Anyone who's run the gauntlet of getting into law school will admit that it's hardly an easy feat. Between acing the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), securing great references, and maintaining a high Grade Point Average (GPA) throughout college, it's no surprise that law school applicants tend to be more stressed and depressed than their med school applicant counterparts.
Keeping your GPA high throughout college could be the trickiest part, too. It's not like you simply have to ace a one-time test like you do with the LSAT—to maintain a killer GPA, you have to stay focused and consistent in your studies for four whole years. As overwhelming as that may sound, the good news is you can take a handful of interesting and relatively relaxing undergraduate courses that'll actually help prepare you for your first semester of law school.
We'll explore these classes in more detail below before addressing some of the most frequently asked questions about the best undergraduate courses for law school hopefuls. Keep reading to learn more.
The Best Classes for Aspiring Law Students
Think public speaking or creative writing classes won't do much to help you get into the law school of your dreams? Think again. We have a list of some of the best college courses that'll seriously prepare you for L1.
1) Government, Politics, and History Courses
Most courses in these departments delve into the mechanics of the law, as well as how they create the judicial infrastructure that guides government and politics themselves. Seeing as they're all inextricably linked to a degree, you can't really go wrong taking any of these classes.
General courses will give you a broad enough scope of knowledge to build your intellectual foundation for law school, so these classes are best for college freshmen or sophomores (even though juniors and seniors can take them, too!). The earlier you can start learning about the inner workings of the legal system, the better off you'll be come application time.
For older students who already have an idea of what kind of law they'd like to practice, consider taking more specialized courses, such as classes on state or federal policy, different aspects of government, or history courses that explore a certain time period.
Any of these classes will help build the strong knowledge base you'll need to succeed in the legal field, so pore over that course catalog with gusto.
2) Thinking, Writing, and Public Speaking Courses
As a lawyer, you're going to talk—a lot. Since that's the case, you might as well get good at it. Public speaking and debate classes will help you hone your skills immensely. You may even want to consider joining an extracurricular organization that can help you achieve this, like Toastmasters. What matters the most is getting up there and actually practicing your speaking skills, whether it's in school or not.
Lawyers also do a lot of writing and thinking, which is where writing and logic courses could certainly help you. If you're able to, take both creative writing and academic writing courses at some point to see the difference between the two. Analytical legal writing tends to be a weak spot for most attorneys, so sharpening these skills before law school could maybe boost your chances of getting accepted.
As for the logic courses, they'll help you both on the LSAT and in the legal industry itself. Law demands a shrewd intellect and sterling critical thinking skills, so the earlier you can cultivate them, the better. You might also benefit from a legal philosophy or ethos class as well; it never hurts to learn more about the ideals and mode of thinking that characterizes the mind of a lawyer.
3) Business, Psychology, and Behavioral Science Courses
If you're going into business law, then it makes perfect sense to knock a few business courses out while you're still in college. Getting a better understanding of how the business world works will only help you solve the legal problems that inevitably arise within it. You could also take some highly specialized classes in this area, depending on the legal sub-area in which you hope to practice.
You might think that psychology and behavioral science classes might be a waste of time, too, but they could both help you gain some helpful insight into the human mind—especially when it comes to criminals. Whether it's a criminal psychology or basic human behavior course, you're sure to learn plenty of useful information that'll benefit you when cross-examining witnesses or even presenting your own arguments on the stand.
It's also worth noting that picking pre-law as your undergraduate major will likely check all of these boxes, as it's designed to fully prepare you for law school. However, few college freshmen or sophomores opt for this route, so it's not uncommon to supplement your major with the above classes, so you can prepare yourself for the big leagues.
The Best Classes for Future Law School Applicants: Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you've got a better sense of what kind of undergraduate courses will help get you ready for L1, let's take a closer look at some of the most popular questions aspiring law students are asking about the best classes to take before law school.
Are There Any Required Undergraduate Classes for Law School?
The good news is no; there are no prerequisite undergraduate classes for law school. Law students typically come from a wide swath of college majors that all help them get ready for law school in different ways. Of course, we recommend taking some of the above classes just to help you prepare, both for getting into law school and for working in the legal industry in general.
Admissions boards also love a solid, well-rounded applicant, so fleshing out your undergraduate course load is one of the best ways to do just that. Following this, don't worry so much if you have a relatively unconventional major; balancing out your major courses with other relevant electives will only benefit you in the long run.
I Need Prerequisites for Some of These Classes—What Should I Do?
If you can't take some of the classes mentioned above without first taking some prerequisites, you're not out of luck just yet. Just like Toastmasters and public speaking, there are plenty of great opportunities to sharpen your logic, writing, and analytical skills outside of school, as well.
You can even hone the problem-solving and thinking skills you'll need for law school by working certain jobs; anything in the managerial department will help you achieve this. If that's out of the question, then consider volunteering in a leadership role that will also demand the best of your critical thinking abilities.
What Are the Undergraduate Majors That'll Benefit Me the Most in Law School?
There are, in fact, a handful of majors that'll really prepare you for the intensity of law school. Interestingly, pre-law and criminal justice majors have an average 20-30% lower acceptance rate than their journalism, philosophy, and economics counterparts. Even though there's technically no “best” major for getting into law school, it's clear that some are better than others.
How Much of a Difference Will These Classes Really Make on My Application?
Let's be frank: it's not like a roster of these kinds of classes is a one-way ticket to Attorneyland. Your cumulative undergraduate GPA and LSAT score will ultimately do the heavy lifting for you on your law school applications. But taking a few courses to academically prepare yourself for law school is never a bad move, and some may be easy enough to even help give your GPA a boost.
Like we mentioned earlier, though, the sooner in your undergraduate career you can knock some of these classes out, the better. Not only will you be able to give yourself a leg up by preparing well in advance, but you may even be able to take more specialized classes later on that have some of these general classes as prerequisites.
How Can I Offset a Low Undergraduate GPA When Applying to Law School?
So, some of these electives did little to boost your college GPA; even if that's the case, that doesn't mean your dreams of becoming a high-powered attorney are dashed. You can offset a low cumulative college GPA by smashing the LSAT, getting a handful of awesome references, or even gaining some relevant job experience during a strategic gap year.
However, it's worth noting that a high undergraduate GPA is one of the biggest keys to successful law school admittance, so do yourself a favor and study hard while you're still in college. Otherwise, you'll have no choice but to shine on every other part of your application, which could cause you more stress than it's worth down the line.
Final Thoughts on College Courses for Aspiring Law Students
Applying to law school can turn into a pretty calculated affair, as evidenced above. But take heart in knowing that there's no one, clear-cut path to getting accepted, and that there's still plenty you can do as a college junior or senior to boost your chances of getting into the law school of your dreams. As always, thanks for reading and keep studying hard—your future self will thank you for it.