arhmcpo wrote:Anecdotal (of course) but I went to a CSU over UC's.
I graduated in 4 years with a liberal arts major - never had a hard time getting prereqs or classes, though I don't know if your major is small and could pose difficulties getting your required's done...
I slacked off my senior year and still pulled a 3.85 while very talented, likely smarter friends, at UC's struggled to stay above a 3.0. I also graduated with no debt because my CSU, which was one of the better ones, was about 1/4 the cost of the area UC's. Certainly the difficulty at the UC's varies with how prestigious (or not) they are, but I don't believe for a second that I could have pulled a 3.85 at UCLA unless I had worked much much harder and been very lucky.
Keep in mind that my experience this was before the worst budget cuts in CA. But when my friend from UCLA had a 3.1, good lsat score, and debt; he barely got off the Hastings waitlist. Meanwhile I was getting in to those schools w/ money where he was getting flatout denied from because all these schools care about is whether you can raise their gpa or lsat median, or both. You can point to Berkely as looking "beyond the numbers" but they are the exception, not the rule.
The UC's are great schools but I would maintain that they are not elite enough, like the ivy's, to make up for a lower gpa with their high prestige - when you go through the admissions process against kids with high gpa's from less prestigious, less elite schools. I would go CSU for sure.
You have proved a point many on TLS seem to ignore about undergraduate institutions. You yourself say that you don’t think for a second you could pull a 3.85 without a whole host of extra necessary conditions. This is the whole reason why admissions differentiate between undergraduate institutions. Now you may say that all Law Schools care about is keeping their medians up, and you wouldn’t be wrong at all. They would certainly pick you with a 3.85 over a UCLA graduate with probably a 3.7, all other things constant. So, you may say, well where do undergraduate institutions come into play then? The answer lies here: there are insane amounts of people applying to LS now than ever before so great your 3.85 is better than the UCLA 3.7, but what about your 3.85 against the litany of other 3.85’s in the world? They certainly cannot accept all or even most of them, so admissions committee’s differentiate by reputation of your undergraduate institution assuming LSAT’s are about equal of course. With all the people applying these days your LSAT and GPA combo is not unique unlike before, now there are a whole stack of others with the same combo and only a fraction of that stack will get in. So, GPA and LSAT from let’s say UCLA will not beat a higher combo from a CSU individual by-and-large; however, and equal combo from UCLA will knock you out so to speak.