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Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:12 pm
by Anonymous User
So between starting college really young, wanting to be a doctor despite not being good at science/math, plus a big personal trauma in my life during undergrad left my undergraduate GPA pretty terrible. Like 3.0 at a state university. Not great. However, now I'm at a decent law school and I'm first in my class, CALI'd every doctrinal class I took last year, and had a market-paying SA over the summer, Law Review, etc.

There are a few judges on OSCAR that I'm applying to that want my undergraduate grades. First, should I (1) not submit them and risk looking like I can't follow directions, or (2) submit them and risk looking like an idiot? Second, do I need to tell my recommenders, because I would really rather not since they all think I walk on water? Only the ones that I'm going to have make calls?

I hate that my undergraduate grades are still following me around even though I did so well in law school. Thoughts?

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:22 pm
by rpupkin
If a judge asks for your undergraduate transcript, submit it.

If a judge doesn't ask for your undergraduate transcript, don't submit it.

Don't ask any of your recommenders to address your undergraduate transcript. In fact, don't think about your undergraduate transcript at all.

If a judge cares about your undergrad grades, he cares about your undergrad grades. There's obviously nothing you can do about that. But most judges won't care, so stop worrying about it.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:26 pm
by pancakes3
not complying/disclosing is never the answer.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:59 pm
by landshoes
3.0 in pre-med at a state school is not actually that bad, sorry. Those classes tend to be massive classes with shitty teaching and no support for students. Not only that, they tend to have a brutal curve because only pre-med gunners and science majors take Orgo. Then you have the excuse of being young (a legitimate excuse) and having a personal tragedy. That plus your excellent law school grades don't paint a picture of some kind of loser. They paint a picture of someone who finishes things, even when they're hard. Combined with your law school grades, they paint a picture of someone who had bad luck, but who is clearly bright and hardworking.

The level of shame you have about this is understandable, but you need to get a handle on it. The only way around this is through: you need to get used to talking about this and putting it into a positive narrative. If you already can do that, great, but the fact that you're thinking about not submitting these grades to judges who have specifically asked for them indicates that this is playing an outsized role in your mind.

This would be a great topic for mock interviews, or even just practice with friends. Get used to talking about this in a normal, low-key, emotionally neutral way. If you want to approach your recommenders about it, you can, but I'd suggest doing so in a very low-key, conversational way after you have a solid handle on the emotional content surrounding it. "I was pre-med in undergrad, this is a much better fit" would be the extent of what I'd say, if I even said anything.

If you have a recommender who you trust, and who does a lot of clerkship recommendations, you can also ask them about this issue and see what they recommend, but I would only do this if you get an interview with one of these undergrad-transcript-requesting judges or know that the prof is likely to make a call to one of them.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:02 pm
by A. Nony Mouse
rpupkin wrote:If a judge asks for your undergraduate transcript, submit it.

If a judge doesn't ask for your undergraduate transcript, don't submit it.

Don't ask any of your recommenders to address your undergraduate transcript. In fact, don't think about your undergraduate transcript at all.

If a judge cares about your undergrad grades, he cares about your undergrad grades. There's obviously nothing you can do about that. But most judges won't care, so stop worrying about it.

Absolutely this.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:05 pm
by rpupkin
I disagree with landshoes's advice. I don't think you should get used to talking about your undergraduate grades, and I don't think you should do mock interviews that focus on your undergraduate grades. This is not like going through OCI with bad 1L grades, where you do need to practice explaining your poor academic performance.

Most judges don't care about your undergraduate grades. The few that really care will screen you out. If you get called for an interview, you're almost surely not going to be asked about your undergraduate transcript. I can't stress this enough: forget about your undergraduate grades. Pretend like they don't exist.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:31 pm
by landshoes
If you can forget that they exist, then yeah, do that. If you can't, then deal with it proactively so you don't make weird decisions based on a non-issue.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 6:18 pm
by Anonymous User
Thanks, all. That's helpful. There is one judge in particular that I think I have a decent shot with because of some connections, but he wants undergraduate grades on OSCAR so my heart sort of sank when I saw that. But, alas, we'll see.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 6:31 pm
by mjb447
It's also possible, if less likely, that a judge wants to know about the classes you took in undergrad for some reason other than your GPA (for example, if they were rigorous throughout or if you've ever shown an academic interest in something other than the law). It could also just be something extra to ask questions about during the interview to see what makes you tick. Nothing to lose by applying. Good luck.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 7:42 pm
by landshoes
Anonymous User wrote:Thanks, all. That's helpful. There is one judge in particular that I think I have a decent shot with because of some connections, but he wants undergraduate grades on OSCAR so my heart sort of sank when I saw that. But, alas, we'll see.


Your grades are really, really NOT "bad" for your undergrad course of study. And I agree with the above poster---some judges like to see them because it gives a fuller picture of the applicant. In this case, the "fuller picture" shows resilience and persistence. Remember that! Good luck!

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 8:31 pm
by Anonymous User
The key thing to remember here is that every judge is different because each of them is king or queen of their own universe. Some judges will disqualify you based on bad undergrad grades even if your law school performance is stellar, some ask for your undergrad transcript but don't really hold your grades against you (I suppose those judges just want to see what you took?), and some don't ask about your undergrad grades at all.

I graduated bottom-third from an Ivy and hated having to send my UG grades out, and am now clerking for a 2/9/DC judge who cares a lot about every minute detail of your law school career but didn't ask me a single thing about undergrad. But I did have judges who required an undergrad transcript reach out to me. Just submit and cross your fingers.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 3:05 pm
by Anonymous User
I'm in the same boat OP...2.7 but with a soft/easy major at a state school, now top of the class at law school. Frustrating that my grades from college are still following me. Good luck.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 3:44 pm
by Anonymous User
Anonymous User wrote:I'm in the same boat OP...2.7 but with a soft/easy major at a state school, now top of the class at law school. Frustrating that my grades from college are still following me. Good luck.


OP here.

That's why I was wondering if I could just not submit them and the ones that didn't actually care wouldn't notice/wouldn't ask for them. I just feel like it really brings down my otherwise blemish-free application package.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 3:55 pm
by A. Nony Mouse
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm in the same boat OP...2.7 but with a soft/easy major at a state school, now top of the class at law school. Frustrating that my grades from college are still following me. Good luck.


OP here.

That's why I was wondering if I could just not submit them and the ones that didn't actually care wouldn't notice/wouldn't ask for them. I just feel like it really brings down my otherwise blemish-free application package.

Why would you submit them if they're not asked for?

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:14 pm
by Anonymous User
I failed out of undergrad. Still got multiple (9th/DC) COA clerkships. Made for a fun story.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:38 pm
by rpupkin
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm in the same boat OP...2.7 but with a soft/easy major at a state school, now top of the class at law school. Frustrating that my grades from college are still following me. Good luck.


OP here.

That's why I was wondering if I could just not submit them and the ones that didn't actually care wouldn't notice/wouldn't ask for them. I just feel like it really brings down my otherwise blemish-free application package.

Why would you submit them if they're not asked for?

I think OP is saying that he wouldn't submit undergraduate transcripts even if the judge asked for them. Which is a bad idea, of course, but whatever...I think he's gotten good advice ITT. If he wants to obsess over his undergraduate grades to the point of self-sabotage, so be it.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:43 pm
by landshoes
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm in the same boat OP...2.7 but with a soft/easy major at a state school, now top of the class at law school. Frustrating that my grades from college are still following me. Good luck.


OP here.

That's why I was wondering if I could just not submit them and the ones that didn't actually care wouldn't notice/wouldn't ask for them. I just feel like it really brings down my otherwise blemish-free application package.


They'll notice if you're the only applicant who doesn't send them.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:06 pm
by Anonymous User
I personally know someone who had terrible, pretty sure it aas less than 3.0, UG grades (albeit from a good undergrad, but not premed or hard science), had very good law school grades/credentials, etc., and ended up with two feeder-caliber clerkships. So it can be overcome.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:12 pm
by mjb447
Anonymous User wrote:So between starting college really young, wanting to be a doctor despite not being good at science/math, plus a big personal trauma in my life during undergrad left my undergraduate GPA pretty terrible. Like 3.0 at a state university. Not great. However, now I'm at a decent law school and I'm first in my class, CALI'd every doctrinal class I took last year, and had a market-paying SA over the summer, Law Review, etc.

There are a few judges on OSCAR that I'm applying to that want my undergraduate grades. First, should I (1) not submit them and risk looking like I can't follow directions, or (2) submit them and risk looking like an idiot? Second, do I need to tell my recommenders, because I would really rather not since they all think I walk on water? Only the ones that I'm going to have make calls?

I hate that my undergraduate grades are still following me around even though I did so well in law school. Thoughts?


Anonymous User wrote:OP here.

That's why I was wondering if I could just not submit them and the ones that didn't actually care wouldn't notice/wouldn't ask for them. I just feel like it really brings down my otherwise blemish-free application package.


If the judge's OSCAR profile tells you to submit undergrad grades (which is what I gather from the original post), the judge has already asked for them, and you should probably assume that the judge cares about having them. I don't think asking for UG grades is some kind of "default" in OSCAR that chambers checks without noticing, if that's what you're hoping. Of course, the absence of UG grades *might* not affect your candidacy, but don't discount the risk that it will.

Re: Bad Undergrad Grades

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:14 pm
by A. Nony Mouse
Yes, ^this is what I was thinking.