Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

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dlrkgml
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Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby dlrkgml » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:21 am

I'm at a top 20 undergrad school with a GPA of 3.5.

I seek to apply to top 10 law schools once I graduate but currently have a GPA of 3.5. I'll be taking classes over the summer to boost my GPA but I'm unsure if I should do an honors thesis (and take less classes= less opportunity to raise my GPA) or take a full load for both semesters of my senior year.

I don't really have a research question in mind to do an honors thesis on and right now, I'm not really sure I would want to do it because I'm extremely interested in finding original data; when being honest with myself, I would say the idea of doing an honors thesis appeals to me because it sounds good to graduate with "cum laude" or even "summa cum laude."

Will the "summa cum laude" offset my lower GPA or should I just forego the thesis and take classes?
Do many law students do honors theses?

Thank you

purplegreen
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby purplegreen » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:28 am

GPA is much more important for law school admissions.

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Drake014
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby Drake014 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:33 am

purplegreen wrote:GPA is much more important for law school admissions.

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potterpirate04
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby potterpirate04 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:21 am

I was actually in an honors programs, and had starting writing my thesis. Then I realized I hated it, and what a waste of time it was, and how I should take easy, crappy classes to raise my gpa. So that's what I ended up doing.

Fwiw, it was the best decision ever.

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5ky
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby 5ky » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:40 am

At this point, though, how much can you really raise your GPA?

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potterpirate04
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby potterpirate04 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:52 am

5ky wrote:At this point, though, how much can you really raise your GPA?


I thought about this too when I was considering dropping my thesis, but then I just realized I didn't wanna write a thesis and I honestly didn't care about spending the last semester of my undergrad life on this thing. Plus it turns out it doesn't even help at all with admissions, and then I really didn't care much for it.

OP, at the end of the day it's up to you. Personally, I preferred to spend my last semester of undergrad doing absolutely nothing and bumming around as much as I can. But if you honestly wanna write a thesis because you want the experience and you're personally invested in the topic, then write it. Otherwise just stick with taking classes that'll help you graduate and that's about it.

20141023
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby 20141023 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:15 am

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Last edited by 20141023 on Mon Feb 16, 2015 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

andythefir
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby andythefir » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:10 am

I was stunned during the legal hiring process how much undergrad performance matters. I got my 1L summer job before grades came back because I graduated summa, for the 2L/permanent hiring all government agencies and several firms asked for transcripts, and my undergrad performance was one of the first things all employers wanted to talk about. Not to mention doing a thesis, especially in an interesting topic, gives you a great opportunity to show off how smart you are during interviews (one that lead to a callback for me was 80% about my thesis). Firms want to be able to talk up the lawyers they hire, and having latin honors next to names is a great way to do that.

It's ultimately your call, but latin honors never leave you, a GPA does.

20141023
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby 20141023 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:26 am

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Last edited by 20141023 on Mon Feb 16, 2015 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:50 am

andythefir wrote:I was stunned during the legal hiring process how much undergrad performance matters. I got my 1L summer job before grades came back because I graduated summa, for the 2L/permanent hiring all government agencies and several firms asked for transcripts, and my undergrad performance was one of the first things all employers wanted to talk about. Not to mention doing a thesis, especially in an interesting topic, gives you a great opportunity to show off how smart you are during interviews (one that lead to a callback for me was 80% about my thesis). Firms want to be able to talk up the lawyers they hire, and having latin honors next to names is a great way to do that.

It's ultimately your call, but latin honors never leave you, a GPA does.

The thing that keeps confusing me about this conversation is that at a lot of schools, Latin honors are purely a function of GPA. Doing a thesis gets you "with honors" or "with distinction." (English honors.) So to be honest if I were hiring someone and I saw cum laude or magna on their transcript/resume I'd assume it was based on GPA anyway.

(Also, were you K-JD? I think UG comes up a lot more in that case because it's what there is to talk about. But if you're not K-JD obviously that's wrong here.)

Personally I think doing a thesis is great if you have a subject you really want to pursue, and it can be a great subject of conversation. But in terms of maximizing law school admissions GPA is more helpful. (This isn't the case for grad school in your UG major, but you want law school.)

andythefir
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby andythefir » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:33 am

kappycaft1 wrote:
andythefir wrote:I was stunned during the legal hiring process how much undergrad performance matters. I got my 1L summer job before grades came back because I graduated summa, for the 2L/permanent hiring all government agencies and several firms asked for transcripts, and my undergrad performance was one of the first things all employers wanted to talk about. Not to mention doing a thesis, especially in an interesting topic, gives you a great opportunity to show off how smart you are during interviews (one that lead to a callback for me was 80% about my thesis). Firms want to be able to talk up the lawyers they hire, and having latin honors next to names is a great way to do that.

It's ultimately your call, but latin honors never leave you, a GPA does.

While this may be true, this is also horrible advice. The only things that play a significant role in the law school admissions process are LSAT and GPA. To use an extreme example, you could have an amazing undergrad honors thesis, but if you graduated from Cooley Law it won't really do you a lot of good. However, if you graduated from Harvard without an undergrad honors thesis, your chances of decent employment are still great.

Think of GPA as one of two keys (the other being LSAT) that are required to open the doors of decent law schools. These law schools are in turn the keys to decent employment. An honors thesis is just something cool to talk about once you're in "the room." Unfortunately, an honors thesis won't do you any good if you're locked out of "the room" to begin with.

In short, GPA > honors thesis.


I suppose more applicable and more nuanced advice is that in this legal economy no accomplishment should be an "or," they should all be "and."

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heythatslife
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby heythatslife » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:59 am

At my school, depending on the department, you could get up to 8 credits for time spent researching and writing an honors thesis. This "course" would be graded after the thesis was presented, but usually it would be an easy A. I don't know where the OP goes to school but if someone from mine asked me the same question, I would say, go for it, if only to pad your GPA.

But barring this situation, I agree with kappycaft1. I haven't been around lawyers much, but nobody ever asked me upfront whether I did an honors thesis unless I told them first. But everyone wants to know where I went to school, and if by raising your GPA you have a better shot at a higher-ranked/better-known school, then you should do so by all means.

20141023
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby 20141023 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:18 am

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cinephile
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby cinephile » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:24 am

Don't waste any money on more years of college. With apps being down these days, a 3.5 can absolutely get you into Stanford and Harvard if your LSAT is high enough.

srfngdd6
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby srfngdd6 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:29 am

My honors thesis has been discussed at length in every interview I have had fwiw, although at my undergrad you were allowed to take 3-4 credits every semester you worked on it and almost everyone got A's

20141023
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby 20141023 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:31 am

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Last edited by 20141023 on Mon Feb 16, 2015 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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OliveBC
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby OliveBC » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:24 pm

I'm in a really similar situation, except my gpa is a bit higher (3.7) I have already decided I am definitely doing an honors thesis though, mostly because my mentor/professor that I TA for has really been encouraging me to do it and I don't want to disappoint seeing as my only reason for NOT doing it is my own laziness. I will be able to pick a topic that is interesting to me AND it should be 3 easy As (the thesis program is 3 classes over the course of senior year) On top of that I'm just going to be taking a lot of easy classes and some summer school this summer as well (3 easy online courses)

The annoying thing to me is that because I've already taken so many credits the As I continue getting now hardly impact my LSAC gpa. I had a 3.3 freshman year at a community college but have had one 3.88 and the rest 4.0s since then at my 4 year school. I'm going to take a year off to work and be able to apply with my senior year grades as well.

To OP, if your honors thesis classes are graded I would say hands down you should do it, and then take a bunch of other easy classes with it. Another thing I thought of that no one has mentioned here (as far as I know) is that if you don't already have your LORs lined up, a LOR from a thesis advisor seems like it would be a really great one. (Although this may only prove timely if you are going to be taking a year off)

My question is, will adcoms look down on taking a bunch of easy 100 level courses towards the end of your degree? It seems like from some of the TLS school profiles that adcoms might find this off-putting. I just want my LSAC gpa to reflect my true ability as closely as possible.

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cinephile
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby cinephile » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:03 pm

kappycaft1 wrote:
cinephile wrote:With apps being down these days, a 3.5 can absolutely get you into Stanford and Harvard if your LSAT is high enough.

Not quite true...

(I'm not saying that it won't happen, but rather that we don't have much past data to support this claim.)


Well, I have one piece of data. So that supports the my claim that a 3.5 will not preclude you from getting into Stanford or Harvard. It can still happen so just don't worry about it.

wannabelawstudent
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby wannabelawstudent » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:12 pm

Wait your undergrad grades matter for OCIs and summer jobs?

andythefir
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby andythefir » Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:38 am

wannabelawstudent wrote:Wait your undergrad grades matter for OCIs and summer jobs?


Mine got me my 1L summer job. Lots of places (mostly government employers) ask for them, too. It also helped corroborate my personal story that I got law school in my 2nd semester and saw a dramatic turnaround from there on out. Remember, OCI interviews have 2 semesters' worth of grades, so if you have a terrible 1st semester and a great 2nd semester (like I did) your undergrad GPA can bolster your story that you really are smart but didn't get law school at first.
Last edited by andythefir on Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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lhanvt13
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Re: Senior year: GPA booster classes or honors thesis?

Postby lhanvt13 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:17 pm

dlrkgml wrote:I'm at a top 20 undergrad school with a GPA of 3.5.

I seek to apply to top 10 law schools once I graduate but currently have a GPA of 3.5. I'll be taking classes over the summer to boost my GPA but I'm unsure if I should do an honors thesis (and take less classes= less opportunity to raise my GPA) or take a full load for both semesters of my senior year.

I don't really have a research question in mind to do an honors thesis on and right now, I'm not really sure I would want to do it because I'm extremely interested in finding original data; when being honest with myself, I would say the idea of doing an honors thesis appeals to me because it sounds good to graduate with "cum laude" or even "summa cum laude."

Will the "summa cum laude" offset my lower GPA or should I just forego the thesis and take classes?
Do many law students do honors theses?

Thank you

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