|Tips on How to Make Your Application As Competitive
When assembling your application materials,
it is important to keep in mind what each part of your application needs to accomplish.
Your personal statement, for example, should not simply summarize your transcript
and resume. Your GPA and LSAT scores should demonstrate your academic potential;
given this objective, extracurricular activities are not "substitutable"
for problematic GPAs and LSAT scores, no matter how important those extracurricular
activities may be in revealing other significant aspects (e.g., civic commitment,
interest in public service, etc.) of your undergraduate career. To make your application
as competitive as possible, ensure that each element of your application addresses
that which admissions committees will be looking for in that particular element.
Competitive applications demonstrate:
- Your academic accomplishments and potential. Your academic strengths
can be documented through LSAT scores, GPAs, strong letters of reference from
faculty members who know your work, academic awards, and academic publications.
- Your personal qualities and how those will contribute to a dynamic
law school community. Your personal interests, experiences, and unique qualities
can be discussed in your personal statement, in your resume listing of jobs/extracurricular
activities/service, and in letters of reference.
- Attention to law school particulars which make you a good "fit"
for the law schools to which you are applying. Your personal statement can highlight
why the law school to which you are applying is a good choice for you, given the
law school's mission, strengths, etc.
While no single list of tips can address all of your questions,
the following guidelines should help you draft, edit, and revise your personal
Your pre-law advisor can provide
you with handouts on writing your personal statement. In addition, you might find
it helpful to consult the following sources:
- Read carefully and follow closely the application guidelines
for the personal statement. Law school requirements differ in terms of length,
format, and questions to be addressed. Take the time to follow all directions.
- Remember the objective that the personal statement is supposed
to achieve. In addition to following the directions given in the law school application
materials, make your personal statement truly personal; no one else should be
able to write what you have written. You (and only you) should be recognizable
through your words, were you to show your personal statement to close friends,
family members, and/or professors.
- Don't try to summarize your entire life; instead, speak of representative
experiences, accomplishments, challenges, insights, and/or defining moments.
- Address problematic components of your application. For instance,
if your GPA is lower than that of other applicants, if possible, provide your
readers with a way to interpret your GPA in a way that is favorable to your cause.
If you worked, had family responsibilties, suffered a chronic illness, or experienced
other difficulties during school, you could alert your readers to those factors.
- Be truthful.
- Proofread and edit your statement.
You should select writers who truly know you, your
abilities, and your strengths. Academic references are important
in documenting your scholarly abilities. However, letters from employers
and supervisors can be excellent choices in speaking to your integrity,
time-management skills, social and communication skills, perseverance,
and other areas of strength.
Avoiding the Most Common Mistakes in Applying to Law School
As you make your way through the application
process, you may find it beneficial to consult the University of
Illinois, Pre-Law and Law School Admissions Information Page's "Avoiding
Mistakes in the Application Process". This page offers
a 12-step guide to help you avoid the most common law school application
mistakes. Because some mistakes are difficult to correct late in
your undergraduate career, I suggest you read this page now, even
if you are still in your freshman or sophomore year.