The Value of a Visit

Law School Expert Blog

One of my favorite clients asked me about how to use a campus visit effectively. I thought to myself, “Surely I covered this in my book!” I looked at the chapter called “Launching Your Campaign to Get In” and arranging campus visits is suggested, but not really explained. My bad.

Campus visits are important for one really big reason – it’s a great way to demonstrate sincere interest in attending. It also puts you face to face with contacts at the school, people you can follow up with throughout the cycle if you are waitlisted or updating your application.

Here are some tips for your Law School Visit:

1. Dress in business casual. No club wear, no gym clothes, but you also don’t need to wear a suit.

2. Don’t bring your parents. Under any circumstances. Ever. Yes, even YOU. (If your mom insists on going with you, show her this post and tell her she will be forever ruining your chances of becoming an adult). Of course, there’s always an exception to every rule, like if your mom is a graduate of that law school and coming with you so she can introduce you to the Dean and personally deliver a big fat donation to the scholarship endowment :  ) — wow, that’s very cynical of me, not at all like me to say such a thing … I blame the hour – it’s 6 p.m. on a Friday.

3. Study the website before you go and ask some questions – what would students say is the thing most in need of improvement at the school (at my law school, it was the parking situation – another great reason to be a night student)? Are there alums who live where you live now whom you could talk to? What would students say the best things about the school are? Totally fine to ask about scholarships and loan repayment. Totally fine to ask how many students find employment on campus versus through their own efforts. Of course, the admission counselor probably won’t be able to give you real answers to these questions unless he/she is a graduate of the school and/or used to work in Career Placement, but these are good starts for questions.

4. It’s a good thing to show sincere interest, that you’ve done your research.  You don’t have to swear on your life that you want to participate in the Immigration Law Clinic just because they advertise it – show you are serious about the location, show ties to the area, friends and family nearby, that you made the trip out just to see the school.

5. Get contact info for everyone you meet- when you write a thank-you letter after your visit, mention by name the 2L who told you about the great social atmosphere, the 1L who took time to talk to you about the moot court experience.

6. Sit in on a class, and take the initiative to meet the professor. Follow up with a thank-you to the professor.

If you don’t have the deep pockets to visit schools, consider booking one trip and hitting all the schools at once at the Houston, Los Angeles or Bay Area LSAC Law School Forums in February. I’m even thinking about going to LA. Anyone want to meet for a drink?

41 Responses

  1. When should we make the visit? While the file is in review or after we are waitlisted? Should I be visiting now???

  2. I think this is a great idea. I know when I visited I was able to get feedback from those I spoke with regardign my application and other information they may have had questions on for me prior to them looking at my application in review.

    1. Dear Prelaw1908: It’s most effective to make an appointment so you can go on an official tour, sit in on a class, and perhaps talk to someone in admissions. Plus, it puts you on their radar.

  3. Ann, what about a spouse? Obviously law school is in part her decision. Is it ok to ask the school whether they can join you for the weekend so they get the sense of the area and moving there, as well?

    1. Tniem, Great question! Spouse is ok in terms of credibility (not like a 25 year old relying on mom or dad). However, make sure you both dress/act professionally and that your spouse doesn’t end up speaking for you.

  4. @Ann Levine
    Tniem, we decided that I should go by myself and focus on academics and such. Once acceptance is an issue, we will return together for a better sense of the area, housing options, final decisions, etc.

  5. Hi Ann,

    This may be a stupid question (sorry), but does the no parents rule also apply to admitted students weekends? I just received information about one that’s out of state that I would really like to attend, and they do say that they welcome guests. Is it unacceptable to bring a parent? I am assuming that since I am already in, I won’t be meeting individually with admissions counselors and that much of the time will be spent in information sessions… and to be honest, I kind of could use the additional input right now.

    —a 0L with a big, fat $100,000+ decision on her hands

  6. I know the spouse question was asked, but what about my fiance? We will be getting married before i start in the fall.

    1. Kristin, would you bring your fiance to a job interview? That’s the test I give for who is appropriate to bring to a formal campus visit.

  7. Hello Ann,

    First off, excellent website! Question: I have been waitlisted at my dream school, which happens to be out of state but it is the home state of my dad. I scheduled a tour and included my dad in it, since he grew up in the area and on top of that would most likely be paying my cost of living expenses if I attend the school. Should I exclude him from the visit since I am essentially trying to make an impression in order to gain admittance? Or would it be ok to bring him considering his ties to the location?

    1. Great question, Blair! I prefer you don’t bring your dad with you to see the school. You haven’t been admitted yet, and we want you to appear as a mature adult, and not have the school’s impression of you be otherwise. Ok?

  8. Is it worthwhile to visit a school before you apply or right after submission? The airfares to the city where I want to go to school are on sale for December, but from everything I read, it seems one should visit after receiving a response to an application. Thank you!

  9. I’m planning a tour and class visit to a nearby law school, which I hope to attend next year. From what I can see, its acceptable to bring my fiance to the tour, but not to the class visit. Is that your advice also? I’m a 35 yr old non-trad and I’d like my fiance’s input in the matter.

  10. Hi! Thanks for the tips! I’m going on a law school visit to my dream school and my dad, a law professor, has taught as a visiting professor at that school many times. He wants to come with to see former colleagues and students, etc. He probably won’t be with me during most of the visit – he knows the school and the people and will be off doing his own thing. Is this still unacceptable or is this an exception to the no parents rule since my dad has actually taught at that university? Thanks! 🙂

  11. Hello Ann!

    I currently live in California and have been waitlisted at my dream school across the country- George Washington University. This might be a naive question, but would my father attending the campus tour with me also be an issue in your opinion? If I meet with an admissions counselor I plan on meeting with them alone, prepared with questions regarding the waitlist and scholarship inquiries.

    Thank you!

  12. What it my son is already admitted to the law school and we are traveling half way across the country to see the area. No one in our family has ever been to the school. I’m paying all expenses. I am a lawyer, but do not plan on being the nobby nose mother. Does your no parent rule apply?

  13. Hello Ann,

    I’m an international student. I want to apply for the LL.M. and/or two-year J.D. for international lawyers. I have just finished studying English in Seattle and achieved the IELTS required score for law schools, but still don’t speak English well, in this case would you recommend me to visit the law schools that I will apply to?
    I also look to have partial scholarship from the universities, will my studying English in Seattle affect that (I mean they may think that I can afford to pay full tuition) ?


  14. Is it typical for a law school to set you up with a current student as an overnight host? I know that was common when I was applying to undergrad several years ago, but I’m not sure if it’s common for law school, and I don’t want to ask the school for that if it’s an unusual request.

  15. Hello Ann.
    My question revolves around admitted student days. Do you feel I will get more value out of visiting schools during these staged events or by attending a class and speaking to an admissions officer on a regular day. Unfortunately I cannot afford to do both as I live in the Northeast and have recently been admitted to a couple of great schools in Nashville and St. Louis as well as waitlisted at another in Chicago. Time and money are in short supply!

  16. Another Parent question, I am going for a visit to a school but to get there from the airport I need to rent a car, unfortunately under 25 they won’t rent to me. If I get my parent to drive me to visit then either leave the campus until I’m finished or sit in the car is that acceptable. Only other option is 3 and a half hour public transit each way which won’t make visit time or not visit. Opinions?

    1. Whenever you can. You don’t have to visit first, but if the school has a “Why this school” essay, it helps to have visited. Also, if the school is near you then there is no reason to wait.

  17. Hello! Thank you for the very helpful tips, I appreciate your insight. I know you have already addressed the issue of bringing your parents multiple times, so forgive for asking specifically about my situation… I will be touring a school prior to my admission during the Fall Break of my undergrad. Due to the distance, my parents and I have decided to fly out and make a trip out of it. They will not be with me while I observe a class, but it is frowned upon for them to take part in the tour as well? This visit will be rather informal, I just know they are very interested in what the school has to offer as well! Thank you! I would also love to hear any additional tips regarding sitting in on a class, even if they seem obvious!

  18. Hi Ann,
    Are making visits to schools and getting face time with admission officers at events significant enough to impact admission decisions? I went to an event for one school and have asked a few questions via email/phone, but I feel that they will not remember me.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Showing interest is important, and they keep track of these interactions. It’s ok not to “be remembered” – often people are remembered for not good reasons : )

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