How do I express an compelling argument to attend Ole Miss Law School?
November 16, 2010 7:25 PM   Subscribe

How do I express an compelling argument to attend Ole Miss Law School?

I want to go to law school. I am applying to Ole Miss and as part of the personal statement why am I interested in Ole Miss. My problem is I want to go to school in Oxford, MS for three years and get the heck out of the state. I think the admissions board may frown upon such bluntness. What compelling reasons are there to move to Mississippi?
posted by bilbo baggins to Education (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What's your actual reason for wanting to go to school there?
posted by decathecting at 7:32 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why don't you focus on the great qualities of the program and school? And maybe quit thinking about all of your stereotypes about the south. It's Mississippi, not Mars.

(...says the girl who got out of Alabama as soon as she could.)
posted by parkerjackson at 7:32 PM on November 16, 2010

Part of this question needs to reflect why you want to go to law school period. You've no doubt heard about the recent great decline in hiring by large and medium firms as a result of the economic downturn. Law school administrators are now going to be under pressure to act like they can continue to provide an economically reasonable decision to prospective students; they're going to pass this concern down to the admissions office.

Law school is no longer a viable parking lot for underemployed liberal arts majors and is no longer a ticket to the middle class and even at state schools can come with a significant debt load. You're going to have to lead by talking about your interest in a legal career, then in law school generally, and then return at length to why you want to go to Ole Miss specifically. It would help you greatly to talk about what you want to do with your degree, because part of what you're selling to law school admittance committees is that 3 years down the line they'll be able to say you're a graduate that did well and found a job - that way, they can sell success to the next crop of 1Ls.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:41 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

don't be so blunt. tell them what you think you'll uniquely get from ole miss that you can apply to your future career. you don't have to tell them that your career might take you out of state.
posted by thinkingwoman at 8:08 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why DO you want to go there? Say that.

I'm not being glib. This is important, both for you to know for yourself, and because in all likelihood that will be your best, most convincing answer to the question.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:12 PM on November 16, 2010

-look at their website - what features do they emphasize? (i.e., public interest program, clinics, certain law specialty)

- state in your essay how that/those features are uniquely appropriate for your career/life goals

- the goal is for admissions to read your essay and think "this guy/gal is the exact type of student we're looking for, based on the things for which we're asking alums to donate money"
posted by melissasaurus at 8:45 PM on November 16, 2010

Haven't done law school, but I'm a first year grad student so I spent a good chunk of time last year working on a personal statement for grad admissions, and a good chunk this year working on personal statements for grant competitions.

Basically, the way to get a really good admissions-type essay is to start early and rewrite many times. I worked on mine over the course of about two months, and I rewrote it until I couldn't stand to look at the darn thing any more.

Good grad school essays (and I believe this will carry over) are all about selling yourself as the kind of person who is successful at their institution. Basically all of my essay was connecting my past experiences to the necessary skills to be successful in graduate school. Only in the last two paragraphs did I touch on why I cared about the school in particular (part of this was practical; i was applying to a number of schools so this made it easier). I got interviews at most of the places I applied to, so apparently I did something they liked.

Googling turns up a pile of advice, which should get you started. Once you've absorbed the information about basic format, structure, etc, churn out a few drafts and then have somebody you trust (or perhaps mefi) take a look. Rewrite, review, repeat, until you can't take it anymore or you literally can't see a single sentence that could be improved.
posted by zug at 10:01 PM on November 16, 2010

Digging a little deeper, the Ole Miss Law admissions FAQ says:

I am not a resident of Mississippi. Would it be helpful to explain why I am interested in applying to your school?
Yes, the committee members are always interested in knowing why a non-resident applicant is applying here. Oftentimes, applicants have ties to Mississippi, grew up here or have family who still live in the state. You might want to incorporate that kind of information into your personal statement or you could provide an addendum along with your personal statement explaining your specific interest in The University of Mississippi.

So it looks like you can talk about why you want to go to Ole Miss in a completely separate addendum, which would allow you to maximize the space you have to sell yourself as an exceptional candidate.
posted by zug at 10:07 PM on November 16, 2010

FWIW, Oxford's a great place to live -- you can be enthusiastic about that without mentioning your plans to hightail it out of town immediately. I think the cheese grits at the Ole Miss student union alone would be enough to draw out-of-staters in, though the law school admissions board might not agree.

And yes, what everyone else said, especially Inspector.Gadget. If you didn't read this thread, do so immediately.
posted by asperity at 10:56 PM on November 16, 2010

I am lawyer who no longer practices law and who barely paid off my massive (over $170,000 with accrued interest) student loans before leaving the profession. Your question sets off alarm bells in my brain.

1) Outside the top 14 or so law schools (Georgetown and up) most law schools are regional in their job placement. If you are absolutely sure you don't want to live in Mississippi after graduation, I am baffled as to why you would want to go to school there. It is hard enough to get a law job these days, and even harder to get jobs where your law school doesn't have relationships with employers. I HIGHLY recommend you check out Ole Miss' geographic job placement statistics and make sure you have a chance of working where you want to work. If Old Miss does place well in the geographic area you want to work in, then this is a reason you can use in your application essay.

2) Continuing on the above point, one great reason to go to a law school is that they have certain classes, clinics, or other opportunities that will help prepare you for the kind of law job you want. Do you know what type of law you want to practice? How can the school get you to your desired career? Again, check job placement statistics by field of law.

Seriously, you had better truly know why you want to go to law school and why you specifically want to go to Ole Miss. Law school is going to take three years of your life, a significant amount of mental effort, and, most importantly, huge amounts of student loan debt (non-dischargeable in bankruptcy) and opportunity cost, roughly equivalent to purchasing a home. If you can't make a compelling argument for this decision, your application essay is the least of your problems. No joke, there are thousands of people in this country who are debt-pwned for life because they didn't think it through. Good luck.
posted by banishedimmortal at 12:08 AM on November 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Seconding immortal—typically only graduates of the top tier can work wherever they want to. I'd consider where you want to live and practice, and apply to schools with that in mind.

And think very, very carefully about what you're getting yourself into. I have a lot of classmates with scarily unrealistic expectations, despite all the gloom-and-doom chatter. No one thinks they'll be the one to lose out.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:56 AM on November 17, 2010

debt-pwned for life

Quoted for the staggering truth of it. For many people, this amounts to $1,000 a month (or more). If you're not making a good salary, this is a crushing obligation--that you can never discharge. Ever.

Banishedimmortal is very right in observing that degrees from only the top tier schools are portable. I would not blithely assume that you can just waltz into, say, Chicago with an Ole Miss JD and get a job, even in the best of times. And these are, of course, the worst of times for lawyers, as I hope to sweet baby Jesus you've already researched.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:38 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the help (especially the people who answered the question rather then trying to talk me out of law school.)
posted by bilbo baggins at 12:45 PM on November 17, 2010

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