The Short on Long-Term Planning: Should I Take “Easy A Courses”?

 As you you think about whether law school is right for you—or even if you already know it is—what can you be doing now, in college or beyond, to improve your chances of getting in? In this series, “The Short on Long-Term Planning,” jdMission Senior Consultant Mary Adkins offers tips on how to make smart moves in the pre-application stage.

I remember the first time a friend told me she had signed up for a certain class because it was “an easy A.”

That was in high school, and ever since, the Easy A has bugged me as a reason to take a course.

There are good reasons to enroll in harder courses. Maybe a certain subject is fascinating, or a recommended professor teaches the class or the class is important for a certain area of study. The fear—I get it—is that based on GPA alone, you could seemingly be penalized in the law school application process for having selected a more rigorous schedule.

But the alternative has drawbacks in the application process, too. Forget the personal toll and missed opportunities that come with choosing your courses based on perceived ease, and forget that this perceived “ease” is often misperceived (for example, when that “Sociology of Bowling” course is suddenly graded on a curve). Law schools get your transcript. That means that when they check out the basis of your 3.7, here’s what they see: “Sociology of Bowling.”

“Sociology of Bowling” may be incredibly interesting, even challenging. Next to “Organic Chemistry,” or “Advanced Statistics” or a seminar on Milton, it could even be a plus. You are a person with varied interests, and one who seizes opportunities to study offbeat topics. But when your transcript touts classes such as “Art 101,” “Wine Tasting,” “Ultimate Frisbee” and “Home Decorating,” your Easy A strategy becomes pretty transparent.

The best solution? A good spread. Do not choose to take two or three courses known to be particularly difficult in the same semester—and not even just because your GPA may take a hit, but because you have no real reason to overburden yourself if you do not have to. You will get more out of school if you have time to sleep and finish the reading each week.

Likewise, avoid enrolling in all the fun, easier courses during the same semester. If you are taking “Olive Oil Sampling” now, save “Foot Massage” for spring. Seek to be challenged without being overwhelmed, and your transcript will show that you are a serious student who is neither a slave nor a butcher to GPA.

This guest post is authored by Mary Adkins, Senior Consultant at jdMission, a professional law school admissions consulting firm, specializing in helping law school applicants identify and showcase the strongest aspects of their candidacy in their application.