4 tips for high schoolers considering law school

Many individuals have a lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer, and they begin taking steps to improve their chances of getting into a good law school as early as their high school days. For these driven, ambitious, high school students intent on a career as an attorney, there are some things you can do to get a head start on the law school application process, and some pitfalls you'll want to avoid.

Take AP classes requiring heavy reading, writing and research. Being a lawyer isn't all arguing and yelling "objection!" in court. The job requires familiarity with long, sometimes hard to understand texts. Taking classes that strengthen your reading and writing abilities will serve multiple purposes.

First, they show law school admissions officers that you've worked toward acquiring skills necessary to succeed in law school, exemplifying how driven and serious you are about your goals. AP classes appear on your transcript when you apply to law school, so take them as seriously.

In addition to showing admissions officers you're serious, AP classes also lay the groundwork for you to become a successful college student and provide you with some tools that will come in handy in preparing for the LSAT and once you get to law school, where fast – but careful – reading is required.

Many students suffer from a lower GPA in their freshman year simply because they're not yet adept at writing college-level essays, and those grades could mean the difference between getting accepted into a good law school and a great law school. Learning the proper way to write a paper is key to being a successful student in college.

Broaden your mindset. Some people will tell you that majoring in the humanities – like political science and philosophy – is important for how schools see your application. Those people are wrong; the relationship between law school and most humanities is tenuous at best.

Not only does a humanities degree gives you no advantage when applying to law school, but in some ways it's an advantage to have majored in the sciences, because it makes you look like a more well-rounded applicant who will contribute to a more diverse law school student body.

With that being the case, if you want to go to law school but are also interested in chemistry, by all means, make that your college major and take the AP classes to better prepare you for it. In addition to majoring in a field you're interested in, you will also keep your options open if you ultimately decide that law school isn't for you.

Participate in diverse extracurricular activities. Sure, debate club is nice, and it prepares you for the logical thinking required on the LSAT and law school to some extent, but it isn't likely to move the needle much when law schools consider your application.

Try exploring opportunities that offer some hands-on experience in the legal world, such as summer jobs or internships in law firms, courthouses, representatives' offices and other places you might want to work after law school.

It might not be the most glamorous way to spend your summer, but it will look great on your resume, and you'll gain invaluable information about the mechanics of the court system and legislature, the daily work of an attorney or even basic things like the difference between a memo and a brief.

Don't stretch yourself too thin. While it's admirable that you're motivated enough to plan ahead for more than five years into the future, remember that you can't just skip ahead and get to law school. You still have classes to worry about, in addition to college applications, AP exams, SAT or ACT prep, and hobbies and a social life.

Overloading yourself can hurt your grades and by extension, your chances of getting into a good college, and burn you out before you've even graduated from high school.

Much like everything in life, the answer is moderation. Yes, applying to law school is very competitive, but over-preparation can be worse than not taking any specific action at all. So instead of studying for the LSAT while still in high school, remember that you still have a few years to check some of the boxes law schools are looking for, and go enjoy some of the free time you still have. You'll have plenty of time to worry as an attorney. (Read more: Daniel Waldman. April 30, 2019. https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/law-admissions-lowdown/articles/2019-04-30/4-tips-for-high-school-students-considering-law-school)