Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

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Birchwood
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Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby Birchwood » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:06 am

How much of an difference does the prestige of your undergrad institution make in T14 admissions? I'm in the middle of transferring from a T30 undergrad and am curious about whether I should just apply to a middle-of-the-road state school (I'm a CA resident, so UCD, UCSB) and be at the top of my classes or attempt another T30 school and be about the 75 percentile.

I've noticed the class profiles of the top law schools are heavily skewed towards traditionally prestigious universities, but is that because they are rejecting well qualified applicants from decent schools (T40-T50), or simply that fewer people from these schools apply to top law programs?
Last edited by Birchwood on Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Iuvo
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby Iuvo » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:19 am


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los blancos
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby los blancos » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:20 am

The general consensus on TLS seems to be that it doesn't matter unless you went to HYP, and even then it's not a major factor. Some do claim that schools like UChicago and Columbia seem to favor prestigious UGs.

Like you mentioned in your post, there's a pretty decent correlation between UG and LSAT scores (e.g., at my school the average is 162 and a solid 25% of my classmates scored 95th percentile or above), so I personally think that explains much of why prestigious UGs are well-represented in the T14.

My advice? Go to wherever you'll find a good work/life balance (i.e., do your best and have a good time, too). Also keep in mind that you may find out at some point that you don't want to go to law school, so employment prospects should be in the back of your head to a certain extent.

FWIW I went to a fairly good state school and transferred to a T15. I won't say it was the wrong decision because I love it here, but it was a significant step up in difficulty and my GPA would likely have been significantly higher had I stayed where I was.

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reebtoor
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby reebtoor » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:21 am

It really is a numbers game. If you go to a crappy undergrad institution (like I do), a high LSAT score will validate a strong GPA. My LSAT is not even that high, but I'm getting in to all of the places my numbers say i should. The school you attend is far less important. I would go wherever you feel you will get the highest grades.

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PDaddy
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby PDaddy » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:27 am

The UG "tiers" are more generous.

T-10: PHYS-CtMIT-PCCD

#11-25

#26-50

#51-75

#76-99

#101-125

(not much of a drop in quality #76-125)

Then there's the rest (i.e., UG TTT)

The top 50 includes "Public Ivy's" like UNC, UC-Davis and GA-Tech, and "Southern Ivy's" like Emory, Florida and Tulane. Those are very prestigious schools. If you went to "Cal St. Desert Dirt" and got a 4.0, it will not mean the same as earning a 4.0 from PHYS-CtMIT-PCCD. That said, a high GPA from any top-125 school with a good LSAT score will put you in great position. But elite law schools DO compare schools, if just a little.
Last edited by PDaddy on Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:02 am, edited 5 times in total.

Birchwood
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby Birchwood » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:52 am

Thanks for the input. I guess based on student profiles, it really is just hard to believe that UG has so little importance. Obviously there's a selection bias, but I wouldn't have thought it would be so severe...

bfarring
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby bfarring » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:57 am

I look at it this way: of the things schools report about their admitted applicants, the numbers (GPA LSAT) are much more visible and reported then the undergrad that the admits attended (although if you look through a school's website you will probably, eventually come across a list). They want those numbers first and foremost to both boost their admit stats and to see if you would be in their league if you went to their school.

As for your situation, I would imagine that any UC school (besides Riverside, Santa Cruz or Merced, sorry, not yet people) with a good GPA would be a contender anywhere. Although Berkeley, LA and SD all have a reputation for being very hard at the undergrad level so if you manage to get in, that might be worth a slightly lower GPA. If you're at a UC right now with a good GPA (3.5+) transferring to LA or SD is quite possible (unless you want to study in an impacted major, ie biochem/most engineering).

Also might want to consider USC too. They take transfers with good transcripts and give out scholarship money like candy.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:03 am

http://www.law.harvard.edu/prospective/jd/apply/undergrads.html

That's just Harvard Law. Just one school. Look at how many different UGs are represented there! 283 schools! There are 7 schools in the UC system currently represented there.

Law schools don't really care where you went or what you majored in. What they care about is that you were the best at what you did, where you did it. If you can show them that, that's all that matters.

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Lomax
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby Lomax » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:11 am

Nobody who plans on going to law school should, in my humble opinion, go through an expensive and/or competitive undergraduate program. Doing so will only add to one's expenses and possibly debt, which could be enormous considering the cost of law school alone, and/or potentially significantly diminish one's chances of getting into a preferable law school while increasing the effort one must put into one's studies.

Also, nobody who plans on going to law school should choose a difficult major (except for, possibly, those who desire to do patent law). Extreme risk for almost no reward.

It might not look good to transfer down the rankings, but doing so would probably be for the best.

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los blancos
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby los blancos » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:18 am

Lomax wrote:Nobody who plans on going to law school should, in my humble opinion, go through an expensive and/or competitive undergraduate program. Doing so will only add to one's expenses and possibly debt, which could be enormous considering the cost of law school alone, and/or potentially significantly diminish one's chances of getting into a preferable law school while increasing the effort one must put into one's studies.

Also, nobody who plans on going to law school should choose a difficult major (except for, possibly, those who desire to do patent law). Extreme risk for almost no reward.

It might not look good to transfer down the rankings, but doing so would probably be for the best.



Yeah, but you're forgetting two things:
-Having a backup plan in case someone either fails on the LSAT or just decides law isn't for them
-The value of a good UG academic experience

Birchwood
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby Birchwood » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:21 am

That's good to know, and I guess my own experiences honestly corroborate that. I was at highly competitive university for 2 years (taking this yr off to transfer) and it's just nearly impossible to stand out from the crowd when so many of your well-qualified peers are all competing for the same limited number of leadership positions/top grades.

And that's kind of the same with the top UC's...I have the stats for Berkeley/LA, but have little desire to attend since I'd hardly stand out among a crowd of similar high-achievers. From what I hear, the undergrad education isn't substantially superior at Berkeley/LA anyway.

Awesome. I'm now actually fairly optimistic about transferring...even though I worked my butt off to get into the school I'm leaving, hopefully I'll be able to save some money and inflate my GPA.

Birchwood
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby Birchwood » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:26 am

To expand on that...I feel like hyper-competitive boards like this often forget about the importance of quality-of-life factors. Even though I'm trying to build the best grad school/law school resume I can, I hope to not do so at the expense of my happiness and well-being.


boilercat wrote:
Lomax wrote:Nobody who plans on going to law school should, in my humble opinion, go through an expensive and/or competitive undergraduate program. Doing so will only add to one's expenses and possibly debt, which could be enormous considering the cost of law school alone, and/or potentially significantly diminish one's chances of getting into a preferable law school while increasing the effort one must put into one's studies.

Also, nobody who plans on going to law school should choose a difficult major (except for, possibly, those who desire to do patent law). Extreme risk for almost no reward.

It might not look good to transfer down the rankings, but doing so would probably be for the best.



Yeah, but you're forgetting two things:
-Having a backup plan in case someone either fails on the LSAT or just decides law isn't for them
-The value of a good UG academic experience

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Lomax
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby Lomax » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:29 am

boilercat wrote:Yeah, but you're forgetting two things:
-Having a backup plan in case someone either fails on the LSAT or just decides law isn't for them
-The value of a good UG academic experience


Actually, I forgot to add that anyone planning on going to law school should test the water on the LSAT even before becoming an undergraduate. As for "what if they decide that law isn't for them" - well, then what if they decide that the job field that whatever hard major leads to isn't for them? As for the value of a good UG academic experience - priorities. If you think that a good UG academic experience is worth many thousands of dollars lost in future earnings, then I think you might be unique, at least in that respect. Also, I went with an easy major and feel that I had a perfectly good UG academic experience, without any horrific downside whatsoever.

Birchwood wrote:To expand on that...I feel like hyper-competitive boards like this often forget about the importance of quality-of-life factors. Even though I'm trying to build the best grad school/law school resume I can, I hope to not do so at the expense of my happiness and well-being.


I would think that your happiness and well-being would benefit from lowering the demand placed on you by your coursework. Less stress, more time to enjoy the fabled "college life" that you may have to miss out on otherwise should you still be giving yourself a decent chance at getting into a preferred law school.

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BioEBear2010
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby BioEBear2010 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:36 am

Lomax wrote:Also, nobody who plans on going to law school should choose a difficult major (except for, possibly, those who desire to do patent law). Extreme risk for almost no reward.


I disagree. I think that students should choose whatever major will make them happiest (as cliche as that sounds). You will do the best in the major that you find the most interesting. Many of my engineering friends and I love the material that we are studying, and have done well as a result -- even though our majors can be thought of as "difficult."

I do concede that it is extremely risky to major in the hard sciences. However, I don't think that "nobody who plans on going to law school should choose a difficult major." It's simply the right call for some people. And for the very top schools, there does seem to be a reward for difficult majors. Probably not too much of a bump, but it is certainly there.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:37 am

BioEBear2010 wrote:
Lomax wrote:Also, nobody who plans on going to law school should choose a difficult major (except for, possibly, those who desire to do patent law). Extreme risk for almost no reward.


I disagree. I think that students should choose whatever major will make them happiest (as cliche as that sounds). You will do the best in the major that you find the most interesting. Many of my engineering friends and I love the material that we are studying, and have done well as a result -- even though our majors can be thought of as "difficult."

I do concede that it is extremely risky to major in the hard sciences. However, I don't think that "nobody who plans on going to law school should choose a difficult major." It's simply the right call for some people. And for the very top schools, there does seem to be a reward for difficult majors. Probably not too much of a bump, but it is certainly there.

Maybe by "difficult" he means "difficult to stay awake in because you're so bored". :wink:

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BioEBear2010
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby BioEBear2010 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:38 am

vanwinkle wrote:Maybe by "difficult" he means "difficult to stay awake in because you're so bored". :wink:


Haha, if that's the case then I agree 100%.

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Iuvo
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby Iuvo » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:39 am


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prezidentv8
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby prezidentv8 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:40 am

Just to jump in, as this seems to be my favorite frequently-occurring discussion, I'm of the opinion that it does matter. Sure, there is something of a self-selection bias, but there definitely is something to be said for the potential fact that a guy like me - read: average state school, pretty good but not extraordinary GPA, solid LSAT - will be looked upon with some suspicion when compared with someone from a more reputable school with comparable numbers. Consider how these hypothetical applicants look to you:

CSU Los Angeles, 3.75, 170 LSAT
UC Berkeley, 3.75, 170 LSAT

Now, even assuming there was a slight GPA difference in favor of the CSU guy, who is a more impressive candidate on paper, and what are the odds that slight differences in GPA will influence admissions/entrance stats. that matter?

This is not to say that I would argue that UG institution is going to give someone a significant boost, but that there probably is something of a "tie goes to the runner" (in favor of schools with a reputation) mentality in most admissions offices, at least in regard to borderline candidates. There's probably something similar that goes on with respect to a candidate's major as well.

Granted, it could be that my personal experience with waitlisting is just influencing me more than it should.

I think the takeaway is that the difference in how you're looked at as measured by your undergraduate institution is not a cause for personal concern, in general, but still might be a slight factor in admissions. My solution? Validate your awesomeness with a smokin LSAT score.

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PDaddy
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby PDaddy » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:46 am

I agree with the above comments. Pretty much what I was saying earlier.

Birchwood
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby Birchwood » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:50 am

I agree it makes sense that based on equal GPA/LSAT, the edge would likely go to the stronger university. However, I feel like applicants can probably balance out that slight edge with soft factors that might be a little easier to come by at less competitive UG's (e.g. exceptional recs, unique experiences, leadership, etc.)


prezidentv8 wrote:Just to jump in, as this seems to be my favorite frequently-occurring discussion, I'm of the opinion that it does matter. Sure, there is something of a self-selection bias, but there definitely is something to be said for the potential fact that a guy like me - read: average state school, pretty good but not extraordinary GPA, solid LSAT - will be looked upon with some suspicion when compared with someone from a more reputable school with comparable numbers. Consider how these hypothetical applicants look to you:

CSU Los Angeles, 3.75, 170 LSAT
UC Berkeley, 3.75, 170 LSAT

Now, even assuming there was a slight GPA difference in favor of the CSU guy, who is a more impressive candidate on paper, and what are the odds that slight differences in GPA will influence admissions/entrance stats. that matter?

This is not to say that I would argue that UG institution is going to give someone a significant boost, but that there probably is something of a "tie goes to the runner" (in favor of schools with a reputation) mentality in most admissions offices, at least in regard to borderline candidates. There's probably something similar that goes on with respect to a candidate's major as well.

Granted, it could be that my personal experience with waitlisting is just influencing me more than it should.

I think the takeaway is that the difference in how you're looked at as measured by your undergraduate institution is not a cause for personal concern, in general, but still might be a slight factor in admissions. My solution? Validate your awesomeness with a smokin LSAT score.

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prezidentv8
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby prezidentv8 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:00 am

Birchwood wrote:I agree it makes sense that based on equal GPA/LSAT, the edge would likely go to the stronger university. However, I feel like applicants can probably balance out that slight edge with soft factors that might be a little easier to come by at less competitive UG's (e.g. exceptional recs, unique experiences, leadership, etc.)


This is probably true. Especially if you go somewhere with a faculty focus on teaching instead of research and many extracurricular opportunities.

elcamino
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby elcamino » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:24 am

What do the last 4 letters of "T-10: PHYS-CtMIT-PCCD" stand for?

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im_blue
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby im_blue » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:29 am

elcamino wrote:What do the last 4 letters of "T-10: PHYS-CtMIT-PCCD" stand for?


Penn Columbia Chicago Duke

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Lomax
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby Lomax » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:40 am

BioEBear2010 wrote:I disagree. I think that students should choose whatever major will make them happiest (as cliche as that sounds). You will do the best in the major that you find the most interesting. Many of my engineering friends and I love the material that we are studying, and have done well as a result -- even though our majors can be thought of as "difficult."


If you love the coursework associated with your major and, as a result of that, find it easy, then your major would not qualify as a difficult one, in your case, would it (though it might still be a better respected one)? If someone with no such clear interest chooses to major in engineering over, say, geography, simply because they think it necessary to do so in order to produce a good-looking resume, I would bet that they would almost always end up with a lower GPA.

BioEBear2010 wrote:And for the very top schools, there does seem to be a reward for difficult majors. Probably not too much of a bump, but it is certainly there.


If you kill your GPA by majoring in math/econ, you won't even be in contention for the very top schools. Nobody here would rather put a significantly lower GPA with a more respectable major in front of an admissions committee rather than a very strong GPA with a ho-hum major. Majors seem to act as tiebreakers - nothing more. Though I suppose it is possible that certain rare gatekeepers might think differently.

In regards to borderline candidates from lesser-respected schools and/or with lesser-respected majors potentially losing out to ones from better-respected schools and/or with better-respected majors - key here is that had the former candidate gone to a better-respected school and/or chosen a better-respected major, he or she probably would have been an auto-reject instead of a borderline candidate, given the hit his or her GPA would almost certainly have taken.

Birchwood wrote:soft factors that might be a little easier to come by at less competitive UG's (e.g. exceptional recs, unique experiences, leadership, etc.)


Another good argument against attending a competitive school in preparation for law school.

Birchwood
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby Birchwood » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:59 am

Lomax wrote:In regards to borderline candidates from lesser-respected schools and/or with lesser-respected majors potentially losing out to ones from better-respected schools and/or with better-respected majors - key here is that had the former candidate gone to a better-respected school and/or chosen a better-respected major, he or she probably would have been an auto-reject instead of a borderline candidate, given the hit his or her GPA would almost certainly have taken.


Good point, which make me wonder why the hell we all work so hard to get into great (and $$) undergrads when going to a decent school would actually end up putting you ahead of the game in terms of both grad school admission and debt.
Obviously a good number of high school seniors haven't figured out their post-UG plans, but it's safe to say that many of the bright/overachieving kids that end up at top UG's are planning on some kind of post-graduate study that would benefit from having big fish in a small pond type credentials. Not to mention substantially less stress.




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