ScottRiqui wrote: When you were looking at taking chances on a student who's below your 25th (either GPA or LSAT), does it make much difference just how far below the 25th he is? Likewise, is there a difference between being just a little over the school's 75th percentile vice being well above it?
ETA: I guess what I'm asking is whether someone with a 10th percentile GPA and 95th percentile LSAT is in a significantly different position than someone with a 20th percentile GPA and 80th percentile LSAT, admissions-wise.
For us it does because of where our 25th percentiles are. Our 25th% LSAT has hovered around a 152/153, which is about the national average score. The LSAT score band (+/- 3) would take that down to 149 if we are giving people the benefit of the doubt. However, the percentiles fall off fast under 150. A 145 is, as far as I'm aware, a score that has only been admitted through our summer program. I don't know that we've every admitted anyone under a 142/3. Not to say we wouldn't ever, but there aren't very many people with 140 LSATs who have the things that we would need to see to support the argument the person could still succeed (i.e. not flunk out) here. E.g. 4.0 from an Ivy, impeccable writing, LORs that comment on critical/analytical thinking ability, work experience involving complex tasks that require both intelligence and work ethic, history of standardized tests not predicting outcomes (i.e. a 5 on the ACT but the aforementioned 4.0 from an Ivy), etc. I'm just spitballing off the top of my head here, there isn't a special checklist for this kind of situation. Those are just some of the things I think an AdCom would need to see to convince them that the 140 LSAT should be overlooked.
GPAs are very different since they can be produced in so many different ways. It's all about what does the GPA say about the person's ability. If someone is a typical college senior with a GPA of 2.5, flat trend (all semesters between 2.3 and 2.
, not a tough major, no full-time work or other things that would take away from studies...what are we left to conclude? If the LSAT is average or low, the person probably just doesn't have what it takes. If the LSAT is high, without evidence to contradict it I assume the person is lazy or lacks direction. They probably CAN do the work, but have to this point CHOSEN not to. Either way, not good. On the other hand, there could be another person with a 2.5 GPA, but this person is 35 and totally bombed college 15 years ago. Like, 30 hours of 1.5. Then say they wandered a bit, maybe got a job/married/kids, or spent some time in the military...whatever; just generally grew up. Then they went back to school a few years ago and their GPA in their last 80 hrs is a 3.9 from a good school/program. Assuming the LSAT is within range for both, the second person has shown that "the numbers" don't really describe his ability. They demonstrated they can handle college work and do very well so in my mind they aren't really a "risk" (again, assuming LSAT w/i range). The first person hasn't shown that. They could very well be able to handle the work, and could go on to demonstrate it later once they get their *bleep* together, but until then they are a risk. Some schools will take that risk, others won't.
The tough part comes when you have an applicant who has softs you fall in love with, but doesn't have anything hard academically to hang your hat on, help you go to bat for them. You're arguing "potential" at that point, which can be a tough sell. Admissions deans who are very senior and might have a track record of identifying diamonds in the rough might have earn the trust of their faculty committees. Other places, faculty might have more control and choose to only go for the "sure things", hesitant to take any risks. That will vary from school to school.