Deans of Admissions on Common Mistakes to Avoid on Law Schoo

by Vault Education Editors | October 28, 2010

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Applying to law schools can be a long, daunting process. That's why the prudent know to start on their application packages early. In fact, now's a good time. Deadlines for early decision aren't that far away, and time always does that thing where it goes faster than we realize, and we just end up shaking our fist at the heavens for having procrastinated.

So please avoid that tragic scenario and get cracking now. Law School Podcaster spoke to three deans of admissions and one admissions consultant about common application pitfalls. Here are a handful of tips from that podcast, which you can listen to here.

Having scaled Mt. Everest or cured cancer, while exceptional, isn't something most people can put on their resume. So don't feel like you have to be extraordinary above and beyond the reality of your situation, according to Sarah Zearfoss, Assistant Dean of Admissions at University of Michigan Law School.

Don't try to read the admissions officer's mind. That will lead to catering, to putting what you think should be in an application. Linda Abraham of Accepted.com: "When applicants are sincere, when they are personally revealing, then they are much more likely to provide insight into who they are and that’s what the admissions committee wants to learn."

For recommendations, choose people who know you over prestigious-sounding people. "Let’s say we get an average of three letters of recommendation per applicant with 8,600 applications. That’s over 25,000 letters of recommendation,” said University of Virginia's Dean Jason Wu Trujillo.

On personal statements, Accepted's Abraham prefers openings to be journalistic: anecdotes, scenes or leads that are engaging, and not ones that are cliché, which Abraham says, "are so common and they’re so sleep-inducing that I think the applicant, who uses those very, very common openings, is putting himself in a disadvantage right away.”

Tell a story with your application. Make it engaging and coherent without reducing yourself to a flattened version of yourself. "It’s sort of a rhetorical undertaking. And it is what we do as lawyers," Michigan's Zearfoss said.

All very sound advice that too many applicants forget to or choose not to heed. What other commonly made mistakes that need constant reminding can you think of?

 

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