Reapplying to Law School

by trkmaniak

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All, I have seen a lot of people talking about reapplying due to not getting the results that they wanted. I wanted to share my results and the strategy that got me here. I'm not saying that this should be taken as gospel, just my strategy that got me where I want to be.

Note: This is my strategy as a KJD cycle 1 to one year out of graduation cycle 2 without retaking. Since this is a law school forum I am putting this forward in relation to law school admissions, but of course taking a year to slow down and reapply can aid for self improvement in a lot of other ways too. This year is what you make it with regard to being a member of your community, improving yourself, and creating a fulfilling life. Back to Law School..

Reason for REapplying
1 Wasn't excited about my options and got cold feet the night before the deposit deadline.
2 Wanted time away from school as I was burnt out
3 Wanted a job so I could actually afford a life
4 Various personal goals that I had been thinking about for years (volunteering, traveling, reconnecting with friends and family)
These are obviously personal reasons and this decision is a personal one - I just wanted to let people have an idea of what reapplying can look like.

So I will explain my strategy for reapplying.
End of School
1 Finish school strong - an upward grade trend never hurt. Bond with Profs and mentors.
2 Consider updating LORs. I used three my first cycle and used those same three and added one more recent letter my second cycle. I didn't want to have to wait to apply if any professors took longer than expected to write an updated letter, and the people who wrote my letters cycle 1 were still the people who knew my abilities best. Use this time to add another dimension of your life if you want - Get another academic LOR or professional.
3 Pinpoint your apps narrative. If you're a 4.0 180 braniac try to get published or something else academic, for me as a splitter I was selling my extracurriculars. Its easy to have accolades and interests in college, but you need to find a way to bring this narrative into your working life. Are you a public interest person? volunteer. Just show that your story and your passions don't end with college. Softs might not matter as much as numbers, but you might as well make yourself the best applicant and person you can.
4 Get a job lined up. Learn about working and interacting with other people. This stuff can be interview fodder and just good life stuff in general.
5 Status checkers are stressful. Cycle 1 I checked 2 or 3 times a week for a dozen schools. Thats a lot of time and stress. Cycle 2 once I went complete at schools I only checked once every few weeks. Life outside of law school apps is a lot better when anxiety and concern aren't overwhelming you all the time.

Application Materials
1. I applied early - mostly mid September with one or two apps not till October. Early applications can be huge.
2. I lived in a a major city where one of those lsac forums happened. I spent a Saturday preparing questions and attending and asking those questions to reps from these schools. I chatted with a Dean at the event and then shot him an email or two over the summer. Because we had met and kept that communication going he admitted me on Day 1 of the cycle without an interview. It looks like 3 or 4 other applications on TLS had an identical experience so it was definitely worth a Saturday. Secondly, this allowed me to update my Why X essays that I had written the previous year. Conventional wisdom is that they don't matter, but it gave me the security of a t14 acceptance from day 1 on as well as a handful of fee waivers and only cost train fare.
3. Narrowed down my school choice. As a splitter I got an acceptance and a couple waitlists to T6s, but there was no way I could get money from them, so if I wouldn't consider sticker price I didn't waste the app fee round 2. Likewise, I added a couple schools that I might be interested in or that might otherwise help with scholarship negotiation.
4. Why X - I was really lazy here. I wrote Why Xs for the typical schools my first cycle and barely changed them. In my second cycle I added a paragraph in each about being excited to attend this time around and something that I liked that I learned from the previous cycle.
5. Personal Statement: I was also really lazy. It combined a few of my passions. Since I had updates to those [see above about continuing passions post college to establish your narrative, I slightly altered my ps to include my recent updates which became the concrete answer I gave during interviews when people asked why I didn't attend last year. " I had goals I wanted to accomplish with regard to XXX and have since done those as shown by YYYY so now I am ready to turn my attentions back to law school." Everyone is going to want to know why you didn't attend and you should have a good reason not just that you didn't get enough money last year.
Just a warning that conventional wisdom says that barely altering Why X and PS is a stupid move for reapplicants but thats what I did.

Financials:
1 This is my biggest advice: NEGOTIATE BOTH CYCLES Sure you want to reapply next year? cool, but negotiate first for two reasons: 1 you might get surprised and get an offer that makes you happy to attend this year 2 Most schools will use their previous offer to you as a baseline for their offer the next year. Negotiate School A from 0 to 30,000 in cycle 1 and odds are that they will offer 30,000 as a baseline cycle 2. Then you negotiate in cycle 2 from this new baseline and all the sudden you're up to a 60,000 scholarship. Had you not negotiated cycle 1, you might get offered 0 initially in cycle two and then have to negotiate from there. Its a lot harder to get to 60 from 0 than it is from 30.
2 You only need one school to make a good offer, give them a chance. Didn't get that good offer year 1? You can give each school a second chance. If even only one school really ups their offer, you are in negotiating heaven.

Decision:
1 Cycle 1 I was not able to attend admitted students days. Cycle 2 I was so I did attend. This had given me the confidence that I liked the schools not just for their scholly offers but also that I thought I could be happy there. Everyone will say not to make your choice based on ASWs, but it made me much more confident taking on such a major investment in my education after having seen the school.



Results:
I got scholly increased from 6 or 7 schools, two or three offered the same, and one offered less that I had negotiated for cycle 1.
Only one school offered me less in year 2 than they did in year one, and I had to negotiate that figure up in cycle 1 anyway. Don't take this as gospel, but I can't imagine most schools would offer less. Even if they did, I bet you could just ask them to match their offer from the previous year if you want to take that after all.
Even if I stuck with the same school in cycle 2 that I would have chosen in cycle 1, I would've done so for 20,000 less. Instead I am going to a better fit at a cheaper school that is better equipped to my goals.
I've been bad about LSN this cycle, but I will share via PM if anyone is particularly interested.

Takeaways: Negotiate both cycles. Be polite and it won't bite you in the following cycle.
Schools will almost always offer as much money year 2 as they did year 1.
You only need one school to make a good offer and your career is green lighted.
A year to do what you want while knowing that there is a great career waiting for you isn't a bad way to spend a year.

I hope my thoughts help someone as much as this site has helped me in reviewing my ps, explaining the process, and pushing me to not settle for an offer that I wasn't excited about.

 

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