It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the law school application process, especially if you’re applying to multiple schools at once.
Daniel Waldman, a contributor at US News and consultant at Stratus Admissions Consulting, recently highlighted a few major mistakes applicants can avoid and what to focus on if they hope to make applying to law school as seamless as possible.
DON’T MESS UP THE SCHOOL’S NAME
This one is obvious, but Waldman says, it’s easy to miss.
“This is a big one, and it can come in two varieties,” he writes. “The first is your run-of-the-mill typo: Either you went too fast and made a typo that Microsoft Word didn’t catch, or you simply made a mistake by not double-checking the school’s name. The second type of error is somehow even worse: copying a personal statement sent to one school, pasting it in a new application and changing the school name – but missing one instance where the first school’s name appears.
TAKE THE PERSONAL ESSAY SERIOUSLY
Waldman says the biggest mistake applicants can make when it comes to the personal statement is to be too “cute.”
“Your personal statement is a place for creativity,” he writes. “You don’t want to rehash your resume or simply state what your career goals are, so it’s fine to give it a narrative feel. However, you’re also not writing for an improv theater group. Your goal is not to make the reader laugh or wow him or her with your wit. This extends to all parts of the application. Showing a bit of humor is fine, but being a comedian isn’t.”
Rather, experts say, applicants should see the personal statement as an opportunity to dig deeper into who you are.
“If your personal statement doesn’t reveal something new or deeper about you, it becomes difficult to see exactly what value you’ll add to the makeup of next year’s incoming class (other than being a good student or accomplished test taker, which does nothing to set you apart from all the other incoming good students and test takers),” according to InGenius Prep. “Show admissions officers that you are an individual who will have a positive impact on the law school community.”
DON’T MAKE EXCUSES
The personal statement is open-ended. And that means you can discuss aspects of your resume or experience that you think will help your case.
However, this isn’t an opportunity to provide excuses as to why you may have performed poorly in a class or gotten laid off at work.
Waldman says one of the biggest mistakes applicants can do is to make excuses in their application.
“Life isn’t fair, and sometimes bad things happen to you that aren’t your fault, but blaming others makes it seem like you can’t accept responsibility or learn from your mistakes,” he writes. “There’s always room for self-improvement, and that’s what you want to show. Obviously, if you came down with a serious illness the day before your final and couldn’t schedule a makeup exam, it’s fine to mention (and back up with documentation if possible), but if it becomes a pattern, the reader will become very skeptical.”