Law student working hard before an exam

Buff Up a College Profile for Law School Applications

Explaining your college experiences in an addendum can help law school admissions committees better understand your profile.

Law student working hard before an exam

Taking and succeeding in classes after college can't improve a low GPA, but it can demonstrate commitment and show you have the ability to handle a legal studies program.

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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 week I answer questions about how the college experience can affect law school admissions decisions, from graduates to incoming freshmen.

[Get advice and information on how to apply to law school.]

Dear Shawn: I have a low undergraduate GPA, primarily because I did not focus 100 percent on my studies. I completed the degree quickly – it took me about 2 1/2 years to receive a B.S. During this time frame I had many other major life events that affected my grades. I worked extensively and got married, to name a few. Are these appropriate explanations for dwindling grades?

I am taking the LSAT in June and am prepared to retake it, along with a prep course, in order to balance out the low GPA. Is there anything else that I should do to better my application with a low GPA? -Low Grades, High Hopes

Dear Low Grades, High Hopes: Life can sometimes get in the way of education, and admissions committees will understand that you were juggling a lot of responsibilities. You should include an addendum in your application that explains why your grades do not accurately reflect your potential, briefly describing the life events that called away your attention. If you now have more time to commit to studies, mention that in the addendum.

[Learn about ways to overcome a low GPA in law school admissions.]

You can also take a few courses and work to get good grades. This will not impact your undergraduate GPA, but it will show that you now have the flexibility and commitment to manage the time burden of legal studies. If you are taking the June LSAT, start preparing now – if you haven’t already.

These steps can minimize the negative impact of a low GPA, but cannot completely erase it. When selecting schools, note the GPA range of most accepted students so you have a reasonable idea of your admissions chances. -Shawn

[Explore the top reasons law school applications are rejected.]

Dear Shawn: I am hoping to build up my profile for law school admissions early so I can apply to New York University or Stanford University.

I am an incoming freshman to a good university. Is there anything that I can do now to build my profile? I am attempting to obtain an internship from a family friend, but if you have other ideas, I would appreciate it.
  -Ready to Start

Dear Ready to Start: It’s great that you are planning in advance for law school admissions. If you start building your personal brand and lay a solid academic foundation now, you should be in a position to apply to top schools in a few years.

If the internship works out, it will certainly contribute to your admissions success in the future. If not, look for a volunteer opportunity that can provide a similar experience. Build on these experiences during subsequent internships and activities. In addition, participate in school clubs or organizations, and aim to assume a leadership position in a couple of years.

Participate in activities that interest you most, rather than what you think law schools will want to see. The more your background sets you apart, the more your application will resonate with admissions committees. -Shawn