Achieving second round success…
If you’ve previously applied to law school but did not matriculate, you always have the option to re-apply in a subsequent year. However, if you are re-applying, you want to take a careful strategic approach to the process. The reason or reasons you didn’t enroll previously need to be considered and dealt with if you want to succeed with your new application.
Why did you not ENROLL?
The first, and most important, question is why you didn’t enroll when you applied previously. The reason why you didn’t enroll will determine the right strategies for your new application. There are a number of possibilities:
Did you prepare to apply, but decide not to? If so, why?
Were you unhappy with your LSAT score or GPA? Did you come across an alternative offer or opportunity that you felt you couldn’t pass up? Were there personal reasons why you didn’t proceed with your application?
Did you apply but withdraw your application? If so, why?
Were you dissatisfied with the schools that offered you admission, or the level of aid that you were offered? As with not applying, there could have been personal reasons for deciding to withdraw your application, or you could have encountered an alternative opportunity. Did something unexpected come up in your life?
Did you apply but not get an offer of admission? Why do you think that happened?
Failing to get an offer of admission from a law school is disappointing, but it certainly does happen. Last year’s application cycle yielded an unprecedented increase in application volume – meaning it was a very competitive year.
One factor can be timing. Rolling admissions means that those who apply later in the cycle often face a more competitive process – as many offers of admission have already been extended. Timing could mean you didn’t get an offer even though you might have had you applied earlier in the cycle.
Another factor could be the quality of your application. A rushed personal statement or poorly proofread resume could have led to an unsuccessful outcome. Similarly, the content of your resume could have been problematic.
It is also possible to have had unrealistic expectations about your chances of being admitted to the law schools you applied to, were your LSAT score and GPA competitive at these schools?
Were you waitlisted?
Many law school applicants experience being waitlisted. Keep in mind that being waitlisted is not the same as being rejected or denied an admissions offer. Applicants who are placed on the waitlist are effectively qualified, admissible candidates and students are admitted off waitlists each year. The fact that you were waitlisted should inform your strategy, particularly for schools that you intend to resubmit application to. Fundamentally your application was good – it does not meant that you should not revisit and strengthen your application, but you do not need to re-invent the wheel.
Once you have considered carefully why you didn’t enroll after your previous application, that reason or reasons should inform your strategy for your new application. Let’s consider some strategies.
- If personal reasons or alternative opportunities interfered with your previous application, have those issues been resolved, or the opportunities fully explored? If not, you should resolve those issues.
- If your academic profile was an issue, have you taken steps to improve that profile? Have you re-taken the LSAT, can you? Was your GPA at graduation higher than when you applied? Did you engage in more advanced coursework as a senior that was not represented at the time you applied?
- Can your application materials be improved? Do they need to be?
Resume – always update your resume to reflect your most current activities and achievements. This should be updated and revisited prior to re-applying.
Personal Statement – You may want to update your personal statement, depending on your situation. If your experiences and motivations have changed you should update it. Similarly if it could just be better written, then definitely write it again.
Addendums – Whether or not to update addendums will depend on if there is new information to be added. Otherwise they can be left alone.
LOR – If you have new or better recommenders you will want to update your letters of recommendation. However, this is not necessary if your previous LORs were strong.
Transcripts – Transcripts should be updated if you have done more academic work since your last application.
Whatever your situation, when re-applying remember that the Prelaw Advising Services office is here to help. Our services are available for free to all current Illini and alumni. Learn more at prelaw.illinois.edu!
Bonus Tip: How did you leave it?
When re-applying to a particular school you should be mindful of how you left things with your previous application.
- If you withdrew an application to that school, you may want to discuss that fact with the admissions personnel. They may have concerns about why you withdrew.
- Similarly, if you declined a previous offer of admission, this will be a point of concern. Why did you decline, what has changed?
- Finally, if your application was declined previously you should consider carefully what has changed that makes you a better candidate, and how to communicate that in your application.