Making Undergraduate Courses Count for Law School
There are several things that you can do that will help to make your course selection stand out to law school admissions committees. First, ensure that you have courses that develop the skills they are looking for (listed below). Second, find a passion. Committees look for good students, not students who are trying to look good. Develop some depth in your coursework. Find something in your major to master. Third, while committees are looking for depth, they also look for you to demonstrate some intellectual curiosity. You can demonstrate this by choosing electives that are outside of your major. If you are getting a history degree, take a class from the college of business. If you are getting a degree in economics, take a class in the college of fine arts. Finally, avoid taking classes that are pass/fail. Having these classes on your transcript leaves the impression that you were trying to avoid risk with your GPA. One or two interesting classes won’t hurt, but too many will raise an eyebrow.
You should also know that taking classes with the word “law” in the title will not score you any points with the admissions committee. If you want to take one of these classes to get an idea of whether you find legal issues interesting, go ahead; it won’t hurt anything. But having these classes on your transcript does not give your application a boost. Law schools do not expect you to show up knowing the law.
How Your Pre-law Plan Factors into Major/Course Selection
You should also make sure to consider your plan when you are choosing your major and classes.
If you have an idea that you want to practice certain types of law, that decision should factor into choosing a major. For instance, if you think that you might be interested in practicing intellectual property or patent law, a bachelor’s degree in a hard science or engineering is enormously valuable. If you know that you want to practice corporate law, tax law, or estate planning, you should ensure that your undergraduate degree includes a solid business foundation and at least one accounting class. Good corporate degrees are economics, accounting, and finance. At a bare minimum, you should minor in a business subject if you want one of these practices.
You also need to remember that you will soon need letters of recommendation. If you do well in a class, consider taking other offerings from the same professor. Develop relationships with your professors. Impress them with your work ethic. Senior year is a bit late to develop these relationships.
The 6 Courses that Admissions Committees Love to See on Your Transcript
If you follow your pre-law plan, admissions committees will find what they are looking for when they review your transcript. Again, you should remember that they are looking for classes that help to develop critical analysis, logical reasoning, written expression, and oral facility. To this end, here are some suggestions that will stand out. Ensure that you have most, if not all, of these courses on your transcript.
1. Upper level course in social science (anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, sociology, etc…)
3. Upper level English department writing course
4. Upper level course with “research” in the title
5. Upper level course with “problems” in the title
6. Upper level diversity course (Latin American studies, African American studies, International studies, etc…)
An added bonus to taking these courses is that they also tend to sharpen skills that help when you take the LSAT.