Networking Tips from a Dean of Admissions

Networking is such a buzz-word we fear it has lost its true value.  What is the value of networking?  It is purely about learning.  Building relationships, pushing yourself to strike up conversations, asking meaningful questions, and getting a personal store of contacts cannot possibly be over-rated.  Students who push themselves to do these things well continue to find opportunities – even in markets like today.  The Pre-Law Advising Center hosts many networking events – ones to learn effective strategies and EVERY event that we hold which leads to another contact.  Place yourself at the top of the networking game by attending ones like the one where we recently hosted Pam Bloomquist.

Dean Pam Bloomquist, Assistant Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, visited UIUC on March 7th. She stressed the importance of networking and the impact it can make for students interested in law. She gave an example similar to the following: You decide to shadow an attorney and you arrive and he/she gives you a business card. One contact. You ask a question about litigation but the attorney thinks another associate could better answer your question so he/she passes you to another associate. You get another business card. Two contacts. This process could go on the entire time you are shadowing. At the end of the day, you could have multiple contacts. This is something so simple but so significant. Thus, here are some quick tips you can use to build your network:

  1. Ask for business cards: even if you know you don’t want to do that particular job or work at that company, you never know when you might want or need to contact that person
  2. After a job shadowing experience or meeting a professional, take a few notes down about what you talked about or things you had in common. Your notes will come handy in tip #3
  3. Follow-up with e-mails: email the professionals you met, even if it is just to thank them for your conversation. This will help the professionals remember you, allow you to stick out, and could open opportunities for you in the future,
  4. Address an email with a title. Example: “Good morning Ms.______”. This is more professional and appropriate than  “Hello” or “Hey”
  5. Take advantage of opportunities to meet law school deans, professors, and professionals.  When they come to campus, go meet them. They might remember you and thus take notice of your application above other applications.

Suzi Blanco is a graduate intern in the Pre-Law Advising Services office and Division of General Studies where she has focused on social media and outreach to students. She will graduate in May 2013 with her Master’s degree in Higher Education and will continue working with students as an academic advisor in the School of Chemical Sciences. 

Spring Break Edition: Things To Do

Spring Break starts at the end of this week.  Here are some suggestions for how to use the break wisely.  

Seniors Applying This Cycle

1. Applications. If you haven’t already done so….submit your applications!!!!!  I know several law schools have extended their deadlines but this is a rolling process and many schools have few if any seats (or financial aid) left to give to applicants.

2. Decision Time.  For those of you that submitted applications much earlier this cycle and consequently are now weighing all your options — really evaluate your offers and try to come to a decision in the next couple of weeks.  Those of you who have been in to see me have been advised to create a table or spreadsheet listing the items most important to you (i.e., cost/scholarship, employment numbers, bar passage rate, location) to help you decide among your offers.  Also make plans to visit the law schools if you haven’t already done so — you would be surprised about the number of students who love a school on paper but are not thrilled with the school once they visit.  Law school is a HUGE investment — find the time to visit the schools!!!!

Juniors Applying in the Fall

1. Letters of Recommendation. Start thinking about whom you should ask to write your letters of recommendation and plan to request your LORs BEFORE you leave campus for the summer.  Applicants frequently make the mistake of waiting until fall to approach their professors and then find themselves waiting quite a while.  Your professors are busy so you need to plan ahead to give them enough time to write your letters… and the letters that others are requesting.

2. Attend PLAS Programs! Attending our upcoming PLAS programs will help you get a jump start on your applications.  Remember — most law schools admit applicants on a rolling basis so the earlier you apply, the better!

  • Financing Law School, Monday April 1, 5-6pm, College of Law, 504 East Pennsylvania Avenue, Classroom A. Our Financial Aid Series continues! With so many different aid offers from various law schools….how do students choose? Julie Griffin, Assistant Director of Financial Aid at the College of Law, and Donna Davis, a current 2L and Pre-Law Advising Graduate Assistant, are here to walk you through it! Ms. Griffin and Ms. Davis will show you what a law school financial aid offer looks like and demonstrate how to evaluate aid packages and make fair comparisons among schools. No registration required. 
  • Applying to Law School — A Workshop for Fall Applicants — Monday, April 15, 4-5:00 pm, Room 1027 Lincoln Hall. Applying to law school early in the application cycle can result in more admission offers, more aid, and much less stress. This workshop is designed for students who will be applying to law school this fall and want to maximize their law school opportunities. We will provide an overview of the law school application process and share a timeline for optimal application results. No registration required.
  • Personal Statement Workshop for Fall Applicants — Thursday, April 18, 12-1:00pm, Room 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building.  Law school applicants consistently say that the personal statement took much more time to write than they expected. This workshop will provide an overview of the personal statement and the resume for law school applications. Please register by clicking on this link http://illinois.edu/calendar/list/2508 to our Event Calendar. Once there, please select this event and then click on “register.”  Registration is required so that we can provide enough seating and materials for everyone.

All Pre-Law Students

1. Find and apply for summer internships NOW.  Not sure where to start?  Go here, http://publish.illinois.edu/prelawadvising/2012/12/20/internship-newsletter/, to access our Internship Newsletter that was originally posted on December 20.  It contains 17 pages of information on internships and jobs.  Many of these postings have March deadlines so start looking now!

2. Stay informed… about all of our PLAS Programs, information sessions, updates on the legal profession, etc.  How???

 Enjoy your break!

Financing Law School — Audio File for Webinar Available!

Were you unable to attend the Heather Jarvis webinar, “Realities of Financing a Legal Education” last week? Good news — click on the following link and you can find out what you missed! https://illinois.edu/fb/sec/9083015.  Just enter your net id and password and you will be able to access the presentation. Once there, click on the “view presentation” link.  The audio and slide presentation should begin.

In the webinar Ms. Jarvis, a nationally-renowed financial aid expert, explains student loan options at the law school level and shares information about recent changes to loan repayment options, including loan forgiveness programs . This is a must-see for students entering law school. Find out more about Heather and her excellent resources at http://askheatherjarvis.com/. The webinar link will only be available for the next month so check it out now!!

Free LSAT Lessons!

This week seems to bring a focus on LSAT prep, and with the number of June test-takers we have it’s time to stop any delay on your LSAT prep.  Not only does the score play a significant role in your admissions profile, but it can really make the difference in terms of scholarship offers!  So don’t delay – start your study routine today!

This website was a dear friend of mine (and clearly on the screens of many of my peers 1L year!) when we were “on call” our first year.  I just realized it had a wonderful LSAT series and thought you might find it helpful as a free starting point.

http://www.casebriefs.com/blog/category/pre-law/lsat-course/

Let us know if there is any way we can help you in your LSAT preparation!

LSAT Test Prep — Free Practice LSATs

Hello pre-law students! Planning on taking the June LSAT?  Have you taken a practice LSAT yet?   Scroll down to find out about some free practice LSAT opportunities this week and next. This is a great opportunity for you to see how you might score on the real thing, and also to become familiar with the kinds of questions that will be on the real test. Note: PLAS does not endorse or support any specific test prep company.  We are simply passing this along for your information. 

Kaplan is holding a FREE Practice Test for the LSAT. The next LSAT campus event is taking place on Wednesday, February 20,  at the Kaplan Center on Green Street.  

If you would rather take the LSAT practice test from home, the library, a coffee shop, or even an open computer lab on campus? Then take your practice test live and online in the Classroom Anywhere environment, available from anywhere you have internet access.  Reserve your spot at:  bitly.com/UofIPracticeTestSpring2013

Each test will last up to 4 hours and will be proctored like an actual exam. Immediately following the exam, you will be able to receive your score report, with full comprehensive feedback on your individual performance. To register for this free event, sign up at the following web form: bitly.com/UofIPracticeTestSpring2013Before the event, we will send you an email confirming your registration and providing you with instructions for how to get started.

Princeton Review is offering a free live practice LSAT tomorrow, February 12, beginning at 6:30pm, at the University of Illinois College of Law.  To register for this practice LSAT, go here: http://www.princetonreview.com/ChooseProducts.aspx?&zipcode=61820&testtype=TFA&producttype=FRE&productdetail=LSATEventsNearYou.

PowerScore offers a free online practice LSAT.  Click on the link for more information. http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/LSAT-Starter-Kit.cfm.

 

LSAT Prep – Scholarship Announcements and Pre-Law Study Groups!

Congratulations to our 2013 LSAT Prep Scholarship Winners!

Two Pre-Law students were each awarded full scholarships for Kaplan’s LSAT Advantage On Site, Anywhere, or On Demand courses.  Find our more about these Kaplan programs at:  http://www.kaptest.com/LSAT/Home/index.html.

One Pre-Law student was awarded a LSAT Weekend Course from PowerScore Test Preparation.  And EIGHT Pre-Lawers each received one of PowerScore’s popular Logic Games Bible books.  Find out more about PowerScore at:  http://ww.powerscore.com/lsat/content-index.cfm.

Two students were each awarded $500 towards the purchases of a Next Step Test Prep LSAT one-on-one tutoring service.  Find out more about Next Step Test Prep here:  http://www.nextsteptestprep.com/tests/lsat-tutors/.

We look forward to hearing the success stories from these students and from YOU!  Whether or not you participate in one of these professional test prep programs – perhaps you’d like to connect with another pre-law student to form a study group.  If so, email the Pre-Law Graduate Assistant, Donna Davis, at dmdavis4@illinois.edu with your preferred contact information and a general study group interest (1x/2x per week, 2x per month, morning/afternoon/evening) and we will connect you with other pre-law students so that you can have another realm of accountability and partnership as you pursue this important part of the law school application process.

Congratulations Again!  Wishing all our LSAT takers the best!

Maximizing Dean Visits: Part I (Or, How to Make a Good Impression on a Dean)

We’ve already hosted one law school dean on campus this semester, and we’ll be hosting several more in the coming months. (Coming up in February: Dean Mitchell from Case Western Reserve and Dean Burns from DePaul. Visit our calendar here for more details on each.) In this post, let’s examine just how students can maximize dean visits. (We will look at how to maximize law school visits in Part 2.)

Students should go to these events. Frankly, I’m shocked that more pre-law students do not take advantage of the opportunity to meet an admissions dean who has come to campus. Why don’t they? Let’s do a brief cost/benefit analysis.

Admission Dean visit to campus
Cost: No money, an hour of your time
Benefit: Making a good impression on the dean can result in admission or scholarship offers. You’ll probably learn something valuable about the law school admissions process, or about the school itself. At the very least, you’ll give the dean a face to associate with your application, making your file more personal than the thousand files of people s/he has never met.

Many students think that attending a law school open house or meeting an admissions dean won’t influence their decision about whether to admit you to their school, or whether to award you a scholarship. In my experience, that is totally wrong. Why?

First, I think many people would be surprised to know how much power an admissions dean has over the final admissions decision. Many deans can make admissions decisions entirely on their own, or override a veto by a committee. I know deans–more than one–who have made an on-the-spot decision to admit an applicant–with a scholarship–while that applicant visited during an open house. Why? Because the dean was impressed by the applicant’s professionalism, passion, and maturity. In other words, a positive personal impression by someone with a lot of power over your admission can weigh heavily in your favor. After all, admissions is a human process–if it were ALL about the numbers, then machines would do it.

Second, many students think that the dean won’t remember meeting them. Not only am I impressed by the memories of admissions professionals, but I know that many take great pains to jot down the names of students they spoke with–sometimes during a conversation and sometimes right afterwards. Several deans have told me that as soon as they leave a meeting with students, they immediately review those students’ applications while their impressions are still fresh. At minimum, most deans will have students sign in and then use that sign-in sheet to see who was interested enough to make the effort to come and meet them. This will be noted in the applicant’s file.

Third, many students think that in a roomful of people, the dean won’t notice them, either for positive reasons or negative ones. By nature and by training, we lawyers are detail oriented and most of us are very observant. Trust me–even if we aren’t saying it, we’re thinking it. Here are some simple but powerful positive observations that deans have shared with me about particular students/applicants after visiting our campus:

  • S/he is very personable/pleasant/mature. How simple is that? Being nice gets noticed. Or, as one dean puts it, nobody wants a jerk in their school.
  • S/he speaks very well. A valued skill for a prospective lawyer.
  • S/he seems to truly care about ________. Examples: The environment, helping children, global security…This signals that the applicant has clearly articulated a passion and has asked insightful questions about a legal career in that area.
  • S/he would be a great fit for our school. This one’s a little harder to pin down, but just as applicants get a “feel” for a school by visiting, deans can get a similar feeling by meeting applicants.

The down side to being observant means that deans also sometimes have negative impressions of students and applicants. Some examples:

  • S/he never made eye contact with me/stared at the floor the whole time. Again, another simple gesture. In a first impression, eye contact demonstrates poise, confidence, and good interpersonal skills…all of which a lawyer needs in order to get and maintain clients.
  • S/he is very intense. This could mean that the person fired a barrage of questions at the dean, instantly name-dropped some “connections” (My uncle’s chiropractor went to your school and he’s writing a recommendation for me…), or shared some outrageous expectations (I deserve a big scholarship!) See above, about nobody wanting a jerk in their school.
  • S/he doesn’t seem to know why this law school is a good fit. Deans always like to ask what interests applicants about their school. Telling a dean that her law school is probably the best you can get into, or that it’s close to where your parents live, is a little insulting. Side note: I have observed applicants saying both of these to a dean. In both cases, the dean mentioned it to me afterwards…and not in a positive way.

While we’re on the subject of first impressions, please let me say that etiquette and dress say a lot about you. Two brief observations:

  • I have personally observed many students interrupt the dean of admissions to ask another question while s/he is speaking. This is extremely disrespectful and rude, and it will without a doubt be noticed and remembered by the dean.
  • No one expects you to show up wearing a tuxedo or bridesmaid gown. But wearing your bar crawl t-shirt, or worse, sweatpants, or much, much worse, pajama pants and slippers (yes, all of these actually happened) to meet a law school dean suggests a serious lack of professional judgment. A popular saying is to “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” A button-up shirt or sweater and pants is perfectly acceptable and takes no more effort than a t-shirt and jeans. When in doubt, go business casual.

To summarize: Meeting deans of admissions and attending law school visits can actually make a big difference for your application. An admissions dean holds a lot of power over admissions and scholarship decisions, and personal impressions can and will be factored in. Do not make the mistake of thinking that attending these events is not worth your time.

During the visit: Be nice, be pleasant, make eye contact, wear business casual clothes, listen while the dean speaks, and don’t say anything too outrageous within five seconds of meeting the dean. Nothing too taxing, right?

In Part 2, we will examine how students can maximize law school visits.

 

LSAT Prep Scholarship Essays Due Tomorrow–Plus, a new addition!

A quick announcement: We have an addition to the LSAT prep scholarships! Princeton Review has donated one LSAT LiveOnline course! To find out more about Princeton Review, visit their website here.

When you submit your essay, please indicate which of these scholarship(s) you are applying for!

Here are the details from our original Jan. 7 post:

Are you taking the June LSAT but not sure you can afford a prep course? Pre-Law Advising Services is pleased to announce several LSAT prep course scholarships. Thanks to our sponsors, who have kindly donated scholarships, we are able to offer the following scholarships to University of Illinois students:

If you are interested in applying for one of these scholarships, please submit the following: 1) Your resume, AND
2) A short essay (no more than 600 words) that addresses each of the following:

  • Which of the scholarship(s) listed above are you applying for?
  • Have you taken an LSAT prep class before?
  • What is your financial need? (It is not necessary to provide exact numbers, just give us a sense of your financial situation and why a scholarship is necessary.)
  • How can this scholarship help you achieve your goals?

Email your resume and essay to Judy Argentieri via email only at jargenti@illinois.edu by Wednesday, January 23 at NOON.

Winners will be announced quickly–by Monday, January 28–so that you can make necessary plans for spring LSAT courses. Good luck!

LSAT Prep Course Scholarship Announcement!

Are you taking the June LSAT but not sure you can afford a prep course? Pre-Law Advising Services is pleased to announce several LSAT prep course scholarships. Thanks to our sponsors, who have kindly donated scholarships, we are able to offer the following scholarships to University of Illinois students:

If you are interested in applying for one of these scholarships, please submit the following: 1) Your resume, AND
2) A short essay (no more than 600 words) that addresses each of the following:

  • Which of the scholarship(s) listed above are you applying for?
  • Have you taken an LSAT prep class before?
  • What is your financial need? (It is not necessary to provide exact numbers, just give us a sense of your financial situation and why a scholarship is necessary.)
  • How can this scholarship help you achieve your goals?

Email your resume and essay to Judy Argentieri via email only at jargenti@illinois.edu by Wednesday, January 23 at NOON.

Winners will be announced quickly–by Monday, January 28–so that you can make necessary plans for spring LSAT courses. Good luck!

$5 LSAT Test Prep Opportunity in NYC!!

Planning on being in the New York City area over break?  You should consider signing up for the New York City Bar’s Annual LSAT/Law School Prep Series, set for January 7, 8 and 10.  If you sign up by January 1, the cost is $5! (It only increases to $10 after January 1).  The program  was created to provide prospective law students with information on everything from preparing for the LSAT through being successful in the first year of law school. The program includes LSAT Preview Classes by several well-regarded test prep companies – as well as panels with admissions representatives and law students from regional law schools and a Networking Fair with free classes and material giveaways.  It will be held at the NYC Bar Association Office, 42 West 44th Street.  For more information and to register, go here: http://www.nycbar.org/index.php/diversity/student-pipeline-program/programs/187-lsatlaw-school-prep-series.