How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

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anhibitor1023

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How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby anhibitor1023 » Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:12 pm

I was wondering how much your undergraduate major matters when applying for a job as a lawyer. I assume it varies... for example, if you are applying for a government job, a political science undergrad degree may help your chances more than a biology degree. But that's just my uninformed assumption and I may be totally wrong, which is why I'm asking for help.

Essentially, is the law degree all or most of what employers/law firms look at when considering your application? Or do they heavily consider your undergrad degree as well?

The purpose of my question is that I'm heavily torn between what to major in: whether I should treat these 4 undergraduate years as "free" years (maintaining a high GPA, though, of course) during which I can study whatever interests me the most, or if I should plan towards developing useful/pertinent background knowledge for job applications later on. I've always liked Japanese culture and wanted to learn the language so I was thinking about majoring in Japanese, but I also like history/political science. So it's kind of a decision between doing what I'm most interested in versus doing what's more applicable to law careers and what my talents are more suited towards.

If it's of any help, I'm not sure what type of attorney I want to be, nor am I even aware of all the different types of jobs that a law degree can offer. As a result I want to keep my options open for when I make that decision in the future.

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Nachoo2019

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby Nachoo2019 » Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:15 pm

Unless you want to do Intellectual Property(IP) law, which requires a STEM degree in most cases, just take what interests you and get a high GPA. A 4.0 in underwater basket weaving will do you much better than a 3.0 in a major that is more "substantive"

dabigchina

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby dabigchina » Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:35 pm

I'm generally a fan of majoring in accounting/business, especially if you want to go Biglaw.

Otherwise it does not matter at all outside of GPA considerations/IP.

TLSDookie

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby TLSDookie » Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:44 pm

The common refrain is that no major in undergrad will prepare you for the type of work you do in law school or for the type of work you do as an associate in a firm (can't attest to this myself, as a 0L), so GPAs are viewed relatively equally. That said, a major learning the inane details of a foreign language is really pretty far out there, so if you did major in Japanese, you should probably be prepared to address why you spent $200,000+ on a degree in it if you know you want to study the law, as opposed to minoring in it, taking just a few credits, or downloading Duolingo/Rosetta Stone.

Don't major in history/poli sci/politics as a "pre-law major" if you hate the classes. It's really hard to maintain a strong GPA taking classes that make you miserable (coming from a splitter who tanked their GPA taking fucking horrible science classes through orgo II).

paradiddle diddle

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby paradiddle diddle » Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:52 pm

Nachoo2019 wrote:Unless you want to do Intellectual Property(IP) law, which requires a STEM degree in most cases, just take what interests you and get a high GPA. A 4.0 in underwater basket weaving will do you much better than a 3.0 in a major that is more "substantive"


Why do people always talk about UBW as if it's easy or something? Have you ever tried to weave a basket underwater? It's damn near impossible.

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Blueprint Mithun

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby Blueprint Mithun » Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:56 pm

anhibitor1023 wrote:I was wondering how much your undergraduate major matters when applying for a job as a lawyer. I assume it varies... for example, if you are applying for a government job, a political science undergrad degree may help your chances more than a biology degree. But that's just my uninformed assumption and I may be totally wrong, which is why I'm asking for help.

Essentially, is the law degree all or most of what employers/law firms look at when considering your application? Or do they heavily consider your undergrad degree as well?

The purpose of my question is that I'm heavily torn between what to major in: whether I should treat these 4 undergraduate years as "free" years (maintaining a high GPA, though, of course) during which I can study whatever interests me the most, or if I should plan towards developing useful/pertinent background knowledge for job applications later on. I've always liked Japanese culture and wanted to learn the language so I was thinking about majoring in Japanese, but I also like history/political science. So it's kind of a decision between doing what I'm most interested in versus doing what's more applicable to law careers and what my talents are more suited towards.

If it's of any help, I'm not sure what type of attorney I want to be, nor am I even aware of all the different types of jobs that a law degree can offer. As a result I want to keep my options open for when I make that decision in the future.



Regarding your law school applications, what you majored in doesn't matter very much at all. A law school will look at your full transcript to get a sense of what classes you took, and if you took a more rigorous major, that can only bode well for you. However, aside from a STEM major helping with IP law, as Nachoo mentioned, it doesn't really matter in terms of employment. Other than a law degree, firms also value experience, and while you will get a bunch during law school, having related work experience before then can give you a better idea of what aspects of the field you like/dislike and thus which direction to go in, plus more to potentially talk about during interviews.

There are lot of factors to consider when picking a major - what will you enjoy studying for the next few years? What field do you want to dive into or what set of skills do you want to obtain? Would you rather stay in your comfort zone or push yourself to try something new? I'd suggest making a list of things you're interested in and taking a wide variety of different classes your freshman year (assuming that you haven't started college yet). You can get a sense of what you actually enjoy by trying it for yourself. There are plenty of people who don't know what they want to major in starting out in college.

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Hildegard15

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby Hildegard15 » Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:01 pm

TLSDookie wrote: That said, a major learning the inane details of a foreign language is really pretty far out there, so if you did major in Japanese, you should probably be prepared to address why you spent $200,000+ on a degree in it if you know you want to study the law, as opposed to minoring in it, taking just a few credits, or downloading Duolingo/Rosetta Stone.


This is nonsense. Language skills are a HUGE plus in most fields of employment. If you major in a language, you will probably end up being 50-100X more proficient than somebody who just took a few classes or downloaded Duolingo. Sorry to be the "Defender of the Humanities" but this kind of poppycock is way too widespread. My foreign language abilities will most likely be crucial in my future legal career. I won't be having to explain why I spent money on that degree.

But to answer OP's question, don't worry about how your undergrad degree will impact law school. Choose what you want to study. You'll most likely enjoy your classes more and you'll have a better GPA which will make you more competitive for admissions.

cavalier1138

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:50 pm

Hildegard15 wrote:This is nonsense. Language skills are a HUGE plus in most fields of employment. If you major in a language, you will probably end up being 50-100X more proficient than somebody who just took a few classes or downloaded Duolingo. Sorry to be the "Defender of the Humanities" but this kind of poppycock is way too widespread. My foreign language abilities will most likely be crucial in my future legal career. I won't be having to explain why I spent money on that degree.


Just wanted to second this.

Seriously, if someone can't see the massive benefits of foreign language fluency in an increasingly global economy, I think they should be the one's justifying their college degree.

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby Mikey » Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:51 pm

As a previous poster said, unless you're doing IP which requires a STEM background, your major really doesn't matter.

TLSDookie

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby TLSDookie » Sat Jun 11, 2016 8:47 pm

Hildegard15 wrote:
TLSDookie wrote: That said, a major learning the inane details of a foreign language is really pretty far out there, so if you did major in Japanese, you should probably be prepared to address why you spent $200,000+ on a degree in it if you know you want to study the law, as opposed to minoring in it, taking just a few credits, or downloading Duolingo/Rosetta Stone.


This is nonsense. Language skills are a HUGE plus in most fields of employment. If you major in a language, you will probably end up being 50-100X more proficient than somebody who just took a few classes or downloaded Duolingo. Sorry to be the "Defender of the Humanities" but this kind of poppycock is way too widespread. My foreign language abilities will most likely be crucial in my future legal career. I won't be having to explain why I spent money on that degree.


Again, 0L, so I'm not trying to preach about how any hiring market works. Duo lingo was a stretch. But I had an opportunity to minor in a language with an extra class or two in undergrad. I was plenty proficient in the language, to the point I could have conversations/read a text entirely fluently. And that's less than a minor.

Now you contend going the extra distance to get a major makes you a more valuable hire in an increasingly international economy. The difference between my education and a major isn't language proficiency (beyond the fact that an extra ~7 classes would sharpen my skills), it's studying things like 14th century Japanese pottery. Why would law schools care you can identify the different techniques around Japanese art/understand the history of Japanese feudal society in the 5th century?

All I'm saying is if you want to understand that level of depth regarding Japanese/any foreign country's culture, more power to you, but then it seems like schools would ask why do you want to practice law after devoting the better part of 4 years to a study of culture and humanity, an entirely different set of skills, and forfeit that $250,000 education? Obviously, there are limited exceptions, I.e. wanting to pursue an LLM in a specific country, focusing specifically on Chinese/European financial market models etc, but that's not how OP framed his interest.

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Hildegard15

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby Hildegard15 » Sun Jun 12, 2016 12:22 pm

TLSDookie wrote:
Again, 0L, so I'm not trying to preach about how any hiring market works. Duo lingo was a stretch. But I had an opportunity to minor in a language with an extra class or two in undergrad. I was plenty proficient in the language, to the point I could have conversations/read a text entirely fluently. And that's less than a minor.

Now you contend going the extra distance to get a major makes you a more valuable hire in an increasingly international economy. The difference between my education and a major isn't language proficiency (beyond the fact that an extra ~7 classes would sharpen my skills), it's studying things like 14th century Japanese pottery. Why would law schools care you can identify the different techniques around Japanese art/understand the history of Japanese feudal society in the 5th century?

All I'm saying is if you want to understand that level of depth regarding Japanese/any foreign country's culture, more power to you, but then it seems like schools would ask why do you want to practice law after devoting the better part of 4 years to a study of culture and humanity, an entirely different set of skills, and forfeit that $250,000 education? Obviously, there are limited exceptions, I.e. wanting to pursue an LLM in a specific country, focusing specifically on Chinese/European financial market models etc, but that's not how OP framed his interest.


I do question your definition of fluency since I've talked to people who thought basic conversational language skills were equivalent to being fluent, but I'll set that aside. Most importantly, law schools do not care how supposedly "relevant" your degree is. Stop telling OP that their major will affect their cycle in any way because it won't. Just because you personally would look down on somebody with a major in Japanese literature does not mean that law schools will. I double majored in a language and Medieval studies, check out my profile for the results of my cycle. I basically got best case scenario considering my numbers. Not a single interviewer even asked why I chose my major.

OP, I will reiterate, major in whatever you want to. Law school admissions is a numbers game more than anything else.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Jun 12, 2016 12:29 pm

TLSDookie wrote:
Hildegard15 wrote:
TLSDookie wrote: That said, a major learning the inane details of a foreign language is really pretty far out there, so if you did major in Japanese, you should probably be prepared to address why you spent $200,000+ on a degree in it if you know you want to study the law, as opposed to minoring in it, taking just a few credits, or downloading Duolingo/Rosetta Stone.


This is nonsense. Language skills are a HUGE plus in most fields of employment. If you major in a language, you will probably end up being 50-100X more proficient than somebody who just took a few classes or downloaded Duolingo. Sorry to be the "Defender of the Humanities" but this kind of poppycock is way too widespread. My foreign language abilities will most likely be crucial in my future legal career. I won't be having to explain why I spent money on that degree.


Again, 0L, so I'm not trying to preach about how any hiring market works. Duo lingo was a stretch. But I had an opportunity to minor in a language with an extra class or two in undergrad. I was plenty proficient in the language, to the point I could have conversations/read a text entirely fluently. And that's less than a minor.

Now you contend going the extra distance to get a major makes you a more valuable hire in an increasingly international economy. The difference between my education and a major isn't language proficiency (beyond the fact that an extra ~7 classes would sharpen my skills), it's studying things like 14th century Japanese pottery. Why would law schools care you can identify the different techniques around Japanese art/understand the history of Japanese feudal society in the 5th century?

All I'm saying is if you want to understand that level of depth regarding Japanese/any foreign country's culture, more power to you, but then it seems like schools would ask why do you want to practice law after devoting the better part of 4 years to a study of culture and humanity, an entirely different set of skills, and forfeit that $250,000 education? Obviously, there are limited exceptions, I.e. wanting to pursue an LLM in a specific country, focusing specifically on Chinese/European financial market models etc, but that's not how OP framed his interest.

Yeah, this is one person's take on a major, not what law schools will think. There are plenty of people who think majoring in Japanese is valuable (and a few classes less than a minor is not going to make someone proficient - not in most languages, but definitely not Japanese; that shit is hard). But more to the point, your major doesn't matter to law schools - if it has meaning to you and you can explain why it interested you, that's all you need.

Also, if I finished undergrad and decided not to go to law school I'd much rather have a degree in Japanese than in, say, political science.

anhibitor1023

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby anhibitor1023 » Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:42 pm

Thanks for everybody's input. It has all been really helpful and I'm glad to see people have discussions like this without it getting out of hand.

Honestly, after thinking about this a lot, I think I'm gonna go with the Political Science major and Japanese minor. Currently I'm taking a gap year and doing Japanese lessons/self-studying. I plan on taking the AP test for credit in May and then taking the placement exams for my university to see where I fit in in terms of classes.

I'm leaning towards the PoliSci major because that's where my skills generally reside. I'm good at reading, analyzing, and writing, so I don't want those skills to just fade away or remain dormant while I go pursue another language. And I'm a bit hesitant in a double major because of the importance of GPA. I've heard everyone say it's better to get a 4.0 in one major than a 3.5 in a double major.

However, this decision is definitely still subject to change. If someone can convince me that what I plan on doing is totally ridiculous or there's a better course of action, I'm all ears.

Mikey

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Re: How Much Does Undergraduate Degree Matter

Postby Mikey » Sun Jun 12, 2016 4:32 pm

anhibitor1023 wrote:Thanks for everybody's input. It has all been really helpful and I'm glad to see people have discussions like this without it getting out of hand.

Honestly, after thinking about this a lot, I think I'm gonna go with the Political Science major and Japanese minor. Currently I'm taking a gap year and doing Japanese lessons/self-studying. I plan on taking the AP test for credit in May and then taking the placement exams for my university to see where I fit in in terms of classes.

I'm leaning towards the PoliSci major because that's where my skills generally reside. I'm good at reading, analyzing, and writing, so I don't want those skills to just fade away or remain dormant while I go pursue another language. And I'm a bit hesitant in a double major because of the importance of GPA. I've heard everyone say it's better to get a 4.0 in one major than a 3.5 in a double major.

However, this decision is definitely still subject to change. If someone can convince me that what I plan on doing is totally ridiculous or there's a better course of action, I'm all ears.

If the double major prevents you from getting good grades, then just stick to one major. 1 major and 1 minor is perfectly fine though!



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