It’s just about time to register for fall classes and you’re stumped: how can I best prepare for law school? What should I take?
There are several things to consider, but the bottom line is: study what you love, try out a law class, and focus on maximizing your GPA.
Study What You Love
It may sound obvious, but studying what you’re most passionate about will do two things for you: first, it will help your GPA. You’re more driven to study what you enjoy, and it’s of no coincidence that you’ll exceed in your favorite classes. Doing well in classes helps your GPA; it opens opportunities for researching with professors that adds to your resume; and it increases your chances of earning various honors/awards which will support your application.
Of equal importance, by studying what drives you, you express your individuality – which law schools LOVE. Think law schools only want to see PoliSci majors with two years of paralegal experience? Think again! Law schools are looking for as diverse a class as possible – bringing together students who have vastly different academic and professional experiences is the goal. So, if you’re an engineering fanatic but are thinking about law school in the long run, take your engineering courses. This only makes you a more unique candidate.
Try Out a Law Class (if you can)
Taking a law class is by no means necessary (or even helpful) for law school admissions. However, it may help you determine if law school is truly for you! I was, like many of you, on the fence about law school. So, my senior year of college, I decided to take Constitutional Law. The class was modeled to be like a first-year law school course, and therefore was taught as a “doctrinal” – which basically means you study case law, synthesize judicial doctrine, and learn how to make arguments with and around various doctrines.
For me, taking Constitutional Law cemented my law school aspirations. I preferred reading judicial decisions to the academic papers I was accustomed to reading in undergrad. Moreover, I enjoyed learning about the multiple layers of Supreme Court jurisprudence, and how cases interplayed with the time’s politics.
While I don’t suppose taking ConLaw helped me get into law school, it surely helped my decision to apply.
Maximize Your GPA
GPA isn’t everything. It’s not even the most important numerical factor (the LSAT is). However, it’s one of two scores required by the ABA from each law school’s admitted class, meaning your GPA will do one of two things: help or hurt the median. If possible, you want to help a law school’s median, meaning you want to be above their median GPA.
This makes picking undergraduate classes a bit more complicated. If it’s between the well-known easy major that you admonish or the difficult major that you love, by all means, take the latter. Admissions committees will be more understanding of a lower GPA if they understand that your major is particularly difficult. That said, if you’re looking for a class to round out your schedule and nothing catches your eye, consider taking a GPA booster. The difference between a 3.7 and a 3.75, as minute as it may seem, could be the difference between surpassing and falling short of a school’s median GPA.
So, if you think law school is in your future, be ever mindful of the importance of a strong GPA. While it’s often true that your LSAT score is more important, you can take (and retake) the LSAT anytime – including after you graduate. You have only one chance to get a stellar GPA.
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