Just because a law school is high-ranking doesn’t mean it’s the right school for you. When deciding which law schools to apply for, consider these five factors.
Law school can cost upwards of $100,000—just in tuition. While you may be able to get into a top-tier school, your odds of being offered a scholarship might be much lower. If you don’t have very unique circumstances that make you a great scholarship candidate, consider looking at lower-ranked schools that might offer you a more attractive package than just an acceptance letter.
The cost of living is much higher in Boston than it is in Salt Lake City. Consider your financial situation. Most schools discourage law students from working during the school year, and some outright forbid it, especially for first-year students. Look at housing costs, transportation, insurance, food, etc. when deciding where to apply. If you’re planning on going out of state, don’t forget that tuition can be double or more that of your resident state.
Some people thrive in bustling, big cities; others feel stressed and crowded. You may want a small town where the living is quiet, or a place where you can ride your bike to the grocer on the corner. The availability of extracurricular activities is important, too. Check out the campus of the school, too. By visiting in person, you’ll be able to talk to current students and find out more about the campus culture. Whatever your personality, take time to explore the locations of the schools you’re interested in; you’ll be living there for three years, after all.
The more support you have throughout law school, the better. Moving several thousand miles away from family and friends can make it harder to deal with the emotional aspects of law school. Think carefully about your needs; if you have an independent spirit, family support might not matter as much.
Support while on campus is also important, and can have a big impact on how well you do in school and what kind of internships you land. Find out how hands-on professors are and what kind of mentoring and support you can expect to receive from the program at each school you’re looking at.
If you already know that you’ll be pursuing a specific field of law, choosing a school that focuses on that field will obviously be beneficial. Look at the professors and their backgrounds as well as the available courses. Even if the school you choose is ranked lower than others, if it offers a great program in your specialty, it will be a better fit for you.