Top Ten Mistakes That Law School Applicants Make: #9

car-raceThis post continues our 10-part series of posts on the Top Ten Mistakes That Law School Applicants Make.

The #9 Top Ten Mistake That Law School Applicants Make every year is…
THEY APPLY TOO LATE.

In most cases, if you’re applying by the law school’s deadline, you’re applying too late!

Most law schools have rolling admissions. That means that they admit people on a rolling basis until they’ve admitted enough to fill their 1L class. Rolling admissions means that you want to apply earlier so that you can get in earlier. But it’s not just admissions that’s rolling. Scholarship offers are also rolling. So again, apply earlier so that you can better ensure your chance of being admitted and being offered money.

Did you know that only about a third of law school applicants apply by November? Because of this, I believe the ideal deadline for applying to law school is by Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November). Applying by the end of November gives you the advantage of having your application reviewed when way fewer people have applied.

But, you don’t have to wait until November to apply. If you took an earlier LSAT and will have your score by July, then bump up your timeline and apply when applications open in September and October. Even better!

If you’re planning on taking the December LSAT, you have two options. You can apply this season or wait to apply next year. If you feel good about your performance on the December LSAT, you should write, revise, and finish your application materials by January 1st. Then, once the scores are released during the first week of January, assess your list of schools and decide if you want to add more or take some off. Then tailor your materials to the application directions for your final list of schools and apply by January 25th.

If it’s already February and you still haven’t applied, I recommend waiting. Take the next eight months to get more work experience, save money, and polish your applications materials until they are stellar. Then apply to your schools in September and October. You’ll be applying before even a third of applicants have their applications in! Less competition = more chances for admissions and scholarships.

So, there you have it. Apply to law school from September through January. Don’t make the mistake of applying too late and missing your chance for successful admissions and scholarships.

Photo Credit: Old Boone via Compfight cc

Two Things Prelaw Students Should Do in College

I often get asked the question: “I just started college, and I know I want to be a lawyer–what should I work on?”

Tip #1: Pick the major that most appeals to you.

Tip #2: Get really good at reading comprehension.

Simple, huh?

You’d be surprised at how many college graduates I meet who haven’t done either of these things.

Don’t make that mistake. Whether you just started college or are partway through, watch my video today for details on two important tips that will help you be more successful when you apply to law school.

Have questions or comments about being prelaw in college? I’m here to help. Post your thoughts below and I’ll respond.

Optional Essays are Usually NOT Optional

Most of the time, optional essays for law school applications are only optional if you do not want to get into that law school.

Let me repeat that.

Optional essays for law school applications are only optional if you do not want to get into that law school.

Watch this video for more details.

Law schools are listing that optional essay topic (or list of topics) for a reason. They want to see who takes the time and effort to read and follow their directions. They want to know who is willing to go the extra mile to write another essay. They want to see who really wants to attend their law school.

Be that person. Stand out from the crowd. Write the essay!

However, there are some cases where “optional” can actually mean optional. Sometimes you read the essay prompt and it really doesn’t apply to you. Or it’s about an issue that you already covered in your personal statement.

If you’re not sure about whether the optional essay is really optional, contact that law school’s admissions office. It’s perfectly okay to ask.

Have questions or comments about optional essays for your law school application? I’m here to help. Post your thoughts below and I’ll respond.

What it’s Like to Work with Peg Cheng (Updated)

Peg-ChengToday’s post is all about what it would be like to work with me, Peg Cheng, as your law school admissions consultant.

But let me answer a few common questions to start.

WHO DO YOU LIKE TO WORK WITH?
I like to work with people who want to kick ass, who are open to feedback, and who are ready to work hard. It’s a big commitment to work with me. It’s a major commitment of precious time and cash. Please do not enter this relationship lightly.

ARE YOU TOUGH?
Yes. But I’m not just tough on my clients, I give them tough love. My clients know how much I care about them and their future. I will push you to think hard, go deep, write, revise, and revise again. Think of me as the toughest and most supportive adviser, career counselor, and editor you could ever have.

HOW DO YOU EDIT ESSAYS?
I used to edit all documents the old-school way with pen and paper. But now I edit using the “track edits and comments” feature in Word. I’m comfortable with either method.

If you prefer handwritten edits, just let me know and I can do that for you. For handwritten edits, I print out your essay and after reading it several times, I write my edits, questions, and comments in blue, green, or purple ink. I then scan the edited document and email it to you. If you want the edited original mailed to you, I will do that too.

Except for punctuation and grammatical corrections, all of my edits are suggestions for improvement. You are in control. Use what resonates. Discard what doesn’t.

DO YOU JUST DO EDITS?
No way! A big reason why people hire me is because they want a law school admissions expert to talk with about their questions and concerns. From choosing who should write your letters of recommendation, to choosing the right law schools for your personal goals, to tips on how to negotiate scholarship offers, I’m here to help.

There are no stupid questions and no question is too small. If you’re wondering about it, let’s talk about it. That’s my motto.

Now, let’s walk you through what it’ll be like to work together as consultant and client.

STEP 1: INITIAL CONSULTATION
To see if we are a good client-consultant fit, we will first set up an Initial Consultation. The Initial Consultation lasts one hour, costs $60, and can be credited towards any of my three consulting packages. During our phone or Skype meeting, we’ll discuss your academic and work background, which law schools you’d love to get into, and more. I’ll answer any questions you have about the law school application process. We can also brainstorm about your personal statement. This is a time for you to get your specific questions answered, and for both of us to get to know one another.

STEP 2: CHOOSE YOUR PACKAGE
If we both decide we want to work together, then we move forward. Click here to see the consulting packages that I offer. Once you’ve chosen your package, signed the contract, and paid your fees, the real work begins.

STEP 3: TIMELINE MEETING
I will give you an application timeline that you can use to keep track of all the tasks you need to do to apply to law school. We will have a phone or Skype meeting to go over the timeline and plan our initial steps. You will also receive copies of all my No B.S. Guides for applying to law school.

STEP 4: EDITING BEGINS OR START 49 STORIES
If you purchased the Basics Package, you will send me a draft of an essay or resume you want me to edit and critique. I will send you my feedback within 48 hours (Monday-Friday).

If you purchased the Deluxe or Supreme Package, the first thing you’ll do is complete the 49 Stories Exercise, a simple yet highly effective writing technique. Many clients have said that they loved doing the 49 Stories–their thoughts and stories just come pouring out of them and onto the page!

STEP 5: CONSULTATION
For Basics Package clients, we will have a follow-up phone or Skype meeting to discuss your essay critique and answer any questions you might have.

For Deluxe and Supreme Package clients, I will carefully read and take notes on your 49 Stories exercise. Then we’ll have a phone or Skype session. I will ask you many questions during this session. Often, you might feel like you wrote a lot but you still have no idea what to write about for your personal statement.

Never fear. Through 10 years of experience helping people tell their stories, I can pluck out topics that have great potential for a personal statement but that are invisible to the client’s eye.

By the end of this meeting, you will know what will be the strongest, most relevant topic(s) for your personal statement and/or diversity statement. Clients often say they can’t wait to start writing after this meeting!

STEP 6: EDITING CONTINUES
For Basics Package clients, you will receive another edit/critique of the same essay, a different essay, or your resume. For Deluxe and Supreme Package clients, you will send me a draft of the first essay you want me to edit and critique, and I’ll send you my feedback within 48 hours (Monday-Friday).

STEP 7: RINSE AND REPEAT
For Basics Package clients, you will repeat the previous step until you’ve received three essay edits/critiques and three 30-minute consultations. If you’d like more help, you can upgrade to the Deluxe or Supreme package and we’ll keep going.

For Deluxe Package clients, you have unlimited essay and resume edits/critiques for applying to one law school. If after completing these you’d like more help, you can upgrade to the Supreme package and we’ll keep going.

For Supreme Package clients, you have unlimited essay and resume edits/critiques and unlimited phone/Skype consultations for applying to all your law schools. We’ll keep going until your personal statement, diversity statement, addenda, optional essays, supplemental essays, and your resume are stellar and ready to go out!

WHY IT’S CALLED THE SUPREME
For Supreme Package clients, our journey continues even after you apply. I’ll coach you on wait list strategies, scholarship negotiations, questions to ask when visiting schools, choosing which school to attend, and more. I’m here to support you from the beginning until the end.

I’M INTERESTED. WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
Contact me to set up an Initial Consultation.

That’s it, folks. I hope I’ve shed good light on what it’s like to work with me as your law school admissions consultant.

Have more questions? Post them below and I’ll respond.

FAQs about the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS)

candy_eggsWHAT IS THE LSAC CREDENTIAL ASSEMBLY SERVICE (CAS)?

The Credential Assembly Service (CAS), administered by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), is the online service that stores your college transcript(s), LSAT score(s), letters of recommendation, and more.

Think of it like an online basket and delivery system that holds all your application goodies.

After you send the CAS your transcript(s), letters of recommendation (LORs), and online evaluations (if needed), the CAS will put all these together, along with your LSAT score(s) and LSAT writing sample, into a Law School Report. When you apply to law schools, you will pay for your Law School Report ($28 each) to be sent to each law school that you apply to.

WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT THE CAS?

You should care because the CAS is what you will use to apply to law schools. Pretty much all ABA-approved law schools, and a few non-ABA-approved ones, use the CAS for processing applications. Back in the old days, you could apply to law schools through mailing in paper applications. Now, everything is done online and through the CAS.

WHEN DO I SIGN UP FOR THE CAS?

Sign up for the CAS before you request transcripts and LORs. If you’re applying to law school this fall, sign up for the CAS by June and at least by September.

HOW DO I SIGN UP FOR THE CAS?

Go to www.lsac.org and create a login to register for the CAS.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

As of this post date, the CAS costs $165. Once the fee is paid, your account is good for five years.

WHAT DO I SEND TO THE CAS?

You must send transcripts from all higher education institutions that you’ve attended. That includes community college, college, professional and/or graduate school, and law school.

Log in to your account at www.lsac.org and print out the Transcript Request Form and then deliver, fax, or mail the form to your school’s Registrar. Your school must send your Transcript Request Form with your official transcript.

Allow LSAC two weeks from the time of receipt to process your transcript(s). After two weeks, log into your LSAC account and look for your Academic Summary Report. Here you will find your LSAC GPA—the GPA that includes all of your college grades. Check it over to make sure everything looks correct.

WHEN DO I SEND MY TRANSCRIPTS TO CAS?

If you are applying to law school this fall and have already graduated college, I recommend sending your transcript(s) right after you register for the CAS.

If you are applying to law school this fall and have not graduated college yet, I recommend sending your transcript(s) about 3-4 weeks after you finish your spring term (or summer term). Make sure all grades have been posted before you send the transcript!

NOTE: Even if you are not applying to law school until December or January, do not wait until your autumn term grades are posted. Just send the transcript(s) you have at the end of spring or summer.

HOW DO I USE THE CAS FOR LORs?

After you talk to your recommender about writing you a LOR, you log into CAS and fill in your recommender’s contact information. An email is then sent to your recommender asking him/her to complete and upload a LOR for you. You can also print the required recommender form to give to your recommender if he/she would rather submit a paper LOR through the mail. Remember, your online account with the CAS is good for five years. So, even if you aren’t planning on applying this year, you can still request LORs and have them sent to CAS.

Well, folks, that’s the basic FAQs for the CAS. For more details, go here.

Have questions or comments about the CAS? I’m here to help. Post your questions below and I’ll respond.

Photo Credit: Huevos de Pascua by Tamorlan.