Taking a moment to look a bit beyond your LSAT prep future, I’d like to discuss your upcoming personal statements. It’s important to keep in mind your law school applications. I know they may seem miles away to you right now before you’ve gotten the LSAT score you’d like, but they will creep up on you much sooner than you think.
Let’s be honest, you’re taking the LSAT most likely because you want to go to law school, which means you’re probably a smart cookie. Everyone knows how difficult and taxing law school can be, therefore, you know what taking the LSAT means for you and the next three years of your life. But, your LSAT score is not the only thing that law schools are looking at. Many of the top law schools have said that right after your LSAT score and your GPA, they look at your personal statement. Remember that most students apply to law schools that they feel will most likely accept them based on their GPA and LSAT score. Therefore, the way you can make yourself stand out is through your personal statement.
There are two schools of thought with the personal statement. One school believes that the personal statement is where the real you should shine; step away from the numbers you’ve acquired and your academic pedigree, and really let the admissions officers know what makes you tick, what makes you, you. The other school of thought believes that the personal statement is not a place for flowery stories about moments that have changed your life, and rather it is another opportunity for you to highlight your academic achievements.
What you need to do is research what the admissions officers of the schools you want to go to are looking for. A great way to do that is to set up a meeting with them. That way you can talk to them in person, and maybe even get a chance to tour the campus and the library (a place you will be spending most of your time if you go to that school). When you are in the meeting you can get the info you want straight from the horse’s mouth. Then you can write your statement appropriately.
For instance, one of my good friends took a leap of faith, and without asking the different law schools that he applied to, wrote about his status as an extinct mammal because of his natural red hair. If you weren’t aware, red hair is a recessive trait that is slowly being weeded out by natural selection. Gingers are actually becoming a rare commodity in our world. Therefore, comically, my friend wrote about how he should be considered a minority (though he is a Caucasian male) because red heads will soon be obsolete. Many of the law schools didn’t seem to find his statement amusing. However, one top school sent him his admissions packet along with a copy of his personal statement with a sticky note attached to it. The sticky note stated how much they enjoyed his statement because it was well written and thoroughly showed them his personality and wit.
Another example of the importance of personal statements comes from a meeting I had with an admissions officer from Columbia University. I visited a bunch of different law schools on my East Coast trip, and the one that stuck out to me was Columbia. When I asked the admissions counselor about personal statements, he told me that each year the admissions counselors at Columbia were in competition with each other to find the best personal statement. He told me that, that year the best personal statement belonged to a man who wrote about his office. Apparently, every Friday at this applicant’s office, there was an obstacle course race that each office worker participated in. It consisted of each participant sitting on an office “rolly” chair and pulling themselves through the office. This person was the all-time reigning champion of the obstacle course race, and when this fact was brought to his attention he realized he had to make a change in his life. Therefore, he decided to veer his life path towards law school. The admissions counselors all loved the statement and chose it as the best of that year. Consequently, that person was admitted to Columbia.
Why am I telling you all of these silly anecdotes? Because I want you to make sure not to forget that there is still a path ahead of you after the LSAT. Even after you finish, there are really important things you need to focus on. So, it’s prudent that once in a while, on your LSAT prep off-time, you should think of different topics that might work for either type of personal statement. That way you won’t be racking your tired head after you’ve taken the LSAT.