We posed questions to admissions officials at the University of Kentucky College of Law regarding the application process, what they look for in applicants and what sets their school apart. These are their responses:
1. What can applicants do to set themselves apart from their peers?
First, don't approach this process by trying too hard to "stand out": candidates who do usually stand out in a bad way! You are applying to professional school, so act professionally. Research the schools and be honest with yourself about where you are competitive numerically. Present a complete application with no errors of any kind. Make sure you name the school correctly: Even if you don't call us the "University of Louisville" we don't like applications to the "University of Kentucky School of Law" instead of the "University of Kentucky College of Law." Lawyers must pay attention to detail so you need to as well.
Please, no snitty emails, even to lower level staff; they always share them. Don't call or E-mail with questions easily answered on our websites. If you do contact us, make it a professional communication. If you have a real reason for your interest in my law school, be sure to state it somewhere in your app. If you don't, no need to reach for one by quoting the website or viewbook;
Apply at the early end of the cycle but restrain yourself from E-mailing repeatedly to ask when your file will be reviewed.
Write a thoughtful personal statement that truly focuses on who you are and is not on a topic suggested to you by a book or website. If you read it on the web, thousands of other applicants did as well and will be sending us essentially the same statement.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
We're looking first and foremost for a well-written piece that tells me something more about the applicant that what is in their résumé. Tell me a story with a beginning, middle and end that is not on one of the standard topics so that we want to read all the way to the end to know what happens! Grammar, as well as punctuation and spelling, are important. A few bad mistakes: "less" when it should be "fewer," "it's" when it should be "its," "graduated high school" instead of "graduated from high school." Standard topics to be avoided: Your summer/semester abroad, a profile of the disadvantaged person you met in community service, a recitation of your résumé, a bio of your grandmother/grandfather's colorful life or deprived background that you did not experience yourself, your success in argumentation since the age of 3, a retread of your college essay that focuses on who you were as a senior in high school with little to say about who you are now, or an essay written in response to a "prompt" such as a quote. Also avoid the cutesy, "trying to stand out" essay that is flip and cool; most admissions officers/law school faculty unfortunately are neither, and you can come across as overly impressed with your own coolness and not that serious about law school. You can be funny, if that is your personality—just don't force it. Finally, we all hate to hear that you applied to law school because of a TV show! Don't tack on a "why I want to go to X law school" at the end unless it is really something important to you, and be careful when you tell us this law school is your first choice that you have the correct school listed! Be very careful about tone: You want to come across as someone who will take the work of law school seriously but is not overly impressed with their own accomplishments.
3. How important is the applicant's LSAT score? How do you weight it against undergraduate GPA and work experience? Which of these carry the most weight? The least?
The LSAT is our only consistent standard, so it is important. Two polysci majors with the same GPA from the same college can have very different transcripts, so the LSAT helps us evaluate what you have learned and what skills you have that should translate into success in law school. There are generally fewer candidates with low GPAs and high LSATs than with high GPAs and low LSATs (low and high meaning relative to a given school's published medians), so at least at UK Law we tend to admit a higher percentage of the former but a higher number of the latter.