Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
marc605
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Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:29 am

Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby marc605 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:08 am

Well in recent months I have been considering law school and, thought I had a great shot to go to one of the Rutgers with in-state plus a scholly 2 years from now when I leave the military after 12 years in service. I'm pretty sure that dream is ended now after estimating my LSAC GPA. So here's my story:
At 18 I enrolled in large state school, and after 2 long years, and 4 awful semesters was kicked out due to poor academic performance. I had been what can be politely called an alcoholic since 16 and at age 20 sobered up long enough to enlist in the USAF 2002. Battling alcohol withdrawals, home sickness, and what can be described as a less than suitable attitude for military service I struggled through Basic Training but prevailed none the less. I was sent to Technical Training and performed amazingly well - never scoring below a 95% in any learning module, and about a year and half later the Air Force unleashed me to work on sensitive electronic systems on one of America's most advanced aircraft. Throughout my first few years in the Air Force - although technically gifted I struggled to maintain my sobriety and was eventually forced by the Air Force to attend a substance abuse program in 2005. Before that could happen I made the foolish decision of enrolling in a local CC and again doing disastrously. In 2006 now sober I quickly ascended the ranks of the USAF and became one of the best avionics systems technicians in the entire Air Force. I won several Wing and Command level awards for my work aiding in researching High Frequency communications upgrades and infrastructure improvement. That one project alone aided in the Air Force saving 593 million tax payer dollars. I also devoted myself to education the same year and began taking as many CLEP/DSST as I could. That year I received my Bachelor's in Natural Sciences and Mathematics through a state college specializing in adult education without taking a single graded course after accumulating enough military and CLEP credits. In 2007 I entered Arizona State University's Political Science program and graduated Magna Cum Laude in June of 2009 after taking 60 credits for a second Bachelor's. I'm currently enrolled in a Master's in International Relations program at a well respected university and expect to graduate with a GPA above 3.5x. I’m also currently enrolled in a on campus Powerscore class with intention of taking the June LSAT. I’m PT’ing in the 167-170 range and hope to raise it to the 172-173 range. This all sounds like a great resume for law school in my opinion but after using the LSAC GPA calculator it looks like at best I MAY get into a TTTT. So without any adieu here’s my projected #’s
UGPA 1.32!!!!
LSAT (est) 167+
Softs -
Second Bachelor’s GPA 3.98
Masters GPA (current) 3.7
12 Years Military
High level Awards
First generation American – parents from Brasil neither graduated High School
Severe alcoholic from 16-21, started drinking after my father died.
So the question is, will any decent school look past my LSAC GPA?? Or should I give up the dream of law school and pursue a career and/or school in Political Science?? I’m thinking right now I’m probably be most qualified to teach at the High School or community college level, and that is only moderately appealing. I could go for my PhD and hope to land a gig in real Academia or possibly the State Dept or CIA but those are long shots at best. Before learning about the law school admissions process I had been hoping to work PI. If you've made it this far I'd like to express my sincere thanks for reading my overly long post! This forum is a great resource!

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MURPH
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Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby MURPH » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:43 am

OK so I suffered through your long post. No worries. I am just like you except I only drink too much not way too much. I got a 2.98 GPA 12 years ago, 12 years (some civilian / some military) work experience, a Masters and second bachelors.
The work experience will help a little. Throw the other two degrees out the window, no one cares, sorry.
There is very little you can do. You have to study your ass off for the LSAT. You need to be above the 75% for every school that you want to get into. You also need good LORs and a decent personal statement. Don't screw up the PS. Post it here and have a lot of people review it. Also ask the admissions counselors at every school that you've ever been to to look at your PS. You might feel obligated to discuss your drinking, or you might just explain it as 'immaturity.' Whatever. They probably don't care anyway just make sure it is well written and error free. Apply widely since you have no idea who will accept you. Finally, get your application in the very first day that the schools accept applications. Make your sob story the first one that crosses the adcoms desk during that admissions cycle.

I followed all that advice except applying early and I am sure it cost me a few schools. So far I've been admitted to several top 20 schools and waitlisted at 3 schools ranked in the top ten. The thing about the GPA and LSAT score is that the numbers, in themselves don't mean anything much to the adcoms. It is not like a sliding scale where each point lower gets you a lower mark on the scale. It seems to be more like three distinct boxes. You are below, between or above their 25% and 75% and are placed in one of those boxes for each score. If you are in the below box for GPA then you have to be in the above box for LSAT. Then you are a splitter and you have a chance. You can PM me or post here if you want more advice.

redbutton
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Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby redbutton » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:59 am

I just read your whole post and, honestly, I think you have a great chance of getting into a really good school (top 30 if not top 20).

If you can really pull a 167+ and you received a 3.98 your second time around in undergrad, then they should have no hesitations as to whether or not you will be able to succeed in law school. That being said, they might worry about your alcoholism. You need to prove to them that you have overcome that in order for them to consider you.

Since you are SUCH a non-traditional applicant, my advice would be for you to start meeting with admissions counselors and deans of schools you're most interested in soon. (It's really not hard to schedule an appointment with them and they tend to be pretty straight forward about your chances of admission if you get them in person.) Because you will have such a low index number (a number that comes from a formula that combines LSAT and GPA), you might get straight up overlooked at some schools if you apply without them having a heads up. However, by meeting with deans/admissions counselors before you even apply, you might be able to get them to look out for your app and read it thoroughly rather than skip over it. Once they give it a thorough look, I think you'll have a good chance of being accepted since you have proven yourself to be an exceptional academic after having gone through some seriously rough times.

Your military experience alone gives you a boost, so, combined with a stellar LSAT score and an amazing second undergrad GPA AND a great grad school GPA, I think that the results of the LSAC predictor calculator are completely meaningless for an applicant like you.

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Kilpatrick
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Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby Kilpatrick » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:04 am

If I ran a law school I would let you in. Seriously, I think you have a really compelling story. Study hard for the LSAT, get a good score, apply as early as possible. I don't think you will have to settle for T3 or T4

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MURPH
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Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby MURPH » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:22 am

By the way if you go to Rutgers in state you should be able to use your GI Bill plus yellow ribbon program money unless you spent it all on those other degrees.

Renzo
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Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby Renzo » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:23 am

TL,DR. But I did skim, and I agree with the general sentiment of the posters above. The great thing about law schools is they don't track the average GPA, only the median. So, a 0.0 doesn't bring the median down any more than something that's 0.001 point below it. You are going to need to write one hell of an application, maybe even hire a pro to help, but if you do I think you'll get into a great school.

marc605
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Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby marc605 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:53 am

I'd really like to thank everyone who has posted great info so far. It has honestly really encouraging to hear that schools may overlook my horrid GPA.I was really expecting more response in the vein of – “seek another path”. It will definitely if not anything easy my mind enough to help me focus even harder studying for the LSAT in June. As far as money is concerned I transferred my Community College of the Air force A.A.S and 30 free CLEP AND DSST to Thomas Edison State College and was able to graduate by taking only one class and paying associated grad fees out of pocket. I used Military Tuition Assistance for both my B.A. in Poli Sci and Master’s with a little out of pocket cash. I have my full Post 9/11 GI Bill - so it’s awesome to know that Rutgers is a Yellow Ribbon participant. That makes me want to make it my target school even more now - a free legal education plus a housing allowance sure would be nice since I'm very debt adverse. I looked into having a professional assist me in the Admissions process, Powerscore has a program that cost about $125 an hour which seems expensive because I think I can get advice that’s as good here on this forum. I’m also looking into hiring Ann Levine, she’s pricey but her credentials seem to be very solid. I have to do more research before ultimately making the decision because her service is expensive. Is there any other pro’s I should look in to?? Price really won’t be much of a factor, earning my JD is something I have been lusting after for about a year and half and I have already invested a lot of time and money into the process I might as well go all in.

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Panther7
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Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby Panther7 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:57 am

if it makes you feel any better, i got into camden with a 166 and a 2.6.

Not quite as low, but I feel with solid softs (which you have) you can overcome a poor gpa.


I think you can write a solid gpa addendum in your situation, and pointing to your second degree gpa will help you a lot. my low gpa was rolled up in military service issues as well, and my cycle has gone better than i expected it to. obviously a 1.3 is scary number, but if you explain very candidly what the problem was, you may find a few people willing to bite. Also, if you have a particular school you'd like to attend, I think it would help you TREMENDOUSLY to be able to meet with the dean of admissions at some point before you submit the application and explain your story. I think that would help trigger some thoughts when he/she reviews your application. At least you can ensure you get a fair look that way.

And ultimately, the real keys are being able to prove sobriety won't be an issue and absolutely killing the LSAT.

marc605
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Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:29 am

Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby marc605 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:06 am

Thanks Panther,

I think proving sobriety could possibly be a hurdle, that being said I have been sober for slightly over 4 years now and hopefully my accomplishments within that time period will reflect that. Also I hope in my personal statement rather than write some cheesy sob story how I turned to alcohol in my youth - to write about taking responsibilty for the choices I made and that without have struggled through addiction and, without having to overcome the hurdles that go hand in hand with alcoholism, that I would not be the person nor would I have accomplished what I have.

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MURPH
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Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby MURPH » Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:40 pm

marc605 wrote:I'd really like to thank everyone who has posted great info so far. It has honestly really encouraging to hear that schools may overlook my horrid GPA.I was really expecting more response in the vein of – “seek another path”. It will definitely if not anything easy my mind enough to help me focus even harder studying for the LSAT in June. As far as money is concerned I transferred my Community College of the Air force A.A.S and 30 free CLEP AND DSST to Thomas Edison State College and was able to graduate by taking only one class and paying associated grad fees out of pocket. I used Military Tuition Assistance for both my B.A. in Poli Sci and Master’s with a little out of pocket cash. I have my full Post 9/11 GI Bill - so it’s awesome to know that Rutgers is a Yellow Ribbon participant. That makes me want to make it my target school even more now - a free legal education plus a housing allowance sure would be nice since I'm very debt adverse. I looked into having a professional assist me in the Admissions process, Powerscore has a program that cost about $125 an hour which seems expensive because I think I can get advice that’s as good here on this forum. I’m also looking into hiring Ann Levine, she’s pricey but her credentials seem to be very solid. I have to do more research before ultimately making the decision because her service is expensive. Is there any other pro’s I should look in to?? Price really won’t be much of a factor, earning my JD is something I have been lusting after for about a year and half and I have already invested a lot of time and money into the process I might as well go all in.

The important thing here is that you should do all of the work, get all the free help on TLS that you can get and have everything in order before you contact a professional. Don't show up empty handed and say help me with my application. That will cost a fortune. Show up with a completed application and say please give me some tips and revision suggestions.
A good timeline is to ask for your LORs next week, give the professors two months to write them. http://www.top-law-schools.com/letters- ... ation.html
study 4-6 hours per night from now until the june LSAT, viewtopic.php?f=6&t=41657
After the LSAT take a couple of days to do whatever it is that sober people do to unwind, then get cracking on the Personal Statement. http://www.top-law-schools.com/statement.html
Seek professional help in July if you need it. Finish everything by August 1st. Interview in the summer if possible. Scheduling a tour/visiting campus is a common way of sneaking an informal interview for schools that don't offer interviews. Most schools start accepting applications on September 1st or 15th. Get your application in early.

aristotle1776
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Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby aristotle1776 » Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:09 am

OP,

From one Veteran to another thank you for your service. If you kill the LSAT I think you'll be fine. Even if you don't kill the LSAT and get in the high 150's, you may have to settle for lower-ranked/higher-cost schools but if you have the Post 9/11 GI Bill/Voc Rehab tuition and living expenses are not an issue. Many of the tier 3 and 4 schools are turnoffs due to their high tuition and salary numbers upon graduation, simply put, non-military students have over 100k in debt and a starting salary that barely dents the interest on their student loan payments - as compared to top-20 law schools where it seems you can get great jobs/salaries much easier upon graduation.

If you are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you don't have to worry about tuition and receive monthly BAH payments at the E5 w/ dependents rate for the zip code of the school you attend. I'm in grad school in CT right now and receive about $2200 a month for going to class three nights a week (I'm still in disbelief and actually wonder if I am really going to get paid that much each month simply for attending school). The benefit is invaluable and makes life incredibly easier, comparable to that of the average non-Veteran law student. The benefit can get tricky for part-time programs, but usually the schools will work with the veteran so they can qualify for all the available Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Do you have any OIF/OEF deployments? Military service is a huge soft and it sounds like you have a good story for a personal statement. Combat deployments are obviously a +1000 to your service. As others have stated, some schools will forgive your GPA in lieu of your military service, your graduate work, a greater than 75% LSAT for their school, and you playing your cards right on your personal statement.

Depending on your LSAT score, I would not rule out tier 2 schools. Yeah your undergrad GPA sucks, but if I read your post right it seems you are somewhat far removed from it and have significant life experience since then. These factors combined with a great LSAT score will definitely get you in to many law schools.

To echo what others have stated, study hard for the LSAT and destroy it. It will make things incredibly easier. Also, check out lawschoolnumbers.com and you will see how Veterans make it in to schools that if judged only by their numbers they have no business getting into. We have a fellow Veteran who had a 1.8 undergrad GPA and similar to you, a large gap of time since his undergrad days and a graduate degree with a decent GPA. He has been accepted to several T2 law schools with a 158 on his LSAT - PM me and I'll give you his profile info.

Good luck and feel free to PM with any questions...I'm in the midst of the application process for this cycle.

CSKNJ
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:36 am

Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby CSKNJ » Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:51 am

f it makes you feel any better, i got into camden with a 166 and a 2.6.

Not quite as low, but I feel with solid softs (which you have) you can overcome a poor gpa.


I think you can write a solid gpa addendum in your situation, and pointing to your second degree gpa will help you a lot. my low gpa was rolled up in military service issues as well, and my cycle has gone better than i expected it to. obviously a 1.3 is scary number, but if you explain very candidly what the problem was, you may find a few people willing to bite. Also, if you have a particular school you'd like to attend, I think it would help you TREMENDOUSLY to be able to meet with the dean of admissions at some point before you submit the application and explain your story. I think that would help trigger some thoughts when he/she reviews your application. At least you can ensure you get a fair look that way.

And ultimately, the real keys are being able to prove sobriety won't be an issue and absolutely killing the LSAT.


I was just admitted to Rutgers with a 2.68 and a 160 LSAT with a $5,000 a year scholarship.

As to the original poster. I agree with those who find your story really compelling. I think your undergrad GPA will be an almost non-factor when framed within your alcoholism. The fact that your father's death was an impetus to your drinking will only help. I read a personal statement from a Yale student that had a similar story, crummy undergrad GPA during a period of heavy drinking who later cleaned up in grad school, who ended up being admitted to several top schools. Your military service and Brazilian heritage will also help. All in all I think you could aim higher than a school like Rutgers. To me you sound like a Top 30 school candidate, it's impossible to listen to your story and not find it extremely unique and inspiring.

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merichard87
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Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby merichard87 » Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:36 pm

I think you just wrote a summary of what your PS should say. Expand and you have a great essay). I think you have a decent shot at a T30 if you can make sure your LSAT is above their median. Good Luck.

javajoe
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:55 pm

Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby javajoe » Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:52 am

merichard87 wrote:I think you just wrote a summary of what your PS should say. Expand and you have a great essay).


+1

Go for it! You have a lot of things working in your favor- military service, age, first generation american, recent academic performance demonstrates that your past performance (i.e. the subpar GPA) may not be indicative of your true potential, etc..

I agree with others who said to speak with admission officers, get to know them, etc. Visit schools you are interested in. Share your concerns with them, etc.

Make sure you nail your PS, and be sure you have some solid recommendations, including at least one professor (I would do two if you can)

Also, look for threads in other boards about splitters, there will be some good advice there.

GOOD LUCK

SBimmer
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:27 pm

Re: Non-traditional - Do I have any chance??

Postby SBimmer » Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:48 am

OP - Kill the LSAT and you'll be fine with your softs.

Thanks for your service (from one veteran to another).




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