Low Freshman GPA, High Sophomore and Junior Year GPA

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slee90777
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Low Freshman GPA, High Sophomore and Junior Year GPA

Postby slee90777 » Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:49 am

Hi, I'm interested in applying to law school come senior year.
I lost focus my freshman year and my GPA was 2.98
I took an year off to work and quickly learned the importance of education.
My sophomore year and junior year, I tightened up and my GPA has been 3.76 Sophomore year and 3.82 so far into my Junior Year.

How will my freshman GPA affect my application?


Thanks

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fundamentallybroken
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Re: Low Freshman GPA, High Sophomore and Junior Year GPA

Postby fundamentallybroken » Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:09 pm

They don't look at gpa by year, only by cumulative gpa.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Low Freshman GPA, High Sophomore and Junior Year GPA

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:17 pm

This isn't literally true at all schools, but it's generally how things work:

The first thing a school will see when you apply is your LSAT and cumulative GPA. This means your GPA for all college classes taken at all schools. If you studied at a community college, for example, that'll get rolled in too. Then they sort applications into piles based on these two numbers. Law schools are focused on maintaining their median LSAT and GPA medians because of how those numbers affect their USNWR rankings, so a quick gauge of your app is how your numbers compare to their medians. They may sort things, for example, into four stacks: Both above median, above-median GPA, above-median LSAT, and both below median.

For the "both below median" pile, expect only a quick read to see if there's a good reason not to reject you. If one isn't bleedingly obvious (and I mean things like "URM" or "Nobel prize recipient") then you're probably getting rejected. For the "above-median GPA" and "above-median LSAT" piles, they'll see what they need to maintain their medians and then pick and choose from there. Here, soft factors like work experience can help one person stand out over another, but they already need to be in the right pile for that to matter.

This leads to my advice for you:

1) Take another year off when you graduate. Your GPA only contains all the semesters you've completed when you apply. If you wait until after you graduate, your senior year grades will also be available to average in and pull up your overall GPA. Additional work experience will be another plus that helps you stand out, once you do apply.

2) When the time comes, study hard for the LSAT. Even with your senior-year grades, your GPA will be dragged down some, and you'll likely be below the GPA median at top schools. However, even in the T14 there are schools friendly to "splitters", or people with high LSATs but low GPAs. These are folks in the "above-median LSAT" pile, and if you can't be in the "above both medians" pile, that's the second-best place to be. There's lots of advice here on how to study for the LSAT and maximize your score. You don't have to worry about this for a whole, though, since you won't be applying for a while yet.

3) Include a GPA addendum explaining the grade gap. You need a high LSAT to get their attention, but once you have a high LSAT and post-UG work experience, your application will get a serious look. At that point, once they're already paying attention to you, is when an addendum matters and can help. A brief one-page addendum, explaining simply and factually what happened and why your later semesters show your real potential, will help once you've already gotten this far. This won't make much difference if you don't do the first two things, but if you follow all my advice, then an addendum might be the last small push that gets you into a good school.

slee90777
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:27 am

Re: Low Freshman GPA, High Sophomore and Junior Year GPA

Postby slee90777 » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:19 pm

vanwinkle wrote:This isn't literally true at all schools, but it's generally how things work:

The first thing a school will see when you apply is your LSAT and cumulative GPA. This means your GPA for all college classes taken at all schools. If you studied at a community college, for example, that'll get rolled in too. Then they sort applications into piles based on these two numbers. Law schools are focused on maintaining their median LSAT and GPA medians because of how those numbers affect their USNWR rankings, so a quick gauge of your app is how your numbers compare to their medians. They may sort things, for example, into four stacks: Both above median, above-median GPA, above-median LSAT, and both below median.

For the "both below median" pile, expect only a quick read to see if there's a good reason not to reject you. If one isn't bleedingly obvious (and I mean things like "URM" or "Nobel prize recipient") then you're probably getting rejected. For the "above-median GPA" and "above-median LSAT" piles, they'll see what they need to maintain their medians and then pick and choose from there. Here, soft factors like work experience can help one person stand out over another, but they already need to be in the right pile for that to matter.

This leads to my advice for you:

1) Take another year off when you graduate. Your GPA only contains all the semesters you've completed when you apply. If you wait until after you graduate, your senior year grades will also be available to average in and pull up your overall GPA. Additional work experience will be another plus that helps you stand out, once you do apply.

2) When the time comes, study hard for the LSAT. Even with your senior-year grades, your GPA will be dragged down some, and you'll likely be below the GPA median at top schools. However, even in the T14 there are schools friendly to "splitters", or people with high LSATs but low GPAs. These are folks in the "above-median LSAT" pile, and if you can't be in the "above both medians" pile, that's the second-best place to be. There's lots of advice here on how to study for the LSAT and maximize your score. You don't have to worry about this for a whole, though, since you won't be applying for a while yet.

3) Include a GPA addendum explaining the grade gap. You need a high LSAT to get their attention, but once you have a high LSAT and post-UG work experience, your application will get a serious look. At that point, once they're already paying attention to you, is when an addendum matters and can help. A brief one-page addendum, explaining simply and factually what happened and why your later semesters show your real potential, will help once you've already gotten this far. This won't make much difference if you don't do the first two things, but if you follow all my advice, then an addendum might be the last small push that gets you into a good school.



Thank you very much, your information is very helpful!!!
I'll have to study really hard for my LSATs.
My practice scores are pretty consistent in the 170-4 range.
Do you think that's high enough to grab attention for that addendum you mentioned?

Again, thank you very much.

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beachbum
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Re: Low Freshman GPA, High Sophomore and Junior Year GPA

Postby beachbum » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:26 pm

Meh, I was in a similar situation: 2.6 GPA after freshman year, significant upward trend over the next 2 years. Did well on the LSAT, am currently attending a T14 (and one that traditionally isn't kind to splitters). Your GPA is going to hurt you when it comes to scholarships at top schools (you might have to ED), but you still have a fighting chance at admission with a solid LSAT score.

bp shinners
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Re: Low Freshman GPA, High Sophomore and Junior Year GPA

Postby bp shinners » Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:11 pm

vanwinkle wrote:A bunch of great info.


Well said, VW. I think that's the best explanation I've seen of the process on these boards.

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JDizzle2015
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Re: Low Freshman GPA, High Sophomore and Junior Year GPA

Postby JDizzle2015 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:38 pm

beachbum wrote:Meh, I was in a similar situation: 2.6 GPA after freshman year, significant upward trend over the next 2 years. Did well on the LSAT, am currently attending a T14 (and one that traditionally isn't kind to splitters). Your GPA is going to hurt you when it comes to scholarships at top schools (you might have to ED), but you still have a fighting chance at admission with a solid LSAT score.


+1 I finished freshmen year with around ~2.8. Greek pledging (at least at my UG) wasn't the most conducive to getting good grades.

I got serious about school and graduated with ~3.5 and am in at a couple T14s. There is hope! Get your head in the game for the rest of UG and do well on the lsat.




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