John_rizzy_rawls wrote:. So two questions -
1) How much does transcript matter? For example, I'm a CC--->T20 transfer. During one bad semester (of which I actually have a very legit addendum for) I got 2 Fs. Other than that my GPA is ~3.9. To make up for the Fs I've taken quite a few less rigorous classes at my UG and a CC to boost my GPA as high as possible. I'll end up with a ~3.5/3.6. How heavily is this taken into account? Is it looked down on?
Something like this depends greatly on what the law school is and what your LSAT is. No one piece of the application exists in a vacuum. People have bad semesters, that by itself isn't a problem unless the following semesters aren't all that great, either. This isn't the case with you. If I'm trying to assess your ability, then I probably would scan the transcripts to look at semester-by-semester grades to look for fluctuations, and in doing so would see the courses. I also see how much of your overall GPA is from your degree school and how much is from CC. E.g. just last week I remember making a comment on someone's file along the lines of the GPA being deceptively high because something like 75% of the credits were from CC and the person had only 35 hours from the 4 year school his degree would be from (and those grades weren't nearly as good). Personally, I don't get too much into individual classes for most applicants because I don't need to. Soft majors are going to have a lot of soft classes. All CC classes I consider easy from the standpoint that if you're smart enough/good enough student to succeed in law school CC should be a breeze. The only time I do look is if someone has a low, but improving GPA, I look at the semesters they did well to see if they didn't really take hard classes or took light loads. But like I've said before, if I'm doing that I'm already past the first like 4 levels of review depth so there's probably a good reason the person isn't an presumptive admit or presumptive deny.
John_rizzy_rawls wrote:2) I'm applying this upcoming cycle (c/o 2017). Gunning hard for HYS. Would you recommend applying the day apps are open with a 3.5x/172ish or mid-December with a 3.6x/172ish? Is the time trade-off worth the small GPA boost. I know I can wait for Yale without penalty so I'm moreso asking for Harvard and Stanford (throw in CCN, Berkeley, and Penn as well).
HYS admissions are a little different than it is for us mere mortals so I can't say that my opinion here is based on any real knowledge of how they do things. But generally, you're below median (by not a little bit) whether it's 3.59 or 3.62. I can't imagine those few points would be the thing that is the difference between a ding and an admit. Then again, in that rarefied air the numerical differences can be virtually non-existent, which I would think allows them to very much pick the class they want based on all those soft factors (that really create the "character" of the class) rather than be driven as much by the numbers (as far as the bottom half goes; the top half is even more competitive b/c there are so few people that are above median for those schools).
Unsolicited Bonus Advice: My question to anyone who tells me they're goal is HYS is always "Why?". If one of those is your dream school, you love the area, the programs, want to be a professor, or whatever else then I'm fine with that. But I think too many 0L's are status chasing and are only applying because (consciously or subconsciously) they want to "win" and "winning" in this context is defined by going to the schools everyone says are the best. Little thought is given to whether those schools are a good fit for them. To me, anyone good enough to get in to a top 5 school probably has a full-ride at a 10-30 school and it's not like schools in that range are online diploma mills.
Sure, I know everyone right now is probably screaming about job placements, etc., but those differences among schools outside the top 10 aren't all that big. Finding jobs ("placement" isn't a great word since schools don't "place" students in jobs) is something that changes year-to-year and is greatly influenced by factors other than the name on your diploma. Graduating debt free is something that can dramatically alter the financial trajectory of your life.
I realize that a lot of this stems from the What If? factor. You don't KNOW that you'll be on law review at the lower ranked school. Students think they might want to live in a glamorous city one day and don't want to limit themselves to one state or region. I get that. But the fact is that the overwhelming majority of people practice in relatively small radius around where they are from. The 10-30 ranked school in your area probably has a reputation that spans an entire region and several large cities. Once you're in practice, your work will carry more weight if you want to move. (Unless you want to be on the SCOTUS, since apparently we now only allow Harvard and the occasional Yale grad to do that job.)
But that's probably just my egalitarian, anti-elitism streak showing.