You’ve just taken the December LSAT, so you’re probably feeling the stress of rolling admissions, seeing that others have already been admitted to your dream law school, and thinking that you’re late in the game. Here’s the good news: by the end of this post, you’ll be feeling a lot better about the timing and you’ll have a plan for using the next four weeks productively so that you are ready to submit all applications by mid-January.
First, applications are down. Way down. Eleven percent fewer people took the October 2013 LSAT than the October 2012 LSAT. And that’s after a 38 percent decrease in law school applications over the previous two years. Here’s a great article by the Chicago Tribune that discusses this issue. Even regional, affordable law schools are being impacted. See about MSU Law.
What does this mean for December LSAT takers?
Schools need you! They need qualified applicants to fill seats and keep their numbers up. And there is room for you – spots are no longer filled by December. This isn’t 2007, or 2009 for that matter. This is 2013, and if you are a qualified applicant, you are in the driver’s seat. Even with a December LSAT score.
With the LSAT behind you, what should you be doing to increase your competitiveness at this point? Here’s my suggestion of what to do:
December 8: Take a break.
Rest. Cry. Get all the stress out. Don’t make any major decisions within 24 hours of the LSAT. It’s all the hormones talking. And they don’t give great advice.
December 9-11: Decide whether you’re keeping this LSAT score.
Read this post (and the posts it links to) about whether to cancel your LSAT score. If you feel you weren’t prepared and/or won’t be getting a score that will put you in contention at the schools you hope to attend, consider cancelling your score and regrouping for Fall 2015 admission. It feels far away. It isn’t. It’s right around the corner.
December 9-11: Work on your resume.
Go through it with a fine-tooth comb. Figure out what experiences can be described well here in order to free up your personal statement for more depth, introspection, and experiences that are off the beaten path of your formal record. Immersion study abroad? Don’t just put “Study Abroad in France” put “Lived with host family in small village and communicated entirely in French”. This is “building” your resume. Use this opportunity to the fullest. Include the # of hours you worked to show that you can multitask. Use action words to describe tasks, and never just say “Responsible for general filing and office duties.” You can do better than that. See Chapter 7 of The “Law School Admission Game” (“Building Your Resume”).
Also check out this 2-minute video on the topic:
December 10-16: Brainstorm a topic for your personal statement.
Then, start writing. Aim to have a draft done by December 20, and start showing it to people you trust to give you good advice and meaningful feedback so you still have time to rework it over the holidays.
Also, during this week, touch base with your recommenders. Make sure your letters of recommendation have been submitted or that they will be submitted by December 20. LSAC generally closes for two weeks over the holidays so you want to give them time to process your letters of rec.
December 16-23: Send any updated transcripts to LSAC.
Finalize your personal statement and resume. If you are writing a diversity statement, it’s time to work on that now that you know what will be covered in your personal statement. If you know you are applying to certain schools no matter what happens with the December LSAT, go ahead and consider any optional essay topics which that school offers and get to work on those.
December 23-January 1: Take time to enjoy the holidays
Enjoy the holidays and the things and people who matter most to you. You can work on your applications, but don’t shut yourself out from people. And don’t feel guilty for enjoying yourself for a few days.
January 2-6: Upon receipt of your LSAT score
Work on an LSAT addendum (if appropriate in your situation), and create a list of schools you’ll be applying to. Make a spreadsheet of their application requirements, including the personal statement prompt, optional essays, and requirements in terms of length, word count, font size, etc. Start attacking them one by one. If you are applying Early Decision anywhere, do that application first. Do the “easy” schools – the ones without optional essays – next.
January 8-20: Complete applications
Check these VERY carefully before submitting, and aim to be done by January 20.