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Checklists & Timelines - Law School Preparation

CLEO Magazine - "Generations – Then and Now"
Article: The College Years...The Senior Year.
By Renaldo D. Alba, Christie-Belle Garcia
Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) of Fordham University

S.T.E.P.S. to a Successful Senior Year!!

Congratulations, Senior! Getting to this point in your academic career is a testament of your vision, priorities, and efforts for the past three years. As you embark on the law school application process we offer a timeline that will guide you through the application process.

As pre-law advisors, each year we meet students who start their freshman year determined to pursue a law career. Many students go on to successful careers in the law and are currently practicing attorneys in different legal settings. However, with every success story there are stories of students with potential not actualized.

The reality is that as time passes the pool of potential applicants from each cohort of pre-law scholars contracts for many different reasons. In our experience, the primary reasons for students not becoming viable candidates is due to a lack of priorities, unrealistic expectations, and/or their inability to remain focused and perseverant throughout the application process.

Getting through your senior year with a minimum of stress requires developing a timely and efficient strategy that will make applying to law school as tension-free as possible. We recommend the following S.T.E.P.S:

Set realistic expectations of your time commitments and make priorities for your senior year.

Take inventory of your academic and personal responsibilities and limit your commitments throughout the fall semester.

Equally focus your time on all of the different parts of your application (Personal statement, essays, and letters of recommendation.)

Prepare your plan of action for the fall and spring semesters.

Senior year should be enjoyable! Manage your time, plan ahead and enjoy the last 100 days

Summer Strategy

June - August

  • SET YOUR CALENDAR! Set personal deadlines for different sections of your application (e.g., drafts of personal and adversity statements, finalized list of recommenders, revised list of potential schools). Also mark your calendar with dates of open houses, law forums, preferred dates for when recommendation letters should arrive at LSAC, registration with the LSDAS, and of course, application deadlines.

  • THE PERSONAL STATEMENT! Write, write and write some more. Your statement is a reflection of your passion, motivation, and your potential contribution to society as an attorney. It’s an opportunity to bring your application to life and to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively and concisely.

  • THE LSAT. We strongly urge that you take an LSAT Prep course. You should take the LSAT in September/October. Taking the LSAT after this point will delay your application for admission.

  • PREPARE TO SHOW THEM THE MONEY! Applications range from $60.00 to $100.00 each. Budget accordingly.

Fall Strategy

Early September

  • REVISIT YOUR SUMMER CALENDAR and add important academic dates. Reconsider what is realistic and achievable now that you are in school. Remember, schedules change week-to-week because of unexpected events. Be flexible and revisit your plan regularly.

  • STATEMENTS - By this point, you should have a first or second draft of your personal and adversity statements. Have your drafts reviewed by your professor, counselor, and/or mentor and make as many revisions as are necessary.

  • RECOMMENDATION LETTERS - The best recommender is someone who knows you well enough to describe how your academic and personal strengths and character will make you a successful law student and practicing attorney. Give your recommenders six-eight weeks notice and provide them with a resume, a draft of your personal statement and list of schools you are applying to. Stay in touch with your recommenders to ensure that they are on time with submitting your letters.


  • Midterms are in full swing and you are probably thinking about turkey, a few days off and time with family. Be diligent! Submit your applications by Thanksgiving! Schools begin accepting candidates before their scheduled deadlines. Fewer seats are available as the application season progresses and comes to an end. Get your applications in early!

November - January

  • Apply to CLEO’s Six-Week Summer Institute (applications due February 1st).

  • Research scholarships through popular databases and search engines. Also, review law school websites.

  • Make sure your applications are completed with every school.

Spring of your Senior year


  • Have you received letters of acceptance? Congratulations! Send thank you notes to all those who assisted you in the process. They will be glad to share your good news.

  • Review your financial aid packages and determine if the aid being offered is right for you. We encourage you to try to negotiate your package.

  • Waitlisted? Don’t be discouraged. Follow up in writing or by phone with your prospective school and restate your desire to attend their law school. Determine if providing additional material such as last semester GPA and additional recommendation(s) may improve your candidacy.

  • No offers of admission? Meet with your pre-law advisor and try to assess what may have gone wrong and what made your application weak. Identify steps to take to bolster your application. Determine whether a few years of professional experience may make you a stronger candidate for admission.

March - May

  • Acceptance to law school does not mean you are finished with your present academic responsibilities. You must finish strong.

  • Share your experiences and keys to success with Pre-Law underclassmen. Do not be a gatekeeper of knowledge.


We encourage you to educate and include family and close friends in your process. The better informed they are about the process, deadlines and your dream of becoming an attorney the more understanding and supportive they will be.

Applying to law school is a challenging process that requires a triple D effort: Diligence, Dedication and Determination. A triple D effort is required when negotiating the demands of the process with social and familial obligations. Following these S.T.E.P.S. will help you manage the multiple demands of your senior year experience and the law school application process.

Fordham University's Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program is an undergraduate scholars program designed to prepare minority and economically disadvantaged students for careers in scientific, technical, health-related and licensed professions including Law. The program, which is part of a statewide effort to address the issue of minority under-representation in the aforementioned professions, emphasizes academic preparation and achievement, and career awareness. Fordham's program is one of 51 that exist on college campuses throughout New York State.

CSTEP provides students with a unique college experience that combines academic services and activities with a variety of networking and career-advancement opportunities. Participants share invaluable social interaction and congenial support with fellow students who are among Fordham University's best and brightest scholars.

The Fordham University CSTEP program is open to undergraduate students from both Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses. Students are encouraged to apply during their first year but may do so at any point during their college career. Once accepted, students are expected to participate in academic and career activities, and maintain academic excellence.

For more information on the CSTEP Program of Fordham University please visit us at or contacts us at or 718-817-3267.



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