Photo by Jouwen Wang on Unsplash
Photo by Jouwen Wang on Unsplash

Identify referees who will give you that “perfect” recommendation letter. Raise your grades over the next semester or two. Get some publications done. How about showcasing leadership abilities? Perhaps engage in some form of social service which you can then use in your personal statement?

Any or all of these might improve your chances of getting that LL.M. admission you crave.

Or they might not.

The fact of the matter is that there is no one “formula” for a successful LL.M. application. Or rather, if there is one (and I do sometimes wish to God there was), I am yet to find it.

I have seen top rankers rejected by schools who have traditionally placed emphasis on grades. Sloppy personal statements, with grammar that would make a nerve pop, have somehow made it through the rigorous lens of a graduate admissions committee. That “perfect” LL.M. candidate, the one who ticks all the boxes and more, somehow not meeting the bar.

And while examination of where things could have gone wrong can be useful, I do think it is a tad more productive to analyse the reasons for success. The findings made here can then be used for the next round of applications.

Which is how I find myself here at this point in time – making one single recommendation that will dramatically improve one’s chances of gaining admission.

Are you ready for it?

Here it is – be organized.

That is it.

(I have left some smelling salts by your side)

If you really do want to up your admission chances, start an excel sheet or two, add in the application requirements, the names of potential referees, and the all-important deadlines. Keep this updated with every development. Set up soft deadlines for yourself, ideally three to four weeks before the actual deadline.

The fact of the matter is that the ability to sort out and filter information is as important, or possibly more important, than collecting the information itself. It is here, at the stage of parsing and filtering, that a truly competitive edge can be found. 

So, go ahead and be organised. And blessed with the excel sheets and google reminders, with just this alone, you have dramatically improved your admission chances.

Trust me on this.