Application Preparation: Building A Timeline


For those anticipating application in the upcoming 2022-2023 cycle, the summer is an excellent time to take steps to prepare for a smooth and successful admission process.  Two of the most important steps are to create a general timeline and to set goals for the upcoming months to ensure you stay on track and keep the application process as manageable as possible.

Below are a few recommendations on creating an application timeline and plan to enhance your success.

Step 1: Set up a System: 

You will be navigating a large volume of information and communications over a long period of time.  It is important to have a system to organize these details.  Your system should include the following components:

        • Document Storage:  You should have an online storage space or backup system for all the application materials you are crafting – resume, personal statement, etc.  You should also have a place to organize documents or information that you receive.  You will want to have a physical space to store and organize, as well as an electronic space.  Most information will be communicated electronically, but you may also accumulate materials at visits or fairs, or through mailings.  Consider investing in a container for all law school materials.  For digital material, consider utilizing “Box” and setting up folders to organize information by school, type of information, or whatever makes sense to you.
        • Email Correspondence:  Almost all communications regarding applications will be received via email, with some mail and phone communications possible.   Evaluate your available email accounts.  Determine now which one you will utilize for your applications, you could even create a new one!  Once you determine your “application email” plan to utilize that for all applications and application-related matters.  Set up folders in your inbox now to organize and respond to communications you anticipate receiving.  Determine a plan for checking and managing incoming communications – will you check every day? (yes), how many times a day?  Start utilizing your system now to make it a habit, it will make managing your email communications during the busier months feel more manageable.
        • Information Management:  As you get further along in the application process you will begin developing a potential list of schools to apply to, eventually you will apply to a definitive list of schools, and later you will begin receiving offers.  Having a comprehensive place to track and notate information about each school is critical to the process of comparing and contrasting each institution, ultimately deciding on your best fit.  This type of information tracking also helps ensure you do not forget or overlook any information you acquired along the way.  We recommend creating a spreadsheet that you can tailor to your own individual priorities, goals, and school attributes you are seeking.
Step 2: Establish Target Goals:
  • Part of building a timeline is having targeted goals for completing tasks.  For a successful application timeline you should consider the necessary tasks for applying to law school, but also other obligations you will have during this time period including family, academic, and extracurricular responsibilities.  Below are some examples of areas where you may want to set goals:
      • LSAT Preparation and LSAT attempts (first and second)
      • CAS Registration
      • Transcript Submission
      • Researching Schools
      • Completing Application Components
      • Submitting Applications
      • Visiting Schools
      • Academic Projects
      • Leadership Programs and Events
Step 3: Prioritize and Plan Ahead:

It is a wonderful thing to have a timeline and goals, but you only have 24 hours in a day and only so much attention or energy to give to any one task, opportunity, or obligation.  Being able to prioritize so that you can be successful in all aspects of your life is important.  Good prioritization requires establishing what is most critical and when.  Your first step in doing this is establishing the goals we mentioned above.  The second step in doing this is keeping yourself accountable, and finally, it is planning ahead to ensure you have set yourself up to be successful.  Create your semester calendar now.  Add in any family or personal obligations you are aware of – discuss holiday and other plans now so you know what time commitments will be necessary.   Begin dividing obligations by daily, weekly, monthly or one-time only events.  Review your course syllabi as soon as possible – map out large projects and due dates.  Begin researching important application dates and events now.

      • TIP:  Give yourself individual deadlines for projects and other work.  Set your individual deadlines several days or more prior to the actual deadline.  This will help you accommodate any unexpected issues.
      • TIP:  Begin thinking about your time each week.  Evaluate how much time you will spend for class, essential personal items (groceries, meals, health, fitness), study, and other leadership activities.  Determine when these items will take place in your weekly schedule and how much time remains after for other uses.
      • TIP:  Set expectations for yourself and others.  Realistically evaluate how long things usually take you (i.e. writing a paper), and build those realistic timeframes into your goals.  Let others that are important in your life know that the upcoming semester will be a critical one and talk now about how that may limit your time.

Join Us! Application Roadmap Workshop

To learn more about setting goals and specific timeline recommendations, consider attending our Application Roadmap Workshop.  The workshop will be offered multiple times in the upcoming months.  Get a head start by attending a workshop this summer on July 20 @ 6 pm or August 9 @ Noon (via Zoom).  To learn more, visit the PLAS calendar online.  PLAS programs are open to all UIUC students and alumni.