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Last month, we discussed when it’s appropriate to include an addendum in your law school application. Once you’ve decided that an addendum is right for you, it’s important to craft one that fits the bill in tone, length, and content. Here are a few tips for that:
Be Concise in Your Addendum
You’ve been given a lot of room to tell a story about your personality and many impressive skills and experiences in the personal statement, and that’s where that type of narrative should stay. A typical addendum is about half a page and is more straightforward than the required essays. You should start with a brief introduction explaining why you’re writing the addendum followed by a paragraph or two providing details and putting them in context, and end with a conclusion asking the admissions committee to treat the underlying reason for your addendum in a certain way. No need to reinvent the wheel here—just go straight to the point, or you’ll run the risk that the admissions committee will focus too much on your addendum, taking valuable time away that they might use to read your personal statement more thoroughly.
No matter the reason for your addendum—discrepancy between your LSAT and GPA percentiles, a DUI, or a disciplinary record—you must own up to your part in what happened. Shifting the blame to others (even if true) will come off as argumentative and evasive, whereas taking responsibility shows maturity and accountability. This does not apply, of course, to things totally out of your control like a major illness or family issues.
Discuss the Lessons Learned
If you’re writing an addendum, odds are that something has not gone to plan. The addendum is not only an opportunity to explain the circumstances, but also a platform for you to show how you’ve learned from the experience and are a better person and prospective student for it. For example, if you had a rough first year in college, you should definitely say a few words on how it was a chance for you to adapt to higher-level education and perfect your studying methods. Emphasize that it is this sort of adaptability you intend to bring to law school.
Watch Your Tone
Unlike your personal statement, discussion of your feelings and sentiments should be objective. An addendum should focus mostly on facts and explanations thereof, not on appealing to the admissions committee’s emotions. A sentimental text runs the risk of sounding like an excuse rather that rational reasoning.
Earn Some Brownie Points
While the addendum typically deals with less-than-ideal situations, this is your opportunity to spin those circumstances into something positive (all while adhering to the tips given earlier). For example, if you’re discussing three LSAT scores that aren’t as good as your GPA, your main goal should be trying to persuade the admissions committee to give your grades more weight, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt if you weave in the argument that you took the exam several times because you were determined to be accepted into that specific school, showing dedication and determination.
Remember that most addenda are optional essays, ones that have less leeway than the free-flowing narrative of a personal statement, and as such, there are some landmines that are easy to miss—but also easy to avoid once you know where to look for them. An unwarranted or poorly crafted addendum could hurt more than it could help, so make sure you give it the appropriate time and effort. Still not sure how to craft the perfect addendum? We’re here to help! 📝
Want to get into a top law school program? Start by visiting the free Stratus Admissions Counseling How to Center, featuring important law school application insights and tips from our expert law school admissions counselors.
Stratus Admissions Counseling is a full-service admissions counseling firm distinguished by its team-based, multi-step process ensuring each application is crafted for optimum impact. Stratus’ unique approach has helped students gain admission into all top law schools, including Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, Columbia and NYU, and dozens of others. Each law admissions team member has graduated from a top-14 law school and our collaborative team provides the depth and breadth of legal experience to maximize your chances of admission to your top choice law school. Stratus counselors regularly contribute articles on the law school admissions process to U.S. News & World Report, the leading law-school ranking publication. To learn more about Stratus and to schedule your free consultation, follow this link.