How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
LMD
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:00 am

How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby LMD » Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:07 am

I have a 175 LSAT and a 3.9 gpa from a very weak undergraduate school.

I attended graduate school for two years and, while my grades for the first year are fine, I essentially dropped out my second year and had many incompletes which have since turned to Fs because I never finished them. The graduate program was an extremely good English program and, to be frank, I was way underqualified and somewhat incapable of doing the top-notch work they expected. I left after two years without a degree. I'm not sure what my overall graduate school GPA is, but it is certainly lower than 3.0 as a result of the incompletes becoming failures.

Because of my weak undergraduate school, I expect to be dinged pretty hard for this. Is this experience enough to keep me from applying to the top tier law schools?

Thank you very much for your help.

-LMD

TheFactor
Posts: 789
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:12 pm

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby TheFactor » Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:16 am

no

User avatar
cinephile
Posts: 3469
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:50 pm

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby cinephile » Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:57 am

Going to a weaker undergraduate school won't hurt and the grad GPA isn't really considered. However, some apps ask if you've ever been on academic probation or if your post-secondary studies have ever been interrupted for any reason. So, you may need to craft addenda for these questions. Beyond law school admissions, you may find yourself in a situation explaining a resume gap to employers.

User avatar
AntipodeanPhil
Posts: 1300
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:02 pm

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:01 pm

TheFactor wrote:no

So, it is generally accepted that a good graduate GPA doesn't significantly help an application, and that makes perfect sense for a few reasons, but do we know much about what a really bad graduate GPA does? Those cases much be much less common.

A friend of mine had to leave a Ph.D. program after failing an important exam, and then applied to law school. He had much better grad grades than the OP - the worst were Bs - but still underperformed his numbers. He got into a couple of the lower T14s so no disaster, though.

That's only one case, but it makes sense to me that failing out of grad school would be viewed negatively by law schools - enough to count for a few LSAT points, perhaps. They want students who are going to complete their degrees.

EDIT: this does seem like the sort of thing a good addendum could really help.
Last edited by AntipodeanPhil on Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
JamMasterJ
Posts: 6688
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:17 pm

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby JamMasterJ » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:02 pm

How were you unqualified with a 3.9 and a 175? That demonstrates a level of intelligence that the vast majority of the population does not have

User avatar
Dany
Posts: 11580
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2009 3:00 pm

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby Dany » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:11 pm

I don't think anyone can really give you a good answer to this, but the best you can do is to write an addendum and explain why you left the program (unless you have no better reason than "It was too hard.") and try to take the focus away from the grad GPA. I would certainly highlight that you got good grades the first year but decided to leave for other reasons.

You'll just have to wait and see how everything plays out, but with your numbers you have a shot at virtually every school in the country. Best of luck.

User avatar
aerogear
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 11:45 pm

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby aerogear » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:27 pm

JamMasterJ wrote:How were you unqualified with a 3.9 and a 175? That demonstrates a level of intelligence that the vast majority of the population does not have


+1

User avatar
rinkrat19
Posts: 13918
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:28 pm

Is there any possibility you could get the incomplete/Fs retroactively withdrawn?

AP-375
Posts: 413
Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:18 pm

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby AP-375 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:37 pm

I think a question like this merits a few phone calls to some admissions offices, since it seems like no one here really knows.

User avatar
Richie Tenenbaum
Posts: 2162
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 6:17 am

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:39 pm

Write an addendum explaining that that you decided not to pursue the English program and withdrew from all classes, and since then those withdraws have turned to F's. I would not mention how the difficulty of the program was the reason you quit. I would try to focus on the lack of marketability of the degree in general to get the type of job you wanted after finishing the program.

cinephile wrote: Beyond law school admissions, you may find yourself in a situation explaining a resume gap to employers.


1. Do legal employers even look for resume gaps?
2. Even they do, OP can do one of the following: 1) If he was employed while doing the grad program just list that or 2) List the grad program on your resume in the proper way that indicates no degree was granted. Either option is fine, and I probably would do number 2 if I was him. All he has to say in an interview is "Yeah I enjoy writing a lot, but I realized that this degree didn't improve my career prospects at all. So I cut my losses and dropped out, even though I really enjoyed the classes and the school itself. And that leads us to why I came to law school--to find a career that pays people to write."

Edit to add:
I think the worst case scenario is that law schools view you as a bit of a quitter. I don't think it reflects poorly on your academic ability (unless you were getting C's on grades before deciding to drop out). Thus, your focus should be on explaining how you withdrawing was the proper decision for you career wise.

User avatar
aerogear
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 11:45 pm

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby aerogear » Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:04 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:Is there any possibility you could get the incomplete/Fs retroactively withdrawn?


It depends on your situation and the school that you are attending/did attend. Most public schools will tell you NO, but if you have a great case, they'll allow you petition it. If its something personal, life changing, family death, etc. you'll get it, as long as you are convincing. Although this is great, you will most likely have to wipe off a whole semesters worth of credits. Again, this depends on the institution so make sure you arrange an appointment with a dean.

I know most if not all CCs will allow you to go back, explain your situation and expunge selected courses. It's fairly easy and its pretty painless.

LMD
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:00 am

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby LMD » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:04 pm

Thanks very much for the responses.

I was not qualified for the program because the undergraduate education I received was not rigorous enough and I was lazy. The program was filled with very well-educated people who were as intelligent as I was. Frankly, I think the only reason I got into this program was that GRE scores allowed me to qualify for the president's scholarship or somesuch nonsense, so it was free for the department; I don't think they get many students whose GRE scores compete with top science students.

I was trying to navigate through a highly theoretical program without having studied a bit of theory before. I mean, I was completely unfamiliar even with the big names in the field, and some of the others in my class had master's degrees with theses from top five schools in the field, etc.

That's not to say I couldn't have competed with them, it would've taken an incredible effort and I was unprepared for it. I could have slogged my way through the program and probably gotten a Ph.D. doing mediocre work, but I never would've gotten an academic job upon graduation. While I certainly wasn't impressive, I didn't get kicked out of the program or anything, and the main reason my transcript looks bad is because I didn't write the papers my last term since I already knew I was leaving without a degree.

Strangely enough, I just looked at my transcript, and while there are some 'F's, the classes I took in a different department and didn't finish have been deleted. Not sure why they did that as they were still there a month ago when I looked, and it's been five years since this occurred! The transcript still looks ugly but the GPA isn't too terrible.

Again, thanks so much for the responses, even if nobody knows, they have been helpful.

User avatar
emciosn
Posts: 392
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:53 pm

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby emciosn » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:09 pm

Is OP required to even tell schools on his/her apps that this graduate school thing even happened? Couldn't OP just provide the GPA from UG with the lsat then fill out the rest of the app. I guess if asked about it in an interview you would have to explain the gap but couldn't you just say you didn't like it and dropped out? In my view not disclosing it on your apps is not being dishonest seeing as how you were never put on academic probation or anything. It just wasn't for you and you dropped out. Maybe apps do ask about grad school and I have just forgotten.

User avatar
Dany
Posts: 11580
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2009 3:00 pm

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby Dany » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:14 pm

emciosn wrote:Is OP required to even tell schools on his/her apps that this graduate school thing even happened?

Yes. Absolutely.

LSAC wrote:...you must have a separate transcript sent to LSAC directly from each undergraduate and graduate institution you attended


(emphasis added)

User avatar
emciosn
Posts: 392
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:53 pm

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby emciosn » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:20 pm

Dany wrote:
emciosn wrote:Is OP required to even tell schools on his/her apps that this graduate school thing even happened?

Yes. Absolutely.

LSAC wrote:...you must have a separate transcript sent to LSAC directly from each undergraduate and graduate institution you attended


(emphasis added)


I stand corrected. I guess my advise would just to write a short adendum. Just be brief and honest. I wouldn't emphasize that the work was too much, just say that you were not a good fit for the program and decided to drop out.

LMD
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:00 am

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby LMD » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:46 pm

Yeah, I have to report it. I could likely get away with not reporting it for admissions, but it could be a disaster when the bar review rakes my ethics. If I thought I could get away with it, I wouldn't report it, but that's pretty dumb. The record makes me look bad but given my performance it's reasonable for schools to assume I am less likely to succeed in law school than my numbers would indicate.

I've been playing poker since dropping out of grad school so I have quite a large gap to explain as it is...

User avatar
emciosn
Posts: 392
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:53 pm

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby emciosn » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:50 pm

LMD wrote:Yeah, I have to report it. I could likely get away with not reporting it for admissions, but it could be a disaster when the bar review rakes my ethics. If I thought I could get away with it, I wouldn't report it, but that's pretty dumb. The record makes me look bad but given my performance it's reasonable for schools to assume I am less likely to succeed in law school than my numbers would indicate.

I've been playing poker since dropping out of grad school so I have quite a large gap to explain as it is...


Haha explaining away your gap with a grad school dropout and playing poker won't look too good but lucky for you schools care most about the LSAT and UG GPA they get to report for their incoming students. In those two areas your shine pretty brightly. I really think you will get some bites in the T10.

Keeper1125
Posts: 80
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:38 am

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby Keeper1125 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:29 pm

OP, I'm kind of wondering if this is a Fight Club situation since I dealt with the exact same thing last cycle. Left grad school early with an incomplete or two but had top numbers (3.78/180), also a quasi-professional poker pro for the last two years (are you on 2p2?).

My cycle went pretty much exactly as you would expect, got in everywhere except Yale (didn't apply to Stanford fwiw, didn't want the west coast) and am HLS-bound in a month. I wrote an addendum demonstrating my regret/maturity and I think it answered any questions they might have had. PM me and I'll send it to you (or if you don't have PM function just post an e-mail address, 2p2 name, etc.).

Good luck!

Keeper1125
Posts: 80
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:38 am

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby Keeper1125 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:32 pm

emciosn wrote:
LMD wrote:Yeah, I have to report it. I could likely get away with not reporting it for admissions, but it could be a disaster when the bar review rakes my ethics. If I thought I could get away with it, I wouldn't report it, but that's pretty dumb. The record makes me look bad but given my performance it's reasonable for schools to assume I am less likely to succeed in law school than my numbers would indicate.

I've been playing poker since dropping out of grad school so I have quite a large gap to explain as it is...


Haha explaining away your gap with a grad school dropout and playing poker won't look too good but lucky for you schools care most about the LSAT and UG GPA they get to report for their incoming students. In those two areas your shine pretty brightly. I really think you will get some bites in the T10.


You'd be surprised at how applicable poker skills are to the legal field. Moreover, I do find responses to my brief poker career to be binary but, overall, most people are fascinated/impressed when I discuss it, particularly when I explain that it's much more profitable than most traditional work (also, that it is largely a game of skill and poker != blackjack).

Keeper1125
Posts: 80
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:38 am

Re: How much will a poor graduate school transcript hurt my app?

Postby Keeper1125 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:39 pm

Also, one of the best NL tournament players in the world currently studies at YLS. I honestly think it would be rare for admissions to view it as a detriment, and in some instances I think it could add value to an application.




Return to “Law School Admissions Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], BobBoblaw, dstars823, goldenbear2020, incognito_mode13 and 9 guests