When to apply to Law School?
What is a typical admission process?
Many schools use rounds of application, whereby they determine three rounds of deadlines, typically in November, January and March for a September class start. At this stage they gather together all the applications that are of interest to them and start to make decisions whether you are in, out, or placed on a wait list. Other schools use a rolling admissions process. This means quite simply that they are constantly receiving and reviewing applications throughout the academic year, or consider on a first come first serve basis. They accept or reject the applications as they are reviewed and provide a response within four to six weeks of reception.
The ideal time to apply
So when should you submit your application? The deciding factor must be to apply to school when you have prepared a top-notch application. Apply early! It is said that Yale allocated 40-50% of its places in first round, 30-40% in the second round, and only 10% in the third or last round. Stanford is a school to which it is always exceptionally difficult to be admitted, but in Round 3 it is nearly impossible.
On the other hand, if meeting the November deadline means a poorly prepared LSAT test, with hurried essays that lack of definition and impact, you'd be better waiting for the next round. In other words, applicants are of course accepted in the final round. If you are choosing between a hurried dossier with an average LSAT score for the January deadline, versus a thoughtful, persuasive dossier and a higher LSAT score for the March deadline, take your time, do a good job and apply for the later deadline.
In sum, applicants are encouraged to apply in the first or second rounds because it allows you more flexibility because you are notified earlier and have a larger window in which to make your decision. Also, schools tend to admit a much larger number of applicants in the earlier rounds than in the last, although there is always room in the class for exceptional applicants.
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