October tends to be the time when a lot of law school applicants panic. Here are the three main reasons for the panic at this time of year:
1. You are waiting for your LSAT score, have no idea whether it’s really going to be where you are hoping it will be, and you are frantically working on your personal statement and resume, drumming your fingers on the table when you think about the possibility of having to retake the LSAT or (gasp!) write an addendum to explain multiple LSAT scores or a low LSAT score;
2. You are taking the December LSAT and planning to apply in early January (a totally fine and wonderful plan, by the way!) but you are spending time on discussion forums learning about the three people who have already been admitted to Duke Law and UCLA and you are freaking out;
3. You are (although you won’t get much sympathy from my readers) done applying to law school and on pins and needles waiting to hear back, wondering whether you messed anything up on your applications, second guessing your decision to write your personal statement about whatever topic you happened to choose (especially after reading discussion forums talking about personal statement topics!).
In The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert, I titled this syndrome (shared in all 3 scenarios) Application Panic Syndrome. How do you treat it?
After working with hundreds (and hundreds!) of people applying to law school, I think I have found the medication if not the cure:
Start by breathing. Then pick the smallest thing within your control and do that. Some suggestions:
1. Start with your resume. By conquering something as methodical as accounting for your time since graduating from high school, you will hopefully be reminded of all of the things you’ve accomplished in your life, the experiences you’ve grown from and enjoyed, and how hard you have worked, and this in turn will remind you that you are a deserving law school applicant with experiences worth sharing with a law school.
2. Do those tasks which do not require any decision making: send in your transcripts, make sure your letter writers are underway with their ringing endorsements of you (and THANK GOD you can now have Letters of Recommendation sent in electronically! Woo hoo! Next thing you know the LSAT might actually be given more than 4 times a year… No, don’t get your hopes up.)
3. If you are really feeling stuck, look for motivation. Read about a lawyer whose career inspires you. Make a list of what is important to you in a law school – being near family and friends so you have people to feed you during stressful times? Keeping the cost down? Being able to attend part time? Studying a certain area of law? In a certain city? Keep your eye on the prize. If this doesn’t get you moving to work on your personal statement and other essays and to actually apply to law school, then something is wrong. Maybe you don’t really want to go to law school, or at least not right now.
So, here’s the answer to the question, “When Should I Apply to Law School?”
For people who are not taking the LSAT in the future – apply by the end of October/early November (ideally) but if it slides to winter break it’s not the end of the world since law school applications are down overall and rolling admissions is a bit more fungible in this application climate.
If you took the October 2012 LSAT, plan to apply by the end of November (again, this can slide to winter break if you need it to).
If you are taking the December 2012 LSAT, plan to submit all applications in the first 2 weeks of January.
If you are looking for a personalized admission timeline and help through the process, please check out more information about how I work with law school applicants on a personal basis as a law school admission consultant.