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what should i be doing as an undergrad?

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I am an undergrad at a very small school. It doesn't really have a good reputation for great academics but i am trying to take a step up when i go to law school. Of course ivy league would be ideal, but i am realistically shooting for a decent law school like St. Louis university, Marquette etc. I am a history major and economics minor, and i am shooting for 3.5 or above ( currently have a 3.6). i know solid lsat scores and GPA are a solid foundation, but what else should i be doing to make my law school application better? i am doing volunteer work in art at a museum and education at a middle schoool as well as at a non profit that promotes latino community inclusion. I feel like i am on solid ground but i do not want to be wasting my energy on things that law schools are not really going to care about, when instead i can be focusing on something that will really make me stand out. I go to school full time and work from 30-40 hours a week depending, so i definitely want to use the time i have available doing something beneficial to my future law school application. I do not want to make the same mistakes i did in high school of not caring and not really being involved, because that is why i am at the less than stellar school i am at now. I want to shoot for something better. advice would be appreciated!

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I am a law school grad and a former teacher for Kaplan's LSAT Testprep program. The two single most important factors in your law school application are your grades and your LSAT score. Oftentimes, your LSAT score, your GPA, and the name of your school are what get your proverbial foot in the door to even be considered by a school. It's only after you meet those threshold requirements that an admissions committee will look at your resume and your essay. Volunteering and work experience are very much secondary to your grades and LSAT score. It sounds like you are working really hard and are already spreading yourself very thin. Rather than spend any spare time you have volunteering for additional extracurricular activities, you should be spending that time on your studies. It sounds like you are doing well in school, but until you are making straight As, you can always do better.

Nevertheless, for your own edification, I would recommend finding ways to expose yourself to the legal field through work, interning, or volunteering. Are you working at a law firm now? Have you ever? What do you want to do with your law degree? Have you interned/worked in that area? Answers to these questions will help you write your law school application essay and they will also help you know if you truly want to go to law school. Because, if you don't really want to be a lawyer then it probably isn't worth the money.

All the best!

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I'd agree with smsteph.  Aim for higher with your grades.  I ended up going to a T14, but my ~3.5 from a top undergrad institution was a liability, not an asset.


If you want to take the analysis beyond the numbers: think of what they would look for next after they see your grades and a great LSAT score. If you were tied with someone with exactly comparable numbers, what would the tiebreaker be?


I think the next most important thing in your application package is a tie between your involvement (i.e., your resume) and what your recommenders say about you.  Filling yet another bullet point on a resume is less impressive than a well-written endorsement from a professor who knows you very well. Look at it this way: the audience you are presenting your package to will definitely listen to solid recommendations from other academics. Your professors, more than anyone else, have the authority to impress upon the admissions committees your maturity and poise, just how intellectually curious you are, what your motivation is for going to law school (these days, it shouldn't be money), what kinds of ideas you have and how you follow through on them, and what kind of contributions you will make to the law school, both in and out of the lecture halls. 


On the other hand, your involvement is important. There, I think it's more important to demonstrate depth, not breadth. A focused resume trumps a scattershot one. Sounds like you are involved with a couple of things you care about. Stick with those. Also, working that much while going to school definitely bears mention -- it means you can handle responsibility, and I would definitely include it on my resume.


Finally, I'm sure you have everyone asking you this, but: why do you want to do this? The loans can be staggering, and I have a number of friends who never found work.  The market may be doing better again, but the law profession is still picking up the pieces, trying to figure out how things are going to work -- especially in Biglaw.


Hope this helps -- good luck. :)

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