Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

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nsarlo
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Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby nsarlo » Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:34 am

Alright so here it goes. I already know I'm between a rock and some dog poop, so I'd appreciate it if people could help me out as to the best course of action I should take. I hope this is the right forum for this post. I'm sorry for it being so long...I hope at least some people will take some time to read on and help me figure this out, since I am stressing out about this. A lot.

tl;dr ~3.0 GPA upon graduation, focus on LSAT and go right to law school or get an MA to improve chances

Background: I am a 23 year old senior at the University of Delaware. For the past two years I have planned on moving to China and (hopefully) becoming fluent in the language. Though law school has always been an interest of mine, I only recently decided law is what I'd like to pursue. The problem is since I never expected my GPA to matter, I basically goofed around my last two years of college. I'm sure you've heard the same thing numerous times so I won't bother trying to explain. Long story short, before my last semester begins I'm sitting with a 2.8 GPA. I'm expecting to bring that up to a 3.0.

So obviously I do not have a very ideal GPA for pursuing a law school. Unfortunately my advisors at my school have been more or less worthless, so I figured I'd turn to the trusty internet for some advice. Here are my options--I'd love to hear some opinions on them, as well as other suggestions people might have. I'll list my Perceived Advantages (PA) and my Perceived Disadvantages (PD) with each so you can see my mind set with each. Feel free to correct these, since I will defer to this community's better judgement on the matter.

1.Take the LSAT in June, get some working experience, and apply to law schools next fall.
PA
-Get started in law school right away without wasting any more time/money
-If I can get a decent score on the LSAT, I stand a chance of getting into a not-too-bad school (not top 100)
-I can work my butt off and graduate with good grades and prove my worth wherever I can go
PD
-No chance of getting into a decent school, which I hear from some people is fairly important in the field

2.Get a masters degree at an in state school such as Rutgers
PA
-I forgot to mention I live in New Jersey. Rutgers-Camden is not far from my home, which makes getting a masters degree from there while working a plausibility. They actually offer a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, which is a MA that requires taking advanced classes from a number of different fields.
-Acing my graduate work and having an advanced degree could help me get into a better school
-Can prove to law schools I'm more serious about my academic pursuits when contrasted with my undergrad performance
-Attending school at Rutgers-Camden could improve my chances of being admitted to their law school
PD
-2 years at least of graduate study in a non-specific area of study before I have a chance at law school
-Not sure if they will take a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies serious
-Not even sure if the degree will help them overlook my undergrad
-Money, money, money

3.Transfer to Rutgers-Camden as an undergrad and get a degree from there
PA
-While I already am set to graduate from UD, another year or so of undergraduate study at Rutgers--especially if I can ace my classes--might show a change in attitude and commitment
-Beef up my GPA before applying to law schools
-Get into better law school...?
PD
-Undergrads
-Not sure how much one year of A's at Rutgers will affect my GPA
-Not sure if one year of performing well will help to overlook my poor UD performance
-Money money money

Again I appreciate any advice, comments, or further suggestions as to what I should do. I also look forward to joining and participating in this community--I'm glad I came across these forums.
Last edited by nsarlo on Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:57 am

Piece of advice #1: Learn to be more succinct! :shock: (I know you were just trying to paint a complete picture, but that's quite a novel, dude.)

Piece of advice #2: Forget plans 2 and 3. Won't help. A masters degree that you don't plan on using is a soft factor at best in law school admissions. And law schools don't really care where you graduated from.

Piece of advice #3: If you can get your GPA to 3.0 and stomp the LSAT (170+), you'll get into some lower Tier 1 schools. Even a 165 gets you into at least a Tier 2. Go to http://www.lawschoolpredictor.com/wp-co ... ograms.htm and play around with different LSAT scores and GPAs to see what you'd likely need to be considered.

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fatduck
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Re: Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby fatduck » Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:58 am

rinkrat19 wrote:Piece of advice #1: Learn to be more succinct! :shock: (I know you were just trying to paint a complete picture, but that's quite a novel, dude.)

Piece of advice #2: Forget plans 2 and 3. Won't help. A masters degree that you don't plan on using is a soft factor at best in law school admissions. And law schools don't really care where you graduated from.

Piece of advice #3: If you can get your GPA to 3.0 and stomp the LSAT (170+), you'll get into some lower Tier 1 schools. Even a 165 gets you into at least a Tier 2. Go to http://www.lawschoolpredictor.com/wp-co ... ograms.htm and play around with different LSAT scores and GPAs to see what you'd likely need to be considered.


170/2.9 here, in at several schools in the 20-30 range with $$. just kill the lsat and you'll be fine. break 3.0 and you have a shot at uva or northwestern ED.

nsarlo
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Re: Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby nsarlo » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:04 am

Awesome. Thanks guys.

*edit: I think I have myself a little more worked up than I should be.
Last edited by nsarlo on Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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bport hopeful
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Re: Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby bport hopeful » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:05 am

If you can get your GPA up to a 3.0 youll be in good shape man. If you can score a 165, with a 3.0, there is no reason to shop outside TT. You could actually get some healthy scholly money at some lower Tier 2 schools, like cuse or something (not too far from you). a 165 and a 3.0 would put you at seton hall also. Definately just crush the LSAT and youll be in good shape. You def wont be attending any fantstic schools like the t14 or anything, but realistically (despite common belief) thats still ok. Those people are a small percentage of law students.

A masters wont do you any good anyway, and paying to take more UG classes is a waste of time and money, since it wont help you too much and youll be putting off life.

Start studying soon, take june LSAT, then take october LSAT and if you do well, youre not screwed forever.

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stephan75th
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Re: Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby stephan75th » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:05 am

2.9/177; applied before fall grades with 2.8/177; in a Georgetown; near full ride to IU-B; lots of waitlists and some rejections

Work your ass off for that June LSAT, retake in September/October if needed, and apply to a broad range of schools in areas where you could be happy working.

SupraVln180
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Re: Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby SupraVln180 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:18 am

OP, get your GPA up as high as possible, even a 3.3 would be huge. If you could hold off graduating and get 2 straight 4.0 semesters, a 3.3 is possible. These guys are acting like getting a 170 is easy. Getting a 170 is extremely hard, you can be testing there and just not get it together on test day. Don't bet on getting a 170, get your GPA up as high as possible, then shoot for a 170, but if you don't get it, a 3.3 would help you alot.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby JamMasterJ » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:13 am

It would probably be best to work and kill the LSAT, but you won't know much until you take a diagnostic test to see what you're working with. Take the free test off the internet (LSAC, Powerscore, wherever) and let us know what you get. We'll give you better advice after. It's tough, especially with a downward trending GPA, but not impossible.

nsarlo
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Re: Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby nsarlo » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:26 am

On March 5th Kaplan is offering a free practice LSAT at my school, I will take a practice one online along with that one and post it to see where I realistically stand.

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bport hopeful
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Re: Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby bport hopeful » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:35 am

SupraVln180 wrote:OP, get your GPA up as high as possible, even a 3.3 would be huge. If you could hold off graduating and get 2 straight 4.0 semesters, a 3.3 is possible. These guys are acting like getting a 170 is easy. Getting a 170 is extremely hard, you can be testing there and just not get it together on test day. Don't bet on getting a 170, get your GPA up as high as possible, then shoot for a 170, but if you don't get it, a 3.3 would help you alot.


If you work at it you can score in the top 10%, you'd be fine. This is just as risky as banking on 2 semesters of 4.0s. And youd have to pay a lot more for it, and you wouldnt be making as much money. Just kill the LSAT, its a necessary step no matter your GPA.

TheFactor
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Re: Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby TheFactor » Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:23 pm

jdfrisby wrote:It would probably be best to work and kill the LSAT, but you won't know much until you take a diagnostic test to see what you're working with. Take the free test off the internet (LSAC, Powerscore, wherever) and let us know what you get. We'll give you better advice after. It's tough, especially with a downward trending GPA, but not impossible.

keg411
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Re: Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby keg411 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:47 pm

If you have a downward trending GPA, why more school? Graduate, get WE and worry about the LSAT and school again in 3 years when your work ethic improves.

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aspire2more
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Re: Low GPA--Advice on Course of Action

Postby aspire2more » Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:54 am

Well, I like reading "wordy" posts and tend to write them myself, so here are my thoughts. I agree with everyone else that says you should work hard this semester to try to bring up your GPA to at least a 3.0. There is no advantage to getting a masters degree that you aren't intending to use. If you were talking about getting a degree in a marketable field, working in that field for a couple of years, and then going to law school to practice law in a related field I'd have a different opinion (i.e. getting an accounting degree, working as a CPA, and then applying to law schools with a personal statement describing your interest in pursuing tax law). It is difficult enough to get a job with a liberal arts bachelor's degree (I can say this from personal experience). There's no reason to make it harder on yourself to get a job if law school doesn't pan out by spending money on an advanced degree in liberal studies!

Contrary to other advice though, I would put off taking the LSAT (unless you're reasonably sure you'll nail a 168+ in June and just have to get it out of the way). Right now I would focus on acing your final semester, finding a great job, and figuring out how to get some experience (whether volunteer, employment, travel, etc.) that demonstrates your interest in either A) law or B) the field in which you want to practice law. Go to China and travel - teach English if you can get into one of those programs. The language skills will help if you're trying to do international business. Look into working in an AmeriCorps program as they offer great experiences and some (limited) assistance with scholarships. Maybe even just work in an office somewhere and volunteer on the weekends at an organization that allows you to really get involved and develop your leadership skills. Just don't feel like you have to rush right off to law school. You're only 23, so even if you took 3 years off like me, you would still graduate by the time you're 30. That's more than enough time to have a full career.

So, if I were in your position, I would plan on taking at least a year off, possibly more. If your heart is really set on starting law school in fall 2012, taking the LSAT in September or October is not the huge disadvantage people may tell you it is. It's better to take plenty of time to study and nail it the first time than spend your time and energy retaking. Think about it this way: You take the LSAT in June, get a 160, decide to retake in September, get a 168. Guess what? Your 168 won't be available to law schools any sooner than it would have been if you had just taken it in September for the first time. In fact, if you taken the extra time to prepare when you weren't bogged down with classwork, you might have gotten a 170+. If you take in September, you'll still be ahead of the game because you can to prepare your personal statements/why "x" essays, get letters of recommendation together, etc. months in advance. There's no reason to wait until the last minute (i.e. after taking the LSAT) to do that. Your file will be complete long before the December test takers even take the exam.

While I'm aware that URM status can have a positive affect on applicant's cycle, I still had challenges to overcome that were much easier to deal with by taking time off to work (it will have been 3 1/2 years off by the time I start in the fall). Feel free to PM me if you want more specific information about what I did.




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