What can you do to set yourself apart in your law school application? Admissions officials have the answers
We posed questions to admissions officials at the College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law regarding the application process, what they look for in applicants, and what sets their school apart. These are their responses:
1. What can applicants do to set themselves apart from their peers?
Applicants can set themselves apart through meaningful service to and leadership in their communities, be it in school or in a larger setting. We invite applicants to highlight academic strengths, extracurricular activities, life and work experiences, dedication to service, passion for a cause, special skills, and thoughtful commitment to legal education and the legal profession.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
The personal statement is your chance to attach a personality to your credentials. We are looking to enroll a dynamic class of people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Everyone has a story, and we want to hear yours. Find a way to tell us who you are and what you care about. Convince us that you have something to add to our community. There is no single "right" way of creating the personal statement. We leave you with an enormous amount of liberty to show us who you are (but do remember that you're applying to a professional school).
3. How important is the applicant's LSAT score? How do you weigh it against undergraduate GPA and work/internship experience? Which of these carry the most weight? The least?
Although GPA and LSAT scores are two important measures of your academic achievement and potential, we realize that they only tell part of the story. We review all aspects of an applicant's file, including, but not limited to, your personal statement, community involvement, work experience, leadership, recommendations, and course selection.
4. How much does prior work/internship experience weigh into your decision making? What's the typical or expected amount of work experience from an applicant?
All work experience is important; there is no expected or typical amount. We view any work experience as beneficial for building a work ethic and for learning about what you'd enjoy doing for the rest of your life. This knowledge often can help you make a more informed decision about applying to law school.
5. What sets you apart from other schools? What can students gain from your school that they might not be able to find anywhere else?
As initially articulated by
And to top it all off, you'll be living and learning in
6. What do you look for in recommendation letters? How important is it that the letter's writer has worked regularly with the candidate in an office or school setting?
You should obtain recommendations from professors, instructors, or supervisors well-acquainted with your character and abilities. If you are a student, or have recently graduated, at least one of your recommendations should come from someone who has observed and evaluated you in an academic setting.
7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
We begin accepting applications on
8. Which firms/organizations recruit heavily from your school? Which ones hire the highest percentage of your graduates?
The law firms, government agencies, courts, public interest organizations, and corporations that recruit
9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?
Do not use the application process to try and be someone you are not. Know yourself. Be yourself--your best self--throughout the process.
Everyone should read the character and fitness questions extremely carefully. While most schools have very similar questions, everyone crafts their own language and you might have to disclose an incident to one school and not another. If you're unsure, it is always best to err on the side of full disclosure and be as open and honest as possible.
Among the most common mistakes are grammatical and typographical errors in the essays and on the application. It is very important to proofread your application materials. You will be amazed at the number of mistakes that you will find, even if you have read your essays several times.
10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?
Our students are academically gifted and well rounded. They have demonstrated leadership in extracurricular activities while at school and work, if applicable. They have already built a track record of community service. They embrace the citizen lawyer philosophy of the
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