Getting a W

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salmank
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:24 pm

Getting a W

Postby salmank » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:29 am

Hey all,

I had a quick question about getting a W. I was a pre-med student that wants to switch over to pre-law. This decision was not made due to difficulty of courses, or because stress or anything like that (just want to clarify), but because of an epiphany of sorts in regarding how I want to spend the rest of my life. My current semester includes two difficult Science classes. I can drop one of them, but I was wondering if it would look bad to have a W on my transcript for a class that I don't really need at all. It would not count as an elective or anything. What would you advise?

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Tiago Splitter
Posts: 15515
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Getting a W

Postby Tiago Splitter » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:37 am

If it's a non-punitive withdrawal no one will care.

If the withdrawal is considered punitive then it will be considered an "F" when figuring your LSAC GPA. If that's the case, just hang in there and tough it out for the rest of the semester.

edwards711
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:21 am

Re: Getting a W

Postby edwards711 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:41 am

Tiago Splitter wrote:If it's a non-punitive withdrawal no one will care.

If the withdrawal is considered punitive then it will be considered an "F" when figuring your LSAC GPA. If that's the case, just hang in there and tough it out for the rest of the semester.


This. I made the mistake of using W's and P/NP when I was sick before knowing about LSDAS calculations - they demolished my GPA.If it will be punitive, try to tough it out.

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Jaeger
Posts: 391
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:30 pm

Re: Getting a W

Postby Jaeger » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:43 am

salmank wrote:Hey all,

I had a quick question about getting a W. I was a pre-med student that wants to switch over to pre-law. This decision was not made due to difficulty of courses, or because stress or anything like that (just want to clarify), but because of an epiphany of sorts in regarding how I want to spend the rest of my life. My current semester includes two difficult Science classes. I can drop one of them, but I was wondering if it would look bad to have a W on my transcript for a class that I don't really need at all. It would not count as an elective or anything. What would you advise?



Also, if you are pre-med, I'm assuming you can do a decent job with sciences. I would not switch to pre-law. Those degrees are a dime a dozen and don't matter. Get a science background and it will help you in IP law which is some of the most stable for finding employment.

The caveat of course is that you should probably get a degree in whatever guarantees the best UGPA.

MLBrandow
Posts: 129
Joined: Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:12 pm

Re: Getting a W

Postby MLBrandow » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:48 pm

Jaeger wrote:
salmank wrote:Hey all,

I had a quick question about getting a W. I was a pre-med student that wants to switch over to pre-law. This decision was not made due to difficulty of courses, or because stress or anything like that (just want to clarify), but because of an epiphany of sorts in regarding how I want to spend the rest of my life. My current semester includes two difficult Science classes. I can drop one of them, but I was wondering if it would look bad to have a W on my transcript for a class that I don't really need at all. It would not count as an elective or anything. What would you advise?



Also, if you are pre-med, I'm assuming you can do a decent job with sciences. I would not switch to pre-law. Those degrees are a dime a dozen and don't matter. Get a science background and it will help you in IP law which is some of the most stable for finding employment.

The caveat of course is that you should probably get a degree in whatever guarantees the best UGPA.


Jaegar,

Generally a "pre-med" student is one who hasn't yet taken and passed organic chemistry, especially if one is changing majors from pre-med. Most pre-med majors who change majors do so because of organic chemistry. Otherwise, students who choose to major in pre-med will tend to pick some more specific major (biochemistry, chemistry, biology, biomedical mathematics, biochemical engineering, etc) while fulfilling all the pre-med unofficial requirements.

salmank wrote:Hey all,

I had a quick question about getting a W. I was a pre-med student that wants to switch over to pre-law. This decision was not made due to difficulty of courses, or because stress or anything like that (just want to clarify), but because of an epiphany of sorts in regarding how I want to spend the rest of my life. My current semester includes two difficult Science classes. I can drop one of them, but I was wondering if it would look bad to have a W on my transcript for a class that I don't really need at all. It would not count as an elective or anything. What would you advise?


salmank,

I implore you to consider finishing out the semester and acing those classes. Visit your professors, go to office hours, go to TA office hours, and make good grades. While I can't speak for admissions officers that will look at your transcript, I can't imagine a W on organic chemistry and subsequent major change to a soft major is going to speak favorably to your ability. It's true that it's better to try and fail than not try at all, but some of the best advice I ever received was from a patent lawyer in 2006 when this board was very young. He essentially said that when he was debating whether or not to take a generally cushier social science major or to work harder in the generally more challenging hard science courses, he ultimately chose the latter for the challenge. He believed it made him a smarter person, and even though his GPA wasn't as high as it could have been, sticking with it was a great decision.

After receiving this advice, I essentially followed a very similar path, and took a wealth of hard science classes in addition to the social science major I already had. While it did partially tank my GPA (from 3.8 to 3.4), most of it was due to my being audacious enough to try and take upper level science courses without necessary pre-requisites, and so I ended up with B's in classes I had no business being in in the first place. Anyway, in line with the advice he gave to me, I also firmly believe having been challenged in those classes made me a smarter person than I otherwise might have been.

Unless you are certain to bomb these classes (and I mean absolutely, from the professor's mouth, going to bomb them), I would try to tough it out, put in the necessary study time, and ace those classes.

If you want to change majors, then do it, but just know that taking easier, less challenging classes won't look nearly as good on your transcript as performing well in more challenging courses. It is often the case where there is heavy debate about the merits of one program over another, but all I can say is this: I put in far more hours in mathematics and science classes (as well as a few finance classes I took) than I ever did in any history or political science class, and I certainly gained far more from an intellectual perspective.

I don't particularly believe that any class in undergrad is going to directly affect your ability to perform in law school, but insofar as they do, these hard science classes that you're taking now will better prepare you to tackle problems and think critically at a high level.

Lastly, if you do change majors, please do not give any further consideration to changing to pre-law. Of all possible majors that a law school applicant can major in, pre-law is definitively the worst. Law schools plan to educate you, and while you won't receive a boost to 2L for taking a bunch of undergraduate law classes, you are likely to get a slight negative on your application for having chose that path. For some non-anecdotal reason, have a look at this table containing LSAT scores for pre-law majors (LinkRemoved). This is not to say you will score better for having a more difficult major, or worse for majoring in pre-law. But think long and hard about switching to a major widely considered among the least rigorous of any undergraduate major.

Again, I sincerely hope you reconsider withdrawing from those two science classes. This is coming from an applicant who dropped out of college my freshman year, then withdrew four different semesters including some graduate school (as well as two additional classes in semesters I didn't withdraw from). If you have the ability to make the grades, stay in the classes, put in the work, and become a better person for it. While I ultimately escaped with a 3.4, my transcript is a train wreck of W's because I could never make up my mind on what I wanted to study in undergrad. If I could go back, I would tell myself to put in the work for A's and finish the semesters. Every single W on my transcript could have been an A, and every non-A I earned in undergrad I can trace back to specific instances of my failing to put in the necessary time and/or effort. Especially if, as you claim, the academic challenge is not the main issue, please do not drop these classes. Instead, break the curve for other pre-med majors.

Best of luck in whatever you decide.




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