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 reasons for choosing a school.
Just as students like to be courted and wooed when they are looking for schools, colleges and universities also love to be loved. The way they figure it, if you love them enough, then not only will you readily accept their offer of admission, but maybe you will even donate money to the school after you graduate. When you submit your application, it is important to make it clear to your reader why you have selected their school, and what your motivation is for the selection. Tell them why you want to go to their school by citing sound, reasonable, and authentic reasons. Unfortunately, location and convenience do not fall into this category, so what does?
- A specific focus or specialty
Suppose that you have decided that you want to practice family law once you earn your degree. Your essay supports this thesis, your extracurricular activities point to this focus, and you know attorneys in the field with whom you have discussed the pros and cons. Columbia, the University of Michigan, and Indiana University all have excellent programs and are all on your list. If family law is your goal, then let these schools know that the reason you are interested in their program is that it is a perfect fit for your educational and professional aspirations. Of all the reasons to choose a school, this ranks amongst the most important.
- Location, but only as framed around the idea that you are established in the community and therefore have the connections that you need in order to land a job post graduation
We’ve all read how the numbers of attorneys sometimes surpass the number of available jobs. Law schools like to know that once they have graduated you from their program, you have a plan for how to get a job. As in all job markets, networking can be one of the best ways to find a job once you graduate. Particularly if you are an older applicant with ties in your community, attending school where you are established makes the most sense.
- Desire to continue at the same school where you have done your undergraduate work
See the note above about schools loving to be loved. If you have so enjoyed your undergraduate work at Cal, and can’t imagine leaving Berkeley for any other spot, then applying to Boalt Hall is an easy decision, and one which the admissions committee will embrace.
When writing your essay, you don’t want to waste a lot of space with effusive, over the top accolades about the school, but it makes sense to let them know that the reason you are applying and are interested in attending is because you have gone through a well thought out, logical, and substantive process when making your list of schools, and their school has risen to the top of the list. Get this point across and your application will get the attention that it deserves.