by Paula A. Charland
(former Director of Admissions, Syracuse University College of Law and Director of MBA Recruitment, Syracuse University School of Management)
10. Taking the LSAT “cold”
- scores remain on record for years
- many schools average multiple attempts on LSAT
- the top contenders are prepping for weeks beforehand
- one cannot study for test, but one can (should) prepare for it!
- there are accessible, low-cost alternatives to expensive prep courses…no excuses
9. Waiting for the last minute to request letters of recommendation
- professors will receive multiple requests in late fall
- good letters can make a difference in a close case!
- given a reasonable time frame, and some “coaching”, most faculty will do a good job
- letters that are rushed are often worthless in the process
8. Not being organized/missing deadlines
- keep copies of everything you send to a law school
- pay attention to application deadlines and policies (they vary!)
- early applications generally receive more favorable consideration
- merit money is awarded early; don’t miss out!
7. Applying to too few law schools
- Everybody needs a safety school!
- those who apply only to the Ivies may be disappointed
- apply to a range of “safety”, “good chance”, and “dream” schools
6. Applying too late for admission and/or financial aid
- late applications may not receive full consideration at rolling admissions schools
- taking the February LSAT for fall admission is very risky
- we’re not kidding about those financial aid deadlines!
- too late = no award package from the institution
5. The imperfect personal statement
- typos are far too common; have someone proof for you!
- the tone of the statement should be positive; don’t write with anger or other inappropriate emotion
- no tell-all confessionals (e.g. family stuff, relationships, etc.)
- stay away from cuteness
4. Extreme creativity
- avoid outrageousness (not the kind of attention you want!)
- gift-wrapping applications at holiday time
- no videos (unless asked for one)
- 8×10 glossies are silly
3. Desperation moves
- avoid any appearance of an unbalanced psyche
- letter to the dean (will be forwarded to the admissions director, anyway)
- demanding a meeting with the admissions director
- flying across the country to demand a personal interview
- viewing the admissions process as a “life or death” situation
- aim for professionalism in all your contacts with admissions offices
- proof any subsequent written communications just as you would your personal statement *don’t send the in application pieces (something will get lost)
- if you are notified that something is missing, respond promptly!
- disclose all information that is requested
- in most cases, academic probations and/or warnings must be disclosed
- if you don’t understand a question, call and ask the admissions office for an interpretation
- don’t embellish on your accomplishments
- don’t omit information that would be relevant to the admissions decision