Each week, I try to set aside at least an hour or two to personally respond to the dozens (and sometimes hundreds!) of comments my blogs usually get. These comments cover a very wide range of concerns and specific situations, but every once in a while there are a few comments that I think are worth really highlighting because they apply to so many applicants.
This week, many of the comments had questions about the best undergraduate majors for law school, and I can tell many of you are thinking ahead about what will make you a competitive law school applicant. I did respond to both of these comments at the time, but I felt they are also worth exploring in a bit more detail.
Double Majors, Work Experience & Life Experience
1) Will I have any advantage over other applicants because of a double major?
2) How much impact can professional work experience have vs. LSAT/GPA?
3) What age would you recommend starting law school? (I will be graduating college at 23)
1 – The double major by itself doesn’t give you an advantage. Law schools judge majors on the basis of the academic rigor of your major, and how well you perform in that environment. Double majors would likely make a strong impression if you pair two academically rigorous disciplines, especially ones that show writing and analysis. Some majors go together naturally – International Relations and Chinese Studies, for example. This just makes sense, and would be a very impressive combination. Sometimes it can be interesting to have unrelated majors, like biochemistry and math, that are both challenging. It’s more about the major and how well you do in it, not specifically that it is a double major, especially if your grades in one of the majors is significantly lower than the other
2- Work experience can be persuasive to law schools if you’re able to show responsibility, personal development, and a direction that leads specifically to your law school goals. LSAT and GPA are important, but if you are able to show development and work experience, then you can make a strong argument that your LSAT and GPA do not display your skills completely, because you have something else that does demonstrate your skills. However, it’s important to emphasize a sophisticated professional background or significant financial responsibilities that you took on in order to demonstrate maturity sufficient to overcome lower numbers. Not all work experience is equal.
3 – There’s no particular age I recommend – but you have to consider where you are in your personal life and whether law school will be feasible once you have a family, etc. Law school is a full-time job, and then some. It’s expensive, it’s time-consuming, it’s emotionally difficult, and I have yet to see most people get out of law school without changing at least somewhat. As I talked about in Why Going To Law School Is Worth The Sacrifice, there are costs to law school. If you feel that you are in an emotional and mental space to make the investment, and you have supportive individuals in your life, then it’s worth it.
Switching Undergraduate Majors
I am a former business major but now an elementary education major. I discovered my passion for working with children and helping them succeed to their fullest potential in the middle of college and made the switch. Do you think i can get into a respectable law school with this major? What can i do to better my chances?
There are two big things to keep in mind when you change majors in your undergraduate studies: GPA and reasons.
First, your GPA matters. Switching majors often has an impact on your GPA, so make sure that if you switch, you pay very close attention to keeping your GPA up — or even bringing it up even higher than it was. In more academically rigorous majors, a lower GPA can be explained to an extent, but if you were switching majors to find something you were passionate about, then your grades should demonstrate that passion and aptitude for the subject.
If you switch multiple times you might appear lost – even more lost than you might’ve looked having an unpopular major for law school applicants. I generally believe that if you major in something that you truly find interesting, regardless of whether you think law schools will be impressed, you will be the better student, stronger applicant, and more fulfilled individual. Along these same lines, be careful about choosing a major simply because your parents told you it would be practical. If you’re not well suited for it, and if you don’t feel successful in those classes, then it’s not going to be such a sure bet for a career after all.
What Are You Wondering?
For all of you in undergrad, I hope your finals are going well! Keep those questions coming, and keep in mind that just until January 31st, 2015, you can sign up for the Mad Dash package to get all your questions personally answered.