November is a big month, no matter how you measure it (well, except for number of days, where it’s slightly below average). You have Thanksgiving, which, as I’ve discussed before, is a bit of a bastard holiday. You have National Novel Writing Month, where the next generation of bad novels are completed in less time than it takes the LSAC to get you your LSAT score. And you have Movember, the epic struggle of men across the country to grow a moustache without giving in to the inevitable ridicule of their friends and associates.
And, finally, you have the unofficial deadline for getting your applications in to law schools “early.”
Many Early Action/Early Decision deadlines have passed, or will in the next few days. And Thanksgiving break marks the biggest glut of applications the law schools will see. If you’re not in ahead of (or with) this hump, you can unofficially consider your application to be “later” (as opposed to “late,” which will come after Christmas).
As most are aware (or at least should be), law school admissions are on a rolling basis. As law school applications come in, they’re considered. They don’t wait for everyone to apply before filling up their class; some of your future classmates will already be admitted before you even get your application submitted. I guarantee you they’re enjoying senior year a lot more than you are.
As seats fill up, though, law schools can be a little pickier. Instead of competing for 150 seats, you’re now competing for 75. And then 50. And then 25.
And then 2.
On top of that, scholarship money isn’t a bottomless, Scrooge McDuck-style bin. There’s a finite amount, and they start giving it out when they start accepting students. So not only are you less likely to be admitted if you apply later, you’re also likely to see less scholarship money in your acceptance package.
What’s the moral of this story? Bust your butt to get your apps in ASAP, preferably before Thanksgiving.
But there are some of you out there for whom this just isn’t possible. Should you abandon all hope?
Not at all. While marginal candidates benefit from applying early, a candidate who has numbers around the law schools’ medians won’t be rejected because of a late application (though that starts to change sometime in late January/early February). If you have yet to receive an LSAT score (and are registered for December), you can still find admission to any number of schools that reflect your LSAT/GPA scores.
But I’d be lying if I said you’re in as good shape as you would be had you applied before then.
So finish that novel, stroke your moustache, and eat some turkey. But don’t forget to work on your applications. And if your applications won’t be going out until well into 2013, it’s time to consider a year off before law school.