Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
tpottebaum
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Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby tpottebaum » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:12 pm

Hey everyone,

I am currently a sophomore at DePaul University, and after lots of thought, I've decided I want to attend law school. Currently, I have a 3.944 GPA, and my goal is to graduate with a GPA above 3.8.

And since I'm prone to stressing out when I get near a deadline, I'd like to begin preparing for law school admissions as soon as possible. My goal is to get into a top 30 school, I'm particularly interested in corporate and intellectual property law, and I would ideally like to work in the NYC or DC markets.

So, I'd like to ask, what should I be doing now to put myself in the best possible position when I begin applying? How do I begin building the relationships that would result in a good LOR, and when should I begin preparing for the LSATs?

Thanks a ton,
Tyler

GradPath2011
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby GradPath2011 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:18 pm

Dont worry about it. Go do something you want to do with your life. Nothing you do except your LSAT score will matter and you can't start preparing for that just yet.

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ConMan345
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby ConMan345 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:23 pm

tpottebaum wrote:Hey everyone,

I am currently a sophomore at DePaul University, and after lots of thought, I've decided I want to attend law school. Currently, I have a 3.944 GPA, and my goal is to graduate with a GPA above 3.8.

And since I'm prone to stressing out when I get near a deadline, I'd like to begin preparing for law school admissions as soon as possible. My goal is to get into a top 30 school, I'm particularly interested in corporate and intellectual property law, and I would ideally like to work in the NYC or DC markets.

So, I'd like to ask, what should I be doing now to put myself in the best possible position when I begin applying? How do I begin building the relationships that would result in a good LOR, and when should I begin preparing for the LSATs?

Thanks a ton,
Tyler


Hey Tyler,

As everyone will tell you, keep your GPA as high as possible. I wouldn't worry about the LSAT just yet, though maybe check out what it is/what kind of questions are on it, when it gets closer to a year before the test, there are tons of resources on this site to guide you in your studying.

What I did that helped build a relationship with a prof was take every class he offered (a lecture and 4 seminars). I did it because he was a great professor and I loved his classes, not because I wanted him to like me and therefore write a stellar rec. I think this is important because it usually isn't too difficult for a prof to tell you're self-interested in your dealings with him or her. I also wrote an honors thesis, which gave me hours and hours and hours of substantive one-on-one time with another prof. Good recommendations are from profs who've seen you think, wrestle with ideas, and deal with discussions of difficult topics; the best have a personal side, commenting on who you are and your character.

As always, your numbers are the most important, but for schools where your numbers get you in the door but aren't auto-admit, everything else is suddenly extremely important. Also, start early on your personal statement.

reverendt
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby reverendt » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:26 pm

Given your GPA...you're on the right track.
3 bits of advice for you:
1) If you considering elective classes next year, perhaps take a class in basic logic. It will make the LSAT seem more familiar.
2) If you have professors you like, take them a few times. If you can, chat with them for a few minutes before or after class. Just casually. Get them to know your name. Show them your interested in their class. If you can get 3 profs like that, your LOR will not be a problem.
3) Keep up your good work, but don't forget to enjoy life a little.

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OneKnight
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby OneKnight » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:31 pm

Keep kicking ass in ugrad and your LORs will practically write themselves. Enjoy yourself.
Since it's definitely too early to start serious LSAT prep, I recommend taking a class in logic to get some pre-LSAT preparation.
EDIT: Also, you should pick up (if you haven't already) The Elements of Style by Strunk and White and read through it. This book will prepare you to write concise and compelling prose for your personal statement.

apparentlymargarita
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby apparentlymargarita » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:47 pm

Your gpa will definitely help you- so of course keep it up. About the LSAT, although most people take it the summer after their junior year or during senior year, you can also take it earlier. I actually took it the summer after my sophomore year because I knew I would be abroad the next year and didn't want to deal with the stress. The score's good for 5 years, and you won't learn anything in particular in school that will directly help with the test (unless you want to take a logic class). Plus if you start prepping earlier you'll have more time to improve if you don't like your score.

About the LORs, just keep in contact with possible professors- if you apply for any small scholarships, have them write you a rec so that later they have something to refer to. And have more professors in mind than you think you'll need- you never know who will flake out.

Keep up your extracurriculars too, including leadership positions. (You might want to start a club for something that you're passionate about next year, and then lead it through the next year- it's something you can write a PS about later).

Of course, this advice is for if you're really interested in getting started early- it's definitely not required and you'll do fine if you keep up what you're doing too. But you never know what could tip the scale and get you admitted, especially if you end up with a less than stellar lsat score.

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MURPH
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby MURPH » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:49 am

Take a PT with a timer this spring break if you are not doing anything fun. (Don't skip a trip to the beach or something for this. Just do it on a slow weekend sometime.) Kaplan offers free diagnostic PTs. It is a hard but learnable test so don't flip out if your cold diagnostic score sucks. Buy the Powerscore Bibles and teach your self one section at a time during the summer and during slow periods at school. Next spring take a light load of classes if possible and take a prep course for the June 2011 LSAT. Blueprint and Powerscore are good prep companies, Testmasters is good (but the owner of the company is a bit off). Kaplan sucks and any prep course or book that does not use real LSAT questions is a scam.
Get your LORs in order in spring/early summer of 2011. Write your PS in summer of 2011 after the LSAT.
In early sept 2011 send in your apps. (If your LSAT is below what you think is your best then retake in Sept 2011.)
Enjoy senior year, knowing your shit is in order and you will be in law school while your friends are waiting tables looking for real work. Graduate on time. Keep up the GPA.

heyguys
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby heyguys » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:45 am

1. Just keep up your GPA
2. Study for your LSAT
3. Seriously consider either not going to law school or at least taking some time off between
4. ?????????
5. Profit

tpottebaum
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby tpottebaum » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:37 pm

Thanks everyone! You've all been helpful.

Another thing I am wondering: Who can write a letter of recommendation? Should I limit myself to instructors, or could I also ask a supervisor at an internship I have completed?

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ConMan345
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby ConMan345 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:40 pm

tpottebaum wrote:Thanks everyone! You've all been helpful.

Another thing I am wondering: Who can write a letter of recommendation? Should I limit myself to instructors, or could I also ask a supervisor at an internship I have completed?


Academic references are strongly preferred

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kswiss
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby kswiss » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:46 pm

With a GPA like that and the foresight you seem to have, you can have a really good shot at a great school with some $$$. Keep in mind also that the top schools have plenty of high # students to choose from, so if those are your goals, you might thing of ways to differentiate yourself from other students. For example, volunteering in the community, studying abroad, starting a business, doing some original research, or any host of other things can strengthen your application, and as a sophomore you have a lot of time to develop something. Also, its just good for life in general to do enriching things.

But....numbers rule. The main thing you can do right now is keep that GPA up. I'm going to break with the masses a little and say you might want to so a LSAT preptest this summer. Don't study or anything, just do it cold. That way you have an idea of what you're getting into when it comes to the LSAT, and you can start to think about how you will study for it.

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BruceBarr
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby BruceBarr » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:52 pm

Keep our GPA up and ask for a letter of recommendation from every professor your Junior year on. Don't use any letter unless you've read it... and eventually you'll come across a prof. who either A.) writes a kick-ass letter or B.) asks you to "rough draft" a letter. When this happens (and it will eventually), write yourself the best letter possible. This is the best possible situation as you get to say whatever you want your professor to say in a solid LOR. So, when this happens, take advantage of the opportunity.

Also... do weird shit. Go study abroad, get published in a newspaper, start a business.... THESE things (the weird stuff) make you stand out. Everyone interns at a law firm, has worked for a senator, bla bla bla. FEW people have volunteered in Argentina for a month. These things look good and make for a great basis to write a personal statement that is interesting.

Good luck. Most importantly: keep up that GPA in case you suck at the LSAT.

Fsubuckeye
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby Fsubuckeye » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:58 pm

Letters of Recommendation (LOR's) I had to wait an additional three weeks for apps to complete because of them.

Oblomov
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby Oblomov » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:03 pm

Take all the biology and chemistry classes you can. Take the MCAT and pray for the best.

nyckid
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby nyckid » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:04 pm

Best piece of advice is to get a new username before you become a regular user of this site.

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ConMan345
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby ConMan345 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:06 pm

BruceBarr wrote:Keep our GPA up and ask for a letter of recommendation from every professor your Junior year on. Don't use any letter unless you've read it... and eventually you'll come across a prof. who either A.) writes a kick-ass letter or B.) asks you to "rough draft" a letter. When this happens (and it will eventually), write yourself the best letter possible. This is the best possible situation as you get to say whatever you want your professor to say in a solid LOR. So, when this happens, take advantage of the opportunity.

Also... do weird shit. Go study abroad, get published in a newspaper, start a business.... THESE things (the weird stuff) make you stand out. Everyone interns at a law firm, has worked for a senator, bla bla bla. FEW people have volunteered in Argentina for a month. These things look good and make for a great basis to write a personal statement that is interesting.

Good luck. Most importantly: keep up that GPA in case you suck at the LSAT.


I'm not so sure about this. From what I've heard, it's actually really hard to write yourself an above-average recommendation, because, in a way, the rest of your app is your recommendation of yourself. That is, you're bound to repeat yourself. I have one incredible recommendation (that I think is driving my cycle with the top schools) that I never could have thought to write myself---it's too personal of a project.

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Borhas
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby Borhas » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:10 pm

1. pick a major you like (except engineering)
2. get a high gpa
3. be involved on campus
4. save enough money for LSAT prep class to take before your senior year (take it the summer before senior year)
5. do well on LSAT in June... if not take again in September
6. Apply to all schools by the beginning of November

rv11
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby rv11 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:14 pm

nyckid wrote:Best piece of advice is to get a new username before you become a regular user of this site.


+1

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thecilent
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby thecilent » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:47 pm

I don't know why some on here are telling you it is too early to start studying for the LSAT.. With your GPA, I would start studying ASAP for the LSAT and try to peak at the September or December administration of your Junior year (that's what I did)

Getting your LSAT out of the way will take a lot of pressure and stress off you, and will benefit the rest of your application (because you will have more time to dedicate to the diff aspects).

But because of the weight placed on the LSAT, I wouldn't think about anything other than that for a while -- with the exception of continuing to see if becoming a lawyer is actually what you really want to do..

Also, why would you be shooting to for a GPA lower than you already have? Keep it above a 3.9, obsess over the LSAT, and enjoy the T5

enzo66
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby enzo66 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:57 pm

Cilent21 wrote:I don't know why some on here are telling you it is too early to start studying for the LSAT.. With your GPA, I would start studying ASAP for the LSAT and try to peak at the September or December administration of your Junior year (that's what I did)

Getting your LSAT out of the way will take a lot of pressure and stress off you, and will benefit the rest of your application (because you will have more time to dedicate to the diff aspects).

But because of the weight placed on the LSAT, I wouldn't think about anything other than that for a while -- with the exception of continuing to see if becoming a lawyer is actually what you really want to do..

Also, why would you be shooting to for a GPA lower than you already have? Keep it above a 3.9, obsess over the LSAT, and enjoy the T5


I completely agree. Work hard on the LSAT now and relax your senior year as those awesome LORs come in.

scionb4
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Re: Undergrad Soph -- where do I start?

Postby scionb4 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:02 pm

The best place to start is to get the best grades you possibly can from here on out because you don't want to depend on scoring really good on your LSAT to get in anywhere - its a lot more comfortable going into it with a high GPA. As a sophomore, this should be your main priority. As you have a great GPA, just keep doing what you're doing.




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