Undergraduates planning to apply to law school often have their hands full with coursework and extracurricular activities. Since undergraduate grades are a major factor in law school admissions, academic performance is of paramount importance while you’re in school.
But what about winter break? This respite between classes can be a good time to make headway on your law school candidacy.
Your priorities during this time depend on whether you plan to apply during the current cycle to start law school next fall, or to apply in a future cycle. Finish editing any remaining essays and be sure to proofread every document carefully to avoid embarrassing typos.
If You Hope to Start Law School Next Fall
Application deadlines may still be months away, but January is a bit late in the game to apply to selective law schools, since law school admissions are rolling.
Make sure you have requested your transcripts from every higher education institution you have attended to be submitted through the Law School Admission Council’s centralized Credential Assembly Service. They can take a few weeks to process, and it would be a shame if they delayed your application.
Likewise, check in with any delinquent recommenders. Professors and even many work supervisors generally have more time and availability around the holidays.
If you have already submitted applications, consider adding a safety school or two, since applications for less selective law schools are less time-sensitive.
Resist the urge to check in with law schools while awaiting your decision. If your applications are marked as submitted in your CAS profile, then they will be reviewed. Be patient; it may take several months to receive all your results.
That said, if there have been any significant changes in your candidacy, you can consider emailing admissions offices a brief update.
If you plan to apply for need-based financial aid, winter break is a great time to get the paperwork out of the way. The deadlines for financial aid applications are usually not until spring, but applications require a lot of personal and financial documentation that can take time to gather.
If You Plan to Apply to Law School in the Future
For future applicants looking for a head start, winter break is a good time to start thinking about LSAT preparation.
Studying for the LSAT can take several months, and many applicants take the LSAT multiple times. Getting started over the winter can avoid stress down the road. If that sounds too daunting, start by familiarizing yourself with the test so you know what you’re up against.
Winter break is also a good time to think about how to approach your remaining time in college before the next term gets underway. Are you taking the right courses to prepare you for law school? Do you have at least one or two professors you feel comfortable reaching out to for a recommendation letter, and if not, what could you do to build such a relationship? Are you taking on a challenging but manageable balance of classes and extracurricular activities?
Finally, consider whether time off between college and law school might make sense, to have more time in school to raise your GPA as well as to gain work experience.
Above all, of course, use your winter break to rest, take stock and enjoy the holidays. Law school applications can feel overwhelming, so it’s important to keep in perspective all the things in life that matter more in the long run.