GPA from universities outside the U.S.

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MJMD
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GPA from universities outside the U.S.

Postby MJMD » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:35 pm

Hello everyone, this is my first post here. I'm writing from Canada, and have an account over on Lawstudents.ca, but in the past year's admission cycle I also applied to a number of T14 U.S. law schools (the ones with the most brand recognition in Canada). The only reason I did so is because I got a decent 170 on my LSAT, and because I currently hold a very important position at a major non-profit children's advocacy organization in Calgary; and while my CGPA from my undergrad at the University of Toronto was not high, I was told by a number of friends who went to law school in the States that it would not be looked at in the same way as a CGPA from an American institution (where grade inflation is supposed to be a much bigger problem).

So really the only question I need answered, to know whether or not it's worth it to continue hoping and hanging out here, is whether or not that's true. If grade inflation is really worse in some countries than in others, then how do the big American law schools evaluate foreign GPA?

traficante
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Re: GPA from universities outside the U.S.

Postby traficante » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:46 pm

MJMD wrote:Hello everyone, this is my first post here. I'm writing from Canada, and have an account over on Lawstudents.ca, but in the past year's admission cycle I also applied to a number of T14 U.S. law schools (the ones with the most brand recognition in Canada). The only reason I did so is because I got a decent 170 on my LSAT, and because I currently hold a very important position at a major non-profit children's advocacy organization in Calgary; and while my CGPA from my undergrad at the University of Toronto was not high, I was told by a number of friends who went to law school in the States that it would not be looked at in the same way as a CGPA from an American institution (where grade inflation is supposed to be a much bigger problem).

So really the only question I need answered, to know whether or not it's worth it to continue hoping and hanging out here, is whether or not that's true. If grade inflation is really worse in some countries than in others, then how do the big American law schools evaluate foreign GPA?


What is the GPA, or a basic range of the GPA?

I have no idea if American adcomms know Canadian GPAs are deflated; I suspect they do. Unfortunately, it is not going to help you much - your LSDAS GPA will be, for all intents and purposes, your real GPA at most schools, as this is the score they need to report for rankings purposes. So they usually just pretend that all GPAs are created equal.

It also depends on what your GPA is and what schools you are looking at. Some are more holistic and less easy to predict on numbers alone, whereas others won't look past the actual number of your GPA. For instance, Berkeley apparently has a system in place for deflation/inflation, but it is also a difficult school to get into with a low GPA.

Edit to add: I'm sure you've heard this all before, but with a 170 and a decent Canadian GPA, you are looking at some very good Canadian schools (all of them!) for much less money. If you are worried about brand recognition in Canada, it sounds like you want to go back to Canada. If so, it doesn't make sense to study in the US for Canadian practice/other, unless you crack HYSmaybeCCN. U of T will carry just as well and usually better in Canada than anything outside of HYS. Something to consider.

Royal68
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Re: GPA from universities outside the U.S.

Postby Royal68 » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:57 pm

write a gpa addendum.. and you'll be good. U.S law schools know canadian gpa beats out u.s gpa. Take it from me, im canadian.

MJMD
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Re: GPA from universities outside the U.S.

Postby MJMD » Sat Mar 20, 2010 3:47 am

Edit to add: I'm sure you've heard this all before, but with a 170 and a decent Canadian GPA, you are looking at some very good Canadian schools (all of them!) for much less money. If you are worried about brand recognition in Canada, it sounds like you want to go back to Canada. If so, it doesn't make sense to study in the US for Canadian practice/other, unless you crack HYSmaybeCCN. U of T will carry just as well and usually better in Canada than anything outside of HYS. Something to consider.


Yeah, that's all I applied to in the States, HYS & CCN (minus Y: I would have applied there if I'd realized sooner that they wanted a 250-word essay with my personal statement, not a 250-word personal statement; but then I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten in in any case). I figured, "why not?" The main reason I think is that, having already gone to U of T (which has already rejected me for law school), I can't really go any higher in Canada in terms of overall university quality. There's McGill, of course, but because they're half-French-and-civil-law they don't put much weight on the LSAT, and really, my LSAT is the main thing I have going for me.

Truth be told, my CGPA isn't very good at all: I was just kind of hoping that schools in the U.S. would consider the reputation of my undergraduate institution and sort of ignore the number stamped on their transcripts, or have some mercy on me for the fact that all the toxic marks are concentrated in my first two years. My last three are quite good, but the first two are so bad that they drag the final number way down. I wrote what I thought was a pretty good addendum, and I rolled the dice.

I'm already in at a number of Canadian law schools, and since they're all of roughly equal quality and provide approximately equal job prospects up here, I guess I'm set. But I have to admit it: I'm a prestige whore. What can I say? And more than anything else, I hated U of T, and I still hate them. Great school, awful people. To get in at Columbia or Chicago and rub their arrogant faces in it, even if I didn't go in the end, would be the most satisfying reward of all.

pattymac
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Re: GPA from universities outside the U.S.

Postby pattymac » Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:32 am

Wow, is this true?

I have an abysmal LSDAS GPA of 2.6. I've always kicked myself in the ass for not going to the schools I was accepted to in the states. At my UG, we curve HARD at a 2.67. I mean, 90% of the class is at a C+. My buddy who is at a University in the US told me he literally does nothing at school but ride the curve and has a 3.3 average. I work 50-60 hours a week (and have all through undergrad) so I've clearly got my priorities elsewhere, but I really don't think my GPA is indicative of my work ethic to be honest. My program is just a royal pain in the ass, and I'm a complete idiot for sticking it out.

Our whole system of marking is pretty jacked up. We curve at a C+ with a C+ being a 67-69%. A failure is < 50%.
I guess it's all relative though.

traficante
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Re: GPA from universities outside the U.S.

Postby traficante » Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:21 pm

It is definitely true. There aren't many U.S. institutions that have a C+ curve (except for a few select disciplines), while it is very common at Canadian schools. The good news for Canadians applying to U.S. schools is they weigh the LSAT more, so you can make up some of the difference via the LSAT.

OP: I'm assuming you have a sub 3.5. The truth of it is I think your GPA will keep you out of the t6, and certainly out of the t3. It probably isn't fair, but that is the way it works -- addendums on the curve of your ugrad institution will only get you so far. If you are in that range (3.5), the only way you will have a chance is with a retake of your LSAT -- you would need to be shooting for a 75th score or greater. Even then you are in tough, and might not have a chance (others would know better, or check LSN).

As you said, there is quite a bit of parity amongst Canadian schools, so you have a number to choose from, and real live job prospects when you get out. I can't see a way of making it worthwhile to study in the U.S.

If you really want it, keep trying, but it sounds like you are looking at significant reaches right now.

pattymac
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Re: GPA from universities outside the U.S.

Postby pattymac » Sat Mar 20, 2010 1:31 pm

Wowwww this is eye opening for suure. Getting high marks in Canadian schools is a losing battle almost. I had a class with 500 people last year with a lab. During the lab we were given the answers to the assignments, verbatim. You went, copied them, handed in the copy and got 100%. The class average was somewhere around 90% with a TON of people sitting at like 105% (with bonus and that sort of thing). So then, the prof makes the final worth 40% and tests on stuff he didn't teach, thus everyone walks away with around a 70. How can you win in that scenario? I'm sure things like this happen everywhere tho.

MJMD
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Re: GPA from universities outside the U.S.

Postby MJMD » Sat Mar 20, 2010 5:16 pm

If you are in that range (3.5), the only way you will have a chance is with a retake of your LSAT -- you would need to be shooting for a 75th score or greater.


Uhhh...I'm not sure what you mean by this; my LSAT is in the 98th percentile. I'm definitely not retaking it (I really tried for the extra 2 points that would have put me into the 99th, but after four months of practice I ultimately plateaued at between 167 and 172, so I still scored at the high end of my likely range).

I might as well just give my GPA: I guess the responses I've been trying to avoid here are the ones I'm afraid of receiving from the States, so if they're gonna come they might as well come now. My cumulative GPA is 2.4 for all five years: this is because I failed literally every course in my second year, as a result of a nervous breakdown and the bankruptcy of my parents' business (all of which I mentioned in the addendum). After that happened I took a year-and-a-half off to work, and when I eventually returned to school to finish my degree, I averaged 3.3 over three years. At 3.3, I was well ahead of the curve in every single class I took for those three years (which is obvious on the transcript, and also mentioned in the addendum), so it's really the grade I would probably have finished with had disaster not struck at the beginning of my academic career.

I figure the only T14 I actually had a good chance of getting into was Cornell, but Cornell, aside from being probably the most expensive legitimate law school in the world, is virtually unknown for law in Canada, or for any particular school or specialty of law, so I ultimately ruled it out. Anyone willing to take away any false hope I may presently be harbouring of getting an immediate Ivy League education is free to do so, but no uninformed mockery, if you please.

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pikalove
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Re: GPA from universities outside the U.S.

Postby pikalove » Sat Mar 20, 2010 5:26 pm

I'm from McGill, and am in the top 20% of my faculty with a 3.3. I got a 172 on the LSAT, but still against odds I got into the T6. Granted, I've got good softs and did a hard program, but I think they had to have recognized the grade deflation at McGill (and would presumably do the same for U of T).

So, yeah I think they understand that. Just make sure that LoRs mention the difficulty and you include your rank in your application.

traficante
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Re: GPA from universities outside the U.S.

Postby traficante » Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:15 pm

MJMD wrote:
If you are in that range (3.5), the only way you will have a chance is with a retake of your LSAT -- you would need to be shooting for a 75th score or greater.


Uhhh...I'm not sure what you mean by this; my LSAT is in the 98th percentile. I'm definitely not retaking it (I really tried for the extra 2 points that would have put me into the 99th, but after four months of practice I ultimately plateaued at between 167 and 172, so I still scored at the high end of my likely range).

I might as well just give my GPA: I guess the responses I've been trying to avoid here are the ones I'm afraid of receiving from the States, so if they're gonna come they might as well come now. My cumulative GPA is 2.4 for all five years: this is because I failed literally every course in my second year, as a result of a nervous breakdown and the bankruptcy of my parents' business (all of which I mentioned in the addendum). After that happened I took a year-and-a-half off to work, and when I eventually returned to school to finish my degree, I averaged 3.3 over three years. At 3.3, I was well ahead of the curve in every single class I took for those three years (which is obvious on the transcript, and also mentioned in the addendum), so it's really the grade I would probably have finished with had disaster not struck at the beginning of my academic career.

I figure the only T14 I actually had a good chance of getting into was Cornell, but Cornell, aside from being probably the most expensive legitimate law school in the world, is virtually unknown for law in Canada, or for any particular school or specialty of law, so I ultimately ruled it out. Anyone willing to take away any false hope I may presently be harbouring of getting an immediate Ivy League education is free to do so, but no uninformed mockery, if you please.


I was completely serious about retaking. A 170 is a very good score, but you are below the LSAT medians at all of CCN, which will usually kill an application if the GPA is also below median. The kinds of candidates which have GPAs forgiven are usually either URMs, or people who have an LSAT that is over median (note that the McGill t6er has a 172, which is at or above CCN medians).

In any case, 2.4 is a deal breaker, even with the addendum. You will almost certainly not crack the t14 with your GPA/LSAT score. You can try ED at Northwestern - there have been some stories of very low GPAs getting in after work experience and ED. In any event, T6 is almost surely out of the question, but I wouldn't dissuade anyone from applying given the benefits of a once in a million acceptance.

The good news is you are in a perfect spot for Canadian admissions, which will often take your best years. You can get into a very good Canadian school and have much better prospects than American applicants in your position (who don't get sophomore years forgiven).

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maks25
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Re: GPA from universities outside the U.S.

Postby maks25 » Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:37 pm

pattymac wrote:Wow, is this true?

I have an abysmal LSDAS GPA of 2.6. I've always kicked myself in the ass for not going to the schools I was accepted to in the states. At my UG, we curve HARD at a 2.67. I mean, 90% of the class is at a C+. My buddy who is at a University in the US told me he literally does nothing at school but ride the curve and has a 3.3 average. I work 50-60 hours a week (and have all through undergrad) so I've clearly got my priorities elsewhere, but I really don't think my GPA is indicative of my work ethic to be honest. My program is just a royal pain in the ass, and I'm a complete idiot for sticking it out.

Our whole system of marking is pretty jacked up. We curve at a C+ with a C+ being a 67-69%. A failure is < 50%.
I guess it's all relative though.



That sounds a lot like my school. Our average is usually around a 65%, depending on the class it can go lower or a little higher. Converted to GPA it is a 2.0. (for my last 3 exams the averages were something like 63, 60 and 45)

I am at the University of Western Ontario btw also one of the top schools in Canada alongside UofT, Queens and McGill
Last edited by maks25 on Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MJMD
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Re: GPA from universities outside the U.S.

Postby MJMD » Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:37 pm

A 170 is a very good score, but you are below the LSAT medians at all of CCN, which will usually kill an application if the GPA is also below median.


Oh, the 2nd "C" is California (just figured that out); I guess I just assumed it was Chicago. No, I didn't apply to Berkeley (California is such a mess that paying private American university prices to go to a public university there, when there are excellent public universities waiting for me in Canada, just seemed like madness); but I did apply to Chicago, where I'd be just at the median, and Chicago would basically be my first choice.

The other thing about coming from Canada is that most common law schools up here admit no more than 200 first-year students annually (the exceptions are Osgoode, Ottawa, and McGill, which despite their reputations are really rather run-down and unfriendly), so it really is T14 or bust for students from here, both because name recognition dissipates dramatically below that level and because class sizes dramatically increase. I honestly don't think I could handle being a number at NYU; so for me, it's Chicago, Stanford (or damned Cornell) or bust. So...I'm busted, I guess. Lol. Anyway, thanks for the advice, but I think I'll pass on a rewrite of the LSAT.




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