High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
jmvargas
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:05 pm

High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby jmvargas » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:54 am

Hi there. This is my first posting and I would like to get some feedback from other URM and non-traditional law school hopefuls (or anyone willing to read this). I'm definitely a non-traditional student for many reasons. I'm 32 years (I know I'm old) old and I have been through a long journey to get to where I am in my life. Ever since I can remember I wanted to go to law school. As you can tell from the subject heading, I dropped out of 9th grade (for many reasons I will not go into here) and did not go back to school until I was 21 years old. I completed my GED and floundered around the local junior college for many years. Finally I was able to transfer to UC Santa Cruz and graduated fall 2009 with honors in my major. During the whole time I was in school I worked full time at an immigration law office where I gained much experience in the legal field. I am convinced I want to go to law school and practice immigration law. Do I stand a chance or am I dreaming? Here's the deal. My diagnostic LSAT test was a low 150, and it's the main reason why I'm discouraged. Should I include my educational story in my personal statement? You know, dropping out of high school... or will that make me look like someone who isn't prepared for the rigorous work required in law school? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

A few more details about my background:
First generation Mexican immigrant (moved here when I was 11), first in family to graduate from college, parents education level is elementary or less.

r6_philly
Posts: 10707
Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:32 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby r6_philly » Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:02 am

Wow sounds like we are twins from another life... Other than the fact that you were born in Mexico and I was in China, and that you dropped out in 9th and I did in 12th, we got pretty much the same story down to the age... It is nice to see you made it here, I fully understand the journey, and I admire you for making it this far.

I haven't offically gotten in anywhere yet, and my LSAT may shadow any impact my story has in admissions, so I can't really say for sure. But I do know from getting LOR's and dealing with my current professors that your/my story is indeed impressive because it speaks of persistence and preseverance. If a person can over come adversties in life, then the person must have the potential to work hard and overcome any obstacle at school. Your GPA reflects that. It will also show (and you need to work into your PS) that you value the things that others may take for granted, and you will be the least likely person to not take advantage of the opportunity to do well in LS.

You will probably get some good boost on your LSAT, and with your GPA you should get far. Although, if you can gain another 10 points on your LSAT you probably will be holding a golden ticket :)
Last edited by r6_philly on Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
newyorker88
Posts: 614
Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2009 7:32 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby newyorker88 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:03 am

Practice as much as possible to get that LSAT score up. With you're GPA and a score even in the low 160s you're golden.

qualster
Posts: 224
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:42 am

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby qualster » Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:26 am

jmvargas wrote:Hi there. This is my first posting and I would like to get some feedback from other URM and non-traditional law school hopefuls (or anyone willing to read this). I'm definitely a non-traditional student for many reasons. I'm 32 years (I know I'm old) old and I have been through a long journey to get to where I am in my life. Ever since I can remember I wanted to go to law school. As you can tell from the subject heading, I dropped out of 9th grade (for many reasons I will not go into here) and did not go back to school until I was 21 years old. I completed my GED and floundered around the local junior college for many years. Finally I was able to transfer to UC Santa Cruz and graduated fall 2009 with honors in my major. During the whole time I was in school I worked full time at an immigration law office where I gained much experience in the legal field. I am convinced I want to go to law school and practice immigration law. Do I stand a chance or am I dreaming? Here's the deal. My diagnostic LSAT test was a low 150, and it's the main reason why I'm discouraged. Should I include my educational story in my personal statement? You know, dropping out of high school... or will that make me look like someone who isn't prepared for the rigorous work required in law school? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

A few more details about my background:
First generation Mexican immigrant (moved here when I was 11), first in family to graduate from college, parents education level is elementary or less.


Dude, I am not URM, but I wanted to respond because your story is awesome and it seems that you might need some positive words. You have no reason to be discouraged.

You should just practice for the LSAT. Read the suggestions on this web site and study for that test. You are going to do well, and 32 isn't that old. Old for law school is over 40, imo, and even then who gives a rat's?

If you study hard for the LSAT, you will probably score well and you will likely end up at a phenomenal school.

User avatar
bees
Posts: 310
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 11:50 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby bees » Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:44 am

You say you floundered around in junior college and finally graduated from a different school w/ a 3.8 in your major.

Unfortunately, your GPA is going to include those JC classes as well as all the classes you took later on that weren't required for your major.

I think you might be a bit surprised when you realize what your actual GPA will be calculated as. Law schools don't care about major GPAs.

That being said, you've got a great story to tell and definitely retake the LSAT.

jmvargas
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:05 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby jmvargas » Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:24 am

Thank you guys for taking the time to reply. Bees you bring up a good point and I'm unclear as to how they calculate the overall GPA. I transferred from JC with a 3.2 and graduated with a 3.83 overall not just in the major. At least that is what is stated in my official UCSC transcript.

I have yet to take the LSAT but the diagnostic test I took a few days ago was pretty much discouraging. I bought a book with nothing but official LSAT test as well as powerscore logic games bible. I have mixed feelings about taking a prep test given that it costs a small fortune. I do plan on getting a couple of other books so if you guys have any suggestions they're more than welcome.

Oh yeah, r6_philly, let me know how it all goes for you. I wish you the best!

User avatar
kazu
Posts: 1602
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 9:35 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby kazu » Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:09 am

Don't worry too much about that diagnostic - just think of it as a way to pinpoint what you need to work the most on right now. With enough studying and practice you should be able to raise it quite a few points.

Good luck! :D

yo!
Posts: 653
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2008 11:11 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby yo! » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:57 pm

After a little bit of studying, my practice tests went from a 150 diagnostic, to consistent scores in the high 160s. I completely choked on the real thing and only got a 163, but that is beside the point :wink: . Put in a couple months of solid practice and even a 170+ score is a realistic possibility.

User avatar
autarkh
Posts: 314
Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:05 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby autarkh » Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:15 pm

jmvargas wrote:Thank you guys for taking the time to reply. Bees you bring up a good point and I'm unclear as to how they calculate the overall GPA. I transferred from JC with a 3.2 and graduated with a 3.83 overall not just in the major. At least that is what is stated in my official UCSC transcript.

I have yet to take the LSAT but the diagnostic test I took a few days ago was pretty much discouraging. I bought a book with nothing but official LSAT test as well as powerscore logic games bible. I have mixed feelings about taking a prep test given that it costs a small fortune. I do plan on getting a couple of other books so if you guys have any suggestions they're more than welcome.

Oh yeah, r6_philly, let me know how it all goes for you. I wish you the best!


Don't worry too much about the diagnostic. A cold diagnostic in the 150s leaves a lot of room for improvement. All it tells you is that you're going to have to work really hard -- i.e. put in at least 2 hours of studying per day, do both of the bibles, take tons of full practice tests under realistic conditions, and sift through the advice in the LSAT prep forum.

As for your grades -- it doesn't matter that the 3.83 was not just in your major requirements. Your UC GPA (presuming that it doesn't count the 3.2 from JC) is not going to be your cumulative LSDAS GPA. LSAC will average your JC grades with your UC grades, and come up with its own number. If you retook any Ds and Fs at JC for better grades, LSAC will average the low grade with the high -- even if the school doesn't include the lower grade in your GPA. Be prepared for this. It's unfair and it sucks, but there's no way around it.

reverendt
Posts: 499
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:56 am

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby reverendt » Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:30 pm

Get that LSAT score up at least towards 160. Schools will love your story/experience, and your GPA shows that you have academic skills.
Crack 160 and you might have a shot at USC or UCLA. Mid-150's and you're probably in at Pepperdine & San Diego w/$$.
(I just named these schools assuming you want the Southern Cali market.)
Good luck!

jmvargas
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:05 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby jmvargas » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:04 pm

What a bummer. After your responses I realized that my overall UC GPA of 3.83 will be dragged down to a meager 3.1 or so after they take into account my miserable grades from JC. Would it be a good idea to include an addendum in an attempt to explain my low performance in my early academic career? I mean basically I had to learn everything most people learn in high school while in JC and that is reflected in my grades. Once I transferred to UC I had a very good grip on what was expected of me and academically I had improved drastically, culminating in a overall UC GPA of 3.83.

Anyway, to summarize I had been gauging my chances (mistakenly) based on my UC GPA of 3.83. With the new information regarding the LSDAS GPA calculations, should I aim at the lower ranked schools then?

As far as the LSAT I'm putting in at least 2 hours right now after coming home from work. I hope to perform better in my next prep test.

All the feedback provided here is very appreciated.

reverendt
Posts: 499
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:56 am

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby reverendt » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:13 pm

jmvargas wrote:What a bummer. After your responses I realized that my overall UC GPA of 3.83 will be dragged down to a meager 3.1 or so after they take into account my miserable grades from JC. Would it be a good idea to include an addendum in an attempt to explain my low performance in my early academic career? I mean basically I had to learn everything most people learn in high school while in JC and that is reflected in my grades. Once I transferred to UC I had a very good grip on what was expected of me and academically I had improved drastically, culminating in a overall UC GPA of 3.83.

Anyway, to summarize I had been gauging my chances (mistakenly) based on my UC GPA of 3.83. With the new information regarding the LSDAS GPA calculations, should I aim at the lower ranked schools then?

As far as the LSAT I'm putting in at least 2 hours right now after coming home from work. I hope to perform better in my next prep test.

All the feedback provided here is very appreciated.


I wouldn't sweat the gpa thing....how long ago were your BAD grades? If they are 10 + years ago, and your more recent grades are very good, they probably won't hold the old grades against you. Just write an addendum, encouraging them to judge your ability based on your newer grades. I was in a very similar situation and it worked out fine.
The key is gonna be that LSAT. Get that score up and you'll be fine.

mhernton
Posts: 174
Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 12:07 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby mhernton » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:17 pm

Dude, I'm 33, and had a 2.2UGPA and a 155 LSAT, I'm also a URM. I have a story that may be a little more interesting than your's and lots of softs. I got into a top 30 school. Everyone has been encouraging to you and rightly so. The LSAT/GPA combination loses its weight with older students that have work experience. The LSAT can be practiced and gamed. You'll need to pay for a good tutor, or class, but you can get your score up. Make sure you convey everything you told up in your statements, and you'll get in somewhere. Just make sure the somewhere is worth it.

User avatar
kazu
Posts: 1602
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 9:35 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby kazu » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:18 pm

jmvargas wrote:What a bummer. After your responses I realized that my overall UC GPA of 3.83 will be dragged down to a meager 3.1 or so after they take into account my miserable grades from JC. Would it be a good idea to include an addendum in an attempt to explain my low performance in my early academic career? I mean basically I had to learn everything most people learn in high school while in JC and that is reflected in my grades. Once I transferred to UC I had a very good grip on what was expected of me and academically I had improved drastically, culminating in a overall UC GPA of 3.83.

Anyway, to summarize I had been gauging my chances (mistakenly) based on my UC GPA of 3.83. With the new information regarding the LSDAS GPA calculations, should I aim at the lower ranked schools then?

As far as the LSAT I'm putting in at least 2 hours right now after coming home from work. I hope to perform better in my next prep test.

All the feedback provided here is very appreciated.


Yes, you should include an addendum, especially given your unique circumstances. Make sure it's well written and concise though - there should be a bunch of threads here somewhere that explain how to do that.

Also, without a confirmed LSDAS GPA and an actual LSAT score, it's really hard to tell where you should aim for in terms of schools... Study hard, effectively, and like autarkh said look through the LSAT prep forum - there's a whole lot of really good info there about how to study for the LSAT. Once you have an LSAT score, people will be able to give you better advice concerning apps and stuff.

In short, just focus on the LSAT for now. It's really the most important factor, and it's one that you can actually control (to some extent). I know the low diagnostic can be discouraging, but plenty of people here have gone from 150s (or even lower) to 165+s.

User avatar
AngryAvocado
Posts: 776
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:22 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby AngryAvocado » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:24 pm

reverendt wrote:
jmvargas wrote:What a bummer. After your responses I realized that my overall UC GPA of 3.83 will be dragged down to a meager 3.1 or so after they take into account my miserable grades from JC. Would it be a good idea to include an addendum in an attempt to explain my low performance in my early academic career? I mean basically I had to learn everything most people learn in high school while in JC and that is reflected in my grades. Once I transferred to UC I had a very good grip on what was expected of me and academically I had improved drastically, culminating in a overall UC GPA of 3.83.

Anyway, to summarize I had been gauging my chances (mistakenly) based on my UC GPA of 3.83. With the new information regarding the LSDAS GPA calculations, should I aim at the lower ranked schools then?

As far as the LSAT I'm putting in at least 2 hours right now after coming home from work. I hope to perform better in my next prep test.

All the feedback provided here is very appreciated.


I wouldn't sweat the gpa thing....how long ago were your BAD grades? If they are 10 + years ago, and your more recent grades are very good, they probably won't hold the old grades against you. Just write an addendum, encouraging them to judge your ability based on your newer grades. I was in a very similar situation and it worked out fine.
The key is gonna be that LSAT. Get that score up and you'll be fine.


Being a URM with either GPA or LSAT above median is a pretty strong place to be, particularly if you have an inspiring story. Having both numbers below median is a different story, which is all the more reason to get that LSAT up. The good news is that a cold 150 isn't at all bad (hell, technically it's better than what 50% of people get on the real thing after practice). My advice would be to not set a particular target (if anything, shoot for a 180), follow the advice on this board, and practice practice practice. Good luck!

Edit: I'd also advise against writing an addendum, and letting your personal statement tell your story, but that's just my opinion.

User avatar
autarkh
Posts: 314
Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:05 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby autarkh » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:58 pm

jmvargas wrote:What a bummer. After your responses I realized that my overall UC GPA of 3.83 will be dragged down to a meager 3.1 or so after they take into account my miserable grades from JC. Would it be a good idea to include an addendum in an attempt to explain my low performance in my early academic career? I mean basically I had to learn everything most people learn in high school while in JC and that is reflected in my grades. Once I transferred to UC I had a very good grip on what was expected of me and academically I had improved drastically, culminating in a overall UC GPA of 3.83.

Anyway, to summarize I had been gauging my chances (mistakenly) based on my UC GPA of 3.83. With the new information regarding the LSDAS GPA calculations, should I aim at the lower ranked schools then?

As far as the LSAT I'm putting in at least 2 hours right now after coming home from work. I hope to perform better in my next prep test.

All the feedback provided here is very appreciated.


A couple of things:

Whereas most people who write an addendum are just trying to make themselves feel better, you have a genuine reason to do it. You probably went to a terrible high school, and since you dropped out, you had to develop your study skills in JC while being exposed to a lot of difficult material for the very first time (as well as holding down a job). The issue wasn't lack of a work ethic or academic ability, as your later grades demonstrate. A 3.83 is at least magna cum laude, no? That's a big deal. I think it would be possible and advantageous to write an effective addendum. Make sure you get it critiqued, though.

Law school predictor is an incredibly useful tool. Not only can you gauge your chances, but there's also a GPA calculator so you can estimate your LSDAS GPA prior to submitting your transcript.

Even if everything else is perfect, you still need a good LSAT score. Making that happen should occupy the bulk of your current effort.

jmvargas
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:05 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby jmvargas » Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:55 am

Right on guys, thank you so much for all your responses. My main focus right now will be the LSAT for sure, at least 3 hours daily from now on. My goal is to reach at least the mid 160 area which I think is fairly realistic. The most difficult part of the LSAT has been the logic games. In the other sections I'm getting at least 80% of the answers correctly (under timed conditions) Damn logic games! Anyway, here's a list of the schools I have in mind:

UW Madison, Marquette, U of New Mex, Hastings, Santa Clara, UC Davis, U of Oregon, Seattle, Saint Mary's, (Berkeley and Stanford, a bit unrealistic but might as well :D)

User avatar
autarkh
Posts: 314
Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:05 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby autarkh » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:01 am

jmvargas wrote:Right on guys, thank you so much for all your responses. My main focus right now will be the LSAT for sure, at least 3 hours daily from now on. My goal is to reach at least the mid 160 area which I think is fairly realistic. The most difficult part of the LSAT has been the logic games. In the other sections I'm getting at least 80% of the answers correctly (under timed conditions) Damn logic games! Anyway, here's a list of the schools I have in mind:

UW Madison, Marquette, U of New Mex, Hastings, Santa Clara, UC Davis, U of Oregon, Seattle, Saint Mary's, (Berkeley and Stanford, a bit unrealistic but might as well :D)


Seattle will take your UC / Degree GPA rather than the cumulative. If you hit your target LSAT, you should be a lock there with $$$. And you'd definitely stand a chance at a lot of those other schools.

SimplyC26
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:14 pm

Re: High school drop out, URM, older student. GPA 3.8/LSAT 150

Postby SimplyC26 » Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:29 am

I commend you for being able to even put yourself in a position to apply to law school. I'm in somewhat of a similar situation (started off horribly in college, took a few years off and have performed at a high level ever since (abysmal grades are from 01-05)), for applicants like us I think the LSAT will be the most crucial factor. The higher our score, the more I believe schools will be inclined to consider the merit of our degree gpa. That said, if you crack atleast a 160, blanket from Columbia to GULC. Anything over a 165 and you should send in an app to Harvard and Stanford as well.




Return to “Under Represented Law Student Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: drumpf and 1 guest