Making The Most Of Your Credentials For Law School
When it comes to applying to law school, having a great LSAT score & UGPA (undergraduate GPA) will always place you as a strong candidate, but all grades being equal, it’s your credentials that really allow you to stand out as a strong law school applicant.
Credentials include things like your extracurricular activities, community service, and work experience.
See any of the articles below for a more in depth take on any of those subjects from our “Developing Your Law School Application” section:
The Importance of Credentials For Law School
Imagine two law school applicants with equal grades. One is Sarah, the other Rebecca. Sarah has strong grades and a well written essay but little credentials to compliment her strong academics.
Rebecca has strong grades, a well written essay, but also a fair amount of involvement outside of the classroom. She has participated in debate, an athletic team, and also has served 3 years of community service.
When comparing 2 applicant with similar grades, who do you think law school admissions would choose?
Rebecca, as she has the same grades, but is also a much more dynamic candidate.
Of course, while having a fair amount of credentials outside of the classroom is always an application booster, there is an even more effective way to use your credentials for law school to their fullest: Highlighting your personality/characteristics’/strengths with your credentials through your essay.
Making The Most of Your Credentials: Highlighting Who You Are
As we have gone over this in previous articles, we will touch on this briefly. The most important aspect of your credentials is to apply them to your application, particular your personal statement, in a way that demonstrates who you are, not just what you do.
For example, you could include how you took on a leadership role in an extracurricular activity. You could mention times you took the initiative, what you learned through being a leader, and how you would apply this as a law school student and alumni.
Things To Keep In Mind With your Credentials
Demonstrates Your Characteristics
Now, the key is not just to show your credentials, but demonstrate to law school admissions the qualities and characteristics these credentials either helped you develop, or allowed you to use qualities you already possess. Some qualities that law school admissions always look for are the ability to work with a team, decisiveness, and leadership.
The most important part of this though, is it enables you to apply activities not necessarily related to law school, and make them applicable.
For example, let’s say you were part of a band.
While this does not necessarily have anything to do with law school, certain characteristics of playing an instrument well do.
You could mention how through playing a musical instrument, you learned how to have better mental discipline and a closer attention to details. Two qualities that are very desirable in a law school applicant.
The key is to take an activity that may not be directly related to law school, but mention certain characteristics of yourself that you either developed or used when participating in the activities, and demonstrate how they will help you in law school, and as a future alumni.
It’s also important to include characteristics that will benefit the university as a whole. Staying with the musician example, you could also mention how it helped you working with a group of people, or helped develop your leadership qualities, and convey a specific story displaying these qualities.
This way, even if not all of your activities are directly related to law school or being a lawyer, you can still include your major credentials, and make them relevant in your law school application.
Another key aspect of this is rather than just list off accomplishments, which can come off as bragging or extension of your resume, it shows you have depth, maturity, and insight.
Shows Admissions Office How You Will Contribute Outside The Classroom
Secondly, you want to show law school admissions you are not a student who just attends class and go home. Credentials show you as more than just a student. Law school admissions like to see a student who will add value to the campus outside of the classroom.
It shows you can make a commitment.
Law school is a 3 year commitment. Showing you can keep a commitment allows law school admissions to feel confident you will stay committed to law school. Generally speaking, admissions offices are more interested in seeing a student who had participated in a few activities over an extended period of time rather than a lot of activities for only a few months. The dedication and commitment to a few activities will always look better on an application than a lot of activities you only participated in sparingly. .
By demonstrating how your qualities will impact the law school as well, it shows you are about something more than yourself and gives law school admissions not just an idea of what you do, but who you are.
Law School Rankings