For Liberty and Excellence: Training Leaders to Communicate Effectively and to Excel in their Sphere
by Carrie Durning
Patrick Henry College (PHC) has a high reputation of being one of the top Christian colleges in the country academically, no matter the specific academic major pursued by the student. Patrick Henry College has achieved this high reputation because of its unique fusion of three distinctives, which sets Patrick Henry College apart from any other college in the world. A unique formula helps build the pre-law program at Patrick Henry College, with a pre-law advising program giving pre-law students with their sights set on law school an opportunity to prepare while studying in a BA-level program.
What makes the academic program at Patrick Henry College have such a high reputation of excellence and so set apart from any other college in the world? That’s a good question. PHC holds high three unique distinctives, believes in excellence in high academic rigor, and upholds an unwavering worldview.
Furthermore, Patrick Henry College has an established pre-law advising program, training leaders to communicate effectively and equipping Christian students to excel in their sphere of influence because they carry the truth and glory of God. Through our training, mentoring, and pre-law advising, Patrick Henry College students have won multiple world moot court championships, have received supreme court clerkships, and have excelled in many more areas in their field of study, law school, and career paths.
Dr. Merriam and the benefits of Pre-Law Advising
Patrick Henry College recently welcomed Dr. Merriam to their faculty, who filled the position of pre-law advising and who will be an associate professor teaching the law classes in the Government Department. In Fall of 2020, Dr. Merriam will be teaching two sections of Constitutional Law and a practicum on the judiciary. “In Spring 2021, I expect to teach American Political Institutions and a new course on legal reasoning, a class I designed at Loyola to help prepare students for the LSAT and the first year of law school,” said Dr. Merriam.
How does pre-law advising benefit students in preparing for their future? Patrick Henry College’s pre-law advisor, Dr. Merriam, believes her role as an advisor is to help students through three sets of questions. 1. Whether to apply to law school. 2. When to apply to law school. And 3. Where to apply to law school.
In helping pre-law students through these three sets of questions, Dr. Merriam helps students with various features with the application process. “I help students come up with an individualized LSAT study plan, I work with students on particular areas of the LSAT so as to help improve their scores, and I help students with their personal statements,” said Dr. Merriam.
Distinct Pre-Law Advising at Patrick Henry College
Dr. Merriam believes Patrick Henry College is distinct in preparing students for law school in two distinct ways. First, HC’s liberal arts curriculum is grounded in the most profound features of Western thought and focused on developing the relationship between faith and reason. This gives students the intellectual tools necessary to master legal reasoning and the art of lawyering.
The second reason Patrick Henry College is distinct in preparing students for law school involves the one-on-one tutoring Dr. Merriam offers through her position as PHC’s pre-law advisor. “As a lawyer and legal scholar with extensive experience as a pre-law advisor and LSAT tutor, I offer students a depth of preparation for the LSAT and law school that few other colleges can match,” said Dr. Merriam. Pre-Law advising at PHC is important for students preparing for law school, because it offers three critical services.
One of the unique services that pre-law advising at Patrick Henry College offers is the improvement of student’s LSAT scores, the most significant factor of an applicant’s candidacy, as Dr. Merriam states. LSAT scores are the most important factor when applying to law schools of the student’s choice. Other factors involved in an acceptance at top law schools include a student’s grade point average (GPA) in their undergraduate, and letters of recommendation.
Pre-Law: More Than Advising
Dr. Merriam states that Patrick Henry College’s pre-law advising program can give students a better sense of where to apply to law school, based on a student’s personal academic credentials, geographic preferences, and financial restrictions. “This individualized advising is essential to helping students make the best decisions for themselves – and just as importantly, for their families,” said Dr. Merriam. “We firmly believe as Christians that the relationship between a parent and a child is sacred, and our pre-law advising program honors that.”
Finally, Dr. Merriam says, the pre-law advising program can help students negotiate the best scholarship award, an increasingly significant part of the application process in today’s uncertain economy. “I encourage all students interested in law school to visit me – no matter what year they are – but most of my pre-law advising focuses on the junior and senior years,” said Dr. Merriam.
Ideally, a student interested in pre-law advising at Patrick Henry College and in law school would meet with Dr. Merriam in the fall of their junior year so that together, the student and Dr. Merriam can complete an LSAT study plan for the spring. After being advised by Dr. Merriam, the student would then take the LSAT in the summer before their senior year. This way, the student can be prepared and have enough time to take the LSAT a second time, for better odds in scoring at the highest percentile.
“This [taking the LSAT in the third year of college] is ideal because if the student were to retake the exam, which is often the case, the student could then take it in the early fall of senior year, leaving plenty of time to submit an early application in October or November (to law school),” said Dr. Merriam. Patrick Henry College’s reputation for excellence in academics does not exclude excellence in the pre-law program: PHC graduates have attended with scholarship many of the top law schools in the nation. Together with the faculty, staff, and alumni, Patrick Henry College has created the finest pathway to legal excellence in America for Christians.