Grad and Law School Application Essays: Due Soon?

Fundamentals of Property Law CasebookI remember getting my graduate and law school acceptance letters.  Not only did it feel great to be accepted, but each one came with a hand-written note from one of the leading scholars at the school complimenting me on my admissions essay.  I worked hard on mine.  And I have worked hard with hundreds of students since then to help them feel confident in theirs as well.

Graduate and law school admissions essays demand a bit more from writers than undergraduate admissions essays.  Applicants to grad and law school need to know more about their educational goals – or be able to convince the admissions staff that they are clear about those goals.  More importantly, every anecdote – personal, academic, or professional – has to connect directly to one persuasive topic: how will you, the student, make a unique contribution to the school (and, make its rankings go up!)?

Below is a brief outline of some ideas for how to  write the grad or law school admissions essay.  It is a balancing act.  A writer has to include a lot about herself, but also demonstrate a knowledge of the unique relationship she hopes to create with the school.  That means knowing the school very well – its faculty, staff, programs, alumni, and current student research.  The outline below is not intended to be chronological in nature, but to serve as a checklist of ideas and steps to consider while drafting the essay(s).

Take a look at the list. Start a draft, then sign up for a session with Tutoring the Whole Writer to become more confident in your submission. Discover the writing style you need for your essay – and your preferred college(s).

NOTE: The usual fee range for a single online tutoring session on a two-page application essay is between $20.00-$45.00.  View the fee structure for details and don’t forget to ‘Like’ Tutoring the Whole Writer on Facebook for session discounts.

Grad and Law School Personal Statements: Basic Guidelines

Before Writing: research the school and its faculty:

  • know the admissions and enrollment statistics
  • know of two or three faculty of interest, their research, and one or two of their published works

Topics for the Personal Statement/Essay

The School-Focused Parts:

  • Share why you have chosen to apply to a particular school.
  • Share that you are and why you are interested in a particular field
  • Share what you know about the professors you researched and indicate your interest in working with them

The Student-Focused Parts:

  • Share your motivation – how you became interested in that field
  • Discuss your skills with examples: oral communication, writing, leadership, peer motivation, etc.
  • Discuss one possible career goal if you can do so clearly. Do not discuss a handful of possible careers goals.
  • Share any very personal challenges that will show admissions readers you have perseverance in the face of any adversity
  • Every story, every example, every line needs to relate directly to how it has prepared you for success in college/grad school

General Considerations:

  • Avoid grandiose statements
  • Use active words
  • Be succinct – revise for unnecessary words, phrases, and whole points in some cases