5 Tips for Writing an Effective Addendum for Your Law School Applications.
Applying for law school can be an overwhelming process, especially if you have something in your file that merits an explanation to an admissions committee. For example, you may have a low GPA one semester due to a medical situation, or an illness that impacted your first LSAT score and required that you retake it. That type of explanation can be several paragraphs long, and it may not be possible to include it in your personal statement, since many of those have word counts and topic guidelines. What’s more, most schools don’t allow interviews during the admissions process, which would otherwise give you an opportunity to talk through your concerns.
In short, communicating important information to your school about your life, test scores, or GPA can be difficult. So it’s worth it to check if your school’s admissions department allows for an addendum submission. At Stetson, for instance, addendums are both allowed and encouraged. Learn more about these and the best strategies when it comes to writing them.
What is a Law School Addendum?
A law school addendum is a written document that allows you to explain any potential aberrations in your academic record or other areas of life. They’re usually short pieces that help you with addressing red flags that an admissions officer could see. These are written objectively, without any sort of excuse or justification. They simply explain the issue and what caused it to happen.
Addendums should be separate from your personal statement essay, since personal statements usually have their own guidelines and best practices. Plus, you really don’t want to take up valuable real estate in your personal essay with explanations of extenuating circumstances. That move could detract from the essay itself and throw off the overall structure of your narrative. You want your personal statement to be as cohesive and impactful as possible, which is why the addendum is a great option if you have it.
When You Should Write Your Addendum
Generally, addendums are submitted at the same time as the rest of your application. If you think you have a case for writing one, it’s best to reach out to your school’s admissions team as soon as possible to get any pertinent information about addendum guidelines and the submission process.
Top Reasons Candidates Submit an Addendum
There could be several reasons that law school students wish to submit an addendum. It could be academic, personal, or explaining a criminal record. Some top reasons prospective students turn in an addendum include:
Low GPA or Academic Probation
If you have a low undergraduate GPA, this is your chance to explain what affected your grades. It may have been a death in the family, personal health issues, or something else. Make sure to highlight any courses that you did particularly well in, especially if they’re courses for your major.
If you were hit with academic misconduct, such as an instance of cheating, at any point in college, this is something you should explain and tell them why it happened and what you learned from the experience. Maybe it taught you better study habits or how to be accountable in school.
Low or Multiple LSAT Scores
A low test score may not showcase your talents as a student. While some students struggle with standardized tests, this may not be a reason to write an addendum--unless your GPA is quite high to validate writing one. Generally, you should write one of these if something out of the ordinary happened to you on or around test day, such as a family emergency or an illness that affected you during the test. If you have a disability and were not properly accommodated at the testing facility the first time around, you’d also want to include that information on your addendum.
Criminal or Disciplinary Record
Having a criminal or disciplinary record may mean that you face more difficulty getting into a school, but an addendum could help alleviate some of that difficulty. In this case, you want to err on the side of oversharing and address everything that is on the criminal or disciplinary record, clearly explaining what happened and why. Again, make sure to avoid providing excuses in this case.
Lapse in Education
If you took time off from school or moved to different schools during your undergraduate degree, you may want to explain that in your addendum. Perhaps you took time off to parent or you moved around a lot due to military service. Explaining this is typically a good strategy with law school applications.
If there’s anything else in your record that you think should be explained, first reach out to your admissions officer. Not everything in your application will necessarily need an addendum. Sometimes, you don’t need to highlight certain things. Put yourself in the counselor’s place and try to view it from their perspective first before writing something.
If you’re really interested in the school and want to make sure they know, then this could be a type of addendum to send. Check with your counselor about this type to make sure it’s something they will accept.
How to Write an Addendum for Law School
Remember, an addendum should be concise and clearly written. You want to craft a couple of paragraphs that talk about the situation and what caused it to happen, but without any excuses whatsoever. Law schools want to know what caused it, but they don’t want to read a short essay with justification.
Check out these 5 tips for writing an addendum:
Talk about the situation and what you learned from it, or how it helped you become a better person. Conveying any negative feelings about it will reflect poorly on you, and you want to present yourself in the best light possible.
Don’t make excuses.
If you did somehow mess up in a situation, then make sure that you take ownership of it, rather than pass the blame to something or someone else. Accountability will go a long way but making excuses will not.
Be candid and upfront.
Especially in cases where you are explaining criminal or disciplinary issues, make sure to be as upfront as possible in your addendum.
Follow the school’s instructions.
When you write your addendum, be certain that you’re following all instructions provided by the school to the letter. If you can’t find any instructions, then call your admissions counselor to ensure that you’re writing yours properly--always verify and don’t turn in something without checking their rules.
Keep it short and organized.
Just because the addendum is short doesn’t mean that it should be written without a clear organization and flow. Plus, the admissions team will still be assessing your writing skills and grammar usage. As a general rule, the addendum shouldn’t be more than one page unless you’re describing a particularly complex situation.
If you’re ready to apply for law school, we’re ready to help you.
At Stetson, we work with students from diverse backgrounds of all ages from across the world, so we understand that everyone has a different life story to tell and that everyone makes mistakes along the way. If you need to submit an addendum to explain something, then we would love to read it and learn more about you. If you have any questions along the way, our admissions team can help you with any part of the process.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our admissions team for more information, including addendum guidelines.
Ready to get started on your law school application?
Topics: Applying to Law School