Professional School Bias

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wunderkind2
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Professional School Bias

Postby wunderkind2 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:45 am

I'm a student at an elite university, but I'm majoring in a field at their professional studies school. I have heard that law schools are unfairly biased against professional studies students and even though my university is considered elite overall, law schools "just know" that this particular college in the university is easy.

If I have a high GPA at this school, will I still be discriminated against in the admissions process because the school is "easy?" Individuals have been telling me that even with a 4.0 here and a 170+ LSAT, I stand no chance at any law school higher than NYU because I'm in this "easy" school. Is this true?

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usn26
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby usn26 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:50 am

This is undergrad?

They don't care - they'd gobble up a 4.0 from professional studies, southwestern podunk state technical college, or wherever over the 3.5 from HYP. Rankings, man. Just crush your classes and profit.

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OhBoyOhBortles
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby OhBoyOhBortles » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:51 am

usn26 wrote:This is undergrad?

They don't care - they'd gobble up a 4.0 from professional studies, southwestern podunk state technical college, or wherever over the 3.5 from HYP. Rankings, man. Just crush your classes and profit.

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BasilHallward
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby BasilHallward » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:55 am

Scoring over a 170 on the LSAT in almost all cases shows a high level of aptitude that demonstrates one will be successful in law school. Your undergrad major does not matter to law schools. If you are concerned whether or not this particular major will cultivate and prime you for a test like the LSAT is another question; a personal one.

Traynor Brah
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby Traynor Brah » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:56 am

wunderkind2 wrote:I'm a student at an elite university

wunderkind2 wrote:I'm majoring in a field at their professional studies school.

And you made your user name "wunderkind2"? :roll:

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BasilHallward
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby BasilHallward » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:57 am

Traynor Brah wrote:
wunderkind2 wrote:I'm a student at an elite university

wunderkind2 wrote:I'm majoring in a field at their professional studies school.

And you made your user name "wunderkind2"? :roll:
\

haha. I just noticed that.

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Pneumonia
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby Pneumonia » Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:23 am

It won't matter. The people who told you otherwise are wrong.

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alexjinye
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby alexjinye » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:45 pm

No one cares. It's all gpa and LSAT, man.

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alexjinye
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby alexjinye » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:46 pm

I am majoring in BS liberal arts major with 3.9+ GPA. I am glad.

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Poldy
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby Poldy » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:52 pm

What is "professional studies"? Frankly, that sounds made up.

abl
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby abl » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:08 pm

I don't think it'll matter much for CCN on down (and potentially not for Harvard). I do think it may matter for YS. In other words, if you had a 4.0/170 in engineering from CalTech or in classics from Swarthmore (challenging majors at truly elite universities), you'd likely have a very strong chance at YS. I'm not sure that'd be true if the 4.0 was in something seemingly easy from somewhere less elite (like, I hate to say it, agriculture at Cornell). That's not to say that you wouldn't have a real shot at YS still--it would just be a somewhat longer shot. (Although I think that a major like ag at Cornell probably lends itself to an interesting personal statement, which may more than make up for any perceived easiness about that degree.)

On that subject, you really should go into more detail here. Off the top of my head, I don't have a great idea of what undergrad professional school is associated with an elite university (other than maybe Cornell). I think what specifically you're doing and where you're doing it is going to make a big difference on the margins (especially with (H)YS). So, if your professional school is something like Communications and your "elite" university is somewhere like Georgia, yea, you might be in trouble for HYS. On the other hand, if you're talking about Journalism at Northwestern, it's hard to imagine that being any impediment to you getting into any law school.*

If you don't feel comfortable posting specifics here, I'd be happy to respond to a PM.

*Apologies if this isn't what you mean by professional schools (and I don't actually know if either of these "schools" within the respective universities actually exist for undergrads).

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chuckbass
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby chuckbass » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:12 pm

Are you a Cornell hotelie or something? This is immediately what I thought of.

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usn26
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby usn26 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:35 pm

I assume he means like Harvard Extension, Columbia School of General Studies(?), Penn Liberal & Professional Studies, etc.

wunderkind2
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby wunderkind2 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:43 pm

usn26 wrote:I assume he means like Harvard Extension, Columbia School of General Studies(?), Penn Liberal & Professional Studies, etc.


Yes—something along these lines, but I am a traditional undergrad in a typical undergrad program. We just have a wing of the school that includes a lot of non-traditional UGs and the school is known to have, overall, much lower admission standards as compared to the university.

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OhBoyOhBortles
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby OhBoyOhBortles » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:45 pm

wunderkind2 wrote:
usn26 wrote:I assume he means like Harvard Extension, Columbia School of General Studies(?), Penn Liberal & Professional Studies, etc.


Yes—something along these lines, but I am a traditional undergrad in a typical undergrad program. We just have a wing of the school that includes a lot of non-traditional UGs and the school is known to have, overall, much lower admission standards as compared to the university.


You'll be fine.

Moneytrees
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby Moneytrees » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:04 pm

abl wrote:I don't think it'll matter much for CCN on down (and potentially not for Harvard). I do think it may matter for YS. In other words, if you had a 4.0/170 in engineering from CalTech or in classics from Swarthmore (challenging majors at truly elite universities), you'd likely have a very strong chance at YS. I'm not sure that'd be true if the 4.0 was in something seemingly easy from somewhere less elite (like, I hate to say it, agriculture at Cornell). That's not to say that you wouldn't have a real shot at YS still--it would just be a somewhat longer shot. (Although I think that a major like ag at Cornell probably lends itself to an interesting personal statement, which may more than make up for any perceived easiness about that degree.)

On that subject, you really should go into more detail here. Off the top of my head, I don't have a great idea of what undergrad professional school is associated with an elite university (other than maybe Cornell). I think what specifically you're doing and where you're doing it is going to make a big difference on the margins (especially with (H)YS). So, if your professional school is something like Communications and your "elite" university is somewhere like Georgia, yea, you might be in trouble for HYS. On the other hand, if you're talking about Journalism at Northwestern, it's hard to imagine that being any impediment to you getting into any law school.*

If you don't feel comfortable posting specifics here, I'd be happy to respond to a PM.

*Apologies if this isn't what you mean by professional schools (and I don't actually know if either of these "schools" within the respective universities actually exist for undergrads).


Lol at classics ever being a challenging major. The best schools often have the most rampant grade inflation, particularly in the humanities department.

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chuckbass
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby chuckbass » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:19 pm

Moneytrees wrote:
abl wrote:I don't think it'll matter much for CCN on down (and potentially not for Harvard). I do think it may matter for YS. In other words, if you had a 4.0/170 in engineering from CalTech or in classics from Swarthmore (challenging majors at truly elite universities), you'd likely have a very strong chance at YS. I'm not sure that'd be true if the 4.0 was in something seemingly easy from somewhere less elite (like, I hate to say it, agriculture at Cornell). That's not to say that you wouldn't have a real shot at YS still--it would just be a somewhat longer shot. (Although I think that a major like ag at Cornell probably lends itself to an interesting personal statement, which may more than make up for any perceived easiness about that degree.)

On that subject, you really should go into more detail here. Off the top of my head, I don't have a great idea of what undergrad professional school is associated with an elite university (other than maybe Cornell). I think what specifically you're doing and where you're doing it is going to make a big difference on the margins (especially with (H)YS). So, if your professional school is something like Communications and your "elite" university is somewhere like Georgia, yea, you might be in trouble for HYS. On the other hand, if you're talking about Journalism at Northwestern, it's hard to imagine that being any impediment to you getting into any law school.*

If you don't feel comfortable posting specifics here, I'd be happy to respond to a PM.

*Apologies if this isn't what you mean by professional schools (and I don't actually know if either of these "schools" within the respective universities actually exist for undergrads).


Lol at classics ever being a challenging major. The best schools often have the most rampant grade inflation, particularly in the humanities department.

Sure, but definitely not Swarthmore, which is probably why it was used as an example.

Moneytrees
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby Moneytrees » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:26 pm

Comparing an engineering degree from MIT to any humanities major defies reason. I speak from experience. I went to one of the top public schools in the country (known for its particularly tough grading, a 3.85 was above 97 percentile I think) and double majored in History and Philosophy. I finished with a 3.6, which will probably going to be the biggest regret of my life, since a little more effort could have easily turned my GPA into a 3.9 or 4.0. I would never compare my majors with engineering or hard science majors.

Lions1913
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby Lions1913 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:31 pm

Not all GPAs are created equal. A 3.5 from a program known to be difficult looks different than a 3.5 from a program known to be easy.

However, raw numbers are what matters most at the end of the day. So I think you graduating from a tough program would count as a positive soft characteristic that would not totally make up for a "lower" GPA but that nonetheless mitigates its damaging effects.
Last edited by Lions1913 on Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

abl
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby abl » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:34 pm

wunderkind2 wrote:
usn26 wrote:I assume he means like Harvard Extension, Columbia School of General Studies(?), Penn Liberal & Professional Studies, etc.


Yes—something along these lines, but I am a traditional undergrad in a typical undergrad program. We just have a wing of the school that includes a lot of non-traditional UGs and the school is known to have, overall, much lower admission standards as compared to the university.


My bet is that you'll be treated as if you graduated from a school about as selective as Harvard Extension (or whatever it is). So, to the extent that it matters--and it does a little bit--top law schools are unlikely to evaluate you as if you were a traditional undergrad at Harvard or wherever. That, of course, doesn't mean that you are screwed--far from it. Having a 4.0 from a community college, for example, wouldn't necessarily keep you out of HYS with a 170.

If you're at Harvard Extension (or wherever) instead of ASU (or wherever) only because you liked the prestige thing, don't count on getting any leg up in admissions from the top school. But, likewise, don't assume that you're going to be in worse shape. On the other hand, if you're in one of these programs designed for non-traditional students and you are in some ways a non-traditional student, play that up -- that aspect of your application is likely to help you get into a top law school (substantially at YS).

I think this is something that's worth talking about in some detail with an adviser. If your undergrad has a top law program associated with it, even better--likely the prelaw adviser there will know what (s)he is talking about. Without knowing about your personal situation or the nature of your program, it's hard to give much advice. My assumption would be that admissions officers at top law schools are familiar with things like Harvard Extension, but I may be wrong. If they are not, this is something you're probably going to need to have someone address in your application--it could be you in a personal statement (or addendum) or someone writing you a recommendation. Without knowing more, I'm personally pretty curious about what the actual experience of attending somewhere like Harvard Extension is. Is it a residential 4-year program? If not, how similar (or dissimilar) is it to just taking Harvard-associated online classes from your parents' basement. If it's the former, I wouldn't worry: you're likely to get in somewhere good. If it's the latter, well, yea, you might be in trouble, because a 4.0 in Harvard's version of Khan Academy just ain't that impressive.

abl
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby abl » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:43 pm

Moneytrees wrote:Comparing an engineering degree from MIT to any humanities major defies reason. I speak from experience. I went to one of the top public schools in the country (known for its particularly tough grading, a 3.85 was above 97 percentile I think) and double majored in History and Philosophy. I finished with a 3.6, which will probably going to be the biggest regret of my life, since a little more effort could have easily turned my GPA into a 3.9 or 4.0. I would never compare my majors with engineering or hard science majors.


This is really off-topic and besides the point. It's also really school specific--I'm sure just about all schools have some very tough-grading humanities department and some relatively lax hard science departments, and I know there are schools where the humanities are on balance the tougher majors. At most schools, though there typically is a small difference between mean humanities and science GPAs, the biggest difference come in the range of outcomes--hard science GPAs are much more likely to be spread across the whole GPA spectrum whereas humanities GPAs are much more likely to be clustered around the median.

Edit: what is slightly-more on point is school-adjusted GPAs. There isn't much out there except some indication that Berkeley Law was doing this in the 90s: http://web.archive.org/web/20000829094953/http://www.pcmagic.net/abe/gradeadj.htm. Although I'd imagine that most law schools do this far less than before (given the impact of USNews), I would assume that most schools still take this into account if only as a soft (and likely less formally). I'd also assume that things haven't relatively changed all that much (e.g., that Swarthmore and Williams are still relatively grade deflated schools, while the Cal States remain relatively grade inflated schools).

Moneytrees
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby Moneytrees » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:25 pm

Cal state schools or the university system?

I cant speak for all UC's, but the one I attended definitely was not known for grade inflation.

Moneytrees
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby Moneytrees » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:31 pm

Some of the philosophy classes I took were extremely tough and I'm not claiming that all humanities departments are created equal. But the point that I think needs to be made is that in the vast majority of cases, a liberal arts major will be easier than a hard science major. This fact doesn't change if you attend an elite school.

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usn26
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby usn26 » Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:04 am

Point is, OP, the more selective and prestigious your institution is, the lower the grade inflation at that institution is, and the more selective/rigorous/grade deflating your particular program is, the more that will work as a plus factor. And the reverse is true.

But this only matters at the margins. Your GPA in relation to a school's median is by far the most important thing. All else is secondary.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Professional School Bias

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:55 am

Moneytrees wrote:Some of the philosophy classes I took were extremely tough and I'm not claiming that all humanities departments are created equal. But the point that I think needs to be made is that in the vast majority of cases, a liberal arts major will be easier than a hard science major. This fact doesn't change if you attend an elite school.

I think the point about the difference in grade distribution is much more accurate. There's going to be a wider range of grades in the hard sciences, from high to low. It's hard to get really bad grades in many humanities programs, so in that respect you may have a higher GPA than in (say) engineering, but it's also hard to get top grades.




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