Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

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prezidentv8
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby prezidentv8 » Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:55 pm

somewhatwayward wrote:
edit: since it is still pretty difficult to get a 3.7 or so at stanford, this doesn'tmean that you should go to stanford to try to gain an edge in LS admissions.


From what I've been told about Stanford, this is not the case. Everyone I know who has gone there has said how easy it is once you're in. Maybe depends on the program...?

Big Dog
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby Big Dog » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:25 pm

since it is still pretty difficult to get a 3.7 or so at stanford...


Ummm, not really. Stanford has the best grade inflation on the west coast. As recently as 2005, the mean gpa of its grads was a 3.55, and that includes their engineers. Approx half of all grades were A or A-.

drsomebody
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby drsomebody » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:29 pm

From my experience having attended a full spectrum of academic institutions (a nowhere community college, a low-ranked state school, a high-ranked state school, and one of HYP) - the importance of undergrad prestige come primarily in terms of providing a much easier pathway to build the kinds of amazing "soft" factors that will help. You will also get significantly more support in preparing your applications from a higher ranked school. Neither of these are inconsequential and will give most students who attend these sorts of institutions a much better shot at a top-ranked law school.

This is because schools like HYP are *designed* to launch students into professional and academic careers. Want to get a Rhodes scholarship? Princeton, Yale, and Harvard have programs that will walk you through the application and help target and edit your essays. My crappy state school? They probably didn't even know what a Rhodes scholarship is. Want the chance to volunteer to build orphanages abroad? To get research funding as an undergraduate? To prepare your Teach for America application? All of these are MUCH easier to do at a higher ranked school.

Need to send out transcripts at the last minute? That's free and easy at a top ranked private school. It'll take money and weeks of time at a crappy state school. You trying to apply to law school? A place like Princeton will have an entire office dedicated to helping you out with that sort of problem. A crappy state school might have somebody who encourages you to apply to the local TTT because it's a "good value." These sorts of things can make a big difference in applications.

I actually wish I'd have gone to a better school as an undergrad because I would almost certainly have been guided to apply for at least one of the major fellowships and taken advantage of stronger research support. I was still able to do a lot as an undergrad, especially in terms of research (and get accepted into a very good Ph.D. program) but everything I accomplished was done through my own tenacity. It would have been nice to attend a school that didn't just treat me like a number.

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prezidentv8
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby prezidentv8 » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:32 pm

drsomebody wrote:From my experience having attended a full spectrum of academic institutions (a nowhere community college, a low-ranked state school, a high-ranked state school, and one of HYP) - the importance of undergrad prestige come primarily in terms of providing a much easier pathway to build the kinds of amazing "soft" factors that will help. You will also get significantly more support in preparing your applications from a higher ranked school. Neither of these are inconsequential and will give most students who attend these sorts of institutions a much better shot at a top-ranked law school.

This is because schools like HYP are *designed* to launch students into professional and academic careers. Want to get a Rhodes scholarship? Princeton, Yale, and Harvard have programs that will walk you through the application and help target and edit your essays. My crappy state school? They probably didn't even know what a Rhodes scholarship is. Want the chance to volunteer to build orphanages abroad? To get research funding as an undergraduate? To prepare your Teach for America application? All of these are MUCH easier to do at a higher ranked school.

Need to send out transcripts at the last minute? That's free and easy at a top ranked private school. It'll take money and weeks of time at a crappy state school. You trying to apply to law school? A place like Princeton will have an entire office dedicated to helping you out with that sort of problem. A crappy state school might have somebody who encourages you to apply to the local TTT because it's a "good value." These sorts of things can make a big difference in applications.

I actually wish I'd have gone to a better school as an undergrad because I would almost certainly have been guided to apply for at least one of the major fellowships and taken advantage of stronger research support. I was still able to do a lot as an undergrad, especially in terms of research (and get accepted into a very good Ph.D. program) but everything I accomplished was done through my own tenacity. It would have been nice to attend a school that didn't just treat me like a number.


Based on my experiences, this is unbelievably true and, ipso facto, TCR.

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somewhatwayward
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby somewhatwayward » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:36 pm

the rest of what you said was true, but.....

Need to send out transcripts at the last minute? That's free and easy at a top ranked private school.


....this, not so much. at my T-5, you had to complete a paper form and pay (it was originally three but went up to four, i think?). you could either mail the form to them with the money or you could schlep all the way to the registrar.

drsomebody
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby drsomebody » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:44 pm

somewhatwayward wrote:the rest of what you said was true, but.....

Need to send out transcripts at the last minute? That's free and easy at a top ranked private school.


....this, not so much. at my T-5, you had to complete a paper form and pay (it was originally three but went up to four, i think?). you could either mail the form to them with the money or you could schlep all the way to the registrar.


Your "T-5" is clearly not a 'top school' of the same caliber as my present institution which sends free transcripts (dipped in real gold, I might add) - I hope you enjoyed your overpriced and crappy education ;)

But seriously. The transcript issue may vary from school to school, but in general higher ranked schools will have a more efficient and student-centered bureaucratic apparatus. You can't imagine the hell I went trough getting transcripts from my crappy out-of-state community college. They showed up in the LSAC system well over a month after I requested them.

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somewhatwayward
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby somewhatwayward » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:58 pm

prezidentv8 wrote:From what I've been told about Stanford, this is not the case. Everyone I know who has gone there has said how easy it is once you're in. Maybe depends on the program...?


Ummm, not really. Stanford has the best grade inflation on the west coast. As recently as 2005, the mean gpa of its grads was a 3.55, and that includes their engineers. Approx half of all grades were A or A-.


there may be a lot of As and A-s available, but you still have to beat out 2/3 or so of your stanford peers to get your 3.7, and that is not a piece-of-cake.

i don't think it is unreasonable at all to think that someone who got a 3.7 at stanford would get a higher GPA at *most* less competitive colleges. my reasoning is that although there may be less As avilable, there is also less competition for them. SATs are crude instruments to measure college performance, but someone's 2100 is 50th percentile at stanford but might be 95th percentile at his/her flagship state school.

anyway, i think LS admissions recognize this to some extent, which is why you see slightly lower average numbers among kids matriculating from T-5 schools. i think the schools strike a reasonable balance, though. like someone said, you can see that HLS has kids from all sorts of colleges, and where you went to college is not an insurmountable barrier in gaining admission.

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somewhatwayward
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby somewhatwayward » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:59 pm

drsomebody wrote:
somewhatwayward wrote:the rest of what you said was true, but.....

Need to send out transcripts at the last minute? That's free and easy at a top ranked private school.


....this, not so much. at my T-5, you had to complete a paper form and pay (it was originally three but went up to four, i think?). you could either mail the form to them with the money or you could schlep all the way to the registrar.


Your "T-5" is clearly not a 'top school' of the same caliber as my present institution which sends free transcripts (dipped in real gold, I might add) - I hope you enjoyed your overpriced and crappy education ;)

But seriously. The transcript issue may vary from school to school, but in general higher ranked schools will have a more efficient and student-centered bureaucratic apparatus. You can't imagine the hell I went trough getting transcripts from my crappy out-of-state community college. They showed up in the LSAC system well over a month after I requested them.


yeah my school was not exactly known for being efficient or even trying to seem as if they were trying to be efficient

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los blancos
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby los blancos » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:24 am

Big Dog wrote:
since it is still pretty difficult to get a 3.7 or so at stanford...


Ummm, not really. Stanford has the best grade inflation on the west coast. As recently as 2005, the mean gpa of its grads was a 3.55, and that includes their engineers. Approx half of all grades were A or A-.


You can't make this assumption. It depends a lot by major and sometimes those statistics are very, very misleading.

The GPA college mean on my academic summary report is almost 3.5. Of course, that's not a real mean GPA since there's natural selection of higher GPAs going on, but it's fair to say that my UG is what most people would call grade-inflated.

Except this is what is sort of strange: The cut-off for cum laude is around 3.7. Means everyone gets latin honors, right? Wrong. Only the top 16% of the class in our college of arts & sciences gets any sort of latin designation. A-s at our school are 3.7, not 3.66. Our average GPA is inflated as hell, but less than a fifth of our students maintain an A- average or better. So basically, what this is means, is that Bs are easy as hell to get at my UG (and this is definitely true in my experience, you have to turn in dog shit to get in real trouble), but As are ridiculously hard to get.

Now let me throw another rut into the equation. I have two majors. Both of them are social sciences. One isn't curved, with rare exceptions. The other is entirely curved. For the major that is curved, grades are distributed approximately normally with a median of B- or B. It's very possible to go to a grade-inflated school and end up in a major that places you in some of the most competitive UG environments in the world. This is ESPECIALLY true at top UGs since you're essentially competing against kids that were all smart as hell to begin with.


In a nutshell, btw, the above is the other reason (the main one being that they care about their medians and the numbers they report to USNWR) why schools don't give a shit about UG institution and usually don't care about major: They don't have the time to separate the two and truly evaluate how difficult someone's UG experience is. Whereas someone majoring in Comm or Music or Journalism at my school can EASILY pull a 3.9, it's ridiculously hard for an Econ or Stats major to do the same.

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clevinger33
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby clevinger33 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:31 am

boilercat wrote: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.


I have nothing to contribute to this discussion, I just wanted to say I love your avatar. They played at my school a couple of years back and I got to meet Matt and one of the Dessner brothers (Aaron, I think?). Really cool guys, really great band.


It was also awesome because I was standing like five feet away from them on the stage.

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los blancos
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby los blancos » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:39 am

clevinger33 wrote:
boilercat wrote: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.


I have nothing to contribute to this discussion, I just wanted to say I love your avatar. They played at my school a couple of years back and I got to meet Matt and one of the Dessner brothers (Aaron, I think?). Really cool guys, really great band.


It was also awesome because I was standing like five feet away from them on the stage.


I'm very jealous. They're definitely in my top 5 of bands I want to see live (off the top of my head, only superseded by Interpol and Explosions in the Sky)

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clevinger33
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby clevinger33 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:55 am

boilercat wrote:
clevinger33 wrote:
boilercat wrote: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.


I have nothing to contribute to this discussion, I just wanted to say I love your avatar. They played at my school a couple of years back and I got to meet Matt and one of the Dessner brothers (Aaron, I think?). Really cool guys, really great band.


It was also awesome because I was standing like five feet away from them on the stage.


I'm very jealous. They're definitely in my top 5 of bands I want to see live (off the top of my head, only superseded by Interpol and Explosions in the Sky)


They were great live, although the venue kind of sucked. It was a homecoming weekend type thing and they played in broad daylight on a platform in the middle of a quad, while most of the people were sitting 500 ft away from the stage or busy getting free dinner from the food stands. So the ambiance kind of sucked, but being able to pretty much reach out and touch the band (and getting to meet them) more than made up for it.

I'm not a huge Interpol fan (only know a couple of their songs), but I'd definitely second Explosions in the Sky as a band I'd love to see live. A lot of my friends went and saw them a couple of years back, and they said the concert was insane.

[/off topic]

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los blancos
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby los blancos » Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:09 am

predetermined wrote:I seem to recall that Stanford lets you drop classes right before finals without penalty. Just putting that out there.


Whoa...

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ConMan345
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby ConMan345 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:18 am

predetermined wrote:I seem to recall that Stanford lets you drop classes right before finals without penalty. Just putting that out there.


False. Drop deadline is three weeks in.

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ConMan345
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby ConMan345 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:26 am

predetermined wrote:
ConMan345 wrote:
predetermined wrote:I seem to recall that Stanford lets you drop classes right before finals without penalty. Just putting that out there.


False. Drop deadline is three weeks in.

Really? Maybe they changed it then. My information is years old.


It used to be pretty late, like halfway into the quarter, but not just before finals. They changed it, since that's a little silly. If something catastrophic happens close to finals or during, you can usually just take an incomplete and finish it up later, making dropping so late moot.

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im_blue
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby im_blue » Fri Jan 22, 2010 6:01 am

predetermined wrote:I seem to recall that Stanford lets you drop classes right before finals without penalty. Just putting that out there.


They changed the drop deadline to the end of the 3rd week, but you can withdraw by the end of the 8th week.

jeeli
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby jeeli » Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:05 am

drsomebody wrote:From my experience having attended a full spectrum of academic institutions (a nowhere community college, a low-ranked state school, a high-ranked state school, and one of HYP) - the importance of undergrad prestige come primarily in terms of providing a much easier pathway to build the kinds of amazing "soft" factors that will help. You will also get significantly more support in preparing your applications from a higher ranked school. Neither of these are inconsequential and will give most students who attend these sorts of institutions a much better shot at a top-ranked law school.

This is because schools like HYP are *designed* to launch students into professional and academic careers. Want to get a Rhodes scholarship? Princeton, Yale, and Harvard have programs that will walk you through the application and help target and edit your essays. My crappy state school? They probably didn't even know what a Rhodes scholarship is. Want the chance to volunteer to build orphanages abroad? To get research funding as an undergraduate? To prepare your Teach for America application? All of these are MUCH easier to do at a higher ranked school.

Need to send out transcripts at the last minute? That's free and easy at a top ranked private school. It'll take money and weeks of time at a crappy state school. You trying to apply to law school? A place like Princeton will have an entire office dedicated to helping you out with that sort of problem. A crappy state school might have somebody who encourages you to apply to the local TTT because it's a "good value." These sorts of things can make a big difference in applications.

I actually wish I'd have gone to a better school as an undergrad because I would almost certainly have been guided to apply for at least one of the major fellowships and taken advantage of stronger research support. I was still able to do a lot as an undergrad, especially in terms of research (and get accepted into a very good Ph.D. program) but everything I accomplished was done through my own tenacity. It would have been nice to attend a school that didn't just treat me like a number.


best answer I have read on TLS regarding this topic.

bahama
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby bahama » Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:41 pm

drsomebody has TCR to the original question. Nice post.

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rayiner
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Re: Importance of undergrade prestige for T14?

Postby rayiner » Fri Jan 22, 2010 4:15 pm

my reasoning is that although there may be less As avilable, there is also less competition for them. SATs are crude instruments to measure college performance, but someone's 2100 is 50th percentile at stanford but might be 95th percentile at his/her flagship state school.


Possibly, but that doesn't mean that someone who got median at Stanford would've been able to get 95th percentile at a state school.

Let's look at the underlying math. One of the strongest correlations between a standardized exam and a real measure is LSAT with bar exam performance (at 0.5). What does that correlation mean?

A group, A, that is one standard deviation above another group, B, will tend to score 0.5 standard deviations higher on the bar exam multiple-choice section. Ie: If a group with a 160 mean LSATs scores median on the multiple-choice of the bar exam, then a group with 170 mean LSATs will tend to score 67th percentile.

Now, consider that even at a top school, the coursework really rewards hard work more than intelligence. You can get A's by turning in competent work regularly and on time.* There is almost certainly a lower correlation between SAT scores and competitiveness in a classroom environment than between LSAT scores and bar exam scores. So in practice being even 1 standard deviation higher in SAT scores is going to lead to a much less than 1 standard deviation higher level of classroom competitiveness.

*) My brother is a physics/math major at a HYP. He notes that having a natural talent for the material is crucial for his major, but whenever he's taken courses in political-science, etc, he's found them to be much less intellectually demanding.




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