Which Majors Prepare You Best For Law School?
For applicants set on applying to law school, prelaw may seem like the ideal program to prepare for a law career. Yet, experts say it may not be the best major for acceptance to law school.
Ilana Kowarski, a reporter at U.S. News, recently wrote an article on how applicants can choose the right college major for law school.
Critical Thinking and the LSAT
Experts say preprofessional degrees — such as prelaw and marketing — don’t offer the same preparation for the LSAT and GRE as majors that focus in critical thinking.
Anna Ivey is founder of Ivey Consulting. She tells U.S. News that admissions committees tend to view paraprofessional majors with some skepticism.
“They tend to be less excited about preprofessional degrees like communications, prelaw, criminology or marketing, which can be considered less rigorous,” she says.
Among skills tested on the LSAT and GRE, critical thinking is weighed much more heavily than subject matter expertise. According to experts interviewed by U.S. News, preprofessional majors that focus on technical skills won’t prepare students well enough for the tests.
Liberal Arts Trumpets
So, what majors do prepare students for law? Liberal arts disciplines such as the humanities, social sciences, physical sciences and mathematics, according to US News. Liberal arts disciplines focus on useful skills such as language interpretation, reading comprehension, and reasoning.
According to Law School Admission Council data, law school applicants with liberal arts majors tend to perform better on the LSAT when compared to applicants with preprofessional majors.
For example, U.S. News reports that “law schools accepted more than 90 percent of linguistics majors who applied for fall 2016 admission, but by contrast, they accepted less than 56 percent of nursing majors who applied in the same admissions cycle.”
Matt Shinners is a senior consultant for the jdMission admissions consulting firm. Shinners tells U.S. News that philosophy, math, and science majors tend to perform well on LSAT logic games.
“It is very beneficial to have a section that you have down cold,” Shinners says.
What You Should and Shouldn’t Do
When looking at college majors, the best approach is to choose a field that you are passionate about and strong in. And it doesn’t hurt to double major in the liberal arts.
David Weinberg is assistant dean of admissions at Tulane University Law School. Weinberg tells U.S. News that students should take a wide variety of courses — in fields such as math and literature — that complement their major.
Philip Benesch is an associate professor of politics and director of the Law and Society program at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania. Benesch tells U.S. News that students should steer clear of preprofessional majors such as prelaw or criminal justice. If they do intend on studying those majors, Benesch advises them to “be sure to double major in a mainstream liberal arts discipline.”
One of the biggest mistakes experts warn students about is choosing a major because it’s easy or because their parents say so.
“I’ve seen a lot of college transcripts that were train wrecks because the students were pushed into certain majors by their parents, and those transcripts are cautionary tales,” Ivey adds.
Sources: US News, Law School Admissions Council