Reach Law Schools: 3 Tips for Landing an Acceptance Letter
It takes more than just a strong GPA and impressive test scores to land a seat at a top law school. Experts say “soft factors,” such as work and life experience and a unique perspective, matter just as much to admissions officers at the most prestigious law institutions.
US News recently explored what factors top law schools consider and how applicants can best position themselves for success.
FOCUS ON YOUR LSAT
While soft factors matter at top law schools, hard numbers hold just as much importance. Some say the LSAT is perhaps the most powerful tool in law school admissions—even more important than your GPA.
“Your undergraduate GPA is probably set in stone, or is nearly so,” according to Kaplan. “Therefore, your last best chance to improve your odds of admission is to improve your LSAT score. And your LSAT score is important regardless of your GPA. If you have an impressive GPA, the test can be a liability; a poor performance can call your academic record into question. If you have a poor GPA, the test is an opportunity; it can overcome doubts raised by your transcript.”
WRITE AN AUTHENTIC PERSONAL STATEMENT
The personal statement is an opportunity to demonstrate what types of soft factors you can bring to the table. A strong, compelling narrative, experts say, is a must for a top law school.
Your resume and transcript are places to highlight academic and professional achievements. “And then that frees up your essay to talk about back story, to talk about your motivations, where that fire in the belly comes from,” Anna Ivey, founder of Ivey Consulting and a former dean of admissions at the University of Chicago Law School, tells US News.
What makes a compelling personal statement? Being yourself.
“Sincerity is the greatest sales point,” Mike Spivey, founder of Spivey Consulting, a law school admissions consulting firm, says. “The No. 1 thing employers look for when they hire people is sincerity. Well guess what admissions is? It’s no different. It’s essentially a hiring process.”
Additionally, Spivey says, your essay should help differentiate you from other candidates in the applicant pool.
“You’ve got to be detail-oriented and a professional, but also if you have something that just really stands out, then you’re going to be the name that the admissions committee remembers later in the cycle,” he adds.
GET TO REALLY KNOW THE SCHOOL
It’s one thing to simply Google some facts and stats about your reach law school. It’s another thing to actually visit the campus, connect with admissions officers, and get to know the community.
Demi Ongolo, senior consultant at Juris Education, a law school admissions consulting firm, advises applicants to visit their reach school in-person to really get a feel for what the culture is all about.
“I think that’s critical, especially when students write those essays about why they want to go to this school,” Ongolo says. “The admissions office can tell that you just Googled a couple of things about the school, versus if you went there to actually experience something and you write about how you see your life unfolding in this place.”
Sources: US News, Kaplan, Lawschooli
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