Questions from a confused sophomore

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swag
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Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby swag » Fri May 27, 2011 2:00 am

I just wrapped up my first year at U of South Carolina. It seems early to me to be stressing about this, but I hope to go to a T14 - hopefully UVa - but at least a solid southeastern T1 (Vandy, Emory, W&L, etc). That being the case, I figured it's never too early to ask, and this board seemed appropriate.

My GPA was fairly solid (~3.75), so I'm hoping to keep that up, and I've always been a pretty good test-taker, so my LSAT should be ok too. Other than that, I have a few questions:

-I could potentially graduate in 3 years, would that help me or hurt me or do nothing in the application process? Or would it be best to take a gap year, or even just make school last 4 years?

-Maybe I'm still in the mindset of applying to undergrad, but how important are extra-curriculars? As I understand it, law school is all about LSAT followed by GPA followed by anything and everything else. I'm a volunteer Young Life leader on campus (for those unfamiliar, it's more or less a Christian organization where college students hang out with high schoolers, but it's a substantial time commitment), and this summer I'm interning at a large medical supplies company. Other than that, I guess I'm pretty unimpressive, with no overseas volunteer work or published research or what have you. Should I try to at least get involved with Student Government or something similar?

-Will the lack of prestige at my large state school hurt me in the application process? Or will grade inflation at smaller/Top 25 schools level the playing field? On that note, will graduating from the Honors College actually have any effect on my application status or am I wasting my time with that?

-I'm interested in corporate law, so I'm an undecided business major with a French minor (it's just something I like). Carolina has a prestigious International Business program, and the admissions office won't let you forget it. I'm also considering Business Econ or Finance. Would the noteworthiness of that particular major affect my application, or would I be better suited to just pick something like Econ/Finance that would probably give me a more abstract overview of business as a whole?

Sorry if I'm way off-base with these or if I come off as a snot or something, I'm just really overwhelmed thinking about all this and need to know where to begin. Any help greatly appreciated.

paulinaporizkova
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby paulinaporizkova » Fri May 27, 2011 2:08 am

extracurriculars are not important generally. also, a 3.75 GPA is not a high GPA for top schools

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swag
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby swag » Fri May 27, 2011 2:17 am

paulinaporizkova wrote:also, a 3.75 GPA is not a high GPA for top schools


Right, well I spent a month or two pledging a fraternity and ended up quitting halfway through in my first semester, and that put a dent in a couple of my grades, so my GPA is probably on the upswing. It should at least stay at that number.

Thanks for the input.

notanumber
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby notanumber » Fri May 27, 2011 2:20 am

Bottom line: Don't stress about things yet. Your college years should be spent figuring out what you want to do with your life, having fun, drinking beer, and chasing tail. Improve your grades and spend your time doing things that you enjoy.

But to your specific questions:
swag wrote:I've always been a pretty good test-taker, so my LSAT should be ok too.


This may or may not be the case - before you put all your eggs in the 'law school' basket you may want to take a few practice tests and make sure you can school the thing.

swag wrote: I could potentially graduate in 3 years, would that help me or hurt me or do nothing in the application process? Or would it be best to take a gap year, or even just make school last 4 years?


Graduating early will not help you. Taking a gap year may help if you do something interesting with your time. The decision shouldn't be made based upon what would be best for law school admissions, but rather, should be based upon what would be best for your life/finances/enjoyment.

swag wrote:law school is all about LSAT followed by GPA followed by anything and everything else


Basically. Having mediocre extracurriculars might keep you from Yale and Stanford but it's more likely that a 3.75 GPA / bad LSAT will do the same. You're not going to have the kind of game changing EC that would allow committees to bump your stats.

swag wrote: Should I try to at least get involved with Student Government or something similar?

Dear God, no.

swag wrote:Will the lack of prestige at my large state school hurt me in the application process?

Not appreciably so.

swag wrote:Or will grade inflation at smaller/Top 25 schools level the playing field?

No.

swag wrote:On that note, will graduating from the Honors College actually have any effect on my application status

No

swag wrote:I'm interested in corporate law, so I'm an undecided business major with a French minor (it's just something I like).

Honestly, majoring in French would probably be slightly better in the law school application process. There is a reason most top schools don't have undergrad "business" majors.

swag wrote: Would the noteworthiness of that particular major affect my application, or would I be better suited to just pick something like Econ/Finance that would probably give me a more abstract overview of business as a whole?

I would get the econ degree. Like I said, there is a reason most top schools don't have undergrad "business" majors.
Last edited by notanumber on Fri May 27, 2011 2:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

paulinaporizkova
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby paulinaporizkova » Fri May 27, 2011 2:21 am

swag wrote:
paulinaporizkova wrote:also, a 3.75 GPA is not a high GPA for top schools


Right, well I spent a month or two pledging a fraternity and ended up quitting halfway through in my first semester, and that put a dent in a couple of my grades, so my GPA is probably on the upswing. It should at least stay at that number.

Thanks for the input.

welckies. if you really want UVa you should get a 4.0 every single semester from here on out or plan on blowing the LSAT away (i'm headed there this fall FTR)

good luck!

heyhowdyhey
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby heyhowdyhey » Fri May 27, 2011 2:26 am

ED to UVA...?

shoeshine
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby shoeshine » Fri May 27, 2011 2:30 am

swag wrote: but at least a solid southeastern T1 (Vandy, Emory, W&L, etc).

swag wrote: My GPA was fairly solid (~3.75), so I'm hoping to keep that up, and I've always been a pretty good test-taker, so my LSAT should be ok too.


Rethink the bolded.

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downing
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby downing » Fri May 27, 2011 2:35 am

1) The prestige of your undergraduate institution is surprisingly irrelevant, especially when compared to your GPA and LSAT score.

2) extracurricular activities are as important as they improve the flow and impact of your essay/personal statement. Even then, you may have a unique life experience that would be better than any extracurricular activity you could engage in and discuss in your essay - that would further decrease the relevance of extracurriculars in applying to law school.
But hey, if you can keep your GPA up (and improve it further), and manage to handle a few enjoyable extracurriculars, you might think of just doing that for its own sake. Unless you plan on experimenting with criminal activity, (e.g. like falsely claiming to be harassed by campus police for racial reasons, etc) extracurriculars probably won't hurt.

3) Your GPA is more important than the title your school bestows on that GPA, as law schools are strongly interested in raising their annual rankings, thus a "3.5 summa whatever" is not as impressive as a "3.6 no special title".

4) I don't know about your last question. Personally I'm glad I majored in something I had a passion for, and common wisdom asserts that, except for a degree in pre-law(which may ill prepare you for the LSAT), you should simply study what interests you. Since you're thinking about graduating in 3 years, you might want to spend one year gaining some worldly experience, or corporate experience if that's possible. It might also make for a superior personal statement.

And, in the first year of law school you probably won't have the option of choosing your classes; you'll likely be taking what most 1Ls take everywhere: criminal procedure, torts, con law, a course in legal writing, property etc.(http://www.top-law-schools.com/archives ... =3&t=32693) - by the end of 1L, and after the lengthy process of studying for the LSAT (aim for a 180!) and fleshing out your applications, chances are you won't be as polished in whatever it is you studied in your last year of undergrad.

As far as the noteworthiness of subject matter goes, I've heard only ever heard praise of the exceptional difficulty of certain hard science classes, such that a lower GPA might be more strongly considered for, say, a physics major over a communications major. But I wouldn't place much emphasis on this point - I'd consider it a mere 'novelty' of the admissions process.

5) In summation: GPA and LSAT score - and as a distant third - your essay. Not much else matters, really. Your goal is twofold: choice law school + happy scholarships and grants, else -_-.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby Lawquacious » Fri May 27, 2011 2:37 am

paulinaporizkova wrote:
swag wrote:
paulinaporizkova wrote:also, a 3.75 GPA is not a high GPA for top schools


Right, well I spent a month or two pledging a fraternity and ended up quitting halfway through in my first semester, and that put a dent in a couple of my grades, so my GPA is probably on the upswing. It should at least stay at that number.

Thanks for the input.



welckies. if you really want UVa Yale/ Harvard/ Stanford / Columbia/ Chicago/ NYU you should get a 4.0 every single semester from here on out orand plan on blowing the LSAT away (170+).

good luck!

WayBryson
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby WayBryson » Fri May 27, 2011 2:39 am

If you are at a large state school and aren't the kind of kid who already gets to know all his professors, then make sure you get to know a few now. Letters of Recommendation are important. Everything Not-A-Number said is gold.

paulinaporizkova
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby paulinaporizkova » Fri May 27, 2011 2:45 am

Lawquacious wrote:
paulinaporizkova wrote:
swag wrote:
paulinaporizkova wrote:also, a 3.75 GPA is not a high GPA for top schools


Right, well I spent a month or two pledging a fraternity and ended up quitting halfway through in my first semester, and that put a dent in a couple of my grades, so my GPA is probably on the upswing. It should at least stay at that number.

Thanks for the input.



welckies. if you really want UVa Yale/ Harvard/ Stanford / Columbia/ Chicago/ NYU you should get a 4.0 every single semester from here on out orand plan on blowing the LSAT away (170+).

good luck!


i don't remember all your edits being a part of the original post, but cool bro

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downing
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby downing » Fri May 27, 2011 2:52 am

paulinaporizkova wrote:extracurriculars are not important generally. also, a 3.75 GPA is not a high GPA for top schools


Not sure what you mean by this. Even by TLS standards a 3.75 is a decent GPA.
Granted, the 75th percentiles at many of the top schools are above a 3.8, the 25th percentiles are significantly below(at around 3.55), thus a 3.75 would still be a competitive GPA for a lot of "top" schools, especially if it were joined with a strong LSAT score. Just for fun I used 3.75 with 169 in lawschoolpredictor, and OP is consider an "Admit" into most every school above Vandy. With a 167, OP has a strong chance of acceptance at every school he/she is interested in (though Vandy would become harder to predict).

That being said... OP should strive to increase his GPA as much as possible. Better to be safe than sorry!

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Corwin
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby Corwin » Fri May 27, 2011 3:38 am

Undergrad prestige doesn't matter, major doesn't matter. Graduate in 4 years and get a better GPA. Study hard for the LSAT, it's not the same as the standardized tests you are used to.

paulinaporizkova
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby paulinaporizkova » Fri May 27, 2011 3:40 am

downing wrote:
paulinaporizkova wrote:extracurriculars are not important generally. also, a 3.75 GPA is not a high GPA for top schools


Not sure what you mean by this. Even by TLS standards a 3.75 is a decent GPA.
Granted, the 75th percentiles at many of the top schools are above a 3.8, the 25th percentiles are significantly below(at around 3.55), thus a 3.75 would still be a competitive GPA for a lot of "top" schools, especially if it were joined with a strong LSAT score. Just for fun I used 3.75 with 169 in lawschoolpredictor, and OP is consider an "Admit" into most every school above Vandy. With a 167, OP has a strong chance of acceptance at every school he/she is interested in (though Vandy would become harder to predict).

That being said... OP should strive to increase his GPA as much as possible. Better to be safe than sorry!

i meant t14, sorry i didn't clarify

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apollo13
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby apollo13 » Fri May 27, 2011 9:33 am

swag wrote:My GPA was fairly solid (~3.75)


LOL.
Welcome to TLS

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swag
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby swag » Fri May 27, 2011 12:48 pm

What I'm gathering from all this is that

1. I need to work my ass off to raise my GPA and get a good LSAT, and extra-curriculars fall by the wayside. I shouldn't be content with a 3.75 or an LSAT below high 160s, but those numbers MIGHT get me where I want to be.

2. 3 year graduation will probably only hurt me by making me take on more hours and threatening my GPA. Unless I can manage my time and do something essay-worthy in a gap year.

3. Student Government is a no-go.

4. I can still get into to T14s from SCarolina as long as I work as hard as everybody else that's trying to get to a T14.

5. Major doesn't particularly matter, I just need to do something that I'm interested enough in that I'll actually study it. Which makes my choice pretty clear in that I want to study economics/French.

Did I miss anything? All the feedback was really helpful.

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Unitas
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby Unitas » Sun May 29, 2011 12:01 am

swag wrote:What I'm gathering from all this is that

1. I need to work my ass off to raise my GPA and get a good LSAT, and extra-curriculars fall by the wayside. I shouldn't be content with a 3.75 or an LSAT below high 160s, but those numbers MIGHT get me where I want to be.

2. 3 year graduation will probably only hurt me by making me take on more hours and threatening my GPA. Unless I can manage my time and do something essay-worthy in a gap year.

3. Student Government is a no-go.

4. I can still get into to T14s from SCarolina as long as I work as hard as everybody else that's trying to get to a T14.

5. Major doesn't particularly matter, I just need to do something that I'm interested enough in that I'll actually study it. Which makes my choice pretty clear in that I want to study economics/French.

Did I miss anything? All the feedback was really helpful.


I just wanted to point out two things about USC's business school: (1) The Moore School of Business that you are referring to is very highly regarded by pretty much everyone and is probably in the top 50 UG business institutions and will not hurt you at any law school and (2) if you can get in the international program there that would be even better (But it requires a certain GPA and accepts 50 people or so a year from what I recall).

Also, the legal world is just recovering from the global economic difficulties and it is unsure how solid that recovery may be or if a changing landscape for the legal world is coming (i.e. lower pay, more outsourcing, change in law schools, so forth). NotANumber had a great point about taking a gap year to do something interesting. I would take it further and say finish in four years with increasing your GPA and also take a gap year. Graduating from Moore should give you a few decent options for a career to get your feet wet which will help greatly with admission to top schools (schools are adding a focus on post UG work experience), your finances, and getting a legal job afterwards. Furthermore, taking this time off may illustrate better how the legal world is changing and if you want to be a part of it.

Lastly, from what I recall Moore doesn't have a generic business major - they have a list like top schools of majors you must pick before becoming a Junior right? It is very possible I am recalling this wrong though. I would again agree with NotANumber and suggest an econ or finance degree (given the school and what I know about it, finance would be the better major to try to work for a big investment bank for a year or two).

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warandpeace
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby warandpeace » Tue May 31, 2011 2:30 am

your 3.75 is great. tls'ers have abnormally high standards. realize that your gpa might fluctuate, and that's okay. lsat can be a real game changer.

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swag
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Re: Questions from a confused sophomore

Postby swag » Sun Jun 19, 2011 9:07 pm

I've been traveling and just had time to check back on this thread, but I appreciate the input since my last reply.

To clarify - when I said I was undecided business, I meant that Moore doesn't let you actually specialize in your business program until junior year (or the hours equivalent). That being said, I am on track to get into the International program.

Anyway, I won't litter the board anymore unless anyone has anything else vastly significant to say. Thanks everyone for helping a brother out.




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