are Welcome in the Pre-Law Program! The Dunster Pre-Law Program
is pleased to assist graduates of Dunster House in applying to law school,
no matter how many years ago you graduated. Indeed, alumni/ae applicants
account for nearly half of the applicants from Dunster House each year.
So far, the record goes to a woman who contacted the House for help
applying to law school after 15 years in another career! Whether you're
a recent graduate or someone intent on upsetting her record, we're happy
is the Process for Alumni/ae Different? Mostly
it isn't. Alumni/ae are welcome to use all of Dunster's pre-law advising
resources. You should register
for the Pre-Law Program, just as undergraduate applicants do, and fill
out all of the same forms and questionnaires. (We do maintain a separate
email mailing list for alumni/ae to avoid burying you in messages relevant
only to undergraduates). You will be assigned a nonresident
pre-law tutor, just like undergraduate applicants, and you are invited
to have your tutor review drafts of your personal statement, etc. And
most importantly, Dunster House will write you a full dean's
letter, if you wish to have one written (more on that below).
said, there are a few special considerations for alumni/ae applicants,
especially those who have been away from Dunster for a long time or
who live far from Cambridge.
Considerations for Alumni/ae Applicants.
Letter. As described elsewhere
on this site, the House normally writes a "Dean's letter"
for every Dunster applicant. While we are prepared to write a letter
for every Dunster alumna/us who requests one, it is obviously difficult
for us to write a compelling letter if you've been gone long enough
that none of the current tutors know you and you live far enough away
that we cannot readily get to know you now. In addition, the Dean's
letter naturally loses some of its relevance for alumni/ae who have
As a result, Dunster (following policies recommended by the College)
presumptively does not write a full-blown Dean's letter for
alumni/ae who have been away from the House for more than 5 years.
Instead, we write a short letter that makes the required disclosures
and then simply states that while we don't know you personally, we
have no reason to believe that you would not be an excellent candidate
for law school. This eliminates any prejudice that might result from
the House simply not writing a letter at all (i.e., it makes clear
we're not trying to hide anything), while at the same time avoiding
the need to write a full letter that reveals (through the inevitably
summary descriptions) how little we actually know about you. The shorter
letter also has the advantage of speed -- the House can produce it
in a day or two. It takes considerably longer for us to get to know
an alumna/us (or, rather, an alumna/us whom we did not know as an
undergraduate) well enough to write a full letter. This approach has
worked well in our experience. But if you prefer the longer letter,
the House will write a full Dean's letter for you, no matter how long
you have been away from the House, if you are willing to visit, call,
and/or email us frequently enough to make a personalized letter possible.
Feel free to discuss this issue with the Resident
Tutor in Law.
of Recommendation. Several issues specific to alumni/ae arise
in the context of letters of recommendation. First, as noted on the
alums will often want to obtain a letter from a current employer or
co-worker, in addition to an academic letter (if possible). Alums
who have been away from school for many years will often be unable
to produce an academic letter of recommendation, and that's OK --
law schools understand.
Statement. Ordinarily we advise undergraduates not to write their
personal statement explicitly about why they want to attend law school
(see our advice about
personal statements). The calculus changes a bit for alumni/ae
if you've been away from college long enough to establish another
career. For applicants who have already been successful elsewhere,
the natural questions in the minds of admissions officers will be
"why law?" and "why now?" If you're in that situation,
consider using your personal statement to address those questions
directly (assuming, of course, you have decent answers!).
Few Words of Advice.
A few words of advice for alumni/ae applicants may be helpful.
Ahead. Alumni/ae often underestimate the time and energy required
to assemble strong law school applications. Every year, the last Dunster
applications to be completed are applications from alumni/ae who have
busy jobs or busy lives and didn't stay on top of the process. An
equal number of alums later confess that they would have written a
better essay, practiced harder for the LSAT, etc., if they were still
undergrads. Don't let this be you!
Prep Courses. Similarly, alumni/ae often benefit from LSAT prep
courses simply because the rigorous class schedules (and, frankly,
the feeling that you spent a lot of money on the course) help motivate
you to study and stay on top of the work.
Meetings at Dunster if Possible. If you're in the Boston area,
try to attend the Introductory Pre-Law Meeting (contact the Resident Tutors
for this year's date) and the few other major pre-law meetings during the year.
All meetings will be at night or on weekend afternoons. Handouts from
these meetings may or may not be posted on this website, but the
Q&A between students and the tutors is usually the most valuable
part of these meetings (because everyone has the same questions),
and you can't get that part without attending.
In Touch with Dunster. Every year, a significant number of alumni/ae
fall out of touch with the House during the pre-law process. We can't
help you if we don't know where you are! Update the House on address
and email changes and periodically check in with your tutor. We'll
try to remind you of deadlines, etc., but it is obviously your responsibility
to make sure you get all of the pre-law services you need from Dunster
House. And if you need help or advice that you can't find on this
website, please don't hesitate to contact
the Resident Tutor in Law.