Sunday, April 1, 2007

Why Not Apply Everywhere?

Okay, so here were my basic stats:
UGPA: 2.97 (Virginia Tech)
LSAT: 166

Those are the two most easily quantified factors. As for my "intangibles" :
-bachelor's degree in Political Science from a science & technology school, albeit a major state university with a positive reputation
-master's degree in education with a GPA of 3.47
-one semester of academic probation
-Virginia resident
-"legacy" connections at Richmond and William & Mary
-several instances of community service with continued interest (doing the same thing several times)
-solid extracurriculars (band, campus ministry)
-leadership positions in extracurriculars and community service
-good letters of recommendation
-good writing sample on LSAT
-good personal statement

I decided that I wasn't interested in attending any large programs, such as those with more than 250 students per class. I also wasn't really interested in schools outside the Southeast. I visited American, Emory, George Mason, Georgia, Richmond, Tennessee, Wake Forest, and Villanova and realized that I didn't really like private schools and eliminated all but Richmond from my list. I also learned very early from Richmond that I had been accepted and so there was no reason for me to apply to any safety schools, as Richmond is a good school. I narrowed my list to George Mason, Georgia, Richmond, Tennessee, and William & Mary (although I only applied to W&M because my parents wanted me to, as I considered it such a reach that I figured that I was simply throwing away my $50). This small list, especially as most were public schools, saved me several hundred dollars in application fees.

Let me stress for a moment how important it is to visit the schools. If you're not comfortable at the school you're not going to do well. You need to know if you're okay with an urban campus, with a place surrounded by miles and miles of nothingness, and even if you like the architecture. The first four of the schools where I applied each had advantages and disadvantages, but it was William & Mary where everything just clicked for me. There were areas where each school rivalled W&M, but there was no other school in my list that beat it in any category, let alone rivalled it in every way. It has a wonderful faculty, a gorgeous and relaxed setting, a solid reputation, and I would pay in-state tuition.

Not everyone will see my criteria as important. For some law school is simply a springboard, and the place with the most prestige and highest-paid job prospects is where they want to be. Others are tied to a specific area or need scholarships to be able to attend. Know what you want, and go for it.

No comments: