A key legal skill is the ability to rapidly assess the credibility of information sources. From emotional witness testimony to…
A key legal skill is the ability to rapidly assess the credibility of information sources. From emotional witness testimony to sly legal articles, good lawyers know not to trust any source without investigation, verification, and consideration of competing perspectives.
Likewise, as a law school applicant, you should be highly wary of what you read on anonymous internet forums, message boards or social media. Of course it’s tempting to seek solace and insider knowledge when law school is at the top of your mind, especially at a time of depressing news and restricted social life. But such forums have a low ratio of signal to noise.
Too often, posts on law school forums are speculative and misleading. Many participants adopt a smug and elitist tone, fixating on top schools and perfect stats. They may alienate less cutthroat applicants, older applicants and those from underrepresented minorities.
For more credible and well curated resources on the internet, look to the Law School Admission Council, law school websites, prelaw counselors, and clubs and nonprofits geared to aspiring lawyers. For-profit test preparation companies and admissions consultants provide plenty of free materials like blogs and videos. Be sure to review a range of sources.
Still, internet forums can be a fun release valve during a high-pressure process. Sift through the dreck and you may find time-saving advice and some amusing memes. Just keep the following advice in mind:
— Focus on specific questions.
— Stay cool toward hot takes.
— Don’t take loudmouths at their word.
— Remember the admissions process is rolling.
Focus on Specific Questions
It’s common to feel completely stumped at least a few times during the law school application process. It’s not always clear how the instructions apply to your situation or where to turn for guidance. Crowd-sourcing was invented for times like these.
Search an internet forum to see if someone has addressed your question, and if not, post it yourself. Make your information request short, direct and actionable. You might turn up a straight answer from someone with relevant knowledge or spark a constructive conversation among people with similar concerns. If someone volunteers their time to help, be grateful!
In contrast, avoid mindless browsing, especially late at night or in times of stress. You might stumble into a post that sends you into a tailspin of anxiety. Feeling hopeless because someone with better grades and better scores than you posted about their rejections? Remember that you don’t know anything about this person or his or her situation. Many otherwise excellent applicants carelessly sabotage themselves without realizing it.
Stay Cool Toward Hot Takes
The internet has no shortage of strongly held opinions, especially negative ones. Just think about the last time you read the comments on a political article or browsed customer reviews of a local restaurant. Before trusting any opinion, think about whether it tells only part of the story or suffers from undisclosed biases.
If a post says a certain school is overrated, or an LSAT practice book is worthless, gather other views. Look for expert advice before trusting at face value a random person’s firmly held judgments. Be especially wary of secondhand opinions, like what someone’s good friend swore was the real deal.
Don’t Take Loudmouths at Their Word
Law school forums are full of braggarts doling out advice about how they aced the LSAT or nailed an interview or drove a hard bargain in scholarship negotiations. Even if they truly have the results to back up their bluster, such big talkers may be making false assumptions about what worked for them.
Focusing on why certain people succeeded, without also considering why others in a similar situation failed, is a common logic fallacy called survivorship bias. For example, many top scorers on the LSAT will attribute their success to hard work and the training materials they used, but you’re unlikely to hear from those who also worked hard and used the same materials but underperformed.
If someone claims to have found a magic key to master the LSAT, don’t let your brain rush to judgment. Stick with a tried and true study process with documented results, based on methodical and purposeful practice.
Remember the Admissions Process is Rolling
It can be painful to read someone was accepted to, or rejected from, a law school you are still waiting to hear back from. However, it doesn’t mean anything.
Law school admissions decisions, like the applications themselves, follow a rolling process. Law schools don’t front-load their acceptances, so until you hear back, don’t assume anything.
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How to Read Law School Internet Forums Without Going Bananas originally appeared on usnews.com
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