Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On a roll

I said completing law school applications would be one of my main activities this holiday break, and boy has it been. Today I finished application #10!

I finished:

Texas (Nov. 6)
North Carolina (Nov. 7)
Notre Dame (Nov. 27)
Virginia (Dec. 21)
Ohio State (Dec. 21)
Minnesota (Dec. 22)
Iowa (Dec. 27)
Washington (Dec. 28)
Arizona State (Dec. 28)
Baylor (Dec. 28)

All I have left now is UC Davis, Oregon, Utah and BYU. I hope to finish them before going back to Provo, except I might have left my Oregon fee waiver code at home so I'll wait until I'm back before turning that one in.


It sure is nice to get those applications and personal statements out of the way. If I could do this process over again I would have done some things differently, but I feel like I'm doing a fairly good job on these.

After finishing those last four applications, the hard part comes: the waiting.

Speaking of waiting, I've been really antsy about LSAT scores this week. If the December results followed the same schedule as the October results, then my score would have come on Monday. Then I remembered that Monday was a federal holiday, so I didn't expect them to come then. But it could be any day now ... but nothing so far. According to some experts, it should be this week.

I've been watching for #LSAT on the ol' Twitter, and there hasn't been much. I guess most of the ripples that are on Twitter have been caused by me:

That anxious dude would be me, haha.


I found this cool Law School Predictor website that takes your LSAT score and GPA and tells you if you'll be denied, accepted or somewhere in between at the top 100 law schools.

Here are the calculations based on my GPA and October LSAT score:

So the only sure thing according to this formula is Oregon, but the only sure rejections are from Virginia and Texas.

Here's what the chart looks like based on other LSAT score possibilities:

(click to see closer view)

So let's hope for good news tomorrow, or whenever my LSAT score comes!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Erin Scale

Although I still have a few more things to do before actually choosing a law school (for example, being accepted into a law school), I came up with a nifty mathematical formula to take into account the side elements in choosing a school. I call it "The Erin Scale."

I'm thinking about the education, prestige and opportunities that each school offers. But Erin, as the worrier of the family, is more focused on tuition costs, debt, cost of living in a new town, etc. Plus, Erin thinks about how far away a school is from our families, whereas for me it's almost a non-factor.

With the list of 14 schools I'm applying to, I found the cost of tuition, percentage of students who receive half- to full-tuition scholarships, percentage of students who receive grants, average debt after graduation, distance to Mosier, OR (my hometown), distance to Tomball, TX (Erin's hometown), cost of living, and annual premiums for school health insurance.* Then, I ranked each school in each category. Finally, I added each school's ranking in each category to come up with the "Erin score."

Ready to see the results?

44 on The Erin Scale - BYU
45 - Baylor
48 - Texas
51 - Ohio State
51 - Utah
53 - Minnesota
54 - North Carolina
62 - Notre Dame
62 - Iowa
63 - Arizona State
69 - UC Davis
69 - Washington
75 - Oregon
91 - Virginia

BYU was #1 in lowest tuition and lowest debt, #3 in health insurance cost and #5 in cost of living, percentage of students who get scholarships and in distance from Mosier.

I'm pretty sure we would still pick some schools before picking BYU, because even though distance from home was one component of The Erin Scale we still want some sort of adventurous unfamiliarity.

But, it's interesting nonetheless.

Here's how all the schools ranked in each category:

Annual tuition:
1 - BYU - $10,280**
2 - Utah - $18,231**
3 - Oregon - $29,953
4 - North Carolina - $31,218
5 - Arizona State - $35,147
6 - Washington - $37,299
7 - Ohio State - $39,418
8 - Minnesota - $40,388
9 - Notre Dame - $40,805
10 - Baylor - $40,904
11 - Iowa - $42,922
12 - Texas - $44,638
13 - Virginia - $47,500
14 - UC Davis - $50,595

Percentage of students who are given half- to full-tuition scholarships:
1 - Baylor - 29.9%
2 - UC Davis - 24.4%
3 - Iowa - 22.4%
4 - Minnesota - 19.2%
5 - BYU - 18.3%
6 - Ohio State - 14.7%
7 - Utah - 13.4%
7 - Arizona State - 13.4%
9 - Notre Dame - 13.0%
10 - Texas - 12.8%
11 - North Carolina - 10.7%
12 - Virginia - 9.0%
13 - Washington - 5.3%
14 - Oregon - 4.2%

Percentage of students who are given grants:
1 - Texas - 91.2%
2 - North Carolina - 85.4%
3 - Baylor - 85.2%
4 - UC Davis - 81.7%
5 - Ohio State - 78.8%
6 - Notre Dame - 77.2%
7 - Minnesota - 62.7%
8 - Oregon - 56.1%
9 - Utah - 54.3%
10 - Virginia - 51.3%
11 - Washington - 48.7%
12 - Arizona State - 48.6%
13 - Iowa - 30.5%
14 - BYU - 30.4%

Average debt:
1 - BYU - $52,315
2 - North Carolina - $60,212
3 - Utah - $61,665
4 - Washington - $63,393
5 - Texas - $78,408
6 - Ohio State - $81,408
7 - Iowa - $87,891
8 - Arizona State - $89,038
9 - Minnesota - $91,314
10 - Oregon - $91,353
11 - Notre Dame - $92,310
12 - UC Davis - $98,179
13 - Baylor - $100,795
14 - Virginia - $107,384

Distance to Mosier, OR:
1 - Oregon - 177 miles
2 - Washington - 234
3 - UC Davis - 576
4 - Utah - 698
5 - BYU - 750
6 - Arizona State - 1,277
7 - Minnesota - 1,661
8 - Iowa - 1,835
9 - Texas - 1,999
10 - Baylor - 2,047
11 - Notre Dame - 2,131
12 - Ohio State - 2,347
13 - Virginia - 2,730
14 - North Carolina - 2,770

Distance to Tomball, TX:
1 - Texas - 139 miles
2 - Baylor - 158
3 - Iowa - 1,057
4 - Notre Dame - 1,157
5 - Ohio State - 1,169
6 - Arizona State - 1,184
7 - Minnesota - 1,185
8 - North Carolina - 1,199
9 - Virginia - 1,321
10 - BYU - 1,413
11 - Utah - 1,457
12 - UC Davis - 1,957
13 - Washington - 2,360
14 - Oregon - 2,419

Cost of living (compared to Provo, UT):
1 - Baylor - -24%
2 - Notre Dame - -19%
3 - Ohio State - -10%
4 - Iowa - -1%
5 - BYU - 0%
6 - Texas - 3%
7 - Arizona State - 4%
7 - Utah - 4%
9 - Minnesota - 8%
9 - Virginia - 8%
11 - Oregon - 13%
12 - North Carolina - 30%
13 - UC Davis - 44%
14 - Washington - 50%

Annual premiums for school health insurance plan:
1 - North Carolina - $2,364 plus summer term***
2 - Minnesota - $4,368
3 - BYU - $4,680
4 - Texas - $4,710
5 - Baylor - $4,864
6 - Washington - $4,908
7 - Ohio State - $5,054
8 - Utah - $5,212
9 - UC Davis - $5,254
10 - Notre Dame - $5,828
11 - Virginia - $5,834
12 - Arizona State - $6,328
13 - Iowa - $6,720
14 - Oregon - $7,164

And, the scores in each category:
Arizona State - 5 + 7 + 12 + 8 + 6 + 6 + 7 + 12
Baylor - 10 + 1 + 3 + 13 + 10 + 2 + 1 +  5
BYU - 1 + 5 + 14 + 1 + 5 + 10 + 5 + 3
Iowa - 11 + 3 + 13 + 7 + 8 + 3 + 4 + 13
Minnesota - 8 + 4 + 7 + 9 + 7 + 7 + 9 + 2
North Carolina - 4 + 11 + 2 + 2 + 14 + 8 +12 + 1
Notre Dame - 9 + 9 + 6 + 11 + 11 + 4 + 2 + 10
Ohio State - 7 + 6 + 5 + 6 + 12 + 5 + 3 + 7
Oregon - 3 + 14 + 8 + 10 + 1 + 14 + 11 + 14
Texas - 12 + 10 + 1 + 5 + 9 + 1 + 6 + 4
UC Davis - 14 + 2 + 4 + 12 + 3 + 12 + 13 + 9
Utah - 2 + 7 + 9 + 3 + 4 + 11 + 7 + 8
Virginia - 13 + 12 + 10 + 14 + 13 + 9 + 9 + 11
Washington - 6 + 13 + 11 + 4 + 2 + 13 + 14 + 6

For all you law school experts out there: what do you think of The Erin Scale? Should I give more weight to certain categories, like more weight to tuition and debt and less to who gets scholarships? Should there be some adjustments for schools that are only a few percentage points or dollars apart?


Also, last night I finished two more personal statements, for Virginia and Ohio State. Five out of 14 applications done! And here's something awesome: for those five, I've only had to pay for two of them and had fee waivers for the rest!

I've learned something that I maybe wish I had known before. My initial strategy was to apply roughly in order from toughest schools to easiest schools, because the head start could be an advantage for those tougher schools. So that also means the most important personal statements are being written and submitted first.

But as I'm borrowing parts from previous personal statements, I'm finding mistakes that I let slip through as the statements were sent to Texas, North Carolina and Notre Dame! Silly mistakes, like saying "As an employee at BYU Multicultural Student Services, I was in charge of the BYU's Celebration of Culture events ..." Oh well. We'll see what happens.

* The number I chose for my calculations was the cost for a student and a spouse, but realistically we would be paying to add child(ren) to the plan or a family plan.
** In-state tuition sure is nice!
*** I couldn't find a figure for an annual cost or for a summer term, just a price for fall and spring terms without summer term.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Warning: Adults only

I forgot to blog about my very last cartoon for The Daily Universe:

I don't want to be even partly responsible for any kid who happens to come across a copy of the paper and starts to question the existence of Santa Claus, so I made sure there were plenty of warnings and waivers that went along with this story!

Here's the story, if you can handle it:

The jig is up

And it also showed up on the BYU main page for a few days, which was pretty cool.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

BYU Level: Completed!

I'm a college grad!

On Friday at 1:22 p.m. MST, I emailed a newspaper article I wrote about our COMMS 406 class project, which meant I had completed all my work for my last semester before earning my bachelor's degree.

By the way, here's the BYU ElevenNEWS article and video about the project:

So now, I just wait for final grades to be calculated and for my diploma to come in the mail. And then in April I'll walk in the commencement ceremony.

It's hard to believe I'm done! Except for my two years in Argentina, since kindergarten I've never had a break from school longer than summer vacation.

This break won't last forever, since I'm planning on law school in a few months. But for now, I'm done with essays, reading assignments, quizzes, exams, textbooks, Blackboard, group projects, PowerPoint presentations and 8 a.m. classes. I like school in general, but there are parts of it I won't miss.

 What I will miss is working at The Daily Universe. My time has sadly come to an end. The newsroom was a home away for home, as much for Erin and Allisyn as it was for me, and I loved being a part of the Universe.

What's really more impressive is that Erin graduated. It's something we usually took for granted, we always expected that each of us would graduate from college. Even before I met Erin, I always knew I would be married to a college graduate. And it was always important to Erin and her family too, enough that one of the conditions for Erin's dad to give her hand in marriage was that I had to support her and allow her to graduate from college.

But from the outside looking in, Erin's accomplishment is really remarkable. She became a wife and a mother and still earned a bachelor's degree. It seems like most people I know either put off motherhood until after college or put off college until after motherhood (or, more often than not, never get back to school). I'm not saying those women are taking an easy way out or are falling short in any way. It's certainly not a requirement to be a mother or to be a college graduate in order to be a successful human being. But I know it was important to Erin to do both, and for us it worked out that she did both at the same time. It wasn't always easy, which makes me all the more impressed with her.

In our little family, right now we plan to be more traditional, with me bringing home the bacon and with Erin as a full-time mother. So some of you might wonder why Erin worked so hard for a degree. The way we see it, a college degree is far more valuable than a gateway to a career. Even if Erin is never employed again, we know being a college graduate will make her a better wife and mother. I have no doubt that she will use her college education every day (and not just so she can help our children with their homework). Education is for more than just getting a job, it should make a person who he or she is. (And, besides, circumstances could change and make it necessary for Erin to get a job someday.)

(Click here and read the comments.)


So, now what?

I have a four-month internship at The (Provo) Daily Herald starting in January! I'm pretty excited. I'll be writing for The Ticket, the weekly arts & entertainment section. I've been a reporter or an editor for two years, but I haven't done much writing about movies and music. So this internship will be a good mixture of familiarity and new challenges.

The internship is only minimum wage and part-time, so I'm still looking for another job. I filled out an application for J Dawgs, everybody's favorite hot dog stand in Provo. They're opening a new location in Orem which means they're hiring. It seems like a fun place to work, and there's someone in my ward who works there and likes it a lot. We'll see if I hear back from them.

In the near future, I plan on finishing the rest of my law school applications. I've finished three (Texas, North Carolina, Notre Dame) out of 14 on my list. So I have a lot of work to do. I also am waiting for my second LSAT score to come in. If it takes the same amount of time as it did in October, then it should come on Dec. 26.

Other than law school applications, I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks of reading Moneyball (I got it as a birthday gift, and only now have time to read it), watching How I Met Your Mother, meeting up with childhood friends and celebrating Christmas during a relaxing vacation at home in Oregon.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Engaging Shakespeare

The Shakespeare class that I've been thoroughly enjoying has been building up to our big event this Friday night.

It's going to be pretty awesome. Basically, it's each group showing off their final project. But eventually, through our website, it will take on a life of its own and share our projects digitally and globally.

Photo by Luke Hansen
This Friday we'll present art, an audio book, a mini-play, a documentary about the mini-play and a music video, all made by our class.

You should come!

Friday, December 9
7 p.m.
RSVP here.

My connections with The Daily Universe helped our class get a story. Although it wasn't me who decided to actually assign the story or put it on the front page. So, don't worry, I'm not abusing my power! :)

Shakespeare: Not just for the 17th century

And check out the website!

Engaging Shakespeare

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Glory road

The opinion editor for The Daily Universe asked me to write a viewpoint about Jake Heaps' transfer:

Detour in Heaps' glory road

I held back some of my harshness when I was writing this. I do see Heaps as being kind of selfish here. It looked to him like BYU wasn't going to give him a green light to the NFL like he thought, so he took his talents to South Beach, so to speak.

Some people think it's the coaches' fault for not giving that green light. But I don't think any coach should be expected to cater to one athlete and center their game plans around him. As a former athlete of team sports and a team member in every class or job I've ever been in, I know that you fulfill your role and don't try to take matters into your own hands. You can still have a voice and be involved, but an attitude of "I know best" is usually not the best, and even if it is it just annoys people.

That said, at this stage in our lives we all are supposed to be a little selfish. We're here to plan our success for ourselves and our family, and get all the education we can so we will have more advantages compared with our competition. That's what I'm doing by going to law school. So maybe Heaps transferring and me going on to law school are similar.

And even though I wish Heaps would stick it out, I certainly don't wish for him to fail. Like I said in my viewpoint, it would be great if he transferred to a Pac-12 school and beat the Utes a couple of times for us, haha.

Unrelated point: If Heaps wasn't able to handle two years of BYU football, I wonder how he would handle two years on a mission. Am I being too harsh? What do you think? Talk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Epic Charts

As I mentioned in my last post, I didn't have quite the practice week that I had for October LSAT. I intended to do a practice exam every day of the week, like last time. But Monday I spent the evening decorating our home for Christmas with Erin and Allisyn (well worth it, of course). And Tuesday I felt a little sick in the evening (I think because I went too long without eating dinner), and just did a few practice problems instead.

But I did do practice tests on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and got a 164, a 166 and another 166. I was pretty excited about the 166s! The only time I've scored higher was when I accidentally took a practice test that I had already taken. So this was a real PR. And, on Friday night I got 100% on the logic games section! I've never had 100% before. That was awesome.

I expressed my feelings on Twitter that night:

For my second real LSAT this morning, I had quite a crazy story that you have to read. As far as the actual test goes, I'm pretty sure I did better than my October test, and I definitely didn't do worse. My prediction is a 164. If the schedule follows the same schedule as last time, I should find out my score on December 26.

It's crazy to think I'm all done with the LSAT - all those books, all the practice exams with my scribbles all over them. What do I do with them now? Haha, I'll think of something.

Now I can focus on applications. I did send in another one, to Notre Dame, over the Thanksgiving break. Which means I only have 11 more to do. :S And if I get a really great LSAT score, I might add a school or two. (Thank goodness for fee waivers!) Of course, after the semester ends and I'm an official graduate (!), I'll have more time to finish those applications. I plan on getting them all in by the end of the year.

Here's some breakdown of my LSAT practice:

Average score: 160.8
Average analytical reasoning score: 67.3% (or approx. 17 out of 25 questions)
Average logical reasoning score: 77% (or approx. 19 out of 25 questions)
Average reading comprehension score: 79.8% (or approx. 20 out of 25 right)

Those numbers go way up if I only count my practice since my first real LSAT test:

Average score: 164.1
Average analytical reasoning score since October 1: 76.4% (or approx. 19 out of 25 questions)
Average logical reasoning score since October 1: 79.2% (or approx. 20 out of 25 questions)
Average reading comprehension score since October 1: 82.8% (or approx. 21 out of 25 questions)


And the charts! (The next time I make any charts, it will be with my second and final real LSAT scores.)

(For any of these charts, click on them to get a close-up.)

Total scores:

Total scores with average over time:

Total scores by section:

Total scores by section over time:

Total scores by section with averages over time:

Comparing score averages before and after October 1:

Comparing score averages by section before and after October 1:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Well, the sequel was certainly more dramatic than the original

I never thought I was the kind of guy who would throw up on the morning of the LSAT.

I was feeling nice and prepared for my second time. I didn't do as much practice this week as I did during the last practice week, but both practices were awesome (more on that later). I got to bed at a good time, woke up early, even did a few practice logic games to get my brain pumping (something I didn't do last time but wish I had). I grabbed my Ziplock bag and hopped on my bike (to get my blood pumping) and trekked to the BYU Law School building. I got there a little before 8:15, fifteen minutes before the deadline. Life was good.

I saw a friend from my mission, Chris Hill, and we chatted in line. Then I realized - I was supposed to have a photo of me attached to my registration form, and I had totally forgotten it and left it at home. I told Chris I'd be right back, and stepped out of line to call Erin.

Only, the LSAT doesn't allow cell phones on the premises, and I had purposefully left it at home!

I had no way of asking Erin to drive up to the law school with the photo, so I had no choice but bike back home, attach the photo to my form, and come back. I figured we lived close enough that I could do it all in 15 minutes, if I took the car instead of the bike for the return trip.

I opened the door to our apartment, and I expected Erin to be surprised and a little panicked to see me at home when I was supposed to report to the test center in a few minutes. But there was no reaction - because she wasn't there. "Oh no!" I thought. "She took Allisyn and the car to the law school! She must have noticed the same thing I did, that the photo was still here, and tried to bring it to me." Then I was worried that since I could only get back to the law school by bike, maybe I'd be too late and I wouldn't be allowed to take the test.

As I was taping the photo to my form (we had printed two copies of the photos), Erin called. My cell phone was lying on the dining room table. Erin was at the law school, with Allisyn and the other copy of the photo, and it was there she found out I had left the law school. She must have just missed me. (To read her side of the story, scroll down.) But it was too late, I had already attached the photo at home and it was time for me to turn around. And book it.

I pedaled as fast as I could, uphill and in the slick snow. I locked up my bike and ran to the building, with a dry throat because of the winter air and completely out of breath. I ran up the stairs, and there were Erin and Allisyn. (Erin told me later my face was really red and I looked really sweaty.) I was really happy to see them. Even though it turned out I didn't need a photo from her, she did help me by telling me what line to get into and what room I was assigned to.

Now that I had a chance to stand still, an overwhelming nausea came over me. I guess I'm not in shape enough to make two uphill bike trips in fifteen minutes. I started getting clammy and thought I was going to throw up. But I thought, "If I can just get through this line and sit down in my seat, I'll start feeling better." Either the line was too long or I was too sick, because before I got to the front of the line I had to get out. I thought I was going to throw up then and there.

Fortunately the bathroom was right there, and I escaped. And, I did throw up a little bit. :P

I didn't have time to wait until I was ready to stand up again, I had to get in line and take that test. The line was shorter, and I got to the front of the line quickly. But I was dizzy again. I just needed to get through that line. As part of the check-in process I was supposed to rip off the bottom of the form, but I was having real trouble doing that. It was like the world was in slow motion. I couldn't stand up straight anymore, and without thinking consciously, I bent over. I guess it was to lower my center of gravity and help me not feel like I was going to faint. The woman checking us in asked me, "Are you okay?" I don't remember what I said, but it was something like "I'm okay, I'm feeling better." I wondered if she thought I was having an anxiety attack because of stressing out over the LSAT.

Then I got to the table where they inspect our Ziplock bag, and I had to lean on the table. The inspector was none other than Jared Whipple, I guy from my ward at the University Villa more than three years ago. I was surprised he recognized me. And embarrassed that he saw me like this. Jared didn't seem to notice, at least he didn't say anything.

I was directed to my seat, and promptly collapsed on the table and commenced pouring sweat all over it. I didn't want to make a scene, but then the guy next to me moved to a different seat. (I found out later that it wasn't because of me, thank goodness.)

As the proctor started giving the instructions, I started to feel better. When the first section of questions started, I was almost back to normal. And by the end of the first section, I was alert and in total LSAT dominance mode. Which was a miracle.

I'll turn the time over to Erin to tell her side of the story.


I was up all night with our sick daughter, and actually, I slept on the couch so that Allisyn and I wouldn't bother J.J. while he tried to get a good night's sleep before his LSAT. Allisyn woke up a few minutes before J.J. had to leave. He helped me give her an antibiotic, kissed us both goodbye, and then was on his way to campus. He left at about 8:05, so he definitely had plenty of time to get there before 8:30.

I went into the kitchen with Allisyn to get her some breakfast when I glanced at the counter, and to my horror, saw J.J.'s LSAT picture. I knew I couldn't call him because he left his phone at home, but the thought did cross my mind that maybe he would realize he didn't have the picture and ask to borrow someone's phone. (He didn't though.) I immediately searched for the scissors, ruler, and paper that says what the dimensions of the picture need to be. I cut out the picture, changed out of my pajamas, threw on a jacket, grabbed the baby, and ran out the door.

As luck would have it, it snowed last night so I had to scrape the windows. It didn't take too long and then I sped off. It didn't even occur to me that roads would be slick, so it was a miracle that nothing bad happened while I drove fairly quickly.

I parked in the law school parking lot, grabbed the baby and the picture, found someone else who was taking the test, and got directions to the room. I ran up the stairs and found the line where I had hoped J.J. was waiting. But of course, he wasn't there. The woman who was directing people to their assigned rooms told me that he couldn't have gotten into his room without that picture, so that meant he wasn't in there. I didn't know what to do except to wait around for him. A couple of minutes later, the woman suggested that I call home and see if he's there. We don't have a home phone, but I remembered that his cell phone was there. I got a hold of him and told him that I was there waiting for him with the picture and that he just needed to hurry back.

I waited around, really anxious, because at this point it was 8:20. He eventually showed up at 8:27. He was running up the stairs, out of breath and red-faced. I handed him the picture I had, which he didn't need because he had grabbed the other copy of the picture. I guess I didn't really save the day after all. It was actually kind of frustrating because I thought I was being so helpful, but it didn't even matter that I left. In a way, it would have been better for me to have stayed at home because then J.J. could have just driven back to campus. But oh well. J.J. successfully made it through the day and it's a huge relief that it's all over.


J.J. here again. I just want to say that it was great to see Erin and Allisyn waiting for me at the law school, even though it turned out I didn't need the photo she was trying to deliver. It meant a lot to me that she noticed the predicament I was in and tried to help. Erin feels bad for not saving the day, but in some way she was still a hero to me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not my best work

Lately I feel like my school assignments across the board have been very subpar.

I had a Spanish phonetics presentation this morning that could have used a little more preparation. I did some research earlier this week, but my two partners did most of theirs the night before. I'm not complaining about them, they still got it done on time and I've certainly been guilty in the past. But our presentation did feel like it was thrown together, and unfortunately it was obvious enough that our professor told us after class that he noticed that. I also knew that our research was inconsistent, and that we were missing things ... unfortunately, the examples the professor pointed out happened to be on my end.

Also in Spanish, I got a graded exam back that was way lower than usual. Usually I don't have to work so hard in studying for a Spanish exam. I catch on quickly and memorize phonetic and grammatical rules easily. But I guess an effortless memorization couldn't contain all of the data I was supposed to know for this exam.

The class that has been the most frustrating is my political science class. It's a media and politics class, which I've had more than once in the communications department. So, it should be a cinch, right? And I usually feel like it is, until a graded assignment or exam comes back to me. Every assignment but one has come back with a lower grade than I expected. Everything I've turned it just isn't good enough.

I guess I shouldn't complain about high expectations. But I feel like I'm giving a false impression of myself as a student, like the professor thinks I'm a certain kind of student that I'm truly not.

I wrote a 20-page paper that meant I got probably six hours of sleep in a 72-hour time period, and I know it wasn't my best essay ever but I still got a lower grade than I would have predicted. The professor is offering a chance to edit and rewrite, and I'll certainly add some of those improvements, but a lot of what he's asking I just don't feel like doing. Not out of rebellion or animosity, just out of surrender and burnout.

In my world religions class, I had an exam a little while ago that I didn't do too great on. No real explanation other than that I should have studied more. But there's an easy opportunity for extra credit, which will help me out a lot.

Where I've really fallen behind is my Shakespeare class. I'm supposed to blog twice a week, but in four weeks I've blogged twice. I thought of a plan to live tweet reading King Lear that I still need to get around to. And our class has an ambitious final project that I did nothing about for a long time. But I did make some progress yesterday, so I'm feeling better about it.

Not everything is doom-and-gloom. A great burden was taken from my shoulders right before Thanksgiving when I completed an independent study course finally. Finishing that class means I have completed my political science minor!

And my media law class has been going really well. We did a fun project right before Thanksgiving were we reenacted a Supreme Court case and videotaped it. Then we are all doing a project with that video based on our majors (print journalism, broadcast journalism, public relations, advertising and communications studies) to answer the question "What would happen if TV cameras were allowed in the Supreme Court?" I got to play Chief Justice John Roberts. And I'm writing an article about our class project that could go in The Daily Universe next semester. So I guess that's pretty cool.

I don't really know why I'm not bringing my A game like usual. I know I'm married with a baby, and preparing for law school and another LSAT. Life is always stressful in one way or another. But I don't really feel overwhelmed or distracted.

Maybe what this means is that it's time to graduate.

From someecards (It's a hilarious site, but also pretty vulgar, watch out)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgivin' LSATin'

During the very needed and welcomed break from school, I still made time to do another LSAT practice.

I did awesome on the practice ... except that I had to skip like half the logic games section. It was frustrating, because I'm a lot better at those than I used to be. But, also, I did the exam in the middle of my family's dining room, while Allisyn was watching "Care Bears" and "Tangled" and running around, and my siblings were going about their day. (If I can take an LSAT while stuff is going on around me, then taking it in a controlled environment should be a cinch.) So maybe that was a factor.

Anyway, I got a 163.

More charts!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Letter Aftermath

A former sports reporter and co-editor of mine wrote a good article for the Deseret News that follows up on last week's controversy:

BYU paper pulls letter to editor on gay adoption, but student defends it

Way to go, Sarah, in talking to Taylor Petty himself. It's hard to believe that he's so unapologetic, but I suppose he's entitled to his opinion.

And, Taylor, both sides are represented:

For gay parents adopting

Against gay parents adopting

Your letter was taken down not because of sides or bias, but because of your overdrawn and hurtful rant.


What got me the most mad last Friday was how much hate was expressed for The Daily Universe.

It's understandable to some extent. And we all regret publishing Taylor's letter. But according to the fliers that were passed around and some people on the "Shame On You DU" Facebook group, it was as if the DU was advancing an anti-gay rights agenda. I saw way too many people who confused a letter to the editor with an article, which maybe doesn't seem like a big difference, but it is for those who understand journalism.

It was also frustrating to see so many people praise The Student Review to the detriment of the DU. Don't get me wrong, The Student Review is great and Hunter Schwarz's viewpoint was a good reassurance that not every BYU student or every Mormon believes the same way Taylor does. But, to people like Hanna Hiatt, journalism on BYU campus is not in as dire of straits as you think it is. The DU isn't worthless, even after this mistake.

(Of course, I'm biased since I've worked here almost two years and am proud of it. So take my opinion for what it's worth.)


One thing I am grateful for is that "Shame On You DU" is making a big effort to change its name. The people who created the group seemed to realize that their purpose wasn't to tear down the DU, but to promote more tolerance and understanding at BYU. Ironically, in order to change the name they have to drop their Facebook fans to below 100, so they're actually asking people to leave the group and then come back after the name change. It's a lot of hassle, but they want to do it anyway. And I really appreciate that.

What's funny though is that their fans have actually gone up. So, if anyone from the Facebook group is reading this blog: please listen to the suggestion from the leaders of the group and let the name be changed. It will help the group's name reflect the group's mission more accurately.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Last of the LSAT prep class

I took my last practice exam in my LSAT prep class last week, and got 165.

The exam was a little weird, because the way these practice exams work is that they assign you an old LSAT plus a section from another old LSAT. When I sat down to take the test last Saturday, I had already done one of the sections. I guess maybe I did the wrong section in a previous exam. So I sort of had to create the exam as I went.

For anyone curious, I thought the BYU LSAT prep class was pretty good. I recommend it, but with some reservations. It's the cheapest out of the other options. The teachers are great and very helpful. The textbooks are perfect. It's great if you know that you won't devote that much time to LSAT studying on your own. For me, by paying for a class I felt obligated to go, and therefore spent at least six hours a week on LSAT studying. Without the class, I probably would have spent that time doing other homework ... or watching TV. :P

The cons of the class were that there would be lack of communication every once in a while. Sometimes our assigned room was assigned to someone else, so we had to find an empty classroom. One time, our teacher never showed up (but it did mean we got free pizza and donuts the next time as an apology). The last class was this Saturday morning, but it wasn't a practice exam like the usual Saturday, it was a review session. I wasn't sure what that meant and so it turned out I didn't bring any textbooks or practice books.

Probably the biggest problem was that midway through we had a new logic games teacher. The teacher taught us as if we were just starting out, even though we had already been in the class a month. He wasn't a bad teacher at all, but because we were used to the first teacher, it felt like we weren't making progress. Also, with two teachers and the textbooks, sometimes we had three different ways of doing things, which was confusing sometimes.

Overall though, it was worth it. I would say, if you're worried about the teachers or the late nights in the middle of the week, you could probably get almost as much out of your studying if you invest in those books.

The latest charts:


Now that my class is done, and the next LSAT is less than two weeks away, I'm going to do a lot of practice exams on my own. I'm kinda busy with school (I have half an independent study class that's due by Tuesday). But I'll do two or three practices over Thanksgiving break, and I'll have another Practice Week leading up to the LSAT (except I might not do one the Friday before, I've heard a lot of advice telling me to just relax on Friday).

I also need to turn in some more applications! I still only have applications in for Texas and North Carolina. Maybe during the break I can wrap up some more personal statements and get more sent in.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Good, better, best

Here are some thoughts on the latest Daily Universe opinion page controversy:

It all started with a letter to the editor written by Alex Hairston, one of my old sports reporters and fellow sports editors. He wrote about a conversation he had with a friend about the TV show "Modern Family." One of the families on the show is a same-sex couple with an adopted little girl.

Alex and his friend were sharing their opinions on whether we should support same-sex couples who want to adopt and raise children. His friend said he would rather his taxes go to build orphanages and prevent children from going to same-sex couples. Alex said he wasn't so sure.

But I thought Alex's letter was great, because it was totally benign and simply curious. He honestly was just wondering what people thought of the issue.

"I’m not sure the LDS Church has ever commented on this particular situation, although the proclamation to the world calls clearly for a mother and father in the home, if possible."

"Personally, I can’t say I’m opposed to a situation where a gay couple raises a child, but that could change if the Prophet marked it as a practice that should be avoided."

Certainly no rebellion or false doctrine. Alex was just being inquisitive.

Here's his letter:

Ways to raise

Of course, Alex's letter sparked a lot of responses. Of two that were published in the paper, one was supportive of same-sex couples adopting, one wasn't. But both of them were mostly thoughtful, and added to the conversation without resorting to insults or pettiness.

"Modern" immorality


But then, a letter was published by someone named Taylor Petty (ironic enough). He sounded like someone who has never met a gay person in his life. He was very adamant, harsh, very zero-tolerance and downright heartless.

(I'll just interject myself here to remind all of you that just because a letter is published in the paper doesn't mean any of us in the newsroom or the university or the Church agree with it. And a letter is different from an article. An article would be the voice of the newspaper, a letter is the voice of some random guy.)

His letter is no longer available online, so I have to paraphrase, but the most striking point he made was something like "Would we let a baby be raised by a mother who was a prostitute or a father who was a serial killer?" (If you happen to have a Daily Universe paper from yesterday, you can find it there on page three.)

The letter was published in the paper and online, but was taken down last night. Here's the explanation by our managing editor Joel Campbell:

Letter removed

I thought Professor Campbell's statement was perfect and I totally agree with what he said. The letter did not reflect the opinion of The Daily Universe, BYU or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All three institutions (and myself) oppose same-sex marriage and oppose complete acceptance of homosexuality as merely an alternative lifestyle. At the same time, homosexual couples are not evil monsters. The Church has supported pretty much every right that homosexuals fight for except for marriage. (Here's an example.)

To anyone who cries censorship and says this is a violation of the First Amendment to take it down, I'll refer you to the U.S. Supreme Court case Miami Herald v. Tornillo. Basically, someone who writes a letter to the editor does have a right to speech, but a newspaper editor also has a right not to speak. If we don't want to publish something that's hateful and against the doctrine of our sponsoring organization (the Church), then we don't have to. (If you want to go somewhere that does publish things that might be newsworthy but against the doctrine of the Church, go here instead.)

The Daily Universe had a similar case last year, with a letter that I think was the opposite view of Taylor Petty's letter. I say "I think," because the letter was not clear whether it was rebelling against the Church and the prophet or wasn't. It was ambiguous to me, which is why I supported its removal last September.

Taylor Petty has every right to say what he wants to say. He even has the right to say that homosexuality is as bad as prostitution or murder. But he doesn't have the right to say so in The Daily Universe. If he demands his letter be republished or reposted online, or demands that other letters are taken down, then he is infringing on our First Amendment rights.


For the record, I haven't totally decided my stance on this issue. But I lean toward what Alex and Katie Peacock said.

I remember one time having a conversation with a mission companion of mine while I was a missionary in Argentina. I don't remember how the subject came up, but we were talking about same-sex parents. I said this partly to annoy him, haha, but I also believed it, "I would rather live in a home with two dads or two moms who loved each other than a home with a mom and a dad who hated each other." I think same-sex parents are definitely better than abusive parents. And I think same-sex parents are better than no parents at all.

Any home without both a mother and a father is not what God would hope for His children. But, of course, many of us have been raised in other types of families, whether it was by a single parent, a grandparent, another relative, or two moms or two dads. I think someone raised in another type of family has just as much of an opportunity to be an upright citizen and a righteous child of God.


And, by the way, I happen to love "Modern Family."


UPDATE: This KTVX article gets some things wrong.

1) I don't know why this "Josh" kid thinks he would be expelled. I wonder where he got that idea.

2) The letter to the editor didn't actually criticize "Modern Family." Hey, ABC 4, if you want to actually do some research, read the original letter by clicking here. (Maybe you were thinking of this letter, but this isn't the one that started it all.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sad News from Happy Valley

I wrote some thoughts about the Penn State sexual abuse scandal for today's Daily Universe:

Individuality vs. unity

Other than expressing some outright disgust over the events that have gone on, I talked about the student protests. What these Penn State students don't seem to get is that you can't just punish those who are directly responsible. They think firing Joe Paterno is an outrage. But we are meant to live in a society of mutual dependence, which means sometimes we suffer for the actions of others. We can't just think of ourselves, or blame others for everything. Becoming connected with people can be risky, but it's rewarding and, I think, one of the purposes of life.

I thought Saturday Night Live handled this scandal perfectly:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Podcast Catch-up

I've done a ton of podcast that haven't found their way onto the blog! And I just realized that my last blog post about the CougarCast told you to "stay tuned" to find out who the special guest was for the next podcast. That was on October 11! I've been leaving you hanging for more than a month!

Anyway, here's what you missed:

CougarCast: BYU vs. Oregon State - The special guest was Kandis, my sister who goes to Oregon State!

CougarCast: BYU 38, Oregon State 28

CougarCast: BYU vs. Idaho State - With my pal from New York City and expert on all things Idaho, Briana Carr.

CougarCast: BYU 56, Idaho State 3

CougarCast: BYU vs. TCU

CougarCast: TCU 38, BYU 28 - Whoa, I just realized this is the exact same score as the Oregon State game. I don't know if I noticed that before.

CougarCast: BYU vs. Idaho - once again with Briana.

And as for the "CougarCast: BYU 42, Idaho 7" podcast, I'm in the middle of editing that now. I would have had it done last night, but The Daily Universe's website crashed. Fortunately, everything has been restored and nothing was lost. But it does slow me down.

Stay tuned! And this time I mean it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Slow and steady

Another cartoon in The Daily Universe:

Herman Cain, the latest flavor of the month, isn't looking too good right now. When the sexual harassment allegations first started coming out, I did actually believe that Cain wasn't guilty of anything serious. But as he has fumbled his response, and as more women have come forward, he's looking more like the Tiger Woods of two years ago.

Meanwhile, boring ol' Mitt Romney is still there, and still reliable as a presidential candidate.

I liked a joke on NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" about how if Mitt Romney came out to the public and confessed some indiscretions, no one would believe him. You can listen to the funny conversation here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Preparing for Round 2

I haven't posted any LSAT updates in a couple weeks, so this is my attempt at catching up.

For the past two weeks in our LSAT prep class, the tests have been extended to five sections, just like the real test. And, just like the real test, one of the sections isn't graded. That means that my practice test on October 29 and on November 5 each have three possible scores, depending on which one doesn't count.

And, on October 29, it just so happened that the practice test on the schedule was one I did on my own in September. I had been trying to avoid practicing with tests that were going to come up later in my class, but I guess I let one slip past. So, of course, I did pretty amazing on that test since I had done it before and remembered most of the questions I got wrong and why.

Anyway, here's what I got:

October 29: 167 or 165 or 164
November 5: 165 or 163 or 162

I'm feeling pretty good about it. And, my average score since the October LSAT is 163.4. If I can get a 164 or 165 for the December LSAT, that will work out pretty well for me.



In other news, I have officially completed a couple of applications! My applications to Texas and North Carolina are submitted. (Thanks to all of you who helped me with my personal statements.) I think all my other applications just need a personal statement and they're done, so I'll probably send in the rest of mine soon.

Oh, and there have been some changes to the "official" list. Erin and I decided to add Ohio State. And we also figured, hey, might as well replace Willamette and Gonzaga with one Pacific Northwest school that I have a fee waiver for and is ranked higher: Oregon.

So, here's my list as of now:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The results are in

The moment you (mostly me) have all been waiting for finally arrived yesterday.

LSAC officially said I would receive my score on Oct. 26, but I heard from a lot of people that said it would come early. A former sports reporter of mine who took the LSAT, Chuck Krebs, was on top of it. He was retweeting every bit of information that gave a clue to when the scores would come. And every tweet of his added one more butterfly to my stomach, haha.

By Monday afternoon, it was getting to be now or nothing (or the next day). Erin got really anxious, and started following the news on Twitter and got even more antsy than me. After I was done with The Daily Universe's front page meeting, an email from LSAC was waiting for me. I snuck away outside the newsroom with my laptop and called Erin.

I got a 161 (83rd percentile).

Now, all along my prediction was 162. Which I think is why I wasn't very excited at first to read "161." I spent the last three weeks wondering "What if it turns out I did really awesome?" and hoping to be pleasantly surprised. I wasn't devastatingly disappointed, thank goodness. But it was hard at first to get excited.

But the more people I told, the better I felt each time. My friend Bert had some good advice: "... feel good. Check out the long list of good schools you should be able to get into and you'll feel better." Which was true. Earlier on this blog I shared a list of schools that had 160 as a median LSAT in their freshmen class last year. And some of those schools aren't half bad! Haha. And I called my mom and dad, and they were pretty impressed. Of course, they're my mom and dad. But my dad especially was excited for me.

So what happens now? The list of schools I want to apply to, as well as the schools I've recently added to it, isn't going to change. A 162 was already questionable for Notre Dame, Texas and Virginia, so a 161 is even more so. But, maybe if I write a really good personal statement, I'll be accepted there anyway, haha. (Speaking of which ... my advice to any aspiring law students: start your personal statements way earlier in the process than I am!)

One thing that's great is that LSAC also sends you your answers and the correct answers and the test booklet, so you can go over the whole test and see where you went right and wrong. And I found out something interesting.

In calculating all the practice LSATs I've ever taken, I average

62% correct in the logic games
75% in the logical reasoning
78% in the reading comprehension and
158.5 total.

Of course, I've improved a lot since my first test in July. If I count only practices since the week before the real test (Sept. 26), then it's

67.7% in logic games
73.5% in logical reasoning (weird, I actually got worse in that)
79.6% in reading comprehension
160.4 total.

For the real LSAT, here's how I did:

87% in logic games
76% in logical reasoning and
59% in reading comprehension.

Isn't that weird? I did way better than usual in logic games, a bit better in logical reasoning, and way worse in reading comprehension.

I calculated that if I had done my usual average on the reading comprehension section, I would have had a 164 or 165.

So I'm definitely going to try the LSAT again. It will help that we've now covered reading comprehension in my LSAT prep class (I guess that's the risk that comes with taking an LSAT prep class that doesn't finish before I take the test).

Of course, all these numbers mean only one thing: charts!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


(All you cross country runners and track stars know what that means.)

For today's LSAT practice, I wasn't feeling too good. I stayed up really late, first to write on my Shakespeare blog and then to write on this blog. (I know I didn't have to blog here last night, so I brought it on myself.) And after last week's practice LSAT, I wasn't expecting much.

But I actually didn't do that bad. In fact, depending on how you score it, I got either a 164, my best ever, or 162.

The reason I say "depending on how you score it" is because for the first time today, our practice test was five sections. It was our normal four-section test, plus a section from another test. So I'm not really sure how to measure it all together. But, what happens in the real test is that you have only four sections that are actually part of the score, two logical reasoning, one analytical reasoning (logic games) and one reading comprehension. Then you have an extra "experimental section."

In today's practice, I had three logical reasoning sections, meaning one of them is the "experimental section." Depending on which of the three sections you throw out, I either got 164 or 162.

For purposes of the charts, let's just say I got 164 :)

If you noticed, these charts are a little different. I started tracking how my average has changed (now that I've taken 13 tests). One thing I thought was interesting was that my average for reading comprehension and logical reasoning, despite all the practice and my LSAT prep classes, hasn't changed very much. In fact, my logical reasoning has gone down. So it's my logical games score that really seems to be the biggest factor. Hmm.


Speaking of which ... word on the street is I'll get my LSAT score on Monday! At the latest, LSAC says I'll get it on Wednesday. But I can't wait 'til Monday.

The law school fairest of them all

Hey, law school fans,

On Wednesday, there was a law school fair in the ballroom of the Wilkinson Center. The BYU Pre-Law office doesn't do a great job of getting the word out...the way I found out about it was a junk email from Michigan State. Then, all my law school junk emails started telling me about this law school fair, some of them from schools I was actually interested in and a few that said I could get an application fee waiver if I stopped by their table at the fair. Awesome.

So I was pretty excited to go. I had all kinds of things I wanted to find out, but at the same time I didn't really know what to ask. But I got some advice from my law school pals Bert van Uitert, Erin Kulesus and Aimee Brown (thanks, guys!). Erin and Allisyn were really excited to go with me too.

Even though I didn't really do that much, for some reason it was really fun. I guess it really is like a fair, or like a carnival. But instead of cotton candy and huge teddy bears, you get to dream about the next phase of your life. Erin and I both became even more thrilled by the idea of a new adventure. And there were so many options!

The ballroom at the Wilkinson Center was full of schools, and there was a pretty good representation. Harvard, Yale and Princeton weren't there. But Cornell and Columbia were. And, it ranged all the way down to the bottom tier schools that send me junk email all the time. It was just cool to see all these great schools from all over the country all at one place.

All of the schools in my narrowed-down list were there, which was a nice bonus. In addition, there were a few more schools that for one reason or another convinced us enough that we'll maybe apply to them too (the fee waivers helped):

Iowa - Because we're pretty much open to moving anywhere in the country, I didn't really know how to choose among all the state schools in the country. I know some state schools stand out, like Michigan and Texas. But I didn't really know the differences among Iowa and Wisconsin and Georgia and New Mexico or most anywhere else. But the guys at the Iowa booth made us feel pretty good about it, especially Erin. Erin, of course, was really big on finding out what family life would be like at each school, and what life would be like for the "law school widows." And she felt really good about Iowa, which means I do too.

Virginia - This school is one of the best state schools, and ranked ninth overall. I've always known it was a great school, and I think it would be cool to live in Virginia. But I wasn't planning on applying because I didn't think I could get in. But, this was one of the schools that had a fee waiver. So, hey, I might not get in, but it's worth $16 for the CAS and $0 for the application. (Plus, Allisyn got some swag from them - a little teddy bear.)

Minnesota - The lady at the Minnesota table was really nice. Kind of a grandmotherly type, and talked about the great family environment there.

We picked up a whole backpackfull of brochures, pamphlets, business cards - plus a pen from Washington and a pen from Notre Dame. And in addition to that Virginia bear, Oregon was handing out rubber duckies holding a gavel and a law book. Pretty clever.

Allisyn at home with her Oregon Law rubber duckie.

(Skip to 9:11) (If the video isn't loading for you, click here)
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We got stuff from all these schools:

Already on my list
Notre Dame
UC Davis
North Carolina
Arizona State

Will probably go on my list

Ones I would maybe apply to only if my LSAT is surprisingly higher than I expected
UC Berkeley

Ones I got fee waivers for
Texas Tech
Akron (this one I didn't pick up, it was given to me by a desperate University of Akron representative)
(and Baylor and Willamette are already free)

Ones I would maybe apply to only if my LSAT is surprisingly lower than I expected
Ohio State

Others I just picked up for fun (either because they make me think of good college sports, or "The Office")

The guy representing Stanford was none other than Tony Montague, one of my MTC teachers! It was really cool to see him. I've run into him on campus a couple times since being home from my mission, but that's all. I had no idea he was even at Stanford. So that was cool. (Too bad that he can't pull some strings, haha. Even if I could get into Stanford, though, it is super expensive to live there. Tony said the apartment he and his family live in is $1,700 a month. And that's student housing. Yikes.)

Probably the best sales pitch came from Baylor. The girl was super nice, told us her apartment that has three bedrooms and two bathrooms was only $600 a month (that's less than we're paying in Provo for two bedrooms and one bathroom), and that Baylor has a spring term and a summer term, which might be better than finding a job for the nine months between graduating from BYU and moving to law school. Baylor also got me thinking about the benefits of being "a big fish in a little pond." Even if I could get into Virginia or Notre Dame, it might be worth going to a school like Baylor. It would be easier to be in the top of my class (which, one person told me, is noticed by employers no matter what school you went to) or on the law review. So, something to think about.

Anyway, I've got a big stack of brochures to read!

I can't wait for law school.

P.S.: If you want to read Erin's blog post about the law school fair, click here.
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