Is it more important to have a great GPA or to be involved in meaningful extra-curricular activities? The answer will surprise you! Not really, but the textbook answer to this question is “both”. It is important to have both an amazing GPA and to be involved in meaningful, world-changing (ok, that’s quite a stretch) activities. And, sure, gun to my head; I would say that GPA has greater weight in a law school application. But, not even a perfect GPA can cover a lack on involvement (and vice-versa). Especially if a certain law school requires a CV as part of their application.
The problem with this expectation, especially in regards to the most “prestigious” law schools, is that often you have to compromise one for the other. That’s just how life is. Sometimes studying or participating in club activities is not the most important thing. And, theoretically, that should be ok. Forcing yourself to stop working so that you can get at least some sleep should be ok. But oftentimes you trick yourself into thinking that taking a break will make you fall behind. Fall behind whom, you might ask. Well, think about all of the people that apply to your top law school each year. Anywhere from 75-90% of those students don’t get in. And you are determined to be a part of the 10-25% that does get in. That is your goal and you will do anything to accomplish it, even if you have to sacrifice some sanity. Because the kind of students who get into the top do not stop working, which is terrifying.
But those students represent only one mindset. And only one kind of mindset and one kind of student is not what law schools are looking for. Diversity in thought processes and experiences make discussions between colleagues interesting. Now, that is what law schools want. So, turning back to the original question: which one is more important? My answer (as opposed to the textbook answer) is this: the one that represents who you are as a person the most. Now, notice that I did not say to disregard either. What I am saying is to make the story you present to law schools (through your application) consistent. If you are more interested in the practical application of law, highlight your experience working alongside lawyers, or in a think tank, the list goes on an on. But, if you find yourself intrigued in the theory of law or academia, highlight your grades. Remember this the next time you find yourself anxious about your grades or your involvement: law schools accept people, not numbers or impressive CVs.