How to Make the Most of a Law School Visit

Class sizes, career services, and student activities can vary dramatically, so evaluate your choices.

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Author note: I am excited to announce an upcoming new feature of Law Admissions Lowdown! Once a month, I will provide personalized admissions advice to a reader who writes in with his or her profile. To be considered, E-mail your profile to shawn.oconnor@stratusprep.com. Please include your undergraduate institution, undergraduate GPA, and LSAT score (if you have one), as well as a very brief description of your extracurricular activities/leadership positions, community service experience, and any special or unique factors in your background. You can also include 1-2 short questions you have about your application.

If you are chosen, I will give you a pseudonym to protect your privacy. If I don't feature you this month, keep an eye out; you may be featured next month!

Over the next few months, you may be planning trips to law schools. Whether you are trying to decide between schools to which you have already been admitted or are gathering valuable information about schools to which you will apply in the fall, here are some tips for making the most of your trip.

[Follow this law school admissions timeline.]

If you're a prospective student: Early in the application process, or even before you start, you may want to visit a few schools to decide if they make your short list.

Applying to law school can be expensive, costing hundreds or more in applications fees, so visiting schools about which you are unsure can be very valuable.

Prior to visiting as a prospective student, call the admissions office to arrange a tour and class visit, if possible. Your participation in an official tour and class visit is recorded and demonstrates your strong interest in the school, which could make all the difference when you apply.

If you have the opportunity to schedule a voluntary or informational interview, seize it. Taking advantage of an interview opportunity reinforces your commitment to the school.

Take these interviews as seriously as you would any other interview; prepare extensively and do mock interviews to practice. Ensure your interviewer will walk away with a strong impression of you by conveying your story in a compelling fashion.

During your visit, try not to let the awe-inspiring (or underwhelming) facilities distract you; stay focused on what really matters. While a grandiose library may be impressive, pay closer attention to how happy and collaborative the students are and how involved they are in the school and in extracurricular activities. Is there a sense of community, both within the law school and within the broader university?

Also, look into the school's career services offerings, which can vary dramatically. Lastly, if possible, sit it on a few classes, and pay special attention to class size in second and third year classes. While first year classes will be around the same size at most schools, classes in the later years can range from intimate seminars to larger lectures, depending on the school.

[Get more advice on how to choose a law school.]

If you're an admitted student: After you have been accepted to a school, it is imperative that you visit, if you have not already done so, to confirm your decision to attend. Approach your visit with the attention to detail that you would bring to any other major life decision, evaluating student involvement, academic and career services, class sizes, and location.

Since you will not need to interview during this visit, use that extra time to meet with financial aid officers to negotiate the best financial aid package. You should also always set aside time to look into housing options, both on campus and off campus.

Have you visited any law schools yet? What experiences (good or bad) have you had? Let me know in the comments; E-mail me at shawn.oconnor@stratusprep.com, or contact me via Twitter at @shawnpoconnor.

Check back next Monday for five unique and unusual uses for a law degree.