4 ways to de-stress during the law school application process

by Hillary Mantis

Applying to law school is stressful. Especially if you are still taking the LSAT, or waiting for LSAT scores to come back. But there are ways to make it at least a little bit less anxiety-provoking.  Here are some tips:

-Take Advantage of Rolling Admissions: Ideally, you take the LSAT once, your recommenders submit everything right on time, and you really like your personal statement. But realistically, that does not always happen. If you are still waiting to take the November LSAT, for example, but worried about the timeline of rolling admissions, there’s still steps you can take now.

First of all, get in your letters of recommendation (give recommenders deadlines), and get everything else done that is in your control now, so you feel like you are accomplishing as much as possible.

You can also stagger your applications, so you could potentially apply to your likely schools now, if you have an LSAT that works for some, but not all of the schools on your list, and possibly wait until you receive your final score before applying to reach schools.

-Take Advantage of All of the Support Available: There’s a lot of support out there to help you with your law school applications. LSAC (www.lsac.org) has a good checklist which walks you through the components of the application, as well as the LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, which has a convenient GPA/LSAT score chart to help you assess your likelihood of being admitted to different law schools. They also have an applicant helpline on their site which you can call if you have questions.

Your college also has a lot of support for you, primarily from your pre-law advisor, to answer questions about law school, but also your career services office, to help you with your resume, your writing center, to help answer questions about your personal statement, and professors, who can also offer valuable advice.

-Take Breaks Frequently: You can only do so many practice LSATs a week, or work on so many drafts of your personal statement. Take breaks, go out with friends, or visit your family — and take a break from comparing notes with your friends who are also applying to law school. When you are in law school, you will need to develop ways to de-stress, so you may as well start to find what works best for you now. So stop working on your applications, and go out for dinner!

-Take a Long-term Perspective: When you were in high school applying to college, it was probably a very stressful time for you. But you got through it, and you will get through this too.

And there’s a big difference — if you find that applying to law school is too stressful, or your applications are running late, or realize you are just not ready to go, or sure about law school, you can easily take a year or two, or even more time off.

Something like 65% of all applicants to law school take at least a year off before applying — so if the stress is getting to be too much for you, just take some time off. Some of my former students have worked as paralegals, done Teach for America, taught English abroad and one even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

There are many possibilities, and they will probably just enhance your credentials and your applications, whenever you are ready to apply.

Hillary Mantis works with pre-law students, law students and lawyers. She is assistant dean for pre-law advising at Fordham University and author of career books including “Alternative Careers for Lawyers.” You can reach her at altcareer@aol.com.