When applying to law schools, it is natural to want to compare the process to undergraduate or other graduate admissions. However, law school admissions are different because it is largely a numbers game. You probably remember loading up on extracurriculars during high school to bolster your college applications. Though law schools claim to take a “holistic approach” to evaluating applicants, your LSAT and GPA are by far the most important components of your application.
Basically everything that makes you you other than your LSAT and GPA are considered “soft factors” in the world of law school admissions. While law schools take these soft factors into account when reviewing your application, don’t expect them to actually help you unless you have a soft that is quite rare. The below pyramid can help you determine where your softs fall. The rarer, more prestigious softs are on the top, and the more common ones are on the bottom.
If you have any Tier 1 or Tier 2 softs, you will most likely outperform your numbers. For the majority of us who only have Tier 3 and Tier 4 softs, we can expect our LSAT and GPA to be good indicators of our admissions outcomes. This is a great tool to see your chances of admission and scholarships at any given school, based on prior applicants’ outcomes.
If you are applying to law school straight out of undergrad, you may be discouraged to see that all of your extracurriculars that were prestigious in college are at the bottom of the pyramid. You may have thought that interning for a senator or being the president of your sorority would really set your application apart, however, almost every applicant has cool internships and club positions on their resume. When you consider that you are being compared to many applicants who have been out of school for quite a while, you can understand why your undergraduate thesis may pale in comparison to being an officer in the military for five years.
The moral of the story is: You are probably not special. But that’s okay! Most of us are not special. That just means that you have to get on your LSAT grind and shoot your best shot.