Factors To Weigh When Applying To Law School
Rank and prestige are often the first aspects applicants consider when applying to law school.
Yet, there are a number of other important factors to look at when deciding on which law school is best fit for you.
Kerriann Stout, a contributor at Above The Law, recently discussed a few important factors to weigh, besides rank and prestige, when applying to law school.
Often times, applicants will get caught up in the rank of a school rather than the cost. Yet, once they graduate, they’re burdened with so much debt that they wish they’d considered cost more thoroughly.
Consider the cost of private vs. public education can make a vast difference.
According to the U.S. News and World Report’s annual survey of over 197 law programs, the average cost of a private law school is $43,020. For a public law school, the average cost for in-state residents is $26,264 and $39,612 for out-of-state students. Top 10 law schools boast the highest tuition prices, with average cost of attendance at $60,293 per year.
Stout says budgeting yourself when applying to law schools is crucial.
“Now, I’m not suggesting that you only apply to the most inexpensive law schools,” she writes. “However, you should set a budget for yourself and do your best to stick to it when applying to law schools. After those acceptance letters start to roll in, you should once again consider cost. This is the time to explore different scholarships and grants that might be available to you as well as your opportunity to leverage the offers to go to your dream school at your dream price.”
Stout says a number of applicants tend to ignore location when it comes to law school. For many, three years doesn’t seem like a whole lot of time. But Stout says it can make a big difference.
“Spend some time thinking about what kind of environment you’d most thrive in (rural/suburban/urban?) and focus your search in areas that meet that need,” she writes. “Another angle to think about with location is where you ultimately want to be after law school. You don’t have to go to law school in the same city or state you want to practice in, but it is definitely something to think about. This is particularly true if your school has a strong local alumni network.”
Academic Support Programs
Knowing what resources a law school can provide to you outside the program curricula can also be another potential factor to consider.
Stout says applicants should look at what academic support programming each school offers.
“This may include pre-orientation and orientation ‘how to law school’ events, 1L classes and workshops on case briefing, class notes, exam preparation, legal writing, time management, etc., and a wide array of bar exam preparation initiatives,” she writes. “These programs, and the people who run them, are your law school lifeline, make sure that the schools you are considering each have these resources available to meet your needs.”
Sources: Above The Law, US News