Less than one year ago, I was taking a Blueprint course in preparation for the October LSAT; this week, I am beginning my introductory course at Columbia Law. While I could not be happier with how my cycle turned out, there are a few things I wish I had known going into the application process. I hope that you can benefit from my experiences and learn from my mistakes!
1. Keep Track of your Paperwork
As soon as you make an LSAC account, you’ll be inundated by a flood of paperwork. I received close to one hundred separate marketing packets from law schools around the country. Every now and then, I would receive an envelope with information about a school to which I was actually planning on applying, and stick it in the pile of letters from Real Gud Law School Technical Institute. Soon, I had a stack of papers about two feet high on the corner of my desk. Once I started getting accepted to schools, that stack grew even taller.
Unfortunately, I didn’t organize everything very well. When I started getting in touch with schools about financial aid, etc., I often had a difficult time tracking down pertinent information in my leaning tower of papers. I would have saved a lot of time and effort if I had a better system of managing the materials I received, and I urge you to create such a system when you start getting law school mailings. For especially important documents, such as merit aid offers, I suggest scanning the pages so that you have a digital copy of the original.
2. Be Prepared for Interviews
I was not expecting to interview as part of the application process (what is this, medical school?). But I quickly discovered that schools often set up alumni or administrative interviews with students. The first time I interviewed, I didn’t really know what to expect and I wasn’t as prepared as I should’ve been. In hindsight, it would have been beneficial to come up with a few more questions about the institution, and to have spent more time practicing my answers. If a school asks you to interview, I recommend doing a few hours of in-depth preparation. Usually, other applicants will post information about interviews online, so that can be a good place to start. Also, if you’re doing an online interview via Skype, make sure you choose a good location. I didn’t have a strong connection for one of mine, and my dog interrupted me during another—real rookie moves.
3. Take it Easy
This last point should be pretty appealing. Taking the LSAT and applying to law school is a long, drawn out process that can be extremely stressful. After I applied, the first thing I would do every morning was check for status updates on my applications. I would spend hours thinking about the potential ramifications of getting into certain schools. Needless to say, I expended far more mental energy than was necessary and probably earned myself a few grey hairs.
After you’ve applied, you should really try to relax and enjoy yourself. There is no need to worry about what could happen at that point—just wait for the schools to get back to you and then start considering your options.
I hope this advice will help you navigate your way through applying to law school. With organization, preparation, and relaxation, you should be able to avoid many parts of the application process that I found most unpleasant—good luck!