Meet Admissions Consultant Shirag Shemmassian

Shirag-Shemmassian-PhotoThis week, I interviewed the awesome Shirag Shemmassian over email about his academic and admissions consulting services for law school applicants.

Q: What motivated you to start your own admissions consulting company?

A: The short story is I love helping students get into top-choice schools so they can pursue their dream careers.

The long story is when I applied to college as a high school senior, I received little admissions guidance. And despite having high grades and standardized test scores, I was rejected from UCLA, my dream school. I was incredibly disappointed.

Rather than get upset, I carefully reviewed my entire application and realized how cliché everything sounded. A week later, I submitted an appeal essay and got into UCLA despite the less-than-1% admit rate for appeals. I was the same candidate; the only thing that had changed was the story I told the admissions committee.

Q: That’s amazing. Is that what motivated you to want to help other people with admissions?

A: Yes, exactly. I fell in love with the admissions process and continued honing my skills to transfer to and graduate from Cornell, graduate from UCLA’s top-ranked clinical psychology Ph.D. program, and secure over $100K in scholarships and fellowships to graduate debt-free. The coolest part is that I translated my knowledge to help my friends, and then word-of-mouth referrals, to get into their dream schools. My passion for helping students led me to found Shemmassian Academic Consulting.

Q: What law school admissions services do you provide and how much do they cost?

A: I help students navigate every aspect of the admissions process. I offer the following three service packages and all of them include unlimited editing of written materials.

Scholar Package ($2499): For students who primarily need help crafting outstanding written materials (e.g., admissions essays, short answers).

Premium Package ($2999): For students who want to develop connections and present themselves effectively across all sections of their applications. This package includes everything in the Scholar Package plus help developing a school list, establishing important contacts at these schools, and reviewing your entire application to ensure that every aspect fits together to tell a compelling story.

Premium Plus Package ($3499): For students applying to schools that require admissions interviews. This package includes everything in the Premium Package, plus 3 1-hour interview coaching sessions.

You can find more detailed information on my Admissions Services page.

Q: Are there specific kinds of students that you most enjoy working with?

A: Believing that you can get into your dream schools is the quality I most appreciate. You don’t have to know how you’re going to get in (that’s my job), but you do have to believe it’s possible. If you believe, you’ll be motivated to put in the necessary effort to make it happen.

Q: Why should I hire you over other admissions consultants?

A: While my primary goal is to help students get into their dream schools, I also want to help them manage their stress during the process. So, in addition to ensuring that my clients submit exceptional applications, I also:

  • Make myself available anytime via phone, email, or text to work through any worries or concerns.
  • Customize an admissions timeline to make sure my clients complete all tasks ahead of time. (That way, my clients can relax while other students are freaking out.)
  • Help my clients build authentic connections at their dream schools.

Q: Do you have a personal philosophy about how you work with students?

A: I’m very confident that my holistic approach can greatly improve my clients’ applications in a timely and relatively stress-free manner. This is why I offer the following satisfaction guarantee. If for any reason you are not completely satisfied by my first set of essay edits, I will issue a prompt and full refund within seven days of receiving my edits. Therefore, you can work with me completely risk-free.

Q: That’s an incredible guarantee. I don’t know many admissions consultants that offer that. Is there anything else you want us to know?

A: I’ve learned over time that no matter how hard you work and what you achieve—whether in school, the workplace, or extracurricular pursuits—you have to effectively present yourself as the ideal candidate to admissions committees in order to get in. That’s what I help people do.

Q: If I’m interested in learning more about working with you, what should I do?

Please contact me via email (shirag@shemmassianconsulting.com) or phone (323-825-9374) so I can answer your questions and learn more about you as well. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions, Shirag! Sounds like you offer incredibly supportive and comprehensive admissions consulting for all kinds of students. I love that all your packages include unlimited help with written materials. Readers, if you want your own personal prelaw adviser to help you through the admissions process, definitely check out Shirag’s services.

How the LSAT Mastermind Group Can Help You

joshua-cravenThis week, I interviewed Josh Craven of LawSchooli.com over email about the LSAT Mastermind Group, a resource for LSAT self-studiers, that he runs with Evan Jones.

Q: What is the LSAT Mastermind Study Group?

A: The LSAT Mastermind Group (MMG) provides extra support to self-studiers to help them stay on track with their LSAT study goals.

Members get unlimited, lifetime access to expert coaching from me and Evan Jones (99th percentile scorers), lifetime access to over 150 premium lessons in our custom-made course, webinars, and live office hours (Q+A sessions that also feature a lesson on a key topic) each week.

Also, members can access their own private forum where they can discuss the LSAT with other Masterminds, ask for help, assist other members, and receive direct feedback from me and Evan all in a supportive, friendly, 100% troll-free environment.

Q: What else do members get?

A: You also get access to web versions of our LSAT study schedules that directly link to each lesson, an invitation to weekly live Preptest Reviews (see how a 99th% LSAT scorer approaches test questions in real time), and ALL of our LawSchooli.com study schedules (a $100 value).

Q: What do you consider to be the best thing about the MMG?

A: According to our members, one of the biggest benefits of being in the MMG is that you can ask any question and request an explanation for any problem, and we are there to answer. It’s like having an LSAT tutor at your beck and call.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: $199.

Q: Who are you and why should my readers trust you?

A: Evan and I met during our 1L year of law school at the University of Chicago. After graduating, we decided we weren’t all that into the practice of law, but we both had a passion for the LSAT and helping people prep the right way for the test, and so Lawschooli.com was created.

John-and-Evan-LawSchooliI know this sounds strange, but the LSAT is a very impressive test. It makes the other standardized tests seem easy. We both managed to achieve a high score on the LSAT. I got a 177, a 99.8th percentile score. Evan got a 173, a 99th percentile score. However, we both put in a lot of hard work to get there.

I attacked the LSAT in a more organized and methodical way than I had done with anything up until then (or frankly, anything since). Still, it was a pain doing it because I had to wade through a sea of junk information before I could find a consensus on legitimate strategies for prepping.

I didn’t know how long I might need to study, which techniques were considered the best, or the million other little tips that can come in handy. To figure it out, I had to listen to 10,000 trolls on the forums. I also ended up just buying every resource that was out there. It was expensive and most of it turned out to be garbage that just ended up in the trash.

Evan and I created LawSchooli.com and the MMG so that you wouldn’t have to go through all of that. We stay up on developments on the LSAT and all our advice is either what worked for us, or something we have carefully examined. Evan is also a former LSAT tutor and classroom instructor, so he brings all that experience to the table.

Q: How many people are in the group? Does it get “crowded” during the webinars with too many people asking questions?

A: We make sure crowding is never an issue. Typically 25-30 MMG members come to each session. We won’t end a session until all of the questions are answered.

Q: Anything else coming down the pike?

A: Yes, we recently opened up an alumni section so our Masterminds can continue to share their law school experiences with each other, and help some of our members that are just starting on their LSAT and law school journeys.

Q: Do you really get lifetime access?

A: Yes, you do! We really want our members to think of the MMG as their first professional law networking group. You pay a one-time fee and receive access to all of our schedules, boards, and more.

Q: How do you sign up?

Click here!

Thanks for all this information on the LSAT Mastermind Group, Josh. It sounds like an awesome, affordable resource for self-studiers. I love that you just pay once and you get lifetime access. If you’re self studying for the LSAT, definitely check out the MMG.

Top Ten Mistakes That Law School Applicants Make: #1

LSAT-SuckerThis post continues our 10-part series of posts on the Top Ten Mistakes That Law School Applicants Make.

The #1 Top Ten Mistake That Law School Applicants Make every year is…
THEY DON’T STUDY ENOUGH FOR THE LSAT.

As most of you know, the LSAT is scored on a scale of 120 to 180. The average is about 150, but that will not help you get into most good law schools. A 160 is much better, but I think you should aim higher than that.

Much higher.

There is nothing stopping you from getting a 170 or higher on the LSAT.

Let me repeat that.

There is nothing stopping you from getting a 170 or higher on the LSAT.

It might take three months of prep.

Or six months.

Or 12 months.

It might even take you 24 months.

Why am I saying this crazy stuff?

Knowing how hard it can be to score a 170, why should you even shoot for this on the LSAT?

What if I told you that you’ll receive $150,000 if you get a 170 on the LSAT?

Would that change your mind?

Because that is what’s at stake here. We’re talking about major scholarship money.

So many law schools now charge $50,000 a year or more in tuition. With a 170 LSAT score, there are many quality schools that will offer you a full tuition scholarship for all three years. Believe me. I’ve seen it happen every year for the past 12 years.

You might say, “But, Peg, I don’t want to study for (fill-in-the-blank) months.”

And I’d say back to you, “Do you want to pay off your law school loans in 20 years? Or do you want to study for the LSAT for one year and have no debt when you graduate?”

YOU DECIDE.

Just like Blueprint’s lollipop says, the LSAT doesn’t have to suck.

It can be the tool you use to achieve excellent admittances and scholarships from quality law schools. It can also be the tool that will give you more freedom and happiness in your future legal career. JD graduates without debt are more able and apt to choose legal jobs that appeal to them the most rather than the ones that pay the most.

I have a lot of problems with the use of standardized tests for college and graduate school admissions, but as long as these tests are being used, I highly encourage you to USE THEM TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.

Getting a 170 on the LSAT is a high hoop to have to jump through but if doing so can make your future ten times less stressful by not having to think about thousands of dollars of debt upon graduation, you should train for the LSAT as if you’re training for the Olympics.

Here’s several LSAT prep companies that my students have used over the years. They offer various services and resources for different kinds of students and different ways of learning. Compare and contrast and see if one or more of them might be helpful to you.

PowerScore

Blueprint

7 Sage

LawSchooli

Take the LSAT seriously, get help, and put in as much prep time as you need.

Don’t rush it.

Do your best to get the highest score you possibly can. You won’t regret it.

Photo Credit: Twin Group via Compfight cc

Top Ten Mistakes That Law School Applicants Make: #2

Leonardo-DiCaprioThis post continues our 10-part series of posts on the Top Ten Mistakes That Law School Applicants Make.

The #2 Top Ten Mistake That Law School Applicants Make every year is…
THEY PICK THE WRONG RECOMMENDERS.

One of my favorite stories from a law school admissions officer was about how one of their most memorable letters of recommendation (LOR) came from Leonardo DiCaprio. The whole admissions office was excited to read that letter! But before we talk more about Leo, let’s talk about the nitty gritty of LORs.

In terms of who to ask for a LOR, which is better?

Academic LORs from professors and teaching assistants (TAs)? Or work LORs from supervisors?

It depends on your situation.

If you’re currently in college or graduate school, you should try to get two academic LORs from professors and/or TAs. Two professors or one professor and one TA is preferable.

If you’ve already graduated and have been out of school for 2-3 or more years, get work-related LORs from supervisors and work leads.

On a similar note, what’s more important to choosing your recommender? Asking someone who really knows you and your work, or asking someone with a high title?

In most cases, pick familiarity over status or prestige.

For example, perhaps you’re thinking of asking three people that teach in your major: an associate professor, the chair of the department, and a TA. Turns out the associate professor and the TA know you and your work better. In that case, it would be better to ask those two for LORs and to use those letters for most of your schools (most require two LORs). If you still want to ask the chair, you can, but just know that the LOR you receive might not be as detailed or personal as you hoped it would be.

Also, there’s nothing wrong or uncouth about asking to see a copy of the LOR after they turn it in. Some will even show you the letter before they turn it in to ask for your feedback. Your recommender might say no, but more often than not, they will say yes. It doesn’t hurt to ask, so you absolutely should.

Also, not to be confusing, but you should waive your right to see the letter when you fill out the form for LSAC. That is an “official” thing to indicate that once you apply to that law school, you won’t contact the school to try to see your LORs. However, what happens between you and your recommender is between you two.

So, I know you’re all wondering. What about that Leo letter?

Turns out an applicant to that law school had worked as an assistant for Leo, so the LOR was legit! But if the applicant hadn’t worked for Leo, this letter would have gone down in that law school’s history as the LOR penned by the most famous person that didn’t actually do any good.

So, word to the wise: unless the person knows you and your work well, do not ask that person, no matter how famous they are, for a letter of recommendation. Unless you actually worked closely with Leo, and he really knows your work performance and skills, better to stick with your supervisors, professors, and TAs.

Photo credit: Siebbi

Personal Statement Class SALE: 50% OFF!

Sale_signFrom now through July 11, 2016, my Write Your Personal Statement in 7 Days online class is 50% OFF!

That’s right.

Instead of paying $99, you pay only $49.

This is not an April Fool’s joke. After July 11, 2016, I will no longer offer this class, so act today!

You won’t find a better deal for an online personal statement class designed specifically for law school applicants.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what my students say:

Wow, I am so happy I took this course. My previous law school application looks elementary compared to the refined personal statement I have recently drafted.  — Carolina

Peg, I wanted to say thank you. I know I am not done with your course yet, but you have been extremely helpful so far. I appreciate you so very, very much. So thank you for doing this and for being you! — Leslie Anne

I was surprised how eye opening the 49 stories exercise was. I helped me categorize and chronologically reflect on a 20 year past of jumbled memories. — Anna

Peg, I have just finished Lesson 1 and I have to hand it to you, these writing exercises have been a good, and certainly cathartic, exercise. At the present time I am feeling good and very hopeful! — Aidan

Completing the 49 stories made me discover that I am a lot more interesting than I presumed to be. Thanks to this class I feel I wrote a concise and clear personal statement. Peg rocks and all her tips are awesome! Put in the work, you won’t be disappointed.  — Daniela

For more student testimonials and to learn more about the class, go here.

With this class, you’ll learn how to write your law school personal statement in just 7 days, and you’ll also get your questions answered online by me.

Once you register for this class, it’s yours to keep. You can view the lessons and videos as many times as you want, 24-7.

All for just $49.

After July 11, 2016, I will no longer offer this class. But, it will still exist for the students who have registered. As long as the class hosting service Ruzuku exists, you can visit this class and its lessons forever on.

Don’t miss out! Last day to sign up is Monday, July 11, 2016. REGISTER NOW!

Sale sign by Martin Abegglen.