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Preparing for Law School
In brief . . .
Hope College, like virtually all other colleges and universities, does not have a specific pre-law major. This is because there is no best path to law school. There are no required courses for students with a desire to go to law school, nor is any single major any better than another in preparing one for law school. Indeed, the decision of what to major in should be decided based on one's genuine interests and intellectual strengths. The best approach is to pursue a challenging program of study, one you find inherently appealing and consequently in which you are likely to do your best work. It is one's performance in college, more than any specific program or courses taken in college, which law schools are interested in. You are likely to do best, and hence be a more attractive candidate, if you are studying subjects that motivate and interest you as a student.
According to most law school admissions officers, the best preparation for law school is a solid liberal arts education. In fact, many lawyers describe law school as an extension of the liberal arts education. The American Bar Association (ABA) recommends an education that emphasizes strong analytical and problem-solving skills, critical reading abilities, writing and research skills, and strong oral communication and listening abilities. If you are studying a major that you feel is not giving you adequate training in these areas, look for elective courses outside your major that will give you these opportunities. Your pre-law advisors on campus can be helpful in directing you to such courses.
The ABA also recommends developing a broad knowledge base in preparation for making the best of a legal education. Suggested areas of study include:
The most common areas of concentration for those considering a legal career are business administration, English, economics, history, philosophy, and political science. However, you can major in anything from interpretive dance or Spanish to biology or Environmental Studies and still go to law school, as long as you develop the skills mentioned above. The most important thing is to pick a major or discipline that truly engages and challenges you.
Meaningful outside experience will also enhance your law school application. Work or internship experiences, significant extracurricular involvement, study abroad, and other honors may serve to distinguish you from other law school applicants with similar numbers. However, do not fall into the trap of building a list of activities a mile long. Settle on a few limited activities, and get involved in a meaningful way, even in a leadership capacity.
Hope College Department of Political Science | Lubbers Hall | 126 E. 10th St | Holland, MI 49422-9000