Worth the Trade off?

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
oliveminna
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:48 pm

Worth the Trade off?

Postby oliveminna » Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:02 pm

So, I am a single Mother of a 7 year old and am planning on going to law school. Given my GPA (in graduate school) 3.8 and my LSAT 168, I'm thinking I can apply to some pretty good schools. HOWEVER...I am thinking about Penn State because my sister lives there (her husband teaches there) and obviously as a single parent it would be easier to go to school somewhere where I have some support.

If I can get into a better ranked school - is it worth it in the long run? I am not looking to go to some high powered firm in my future, I just want to make a comfortable living for myself and my daughter.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you :?

sumus romani
Posts: 565
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:04 pm

Re: Worth the Trade off?

Postby sumus romani » Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:44 pm

Your LSAT is quite a ways above Penn State's median (157). But whether you can get into a better school might depend upon your undergrad GPA. You mention your graduate GPA, but not your undergraduate GPA in your post. Law schools consider your undergrad GPA as the more important one for admissions decisions. Part of the reason for this emphasis is because the US News' rankings take the undergrad GPA. Also of note is that the undergrad GPA tends to count for less as one gets further away from undergrad. If you have been out of school for a long time, then the LSAT score becomes much more important than undergrad GPA. I guess it seems a bit complicated. But the basic rule is that undergrad GPA counts for a lot (roughly equal to LSAT), unless you have been out of undergrad for a long time, in which case LSAT determines much more than half. That does indeed seem to leave little room for emphasis on graduate GPA. Think of graduate GPA as a "soft" factor: something that can help a candidate on the borderline of admissions for a school, but not a centrally determining factor.
Sorry I cannot be more helpful about the trade-off between going to school with family support vs a higher-ranked school.

Edited to say something a bit different than the more recent response.

oliveminna
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:48 pm

Re: Worth the Trade off?

Postby oliveminna » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:22 pm

See I'm learning already. My under grad GPA was 3.42 but it was, and I'm aging myself here, more than 20 years ago. Will they even look, will that make the LSAT more important?

User avatar
vanwinkle
Posts: 9740
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:02 am

Re: Worth the Trade off?

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:28 pm

oliveminna wrote:See I'm learning already. My under grad GPA was 3.42 but it was, and I'm aging myself here, more than 20 years ago. Will they even look, will that make the LSAT more important?

You're what's called a "non-traditional applicant" or a non-trad. Given the years of experience you bring and your unique life experience, they will be a lot more willing to overlook a low GPA. However, this means that you need to do well on the LSAT even more than most, since without being able to rely on your GPA you need a high LSAT to get into a good school.

Basically however you do on the LSAT will determine the range of schools that will take you. Schools will consider your years of work and life experience and your graduate degree to be huge pluses, enough to potentially outweigh your low UG GPA, and then take you based on your LSAT and what your experiences will add to an entering class made up almost entirely of kids in their 20s.

On the other hand, with a 168 GPA and your background you should get significant financial aid from a school like Penn State. High LSATs don't just turn into acceptances at better schools, they also turn into offers of $$$ from lower-ranked schools. Usually I would recommend going to the best school possible, but in this case you have strong family reasons to go to Penn State, and given your age you probably don't want to graduate with an enormous amount of debt, so I would say apply to Penn State, push them for as much $$$ as they'll give, and then go.

You can leverage acceptances at higher-ranked schools when playing the $$$ game too, so you might try applying to some Top 30 schools just to be able to do that.

User avatar
Vincent Vega
Posts: 1182
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2009 11:36 pm

Re: Worth the Trade off?

Postby Vincent Vega » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:33 pm

Seems to me if you can get amazing money from Penn State (has to be close to a full ride) you should go there. For most people, I would say to go to the best school possible, but if you plan on staying in PA and you need that support system to help raise your kid, Penn State seems to be the right way to go.

User avatar
Zapatero
Posts: 517
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:14 pm

Re: Worth the Trade off?

Postby Zapatero » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:36 pm

Your numbers pretty much guarantee you 20k/yr at Penn State (judging from the wording of the letter I received, that seems to be the max for merit-based aid). Unfortunately, there's no in-state tuition, so you'd still be looking at ~13k/yr plus COL (which should be pretty low in State College). I guess it depends where you'd like to end up after school. In Philly, you're competing with Penn, Temple, Nova and Drexel, as well as some other T3/4's. I'd imagine PSU has a pretty good handle on Harrisburg, but that would require you living in Harrisburg. Not really sure how it holds up in Pittsburgh, but you'd really only be competing with Pitt and Duquesne. Regardless, I'd do some research and see how the degree is received in the markets in which you'd want to live.




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests