Shawn McShay

Associate Dean of Graduate Enrollment Management

Boston College School of Law

The Basics

What are your best tips for asking for an application fee waiver?

Boston College Law School (BC Law) is happy to provide an application fee waiver upon request. For more information, please contact the Law School's Office of Admissions & Financial Aid at [email protected] or 617.552.4351.

Honestly, what is “yield protection” and does it really exist?

Yield protecting is a term used when highly selective institutions either waitlist or flat-out reject highly qualified students based upon indicators that the candidate is not likley to enroll at their institution.

Unfortunately, I believe the term is often overused and applied in circumstances where other factors are more likely to be at hand (i.e., applying late to schools with a high-volume applicant pool, or perhaps the tone in the application may give pause to the admissions committee).

BC Law evaluates candidates on a rolling admissions basis, and we exercise a wholistic approach in decision making.

Understanding that all schools may have different procedures, but generally, if an applicant doesn’t get accepted to a school when they applied ED, do they automatically get rolled over to regular decision or is it possible that you can be rejected directly from ED?

Since Early Decision (ED) programs vary widely among and within institutions, it is best that students develop a clear understanding of their options in selecting such a program. We do not have an ED program. Our applications are evaluated on a rolling basis, which results in a final decision for the current application cycle.

Understanding that all schools may have different procedures, but generally, what is the latest you would recommend a student taking the LSAT if they wanted to apply to law school during a given admissions cycle?

My general recommendation to students is to take the LSAT exam when you are ready. Some law schools have been around for more than 100 years, so take your time and properly prepare to reach your goals.

In doing so, be sure to register for Khan Academy's Online LSAT Prep, provided fee of charge to candidates through the LSAC. Do not use an actual test with a reportable score as a practice run as this does not demonstrate your best professional judgment.

Once you are ready for the LSAT exam, pay close attention to the application deadlines of the schools in which you will apply. If the institution has an ED or special scholarship program, you may be required to submit a completed application earlier than the general pool of applicants for consideration.

Will K-JDs need to submit to LSAC another copy of their transcript after the fall semester and/or spring semester of their senior year? And, be honest, how much does a POST-admission GPA really matter to an admissions committee?

All candidates to the program are required to submit a final transcript with degree notation to LSAC. Since K-JD candidates need to apply to law school during their time in undergrad, they generally submit a current transcript to LSAC to move the process forward, then later provide an updated final transcript.

In many cases, students have maintained or continued an upward trajectory in academic performance, and this could prove beneficial for merit-based scholarship consideration.

The Law School Application

When reviewing an applicant's file, where do you typically start and what part do you tend to spend the most time (and why)?

I like to visualize things, so I typically begin reviewing an application with the resume. Through this tool, I can get a full sense of a candidate's education, highlights of their professional experience, a sense of their awards and honors.

Students often include additional information on unique skills including fluency in multiple languages, publications, volunteer work, hobbies, and other non-academic activities. After reviewing the resume, I look at the personal statement to get a sense of the candidate's narrative and writing ability.

This is where I tend to spend the majority of my time with an application. In many cases, I have a strong sense of the student once I have reviewed the resume and personal statement, then I consider the remaining components of the application to affirm my decision.

Aside from typos, or naming the wrong law school, what are the other two biggest mistakes that far too many students make in their personal statements?

In addition to the items included in this question, students often make missteps in the application by focusing their personal statement on some other person. In many instances, I become far more interested in the person they are discussing and their triumph over great adversity, than for the person telling the story of whom I know very little about.

I have also come across personal statements that read like an expanded version of the candidate's resume.

The best personal statements I’ve read always contain:

I believe the best personal statements are descriptive, passionate, and are able to strike a tone of sincerity and authenticity. The statement should flow easily and compliment the other components of the application.

If a law school has a page limit for their personal statement but does not list a font size min/max, what do you recommend?

I recommend 2-3 pages, typed and double-spaced.

Name TWO things that all applicants need to consider when asking for a letter of recommendation.

In requesting a letter of recommendation, think about why you are soliciting a particular person and what voice they can add to the overall narrative that your applicaiton will deliver. Also, consider the timeframe necessary for your recommenders to truly deliver what you ask of them.

A resumé is a resumé, however, aside from typos, what are TWO things you've seen included on a resumé that can totally sink an applicant?

A resume is also a window into a candidate's professional judgment. Two things that I think could be detrimental to an application include: 1) a lie, such as a reported UGPA that is far outside of the scope of what admissions committee members can easily see on the transcript; 2) unrelated activities that predate college.