Planning for law school should begin as early in one's undergraduate program as possible. If you harbor even a faint thought that attending law school may be in your future, start planning as soon as you begin your undergraduate studies. Proper advanced planning assures few problems as the application date come closer.
The most important fact about law school admission that must be your guide, especially in the first two years of your undergraduate education, is that one of the two major factors in determining success in admission to law school is the grade point average. Be sure to concentrate on fulfilling Rollins College general education requirements as early as possible, preferably before you complete the sophormore year. That will afford you the luxury of selecting elective courses in the sophomore and particularly the junior and senior years that are in fields of your prime interest and where you are likely to earn high grades that will boost your grade point average. Another advantage: You can be satisfying the requirements of your major beginning in the sophomore year and with heavy concentration in the junior year and still have room in your schedule to enroll in courses that will serve to prepare you for the Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT) and which are likely to help you increase your potential for the best score you can earn on that test. Remember, the LSAT is the other major factor that determines admission to law school.
In choosing courses in these early undergraduate years, take courses in which you will deelop reserach skills and involve yourself in inductive and deductive reasoning, critical analysis, and the systematic formulation of principles and concepts. Courses in logic, history, communication, argumentation, mathematics, literary criticism, physical science, and introductory courses that will open the way for later study of courses in political and economic theory are especially advised. Keep in mind your own interests and talents in course selection. The best major is usually the one in which you have the most interest.
The best preparation for law school is a liberal education, the kind offered at Rollins. That education ensures exposure to the widest variety of ideas and to a critical understanding of human institutions and values, as well as the social, political, economic, and cultural forces which have shaped laws and the societies they govern. The interconnectedness of ideas among the various disciplines is important and helpful. Try some new fields of study, subjects that you were not exposed to in high school. One caveat: Don't be too daring in breaking new ground during the initial college year. By continuing those subjects encountered in high school, a student will have a better than average chance of getting off on the right foot. In the sophomore year, you should feel more comfortable about venturing out into new territory. As you make your course selections, remember: law schools prefer students who can think, read, and write well, and who have some understanding of what shapes human experience.
Select your major as early as possible, but not later than the middle or end of the sophomore year. In making the selection, review the courses you have taken, the grades earned especially in courses that are academically rigorous and which you enjoyed. Remember, as stated earlier, law schools do not favor one major over another.
Your major concentration in these first two years of college should be GRADES, GRADES, and GRADES. Build the foundation for a very high grade point average and take the introductory courses that will enable you to do well in the more rigorous upper-level courses that will help sharpen the skills you need to master for the LSAT and for success in law school.
You have selected your major and should have completed all, or nearly all, of your general education requirements for graduation. Continue to concentrate on getting the highest grade possible in every course. Choose electives using the standards cited earlier. And, start to investigate courses offered in preparation for the Law School Aptitude Test. Plan to enroll in one of these courses early in the junior year. You are urgently advised to take the LSAT in June of the junior year )approximately 14 months prior to your formal entry into law schoo.
Most American accredtied law schools are on a rolling admission program. If you take the June test, you will receive the results early enough to devise an application strategy and be in the first wave of applicants. BEcause of rolling admissions, the earlier you apply, the better your chances of admission. An October test is not reported until November, which gives a student little time to prepare strategically a set of applications and be in the first group to apply. The June test also gives you an opportunity to retake the test in October, the next date on which the test is administered, but that is only advisable under special conditions discussed later.
Rollins College offers a two-credit non graded Law School Aptitude Preparation course at least once each year. Conquering the LSAT is taught by four Rollins College professors who are experts in the major fields tested. Students should take the course in the fall term of the freshman year and repeat it once in the fall of the sophomore and junior years. Credit is given only one time. However, experience shows that students who repeat the course two or three times are likely to reflect a significant improvement on the LSAT examination.
There are a number of other quality courses offered outside the College. Some are offered online, but those courses are recommended only for students who are very disciplined and not likely to be distracted from the daily rigors of online instruction, practice testing, and self grading. In choosing a course, consider these factors: cost, dates of formal instruction and alternative meeting times, number of practice tests offered and method of offering personal analysis of each test you take, opportunity to repeat the course without extra costs, and proximity to where you will be living in your junior year at the College. The Center for Pre Law Advising has an exhaustive list of courses offered and students are invited to explore the materials as an aid to LSAT course selection.
The formal application to law school should begin as early as September of the senior year. By now, you should have received your score on the LSAT and have collected and filed with the Center for Pre Law Advising your letters of recommendation. You know your GPA and now have the information that will help you decide on the law schools to which you should apply. First, let's look at the applications and some basic information you will need to know as you proceed through the process.
You will have dealt with the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) when you applied to take the LSAT. LSAC administers the LSAT four times a year at designated centers throughout the world. As indicated earlier, the exam is required for admission to all accredited law schools that comprise the membership of the Council. At this point in the application process, you will have further contacts with LSAC.
The Law School Admission Council is a nonprofit corporation which, in addition to the administration of the LSAT, provides a number of important services and programs for law schools, applicants, and students. At the core of each is an ongoing commitment to expanding educational opportunities for underrepresented minorities, educationally disadvantaged persons, and people with disabilities. Students who fall into any of the aforementioned categories should notify the Center for Pre Law Advising of their particular status so that we may assist in working with LSAC on your behalf.
An imporant part of LSAC is the Law School Data Assemby Service (LSDAS). This service was created to organize and summarize the biographic and academic information of law school applicants. Almost all LSAC member law schools in the United States require applicants to subscribe to this service.
Through LSDAS, LSAC provides law schools with a report containing standardized summaries of academic work, copies of college transcripts, LSAT scores, and writing samples. Law schools find that this service expedites the admission process by allowing admission committees to devote more time to evaluating applicants' individual credentials rather than attending to clerical details or searching through cast quantities of paper for a specific piece of information.
For law students, LSDAS reduces much of the complex application process to one simple step. Rather than being required to provide transcripts, LSAT scores, and the like to several law schools, students provide all the required information to Law Services, and that organization takes care of the rest. The student applies online at the official LSAC website, is assigned a number, and then directs all information from the application to the LSAT score to the letters of recommendation and other information necessary to compile the record of information law schools require in their review of each application. Thus, assume a student applies to five law schools. In most cases, the student will need to complete only one uniform application, provide the other relevant application information (e.g., letters of recommendation, transcript, etc.) only once. All of the information is forwarded by the student to LSAC, placed in the student's numbered file, summarized by LSAC, and then forwarded to every one of the five law schools as directed by the student. The student does not have to get 10 letters of recommendation (assuming each of the five schools requires two such letters) nor request the registrar of her/his undergraduate institution to send a separate transcript to each of the five law schools. (Note: Some law schools require that their application form be used rather than the uniform application, but even that is handled by LSAC). Upon request, the Center for Pre Law Advising actively assists students in the LSAC registration process.
As soon as you receive your LSAT score, study the Official Guide to Law School (copies are readily available for your use in the office of the Center for Pre Law Advising or may be purchased online or at most major bookstores). The guide indicates average minimum LSAT and GPA of its latest classes admitted and will give you an idea of whether or not you are in the "ball park" for the various insitutions.
Make an exhaustive list of schools to which you have a reasonable chance of admission. That list should include every school you contemplate. Check the websites of each school to determine when the formal applications will be available. That will usually be in September or October of your senior year (about 11 months before you would begin your law school studies). REMEMBER: WITH ROLLING ADMISSIONS, THE EARLIER YOU APPLY, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES OF ADMISSION. Mail your completed applications, and all requests for financial aid, no later than the end of October. You do not want to be in the position of having your application considered at a time when the class is nearly filled, which will likely be by early Spring (or even late Winter).
Prior to completing the applications, narrow your choice of law schools. First, choose at least two or three law schools that are your ideal choice (even if you believe you may fall a bit short of some of their requirements). Your next category should be an equal number of law schools that are in your range according to the Guide. Finally, select one or two "back-up" institutions. These are schools where you have a GPA and LSAT score that is higher than the school(s) admission average. The Center for Pre Law Advising will help you in these selections.