I help lots of students, and answer lots of questions, every law school admissions cycle. Possibly the most-asked question is a variation of this: What should I major in if I want to go to law school? Applicants are always so torn: Should I major in PoliSci? English? Econ? History? What will give me the best shot? What will look the awesomest?
Here's what I always tell them.
Law schools don't look for any particular major at all. There is no such thing as a perfect "law school major." In fact, almost any academic subject is a fine choice when it comes to picking a major that will look good on a law school application. Although there are certainly "traditional" majors that students interested in eventually pursuing law undertake (Econ, PoliSci, History), there is no one "perfect" major when it comes to preparing you for law school.
A caveat: There are some majors (particularly those that aren't strongly academic, such as the arts) that may place you at a slight disadvantage. Silver lining: Plenty of students in those fields get admitted to law school every year (and, for some, it may actually help them stand out in the application process).
The most important thing is that you do well. As such, your major should be something you enjoy. If you major in something you love, then you have a greater chance of doing extremely well in school, which will translate to a high GPA, which will in turn increase your chances of admission. It's a surprisingly simple equation.
The key is not so much what you major in but, rather, what you do within your major. Aim to do the following:
- Pick a college major that will require a lot of reading- and research-intensive classes. Both Political Science and Business fall into this category nicely, as do English, Economics, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, and many others. Picking a major of this sort will not only prepare you for law classes (which themselves are incredibly research- and reading-heavy), but it will also demonstrate to law schools, when you apply, that you can handle the academic load of law school.
- Keep an upward grade trend throughout college. This means that your grades either get stronger as you go through school, or start off strong and remain there for all 4 years of college. Most law schools will want to see GPAs of 3.5 or above (the closer you can get to a 4.0, the better).
- Take a challenging class load. Intro classes are okay for freshman and (maybe) sophomore year of college, but once you get to junior and senior year, your focus should be on upper-level classes and seminars that allow you to really hone in and focus on your specific interests within the major. And, as always, keep your grades up throughout.
- Establish rapport with your professors (particularly during your junior and senior years of college). You can do this by attending office hours, working for them as a research assistant, and talking to them after class. They will be the ones writing your letters of recommendation, and will only be able to write effective, overwhelmingly positive ones is if they have specific, anecdotal knowledge of you and can favorably compare you to other students in your class.
Another useful thing you can do, regardless of your major choice, is to take formal logic courses (which can be found under the Philosophy Department at the college you end up attending) during your sophomore and junior years; this will help you later as you prepare for the LSAT.
And that's really all there is to it. Pick something you love. Make sure it involves lots of reading, writing, and research. Do well at it. Wash, rinse, repeat. No magic bullet, just lots of hard word at a subject that you don't mind learning more and more about. So, all you budding law applicants, relax--if you're doing what you love, you're already halfway there.
Have a question about applying to law school you’d like me to answer? Send me an email.
Check out the Admissions Tip of the Week archives!