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You will find frequently asked questions (and answers) about other aspects of Tulane Law School in the About Tulane Law School section of this web site.
A. QUESTIONS ABOUT THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Q-1. How many applications do you receive and accept?
In 2011-12, we received close to 2300 applications. Approximately 1100 applicants were offered admission, and 249 of those applicants accepted our offer of admission and enrolled.
Q-2. Do you have “rolling admissions”?
Yes, in the following sense: we begin to review complete applications shortly before December 1st. We announce decisions as they are made, although decisions are not necessarily made in the order in which applicants apply.
Q-3. What is your application deadline?
We don’t have a strict deadline, but strongly encourage applications by mid-February, and even earlier if possible. We begin to make admission decisions as early as December 1st, and we continue making decisions throughout the spring and even the summer if the class isn’t filled yet. So “late” applications can still be considered, but it’s not an optimal situation. Students who are interested in scholarships and other financial aid are especially encouraged to apply early because once the funds are distributed, that’s all there is.
Q-4. How do I submit an application?
We recommend that applicants use the electronic application service offered by the Law School Admission Council;. Alternatively, we can provide a hard-copy application form upon request.
Q-5. Do you offer deferred admission?
We offer deferred admission on an individual basis. If you are offered admission and decide not to attend any law school that year, you may request deferral of our offer of admission to the following year. If your request is granted, you will need to submit the full commitment deposit, and we will require that you reactivate your subscription to CAS, fill out a new application form, and update as necessary. We will then send a new letter of admission so long as nothing has occurred to make you ineligible for admission, and at that time you would submit a new commitment deposit. Both commitment deposits will be credited to your fall semester tuition and fees when you enroll as a first-year student in the fall following your re-admission.
We offer 2-year deferrals to participants in the Teach For America program.
If your request is not granted, you will need to reactivate your earlier application and we will reconsider your application in the context of the new applicant pool.
Q-6. What is the amount of your application fee?
$60. The fee can be waived if you arrange for the financial aid officer at your school to send us a letter recommending a waiver. If you are not currently in school, send us your most recent tax return and/or an income statement if you are requesting a fee waiver. Also, if LSAC has waived its fees, your application fee for Tulane will be waived automatically when you apply electronically.
Q-7. What advice can you give me about my application? What should I send along with my application?
FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. Don’t forget to include (or attach electronically) all of the things you are supposed to include, and don’t forget to sign the application (or certify electronically). Answer all questions.
Recommendations aren’t required, but they help--if they are written by professors or employers who know your work well. We strongly encourage use of the Law School Admission Council letter of recommendation service.
Explain any irregularities, don’t leave anything about your record unanswered, but don’t include term papers, senior theses, videotapes and the like unless you feel they are critical to your application. We’d rather see an abstract or summary than a 100-page document. Feel free to include attachments that fully explain your record and your experiences.
Q-8. Do you take into account grade trends, major field, the undergraduate school, other circumstances surrounding a particular GPA?
Yes, these factors are all important. Indeed, there is virtually nothing that is not taken into account. But be aware that these more subjective factors tend to carry more weight if the candidate is in the range from which we normally accept applicants. That range has more applicants in it than we can accept, so it’s for these applicants that these other factors will really matter.
The middle 50% of our enrolled students have LSAT scores between 156 and 163, and grade point averages between 3.23 and 3.63. The bottom 25% of the class had LSAT scores between 146 and 156, and the top 25% had LSAT scores between 163 and 180. Bottom 25% GPAs ranged from 2.2 to 3.2. Top 25% GPAs ranged from 3.6 to 4.33.
Q-9. My grades will improve this semester. What should I do about making sure you see those grades?
Go ahead and apply now, but enclose a cover letter indicating that you want us to wait for your fall semester grades before reviewing your application. Send us your fall grades as soon as they become available by arranging for a new transcript to be sent to CAS.
Q-10. What are you looking for in students?
Our objectives are to enroll a high-quality class and a diverse class along a variety of criteria.
We are looking for solid students with good GPAs and LSAT scores, students who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence and to hard work. It is emphatically not necessary that you know exactly why you want to go to law school or exactly what you want to do after law school. We look at grade trends over your undergraduate career, so if you started out poorly and improved steadily, we are impressed. We look carefully at the personal statement required by the application to see what is important to you. We are far more impressed by activities undertaken because you were interested in them than in long lists of clubs joined solely for the purpose of enhancing a law school application. Your personal statement should be more than a chronology -- it should tell us something about you.
If your GPA and LSAT are at the highest levels, you are likely to be accepted. Similarly, if your scores and GPA are at the low end of the range from which we normally accept, you must convey to us something truly exceptional about yourself, something compelling enough to make us overlook the “objective” credentials.
If your credentials place you in the middle group, your personal statement becomes more important--you must convey to us that Tulane Law School will be less good a place without you. Your extra-curricular activities and work experience will become more important, and letters of recommendation can play an important role. We want to hear about your characteristics that may set you apart from other applicants—your background, barriers you may have overcome, your interests, your plans for the future.
Q-11. Do you take into account extra-curricular activities?
Yes. Remember, though, that we are impressed when we see that a student has become particularly interested in an area and has devoted significant time and energy to that area, whether it be a hobby like photography or horseback riding or an activity such as some type of volunteer work in the community.
A student who has been employed (and therefore hasn’t had the opportunity to engage in typical extra-curricular activities) will not be penalized. These students should consider their work experience a “plus.”
Q-12. How are the LSAT score and GPA weighed?
We look at the LSAT score and undergraduate GPA in combination. A strong GPA can compensate for a low LSAT score, and vice-versa. The students in whom we are most interested, of course, present high GPAs and high LSATs.
In addition, however, we look closely at other aspects of a candidate’s record: letters of recommendation, if any; grade trends; difficulty of courses taken; uniqueness of the applicant; leadership characteristics; evidence of integrity.
Q-13. How are the “subjective” factors weighed?
For some applicants, the personal statement required by our application (see the last question on the form) can carry the day. The personal statement is the student’s opportunity to provide us information that will cause us to choose him or her over other similar candidates.
For others, something in a letter of recommendation may do it, or evidence of commitment to a particular endeavor. The point is that it’s an individual process, and for different applicants, different factors may tip the scale.
Again, remember that the candidate needs to be “in the range” in order for the subjective factors to be given substantial weight.
B. QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LSAT
Q-1. What about multiple LSAT scores? What about the LSAT writing sample?
If you took the LSAT more than once, we will see all of your scores. We encourage you to provide us with information that will help us determine which score is more indicative of your abilities. The LSAT and GPA, in combination, play an important--but not conclusive--part in our admission decisions.
We do not “grade” the LSAT writing sample, but simply use it as an additional piece of information that may sway our decision in either direction in close cases.
Q-2. What are your average (or median) scores? (Also phrased as “What are your requirements?” or “What do I need to get in?”)
Most directors of admission hate this question, because we don’t want our medians to be viewed as application guidelines. At Tulane, we look at the combination of the LSAT and GPA, and other factors are taken into account as well. Our decisions are based on the student’s entire application. A weak LSAT should be compensated for by a strong academic record, enthusiastic letters of recommendation, or some other indication of success.
Having said all of that, the median LSAT score for the students who enrolled in the fall of 2011 was 161, and the median undergraduate GPA for that group was 3.53.
You may find it more useful to know that the middle 50% of the class had LSAT scores between 158 and 163, and GPAs between 3.3 and 3.7.
C. QUESTIONS ABOUT UNDERGRADUATE PREPARATION, WORK EXPERIENCE
Q-1. What should I major in as an undergraduate if I want to go to law school?
The only answer we have for this question is: “whatever you want to major in, whatever you want to learn about.“ If you think you must major in Political Science or History in order to (1) be admitted to law school, or (2) do well in law school, we want to disabuse you of this notion. Major in something you enjoy, something you want to delve into deeply. You will do better work as an undergraduate, you will enjoy yourself, and you may even decide to pursue an alternative to law school. Make every effort to enroll in a broad range of courses - a logic course, an economics course, a philosophy course, a history course, an art history course, etc. Perhaps most important, take courses in which you are required to reason, to analyze, and to write.
In short, no major is preferred or most advantageous, but it is critical that students gain experience in conveying their thoughts clearly, both orally and in writing.
Q-2. How would the study of mathematics help me in law school?
This answer was provided by a first-year law student who majored in math as an undergraduate: “Math has served me pretty well in going on to study law. If nothing else, math is such a tough major toward the end of senior year that it makes for a good transition to another tough area of study. Taking a step back, both math and law are really dealing with the same thing--laws. The ones in math are set in a pure world, but just as in the legal realm, there are laws that can be bent and there are ones that can't be. Laws both in math and the real world are comparable in that each part has to be satisfied before the law can be applied.
A surprising consequence of the math major is how important writing is. Maybe more so than anywhere else, a math proof (or paper) must be written with careful choice of words. I didn't realize how big a deal that was until dealing with concepts like "void-for-vagueness." Every word must be chosen both for what it says and what it doesn't say. In a proof, one can't use "and" or "therefore" without a care, just as with laws governing people.
Another real bonus is the study of logic in math. My course in Methods of Proof and the subsequent proofing courses I took dealt with things like the contrapositive and direct proof everyday. Now, applying those concepts to both the LSAT and the study of law gives me a real advantage.”
Q-3. I’m planning to work for a year or two prior to law school. What type of job should I look for?
Look for the kind of job that will interest you. If you want to be a paralegal, by all means do so. But don’t take any job solely because you believe it will help you get into law school. The experience gained in almost any job will help you once you are in law school--because it gives you some concrete experience to which you can apply some of the theoretical and abstract "stuff" of law school.
Q-4. Do I need to complete my undergraduate degree?
Tulane Law School is one of a handful of law schools that will allow exceptional students to begin law school without a baccalaureate degree. (We require 3/4 of the work toward a B.A. or B.S., and almost all of the credits must be in courses of substantial intellectual content.) To be admitted without a degree, students must have very strong academic records.
Q-5. Do you offer a 3/3 or BA/JD program?
Yes, we offer a 3/3 program for Tulane undergraduates in cooperation with the various undergraduate divisions of Tulane University. Eligible students with permission from the appropriate undergraduate dean may apply to Tulane Law School during the junior year. If admitted, students enroll in the first year of law school. At the end of that year, the baccalaureate degree is conferred. After two more years of successful study in law school, the law degree is conferred.