3 Ways Law School Applicants Can Leverage the Holidays

These are the last few weeks for help on your applications, so stay focused.

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The holidays are rapidly approaching, and regardless of which, if any, winter holidays you are celebrating, school breaks and vacations make it all too easy to fall a couple weeks behind on your applications.

To best position yourself for admission to law school next fall, utilizing the time period from the middle of December through the beginning of January is crucial. It's the last chance you have to seek out help on your applications, especially if you have a tight timeframe.

[Follow this law school admissions timeline.]

Before you ring in the New Year, below are three ways you can optimize your time off and, ultimately, stay on track.

1. Wrap up recommendations: If you still need to request recommendations, do not delay any longer. Reaching professors and bosses will be difficult during the holidays, and you want to give them as much time as possible to write a thoughtful recommendation.

If you wait until after the holidays, you may risk missing deadlines at the end of January and in early February. Furthermore, since law school applications are rolling, the earlier your file is complete, the better.

If you've already requested recommendations, now is a great time to check if they have been submitted to lsac.org. If not, send a polite reminder, asking your recommenders to complete the recommendations as soon as possible. Ask if you can do anything to help, such as providing any additional details about the academic or professional work you did for them.

2. Brush up your essays: During the holidays, you will likely be surrounded by family and close friends. Friends and family typically love to help you out however they can, so take advantage of your time with them to gain their feedback on your essays.

While they may not be experts on what will appeal to admissions committees, they can provide valuable comments on the structure and flow of your essays, and they can proofread final drafts. They may even remember personal anecdotes that would make great additions to your essays.

Having a fresh pair of eyes on your essays is also a great way to ensure that the content of your personal essay does not overlap with that of your diversity statement or any optional statements. The most common mistake I see in terms of essay strategy is repetition—when applicants essentially use the same content to answer different questions.

[Avoid five other common mistakes on law school application essays.]

While this strategy may save you time, you should leverage each essay question to show off different facets of yourself and your experiences. Failing to utilize each of those opportunities could cost you admission to your dream school. As your family and friends are reading your essays, ask them to consider if each essay has its own identity.

3. Do your homework: When you need a break from the holiday rush, take the time to research individual schools. I encourage law school applicants to customize each of their essays to the schools they're targeting, which can help ensure they maximize their chances of admission. By referencing the specific program to which you are applying, you communicate your dedication and interest to that school.

These are some of the best ways to use the holiday time to your advantage in the law school admissions process. The assistance of family, friends, and seasoned admissions counseling professionals can be invaluable during this process, helping you put your best foot forward.

 As always, if you have any questions, you can contact me at shawn.oconnor@stratusprep.com or @shawnpoconnor. Check back next week to learn what not to do when asking for recommendations.