Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

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untar614
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Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby untar614 » Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:35 am

Just wondering what ppl's thoughts on this are on LSAC's policy of locking in GPA upon first receiving a bachelor's. to my knowledge, no other graduate program does this, and all post-bacc undergrad courses are counted. On one hand, yeah, people could take a CC course or 2 each semester over the course of several years while working to pad their GPA. But really, people who know they want LS early on can pad their GPA with CC credit too, just they have to make sure it's before they graduate. Plus, it seems, at least on first glance, to me that this would be easier for kids from more affluent families to pull off as they can be less concerned with loans piling up if they want to put off graduating longer and pad their GPA a bit. Also, there are a lot of people who are many years removed from undergrad, but are effectively locked out from many places due to a lower GPA from a long time ago that may not reflect their current state. Assuming any degree is at least 120 credits, it's not like that's something one could easily overpower with post-bacc courses as it would take quite a lot of them (120 credits with 3.4 average would need another 120 credits of all A's to get to a 3.7), so it doesn't seem like it should make a massive difference unless one were to spend a great deal of time. Yeah, I guess you could argue the kid with rich parents could more easily go back to school without working, but this seems like less of a disparity issue as one with a degree (well, maybe not universally, but if they actually were focused on being able to get a job) would be more able to support themselves while taking classes. Again, it's unlikely to make a huge impact for most, but I don't see why it shouldn't count at all. Anything important I'm missing, or do you all generally agree?

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ScottRiqui
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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby ScottRiqui » Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:50 am

I would certainly love to have my master's grades counted along with my undergrad, but I think the reality of it is that LSAC doesn't do it because no one cares. It's the uGPA that the schools have to report to the ABA and that is used to calculate USNWR rankings, so that's what the schools ask LSAC to calculate. If the schools are curious about what you've taken since getting your bachelor's, they can still get it from LSAC, since we had to submit *all* transcripts to CAS.

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untar614
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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby untar614 » Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:07 am

Does USNWR specifically ask for GPA stats based on pre-degree grades, or do they use that because that's what LSAC reports and would thus be considered more reliable (I'm not making roundabout a which came first argument, I'm seriously asking)?

Also, while schools individually may have incentive to play to what USNWR uses, is there any reason LSAC would? Because if the answer to the first question is the latter, it seems LSAC could dictate GPA be reported however they want, though I could see why if it's the former, changing the LSAC GPA formula could make LSAC GPA meaningless, as schools wouldn't care about it.

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ScottRiqui
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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby ScottRiqui » Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:14 am

untar614 wrote:Does USNWR specifically ask for GPA stats based on pre-degree grades, or do they use that because that's what LSAC reports and would thus be considered more reliable (I'm not making roundabout a which came first argument, I'm seriously asking)?

Also, while schools individually may have incentive to play to what USNWR uses, is there any reason LSAC would? Because if the answer to the first question is the latter, it seems LSAC could dictate GPA be reported however they want, though I could see why if it's the former, changing the LSAC GPA formula could make LSAC GPA meaningless, as schools wouldn't care about it.


The USNWR ranking formula specifically uses undergraduate GPA. Whether USNWR does it that way because that's what LSAC reports, or if LSAC reports it because it's what USNWR wants, I don't know. My suspicion is that USNWR wants it because an undergraduate GPA is one thing that all applicants will have, so it's a metric that can be applied to all applicants.

Also, while there's grade inflation at the undergraduate level, I think it's much worse at the graduate level, so the boost that students with advanced degree(s) would likely get if all of their credits were included in the calculation might be seen as unfair.

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untar614
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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby untar614 » Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:22 am

ScottRiqui wrote:
The USNWR ranking formula specifically uses undergraduate GPA. Whether USNWR does it that way because that's what LSAC reports, or if LSAC reports it because it's what USNWR wants, I don't know. My suspicion is that USNWR wants it because an undergraduate GPA is one thing that all applicants will have, so it's a metric that can be applied to all applicants.

Also, while there's grade inflation at the undergraduate level, I think it's much worse at the graduate level, so the boost that students with advanced degree(s) would likely get if all of their credits were included in the calculation might be seen as unfair.


I was just referring to using undergrad courses taken post-bacc. yeah, i know grad school tends to be pretty heavily inflated. though if they did use that, that'd be like double incentive to get a phd first.

notalobbyist
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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby notalobbyist » Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:48 am

I think that if you got a degree/certificate after your undergrad then it should count, unless its for a lower level degree. There are lots of examples of people who are clearly academically gifted judging from their graduate degrees who had a spotty undergrad. I guess the metric would be "degree granting GPA," and schools would have to report final grades for undergrads.

PhDs, master's, graduate certificates, or an extra bachelors should all go in the mix after you receive the degree, but an extra associates degree, or random credits at community college or undergrad schools should not be counted. Even though there are some sketchy degree granting programs, their impact is fairly marginal and I'd rather reward the people with PhDs than make sure degree hoppers get locked out of law school.

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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby californiauser » Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:54 am

notalobbyist wrote:PhDs, master's, graduate certificates, or an extra bachelors should all go in the mix after you receive the degree, but an extra associates degree, or random credits at community college or undergrad schools should not be counted. Even though there are some sketchy degree granting programs, their impact is fairly marginal and I'd rather reward the people with PhDs than make sure degree hoppers get locked out of law school.


It's simply too hard to compare and contrast graduate degrees. Is someone with a 4.0 master's in English from Harvard with a 3.2 undergraduate degree more impressive than someone with a 3.5 in mechanical engineering bs degree from Berkeley?

I think the current system is fine. Engineering ugrads seem to get a slight bump, as they should.
Last edited by californiauser on Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:55 am

I think part of the issue here is whether law schools should conduct holistic review or not. If you think they should conduct holistic review, then considering all grades of all courses ever taken makes sense. If you want them to review the mass of applicants objectively based on comparable factors, stopping at the BA makes sense (because it's what all applicants share) and creates a clear bright-line rule.

notalobbyist
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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby notalobbyist » Sat Sep 28, 2013 12:22 pm

californiauser wrote:
It's simply too hard to compare and contrast graduate degrees. Is someone with a 4.0 master's in English from Harvard with a 3.2 undergraduate degree more impressive than someone with a 3.5 in mechanical engineering bs degree from Berkeley?

I think the current system is fine. Engineering ugrads seem to get a slight bump, as they should.


While I see your point, isn't comparing majors already a problem with undergrad degrees? I'm not talking about overweighting the graduate performance relative to undergrad, but simply including it in the raw number.

I'm not so much concerned about making a decision between two applicants as I am making sure everyone who is capable gets a shot. It's not that the English guy is "better" than the engineering guy, but rather that a 3.2 is not indicative of his performance, and that he probably will do reasonably well in law school if he has a good LSAT. Neither should be locked out due to the whims of USNWR.

I agree that tough majors should get a boost, but unless we move away from using GPA as a metric for rankings, the impact will never be "fair" for those who concentrated in the hard sciences.

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wiz
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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby wiz » Sat Sep 28, 2013 12:37 pm

notalobbyist wrote:
californiauser wrote:
It's simply too hard to compare and contrast graduate degrees. Is someone with a 4.0 master's in English from Harvard with a 3.2 undergraduate degree more impressive than someone with a 3.5 in mechanical engineering bs degree from Berkeley?

I think the current system is fine. Engineering ugrads seem to get a slight bump, as they should.


While I see your point, isn't comparing majors already a problem with undergrad degrees? I'm not talking about overweighting the graduate performance relative to undergrad, but simply including it in the raw number.

I'm not so much concerned about making a decision between two applicants as I am making sure everyone who is capable gets a shot. It's not that the English guy is "better" than the engineering guy, but rather that a 3.2 is not indicative of his performance, and that he probably will do reasonably well in law school if he has a good LSAT. Neither should be locked out due to the whims of USNWR.

I agree that tough majors should get a boost, but unless we move away from using GPA as a metric for rankings, the impact will never be "fair" for those who concentrated in the hard sciences.


This is also true for comparing across schools. A 3.5 from MIT probably loses to a 4.0 from the University of Phoenix every time.

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ScottRiqui
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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby ScottRiqui » Sat Sep 28, 2013 12:40 pm

The schools will still need to report the pre-bachelor's GPA to the ABA, so LSAC will always provide it, even if they were to start providing an "all courses" GPA as well.

The question is really "is the school willing to take a holistic view of all of the applicant's courses/grades? If the answer is "no", then it doesn't matter whether LSAC starts providing the additional "all courses" GPA, because the school won't care. And if the answer is "yes", the school already has access to all of your post-bachelor's transcripts under the current system anyway; thirty seconds with a calculator will give them an aggregate GPA if they want one.

Trust me - there is *no one* who would like to see post-bacc grades "baked into" the LSDAS GPA more than I would; I have a 3.9 physics masters from 2009 and a sub-3.0 engineering B.S. from 1994 that's hanging around my neck like an albatross. But I just don't see it happening.

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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby Big Dog » Sat Sep 28, 2013 12:44 pm

ya gotta draw the (academic) line somewhere, and since the vast majority of LS applicants are undergrad, it makes little sense to include post-bacc grades. (If it did, then every 3.7 uGPA would be taking non-degree postbacc classes in basket weaving at their local directional podunk U to get that GPA over 3.8.)

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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby californiauser » Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:03 pm

notalobbyist wrote:
californiauser wrote:
It's simply too hard to compare and contrast graduate degrees. Is someone with a 4.0 master's in English from Harvard with a 3.2 undergraduate degree more impressive than someone with a 3.5 in mechanical engineering bs degree from Berkeley?

I think the current system is fine. Engineering ugrads seem to get a slight bump, as they should.


While I see your point, isn't comparing majors already a problem with undergrad degrees? I'm not talking about overweighting the graduate performance relative to undergrad, but simply including it in the raw number.

I'm not so much concerned about making a decision between two applicants as I am making sure everyone who is capable gets a shot. It's not that the English guy is "better" than the engineering guy, but rather that a 3.2 is not indicative of his performance, and that he probably will do reasonably well in law school if he has a good LSAT. Neither should be locked out due to the whims of USNWR.

I agree that tough majors should get a boost, but unless we move away from using GPA as a metric for rankings, the impact will never be "fair" for those who concentrated in the hard sciences.


Who is to say that a 4.0 master's is not the equivalent of a 3.2 ugrad gpa? Most will agree that humanities gpas are largely inflated.

Nobody is locked out of anything with a 3.0+ GPA. If they are truly deserving of matriculating to a top school, their LSAT score will indicate such.

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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby ScottRiqui » Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:30 pm

californiauser wrote:
Nobody is locked out of anything with a 3.0+ GPA. If they are truly deserving of matriculating to a top school, their LSAT score will indicate such.


Agreed. If an applicant with advanced degree(s) is "locked out" of a particular school under the current system, it's only because the school has decided to focus solely on uGPA and ignore the rest of the academic information currently available from LSAC. And if that's the school's policy, then it's not going to change if LSAC starts reporting an additional aggregate GPA, because LSAC will continue to report uGPA as long as schools have to submit it to the ABA.

tl;dr - Schools can already easily calculate an aggregate GPA if they care about it, and if they don't care about it currently, the fact that LSAC starts calculating it for them isn't going to change things.

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Re: Should LSAC use all grades for GPA (including post-bacc)?

Postby fringles » Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:44 pm

Cleary, just as they should not include those 2 years of bad grades you had 5 years ago before you went back, got your act together, and killed it. The idea is of course to get the best students possible. So, there's really not a debate here, at least in the abstract.

But for the reasons cited above (i.e. it's easier for LSAC and for a majority of the time it's the perfect metric to use), LSAC seems reluctant to do it. So, the real debate is should LSAC do it even after weighing in the possible consequences that will trickle down to us. In this effort to get GPA reviews more holistic, more people will have to review the applications themselves and more people will have to evaluate the correct number we should receive for our GPAs. To do it right, adcoms will have to spend more time and money and so will LSAC. I'd say app fees would double or so. Is that a price you are willing to pay?

Such a policy would hurt me, but I'd pay for it; it's clearly more fair. But I don't know how much more I'd pay before I started not to like it. I think it's all about the price tag that would come with such a policy.




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