Can Graduate Degree Before Law School Increase Your Chances?

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ReallyRosie
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Can Graduate Degree Before Law School Increase Your Chances?

Postby ReallyRosie » Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:31 am

I earned by B.A. over a decade ago, and my GPA was a 3.2. Just last semester I started a paralegal certificate program at an ABA-approved school, and earned a 4.0 for 12 units of paralegal courses. I'm now considering on pursuing an MA degree to help increase my GPA even more. Will that help my chances of getting into a decent school? By decent, I mean, the top 100.

Or, does my 4.0 GPA for the 12 units from a community college (where the ABA-approved paralegal program is offered) help at all? Of course, I'd rather go directly to law school w/out the MA, but since my GPA is on the low end, I'm just seeing what my options are. I haven't taken my LSAT yet. If you can offer some suggestions on how to increase my chances of getting accepted at a decent law school, I'd really appreciate your honest suggestions/recs. Thank you in advance!


P.S. I must make mention of the fact that I am older, and wiser, so I'm more focused which is why I earned the 4.0. Some may dismiss it altogether, since it was at a community college. However, I have to tell you that the amount of work required wasn't much less than what I remember my university experience to be. But, the question is, will the law schools care either way? Does the 4.0 make a dent in how they perceive me as a future law school student?
Last edited by ReallyRosie on Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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patrickd139
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Re: Can Graduate Degree Before Law School Increase Your Chances?

Postby patrickd139 » Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:49 am

Law school admissions offices predominantly consider two metrics when making their decision: your undergrad GPA and your LSAT score. Though it's more art than science making generalizations about this, most schools probably use those two numbers to determine upwards of 90% of admissions decisions. Put another way, your LSAT score and GPA make up 90% of the decision.

Of that, LSAT is disproportionately valued. To continue the analogy, your LSAT score might be 75-80% of the decision, with your GPA being another 10-15%, and your various 'soft' factors (personal statement, work experience, letters of recommendation, extracurriculars, graduate degree, and graduate degree GPA, etc.) making up the other 5-10%.

All of this is to say that earning a masters degree will have negligible, if any, positive impact on your law school chances, especially in relation to how much it will cost you (time and money) to get it. There are exceptions (a masters in sciences could be well worth it if you want to do patent, law, etc.), but that's the general rule. All that matters (for all intents and purposes) is your undergraduate GPA and your LSAT score.

If the sole purpose of earning a masters is to increase your chances of getting into law school, don't do it.

ReallyRosie
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Re: Can Graduate Degree Before Law School Increase Your Chances?

Postby ReallyRosie » Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:55 am

Really appreciate your response, patrickd139....So, would you say that the 4.0 GPA from last semester has absolutely no value, other than what I can "convince" them of in my personal statement (that I've grown, evolved, matured, and become more focused, etc.)?

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patrickd139
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Re: Can Graduate Degree Before Law School Increase Your Chances?

Postby patrickd139 » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:01 am

ReallyRosie wrote: Really appreciate your response, patrickd139....So, would you say that the 4.0 GPA from last semester has absolutely no value, other than what I can "convince" them of in my personal statement (that I've grown, evolved, matured, and become more focused, etc.)?

The 4.0 has 'real' value only to the extent that it is factored into your undergraduate GPA. If I understand your post correctly, you had already earned your degree at that point, correct?

Definitely mention it in your personal statement, for all the reasons you stated, but don't expect any kind of noticeable 'bump' in admissions chances, other than at the fringe (i.e. the admissions officer is considering your file and an identical file (same numbers, etc.), except you went back and got the paralegal certificate and the other guy/gal did not). In that scenario, it's more about setting you apart in a positive way than materially increasing your chances at admission.

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dingbat
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Re: Can Graduate Degree Before Law School Increase Your Chances?

Postby dingbat » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:16 am

patrickd139 wrote:Law school admissions offices predominantly consider two metrics when making their decision: your undergrad GPA and your LSAT score. Though it's more art than science making generalizations about this, most schools probably use those two numbers to determine upwards of 90% of admissions decisions. Put another way, your LSAT score and GPA make up 90% of the decision.

I'm just going to amend this by saying that for most people (probably 97%-99% of applicants) this is true. However, if you have some major accomplishments under your belt, many schools become more forgiving of your numbers. However, due to the rarity of such candidates, there is very little awareness thereof.

However, assuming that OP hasn't cured cancer or brokered world peace, the 4.0 GPA at CC after earning a BA years ago is just a soft that will serve as a tie breaker against someone with a similar LSGPA and LSAT score. Sorry to break it to you. I had much more impressive softs and barely outperformed my numbers

ReallyRosie
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Re: Can Graduate Degree Before Law School Increase Your Chances?

Postby ReallyRosie » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:24 am


Thank you, dingbat, for your post as well. Thank you, again, patrick!

bp shinners
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Re: Can Graduate Degree Before Law School Increase Your Chances?

Postby bp shinners » Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:11 pm

Just because I don't think this came across clearly, you won't be improving your GPA to be considered by law school with either that paralegal program or any future classes. Once you receive that undergrad degree, your GPA is locked in, and nothing you do will factor into the equation. So while those grades will be a decent soft factor, and will support a theme of personal growth in a PS, your undergraduate GPA is separate from them.

However, as dingbat said, if you have solid post-undergrad experience, law schools are a little more forgiving of lower numbers.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Can Graduate Degree Before Law School Increase Your Chances?

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:03 pm

bp shinners wrote:Just because I don't think this came across clearly, you won't be improving your GPA to be considered by law school with either that paralegal program or any future classes. Once you receive that undergrad degree, your GPA is locked in, and nothing you do will factor into the equation. So while those grades will be a decent soft factor, and will support a theme of personal growth in a PS, your undergraduate GPA is separate from them.

However, as dingbat said, if you have solid post-undergrad experience, law schools are a little more forgiving of lower numbers.

+1 to this; I'll add that the single best thing to increase your chances at this point is a very high LSAT score. Your post-graduation grades won't raise your GPA above a 3.2 (since it gets "locked in" at graduation, like bp mentioned), but an above-median LSAT will make many schools look beyond your GPA. The single best thing you could do is get a 170+ on the LSAT; there are plenty of people with 3.2/170+ and WE who have gotten into T14s and other T1 schools. Your single biggest focus should be your LSAT score, at this point, so take an LSAT prep course or otherwise study for the LSAT as much as you can.

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Cobretti
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Re: Can Graduate Degree Before Law School Increase Your Chances?

Postby Cobretti » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:04 pm

If you get a 170+ LSAT the higher GPA from your grad degree could help show that your LSAT is probably more indicative of your real abilities than your UGPA.

Like everyone else has already said though, its primarily a numbers game. But if you are on the fence it will certainly help, so in that sense the answer is still Yes, it will help (just not a ton).

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homestyle28
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Re: Can Graduate Degree Before Law School Increase Your Chances?

Postby homestyle28 » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:25 pm

As someone who is attending a top school with (several) graduate degrees on top of a poor undergrad GPA (3.07), here's my two cents: the single best thing you can do is focus on the LSAT and do well, a 3.2 is not an absolute block on admissions to a top school. I can mostly echo the above sentiments that a graduate degree (unless it's a technical degree like electrical engineering) is really just a soft and won't affect your admissions cycle much. I found this to be especially true when it came to scholarship money - my UG GPA dominated on that front. Do what you can to crush the LSAT and you'll have options.

Feel free to PM me any specific questions.




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