Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

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kazu
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby kazu » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:35 pm

Just wondering.. will there be anyone pre-college reading this advice? (and looking in the Admissions forum for it?) I mean, it's all great advice and all, but...

sch6les
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Postby sch6les » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:53 pm

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Last edited by sch6les on Tue May 01, 2012 6:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

sluguy14
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby sluguy14 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:54 pm

kazu wrote:Just wondering.. will there be anyone pre-college reading this advice? (and looking in the Admissions forum for it?) I mean, it's all great advice and all, but...


Probably not, but people around here like to play in "what-ifs." Advice like this obviously isn't going to help the vast majority of juniors/seniors/law students that frequent these boards, but no harm no foul.

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existenz
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby existenz » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:13 pm

I agree with OP on two points in particular, because they are the reasons for the only two B's I received in undergrad.

--Group project classes. I took one acting class where we were judged based on these short skits, and I was paired up with an obese drama queen and a no-talent bozo. They never had time to practice, we had terrible chemistry, and I ended up with a B in that class. My friend who was paired up with a few very attractive and talented girls skated to an easy A. There were a few other classes where I was judged in part on the work of others and received A- grades as a result. I'll take my lumps (and did) when it was my fault, but being graded because of group projects removes full control of your grade performance from the equation. (btw - this is the only acting class I took, thank god).

--TAs. I had some good TAs who loved my work. But I also had a few with an ax to grind who thought B+ was the best grade any stupid undergrad should receive. I don't know if they were trying to make themselves look smart by nitpicking papers, but there was nothing I could do about it. You don't learn how tough they grade until the midterms, and by then it is too late to switch to a different TA. These are usually classes with 400 people, so the professor is not going to look over every paper or change the grade that his TAs gave. This is particularly a problem in humanities courses, where one can pull any reason out of the air to dislike a paper.

I also think that my school gave out very few A+'s. I didn't receive a single A+ in four years, despite placing at the top of the class a few times. That said, my GPA is still pretty good considering I wasn't really tending to it after freshman year. I never expected to go to grad school or law school, so I didn't think my grades would matter later on. I'd have a 3.9 if I'd tried harder, even with the gripes above.

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kazu
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby kazu » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:15 pm

betasteve wrote:This is the first time I have ever hoped that a thread was a flame, for the sake of the OP.

First time? Honestly??

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ValiantVic
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby ValiantVic » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:45 pm

sch6les wrote:
ValiantVic wrote:
sch6les wrote:Nah, #1 isn't true. State schools, especially those that are so large that they will treat you like a number, tend to have a very low quality of students. This makes beating the competition much easier. And in the end that's all it comes down to in order to get a high GPA: you have to beat the curve.

Just basing it off personal exp.


Any school you go to that has a crappy student body talent wise will make it easy for you to succeed. I will concede that because they must accept so many people the "talent" of the student body lowers as a result. I still believe that if you took equivalent schools rankings wise, that grade inflation would benefit the private institution.


My point being, private institutions will most likely have a higher quality of students.


My guess is the grade inflation overcompensates for this.

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ValiantVic
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby ValiantVic » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:47 pm

As I've stated before, the post is meant to be a little over the top. What's interesting is how polarized the reactions to it have been in certain circumstances. I personally don't think the juice is worth the squeeze, I'm just providing the instructions for how to squeeze the juice effectively.

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ValiantVic
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby ValiantVic » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:49 pm

existenz wrote:I agree with OP on two points in particular, because they are the reasons for the only two B's I received in undergrad.

--Group project classes. I took one acting class where we were judged based on these short skits, and I was paired up with an obese drama queen and a no-talent bozo. They never had time to practice, we had terrible chemistry, and I ended up with a B in that class. My friend who was paired up with a few very attractive and talented girls skated to an easy A. There were a few other classes where I was judged in part on the work of others and received A- grades as a result. I'll take my lumps (and did) when it was my fault, but being graded because of group projects removes full control of your grade performance from the equation. (btw - this is the only acting class I took, thank god).

--TAs. I had some good TAs who loved my work. But I also had a few with an ax to grind who thought B+ was the best grade any stupid undergrad should receive. I don't know if they were trying to make themselves look smart by nitpicking papers, but there was nothing I could do about it. You don't learn how tough they grade until the midterms, and by then it is too late to switch to a different TA. These are usually classes with 400 people, so the professor is not going to look over every paper or change the grade that his TAs gave. This is particularly a problem in humanities courses, where one can pull any reason out of the air to dislike a paper.

I also think that my school gave out very few A+'s. I didn't receive a single A+ in four years, despite placing at the top of the class a few times. That said, my GPA is still pretty good considering I wasn't really tending to it after freshman year. I never expected to go to grad school or law school, so I didn't think my grades would matter later on. I'd have a 3.9 if I'd tried harder, even with the gripes above.


There were just about zero A+s at my institution. It wasn't even possible to get them in most classes. It's also just about impossible to ever get an A+ in a humanities class as you have to rely on subjective opinions as opposed to quantitative measurements.

iheartucla
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

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

I'd like to add: work hard, play hard

Just don't play hard the night before an exam

pattymac
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby pattymac » Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:07 pm

I'd agree with everything OP said. If you don't like your school after your first year, get the fuck out of there. Asap. Nothing will change. Pick a school you like for sure. I screwed up my UG really, really, really badly. We only have a few Universities around here really and all my friends were going to my UG so I joined them, despite having other acceptances. They all took off after first year and didn't go back, and I'm still there, hating my life. Result of that? 2.7 GPA.

Doesn't help that I took difficult courses because I wanted to "challenge myself". Don't take forensic science because you think its "cool", unless its easy (wasn't for me.) Yeah, it was one of my fav classes for sure, but I don't like having a nice C on my transcript to remember it.

Always be aware of your peers and their goals too. I agree wholeheartedly with the apphrehension toward group work. I Got stuck with a group of kids who walked in 30 minutes late in the middle of another presentation with Burger King in their hands only to sit down and proceed to mow whoppers until our presentation. I thought we failed right then and there but somehow pulled an A-. I just did a project with two of my good buddies who said they would be happy with a D on it. They're done after this semester and are going to be cops. Fun for me who's trying to pull an A+ in the class.

Oh, also, be nice to your profs and TA's and go argue every mark. I don't mean go in there and raise your voice, but go in and ask for a justification for why you got that mark. If they won't cave, ask them what you can change for next time (this is valuable information). Lots of them will throw you a C and might overturn it to a B if you give them good reason to. Some of them can even be bullied into giving you higher marks. I didn't do this nearly enough, even when I thought something was very fishy about my final mark after grades came out.

And figure out what you're good at and which programs test which way. If you're good at multiple choice, then take that. Its much easier to get perfect and they can't ding you for stupid things.

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TaipeiMort
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby TaipeiMort » Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:15 pm

aznflyingpanda wrote:To be honest, this advice seems like a way to have a terrible time in college.


and the way to get a GPA which will get you into the Top-14.

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GeePee
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby GeePee » Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:26 pm

I'm not sure what scares me more: that this thread was started in the first place, or that more than half of the posts so far have been in agreement with OP.

Come on... really?

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gatorlion
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby gatorlion » Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:10 pm

pattymac wrote:Oh, also, be nice to your profs and TA's and go argue every mark. I don't mean go in there and raise your voice, but go in and ask for a justification for why you got that mark. If they won't cave, ask them what you can change for next time (this is valuable information). Lots of them will throw you a C and might overturn it to a B if you give them good reason to. Some of them can even be bullied into giving you higher marks. I didn't do this nearly enough, even when I thought something was very fishy about my final mark after grades came out.

And figure out what you're good at and which programs test which way. If you're good at multiple choice, then take that. Its much easier to get perfect and they can't ding you for stupid things.


To be fair, I'm a TA at a top public school and most of my UGs can barely put together a coherent argument, let alone write a paper. I blame it on the high schools. And yes, in most cases our harsh grading is entirely justified.

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atlantalaw
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby atlantalaw » Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:19 pm

without debating whether #1 is good for getting a high gpa, it contradicts advice i would give to a pre-law student. people who know they want to attend law school should pick the school that will give them the least amount of debt, since prestige of undergrad normally isn't a factor in admissions. going state versus private is usually cheaper, so i would advise pre-law students to attend public schools so they end up with less debt later.

edit: silly typo
Last edited by atlantalaw on Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sumus romani
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby sumus romani » Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:46 pm

The OP offers terrible advice. The point of going to college is to find out what your interests are and enable one to advance a life plan consistent with one's personality, natural skills, and goals. This is especially so for those considering law. Virtually no one just out of high school knows enough about themselves and being an attorney to know that they will be happy as an attorney. Anyway, cost-benefit analysis does support the decision to go to four years of college and then law school: rather, it says to get a great degree in undergrad. Also, even for those few select high school graduates who have the relevant knowledge, their goal in college should be to get good grades, sure,, but also learn the skills that they will enable them to do well on the LSAT and in law school (reading comprehension, analytical ability, argument analysis, principle-application, etc.). For the vast majority of people, these skills must be learned though hard work, motivated by grade pressure. The idea that people can be motivated to do hard work with no external motivating factors is laughable (get a library card?!). Surely, only a small minority will do the work necessary to learn these skills on their own (I've only ever known a handful of such people in my life). In any case, for those following the OP's advice, let us hope that you are one of this small minority.

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HiLine
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby HiLine » Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:48 pm

I am just wondering why so many current and future law students didn't pay attention to the title of the thread. Does it say anything about having a meaningful college life at all?

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ValiantVic
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby ValiantVic » Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:03 pm

HiLine wrote:I am just wondering why so many current and future law students didn't pay attention to the title of the thread. Does it say anything about having a meaningful college life at all?


I think some people read what they want to read as opposed to what's actually written.

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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby prezidentv8 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:20 pm

Image

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ValiantVic
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby ValiantVic » Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:56 pm

sumus romani wrote:The OP offers terrible advice. The point of going to college is to find out what your interests are and enable one to advance a life plan consistent with one's personality, natural skills, and goals. This is especially so for those considering law. Virtually no one just out of high school knows enough about themselves and being an attorney to know that they will be happy as an attorney. Anyway, cost-benefit analysis does support the decision to go to four years of college and then law school: rather, it says to get a great degree in undergrad. Also, even for those few select high school graduates who have the relevant knowledge, their goal in college should be to get good grades, sure,, but also learn the skills that they will enable them to do well on the LSAT and in law school (reading comprehension, analytical ability, argument analysis, principle-application, etc.). For the vast majority of people, these skills must be learned though hard work, motivated by grade pressure. The idea that people can be motivated to do hard work with no external motivating factors is laughable (get a library card?!). Surely, only a small minority will do the work necessary to learn these skills on their own (I've only ever known a handful of such people in my life). In any case, for those following the OP's advice, let us hope that you are one of this small minority.


I could see how people would take issue with certain points (specifically #1) but I think all in all it is sound advice. I'm not saying it's in any way shape or form the gospel and there are many ways to acquire a good GPA in college, but what I'm really trying to say above all else is this, be proactive about your education. As much as you can use your common sense and judgment to put yourself in a place so that you can succeed. Since there are some issues with interpretation (and I'll admit I got a little ranty lol) I'll restate what I feel (just me) are some of the strategies one could use to get a good GPA.

1. To the extent that you know who you are and what you want, attend an institution that plays to those strengths. If you feel you can thrive in a big state school where you are just a number, than go to it. If you feel you need more attention, a private institution might be the place for you. Be aware though, that in general, a private institution will invest more in its students and their success than a public one. Large public institutions get a lot of their funding as a result of research, many of them are primarily focused towards this as opposed to their student body. I am not saying you can't be successful in a state institution. The only thing I am saying is that state institutions are comparatively less student-focused than private ones. There are some negative effects on the student body as a result of this situation.

2. Use caution when taking a class taught by someone that you know nothing about. There are TAs and new associate professors who feel that to do a good job they need to grade harshly compared to their older peers. I will stand by the fact that some new professors are concerned that being perceived as "easy" will negatively affect their quest for tenure. I have spoken to new professors (casually) and have gathered as much. TAs/New professors tend not to have established track records so its impossible to determine their teaching style, grading policy, etc. unless they explicitly tell you (few do). Since I believe that you need data to try and make some kind of determination, going into a situation with no data is comparatively worse than going into one with data.

3. Be prepared when you can be. Do research ahead of time on the personalities, teaching styles, and grading methodologies of a given professor. Ratemyprofessor.com is a great website and you should be able to find others that will help you in this regard. Even if you do take a hard class, isn't it better to know upfront just how tough it will be so you can be prepared? Some classes are deceptively hard and you won't find out until the midterm that what you thought you knew was not enough.

4. Be wary about going way way out of your comfort zone academically. If you're an English major and you're interested in taking an advanced math class, and think you can handle it because you did well in high school, reevaluate that thought. If you take an junior or senior level class in a subject matter that you know little to nothing about, be aware that almost everyone in that class has two years of practice in the basic theories and ideas of that subject matter. This sounds obvious but it needs to be said. If you still want to do it the best option would be to take it in the summer (when you can devote a fair amount of time to it) or with a lighter courseload (or as I said before, take easier classes that won't suck up as much of your time).

5. Don't be pre-med/pre-law/etc just because your parents want you to. Maybe you're brilliant and can succeed even if you hate something but chances are you'll be miserable and won't end up doing very well.

6. College is a job. While your college GPA is not as important for getting a job out of college (aside from investment banking and a few others), it is relevant for many grad schools. While not so important for an MBA program (all about work experience and GMAT), it is vital for medical school and very important for law school. There are also many master's programs such as engineering that place a high value on GPA. This being said, it would be prudent to be mindful of taking a pragmatic approach in college and playing to one's strength. It is lamentable but true that taking time in college to challenge oneself academically (at the expense of one's GPA) is not an activity that is supported by society in general. Of course there are those who because of their talents can manage to do it all, this advice is clearly not for those people.

7. Play to your strengths. If you're a math person, do math. If you're an english person, do english. If you're good at math but hate it and want to do english, go ahead but the road will not be as easy for you.

8. You don't need to know what you want do at any point in college, but put yourself in a position to do whatever you want. Many people don't find their passion until a few years into college, but if they've been playing around for a few years and then found medicine was their passion, they're SOL for the most part. As we've seen on these boards there are many people who are unfairly penalized for rightly taking some time to find out about themselves, at the cost of their grades. This should not be penalized but in this day and age it is. For the most part you're a number and it's just not cost efficient to give each and every applicant (for a job, grad school, or otherwise) the holistic view they deserve. There are cutoffs that prevent an application from being taken seriously. Keep yourself in the game.

9. Supplement your education. If you feel there is something you're lacking and you want to take a class in it but it would push you past what you can carry on your plate, pursue that education in a different way. Read books on that subject and then, when you have some time and now some background knowledge, you can take that class.

10. Fight for yourself. Someone else brought this point up and I think it's a great one. Argue for your grade. ESPECIALLY IN GROUP PROJECTS. An evaluation form or little write-up will not adequately demonstrate what you contributed. Explain it. Don't put yourself in a corner either. You should establish relationships with your professors early via e-mail or office hours. That way they know you and will be more amenable to listening to your argue the merits of a better grade. If you don't put this time in, you're just another complainer and they'll most likely ignore you. Gatorlion mentioned that TAs get feedback that they take very seriously. Unfortunately the feedback that students give will not impact their grades. Many students give up and feel that if the TA gives them a poor grade, the professor will not take their side. It's a hard position for these students to be in.

11. Talk to other students. If a student got an A on his paper and you got a B, ask if you can look at his paper. See what you can do to improve it. Also, talk to your professor/TA. Ask them to give you at least three tangible things you can do to improve your paper. Don't let them be vague, this spells doom for you. Once they tell you, give them what they want. Make the process as concrete as you can.

I can understand that many see this as a machiavellian outlook on the learning process. To a certain extent it is and needs to be. I followed some of these rules and they worked out to my benefit. I didn't follow others and it worked to my detriment. As a result I found college more academically interesting but I didn't have the GPA I could have had. I worked in a lot of group projects where I carried the group but I got a B because everyone got the same grade. I did not have the intellectual talent to take the most challenging classes and have an interesting social life. As a result there was a trade-off. This advice is for those who want to maximize their GPA and not be overwhelmed so much by academics that they don't have a social life. For those who can do both, hats off to you. I am not one of them and this advice is meant for people like me.

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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby mstiger » Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:24 pm

***Major in an objective curriculum. I majored in English, and I cannot count the number of B's I received after maintaining an A the entire semester only for the professor to give me a B on the final paper, which usually counted anywhere from 30-40% of your overall grade. If I had to redo college, I would have majored in Math or Chemistry. At least in those subjects, if you study enough, you will be rewarded for your hard work.

I worked 72 total hours on some papers I would estimate over the course of a semester, and the grade I received seemed so arbitrary.

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sarlis
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby sarlis » Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:31 pm

ValiantVic wrote:Here are a 10 things I've learned along the way. Feel free to add yours

1. Don't go to a state school or any school that treats you like a number



SO FALSE. I go to the largest state school in the country (or second largest, I don't know) and I have a 3.9X.
it is about how you apply yourself.

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GeePee
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby GeePee » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:50 am

mstiger wrote:***Major in an objective curriculum. I majored in English, and I cannot count the number of B's I received after maintaining an A the entire semester only for the professor to give me a B on the final paper, which usually counted anywhere from 30-40% of your overall grade. If I had to redo college, I would have majored in Math or Chemistry. At least in those subjects, if you study enough, you will be rewarded for your hard work.

I worked 72 total hours on some papers I would estimate over the course of a semester, and the grade I received seemed so arbitrary.

You're going to love law school

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ec2xs
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby ec2xs » Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:44 am

mstiger wrote:***Major in an objective curriculum. I majored in English, and I cannot count the number of B's I received after maintaining an A the entire semester only for the professor to give me a B on the final paper, which usually counted anywhere from 30-40% of your overall grade. If I had to redo college, I would have majored in Math or Chemistry. At least in those subjects, if you study enough, you will be rewarded for your hard work.

I worked 72 total hours on some papers I would estimate over the course of a semester, and the grade I received seemed so arbitrary.


I think this is a solid point. I really wish I had stuck with engineering instead of leaving my GPA to be decided by the subjectivity of a professor on any given day.

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jsoell
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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby jsoell » Sun Mar 14, 2010 6:01 am

Good to hear that the OP had his tongue in his cheek for at least part of that post. I a little past tired of these "sorry kids, if you want to succeed in life, you´re going to have to realize that life is pain, and then you´re going to have to scratch and claw your way through all of your so-called friends and colleagues to get ahead" threads.

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Re: Advice for people who want high GPAs in college

Postby acrossthelake » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:36 pm

GeePee wrote:I'm not sure what scares me more: that this thread was started in the first place, or that more than half of the posts so far have been in agreement with OP.

Come on... really?


+1

Going through undergrad with the sole purpose of maximizing one's GPA seems to me to be a collosal waste of the undergrad experience and completely unnecessary. For entrance to a T-14, you could just take courses that interest you, do your best, and knock out the LSAT.




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