Admissions of an Admit: As told to Greg Ranzini

Greg Ranzini '18
News Editor

You gotta say something about the roast beef sliders. They kept it together until the bitter end, but that last reception on the second day was really where the whole Open House fell down. The former Supreme Court clerks introduced themselves with, “I don’t want to interrupt your important conversations, but . . .” and they should have just stopped right there. I just wanted to drink some beer, which was the only thing vegan on a table piled with shrimp wrapped in chorizo and chat with my new friends, rather than pretend that talking to these unicorns was going to land me a clerkship. The only thing I felt like asking was whether they had been allowed to touch the famous shelf of medieval dictionaries that Scalia used to rifle through in search of politically convenient definitions, like a definition of “factual innocence” that still leaves such a person subject to North Carolina “carrying out a death sentence properly reached.” But what was funny was that these folks were standing around being asked the most naive questions imaginable, such as “how many hours a week should I study?” Everybody ought to know how these guys got the job—they got straight A’s in 1L. Everyone equally should know they’re not going to make those grades, try as they might, because it’s like winning the lottery. It should have been another opportunity to stand around, make friends, and say, “I’ll see you in August,” but it was the end of the day, I was tired, I’d just been told I was staring down six-figure debt . .

. “Networking” wasn’t high on my list of priorities.

The student life panels, though, were spectacular—I really appreciated the attitude that nothing said in there would leave the room. There was more than boosterism, especially in that actual reservations and regrets were aired by the panelists. They made small admissions that made it clear that these were real people with real issues, but that they were still glad that they went to UVa. They should definitely do that next year. The panels made the rest of the weekend seem more credible. In contrast, the cornball alumni network speech felt like they were writing checks they couldn’t cash. It was led by this guy who wouldn’t shut up about how “genuine” the network is, in a way that made it sound very fake. It was accompanied by a minimum-effort PowerPoint, in Arial on a white background, that just said “genuine” a bunch of times, and ended with a rhetorical strategy heavily reliant on saying “just ask [so-and-so] who said . . .” over and over again. It was like the world’s lamest State of the Union. No one doubts that this school’s alumni are enthusiastic, because everyone I met seemed like a genuinely interested and nice person; it didn’t seem like there would be any reason for that to change once they graduated. But the way it was presented in the end was pretty dumb. Perhaps justifiable puffery, but on the “fake-and-lame” scale just short of literally making an acrostic out of A-L-U-M-N-I.

That speech made me, right there, at the eleventh hour, question my judgment and feel like the rest of the event was diminished. But it couldn’t overcome the fact that there were people like Cordel and the numerous students, most of whom just happened to be there snagging free dinner at the buffets, who were unprompted in their expressions of affection for UVa. I never did manage to find my designated liaison, but everyone I met in the halls seemed like somebody I wanted to get to know better. The professors, too, seemed very knowledgeable, focused, and sincere in their desire to produce great lawyers and to help everyone who was admitted on that path.

The financial aid talk with Jennifer Hulvey was very helpful—she explained the implications, such as which loans were preferable, and she managed to make it seem daunting without being terrifying. She was genuinely there to help. Kevin Donovan, too, sold it. Just nailed it. If I had any doubts about where I was going, he nixed them. He did a fantastic job of laying out the stakes, but made it clear that Career Services was going to be there and behind me 100%. Ruth Payne did the same. I left convinced that if I wanted a clerkship (not Supreme Court, LOL) she would help me find one. Contrast, say, Michigan, who looked at me like I had six heads when I asked them how they would support me in getting a 1L summer job. 

Other random observations: I had a tour of Monticello by a guy named Horace who had an alarmingly good radio voice. Somebody needs to hire this guy, because unamplified, his voice was NPR-tier. I would buy literally anything he sold me in his dulcet baritone. The house seemed smaller in life than it looks on the back of the nickel, though.

Phrases of the day: “You’re going to love it here,” and “We don’t admit applications; we admit people.”