Long Lost Sub-2.0

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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North
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Long Lost Sub-2.0

Postby North » Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:45 pm

Hey guys,

I spent my first year out of high school playing around at a local university before transferring to a Community College and then to a State University. When I left that local school, my GPA there was below 2.0 and I was on academic probation. Today, my cumulative GPA is pretty good and I'm currently working on balancing it with a 17X LSAT. Unfortunately - no matter how much I've made up for it in my cumulative GPA - that sub-2.0 GPA and academic probation is still exactly how I left it at that first school, and I've been so focused on bringing my cumulative GPA up over the years that I've only just now realized that this may give me problems. Will this affect anything? What should I do about it - go back and take classes there?

09042014
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Re: Long Lost Sub-2.0

Postby 09042014 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:47 pm

Schools only care about your cumulative LSAC GPA.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Long Lost Sub-2.0

Postby vanwinkle » Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:51 pm

North wrote:Hey guys,

I spent my first year out of high school playing around at a local university before transferring to a Community College and then to a State University. When I left that local school, my GPA there was below 2.0 and I was on academic probation. Today, my cumulative GPA is pretty good and I'm currently working on balancing it with a 17X LSAT. Unfortunately - no matter how much I've made up for it in my cumulative GPA - that sub-2.0 GPA and academic probation is still exactly how I left it at that first school, and I've been so focused on bringing my cumulative GPA up over the years that I've only just now realized that this may give me problems. Will this affect anything? What should I do about it - go back and take classes there?

Many applications ask whether you've ever been subject to academic probation or discipline. For those schools you'll have to check the box and provide an explanation anyway, so you may as well start preparing an addendum now. From the sound of it you at least have a successful history at the state university to point to as a sign you've matured since then.

Those grades will be averaged in along with your grades at all other schools to compute your LSDAS GPA. Retaking classes will not get rid of the grades, they'll still be factored in by LSAC. All you can do is watch your cumulative GPA fall, provide the addendum to the schools that require it, and aim for the highest LSAT score possible to make up for the low GPA.

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KibblesAndVick
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Re: Long Lost Sub-2.0

Postby KibblesAndVick » Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:52 pm

LSAC calculates your GPA using all the classes you've taken up until you get you first undergraduate degree. So if you got poor grades at the CC and strong grades at the state university they will all be included and averaged together. You have to send a transcript from every school you've attended so they'll be able to see what the deal is.

You can write an addendum explaining your upward GPA trend. Talk about how you matured as a student and how the more recent grades are a better reflection of your academic ability, blah blah blah. They don't really care how, why, or where you earned your GPA. They just take the number for what it is.

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North
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Re: Long Lost Sub-2.0

Postby North » Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:07 pm

Thank you DF, VW, and Kibbles for taking the time - that all sets me much more at ease. VW, I was most worried about how I would handle the application question you noted. Though I have no legitimate (medical, et cetera), traditionally addendum-worthy excuse for that low GPA, I agree that one pointing out my upward grade trend and new-found maturity should mitigate some of the damage. I'll begin preparing my addendum now. Thanks again! (Is it lame that I think its awesome/feel all honored to have had TLS Ents answer my question?)

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Samara
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Re: Long Lost Sub-2.0

Postby Samara » Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:12 pm

--ImageRemoved--

Anyone have an idea how much of an effect being on academic probation is? Let's say it was just one semester, you changed majors as a result, and your university immediately reinstated your scholarship, at least partially because of a medical factor. If you have a reason, have demonstrated academic achievement since, and your university took favorable action, would it become a non-factor? At the very least, is it of a magnitude that could be canceled out by applying ED? How does it compare to other addendum-necessary factors, such as arrests?

Element
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Re: Long Lost Sub-2.0

Postby Element » Wed Aug 03, 2011 3:00 pm

Samara wrote:--ImageRemoved--

Anyone have an idea how much of an effect being on academic probation is? Let's say it was just one semester, you changed majors as a result, and your university immediately reinstated your scholarship, at least partially because of a medical factor. If you have a reason, have demonstrated academic achievement since, and your university took favorable action, would it become a non-factor? At the very least, is it of a magnitude that could be canceled out by applying ED? How does it compare to other addendum-necessary factors, such as arrests?


I don't think it will ever become a complete non-factor. But, if you can explain the poor academic performance and back it up with subsequent strong performance, I think it will get to a point where the schools might not hold it against you. The adcoms know that many people slip up every now and then, especially when you're young and immature. That being said, you should be able to acknowledge the fact that you slipped up, learned from the situation, and improved thereafter.

I don't think they're necessarily looking for people who have been perfectly successful up until now. But they are looking for people who will be able to succeed at their law school. Granted, a long history of successes without blemish is a very strong indicator that the student would continue to succeed at the law school. However, a blemished history with a demonstrated improvement also shows that the student can learn from his/her mistakes and has the ability and determination to succeed, which also provides a strong indicator that the student will succeed in law school. The improvement will show the adcoms that the applicant is not the same person who was put on academic probation in prior years.

So, like I said, it won't ever become a non-factor. The adcoms will see the academic probation and have questions about it. But if you can explain it and point to drastic improvements afterwards, then that will generally be enough to put their minds at ease and not hold it against you.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Long Lost Sub-2.0

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Aug 03, 2011 3:04 pm

Samara wrote:Anyone have an idea how much of an effect being on academic probation is? Let's say it was just one semester, you changed majors as a result, and your university immediately reinstated your scholarship, at least partially because of a medical factor. If you have a reason, have demonstrated academic achievement since, and your university took favorable action, would it become a non-factor? At the very least, is it of a magnitude that could be canceled out by applying ED? How does it compare to other addendum-necessary factors, such as arrests?

Under those circumstances I think it'll be pretty much a non-factor. What could hurt you more than the probation itself would be the way you disclose it (don't try to make excuses or downplay it, just honestly describe what happened and note that you've performed well since then) or failing to disclose it (while a proper disclosure might not matter, knowingly omitting it could get you in trouble with the bar). I think that, other than what it does to your overall GPA, it won't really affect things at all.

A long time ago I wrote a TLS article, "How to write an effective addendum". I probably need to tweak it a little, but it's still good enough to get the concept across.

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Samara
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Re: Long Lost Sub-2.0

Postby Samara » Wed Aug 03, 2011 3:58 pm

Thanks for the responses, I feel a little more at ease. I'm definitely going to disclose it. It's pretty obvious on my transcript and it's just for craptastic grades. It's not like cheating or anything. FWIW, I disclosed this past winter in my application to the MA program I'm starting this fall and still got in with merit schollys. The field of study (arts-related) is completely different, however, and far less dependent on "scholarly" abilities. For law school, I'm going to be a bubble candidate for the T14, so I'm a lot more concerned this time around.

Thanks for the link vanwinkle. I'll definitely give that a read. The addendum I used for the MA program followed those rules of not downplaying it or making excuses, but there's always room for improvement.




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