How important are standardized test scores and GPAs when applying to law school? What are adcoms looking for in your law school personal statement and other essays? In this week’s session, Accepted’s own Jessica Pishko shares her insights into the law school, med school, and MFA application processes!
Law School Admissions- what is most important when applying, and is it just a numbers game? (2:00)
What is most important in JD admissions—your LSAT, GPA, personal statement, or experiences? According to Jessica, schools are looking for LSAT and GPAs within their “range.” In addition to that, your personal statement is very important—and not just as an introduction to who you are, but also as a sample of your writing. Writing is very important for a career in law.
What differentiates those who get accepted from those who don’t? (9:00)
This is a lot about being a match/fit. They consider your background, experiences, interests—they’re looking for differing perspectives, differing reasons for coming to law.
What prospective law students need to consider before applying (12:00)
In years past, people may have heard the line “law is a good foundation” (i.e., it was considered a worthwhile “all-purpose” training for careers other than law). Jessica considers whether this is true, and advises applicants to consider the cost, length of training, and job market before making a commitment to law school. Law school is a serious investment: go if you want to practice law; if you’re not sure, think twice about investing the money and time.
How to approach the optional diversity essay (19:10)
This is an increasingly important part of the application. Jessica discusses how to use this essay to complement your personal statement. She also addresses how to think about this essay productively even if you don’t feel you’ve faced many obstacles in your life.
The importance of the personal statement (23:30)
How to write about what really motivates you to pursue law—not what you imagine a faceless, nameless adcom wants to hear.
Are law school applications on the upswing? How has the recession/recovery affected admissions. (32:00)
Linda and Jessica discuss the recent Kaplan survey that predicts an upturn in applications, and Jessica provides some thoughts on the legal job market.
Med school applications: personal statement, meaningful experiences, etc (35:00)
How to think about your primary app as a whole, and use the experiences to complement the personal statement. And how to make your personal statement compelling, coherent, and clear.
The overlooked opportunity of secondary essays (39:00)
How to use secondaries to your best advantage—take the time to write strong essays, show your fit with the school. It can be easy to be burned out at this stage, but secondaries are a great opportunity. Take advantage!
Advice for those considering MFA programs (41:00)
An MFA can be expensive. To control your costs, consider the cost — including cost of living. Look into programs that offer teaching fellowships or other support. For applications, your writing sample is very important, since it shows your skills. In the personal statement, in addition to excellent writing, they’re looking for pleasant colleagues (not arrogant!).
Learn more about Jessica’s work (44:00)
Jessica’s novel, A Trial for Grace, based on an experience she had as a lawyer, is available on Amazon! It will be out soon as an audible book, too. You can also read her long-form reporting on the prison system in Rolling Stone.
• Jessica Pishko Bio
• JD/MBA Program at Penn Law
• Law school Admissions 101
• “High Desert Suicide: Was a Prison Guard Hazed to Death?” by Jessica Pishko.
• A Trial for Grace
• The 5-Step Guide to Successful Medical School Personal Statements, a webinar