Strong GPA and LSAT scores are very important in law school admissions. However, there are a number of things you can do to make yourself a strong candidate, including pursuing an internship and getting involved in student organizations and other leadership opportunities.


The best pre-law education is a rigorous, well-balanced liberal arts education, which you are already experiencing as a student at Carleton. Also, law schools typically look for diversity in majors so your choice of major need not be influenced by your plans for law school.

Undergraduate Coursework

While there are no required courses, arrange your schedule to ensure you gain skills in research, verbal analysis, articulation, quantitative analysis, logic, and problem solving. 

  • Pass/Fail – Avoid too many pass/fail courses as they may leave the impression that you are hiding part of your grade record. 
  • Drop/Withdrawal – Drops and withdrawals do happen and won’t prevent you from getting into law school. Consider including an addendum to better explain the situation.
  • Scrunch – Scrunches are acceptable so long as they are still passing grades. Be thoughtful about how many you opt to use.

Extracurricular Activities

While not a primary factor in law school admissions decisions, the importance of extracurricular collegiate experiences, internships, off-campus experiential educational and employment experiences cannot be discounted. These can be important, distinguishing factors among many highly qualified applicants. Consider Mock Trial, Model UN, Student Government, volunteering, or any other campus activity where you would gain leadership skills.

Internships and Externships

To have a clear understanding of the legal profession, you will find it helpful to participate in an externship or internship in a law-related setting. These experiences are invaluable in making an informed decision about pursuing a career in law. Look for law-related internships or externships in Handshake. Please note that, while a law-related externship or internship can be beneficial in helping you decide to pursue law, law school admissions committees do not expect or want every applicant to have worked in a law setting. An internship at a non-profit organization that is related to causes you care about can be just as beneficial in your application documents.

  • Externships – Mini 1-3 week internships during Carleton’s December break
  • Internships – 6-10 week hands-on experiences, typically during the summer and with a focus on career exploration and preparation

Taking Time Off Before Law School

It is becoming increasingly common for applicants to take a year or more off after completing the undergraduate degree before pursuing a degree in law. Law schools have an average age of 25, with only around 30-40% of students attending straight out of college. While this is an individual choice, many law schools and employers like to see candidates who have taken time to gain some experience and confirm that this is the best decision before jumping into a career in law.