Grad School before Law School?

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ryanr
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Grad School before Law School?

Postby ryanr » Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:56 pm

So I am currently planning to apply to law schools next school year for 2011. I have yet to take the LSAT (I am registered for June) and I'm not going to pretend I know where I will score, but I know I need to extremely well. If I apply at the beginning of the application cycle next year, my LSAC GPA will be approximately a 2.8, thanks to some retaken classes that I bombed a couple of years ago.

Here is what I was thinking of doing, and I'm not sure if this is the best course of action or not:

Rather than apply for the 2011 cycle, take a year and do a MA History at the local state school, and then apply during the next cycle. This would give me the opportunity to utilize the remainder of my undergrad credits to increase my GPA. If I do well, I anticipate (based on the credits I have left) being able to raise my LSAC GPA to around a 3.10 or so. However, I would be out $12,000 doing the master's program. I am, of course, assuming that I would be accepted into the MA program.

I have a keen interest in history and would really enjoy the MA program. Plus it would give me the opportunity to be an adjunct instructor at the local community college for some extra money. However, the primary reason I would take the year off is so that all of the classes for me undergrad count toward my LSAC GPA.

I am not shooting for any particular schools. Obviously, the better the school, the happier I'd be. That being said, my long term goal is to get involved in policy. I have also considered an MPA/MPP program.

So, after that long-winded post: should I bother doing the MA program? Should I take the year off? Should I go ahead and see how I do on the LSAT in June, possible retake in the fall, and apply this year? Should I forego grad/professional school altogether and panhandle on the local freeway exits?

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kalvano
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby kalvano » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:00 pm

Do you have a bachelor's degree already?

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j.wellington
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby j.wellington » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:00 pm

Do you think you have the credentials to get into a fully funded PhD program? I'd shoot for that first. Otherwise I think a masters in history is going to be a bit of a waste. But that's just me.

budafied
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby budafied » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:06 pm

I'm confused...how are you going to boost your UGPA post graduation? Or do you mean wait to apply until after you have graduated and have a final 3.0+ GPA? I've heard that a good graduate GPA really doesn't help you much. Grad school grades are rather inflated (I speak from experience) and law schools know it...

EzraStiles
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby EzraStiles » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:09 pm

I'm sorry, but this really doesn't sound like a good idea. I don't know how you'd save money doing this, because masters programs in social sciences and humanities are ridiculously expensive (when you consider the payoff). It sounds like you already know the gpa from this masters program will not affect you ugpa, so it seems like you're only doing this to have an excuse to apply a year later. You'd be much better served doing volunteer work or getting a job or prepping full time for the LSAT during that time than throwing your money in a hole for a degree that will prove inconsequential in life.

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iShotFirst
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby iShotFirst » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:14 pm

I would say that a Masters degree only looks good if you have some reason for getting it, ie people with business background having an MBA could be a plus to an application. But just having a Masters degree and never using it, basically just getting for the hell of it? What is the point of that? Just work during the year off if you must delay.

ryanr
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby ryanr » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:37 pm

budafied wrote: Or do you mean wait to apply until after you have graduated and have a final 3.0+ GPA? I've heard that a good graduate GPA really doesn't help you much. Grad school grades are rather inflated (I speak from experience) and law schools know it...


Yes, I mean to wait to apply until I graduate. I am not too worried about the grad school grades for that reason; I too have heard they were inflated and not counted heavily in law school admissions. After this term, I will have about 60 credits left to graduate, and would like to increase my chances as much as possible.

I guess what it boils down to is this: will a 2.8 gpa (+/-) be looked upon significantly different than a 3.1 gpa (+/-)? If the 3.1 gpa is going to make a significant enough difference, than I should probably wait a year and apply after graduation. Of course, this could all be moot considering I haven't taken the LSAT yet...

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vanwinkle
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:39 pm

Get some real-world work experience. A couple years of work experience (along with a high LSAT score) will help you overcome a low GPA, and it'll allow you to make money for two years instead of getting a head start on accruing a mountain of debt.

Getting an MA just for the sake of law school admissions is pretty stupid and a waste of your time and money.

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gossipgirl
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby gossipgirl » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:40 pm

ryanr wrote:
budafied wrote: Or do you mean wait to apply until after you have graduated and have a final 3.0+ GPA? I've heard that a good graduate GPA really doesn't help you much. Grad school grades are rather inflated (I speak from experience) and law schools know it...


Yes, I mean to wait to apply until I graduate. I am not too worried about the grad school grades for that reason; I too have heard they were inflated and not counted heavily in law school admissions. After this term, I will have about 60 credits left to graduate, and would like to increase my chances as much as possible.

I guess what it boils down to is this: will a 2.8 gpa (+/-) be looked upon significantly different than a 3.1 gpa (+/-)? If the 3.1 gpa is going to make a significant enough difference, than I should probably wait a year and apply after graduation. Of course, this could all be moot considering I haven't taken the LSAT yet...


Any courses taken after receiving your bachelor's degree will not count toward your LSAC GPA. Don't do a MA to raise your GPA because it won't. Do it if you're genuinely interested. Otherwise, work and apply next fall.

ryanr
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby ryanr » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:43 pm

EzraStiles wrote:I'm sorry, but this really doesn't sound like a good idea. I don't know how you'd save money doing this, because masters programs in social sciences and humanities are ridiculously expensive (when you consider the payoff). It sounds like you already know the gpa from this masters program will not affect you ugpa, so it seems like you're only doing this to have an excuse to apply a year later. You'd be much better served doing volunteer work or getting a job or prepping full time for the LSAT during that time than throwing your money in a hole for a degree that will prove inconsequential in life.


Yes, you are correct. The only reason I'd be doing this is for a reason to apply a year later. I do have a keen interest in history, but more or less, I want to put off paying my student loans for a year and see that I have >3.0 gpa. I have looked into the possibility of doing some state policy internships for the summer, it makes me wonder if they have those positions year round.

Of course this could all be resolved by LSAC doing away with their GPA calculations. Or, I could go back in time and not screw myself by getting bad grades Sophomore year.

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SoCalStudent
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby SoCalStudent » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:45 pm

This is the same thinking I had when I graduated several years ago with a 2.97 GPA. Instead of studying for the LSAT's, I thought it was a good idea to get an MA in English first to enhance my application. Fast-forward nearly three years, and I now find out that an MA is barely looked at by adcomms, if at all. If I would have come on this forum back then, I would be in the second year of law school, where ever that would be. :(

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kalvano
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby kalvano » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:45 pm

You have to have a bachelors to get a masters, correct?

Once you get a bachelors, your GPA is set. Nothing will change it.

ryanr
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby ryanr » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:47 pm

vanwinkle wrote:Get some real-world work experience. A couple years of work experience (along with a high LSAT score) will help you overcome a low GPA, and it'll allow you to make money for two years instead of getting a head start on accruing a mountain of debt.

Getting an MA just for the sake of law school admissions is pretty stupid and a waste of your time and money.


I do have some real world work experience, but would post-grad work experience be looked upon more favorably? I have spent my entire undergrad working at the director level in a hotel. I was hoping to use this to my advantage in applying to Northwestern, but unless I rock the LSAT, my gpa is going to undoubtedly kill me in that regard.

noname086
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby noname086 » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:48 pm

I can answer this question with direct experience.

I always knew I wanted to go to law school, I graduated undergrad two years ago. My undergrad gpa wasn't as high as I would have liked it to be, granted it was still a good gpa. But despite my gpa I was sure I was shut out of the top ten. So rather than focusing on the lsat, I figured I'd get a masters, make my resume look good, and study for the lsat at the same time. BIG MISTAKE. Grad school is consuming, even more than undergrad, and I wasn't able to adequately study for the lsat.

While I am happy with the law school I will be attending this fall (ucla), i still didn't get into my first choice which was gtown. Even more of an issue is that I now have $50,000 worth of loans and will acquire another $100,000 worth of loans for law school.

The workload was intense for my masters program and quite frankly I just feel tired now and am trying to figure out a way to re-energize myself before law school. So I would think twice before I invest a lot of money and energy into a degree that won't really help you out that much anyways. It might look "cool" on your resume, but its not really worth it in my opinion if what you really want to do is practice law.

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j.wellington
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby j.wellington » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:49 pm

ryanr wrote:
EzraStiles wrote:I'm sorry, but this really doesn't sound like a good idea. I don't know how you'd save money doing this, because masters programs in social sciences and humanities are ridiculously expensive (when you consider the payoff). It sounds like you already know the gpa from this masters program will not affect you ugpa, so it seems like you're only doing this to have an excuse to apply a year later. You'd be much better served doing volunteer work or getting a job or prepping full time for the LSAT during that time than throwing your money in a hole for a degree that will prove inconsequential in life.


Yes, you are correct. The only reason I'd be doing this is for a reason to apply a year later. I do have a keen interest in history, but more or less, I want to put off paying my student loans for a year and see that I have >3.0 gpa. I have looked into the possibility of doing some state policy internships for the summer, it makes me wonder if they have those positions year round.

Of course this could all be resolved by LSAC doing away with their GPA calculations. Or, I could go back in time and not screw myself by getting bad grades Sophomore year.


You want to put off your student loan payments by taking out $12,000 in additional student loans? You can borrow my calculator if you want.

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ccs224
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby ccs224 » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:57 pm

gossipgirl wrote:
Any courses taken after receiving your bachelor's degree will not count toward your LSAC GPA. Don't do a MA to raise your GPA because it won't. Do it if you're genuinely interested. Otherwise, work and apply next fall.


TITCR.

A masters won't change your LSAC GPA one bit. It might make you look a little better to adcoms, but in talking to folks at different schools, a lot of my past experience has been brought up, but never my masters degree. Not once. Never. Probably not worth the investment if you're just looking for an admissions boost.

keg411
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby keg411 » Sat Apr 03, 2010 11:51 pm

I know someone who got a MA prior to going to law school, but her issue was the LSAT-related, not a poor GPA. Either choosing further academic work in a grad program or post-grad WE, I suggest you do whatever you can to distance yourself from your grades. However, please know that it will be a mark against you and it will hurt you in your apps.

The only real way to guard against a very strange sub3 cycle is to break 172 on the LSAT and ED to Northwestern.

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jump_man
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby jump_man » Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:14 am

I am an undergrad who will be graduating this spring (Occidental College), and I received a full ride scholarship offer from several MA programs in philosophy. I figure two years of maturity will enable me to receive a higher score on my LSAT (and two years of studying certainly won't hurt). Since I can get a free MA, work part-time, and study for my LSAT all in the next two years, I think this is a pretty good situation for me.

However, I should note that my desire to pursue a MA is simply for personal enrichment, rather than to gain a significant advantage in terms of getting into Law School.

I know I’m not giving any real advice here, but I thought you might be interested in hearing my story . . .

njskatchmo
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby njskatchmo » Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:23 am

One more thing to consider. Is that whichever type of program you can get funding at should come second. Since you will likely be taking student loans for the first degree, and the interest is deferred if you are enrolled in another program, you can let inflation take a small bite out of the amount you will have to pay. Plus it gives you time to pay off the first set of loans without the money going towards interest if you can get a funded offer at the second school. For example.

Do 3 years of law school with subsidized loans.
Get into a PHD program with funding (not uncommon) for 5 years. (even if you drop out after 2 years they will have been paid for) That's 5/2 years where you don't pay interest on those loans and with inflation compounded it will make the amount you have to pay back smaller in real amounts. Plus you can work while enrolled in the MA/PHD program and make payments against the law loans.

(Hardly seems like a worthwhile consideration in such a big decision)

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newyorker88
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby newyorker88 » Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:24 am

gossipgirl wrote:
ryanr wrote:
budafied wrote: Or do you mean wait to apply until after you have graduated and have a final 3.0+ GPA? I've heard that a good graduate GPA really doesn't help you much. Grad school grades are rather inflated (I speak from experience) and law schools know it...


Yes, I mean to wait to apply until I graduate. I am not too worried about the grad school grades for that reason; I too have heard they were inflated and not counted heavily in law school admissions. After this term, I will have about 60 credits left to graduate, and would like to increase my chances as much as possible.

I guess what it boils down to is this: will a 2.8 gpa (+/-) be looked upon significantly different than a 3.1 gpa (+/-)? If the 3.1 gpa is going to make a significant enough difference, than I should probably wait a year and apply after graduation. Of course, this could all be moot considering I haven't taken the LSAT yet...


Any courses taken after receiving your bachelor's degree will not count toward your LSAC GPA. Don't do a MA to raise your GPA because it won't. Do it if you're genuinely interested. Otherwise, work and apply next fall.


I don't think you get what he's saying. If he waits to apply his last semester grades of college will count towards his gpa and raise it a bit.
Rather than apply for the 2011 cycle, take a year and do a MA History at the local state school, and then apply during the next cycle. This would give me the opportunity to utilize the remainder of my undergrad credits to increase my GPA.

ryanr
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby ryanr » Sun Apr 04, 2010 1:13 am

Thank you all for your replies, they are much appreciated. I think the consensus is against the MA degree, which I am okay with. My goal is law school afterall, not teaching. I will direct my efforts to the LSAT until I take it this June. After that, I will determine if I need to take the October LSAT or delay entering law school. I guess I should also mention, that I am qualified for an LSAC fee waiver, so more than likely I will get a large number of application fees waived. Thus, it would make sense to go ahead and apply to some schools and see how my cycle goes and then reevaluate my standing afterward.

For those that noted that the grad school gpa will not affect my LSAC GPA, I am aware of that. Perhaps I was unclear in my original post as to my reasoning. My reasoning was simply so that I can finish my undergrad completely before applying, rather than midway through my last year of school. This would have the effect of raising my GPA-provided I do as well as I want to.

Thanks again.

ryanr
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby ryanr » Sun Apr 04, 2010 1:14 am

j.wellington wrote:
ryanr wrote:
EzraStiles wrote:I'm sorry, but this really doesn't sound like a good idea. I don't know how you'd save money doing this, because masters programs in social sciences and humanities are ridiculously expensive (when you consider the payoff). It sounds like you already know the gpa from this masters program will not affect you ugpa, so it seems like you're only doing this to have an excuse to apply a year later. You'd be much better served doing volunteer work or getting a job or prepping full time for the LSAT during that time than throwing your money in a hole for a degree that will prove inconsequential in life.


Yes, you are correct. The only reason I'd be doing this is for a reason to apply a year later. I do have a keen interest in history, but more or less, I want to put off paying my student loans for a year and see that I have >3.0 gpa. I have looked into the possibility of doing some state policy internships for the summer, it makes me wonder if they have those positions year round.

Of course this could all be resolved by LSAC doing away with their GPA calculations. Or, I could go back in time and not screw myself by getting bad grades Sophomore year.


You want to put off your student loan payments by taking out $12,000 in additional student loans? You can borrow my calculator if you want.


Haha yeah, in hindsight that sounds a little silly doesn't it?

ryanr
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby ryanr » Sun Apr 04, 2010 1:18 am

keg411 wrote:I know someone who got a MA prior to going to law school, but her issue was the LSAT-related, not a poor GPA. Either choosing further academic work in a grad program or post-grad WE, I suggest you do whatever you can to distance yourself from your grades. However, please know that it will be a mark against you and it will hurt you in your apps.

The only real way to guard against a very strange sub3 cycle is to break 172 on the LSAT and ED to Northwestern.


I am shooting for Northwestern, given their history of accepting splitters and giving preference to work experience. I have a fee waiver until 2011, so it won't hurt to apply this fall and see what happens. I do plan to apply binding ED at Northwestern, because they are my top choice by far. If the cycle sucks, which it may and I'm okay with that, then I will more than likely do as you suggest and distance myself from undergrad.

Now to break 172.... :?

Edit: I should also note that I am (not-so) secretly hoping for Willlamette with $, despite their (lack of) reputation. As I said in my original post my goal is politics, and Willamette being in Salem, I think it would be the best choice of the Oregon schools for networking purposes. Plus it's just down the street from me and I could ride my bike.

That's if none of the T1 choices work out...

moe
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby moe » Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:07 am

.
Last edited by moe on Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Cara
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Re: Grad School before Law School?

Postby Cara » Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:14 am

Waste of time and money. Study more for LSAT instead.




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