The Top 15 Things Every Law School Applicant Should Know is a series that will teach you the ins and outs of successful law school applications. Stay tuned for the remaining elements. This week we’ll discuss the importance of timing in the law school admissions process.
My brother’s favorite saying is, “Go early and go high.” This is the way he enjoys his hiking – pure, pristine, and in solitude. It is how he best appreciates the experience. In the case of law school (and really, all undergraduate and graduate) admissions, the ancillary sentiment is, “Write well and submit early.” There are several reasons for this, and here they are.
- While the deadlines for law schools vary (for the class beginning in the fall of 2013, Harvard’s deadline is December 1, 2012 whereas Santa Clara’s is February 1, 2013), it makes sense to work on your applications in parallel and try to submit more or less all at once. You will most likely be using the same, perhaps slightly modified, personal statement for every school, so there is no reason to drag out the process. Who wants to spend six months stressing out over it? Just get it done.
- Many schools will fill their class on a rolling basis, meaning if they read your application in September and they like it, you could be admitted in October or November. If you know you want to go to law school and you know you want to go the following fall, wouldn’t you rather start thinking about your options sooner rather than later? This gives you plenty of time to make your decisions, explore financial aid and other methods of funding your law school education, and preparing for this new chapter in your life. In addition, there is generally more financial aid available earlier in the application cycle than later, so your chances of obtaining assistance is greater the earlier you apply.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, part of the application equation is considering your audience. Admissions committees are made up of real people, who read every single application submitted. In a typical year, Berkeley receives 6000-8000 applications. Someone has to read them all, and it stands to reason that the enthusiasm the readers have for the first 3000 or so applications may wane a bit by the time they get to the last 500 or so. It’s basic human nature. Are you more alert and attentive at the beginning of a lecture than at the end? Are you more engaged when you start reading the New York Times, or after you’ve spent two hours poring over it? You want your application to land on the adcom member’s desk when they are fresh and excited, not when they are spent and exhausted.
We know that the process can be intimidating and it can be tempting to procrastinate. Professional admissions consultants can help you organize your thoughts, brainstorm about your personal statement, and assist you with getting your applications submitted in a timely manner. The earlier, the better!