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.
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