I received calls both yesterday and today from readers of my blog who just found mistakes in their recently submitted applications. Both were panicked about what to do, but my suggestions might have been different for each of them based on the type of mistake that was concerning them.
There are three kinds of mistakes that you could have made in your law school applications:
1. Factual – Did you put a wrong date for something or get the name of something wrong? This type of law school application mistake has the easiest solution: simply email the school(s) and let them know you made a mistake and the real date or name is “so-and-so.” No problem.
2. Typo/Grammatical – This is the most heartbreaking kind of mistake because you worked so hard to avoid it and it feels so final. One person called me yesterday and said she had repeated “the the” in a sentence in her personal statement, and another applicant called me today because she left out the word “to” in a sentence in her optional essay. If you’re going to make a mistake in your personal statement, let it be this kind. While I do advise avoiding any errors because it appears unprofessional and lacks attention to detail, it’s not the end of the world in the computer age to have a cut and paste error, etc. If you have one incident like this, just let it go. If you have something really wrong with your personal statement, you can email the school an updated copy. They will probably add it to your file but not replace the original version.
If you have an error in your resume, it can be easier to fix. Wait a week or so, say it’s an “updated resume” and send it to the schools without saying what about it is updated….they are unlikely to notice whether it’s an updated job, an honor, a description, or a typo correction.
3. Bad Judgment – If you just started reading my book or blog after submitting your applications and you are now realizing you made some rookie mistakes and wish you’d done things differently, there is not a lot you can do at this point. You can update the law school with other things, but you can’t really submit a whole new personal statement. You can add applications to other schools with improved materials, but it’s hard to do damage control after the fact. You could visit the law school and make a case for yourself in person to try to correct some perception issues and send supplemental information as appropriate (for example, if you feel you left out something crucial in your application).
Mistakes can be frustrating and cause you to lose sleep over missed opportunities, but you also have to keep it in perspective. They are part of human nature and perfection is unattainable. We just do the best we can and move on with our lives, trying to do better.