Today we wanted to focus today on one element of the application that applicants often underestimate: extracurricular activities.
In order to understand why this category is important, applicants should keep in mind that the adcom is responsible for crafting a dynamic class each year. The aim is to admit individuals who will support a vibrant campus community and step into leadership positions. In other words, as admissions officers consider each applicant, they ask themselves “what’s in it for our school?” An applicant who has previously demonstrated a talent for writing, for example, by contributing to a non-profit’s newsletter, can catch the adcom’s attention if she also expresses her intent to contribute to a specific publication on campus.
Volunteering is of course a great way to expand one’s extracurricular involvement. However, many applicants participate in the occasional fundraising walk or an annual corporate outreach day; those who demonstrate ongoing involvement in one cause or organization will make a more significant impression on the admissions committee, especially if the volunteer work is related to their current or future career. An applicant who has contributed to one or two organizations over a longer period is likely to have developed his or her responsibilities beyond ladling soup or stuffing envelopes.
Lastly, applicants will have a much easier time writing their application essay(s) if they have a variety of experiences from which to draw, especially if one’s extracurricular activities support his or her interest and experience in legal academic and legal work.
We hope that this sheds some light on the opportunities and value that activities outside of work provide with respect to one’s law school candidacy and applications.