Law program. Every time someone asked me what school I wanted to go to, I always said Emory. This also added more pressure because it’s a hard school to get into and now everyone would want to know the outcome. Nevertheless, I was still pretty confident about my chances of getting in. I had so much support from friends, my AKPsi brothers and family which definitley gave me a boost. That is, until I got my LSAT score.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the LSAT here’s how it goes. It’s scored on a scale of 120 (the lowest) to 180 (the highest). A score of 170-180 can get you into Harvard; 160-170, a great/excellent school; 155-160, a good school; 150-155, a school that not too many people have heard of in the middle of nowhere; below 150, you’re in shit street. Now, it’s really hard to admit this but f**k it, it doesn’t matter now. I got a freaking 152 on that damn piece of shit test! I couldn’t believe it. I studied, but I can admit that I could have studied more. I’m not used to failing at anything and I really took a blow to my ego with that one. Anyway, I picked myself back up and took the test again. After taking a better test prep course, I felt a bit better, but was still bummed. Took the test and got a……146. You can only imagine how I felt. I kept thinking “what if I don’t get into a school in Atlanta, then I’ll have to move and this and that…” At that point I went from applying confidently to 4 schools, to nervously applying to 13! I was really down. But, I try not to stress too much over anything and was still hanging on to my 3.8 GPA and awesome personal statement to get me through. But my experience showed me that it takes more than what’s on paper to reach your goals.
I truly believe that what I’m about to tell you was instrumental in my success. One of the first things I learned in college is that networking is key. Back in October, I went to a graduate/professional school fair at Georgia State. I knew that Emory Law would be there so I went to get more info. As soon as they set up, I went to the table and met Andy. Gave him a firm hand shake, made eye contact, and asked lots of questions #akpsitaughtme. Before I left, I asked him if I could send him my personal statement for review and he said sure. Long story short, I sent it to him, he gave me feedback, and I sent a thank you note.
Fast forward a few months, I finally sent in my application. The day after, I went to a tour of the law school and guess who was facilitating it…Andy! He remembered me from the fair and the emails. At the tour, I was the only prospective student wearing business attire. I knew that little things like that make a big difference with first impressions, but I’m sure other tour guests thought it wasn’t necessary for a 30-minute tour. The tour guide gave us a short overview of Emory Law (all things I already knew) and I was the only one asking questions and showing true interest. After we walked through the school, I saw a name on a door that looked familiar. It was the dean’s office. On a whim, I knocked on the door and introduced myself, gave him my business card (which had my picture on it), and asked him to keep me informed about future events. He said thanks and that he would make a note on my application. I gave my card to two other admissions people and went home.
TWO DAYS LATER, I got a package, shipped express mail, with my acceptance letter and $75K offer. The dean also hand wrote a note saying “Dayna, it was nice to meet you on campus on Tuesday. I look forward to your matriculations with us this fall. Thank you for such a solid application. Congrats!” I just broke down crying. And of course when I was calling my friends and family, no one answered the phone -____-
Well the point is, never ever ever everrrr doubt yourself. You can achieve ANYTHING you work hard at if you want it bad enough. I thought my chances at Emory were gone after getting an unspeakable LSAT score. But I refused to give up and used every resource and skill I had to increase my chances. I really owe a lot of this success to what I’ve learned in my business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi. If I didn’t have a business card, the dean wouldn’t have pulled up my application to add that info. My app could have been lost in the bunch. If I didn’t know to research the school (company), I wouldn’t have known the dean’s name and found his office. If I didnt know the importance of asking questions and proper attire, I wouldnt have stood out during the tour…and so much more. These things may seem simple, but so many people don’t know how impactful such interactions can be. One of my best friends, Tevin, even said “I guarantee nobody, and I mean NOBODY, did all that.” Lol.
I hope that people get inspired by this and get that extra bit of confidence to keep working towards their goals. Don’t let anyone or anything make you think that you should get less than what you know you deserve or are capable of. What is meant for you will be, even if the odds are against you - and they usually are when your vision is great!