Law School Rolling Admissions Explained
After going through the application process for undergraduate schools you may consider yourself an application wizard. While law school admissions share many similarities with undergraduate admissions, they also share some differences. One of the admissions subjects most often talked about is the concept of rolling admissions. So what exactly are rolling admissions and do they impact your chances of being admitted into your dream law school?
Law School Rolling Admissions Explained
What Are Rolling Admissions?
Rolling admissions are a common admissions method implemented by law schools around the country. Rolling admissions essentially mean that a law school accepts and evaluates applications on a continuous basis until a set deadline. When compared to the traditional college admissions process, the deadline is sometimes closer to the start of classes. Sometimes, this deadline can be so extreme that it is just one or two weeks before classes start! Since the application window is so long, admissions decisions are based on when an application was received. This is different than schools choosing to set a certain date to release admission decisions.
Why Do Law Schools Use Rolling Admissions?
A long admissions window gives you, as an applicant, more time to prepare your application materials before sending them off. The more time the applicants to prepare means the more time law schools will have to evaluate applications. In a sense, rolling admissions take the pressure off both the applicant and the law school by spreading the process out. Rolling admissions allow law schools to avoid the frenzied process of reviewing hundreds and thousands of applications simultaneously. Instead, applications tend to continuously roll in and law schools can evaluate candidates more freely.
When Should I Apply?
Now that you have an understanding of what rolling admissions are, you may be wondering when to apply during the admissions cycle. Applicants are almost always encouraged to apply as early as possible. This is for a number of reasons. The first reason has to do with class size. Most law schools cap class sizes around a certain number. The first applicant to apply has a much better shot of receiving an offer of admission than does applicant number 10,001. Many competitive law school programs reach capacity before the admissions deadline, so applicants are encouraged to apply early. Just because the rolling admissions deadlines might have a prolonged window doesn’t mean you should wait to apply. Remember, the sooner you apply the sooner you will hear back.
We encourage applicants to apply in November, or by January 1st at the latest. This will help ensure your application is in “early” and you can take advantage of the rolling admissions process. You can check out this nifty page by LSAC to see real-time up to date application information.
The second reason to apply early has to do with the number of students you are being compared to. The earlier you apply, the smaller the number of competing students you are compared to is. With fewer applicants to compete against, potential law school students can increase their chances of attending their dream school.
While applying early is encouraged, it may not have as significant of an impact when applying to lower-ranked schools. This is because law schools that are ranked in the third and fourth-tier may still be working on filling classrooms.
Rolling Admissions vs. Priority Deadline
You may come across some law schools that offer rolling admissions in addition to a priority deadline. What is a priority deadline and how do they impact rolling admissions? A priority deadline is an artificial date set by law schools. These deadlines state that students who apply by the deadline will have a better chance of acceptance. This encourages interested students to submit their applications even earlier than they otherwise might. (Kind of a built-in request to apply early!) We encourage applicants to still apply as early on in the admissions cycle as possible, even before the priority deadline. Unless you plan on taking the December LSAT, November should be your ideal admissions deadline.
In addition to the reasons above, consider these next two. For one, a priority deadline should be considered a normal deadline when applying to highly competitive law schools. Another reason to apply early is to avoid the application flood that law schools receive closer to the priority deadline. You want to stand out and not be swept up among thousands of other applications if you can avoid it.