With the fall season drawing to a close, the J.D. Admissions office is hard at work reading files for the 2021–2022 application cycle. We’re sure many of you are in the midst of preparing your materials and preparing to submit your file. To that end, the J.D. Admissions team recently came together to offer their thoughts on some underrated and overrated approaches that applicants might take towards their HLS application. We hope you’ll find some of these nuggets useful. This week, we close out our series and highlight some of the overrated approaches that we recommend applicants avoid as they craft their applications. 

Assistant Director Lucas Harty

Overrated: Taking a less rigorous curriculum to achieve a better GPA
When it comes to your academic record, you can be sure that we won’t just be looking at your GPA. After all, your grade point average doesn’t really tell the full story of the classes you’ve taken, the rigor of the curriculum, and how you might have challenged yourself. We appreciate seeing candidates who have the gumption and intellectual curiosity to push themselves outside their comfort zone by taking upper-level or otherwise challenging classes. So think twice before trying to pad that GPA by loading up on too many introductory level courses.”

Assistant Director Sam Parker 

Overrated: Retaking your standardized test
We know the LSAT and the GRE are expensive endeavors, and preparing for them is a huge outlay of time and energy. While many applicants opt to submit multiple test scores (and there’s certainly no disadvantage to doing so), we suggest being strategic about how you spend your limited time, energy, and resources. Your standardized test scores is just one part of your file, achieving an excellent score alone doesn’t guarantee admission to HLS. When balancing the decision to retake a test, ensure you aren’t neglecting the other elements of your application, and carefully weigh whether a potential marginal score increase will really be worth the time and energy on test prep.”

Associate Director Nefyn Meissner and Admissions Officer Pamela Toscano

Overrated: Overstating your interest in Harvard Law School
Nefyn: “Your application can, and in most cases should, provide some indication of why you are interested in law school. That said, your application should focus on…you! We know our institution pretty well and can often predict what course, clinics, and student organizations you might be interested in based on your application itself. We don’t expect you to highlight the resources at HLS that you are keen to get involved with as a student, and there’s no admissions advantage to doing so either. With a two-page limit for the personal statement, we would much rather you keep the focus of your message on you. We know some schools ask for a “Why School X” statement, but when it comes to HLS, just submitting an application to join our 1L class is enough to signal to us that you’re excited and interested in our school.”

Pamela: “Somewhat relatedly,  the number of interactions you have with our office doesn’t play a role in how the Admissions Committee perceives your application. We certainly encourage any applicant to take advantage of the range of virtual sessions we offer to learn about HLS, but there’s no need to stretch your already limited time by attending every event, especially if you’re already feeling well-prepared for the application process. As Nefyn mentioned, the only thing you need to do to demonstrate interest and enthusiasm for HLS is hit submit on your application.”

Filed in: Inside the Black Box

Contact the J.D. Admissions Office

Website: hls.harvard.edu/jdadmissions

Email: jdadmiss@law.harvard.edu