Law School Visits: When to Go, What to Look for

Now that law schools are recovering from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are once again opening their campuses back up to visitors. It’s a good time for applicants to think about when and why they should visit prospective law schools — and what they should look out for.

When to Schedule a Law School Visit

The timing of a law school visit depends on where you are in the process. For someone still deciding whether to apply to law school, a summer visit may make the most sense. With fewer students around, the campus is less busy and admissions officers and professors are more available for meetings.

However, if you have already applied, it may make more sense to hold off until winter or spring. If you have wisely applied to a wide range of law schools, it would be exhausting to tour each one. You can usually get a good enough idea of whether a law school might be worth applying to by browsing law school websites, attending virtual information sessions and talking to prelaw advisers and recent graduates.

[Read: Revealing Things to Look for on Law School Websites]

Once you receive your decisions, you may feel torn between various options among schools where you are admitted or on the waitlist, especially if you received widely varying scholarships. At this point, visiting law schools that you are considering can help you break through decision paralysis and potentially move up a waitlist.

Why Visit Law Schools?

Visiting a law school helps in a few ways.

First, it shows interest. Admissions offices track visits and attendance at events. While they obviously understand that not everyone is able to visit in person, particularly during the pandemic, travel shows motivation. It’s also a great topic for an update email or a letter of continued interest.

Second, visiting a law school presents an opportunity to learn more about what makes the school unique, from its campus culture to its clinics, programs and student activities. These details can help you sincerely articulate your interest in a school in your essays and communications.

[READ: How to Discuss the Appeal of a Top-Choice Law School.]

Third, you may be able to meet with students or admissions officers who can provide valuable insights. Do your research ahead of time and be prepared to ask questions.

Making a positive and professional impression on admissions officers can help you build relationships that distinguish you from other applicants. Use these meetings as a chance to demonstrate your interest by referencing some of the unique opportunities at the law school relevant to your interests and goals.

Finally, if you have already been accepted to a law school, you may be able to schedule an in-person meeting to request a reconsideration of merit-based scholarships in your financial aid. Sometimes it can be easier to talk through your financial pressures and the tough choices you face.

What to Look Out for

Whether you are a prospective applicant or an accepted applicant making a final decision, visiting a law school can give you an incomparable feel for a place. Law school location matters — for your career, your social life and your mental health.

Where you attend law school may change the course of your life. Visiting can give you a sense of the campus, the surrounding community and even the climate and local culture.

Campus tours and information sessions can be one-sided, so pay attention to other signs. Check out the libraries and facilities. Stroll around the neighborhood. Browse bulletin boards and posted activities. If school is in session, observe how students interact.

[Read: How to Pick the Right Law School]

Does the school feel big or small? Is it integrated into a larger university or on its own? Does it seem like there’s an active life on campus, or is it more a commuter school? Do students seem interested in startups, or political activism, or faith-based groups? Are people friendly or more reserved?

Most importantly, how does it feel when you picture yourself there?

The three years it takes to earn a J.D. degree is a long time. If you don’t feel like you fit in, you are more likely to drop out of law school under stress. It’s worth investing the time to find a law school community that makes you feel comfortable.

More from U.S. News

How Long Is Law School and What Is It Like?

How to Decide Whether to Work During Law School

How to Survive and Thrive First Year of Law School

Law School Visits: When to Go, What to Look for originally appeared on usnews.com

Related Categories:

Latest News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up