From Inside the Admissions Office

What  makes the people in the admissions office admit you instead of other candidates?  Would you like to hear what the people reviewing all these files  really think of your application  What makes your personal statement stand out? How does your transcript and course work stack up against others?   Should you still apply even if your LSAT score doesn’t fall within the median percentile for your dream school?

Our latest podcast, Secrets from Inside the Admissions Office: Tips to Help You Apply & Get In, takes you behind the scenes to hear what the people who make the decisions on your application really think.  So what do the admissions officers at top law schools like to see in applicants? Here’s a few samples from our podcast . . .

Anne Richard, Senior Assistant Dean for Admissions, University of Virginia School of Law wants to really see who a candidate is through their application.  How can you do that?  Choose the recommenders who can speak to who you are in the classroom.  “In terms of recommendations, it’s important to get recommendations that will be meaningful, so to get them from faculty members or work supervisors, people who really know an applicant’s abilities, character, or work ethic.  Much more important to get those kinds of recommendations from faculty members and supervisors than it is to try to get a recommendation from the White House, from somebody who doesn’t know you but who has a bigger name.”

Andy Cornblatt, Dean of Admissions, Georgetown Law School , says it’s really difficult to pull off calling yourself  ‘special’.  Let your recommenders highlight the best of your personality.  “Sometimes, more than you think, there are… there’s real insight and real thoroughness in what a recommender… as a recommender talks about a particular applicant.  And that kind of insight can make all the difference.  So…  And of course, the advantage of that is it’s not self-serving.  You’re not declaring yourself special – your professor’s calling you special.  Your employer’s calling your special.  Your coach is calling you special.  Your director is calling you special.  All of that, and telling me why you’re special, that resonates.  So, to the extent that an applicant can work with… now, a recommender is going to say whatever he or she wants, but to the extent that an applicant can emphasize to the recommender, ‘Look, this matters.  I would appreciate if you could talk about x, y, z,’ and then just let them talk, that sometimes can really help, and help one applicant, maybe, stand out more than another.  Not all the time, but more than you think, to where then I’ll say, ‘Wow.  Okay, if you… if you’re talking that way about her, that gives me a much better sense of who she is, in a positive way.’”

Make sure you pay attention to the little things! Ann Perry, Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid, The University of Chicago Law School says she sees way too many typos and issues with students’ writing.  That type of carelessness will take you out of the running.  “It’s just making sure that they have attention to detail when putting together their application materials.  One of my biggest pet peeves is if there’re too many typos in that material, because . . .  lawyers need to have good attention to detail.  And if an applicant is having issues with that, that’s not a good sign for a future lawyer.”
Nancy Rapoport, The Gordon Silver Professor of Law, William S Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas wants to see applicants with a strong undergraduate course load. “I want them to have taken something demanding in college.  I don’t care what it is; I don’t care if it’s nuclear physics; I don’t care if is arcane English history – but it has to have been hard and it has to have involved some serious analytical skills, because that’s what we do in law school.  And if they’ve taken something that is not particularly demanding, then I worry about their ability to keep up.  So a rigorous undergraduate program is important.”
Listen to the full show to hear a lot more!

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