Prepare From Freshman Year to Apply to Law School

Skills you build freshman year can become fodder for a strong law school application senior year.

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Making smart academic choices as an undergraduate will make you a strong law school applicant.
Making smart academic choices as an undergraduate will make you a strong law school applicant.

While freshman year may seem early to think about law school, the actions you take now will influence your candidacy significantly when you apply as a junior or senior.

Your GPA, extracurricular activities and recommendations are crucial components to your application, and they are affected by your accomplishments during all four years of college. Incoming freshmen considering attending law school after graduation can gain a competitive edge over other applicants by preparing now.

Below are five aspects of your profile that you can build and maintain throughout your college years in order to submit compelling law school applications when the time comes.

[Check out the top law schools in photos.]

1. Maintain a good GPA: While law school admittance is about far more than numbers, your undergraduate grades are an important factor in the eyes of admissions readers. If you see law school on your horizon, be sure to put in extra study time if necessary to ensure that your GPA accurately reflects your abilities.

Achieving consistently strong grades over four years will produce far more successful applications than trying to boost your GPA in your last year or semester.

2. Select a major and course work with skills in mind: There is no singular right major for prospective law students. Anyone from English majors to economics majors can apply their skills to legal studies.

Law schools look less at what you learn, and more at how you learn. Critical thinking, interpretation and writing skills as demonstrated through your course work or major are appealing to law schools. Be sure to select classes that will challenge you to build these skills rather than courses that will gain you an easy A.

[Learn how to read and write like a law student before classes start.]

3. Join extracurricular activities: Your extracurricular activities are an opportunity to reveal the values and passions that may otherwise not show on your law school applications. Your freshman year is the perfect time to explore your interests by joining various clubs and organizations offered on campus.

After trying several, select a couple to which you can commit significant time and in which you can hopefully gain a leadership position – it is better to have a noteworthy impact on one organization than to stretch yourself too thin and be unable to contribute meaningfully.

Whatever organizations you join, be sure to start early. Do not participate in extracurricular activities for your first three years and then try to undertake several activities to bolster your law school applications; doing so may come across as inauthentic to admissions readers.

4. Build relationships with professors: Get in the habit of visiting your professors during office hours or chatting after class. Professors will potentially have hundreds of students per year, so the more face-to-face time you spend with them, the easier it will be to request a recommendation down the line – and the more memorable your recommendation will be.

[Get tips on crafting an application to a highly ranked law school.]

5. Plan for internships: This is a good time to consider internship options, as you will want to spend each college summer furthering your experience and knowledge. Remember that applying to law school is an extremely competitive process, so the more relevant experience you have, the better.

An internship does not necessarily need to be directly related to law, but should help you gain skills that will aid you in your law school studies. If you have trouble finding internships after your first year or two because of your age, consider volunteering your time to pursue a cause important to you to gain relevant experience.

If you foresee law school in your future, focusing on the five factors above when you begin college will best prepare you to submit compelling, authentic applications. In addition, the application process will be less stressful because you will be as ready as possible and can focus on studying for the LSAT and composing effective essays.

Are you a current college student planning for the law school application process? Let me know in the comments, email me at shawn.oconnor@stratusprep.com or contact me via Twitter, @shawnpoconnor.