How do schools review GPA?

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halfwaygone
Posts: 29
Joined: Fri May 21, 2010 1:58 pm

How do schools review GPA?

Postby halfwaygone » Sat May 22, 2010 10:03 am

My LSAC GPA is 3.65. State school, nothing fancy. English degree (Writing). I'm 4 years out of college, and just took 15 credits worth of graduate-level courses last year (Education for certificate).

I have a high LSAT, so I'm not exactly super "worried" about finding a decent school. But my first choice -- because I have family in the city -- is Penn, where I'm a "consider" so I'd like to make it as strong an application as possible. (My softs are a bit murky, some good and some bad, and I don't think they'll help me much. Basically, in 4 years out: I had 2 bad years right out of college, and 2 good years now.)

I have 2 questions:
1) With my circumstances, should I write a short addendum? Or would it just look like an excuse instead of a clarification?
2) Do schools just look at the LSAC number, or do they look at the entire transcript, to see trends/etc?

My circumstances:
I worked 30-40 hours a week during college and worked 45-55 in my last semester. (I had the same "college job" for 3 years, selling shoes.) My GPA also (generally -- I have one C+ that last semester in an upper level Spanish class because I had to travel for work during that semester and got brought down a full letter grade for missing classes) has an upward trend, mostly brought down by 3 really bad grades -- classes I repeated -- in my freshman year and a slew of Bs early sophomore year. There are, however, several Ws on my transcripts. I was trying to graduate early, and managed a semester, but due to work schedules, I would have to withdraw from classes sometimes.

Is it worth it to write an addendum stating that I worked to pay my way through college with no family support (I didn't take out any student loans until graduate school) and it took me a little bit of time to get used to working that many hours per week during college?

Also, the trend: Except the one C+, 2 Bs in my last 2 years of college, and 1 B+ in graduate school (certificate, not degree), I have all As from the start of Junior Year forward.

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MoS
Posts: 404
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:59 pm

Re: How do schools review GPA?

Postby MoS » Sat May 22, 2010 10:48 am

halfwaygone wrote:My LSAC GPA is 3.65. State school, nothing fancy. English degree (Writing). I'm 4 years out of college, and just took 15 credits worth of graduate-level courses last year (Education for certificate).

I have a high LSAT, so I'm not exactly super "worried" about finding a decent school. But my first choice -- because I have family in the city -- is Penn, where I'm a "consider" so I'd like to make it as strong an application as possible. (My softs are a bit murky, some good and some bad, and I don't think they'll help me much. Basically, in 4 years out: I had 2 bad years right out of college, and 2 good years now.)

I have 2 questions:
1) With my circumstances, should I write a short addendum? Or would it just look like an excuse instead of a clarification?
2) Do schools just look at the LSAC number, or do they look at the entire transcript, to see trends/etc?

My circumstances:
I worked 30-40 hours a week during college and worked 45-55 in my last semester. (I had the same "college job" for 3 years, selling shoes.) My GPA also (generally -- I have one C+ that last semester in an upper level Spanish class because I had to travel for work during that semester and got brought down a full letter grade for missing classes) has an upward trend, mostly brought down by 3 really bad grades -- classes I repeated -- in my freshman year and a slew of Bs early sophomore year. There are, however, several Ws on my transcripts. I was trying to graduate early, and managed a semester, but due to work schedules, I would have to withdraw from classes sometimes.

Is it worth it to write an addendum stating that I worked to pay my way through college with no family support (I didn't take out any student loans until graduate school) and it took me a little bit of time to get used to working that many hours per week during college?

Also, the trend: Except the one C+, 2 Bs in my last 2 years of college, and 1 B+ in graduate school (certificate, not degree), I have all As from the start of Junior Year forward.


Will you say more about your two "bad" years? If it was just a bunch of Bs that may just sound like whining. If its more than that, then maybe say something. I would mention you worked 30-40 hours, but really I don't know how much schools care that your GPA is lower for any reason, they just care that your GPA is what it is, especially if you are at the low end of the school's numbers.

halfwaygone
Posts: 29
Joined: Fri May 21, 2010 1:58 pm

Re: How do schools review GPA?

Postby halfwaygone » Sat May 22, 2010 10:56 am

My 2 bad years out of school? I've already been convinced not to addendum that, as I guess it's not so bad unless they examine my jobs/resume with a fine-tooth comb. Or my 2 bad grades in Freshman year? One is a D- (Chemistry), and one is a D+ (Statistics). Both re-taken for an A and B respectively. So, yeah, they're pretty bad and drag down my GPA. The Bs just make the years look lackluster.

halfwaygone
Posts: 29
Joined: Fri May 21, 2010 1:58 pm

Re: How do schools review GPA?

Postby halfwaygone » Sun May 23, 2010 6:34 am

This is the addendum I would include. Too long?


Academic Addendum:
My parents did not contribute to financing my education or living expenses, and I supported myself financially through my undergraduate degree without going into debt. I worked 30-35 hours per week most semesters of college and 40-50 hours per week in the final semester. This contributed to a shaky academic start. I hope you will also look at my grades in the graduate courses I took at (my university). I took them because I wanted to secure the best possible teaching position in South Korea, as well as be eligible for certification in (my home state), but they also demonstrate my ability to do strong academic work at this point in my life, several years out of my undergraduate program. I am more mature, better at balancing extremely long hours, and ready for the academic rigor of (fill-in-the-blank) law school.



That was basically my situation. I was given no need-based aid because my parents technically "had" the money (according to Uncle Sam, and possibly in truth) but they refused to pay for anything. Good parents, and I'm not bitter, but I paid for every cup of ramen I consumed. I'm not whining, but I do think it's something to be taken into consideration. If I could go back, I'd work less and maybe take out some loans, but I didn't know then that I wanted to go to law school. Still, I don't want to sound like I'm whining -- just that I know *why* those grades were what they were, I'm more mature 7 years later (3 years of college and 4 years of life), and they in no way impact my ability to be successful.

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Iconoclast
Posts: 193
Joined: Wed May 19, 2010 10:10 pm

Re: How do schools review GPA?

Postby Iconoclast » Mon May 24, 2010 4:07 pm

I would cut the "My parents did not contribute" portion of the first line.

If you were working full time during UG, it is obvious that your parents weren't footing the bill. Pointing it out like that makes it sound like you're whining about it and using it as an excuse.

Working a real job through school is hard and warrants consideration - so I agree with writing the addendum to point it out.

xyzzzzzzzz
Posts: 463
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:28 pm

Re: How do schools review GPA?

Postby xyzzzzzzzz » Mon May 24, 2010 5:28 pm

.




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