uscprelaw

What to Expect When Expecting Law School Decisions

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2017 at 12:48 pm

By: Leizl Hinajon, 3L USC Gould School of Law 

The February 1st deadline for most law schools has passed and schools are well into the application review process. Though you can still send in applications with rolling admissions, you should be playing the waiting game now.

This time can be more stressful than writing the application because you have put your faith in the trusty hands of the Admissions Office.  You may be thinking: How long does it take to read my application?  How do I compare to other applicants? WHEN AM I GOING TO GET MY DECISION?!

These are common questions that may race across your mind with a few weeks (or months for you early birds) of radio silence.  Here are some things you can do while you wait:

  1. STOP CHECKING LAW SCHOOL FORUMS. You should know by now that there are a lot of trolls online, so constantly checking for new admittees will do nothing but make you worry. You will get your decision in due time, but you can control how much you stress over it.
  2. Write a Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI). Whether or not you have been waitlisted, it is always good to see an applicant express further interest in said law school.  The letter should not be general, but be specifically-tailored to the law school and give something extra that was not already stated in your application.  Basically, the law school prints out your completed application once it is received and creates a file. ANY extra emails/documents you send via the Admissions Email will be printed out and stuck in your file for the next cycle of review.  If you don’t have anything new to add, DO NOT waste the Admissions Office’s time by reiterating what is already in your application.  Timing is everything, so make sure you are not pre-maturely sending this letter.
  3. Send an updated resume or transcript. Similar to reasons for sending in an LOCI, you can send an updated resume for any significant changes in your employment that gives the Admissions Office additional information that will enhance your candidacy. Same applies to your transcript, if you received new or updated grades that boost your GPA.
  4. Request a Letter of Support.  Since applying, you have probably done a lot of research on the law schools you’ve applied to and met some people that went to the law school.  If there was an alumni you met or you have a new supervisor at work that loves your work, you can request that this person send in a letter of support directly to the Admissions Office.  This can help boost your application from the maybe pile to the yes pile. Remember, a general letter wont do much, but a letter from an alumni saying you would be a good fit at the law school or a supervisor that can attest to a new development (think promotion) would help show you are continuing to build up your law school candidacy, even though your application is already in.
  5. Come to the Pre-Law Wednesday Walk-Ins.  If you have any questions about your application cycle or these supplemental documents, you can come to Wednesday Walk-Ins.  They are usually from 9:30AM -1:00PM unless there is an event.

Soon enough, you will be getting admissions decisions and you will need to weigh your options.  Stay tuned for our next blogpost: You’ve Gotten In, Now Which Law School is Right for You?

 

 

 

Preparing for the 2016 USC Law Fair

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2016 at 11:04 am

The 2016 USC Law Fair is taking place next Monday, November 7, 2016 in McCarthy Quad!  The Law Fair is a great opportunity to speak to representatives from over 100 ABA-approved law schools, gather more information about law schools and test prep companies, find out about pre-law opportunities and internships, and win test prep scholarships and prizes. We encourage all pre-law students to attend, whether you are currently applying to law school or whether you are just beginning to explore the possibility of pursuing a career in law.

If you are planning to attend the Fair, consider the following items during your preparation:

  • Do your research. Familiarize yourself with the law schools, which will be attending the Fair.  The list of participating schools can be found here: https://dornsife.usc.edu/list-of-law-schools-attending/.   Create a list of schools you want to speak with at the Fair and conduct basic research on the schools, including admission criteria, location, size, and any specific programs that interest you.
  • Ask questions. The Law Fair provides you with a great opportunity to speak with representatives from the law schools, so this is a perfect time to ask any questions you might have about that particular school.  Asking questions shows that you are genuinely interested in the school by engaging the representative in lively discussion.  Don’t forget to ask if the school provides application fee waivers!
  • Timing.  If you plan to speak to many law schools and other organizations at the Fair, allow yourself enough time to visit each table and ask questions.  You want to give yourself enough time before class or after class to visit each of your targeted schools.
  • Dress for success. Come to the Fair dressed appropriately so the law schools and other participating organizations are not distracted by your clothing.  Students may dress in business casual since you will be speaking will law school representatives, but we encourage all students to attend the Fair if they are on campus!

Visit our website for more information regarding the Law Fair: https://dornsife.usc.edu/law-fair-2016/.  We look forward to seeing you all at the Law Fair! If you have any specific questions that can’t be answered by reading through our website, email us at prelaw@usc.edu.

Understanding your LSAT Score and How it Affects your Application

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2016 at 11:33 am

Breaking Down Your LSAT Score
LSAC gives you your LSAT score percentile. This will give you a better idea of how you did in comparison to other students who took the test. Log into LSAC. Click on the LSAT tab then the LSAT Status link. The IRR Additional Information has percentiles from past 3 years and the Conversion Table has a number of questions right for your score.

Applying Smartly
Before receiving your score you probably had a pretty good idea of what schools you wanted to apply to based on your GPA and your practice LSAT scores. Now that you have an ACTUAL LSAT score, you can better assess within which schools you are competitive.

Look up law school rankings (http://www.top-law-schools.com/rankings.html) and on each law school admission page, you can see a nice breakdown of LSAT and GPA ranges for each school. Make sure you know your LSAC GPA since it may be different from your GPA listed on your transcript. Now you can compare your LSAT score and GPA to each school’s admission statistics and analyze whether you fall above or below their 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles.

Depending on where you fall within the school’s admission statistics, you can categorize your school list as follows:

• “Safety” schools: BOTH your numbers are above the school’s 75th percentile. This is a good way to get scholarship opportunities.
Competitive Schools: BOTH your numbers are within the school’s 25th and 75th percentiles. **Not a guarantee of outright admission**
Schools where you are on the fence: one of your numbers is within the school’s 25th and 75th percentiles (or above) and the other number is below the 25th percentile. Look at the ranges of each number, a tighter range means they put more weight on that number. Hopefully the better of your two numbers is the one they weigh more and if not, you become less competitive. This does not mean that you are not competitive but you may need to compensate with other factors such as resume, personal statement, etc. If there is a reason that one of your numbers is significantly lower than the other consider writing an addenda (see below).
Reach schools: BOTH your numbers are below the school’s 25th percentile.

You should still consider applying to schools that would be considered a “reach.” However, do not apply to only “reach” schools. Have a good mix of schools in the categories listed above.

When to Retake the LSAT
In reality, most people see very little improvement in their score after retaking the test. Remember that all schools can see all of your LSAT scores through LSAC, and many schools will average your scores. Therefore, really think about how much you would be likely to improve. Also keep in mind that many people score a few points worse (or on the lower end of the range they had been scoring) on the day of the actual test than in practice tests. Make an honest assessment of your studying and test-taking efforts the first time around and determine you should retake based on the following considerations:

• Did you study hard the first time? Did you underestimate the test and prep for it like the SAT? Or did you really dedicate yourself to studying? If you underestimated the test, consider retaking.
• Did you have a “bad day” on exam day? Recognize that a complete disasters is much more severe than a mild disaster. A complete disaster is something like showing up late to the test, being deathly ill, dealing with a motorcycle gang outside the test center. Hopefully you cancelled your score, but consider retaking if you didn’t. A mild disaster, on the other hand, is where maybe you were just distracted or normal test anxiety. Mild disasters might just repeat themselves the next time you take the test and then it is probably not worth retaking.
• Did you prepare enough? Did you prepare LONG enough? And were you smart about how you prepared? The LSAT is one of the harder, if not hardest standardized tests. Preparation may take some people longer than 3-4 months to get their best score. If you didn’t devote the requisite time to it, consider retaking it.
• Admissions Policies of Target Law School(s). Do they average or take the higher score? If they average, any improvement you see will effectively be cut in half, so think seriously about whether retaking is worth it.

When to Write an Addendum
This is not a time to make excuses just give the facts! Consider writing an addendum to your application with respect to your LSAT score if:

• You only have 1 score and something terrible happens on test day. If you are just a bad standardized test taker, be careful because you don’t want your addendum to sound like an excuse for poor performance. But if you are normally a good test taker and can provide evidence of this (i.e. old tests), you can consider writing an addendum about the disaster.
• You retake and there is more than a 3 point difference between the scores.

If you are happy and satisfied with your LSAT score, CELEBRATE! But march forward to finalize the different components of your application so you can get those applications in!