Clara Spera

My Education
JD | Law
MPhil | Gender Studies & European Lit
University of Chicago
BA | Romance languages

Clara is a first-year law student at Harvard Law School. She hails from New York City and attended the University of Chicago for her undergraduate degree, where she served as a tour guide and interviewer at the Office of College Admissions. She spent the last two years at the University of Cambridge as a graduate student. When she's not studying, she enjoys playing soccer and reading murder mystery novels. 

Q: What is the best way to get accepted to a top-tier university?
A: That was a trick question! As you will come to learn, there is no "one right way" to get into a university, whether it's for graduate or undergraduate programs. (OK, OK, yes, everyone needs to actually fill in the application forms and press "Send", but other than that, no two candidates are alike!)

What I found was that, instead of trying extremely hard to get better at things I simply wasn't good at or interested in, devoting myself to classes, activities and causes that I am truly passionate about was a key factor in being accepted to top-level universities. Admissions committees saw that I was throwing myself into things because I was genuinely passionate about them, and not just for resumé/CV points. What's more, it meant that I was able to talk about my activities at length during interviews. I guess my piece of advice is: do what you really love to do, and spend lots of time doing it! You'll impress university admissions committees and, more importantly, you'll be happy.
Q: How did you know you wanted to study law?
A: Law is a very interesting field, because it is so broad -- there are so many lawyers, and they all do very different things! For me, I always knew that I wanted to utilize my public speaking and analytical skills to be able to help people, and I realized that I wanted to do that through being a lawyer that represents marginalized people.

What was also important for me was figuring out what I *didn't* want to do -- I had some law-oriented summer internships and part-time jobs, of course, but I also held some summer positions in academia, business and finance, just to see if those might be fields that would interest me. It turns out that I really didn't enjoy anything other than the legal-related positions I held, but I am very happy that I did try other things.