Applying to law schools can be an overwhelming and stressful experience, especially when you’re unsure about where to focus your applications. The pressure of making the most out of your application cycles and securing acceptance can be daunting for many aspiring law students. But fear not, because we’re here to help you navigate this process. In this article, we will guide you on how to prioritize schools during your applications and make the most of your strengths and weaknesses.
Figuring Out Your Ideal Law Schools
When narrowing down your choices, it’s helpful to categorize each school into three different groups. This will enable you to organize your applications and get a clearer idea of your chances of acceptance.
As a general rule, most students apply to two reach schools, three target schools, and two safety schools. Your focus should primarily be on your target schools, while allocating a few applications to reach and safety schools.
On average, students apply to between 5 and 15 law schools each cycle. Your application cycle may vary depending on your scores and dream schools. However, it’s generally recommended to send out at least 5 applications. While it’s good to cast a wide net in certain scenarios, it’s important to avoid overapplying (e.g., submitting 20 or more applications) unless absolutely necessary, as it can be both expensive and time-consuming.
Reach schools are those on your list where your chances of acceptance are not the highest, but there’s still a possibility. Typically, a reach school is one where your GPA and LSAT scores fall below the school’s median scores, or your GPA is higher while your LSAT score is below the 25th percentile score.
Factors such as your personal statement, resume activities, and individual background can influence your chances. However, in general, reach schools will remain a reach. You may get accepted, but there’s also a chance of rejection. It’s advisable not to solely focus on reach schools and instead submit only a few applications to the ones you’re most interested in.
Target schools are the ones where you have the highest chances of acceptance. These schools have median GPA and LSAT scores that align with your own or exceed them. It’s also possible to be considered a “splitter” if one of your scores is above the median while the other is below.
The majority of your applications should be directed towards target schools. These are the schools where you have a good chance of admission and that you would be genuinely excited to attend. When creating your list of target schools, consider the factors we will discuss in the next section.
Safety schools are those where you are highly likely to be accepted. Your GPA and LSAT scores are either above the school’s median scores or at and above the school’s 75th percentile scores.
Submitting a few applications to safety schools is always a wise move. They act as a backup plan if things don’t work out with your target or reach schools. Safety schools may also offer scholarships that can be used to negotiate with higher-ranked schools. However, similar to reach schools, you should avoid applying to too many safety schools and focus on sending out only a few applications.
If you’re unsure about which schools to add to your list or want a better sense of your admission chances, you can use free online law school predictors. These calculators compare your data with previous years’ admissions cycles and other students’ scores, giving you a rough estimate of your admissions chances at specific law schools.
Remember, these predictions are only estimates, and you should not base your application decisions solely on an online predictor.
Considerations for Your Law School Applications
As you compile your law school application list, there are important factors to keep in mind. They will help you make decisions between schools and determine if a law school is the right fit for you.
Realistic Admission Possibilities
Your grades and LSAT scores are crucial factors to consider when choosing which law schools to apply to. Evaluate whether a school aligns with your profile by comparing your scores to the school’s median and 75th percentile scores. This will indicate whether the school is a reach, target, or safety school.
Resume and Personal Statement Boosters
In addition to scores, your resume and personal statement play a significant role in your application. Craft your personal statement to vividly showcase your unique story, motivations for law school, and background. Some schools prefer students with diverse backgrounds, older students, or particular softs (extracurricular activities). Extensive research on the law schools you’re interested in is essential.
Character and Fitness Issues
If you have any character or fitness issues in your application, keep in mind that they could potentially impact your chances of admission, regardless of your GPA and LSAT scores. However, don’t let this discourage you from applying to schools you’re genuinely interested in. You might even be able to use these issues to your advantage in your personal statement.
The Location and Culture
Aside from admission possibilities, ensure that the schools you apply to are places you genuinely want to attend. Explore the surrounding area, search for student life activities on the school’s website, consider housing possibilities, and gauge the general culture of the location. These factors will help you determine if a school aligns with your preferences and should influence your list.
Options for Financial Aid
Law school can be expensive, so while deciding which school to apply to, check if they offer financial aid and the percentage of students who receive it. This will give you an idea of potential aid amounts. Be proactive in applying for all merit scholarships that come your way. Don’t hesitate to negotiate with schools, as it’s possible to increase your aid package.
Bear in mind that law school applications can be costly. Apart from the school’s application fee, you’ll usually have to pay the CAS (Credential Assembly Service) fee to submit your applications through the LSAC (Law School Admission Council) portal. Make sure you’re financially prepared for these fees and structure your application list around what you can afford. Additionally, consider contacting law schools’ admissions services centers to inquire about application fee waivers for eligible students.
Your Application Timeline
Various law schools have different admissions timelines. Some have early deadlines, while others may not provide acceptance or rejection notifications until the summer after application submission (for applications submitted before December). You could be placed on waitlists or experience quick rejections or acceptances. Some schools may not respond at all.
Consider all of these factors when planning your application timeline. They will help you determine which schools you’re genuinely interested in pursuing and those you’re comfortable not hearing back from. This knowledge will enable you to structure your application list accordingly.
If you want more information on creating an application timeline, we recommend checking out this complete article.
Make Your Law School Dreams Come True
Law school is a dream for many students, and after taking your LSATs, you’re one step closer to turning that dream into a reality. The final hurdle is applying and being admitted to law schools, which can be one of the most stressful steps in the process.
However, with careful planning and a good understanding of your admission chances, you can tailor your application strategy to maximize your chances. This will pave the way for you to achieve your law school aspirations. Remember, stay organized, be true to yourself, and put your best foot forward. With the right approach, your law school dreams can become a reality.
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