If you’ve been a part of my life in the last two years, you would know how the law school applications process weighed heavily on my soul. My days consisted of constant LSAT (Law School Applications Test) studying, my weekends were consumed with full-length practice tests. I was consistently working on my application, writing and re-writing, proofreading and starting my personal statement from scratch over and over and over again. I was reaching out to law school students that I knew from my sorority, asking every single one their advice. On my 2-hour bus commute to and from the Governor’s Office, where I interned, I listened to podcasts on the law school applications process and LSAT strategies because I would get carsick if I tried to read. I was ALL in.
And… even with all of that… I have to admit. The enrollment decision process was met with disappointment and sadness as I received several denials from schools across the nation. I was waitlisted from a school I had deemed as my “back up” option. My LSAT score was no where near where I had been testing during practice tests. This is all very hard for me to admit; I am someone who is tenacious and persistent, doing everything I thought I could to make it. And that’s just it… I did everything I could. I tried my absolute best, and at the end of the day, that’s all I can do. It was difficult at the time, but now I look back with pride and think: I did that.
I may not have gotten into my top schools, and my path looks differently than I hoped it would a year ago, but dang. I did that. I’m moving in a month to a dream location, close to my family and in a place where I can see myself being truly happy. Plus, the near-full scholarship doesn’t hurt either. Everything worked out the exact way it was supposed to, and I did that.
A Preface: Law School Applications Process
I should preface this all by saying, in the end, I am going to my dream school. Honestly, I don’t think there could have been a better fit for me. With an almost full scholarship, driving distance from my family (super important to me), in a region I love… everything has landed exactly the way I know it was supposed to. I’m not ungrateful for anything that has happened, because I know that rejection builds character and everything has happened for a reason. I am incredibly happy, and my decision isn’t met with fear but excitement.
In the end, I received an LSAT score that teetered on the very edge of being considered for the Top 14. My likelihood wasn’t definite, but it was certainly possible. My collegiate GPA wasn’t the highest, but it was up there; I graduated Magna Cum Laude from one of the top journalism schools in the country, but still yet, took a hit on some pre-requisite classes like Statistics and Economics (lol). In college, I was hyper-involved, serving as the Vice President for Student Government amongst involvement in several different organizations while balancing work and full-time school. My application reflected my experience as an immigrant’s daughter, life in a rather culturally homogenous region of the country, my blended family. So, in conclusion, I was right on the edge of everything. A wild card, a question mark, a “maybe.” I say all of this just to explain my position within the applications system, to give you a better idea of the expectations I had on myself.
I knew it was a stretch to get into a T-14 school, but I tried my best. As the fall and winter months approached, I watched as friends of mine accepted their offers to Ivy League schools across the country, and I awaited patiently for mine. Instead, my inbox filled with waitlists and rejections after months of waiting. Where were my acceptances? Why wasn’t I celebrating, too?
That’s not to say, though, I wasn’t getting accepted places. For some schools, they flew me out, paying for my airfare, hotel and food for a weekend to interview with them in Chicago for a full scholarship and admission into their honors program (I ended up scoring that one). Some schools offered me direct admission into their honors programs and summer fellowships while others sent me a enclosed scholarships with their admissions letters. These were smaller schools across the country, some of which ranked in the top 5 for intellectual property programs in the nation. They were incredible offers from incredible schools in California, Boston and Chicago. But none of them felt like the right fit for me.
What I Could’ve Done Better
It’s easy to think — what could I have done better? It’s easy to get caught up in your thoughts. I should’ve done better in that economics class, I should’ve worked harder, I should’ve been more involved, etc. etc. And while I did go through a stage of thinking that… I have to admit. I tried pretty dang hard. I was in my economic professor’s office hours every day that I had class. My nights that ended at 4 and 5 am weren’t from partying — they were from working at a sushi restaurant until closing time. I couldn’t have been more involved if I had tried, and I say that honestly.
So… yeah. Were there things I could have done better? Yes, of course. But could I have tried any harder? No. I truly feel in my soul that I did everything possible that I could in my capacity, and that took some time to cope with. I tried my best, and it wasn’t good enough — that was a toxic mantra that flashed across my mind when those small letters arrived in my apartment mailbox, which I knew enclosed a denial letter from T14 schools around the nation. I had a hard time making the distinction that my application may not have been good enough, but I, myself, am.
There is so much weight we place on ourselves to succeed. It’s so easy to compare and contrast yourself to others, putting yourself down in the process. I’m not going to lie — it was hard for me to watch my friends get into schools that I didn’t. It was really, really difficult, and I’m not saying that it wasn’t. I just want to emphasize — everyone has their own path, and each of our lives look different for a reason. I’ve never been told “no,” and I’ve never been rejected from many opportunities in my life, and I truly think that this season existed to humble me and truly show me that there is more to my life than the school I attend. My life isn’t over because of it — in fact, it’s just beginning.
Everything’s Going to be Okay — Really
Facing this difficult time of my life and being met with disappointment rather than constant acceptance truly was good for me, I think. I was upset for a while, I didn’t feel like talking or explaining why I didn’t get in. People around me, including myself, had been so hopeful and so confident in me, and when I didn’t get in, it felt a lot like I was letting everyone down. Or I hadn’t been realistic with my application elements. Or I just was aiming too high. And who knows? Maybe all of those are true, or maybe none at all. The truth is, I’ll never know.
What I do know, though, is that my life is good. It is good and it is full and it is incredible. I have accomplished so many things I never thought I would; and you know what? That law school applications process is pretty dang tough. It’s not meant for everyone to succeed. It’s meant to be hard, to challenge you, to weigh on you and show you what your limits and capabilities are. It’s incredible, truly, what you can accomplish when you set your mind to it — even if it’s not what you thought you wanted.
I could not be happier to be attending the school I am attending in the fall. I truly think that this is where I was meant to be all along, and if you are facing a similar reality, just know that you will get to be where you are meant to be, too. I promise. Facing failure is part of what makes us human; it’s an incredibly integral component of growth, and knowing that now, I can look back on that season of my life with gratitude and grace.