If only there were a secret formula for getting accepted to law school, you could pick the perfect extracurricular and poof – law school admissions committees will fall in love.
Sorry to burst the bubble, there is no secret formula. Committees are seeking academically qualified candidates who have a pulse outside the classroom.
So what activities should you do? First of all, don’t make decisions based upon what you think admissions committees want you to do. Do what you enjoy. Find your passions and then highlight the characteristics you have developed and showcased along the way.
How do you answer the question on extracurricular activities?
Well, regardless of whether you have no outside interests, or a thousand different hobbies, utilize the opportunity to highlight certain qualities when asked this question.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for this part of your law school application:
- DON’T exaggerate your commitment. Be truthful throughout your application.
If you tutored for an hour a week for a year, say that and not anything more. Most admissions committees are not going to check on this, but if you are caught lying about any part of your application, you are almost certain to be rejected or have an offer of admission revoked.
- DO mention leadership positions that you have held in a volunteer role.
President of the Latin Club, co-chair of a fundraising event, or the instigator of your neighborhood clean-up day – these all count. You want to show that you have given back to your community on a significant level, and that you take this responsibility seriously. Emphasize your leadership role and the impact you have had, as well as any other skills that are relevant to your ability to succeed as a law student and attorney. Examples of these skills include public speaking, writing, and organizational skills.
- DON’T list every single public service activity you have ever done.
If you served dinner to the homeless three years ago at Thanksgiving, well done, but this one-time event doesn’t belong on the list. It may make the committee ask the question, “why just one year?” However, if you spent your summer canvassing low-income neighborhoods and encouraging people to register to vote, you should mention it. Pick the significant commitments, and talk about them.
- DO cross-reference, but don’t repeat.
You may decide to include elements of your extracurricular activity list as part of your personal statement. You can still list the activities on your application, but don’t list everything on your application in your essay. A little overlap is fine; duplication is not.
- DO mention any hobbies or interests that contribute to your diversity as a candidate for admission.
If you play the cello or teach tile-mosaic classes or spend every free minute of your spare time spelunking, you may add an interesting dimension to your class. These hobbies make you a more unique and interesting potential addition to the class.
- DON’T worry if your volunteer work or hobbies have nothing to do with law.
If you worked as a volunteer for Legal Aid, by all means say so. But if you haven’t, any kind of serious commitment to outside interests is valued.
What if you really and truly have no extracurricular activities or interests?
If you are reading this far enough in advance, you can always start now. Volunteer opportunities are around every corner in every community. Choose something near and dear to your heart, and make a commitment to it. Admissions committees want to know that the people they are admitting to their school are community- and civic-minded people who value time as much as money, and are willing to give generously to their community. Committees are seeking applicants who have developed a “work-life balance” and have figured out how to cope with the stress of school or work. Committees are also seeking to establish how an applicant will connect with the broader law school community and take advantage of the opportunities the institution provides.
Still not sure what extracurricular activities and interests you should or shouldn’t include on your application and personal statement? Accepted can help! Our staff of experienced editors can guide you along the way, offering sound advice as you work your way through the law school application maze.For 25 years, Accepted has helped applicants gain acceptance to top law schools and LLM programs. Our team of admissions consultants features former admissions directors, lawyers, and professional writers who have guided our clients to acceptance at top programs including Yale, Stanford, Harvard, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Penn, NYU, and many more. Want an admissions expert to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!