Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

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Nestico87
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Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby Nestico87 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:38 am

Do you have an unconventional major? What do you think about majoring in something like music, art, physics, outdoor recreation management, human development, etc. as preparation for law school?

I am not advocating that a line can be drawn between what is a conventional or an unconventional pre-law major— I am sure some majors could be viewed either way. But certainly political science, English, history, and other majors are an established norm in the world of pre-law.

What are the positives of an unconventional major? What are the negatives? What are the positives and negatives of a conventional major? Do you know anyone who majored in something seemingly random and was accepted into a top law school? Do you know anyone who was rejected because of it? Of course, we have all heard the, "you can major in anything and go to law school," but is it true that all majors are created equal in the eyes of an admissions board?

Personally, I am a music major emphasizing in jazz studies. I have been told that this will help my application stand out, but more importantly it is something that I am passionate about. But I have also found that there are some downsides to it as well. For example, I found that in order for my writing skills to be up to par before I go to law school I have needed to dedicate study time apart from my schooling in order to do so.

Please share whatever thoughts you have . . . I am sure you have some!
Last edited by Nestico87 on Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:41 am, edited 1 time in total.


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manbearwig
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby manbearwig » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:47 am

Nestico87 wrote:Do you have an unconventional major? What do you think about majoring in something like music, art, physics, outdoor recreation management, human development, etc. as preparation for law school?

I am not advocating that a line can be drawn between what is a conventional or an unconventional pre-law major— I am sure some majors could be viewed either way. But certainly political science, English, history, and other majors are an established norm in the world of pre-law.

What are the positives of an unconventional major? What are the negatives? What are the positives and negatives of a conventional major? Do you know anyone who majored in something seemingly random and was accepted into a top law school? Do you know anyone who was rejected because of it? Of course, we have all heard the, "you can major in anything and go to law school," but is it true that all majors are created equal in the eyes of an admissions board?

Personally, I am a music major emphasizing in jazz studies. I have been told that this will help my application stand out, but more importantly it is something that I am passionate about. But I have also found that there are some downsides to it as well. For example, I found that in order for my writing skills to be up to par before I go to law school I have needed to dedicate study time apart from my schooling in order to do so.

Please share whatever thoughts you have . . . I am sure you have some!


Best major = major you can get the highest GPA in. End.

(Side note, "unconventional" majors do not make you a special snowflake. Sorry.)
Last edited by manbearwig on Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Nestico87
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby Nestico87 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:49 am

Yeah . . . seeing carterth's results is actually part of the reason I started this post. He scored a 180 and Yale and Harvard rejected him? Why? Did his majoring in music have anything to do with that, or do you think it was something else?

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manbearwig
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby manbearwig » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:51 am

Nestico87 wrote:Yeah . . . seeing carterth's results is actually part of the reason I started this post. He scored a 180 and Yale and Harvard rejected him? Why? Did his majoring in music have anything to do with that, or do you think it was something else?


Yale and Harvard are never a lock, so it's impossible to say that it was simply his music major that doomed him. Guy was probably a douche or something.

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Nestico87
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby Nestico87 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:53 am

manbearwig wrote: Best major = major you can get the highest GPA in. End.


Yeah . . . but if two practically identical applicants are up against each other, with similar GPA, credentials, etc., and the only difference between the two is their individual majors, don't you think it would make a difference then?

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manbearwig
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby manbearwig » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:55 am

Nestico87 wrote:
manbearwig wrote: Best major = major you can get the highest GPA in. End.


Yeah . . . but if two practically identical applicants are up against each other, with similar GPA, credentials, etc., and the only difference between the two is their individual majors, don't you think it would make a difference then?


If that hypo could actually happen in real life, then duh, of course the only difference would make the difference. : /

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Nestico87
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby Nestico87 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:57 am

K. So it makes a difference. Then who wins . . . the political science major or the photography major?

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ArthurEdens
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby ArthurEdens » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:59 am

GPA/LSAT are all they care about, barring a disastrous personal statement of course. Even PhDs don't really get any kind of boost.

Nestico87 wrote:K. So it makes a difference. Then who wins . . . the political science major or the photography major?


In the extremely unlikely event of this happening, I would assume the poli sci major. Don't lose any sleep over it. Sounds as if you're OCD about that 180 LSAT 3.9X music major not getting into Harvard or Yale. I give you my personal guarantee that your cycle will reflect the LSN chart to near perfection.
Last edited by ArthurEdens on Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:03 am, edited 2 times in total.

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MTal
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby MTal » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:00 am

Apart from math and science, music is the hardest major you can have.

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manbearwig
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby manbearwig » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:00 am

Nestico87 wrote:K. So it makes a difference. Then who wins . . . the political science major or the photography major?


There is no answer because this would never ever happen. There are too many variables in law school applications that can differ amongst applicants. Someone's GPA is going to be .01 higher. Someone's going to have one more point on the LSAT. Someone's going to have an awesome internship. Someone's going to apply one day earlier. Someone's personal statement's going to portray them as an idiot.

kmarks
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby kmarks » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:06 am

Okay, I picked my major (cellular/molecular neuroscience) because I really loved the topic and in the back of my mind I assumed admissions in graduate school would know how difficult it was. Wrong. My major's GPA is far below that of the rest of the school, and my understanding from talking with adcomms is that its completely irrelevant. A "hard/unconventional" major carries the same weight as someone who was, say, a communications and/or pre-law major.

Basically, if your only goal is to get into law school, then pick whatever major you can get the highest GPA in; but if that's not the case, then you should do whatever major you want/makes you happy, but don't expect adcomms to care...

(trust me, I'm bitter too)

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Nestico87
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby Nestico87 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:08 am

The point isn't if the hypo would ever happen or not. The point is that the hypo proves that one major (by virtue of the major) can be better than another major in the eyes of an admissions board.

Of course, the purpose of this thread isn't to fight over whose major can beat up whose major, but rather to discuss the positives and the negatives of both conventional and unconventional majors.

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manbearwig
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby manbearwig » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:15 am

Nestico87 wrote:The point isn't if the hypo would ever happen or not. The point is that the hypo proves that one major (by virtue of the major) can be better than another major in the eyes of an admissions board.

Of course, the point of this thread isn't to fight over whose major can beat up whose major, but rather to discuss the positives and the negatives of both conventional and unconventional majors.


If the hypo can't happen, then it's a moot point. The only major that is the better major is the one that will let you score the highest GPA. If an applicant can get a 4.0 in political science or music, then the applicant should choose whatever she likes best. Or choose whatever would be the best backup if law school fails miserably. Beyond these, there are no other reasons to choose a major.

This thread is stupid if only because it might convince prelaw students that certain majors can be generalized as better than other majors. Majors don't matter. GPA does. If GPA is the same, plenty more factors will determine who gets in long before the major does.

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Nestico87
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby Nestico87 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:25 am

I think it is universally agreed that LSAT and GPA blow everything else out of the water when it comes to admissions. Again, this thread isn't trying to prove that one major is inherently better than another, but rather that each major comes with its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to preparing for law school.

For example, majoring in English is a great idea, but in the end you will not know the inner workings of the political system as well as if you had majored in political science.

Point being, I am interested in (and I think others may be, too) the random majors that people have chosen, and the positives and the negatives that have resulted from their decision relative to their preparation for law school; not just getting admitted to law school, but in preparing for the law school experience in general.
Last edited by Nestico87 on Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

kmarks
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby kmarks » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:26 am

It should be noted that having an unconventional major would definitely bring an element of diversity, as long as you market yourself well ... But, in the scheme of things, it's probably a rather minute factor

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manbearwig
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby manbearwig » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:30 am

Nestico87 wrote:I think it is universally agreed that LSAT and GPA blow everything else out of the water when it comes to admissions. Again, this thread isn't trying to prove that one major is inherently better than another, but rather that each major comes with its advantages and disadvantages.

Fore example, majoring in English is a great idea, but in the end you will not know the inner workings of the political system as well as if you had majored in political science.

Point being, I am interested in (and I think others may be, too) the random majors that people have chosen, and the positives and the negatives that have resulted from their decision relative to their preparation for law school; not just getting admitted to law school, but in preparing for the law school experience in general.


Okay, for most of this thread, it seemed as if you were arguing that choice of major made a difference in law school applications. It doesn't.

I don't think any major can truly prepare one for law school. I'm a poli sci major, and I took a few law classes in undergrad, but as a 0L, I feel I learned equally as much about the law from John Grisham novels, aka, only law school will teach me what I need to know for law school. Sure some majors promote better writing skills, but most social science and humanities will. Few majors will truly prepare you for law school.

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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:33 am

Do whatever you love...Engineering is useful if you want to do patent law...though keeping your GPA up might be difficult with that.

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Nestico87
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby Nestico87 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:45 am

Sweet. Now that we are on the same page, I agree that practically everything else comes before choice of major when it comes to law school admissions.

I have heard it argued that there are essentially two different types of majors: skill based, and knowledge based.

Skill based majors include music, math, English, art, economics and anything else that focuses more on developing a skill than learning facts about something.

Knowledge based majors include history, biology, construction management, and anything else that focuses and learning facts and processes more than it does developing a specific skill.

Obviously, no major fits entirely into either subject, and a lot of majors fall equally into both categories, but the focus of either knowledge development or skill development definitely exists.

That being said, skill based majors help prepare for law school because law school is about learning to think critically and logically, a skill that must be developed.

Knowledge based majors help prepare for law school because more often than not the acquired knowledge is in one way or another applicable to the law and is interdependent with it.

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TrackTony88
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby TrackTony88 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:23 am

Do something that you love not because it sets you apart or because it is "different" but because you have a passion for studying it.

I personally majored in architecture and I do think it helped me get into my top school choice and helped form a very well rounded personal statement based off my experiences in this major not encountered many times in law school.

You just need to pick a major that will play to your strong points. Architecture came easy to me, but a science major would have bored me to death. If you pick something you enjoy, the grades should follow.

Oban
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby Oban » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:34 am

I was a music major. Fun major, but GPA death, especially the labs.

acrossthelake
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:43 am

I'd be careful about writing off some majors such as history and biology as knowledge-based. Sure...those classes are that way when you're just taking a few introductory courses, but I've found that with any subject...after you learn a fair amount about it...you start to see it in a very different light...you enter a level of expertise in which you just "get it" in a different way---history majors don't simply know facts, they see these overarching patterns and themes, etc. etc. The way someone outside of history views the material is very different from the way a historian views the material. I don't quite grasp it--I've never taken history beyond the AP's in high school, but I hit that vague, yet distinct passover point in my own major late sophomore/early junior year and it was a magical experience. I've talked to friends who've hit that point in their respective points and we agree that most fields at a level of expertise are a confluence of facts and analytical skills.

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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby OperaSoprano » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:50 am

Unconventional majors can help or hurt, depending on how you sell yourself, and even factors like the UG you attended, and whether it is known for academic rigor. I don't attend a T14, but I was accepted to Fordham after majoring in fashion merchandising management at a rather specialized UG. I asked adcomms a lot of questions after my acceptance, because I wanted to understand the role my major played in my cycle. (I was waitlisted for ages before being admitted, despite competitive numbers that put me decently above median according to the index formula.) I downplayed my major because I was afraid it would hurt me, and my cycle taught me a lesson: schools and employers will be curious about students who major in unconventional subjects. You will not get into a school for which you are not otherwise very well qualified, but it can help you stand apart from other applicants with the same entering numbers. Now, when people ask about fashion, I let them have what they want to know instead of deflecting the questions, and I wish I'd done that during my cycle.

Do I think it hurt me? Yeah, a bit, because I failed to sell myself, and I do think some schools/adcomms probably would have been inclined to judge me harshly anyway. I judged me harshly, so to speak, and worried I couldn't compete against my Ivy educated classmates. I did fine. I'm not in the top 1% of my class, as so many TLSers are, but I am happy and grateful for the way things turned out. My general advice is to major in what you enjoy and can do well in, as others have said, but keep in mind that not everyone will have the same reaction to your background. If you are #1 in your class, feel free to major in whatever you like.

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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby rundoxierun » Wed Jul 28, 2010 9:27 am

acrossthelake wrote:I'd be careful about writing off some majors such as history and biology as knowledge-based. Sure...those classes are that way when you're just taking a few introductory courses, but I've found that with any subject...after you learn a fair amount about it...you start to see it in a very different light...you enter a level of expertise in which you just "get it" in a different way---history majors don't simply know facts, they see these overarching patterns and themes, etc. etc. The way someone outside of history views the material is very different from the way a historian views the material. I don't quite grasp it--I've never taken history beyond the AP's in high school, but I hit that vague, yet distinct passover point in my own major late sophomore/early junior year and it was a magical experience. I've talked to friends who've hit that point in their respective points and we agree that most fields at a level of expertise are a confluence of facts and analytical skills.


Dont write off BIO for this.. at the undergrad level you will never know enough to really start "getting" things conceptually. There is just entirely too much stuff you need to learn and understand before you can get to that point. Thats the worst thing about the sciences, get a PhD or all you did was memorize a lot of crap.

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sanetruth
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Re: Unconventional Majors: Music, Art, Physics, Etc.

Postby sanetruth » Wed Jul 28, 2010 9:57 am

yo, sammy nestico, i think how admissions will view your music major depends on where its coming from. if you're a music major at a respected conservatory, and you do well and explain how you think that sort of training is relevant to going to law school, it will look good. if, however, you're at some random school where the music department exists solely because every 3 years someone decides they want to major in it because they can't think of anything else, they might think its a cop-out unless you have proved that outside of school you have succeeded in this regard. Music majors have reputations for being both really hard (like the people in this thread are saying) and incredibly easy. in the latter of the two schools i mentioned, the assumption would most likely be that it is an easy major. however, coming out of julliard or something with a 3.6+ is going to make you look legit. adcoms love people like that.

but in the end it will still all rest on the shoulders of your GPA/LSAT, the rest will just give you that slight nudge.




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