Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: importance of extra curricular activities?  (Read 1904 times)

glitterfyme

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
importance of extra curricular activities?
« on: August 17, 2011, 09:01:41 PM »
how important are extracurricular activities when applying to law schools?
im hoping to have a peer-reviewed journal article published in a scientific policy journal, and have done internships for two consecutive summers at a government institute. however, i am not involved in any extracurricular activities during the school year.

i'll be a rising junior and i'm hoping to apply during my senior year. would participating in an extracurricular activity in september not make much of an impact on my application next year?

thanks so much!

Thane Messinger

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 533
    • View Profile
Re: importance of extra curricular activities?
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2011, 11:13:18 PM »
how important are extracurricular activities when applying to law schools?
im hoping to have a peer-reviewed journal article published in a scientific policy journal, and have done internships for two consecutive summers at a government institute. however, i am not involved in any extracurricular activities during the school year.

i'll be a rising junior and i'm hoping to apply during my senior year. would participating in an extracurricular activity in september not make much of an impact on my application next year?

thanks so much!

This is covered extensively in a new book, Law School Undercover, by a Professor X. 

In short, choose one thing, and be a leader.

Thane.

Morten Lund

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 259
    • View Profile
Re: importance of extra curricular activities?
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2011, 03:19:47 AM »

In short, choose one thing, and be a leader.


To add to this (and Professor X' point), one of my old partners was an interviewer for a good school.  He told me on several occasions that when evaluating applicant resumes, he would rather have the guy who was the captain of the tiddlywinks team than the guy who lettered in five sports but was a leader in none.  He loved Eagle Scouts, but thought regular Boy Scout experience had no place on a resume.

More than anything else, law schools (and law firms) look for initiative and leadership.  "Participated" doesn't count for much in most cases.

nealric

  • Global Moderator
  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 2261
  • a.k.a. Miguel Sanchez
    • View Profile
Re: importance of extra curricular activities?
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2011, 11:17:20 PM »
In the end, it's mostly a numbers game. Take the time you would have used joining silly clubs and study more for the LSAT.
Georgetown Law Graduate

Chief justice Earl Warren wasn't a stripper!
Now who's being naive?

FalconJimmy

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 684
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: importance of extra curricular activities?
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2011, 12:23:36 PM »
In the end, it's mostly a numbers game. Take the time you would have used joining silly clubs and study more for the LSAT.

+1 on what Neal said.

Regardless of the kumbaya stuff that a lot of these admissions folks try to spout, the vast bulk of their decision is numbers, alone.  They simply have too many files to process.  They use numbers and nothing more to make their "first cut". 

Granted, if you're applying to the very top schools, EVERYBODY has great numbers.  You need something to differentiate you.

However, a person who is competitive for a spot at Yale and misses out due to lack of extracurriculars is almost certain to get in at a top 8 school.  Unless they want to be a Supreme Court justice, their career isn't particularly harmed.

Thane Messinger

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 533
    • View Profile
Re: importance of extra curricular activities?
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2011, 06:03:55 PM »
Regardless of the kumbaya stuff that a lot of these admissions folks try to spout, the vast bulk of their decision is numbers, alone.  They simply have too many files to process.  They use numbers and nothing more to make their "first cut". 

* * *

However, a person who is competitive for a spot at Yale and misses out due to lack of extracurriculars is almost certain to get in at a top 8 school.  Unless they want to be a Supreme Court justice, their career isn't particularly harmed.


True, but not true.  For a reach school . . . which is what the applicant really wants (and the school that will likely give the biggest vocational boost) . . . the soft factors become dispositive for exactly this reason--everyone in that final decision pool has good numbers (or stellar numbers, depending upon the school).  At that point, the admissions committee pretty much tosses out the numbers [!] and digs deep into transcripts, extracurriculars, and Ouija boards.

It's quite right that the LSAT is important, if not crucially so; but that doesn't diminish the importance of soft factors, especially where it counts most . . . which is where most applicants want it to count most.

The deeper point combines the two:  better to focus on a leadership position in a single endeavor rather than a mishmash of semi-endeavors.  The former can take less time, and certainly is less distracting to efforts in, say, an LSAT exam.

And it *does* matter where one goes, if career is the goalpost.  Yale *will* open doors that School #8 will not.  And School #8 will open doors that School #118 will not.  (This is not to argue that it's the only thing that matters, or indeed the only goalpost, but it does no good to dismiss reality.)

Thane.

FalconJimmy

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 684
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: importance of extra curricular activities?
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2011, 10:08:46 PM »
Good point.  I stand duly chastized.  I posted in a hurry and didn't really express what I was thinking very well.

I guess what I was trying to say is that the numbers are all-important.  Even in the case of elite schools.  As we both agree:  EVERYBODY has great numbers.  So, they dig deeper.

However, that doesn't diminish the reality that without great numbers, you don't get in that pool.  The numbers are first and foremost in importance, for everybody, for every school.

If you can get the numbers AND get some impressive extracurriculars, then you stand in good stead relative to other people with good numbers.

What I was trying to say was, without the numbers, you're SOL, regardless of extracurriculars.  So, go for the numbers first.  Put a priority on them.  If you can do them AND get leadership experience in other organizations, etc., then do that, too, but don't pursue extracurriculars at the expense of your numbers.

With Harvard-style numbers, but no extracurriculars, you can probably go to U of M.  You are certainly right that Harvard opens doors that U of M won't, but given that most people are at least putting "biglaw job at $160K" towards the top of things they'd find desireable at graduation, the U of M path can get you there.  Of course, you are right that other doors will be closed forever.  For instance, as I mentioned, forget ever sitting on the Supreme Court.  Also, forget teaching at most prestigious universities. 

But without great grades and LSAT, you might have to forget getting a job entirely because you may not be able to get into a top tiered school.

Thane Messinger

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 533
    • View Profile
Re: importance of extra curricular activities?
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2011, 04:00:24 PM »
Good point.  I stand duly chastized. 


The great thing about law is that we all get chastized, each of us every day, and then we come back for more.

= :   )