uscprelaw

Deciding on a School

In #INTHEKNOW, PreLaw Blog on April 7, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Getting accepted into law school by itself is very exciting! And if you are lucky enough to get multiple acceptances to schools of interest then you are going to have to narrow it down and make a decision. At the end of the day it may just be the one school that feels right to you is where you end up going. But if you haven’t experienced such a feeling here are some factors that you should consider when making a decision:

  • Ranking. When we are applying it is easy to get caught up in the ranking of the school. While that is a factor that should be considered (after all employers do consider it), it is important to note that going to the best ranked school is NOT a great way to decide where you will spend the next 3 years. Instead rankings should be considered in tiers (ie: top 20 versus top 30). That way you can make sure you are looking at comparably prestigious schools without allowing it to consume your decision-making process.
  • Cost. Law school is expensive and the cost just continues to go up. That means that anything that could possibly make it less expensive should definitely be a factor to be considered. Look into scholarships and do not be afraid to ask schools for money. Look at the general cost of tuition and ask about the anticipated cost of attendance for all three years.
  • Location. This is pretty obvious factor to consider but it is important to keep in mind that you need to think about this not just for where you want to spend 3 years of law school but where you want to live after law school. Think about where you ultimately want to practice  in the long run. While going to law school in New York does not mean you have to work in New York upon graduation, there are certainly going to be more opportunities with New York based employers. If you want to stay in CA, maybe a California school would be better than an east coast school. That being said there are plenty of people who find jobs in different cities, states, and countries upon graduation. Talk to the career services office at the schools you are interested to see how many graduates secure employment in the place you want to live.
  • Future employment. How many students have employment secured upon graduation? What is the career services office like? How many employers come to the OCI’? Does the school provide a lot of networking opportunities? While future employment prospects may seem so far off and easy to ignore at the time being, this is something that is REALLY important in the grander scheme of things and should be a huge factor in your decision-making process.
  • Environment. Would you prefer to be in a small class or a bigger one? Does the school have a more competitive or less competitive reputation and how will this affect how you perform as a student? Remember not only do you want to go to a school but, more importantly, you want to go to school where you will do well. It is better to go to a lesser ranked school and be top of the class than a better ranked school and be near the bottom. You need to consider the environment of the school (talk to students, look at retention rate from 1L to 2L year, etc.) and determine what environment will be best for you and allow you to thrive.

If you have any questions or need help deciding on a school you can contact us at prelaw@usc.edu!

Being on the Waitlist

In #INTHEKNOW, PreLaw Blog on March 31, 2014 at 2:20 pm

First off, a waitlist is NOT a rejection. Many students get in off the waitlist and there has been a recent trend in higher numbers of students being waitlisted (and likewise being pulled from the waitlist). Things to keep in mind if you have been waitlisted:

  • Is this a school you really want to go to? If not, don’t waste your time and don’t waste the schools time. If this is a school that you would drop everything else, even if they called you a week into 1L year, to attend, then it’s worth putting in the effort to show continued interest. But if it is not then your spot on the waitlist may take away from another student who would want to go there.
  • Consider this a “second bite at the apple.” Admission offices do not want to waste time on an applicant that has not shown that they want to be there; want to offer as few offers as possible in order to fill a seat. Do not worry about why they are on the list but what you can do to get off of it.  The “second bite” is showing the admissions office that you actually want to be there – allow them to determine that there is a high likelihood that you would accept their offer. Therefore, as previously mentioned, if you do not want to accept their offer, DO NOT WASTE THEIR TIME.
  • The nature of the school’s waitlist. Does the school have a preferred waitlist or not? Some schools rank their waitlist and may tell candidates where they stand. If this is the case, if is a fair question to ask how deep they went into their waitlist from the previous year. You have a right to know the likelihood of being accepted off the waitlist, but, that being said, every admission cycle is different. Most schools, however, do not rank their waitlist. Look at the school’s yield range, if it is lower they will likely pull from their waitlist.
  • What you can do to show continued interest. If a school you are waitlisted to is one of your top choices then make sure to follow the instructions the school gives you exactly. This likely means a Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI). Tell the school what about their school specifically makes you want to receive a J.D. from there! Now is the time to be as school specific as possible. And if you are having a hard time being school specific then you probably aren’t serious enough about this school anyways. You can send more LOR’s or resume updates but make sure you are giving them something different and/or new than what they already have.
  • Stay positive and patient!

If you have any questions feel free to email us at prelaw@usc.edu

Tackling the Personal Statement

In #INTHEKNOW, PreLaw Blog on March 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm

A law school personal statement is one of the most open-ended papers you will ever have to write.  The basic instructions are: tell me something about yourself in two pages. Because most schools instructions are so open-ended, many students find this to be the most daunting part of the application. Here are some tips to get you started on your personal statement:

  1. You don’t have to tell them why you want to go to law school.  Some of the best personal statements have nothing to do with the law.  A good personal statement is exactly that: personal.  It should be sincere, from the heart, and about a topic you really care about.  That being said, it is a good idea to bring the reader back to the present and mention law school, usually in the final paragraph of your essay.
  2. Follow the instructions! While most schools do not have a specific  prompt, some schools do and if they ask you a question, make sure you answer it! Also, pay attention to the number of pages each school allows and what they recommend. While it is usually going to work out that you have a one-size-fits-all personal statement, some schools may want four pages and won’t be happy when they only get two!
  3. First impressions matter.  Spend time coming up with a good first sentence that really grabs your reader’s attention.  Admissions officers read upwards of fifty personal statements a day.  They are pressed for time.  Make your statement stand out right away, without sounding gimmicky or scripted.  If you can’t keep a straight face while saying the words out loud, don’t write them.
  4. Stay focused.  Two pages is not a lot of space, so don’t cram too many topics into your statement.  Come up with a theme and stick to it.  If the school accepts optional essays, write about another topic there.  Remember that you can also submit a resume with your application, which will contain information on jobs and internships not mentioned in your personal statement. Therefore, make sure that your personal statement is NOT a reiteration of your resume!
  5. This is your “interview.”  Law schools don’t do personal interviews, so your personal statement is your only chance to show an admissions officer that you are a person, not Applicant #2367.  Tell them something that they would not otherwise know from reading your application.

And remember the prelaw advising office will read 2 drafts of your personal statement! Send them to prelaw@usc.edu

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.