Breadth or Depth?

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albatross92
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Breadth or Depth?

Postby albatross92 » Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:06 pm

Hello everyone,
I'm a rising sophomore, and a double major in history and political science. I'm also minoring in both art history and philosophy, and am in the Honors Program. My GPA is a 4.0. Although there is still a little way to go before LSATs factor into my life, I would prefer to go to either Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Penn, or Georgetown Law Schools. I understand that the main factors to being admitted in these institutions are GPA and LSAT. But, I have a question that is just getting on my nerve during the past few weeks. I've been thinking about it constantly, and I so I seek your opinion.

This fall, I had planned to take a mid-level (200s) art history course to begin my minor; however, a faculty advisor suggested that I take something more "substantive," such as economics. So, I registered for a microeconomics course for this fall, with the intent to take a macro course in the spring, and other economics courses in the future; however, the economics faculty at my school is known for being notoriously difficult, and I fear for my GPA.

The final factor is that if I choose to abandon this economics kick - I may be able to triple major in philosophy without my GPA being damaged (I'm not entirely sure of it, but more confident than a few free electives in economics).

So, my question is - when evaluating undergraduate transcripts, do the T-14 place more weight on a schedule that exudes breadth (taking history, poll sci, philosophy, art history, and economics), or one that epitomizes depth (my current setup)?

Many thanks for any insight you all could provide.

dissonance1848
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Re: Breadth or Depth?

Postby dissonance1848 » Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:17 pm

All they care about is GPA. Keep the 4.0, and you are good to go.

shoeshine
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Re: Breadth or Depth?

Postby shoeshine » Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:21 pm

Seriously, they won't even look at your transcript that deeply. They have no way of knowing how rigorous different courses are across different majors from hundreds of undergrads. High GPA is what matters to Adcomms.

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mrtoren
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Re: Breadth or Depth?

Postby mrtoren » Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:52 pm

Honestly, stick to one major and fluff your GPA with 100-level courses if you want. Like everyone has said, adcomms are number oriented. They have too many applicants to sort through to dissect your academic career.

albatross92
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Re: Breadth or Depth?

Postby albatross92 » Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:02 pm

Even if the college is not as elite or prestigious as Ivy League schools? I go to a small private Jesuit school, and I was worried that adcomms might focus more on the transcripts from there as opposed to higher-ranked institutions.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Breadth or Depth?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:04 pm

albatross92 wrote:Even if the college is not as elite or prestigious as Ivy League schools? I go to a small private Jesuit school, and I was worried that adcomms might focus more on the transcripts from there as opposed to higher-ranked institutions.


Yes. Even in your case. High GPA is all that matters.

albatross92
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Re: Breadth or Depth?

Postby albatross92 » Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:13 pm

Thanks. I just became very worried when someone who is considered an excellent, successful faculty advisor tells me I'm doing something fundamentally wrong in my course selection. I'm determined not to have my GPA or transcript be my downfall in admissions (then again, I PLAN for no downfall at all, lol).

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cinephile
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Re: Breadth or Depth?

Postby cinephile » Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:13 pm

Well, does your advisor know you're interested in law schools? Maybe s/he recommends having a wider range of courses to open up more opportunities down the line to pursue grad school in different areas.

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Samara
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Re: Breadth or Depth?

Postby Samara » Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:56 pm

albatross92 wrote:Thanks. I just became very worried when someone who is considered an excellent, successful faculty advisor tells me I'm doing something fundamentally wrong in my course selection. I'm determined not to have my GPA or transcript be my downfall in admissions (then again, I PLAN for no downfall at all, lol).

Technically, your adviser is probably not wrong, but the boost you would get from taking economics courses over philosophy or art history is infinitesimal and dwarfed by the risk to your GPA. Of course, the difference between a 4.0 and 3.95 is also pretty negligible, but I would never advise someone to risk it for any set of courses.

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Opie
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Re: Breadth or Depth?

Postby Opie » Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:11 am

It's important to note that economics is pretty hard. If you don't already know that you're good at it and find it interesting, don't risk it.

albatross92
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Re: Breadth or Depth?

Postby albatross92 » Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:42 am

It's not that I wouldn't enjoy economics - my fear is mainly that staying put in the humanities/social sciences would pigeonhole me to adcomms as being not diverse enough for them, even if I maintain a 4.0 GPA.

I just don't want my undergraduate record, if anything, to be a point of objection to law schools. I still think triple majoring in history/poli sci/philosophy has some value to it if I can maintain a 4.0.

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Opie
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Re: Breadth or Depth?

Postby Opie » Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:47 am

Those are some of the most common majors for law school applicants, so I don't think any of them would stick out to an adcomm.

The 4.0 will. I would give up on even a double major and take some 100 level French or something. Use the extra brain power to study the LSAT or network with people in cities you're interested in.

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ahduth
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Re: Breadth or Depth?

Postby ahduth » Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:41 pm

albatross92 wrote:It's not that I wouldn't enjoy economics - my fear is mainly that staying put in the humanities/social sciences would pigeonhole me to adcomms as being not diverse enough for them, even if I maintain a 4.0 GPA.

I just don't want my undergraduate record, if anything, to be a point of objection to law schools. I still think triple majoring in history/poli sci/philosophy has some value to it if I can maintain a 4.0.


This isn't even remotely a concern. Focus on getting a top 1 percentile LSAT score, if you're that confident you're going to post a 4.0.




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