Published December 12, 2017
“Should I apply for law school early decision?”
This question causes quite a bit of stress for future law students every year. While early decision does offer some benefits (depending on the school, it can definitely increase your chances of acceptance), it also comes with some drawbacks. It’s definitely not right for everyone.
If you’ve done some research and are still a bit flummoxed about early decision, you may benefit from the following information. Here’s everything you need to know about law school early decision.
Are you looking at early decision or early action? They’re very similar - just different levels of commitment. Early decision requires “binding” yourself to a law school - basically promising if you get accepted, you’ll withdraw any other applications.
If this commitment scares you, early action may be a better option (if available). It provides the same benefits without any of the downsides. So, check to see if your #1 school offers this option.
The biggest drawback of early decision is committing to a school before you know what kind of aid they’ll offer. If merit-based financial aid is make-or-break for you, early decision is NOT going to be in your best interest.
While some schools offer early decision scholarships, you’ll be in a bind if you commit to a school that you can’t pay for.
Speaking of scholarships: you may be eligible for financial aid specific to early decision applicants. The best way to learn about this is the school’s admissions officers, but you may be able to find some info online as well.
Usually, it’s a good idea to take multiple LSATs. With early decision, you may not have that luxury.
Depending on your school of choice, early decision deadlines can be as early as November or as late as March (UB Law falls into the former category). So, you may not have the chance to take the December LSAT, and you definitely won’t be able to take the one in February. Plan accordingly!
This isn’t to say you should brown-nose your way through your personal essay. But, early decision is a big commitment. Use a few sentences to talk about what drew you to that particular school.
Pretty self-explanatory. Check out the school and see if you vibe with the environment & culture. Don’t go in blind!
Get your secondary applications ready, but be prepared to drop them if you get accepted to your early decision school.
Early decision isn’t a guaranteed acceptance, so it’s in your best interests to have a backup plan. However, if you get accepted to your early decision school, you also need to be able to let your backup plans go!
Do it on your calendar, on your phone, wherever you track your schedule!
The deadline will ambush you if you’re not ready. Since certain application items can take a while to gather, don’t wait until the last minute. MARK DOWN YOUR DEADLINE, and set milestones and reminders along the way!
The biggest factor for most applicants will be financial aid. Before you apply, learn about the scholarships you’re eligible for, possible grants, and other ways to decrease your burden like reduced out-of-state tuition.
When in doubt, admissions officers are happy to chat with potential students. Use them as a resource to choose the best path for you - early decision or otherwise!