Chances and need some advice re: outlier??

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Anonymous User
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Chances and need some advice re: outlier??

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:14 pm

I apologize for the new thread on the "chances question" but wanted to keep some anonymity. I also have a somewhat unique question regarding an outlier grade this spring.

My grades this year at the University of Houston:

Fall: A-, A, A-, B+
Spring: A-, A, A, A, B

This gave me a 3.678/4.000 for the year, which was good for 10/205 and just inside the top 5%. I did not receive our school's Cali-like award for the highest grade in any of the substantive first year courses, but I may have done so for the writing course in the second semester. I got two letters of recommendation. One from a professor who has a really strong national reputation and another who is young but was really impressed by my performance in his course. I had about 4-years of work experience in education and election campaigns between undergrad and law school, but none of it is that impressive. I am working this summer at a Texas State Agency in Austin

My transfer list right now is Texas, Columbia, NYU, Georgetown and Boalt. I am considering going ahead with an application to the rest of the T14 minus HYS (any advice on this would be appreciated.). I have strong ties with Texas and would probably be happy living and working here. New York, D.C. or San Fransisco would be advantages for my Fiance's career, so that -- and regions I might want to live longer term -- rounded out the list. In regard to Texas -- which still supposedly requires a "compelling reason" to transfer -- my reasons are my fiance (wife after Aug. 3rd) lives and works here and she also has an elderly grandmother who she helps with.


1. What are my chances at the schools listed?

2. What about the rest of the T14, which are definitely worth an app?


Also, on a related issue, I received a B in a 4-hour course my second semester. The class was taught by a visiting professor and the grades -- across the board -- were somewhat arbitrary. I met with the professor and got a poor explanation of her grading and came away even more confused about how she went about grading. She claimed a "holistic approach," and I noticed things like spelling errors circled (in a 4-hour in class typed exam). There were issues with her class throughout the semester and several students complained during that time too. I and some other students are probably going to submit appeals but I anticipate the school will be very reluctant to do anything. Any change, if it were to somehow happen, would be long after I've applied and likely have heard back from several schools.

I am trying to decide if its worth it to try to pursue the appeal. I am confident the grading was unfair and arbitrary, and the exam I wrote probably deserved an A-. Even a B+ would move be up several spots. An A- or an A would have put me in to top 5. Do y'all think it's worth pursuing? Anyone have a similar experience? Will being in the top 5 versus top 10/top 5% make much of a difference for the schools listed?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Chances and need some advice re: outlier??

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:31 pm

I can't comment on the transfer stuff, but I don't think the grade appeal would be a very good idea. It's one thing if there's an error and you get a D instead of a B or greater. The difference between a B and an B+ or A- is probably well within the subjective factor of grading, so you're not likely to get anywhere. (For one thing, if the prof *did* grade on spelling errors, I understand your concern with that in that context, but it's not really arbitrary if she graded *everyone* on spelling errors. Profs have a lot of discretion in what they weight in their grading, as long as they apply those standards equally.) And, frankly, lots of people have at least one class with wonky grading during law school - you kind of have to live with the fact that life isn't always fair.

Besides, if the appeal won't be resolved until long after you've applied and been accepted places, what good will it serve?

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Re: Chances and need some advice re: outlier??

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:50 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I can't comment on the transfer stuff, but I don't think the grade appeal would be a very good idea. It's one thing if there's an error and you get a D instead of a B or greater. The difference between a B and an B+ or A- is probably well within the subjective factor of grading, so you're not likely to get anywhere. (For one thing, if the prof *did* grade on spelling errors, I understand your concern with that in that context, but it's not really arbitrary if she graded *everyone* on spelling errors. Profs have a lot of discretion in what they weight in their grading, as long as they apply those standards equally.) And, frankly, lots of people have at least one class with wonky grading during law school - you kind of have to live with the fact that life isn't always fair.

Besides, if the appeal won't be resolved until long after you've applied and been accepted places, what good will it serve?


I see your points and that's how I'm starting to see things. I'm maybe thinking that it will somehow be resolved prior to receiving admissions decisions or before the deadlines for the higher ranked schools. I also thought I could request some sort of letter stating that the grading was irregular -- not sure what this could say to be effective and not make the school look bad though. I'm mindful that strange things happen wit particular classes...the separation at the top probably has a lot to do with how well each student avoids this. This one just seemed way out there. There were B- GPA students who left an hour early because they "didn't know what to write" who received A's for example. It's just tough to see something so important come down to a professor not caring and grading on whims. I appreciate your advice. I emailed the Dean of Students on Friday and opened a discussion with the Dean that supervises faculty. The Faculty dean was sympathetic but not sure what could be done. Many other students are complaining.

I'm hoping I'll have plenty of options based on where I stand now and the outlier issue will be moot. I think it probably would have helped with the reaches, and if I had ended up in the top 3 I likely would have shot out apps to Harvard, Yale and Stanford.




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