Understanding Admissions Criteria

Law schools consider the objective criteria - the GPA and LSAT score - the factors that most accurately predict how applicants will perform in their first year, and are therefore often the most heavily regarded aspects of your application.  Many law schools use a formula to combine applicants’ LSAT scores and GPAs with weighted constants to produce a single number which can be used to assess and compare potential for doing well. This is referred to as an Admission Index or Applicant Index. 

In addition to GPA and LSAT score (or Admission Index), law schools also weight additional, subjective, factors when considering applicants.  These include the personal statement, letters of recommendation, addenda, resume, and Dean’s Certification (if applicable).

Personal Statement: Applicants submit a personal statement as part of the application process for almost all law schools.  Admissions committees look for a concise, detailed, well-written statement revealing the applicant's individuality.  They want to learn from the statement who the applicant is and what makes him/her qualified to study at their law schools.

Letters of Recommendation: Most law schools require applicants to submit letters of recommendation from professors or employers to gain a different perspective on the applicant’s academic strength and personal qualities.  Admissions officers find most helpful specific examples of applicants’ motivation and intellectual curiosity, an assessment of communication skills, and a comparison with peers.

Addenda: An addendum is something you can choose to include in your application to offer explanation regarding another part of your application.  An addendum should be very concise and can explain issues such as a low GPA, low LSAT score, lapse in academic performance, etc.  If a legitimate reason cannot be offered for a particular weakness in the application, an addendum should not be included, nor should one be included if there are no obvious issues needing to be addressed.

Resume: This factor includes undergraduate curricular and extracurricular activities, internships, part-time and full-time work experience, volunteer experience, etc.  Include a resume in your application materials that demonstrates your skills and abilities relevant to the study of law and how you will contribute to the diversity and strength of the class. 

Dean’s Certification:  A dean's certification letter is required by some law schools to confirm that applicants have not been involved in academic or disciplinary transgressions as undergraduates.  The certification is generally a formality handled by a designated college official.  At Dickinson the contact is the Dean of Advising, whom you can contact by calling 717-245-1080.