The Yale 250 I didn’t submit

WordPress does not share a tremendous amount of statistical information about who reads this blog and what they do on the site; ‘page views’ is a pretty rough metric to gauge a given post’s readership. But one useful piece of information WordPress does choose to share is what external links get clicked on most often. And in yesterday’s post about where I chose to attend law school, the runaway winner was, for whatever reason, Claire’s Corner Copia. So now I’ll add a few words about Claire’s.

But first, a brief note on law school applications.

For the most part, every school wants the same thing. Sure, they request some variation in the length of the personal statement, but I picked the lowest common denominator and submitted the same essay everywhere.

Yale’s application is different. In addition to the standard materials, Yale also wants a blow-by-blow account of your activity since graduation, an itemized reconstruction of the standard law school resume, and most notoriously, the ‘Yale 250’. Here are the instructions for that last item:

Write an essay of not more than 250 words about a subject of your choice. The Admissions Committee looks to the 250-word essay to evaluate an applicant’s writing, reasoning, and editing skills. The subject is not limited; the choice of topic itself may be informative to the readers.

Having applied to Penn, and only Penn, for undergrad, I was surprised when no law school asked for anything resembling the equivalent of the ‘Why Penn?’ essay. I’m certain some schools could save themselves a bundle of rejections by demanding applicants put some thought into why they wish to attend a particular school (which might end in the realization that they do not, in fact, wish to attend that particular school). So, presented with the opportunity to write ‘Why Yale?’, I took it.

But before I submitted the essay, I had the good fortune to run my idea past my pre-law adviser. His advice:

If there’s anything I know for sure about the Yale 250 Essay, it’s that it’s not a Why Yale essay. 🙂  Dean Rangappa has been to our campus multiple times and, when asked about that essay, that’s one of the things she says without fail.  So an essay on a random topic – preferably an academic/intellectual one – is definitely the better way to go.

And that’s why you ask.

I did not end up writing about something random, but I did choose something to write about arbitrarily. That said, this is not a post about the Yale 250; this is a post about Claire’s. So, without further ado, the ‘Why Yale’ I didn’t submit:

It’s Yale. It is prestigious and well-regarded. It boasts a beautiful campus. Its central location provides easy access to friends and family in New York and Boston. Home to the Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Yale Law School is also affiliated with the renowned School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

There is no shortage of reasons for me to choose Yale Law School. Most, I surely don’t need to list. But there is another – one I suspect not often cited by prospective students: Claire’s Corner Copia.

I don’t imagine the restaurant registers much of a blip in the home of apizza. But for kosher vegetarians, it’s kind of a big deal. There is no critical shortage of vegetarian Jews, but among those who also keep kosher, not eating meat can sometimes feel like an endless exercise in self-justification: many more Orthodox Jews are familiar with Satan than seitan.

It’s difficult, then, to understate how exciting a restaurant like Claire’s truly is. When I first visited New Haven, I didn’t come to visit friends, or even to see Yale; I came for Claire’s. When I visited again, to explore Yale Law, I made the obligatory ‘detour’ to Claire’s.

I mention this not to detract from the value I place on a Yale Law education. But I would be remiss in failing to mention somewhere in my application that my desire to study in New Haven springs, at least in part, from the desire to regularly indulge in buffalo soy chicken sandwiches.

And that’s how you turn a 250-word essay into a 700-word blog post.

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