March 4, 2003

Law School applications escalate for the second consecutive year

For the second consecutive year, the University of Chicago Law School Admissions Committee has seen a 20 percent increase in applications, with numbers exceeding 5,000 this year.

"It's an exciting time. Applications are at an all-time high," said Ann Perry, assistant dean for Law School admissions. "It'll bring more exciting and talented students."

The U of C Law School accepts students on a rolling basis, meaning that applications are reviewed upon their dates of completion. Although the deadline falls in early February, the admissions process is ongoing. Students can be placed on hold or waitlisted until the summer, thus making it difficult to predict the final statistics for the Class of 2007. Perry said they hope to get through most of the applications in about the next month.

Many speculate that nationwide increases in law school applications are due in part to the weakening economy, which has caused many professionals to seek advanced degrees for the sake of staying competitive. Others surmise that applicants have begun increasing the number of schools that they are targeting in order to increase their chances of acceptance.

A 20 percent increase in applications for last year's law class yielded an impressive student body, according to Perry, with a median LSAT score of 169 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.66. Although the statistics for this year's admitted class will remain unknown until final decisions have been made, the increase in applications provides an opportunity for the admissions committee to select an even more talented and diverse class, said Michael B. Machen, director of financial aid for the Law School.

"It's been a very strong pool of applicants, " he said.

Despite the strong LSAT and GPA numbers emerging from recent law classes, however, the admissions committee's emphasis remains on forming a class with complementary talents. The committee is composed of three faculty members and four staff members. It attempts to look at applications as entire units. "We look at everything--the totality of applicants. It's not strictly numbers," Perry said.

According to Perry, the personal statement is the best occasion for students to supplement their numbers with interesting experiences and accomplishments. "It is the opportunity for applicants to express to the admissions committee what they will be able to contribute to class. It is also a writing sample," she said.

In addition to looking for strong personal statements, the admissions committee continually underscores the importance of attracting students with varied academic and personal interests. Applicants are able and encouraged to express these interests in their resumes, which are to accompany their applications. "We're trying to create as rich an academic environment as possible," Machen said.

As interest in the Law School rises across the country, the College continues to be one of its largest undergraduate feeder schools."U of C people are great in our law classes. They become Chicago ambassadors to their classmates," Machen said.

Students at the College are strongly encouraged to apply; their application fees are even waived by the Law School. However, U of C undergraduates are also urged to research the Law School before applying to ensure a good fit.

"U of C students should take advantage of being on campus. We have tours of the Law School every day and open houses," Perry said.