Getting into Law School with a Community College Degree
Community college appeals to people from all walks of life for a number of different reasons. For some, community college offers a degree of flexibility that can’t be had at some colleges and universities and, for others, it is a way to save money on tuition. But will your graduation from a community college as opposed to a traditional college or university hurt your chances of success in pursuing a career in certain fields? Keep reading to learn some valuable tips for applying to law school with a community college degree.
When Should You Apply to Law School?
Many students who have been successfully admitted into law school agree that applying early is always best. Many law schools accept applications on a rolling bases, releasing their decisions over the course of several months. While applying early will not guarantee your admission, applying closer to the deadline means that there may be fewer spaces left to fill which could hurt your chances forgetting in. Keep in mind that most schools will not even begin to review your application until they have received all of the necessary documents so be proactive about making your requests for recommendations and with writing your essays. Take the LSAT as soon as you can without compromising your score – if you are fully prepared, take the test at the first available sitting. You should also keep in mind that even if you do not get accepted during the first round of admissions, there may still be hope. Many schools put students on a waitlist, offering priority acceptance to one set of students then opening up the remaining spots for students on the waitlist.
What are the Prerequisites for Law School?
When it comes to the prerequisites for law school, each school has its own unique set of requirements. Even so, there are two main things that all law schools require – a graduate degree and an LSAT score. Your undergraduate degree must be from an accredited college or university and you may be required to send in an official transcript as proof that you actually graduated with a degree. For the most part, however, law schools do not require a specific undergraduate degree and many law schools actually show preference for students who have a major other than pre-law. What law schools really want to know is that you have developed your critical thinking skills and that you can communicate effectively and support a rational argument.
If you know that you want to go to law school, you will probably take the LSAT at some point while you are still in school. Taking the LSATs is a little bit different from taking the SATs. Some schools frown upon multiple LSAT scores, so you should make an effort to do your best the first time around. You should also be aware that the LSAT is not a measure of your intelligence and it may not even be a good indicator of what kind of law student you will be – it is simply a test that shows how good you are at taking tests. The better you do on the LSAT, the better your chances are of getting into a good law school. In fact, your LSAT score will generally be weighted more heavily than your GPA.
While your transcript and your LSAT score are the most important pieces of your law school application, there are other things you will be required to submit as well. Most ABA-accredited law schools will ask you to submit a personal statement along with your application – this is the best opportunity you will have to show the admissions committee who you are and why you are a great candidate. You will also need to submit at least one letter of recommendation (some schools require more). Finally, you may be asked to complete other essays such as diversity statements and other essays about your background. All of these things offer you a chance to set yourself apart from other candidates.
What Else Can Boost Your Law School Application?
Attending a community college rather than a traditional 4-year college or university is not guaranteed to have a negative impact on your chances for getting into law school. While some schools do prefer students who have a more traditional academic background, most schools simply want to know that you have a degree from an accredited school and that you score well on the LSAT. It is all about setting yourself apart from the crowd and showing the admissions committee that you have what it takes to succeed in law school and to succeed as a lawyer. This being the case, there are a few extra things you can do to boost your law school application:
- Improve Your LSAT Score - As it has already been mentioned, your LSAT score is one of the top two things law schools look at. While you shouldn’t plan to take the LSAT half a dozen times, you can take practice tests to get an idea of how you will perform. If you don’t do well on the practice exam, consider enrolling in a prep course.
- Plan Your Essays Early – It is never too early to start thinking about what you will say in your personal statement and other law school application essays. Find a personal story that will help the admissions committee get an idea for who you are and what you believe in – don’t try to write the “perfect” essay that shows why you are an ideal law student. Focus more on giving the committee something unique and engaging to read that provides an accurate picture of your personality and background.
- Address Any Weaknesses – Not everyone is a perfect student so there may be holes or weaknesses in your transcript or resume that you should address in your application. If you got a low grade in a class, consider taking a summer class to show that you are serious about maintaining high academic standards. You can also enhance your resume with volunteer work or a summer internship.
- Talk to an Admissions Counselor – Even if you feel confident about your law school application, it never hurts to talk to a pre-law admissions advisor. Your advisor will be able to go over your application, giving you suggestions for how to improve it – he may also be able to give you advice on ways to strengthen your application with supplementary classes or extracurricular activities.
- Add a Letter of Recommendation – There is no need to pad your application with half a dozen letters of recommendation, but if your school only requires one there is no harm in adding an extra if it will enhance your application. Make sure to get your recommendations from people you respect who will provide an honest review of your academic acuity and your critical thinking skills.
While there will always be those who look upon community college graduates with distain, the truth is that many post-graduate schools and employers care more that you got an education than where it came from. There are always exceptions to the rule, but graduating from community college should not hurt your chances of getting into law school as long as you have a strong application.