Do law schools care about extracurriculars? How important are they in the admissions process? What do I do if I have no extracurriculars? All of these questions and more will be answered below!
With a busy undergraduate schedule full of challenging courses with demanding workloads and unrelenting readings and assignments, you may want to spend any free time you have relaxing, trying to maintain a social life, or pursuing a hobby.
While it can be tempting to put extracurriculars on the back burner, doing so can decrease your chances of getting into your dream law school. And when thousands of students are competing for only a few hundred spots, you’ll want to do everything you can to stand out!
This guide will provide you with a more in-depth answer to the question, “how important are extracurriculars for law school?” along with answers to other frequently asked questions about these activities!
To avoid any unnecessary panic or stress, let’s get one thing straight: regardless of the law school you apply to, your GPA and LSAT will be given the most weight in the admissions process.
Unless you have competitive scores that fall within your school’s medians, no amount of extracurriculars will have a profound impact on admission chances.
So, how much do extracurricular activities matter in law school admissions? Well, extracurriculars can strengthen an already solid application and help it stand out or help make up for scores that fall on the lower end of the competitive range.
As law schools emphasize holistic reviews of their applicants, it’s important every aspect of your application comes together to prove your candidacy for law school. However, certain extracurriculars will be valued more than others.
Extracurriculars that demonstrate passion, leadership, civic engagement, and significant time commitments will be appreciated the most by the admissions committee. Some popular extracurriculars aspiring law students pursue include:
You should also keep in mind that law schools value depth over breadth. Pick a few extracurriculars you’re passionate about and ensure you make meaningful contributions to them!
Those of you who are nearing the end of your undergrad (or have already completed it) without any extracurriculars may be panicking, wondering if you need to have extracurriculars in your law school application.
Fortunately, there is still hope! Extracurricular activities can enhance your law school application, but they are not the sole determining factor for admission.
While the weight of your extracurriculars will vary depending on the schools you’re applying to, do not let an absence of these activities discourage you from applying.
Top law schools often prioritize academic achievements, including a strong undergraduate GPA and competitive LSAT scores. If you lack extracurriculars, make up for it with scores that go beyond your desired law school’s medians.
You should also write a compelling personal statement sharing your unique experiences and motivations, secure strong letters of recommendation, and showcase any work experience or internships that relate to the legal field, if applicable.
In this guide, we’ve answered the main questions, “do law schools care about extracurricular activities?” and “how important are extracurriculars for law school?” You can find the answers to any remaining questions below!
Yes, it is possible to get into law school without extensive extracurricular involvement. While extracurricular activities can add some extra pizazz to your application, they're not a mandatory requirement for admission to law school.
Admissions committees consider a range of factors, including academic performance, LSAT scores, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and work experience. If you can compensate for your lack of extracurriculars in these other areas, especially your GPA and LSAT score, you can still submit a competitive application!
Harvard requires its students to submit resumes that list their work, volunteer, and extracurricular experience. As such, they do consider extracurriculars in the admissions process and search for the most well-rounded applicants. However, they are given much less weight than applicants’ GPAs and LSAT scores.
Having legal work experience can certainly boost your law school application because it proves your commitment to the legal field and your preparedness for law school. Law-related or not, any work experience will also demonstrate your ability to juggle multiple commitments at once and time management skills.
However, as an undergraduate student, law schools do not expect you to have significant work experience, and many successful law students have none!
While work experience and extracurricular activities fall under similar categories, they’re not exactly the same. However, many law schools will consider both.
You should pay close attention to the application instructions for your specific school to know whether your work experience and extracurriculars should be listed on a resume, CV, or simply on a list of activities.
The key is to pursue extracurricular activities that genuinely interest you and allow for personal growth. Quality involvement and meaningful experiences are more important than sheer quantity.
When considering which extracurricular activities to pursue for law school, it's important to focus on activities that align with your passions, demonstrate your skills and commitment, and provide opportunities for personal growth.
Law schools value extracurriculars that require long-term commitment, involve leadership, and help you develop essential skills such as critical thinking, public speaking, problem-solving, and collaboration.
Any volunteer work will also look great on your application since it will demonstrate your commitment to serving others!
Generally speaking, the more recent your activities are, the better. You should prioritize experiences from the upper years of your undergrad, and consider leaving any high school experiences off the list altogether.
While we’ve given the ultimate answer that extracurriculars do matter in the admissions process but not nearly as much as some of your other application components, this doesn’t mean you should completely discount pursuing extracurriculars!
These activities can still strengthen your application and can otherwise contribute to your personal growth and self-discovery, expand your social circle, and provide you with an escape from your academic pressures!