Welcome to the latest installment of Law Admissions Q-and-A, a monthly feature of Law Admissions Lowdown that provides advice to readers who send in questions and law school admissions profiles.
If you have a question, email me for a chance to be featured next month. This month, I answer questions from applicants who face specific choices in their applications.
Dear Shawn: I read your article on applying early decision to law school and was hoping that you could offer me some advice.
I am a senior at a small, private liberal arts university, and I took the June LSAT this summer. I scored a 162, placing me in the 85th percentile, and I have maintained an undergraduate GPA of a 4.0.
My extracurricular experience includes college soccer, an internship with the local prosecutor's office, and significant real-world research at my university. I believe that my personal statement and letters of recommendation are strong.
I have been using law school prediction software to give me an idea of the schools to which I should apply based on my LSAT and GPA. I hope to become a sports agent, so I would really like to attend Duke University, the University of Michigan or Stanford University. Michigan and Stanford are both long shots according to their numbers, but I believe Duke may be within my reach.
Should I apply early decision to Duke Law? I was leaning toward applying in the regular cycle to keep my options open, but worry that I may be too optimistic of my chances at some of these other top law schools. -The Early Bird
[Find out which law schools receive the most applications.]
Dear Early Bird: If you were accepted into all three top choices – Duke, Michigan and Stanford – would you choose to attend Duke? If the answer is yes, then absolutely apply to Duke early decision.
If the answer is no, then I do not recommend applying early decision. Admissions committees consider an early decision application to be a binding agreement to attend that school if accepted, and it is bad form to break that if you are admitted to a school you would rather attend – and if you try to back out, you may jeopardize your spot at both schools.
While an early decision application can give you a slight advantage in the admissions process because you will be among the first applicants to be reviewed, it will not make or break the decision.
If Duke is not your first choice and you would like to apply early decision to a law school, I would recommend either Michigan or Stanford – whichever is your first choice – because if you are accepted you would presumably be happy to withdraw your applications to other institutions. -Shawn
[Learn how to determine if law school is a good option for you.]
Dear Shawn: I am working on my law school applications and have already drafted my personal statement. I wonder how you think I should go about writing a diversity statement, if I should at all.
My personal statement is about my experience as a gay Orthodox Jew and what I have done to bring change to my community. Do you think I should also write a separate diversity statement, or is writing about my unique perspective in my personal statement enough? -Trying to Make a Statement
[Get tips on finding a unique personal statement topic.]
Dear Trying to Make a Statement: I strongly recommend that you submit a separate diversity statement along with your personal statement. You should take every opportunity to provide the admissions committee with further information about your character that they may not see in the rest of your application.
You may even wish to consider transferring much about your community impact to your diversity statement, and begin to re-draft your personal statement so that your essays are not redundant. However, if you feel you have enough content to discuss your experience with diversity in both essays, that will not be necessary.
The most important thing is that your essays be authentic and reveal qualities about you that are difficult to perceive through your resume and other application factors. The more you give them to go on, the better informed they will be about your fit at the school. -Shawn