uscprelaw

Waitlisted… Now What?

In #INTHEKNOW, PreLaw Blog on April 6, 2016 at 10:32 am

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 attend? If not, don’t waste your time and don’t waste the school’s time by remaining on the waitlist. If you have been waitlisted at your one of your top schools for which you would drop everything to attend, then it is worth staying on the waitlist to show your continued interest. However, if you have no intention on attending the school if you were accepted, then it is better to remove yourself from the waitlist since you will be taking another applicant’s spot on the list. Don’t just remain on the waitlist in the hopes of being accepted just to say that you were accepted at the school. Be considerate of other applicants and truly reflect on your interest in the school at this point.
  • What you can do to show continued interest. If you are waitlist at one of your top schools, make sure to follow the instructions the school provides you exactly. The school will likely require you to write a Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI). If this is required of you, explain to the school about why you especially want to go to attend and what makes you want to receive a J.D. from that specific school! Now is the time to be as school-specific as possible, so that you can show the school that you don’t want to just go to law school generally, but that you want to go to their school. If you are having a hard time expressing why you want to attend that specific school, then you might not really want to attend that school in the end. It can be beneficial to send additional Letters of Recommendation, resume updates, or emails of continued interest, but make sure you are giving them something different and/or new than what they already have. Do not overload the admissions office with pesky daily emails and mailings, which might hurt, rather that advance your chances of being accepted off the waitlist.
  • 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 attend that school; they want to offer as few offers as possible in order to fill a seat. Do not worry about why you are on the list but what you can do to get accepted 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 would not accept an offer, do not waste the school’s 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.
  • Stay positive and be patient! Hearing back from a school when you are waitlisted can be a lengthy process and can be very stressful, but stay positive and remain patient during this process!

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

What to Consider When Choosing a LSAT Prep Course

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2016 at 10:21 am

Though some students choose to self-study for the LSAT, there are many benefits in taking a LSAT prep course.  But what is the difference between each course and the companies that offer them? Here are some of the major considerations you should think about when researching and deciding on the LSAT prep course:

  1. Real LSAT Questions. Make sure the company you choose offers real LSAT questions.  Some companies will “create” their own questions to teach you the concepts, but a good LSAT Prep Company will provide the equivalent of  10 real practice LSAT exams to use throughout your course. The test questions may be provided in the LSAT test format (categorized by Logical Reasoning, Logic Games, and Reading Comprehension) or divided into the question types (such as Sufficient/Necessary Conditions).  Check the Prep Company’s website to make sure the materials used in the courses have licensed LSAT questions.
  2. Timed Mock LSATs.  LSAT prep courses will provided a way for you to track your progress. The best way to do this, however, is through taking a fully-timed simulated LSAT test. Some courses will ask you to take the test as “homework” to discuss at the next class, but this decreases the accuracy of your progress if you do not take the LSAT under timed conditions.  Classes that have built-in multiple timed LSAT practice exams are the most accurate in tracking your improvement.
  3. Live Course or Online Course.  Though online courses are convenient and less expensive, they also tend to be less effective than live courses.  In a live course, you have the ability to raise your hand and get an immediate response to your questions.  The nature of online courses makes it more likely that you will need to email you instructor after a session to get to the bottom of your confusion. Further, there is less one-on-one time with the instructor. Check the Test Prep Company’s website to figure out what type of class offering they have.
  4. Instructor rating. Some test prep companies require only a 80th percentile score (160s) and others require 99th (170s).  Some instructors have not even taken the LSAT or attended law school!  Be aware of the different requirements and check the Test Prep Company’s website to ensure the Instructor has scored in the range you are hoping to achieve.
  5. Student support. It is extremely important to see what resources are available beside the in-class sessions.  Does the Instructor have office hours after class?  Is a phone number provided, or just an email?  Some prep companies will also give you free access to supplemental materials with extended explanations if you are struggling in a certain area.

Other considerations are: class size, repeat policy, and student reviews (or a successful track record).

If you are still unsure if a LSAT prep course is for you, please stop by the Advising Office and check out our library of LSAT Prep Books.  Our library has a plethora of materials to familiarize you with the LSAT and help you decide if a prep course is right for you.

Prep Companies USC students have used in the past:
Blueprint:  www.blueprintprep.com
Kaplan:  www.kaptest.com
Princeton Review:  www.princetonreview.com/law/testprep
TestMasters:  www.testmasters.net
Get Prepped:  www.getprepped.com
PowerScore:  www.powerscore.com
ScoreItUp:  www.scoreitup.comFoxLSAT: https://www.foxlsat.com/

 

Opportunities to Enhance Your Law School Application

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2016 at 9:32 am

There are a number of ways to enhance your law school applications to make yourself stand out from the sea of applicants in which you can easily get lost. Getting involved in in extra-curricular activities, studying abroad, holding internships, and gaining valuable work experience are ways to distinguish yourself from another applicant who may have a highly similar academic profile.

Enhancements During Your Time at USC

If you choose to go straight through to law school, it is important to focus on enhancing your application while you are a student at USC. Here are some ways to enhance your application while you are a student at USC:

  • Take an active role in a student organization to show your leadership and organizational skills. Being an officer in an organization is much more impressive than simply being a member with no responsibilities. Therefore, if you are truly interested and dedicated to an organization or a cause, pursue that with passion and get involved as much as possible.
  • Pursue internships during the school year and/or summer in an area that interests you. You do not have to have a legal internship by any means in order for your internship to be meaningful. Regardless of the field in which you intern, you will gain interpersonal and communication skills, hopefully learn to enhance your analytical thinking and writing, and gain professional work experience, which are all valuable traits to possess in applying to law school.
  • Volunteering, like an internship, can also provide you with great experience before applying to law school.
  • Take advantage of research opportunities, writing contests, and other chances to showcase your writing and analytical thinking skills. Law schools are interested in students who possess strong critical thinking and clear and concise writing skills.

Gap Year(s)

One consideration you might have to make before applying to law school is whether you want to take time off before law school to work, travel, or to pursue other opportunities, or whether you want to go straight through to law school. If you choose to take time off before law school, it is important to do something constructive with your time, whether if it is taking an entry-level job in the legal industry to gain work experience, volunteer, or travel, for example. Students have taken time off before law school to work, travel, join the military, participate in Teach for America, teach English abroad, and join the Peace Corps. Your gap year(s) can provide a prime personal statement topic in which you can describe what you gained and learned during your time off before law school.

Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is a great way to experience a different culture and enhance your law school resume at the same time. Living abroad can provide you with a unique perspective and a backdrop to contrast the US legal system with those abroad. Of course, you should not study abroad solely because you think it will boost your application and you should not waste valuable time and space in your personal statement discussing how your time abroad was “life changing” because that will NOT enhance your application. If you are interested in studying abroad, however, and want to know if it can have the ability to enhance your application, here are some things you should consider:

  • The institution. When choosing a study abroad program, consider whether you would be directly enrolled in a foreign university with a foreign language component. Speaking a foreign language is always an asset and attending a foreign university (as opposed to a US University with a campus in a foreign country) allows you to immerse yourself in a foreign culture and language more fully.
  • Course options. What types of courses you would have the opportunity to take while studying abroad should be part of something you consider when deciding if and where to study abroad. Whether the program offers classes on political and legal systems in other nations, for example, could be enhance your interest and knowledge of various legal systems.
  • Internship opportunities, volunteer work, service-learning. What other types of opportunities can studying abroad provide for you besides merely enrolling in classes? A hands-on experience through an internship or volunteer work can provide you with more substantive material to discuss in your personal statement and resume.
  • Research. Does the opportunity allow you to engage in direct or independent research while you are there? Engaging in academic research will build your reading and writing skills, which are the basis of the legal profession. Problems Without Passports and SIT Nicaragua are some examples of research opportunity

There are some general things to note regarding activities, involvement, and work experience that can enhance your application:

  • Don’t forget that the most important and most heavily weighted part of your law school application is your academic credentials, your LSAT, and GPA. These enhancements will likely not turn an applicant with a low LSAT and low GPA score into a highly competitive applicant for a top-10 law school. Involvement in extra-curricular activities are meant to enhance the academic portion of your application, not to replace your academic statistics. These enhancements can boost your application profile to show the schools that you are bringing various experience, skill, and color to their newly admitted class!
  • Application enhancements can sometimes turn into a personal statement topic. It can be helpful to reflect on these enhancements when brainstorming for your personal statement since these enhancements are another chance for you to show a non-academic and a more personal, passionate side of you to the admissions committee.
  • Focus on the quality of your involvement, not quantity. Schools are likely more interested in an applicant who is deeply involved and committed to a pursuit, rather than an applicant who merely signs up for countless organizations and doesn’t commit time or effort to those varied pursuits.
  • Keep track of your involvement outside of school, so you can easily recall them when you are applying to school. Periodically, note on your resume or a separate document your various work experience, school involvement, volunteer experience, and/or honors and awards.

If you would like more information on ways to enhance your law school application, make an appointment to speak with a pre-law advisor or a pre-law intern, current USC Law students who have gone through your same experience. Call KAP 357 front desk at 213.740.2534 to make an appointment or alternatively, email us with questions at prelaw@usc.edu.

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