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Application Tips from the Dean of Admissions

As you think about law school, I hope that you will apply to Widener University Commonwealth Law School.  Applying to law school can seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be. At Widener Law Commonwealth, we are here to help you be the best applicant you can be. 

Law schools across the country are all looking at and considering the same key factors. For specific questions about the application process at a school you should contact the school directly, talk with someone in the Admissions Office, visit the law school, and learn as much as you can about the law school.

LSAT and GPA

While the LSAT and the cumulative undergraduate GPA are critical to the review of a file, there are other pieces as well. At this point in the process, your GPA is likely firmly set. One or two semesters of work is not going to dramatically change your cumulative GPA. However, continued improvement in the GPA is viewed as a positive sign. Be sure that you have studied for and prepared for the LSAT. Widener Law Commonwealth considers many things beyond just these two numbers, but they are important factors.

Personal Statement

The Personal Statement is your opportunity to tell the admission committee something about yourself that is not included elsewhere in your application materials. What are you passionate about? Provide specific examples of your strengths and your leadership abilities. Include information about any obstacles you have overcome – financial, educational, etc. The Personal Statement is also a writing sample, so be sure to proof and edit the document, read it out loud to make sure that it flows. There should be no typos in the document. Take the time to have others read and review the statement. Gimmicks typically do not work. Write in clean concise prose. Do not use the third person. Write a statement so strong that when the reader finishes it they say, “I don’t care about this person’s LSAT, I want them in my class!”

Letters of Recommendation

Widener Law Commonwealth requires two letters of recommendation, a third letter may be included.  Letters of recommendation are very helpful and provide the admissions committee with additional information about the applicant. For someone who is currently a student, at least one letter should be an academic letter of recommendation from a faculty member. Letters should be from someone who knows you and knows you well. Letters from people who can assess your character, your work ethic, your ability to overcome obstacles can be helpful. Be sure to talk with the letter writer and ask them if they are comfortable and willing to write you a good letter of recommendation. If they seem reluctant, you may want to ask someone else.

Resume

A resume is required to be included as part of your application.   For most law school applicants, the resume will typically be one page. If you include an objective, it should be tailored to law school admissions, not a job. A resume provides a nice one page summary for the Admissions Office and should focus on your work experience, leadership roles, and volunteer commitments; including the number of hours worked or volunteered helps to reflect your level of commitment.

Addendum

It is not unusual for there to be “problems” with an application. If that is the case you want to be sure to explain the “problem.” The most common problems are either a low GPA or a low LSAT. A brief addendum can be used to address the issue.

  • Law schools are looking at the cumulative GPA, if you had a bad first year of college, and that has brought your GPA down, you need to explain what happened. Were the low grades due to immaturity, poor time management, selecting the wrong major? If so, tell the Admissions Office and then explain how you have turned things around; the proof will be in the improving GPA as evidenced on the transcript.

  • Many applicants have a very solid GPA, but their LSAT is low. You should explain your LSAT to the Admissions Office. Often background information can be helpful. How did you do in high school? How did you do on the SAT or the ACT? Did your high school grades provide colleges with a better predictor of your abilities than the standardized test? How did you prepare for the LSAT? How did you do on the diagnostic test you took? How many sample LSATs did you take in preparing for the actual test?

If I may be of any assistance to you as you continue through the application process, please feel free to contact me in the Admissions Office. Good luck as you continue through the application process. I look forward to reading your file soon!

Regards,


John S. Benfield
Associate Dean
Admissions and Administration