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by Anna Ivey | March 10, 2009

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Anna Ivey is a private admissions counselor who works with people applying to the top business schools and law schools. If you have a question for Anna Ivey, send her an e-mail.

Question: I am a freshman in college who is interested in going to law school after college. My question is, is there a particular major that impresses law school admissions officers? Some people have told me that Political Science is the best. I am particularly interested in an English major but will choose whichever major is most appealing to law schools. Thank you!

Anna's Answer: Good for you for starting to plan ahead so early! Make sure to keep an open mind, though, because you don't want to lock yourself into a particular career goal too early. It's tough trying to make career-related decisions as a freshman. You wouldn't start law school for another four years at the earliest, and who know what you'll want out of life at that time? Think back to four years ago, when you were about fourteen, and think about how much you've changed since then, your priorities, your outlook, your maturity. Your personal development proceeds at lightening speed during your high school and college years. You'll need those first couple of years in college to try out different subjects and disciplines and to think about different career paths.

Once you're a junior and ready to pick a major, go with your heart. That will be the best outcome for you personally, and it will be the best outcome for you in terms of law school admissions (if that's still what you want down the road) for two reasons:

First, while it's true that the most popular majors for law school applicants are Political Science, History, and Economics, that phenomenon just reflects the popularity of those majors among people who end up applying to law school; it does not reflect a preference on the part of law school admissions officers. You absolutely do not have to pursue one of those majors to be a successful law school applicant; if anything, you might have a harder time distinguishing yourself from the pack as a Poli Sci major.~

Second, most people need to feel passionate about their chosen fields to excel in them. It always shows when applicants have pursued a course of study just to please other people, whether that be their parents or graduate school admissions officers. I can't tell you how many applicant letters I've seen that say something like this: "My GPA for my first two-and-a-half years was on the low side. I became a pre-med major because my parents always wanted me to be a doctor, but I didn't enjoy any of the classes and I absolutely hated Organic Chemistry. Since I switched my major to Anthropology, my grades have improved substantially, and those later grades are a better indicator of my academic potential in law school." And it's not just your grades that might suffer; if you can't muster up genuine enthusiasm about your major, you'll also have a tough time impressing the professors who will be writing your recommendations. As a freshman, you can still avoid that trap.

Bottom line: Experiment with different disciplines and dedicate yourself to a major that excites you and inspires you to push yourself. Law schools don't care so much about which field you pick. Rather, what they'll be looking for is evidence that you challenged yourself and excelled in whatever major you chose.

If you have your own question for Anna Ivey, send her an e-mail.

Anna Ivey is a private admissions counselor who works with people applying to the top business schools and law schools, as well as the author of The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions: Straight Advice on Essays, Resumes, Interviews and More. Formerly the Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School, she has also practiced corporate and entertainment law in Los Angeles. She received her B.A. from Columbia and her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where she served as an editor of The University of Chicago Law Review. To learn more about her admissions counseling, visit annaivey.com.

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