First and foremost, I am sorry that things didn’t pan out the way you hoped but that doesn’t mean your aspirations for being a successful attorney are diverted. It doesn’t even mean that graduating from your dream law school is out of reach.
So, you didn’t get into your dream law school. What do you do now? One option many students consider is to wait a year and reapply in the next cycle.
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers that plague applicants reapplying to law school.
Reapplying to law school? Here are 6 answers to your most asked questions!
1. IF I DECIDE TO WAIT ANOTHER YEAR, SHOULD I BE DOING ANYTHING RIGHT NOW?
Yes and no. The most important thing you can do is be prepared to apply early!
The first time you applied to law school you were likely anchored to an LSAT test date or finishing the fall semester before submitting grades for consideration. If you are reapplying, you have the advantage of being a part of a small group of applicants who are fully prepared to apply early.
Most schools employ rolling admissions, which is a process that allows students who apply in the first few weeks and months after their application opens to avail themselves of the best chances of being offered admission (and sometimes the best chances for scholarships as well). If you applied this past April, by that point in the application cycle the competition was likely stiff for the last few seats open in a class. Moreover, the pool of scholarship money was likely assigned to other outstanding students at that time. The good news is that applying again this October gives you the best chances of being offered a seat in a class not yet filled and receiving scholarship from a funding pool that will be replenished in the new year!
Although it might seem far into the future, the application process begins again in the October (or earlier), which is only a few months away. You have nothing standing in the way of you missing an early decision deadline or otherwise taking advantage of rolling admissions.
Get the application release dates in your calendar and make sure you’re ready to hit submit on your application this fall!
2. WILL THEY KNOW I APPLIED ALREADY AND HOLD IT AGAINST ME?
Yes, they will know you applied already. No, they won’t hold it against you.
Your application will be labeled as a “reapplication” and the documents from your first application will be joined in with your new ones (more on that later). It will be obvious that you applied the first time whether you accurately self-identify as a “re-applicant” or not on the application.
However, the school will not hold an earlier decision against you. Whether they offered you admission and you did not accept their offer or you applied but did not get in, your reapplication will be reviewed without prejudice for previous applications and decisions.
That being said, you’ll want to update your documents and address in your reapplication why you chose not to ultimately attend the prior year.
3. CAN I JUST RESUBMIT THE SAME APPLICATION AGAIN?
Some, but not all, can remain the same.
The good news is that much of the application must remain the same with items such as your transcripts and LSAT scores already being solidified (unless, of course, you chose to take the LSAT again). That being said, you don’t want to submit the same exact application twice.
The reason for not being offered admission the first time you applied may have been for a lack of open seats in the class, but there was likely something else (however small) about your application that didn’t compel the admissions office to immediately offer you a spot in their class.
Try to re-write your optional essays, re-edit all of your work, and have others look at it for feedback. Is there another, perhaps more compelling, narrative your personal statement should focus on? Give yourself time to look at each component of your reapplication through the lens of an admissions officer and adjust accordingly. Be open to change, no matter how painful it may be to rewrite those application essays. We are also happy to help you. Feel free to contact us at your convenience.
4. I HATED WRITING MY PERSONAL STATEMENT. DO I REALLY HAVE TO DO THAT AGAIN?
Not entirely. But keep in mind point #3 above!
You don’t need to write an entirely new personal statement if you are reapplying to law school. However, at the very least, the last few paragraphs of your previous statement should be updated to address why you didn’t attend law school the first year you applied.
If you’re worried about the length of your personal statement, this question can also be addressed in an addendum. Each school may vary in how and where the best place is to explain your decision-making process the first time you applied, but it must be addressed!
Why you are reapplying will be on the minds of the admissions officer reading your application so it’s best to tell them directly and in your own words why you weren’t ready for law school the year prior and how you’ve grown since then.
5. DO I NEED TO TAKE THE LSAT AGAIN?
Look at what the 25/50/75 LSAT percentiles are for the incoming class at your dream school. If your score falls at the 50th percentile or above, it’s completely up to you whether you retake the test and if you have the time to study in your schedule before reapplying to law school. You want to be sure that your LSAT score doesn’t drop when retaking the exam.
If your LSAT score falls below the 50th percentile, I would strongly encourage you to sign up for the July or September exam. (Keep in mind point #1 above on why you should avail yourself of rolling admissions. Taking the LSAT in July or September still allows you to apply early). It’s important to make your application as competitive as possible when reapplying. The LSAT, for better or worse, is a large part of that determination.
6. WHAT ELSE SHOULD I CHANGE IN MY REAPPLICATION?
If you are reapplying to law school, update your resume and add another letter of recommendation, if possible.
Make sure the admissions committee knows what you’ve done this past year. Perhaps you received a promotion since applying, built a new skill set, started a family, or took up a new hobby? These are all things you’ll want to highlight in your reapplication.
If possible, also add an updated letter of recommendation to your file. If you just graduated from school then perhaps this can come from a spring semester professor? Or, if you have a new supervisor at work who can better explain your recent performance and responsibilities, ask him/her to write you an additional letter.
The most important thing is to make sure your letters are not out of date. If you obtained a letter a year before you initially applied and are now thinking of reapplying, then that letter may be two or more years old by the time your application is reviewed again. This leaves open the possible misinterpretation by the reader that you didn’t have anyone to write something nice about you since then – which is not the sentiment you intend to convey!
Rachel Margiewicz, Director of Pre-Law Services, wrote this post. Rachel is a licensed attorney with years of admissions experience across three law school programs in different markets of the country. She knows what schools are looking for and how to make your application stand out. Contact us with questions and for more information on our application assistance services! We look forward to hearing from you!
LOOKING TO TRANSFER AFTER YOUR 1L YEAR?
Another option available to students is to attend a law school that did give you an offer of admission and try to transfer to your dream school after your first year. Be sure to read everything to consider before transferring.
Looking for pre-law services?
Our admissions experts offer exceptional assistance for students as they prepare for the law school application process. You can read about our various pre-law options here.