Common question, slight twist - GPA

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Ormsby
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Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby Ormsby » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:55 pm

Long story short, My undergraduate GPA is about 3.5. I'm now 30 years old and graduated from my undergraduate institution over 7 years ago. I've been a public school teacher since that time. I'm interested in moving into the world of education policy which, as I'm sure you can imagine, requires a lot of expertise in the field of education but working through legislation also requires a good understanding of the law.

I recognize my GPA to be quite low. I was 17 when I started college and my first two years (of 5) were more lackadaisical that I would have liked. My average GPA during my last 3 years was closer to 3.8, and my graduate school GPA has been a 4.0. I've not taken the LSAT, but as an undergraduate (again, 10 years ago or so) I did take some pretests and my scores ranged from 168 to 171 or so.

There is an amazing joint JD/MA in educational policy program at one of the top law schools in which I'm very interested. It's unique in its focus and unique to my particular situation and educational interests. Unfortunately, said law school happens to be Stanford, which I understand to be GPA centric in regards to admissions.

There isn't much I can do 13 years later to fix my undergraduate GPA (save for get a second undergraduate degree), but I do have several work and personal accomplishments of which I'm particular proud that I have managed to accumulate in the years I've been working. Also, because of the uniqueness of the program at Stanford I believe I can write a fairly strong Stanford oriented personal statement.

I'm afraid that 2 years of mediocre schooling are going to overshadow all that I've done with my life in the decade following. Would you say that this assumption is accurate?

Thank you for your help,

=Justin=

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bluepenguin
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Re: Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby bluepenguin » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:02 am

-Second BA won't have any effect on your GPA
-Penn has a great 3yr JD/EP MA
-With a strong LSAT anything's possible, although your odds at HYS with that GPA are *quite* remote
-Pretty much everyone has those mitigating factors to a GPA. The number's still the number. You'd have to bring it in every other area for Stanford, and even then...

-Why a JD? It's great for kicks but you in no way need it to do EP. In fact, it's probably inferior to a PhD.

Ormsby
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Re: Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby Ormsby » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:13 am

Those are excellent questions.

I did know of the JD/EP MA at Penn, but Stanford does have one other unique characteristic which I chose to not detail for the sake of expediency. My particular area of educational expertise is educational philosophy. Stanford has one of the few true educational philosophy programs still in existence in America (the other two major programs being at Teachers College - Columbia, and University of Illinois Urbana Champagne.) I've spoken some with Dr. Eamonn Callan, Stanford's resident educational philosopher and one of the world's foremost thinkers in this field. The EP side of the joint degree program would allow me to work closely with him, which in itself is an honor and a reason to prefer Stanford over any other program. In other words, if I were just considering doing graduate work in education, with no regard to law school, Stanford would still be one of my top two choices (the other being Harvard).

As for why a JD, I understand that it's not necessary for EP but I do find it to be of great value. It would not be a replacement to a PhD but rather a precursor to it.

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bluepenguin
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Re: Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby bluepenguin » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:29 am

Ormsby wrote:Those are excellent questions.

I did know of the JD/EP MA at Penn, but Stanford does have one other unique characteristic which I chose to not detail for the sake of expediency. My particular area of educational expertise is educational philosophy. Stanford has one of the few true educational philosophy programs still in existence in America (the other two major programs being at Teachers College - Columbia, and University of Illinois Urbana Champagne.) I've spoken some with Dr. Eamonn Callan, Stanford's resident educational philosopher and one of the world's foremost thinkers in this field. The EP side of the joint degree program would allow me to work closely with him, which in itself is an honor and a reason to prefer Stanford over any other program. In other words, if I were just considering doing graduate work in education, with no regard to law school, Stanford would still be one of my top two choices (the other being Harvard).

As for why a JD, I understand that it's not necessary for EP but I do find it to be of great value. It would not be a replacement to a PhD but rather a precursor to it.


My understanding is that Stanford doesn't so much have an educational philosophy program as it has Eamonn Callan. Although idk wtf educational philosophy would be, and as an ex-phil-major I don't care to find out. I imagine it would involve Dewey, but you could probably customize an education/philosophy program anywhere decent (NYU, Penn come to mind - not the same thing as a true philosophy *of* ed program though).

Given your GPA you're more likely to get into the SUSE doctoral program than the JD/MA.

If you crush the LSAT and your application you have a chance of getting into SLS. The SUSE MA probably will not be difficult. You would probably want to prepare a backup plan though. A JD/MA or somesuch from Columbia/Chicago/NYU/Penn/UVA/Mich/UCB/NU wouldn't be the end of the world.

Ormsby
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Re: Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby Ormsby » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:51 am

I smiled just a bit at your first comment, and yes you are right, Stanford's "educational philosophy" program is basically Eamonn Callan. In fact they haven't even admitted any students to their PhD in educational philosophy in over 5 years. Nevertheless, Dr. Callan continues to be one of the most respected academicians in his field and it would be an honor to work with him. NYU is the same scenario. They have an ed phil program on the books, but they're not admitting students. Still, if you can get into to the program and work with Dr. Rene Arcilla, then you still get to spend some time with one of the best minds in the field...even if your degree says something other than "philosophy of education".

I'm going to start looking more into the program at Penn, although at first glance I'm not seeing any faculty members who have strengths in the types of things I'm interested in studying. The good thing about Penn is they have "ad hoc" jd/??? programs that allow you to apply for joint programs not officially in their degree catalog. All things being equal I'd rather apply to a joint JD/PhD in education program as I already have a master's degree and am working on my second.

You are right, those other programs would not be the end of the world, I would just really like to work with Dr. Callan if there's a chance to do so. I will study hard for the LSAT and put together the best application possible. If admittance is unlikely, but not impossible, it's worth the effort.

Thanks for your help,

BTW, educational philosophy can concern itself with other educational philosophers like Dewey, but in a broader sense it works more heavily in the discipline of philosophy that one might think. For example, I just presented a paper in which I argue for Aristotelian virtue ethics as a medium through which to consider virtue centric school reform policies. Dr. Callan's main focus is on democracy and education. Dr. Elgin at Harvard and Dr. Feinberg at U. Illinois Urbana Champagne are both credentialed philosophers working in education not educators dabbling with philosophy. Dr. Elgin's works heavily in the epistemology of education.

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bluepenguin
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Re: Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby bluepenguin » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:03 am

Ormsby wrote:For example, I just presented a paper in which I argue for Aristotelian virtue ethics as a medium through which to consider virtue centric school reform policies.

See now it's sentences like that that are responsible for my crap GPA lol. Good for you, though.

To my knowledge none of the EP faculty at Penn have any philosophical background. It's possible that someone might in one of the other subfields though. There is one secondary appointment from Philosophy, although I'm not sure she fits your interests.

Why not get a PhD in philosophy with an MA in education?

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TripTrip
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Re: Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby TripTrip » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:10 am

To be sure, OP, you haven't done something silly like failed to tell us that you're an underrepresented minority or a military vet or an olympic athlete or something, right?

Ormsby
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Re: Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby Ormsby » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:25 am

Ah, another good question. There was a day not that many moons ago when departments of education did hire credentialed philosophers with research and publications in education to teach those types of classes. Alas, those days are mostly gone. To be perfectly honest, even the field of educational philosophy doesn't produce many working graduates any more. The best scenario if you want to work in education is to get a PhD in something else education related (curriculum/teaching, policy, etc) at a University with a strong educational philosopher on the faculty and do much of your work with him or her while earning a doctorate that qualifies you to teach a broader spectrum of educational topics. Hence my unique interest in this particular program at Stanford.

Realistically speaking, a PhD in philosophy is largely good only for academic appointment in departments of philosophy. If I were to be admitted to a JD/PhD (philosophy) program I would be willing to take that gamble as the JD would provide me with a career option if I was unable to obtain an academic appointment in philosophy or education. Without the JD however a PhD in philosophy seems mostly appropriate for qualifying one to flip burgers or greet shoppers. This is especially true if your PhD in philosophy doesn't happen to come from one of the top 3 philosophy programs in the English speaking world (to include Oxford).

This should help to further illustrate my particular interest in Stanford. It's a unique program that provides the best possible scenario in every field. Top 3 rated law school, top rated education program in which I could earn a degree that is usable while still being able to study with one of the greatest educational philosophers of our generation. It's really the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow...unfortunately, my vision for my life 13 years ago was less ambitious than it is today.

Penn has a PhD program in "Education, Culture, and Society" which would likely be more philosophically oriented, though I don't know if they have any faculty particularly renown for their philosophical interests. NYU has Rene Arcilla, Stanford has Eamonn Callan, and Harvard has Catherine Elgine. Harvard would be another great option if they offered joint degree programs...which they do not, although they will allow for concurrent enrollment, but now we're talking potentially 10 years of study, give or take.

If you don't mind, you seem to be mysteriously familiar not only with law schools but also with ed schools. What exactly is it that you do? I've found very few people who have been interested enough in such a specific diversity of education programs to really be able to speak in an informed matter on all of them.

Ormsby
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Re: Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby Ormsby » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:28 am

TripTrip wrote:To be sure, OP, you haven't done something silly like failed to tell us that you're an underrepresented minority or a military vet or an olympic athlete or something, right?


I am about as white and middle class as one could possibly be. I can't run a lap around a track without feeling like I'm going to die. But I DID fail to tell you that I do have time in the military, although I have no deployments or anything to make me particularly unique as an applicant.

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bluepenguin
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Re: Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby bluepenguin » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:44 am

Ormsby wrote:But I DID fail to tell you that I do have time in the military, although I have no deployments or anything to make me particularly unique as an applicant.


Interesting. E/O? Branch?

Ormsby wrote:If you don't mind, you seem to be mysteriously familiar not only with law schools but also with ed schools. What exactly is it that you do? I've found very few people who have been interested enough in such a specific diversity of education programs to really be able to speak in an informed matter on all of them.


I kinda didn't know what I wanted to do after I got out of the Navy. Was going to do law school but didn't want to take the gamble (3.45/170 without serious prep). Started a teacher prep thing, realized that was stupid (only degree in philosophy, mind you), decided to do EP. I'm going to do an education masters next year with maybe an eye on law school or a PhD in the future, depending on where my whims take me.

Ormsby
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Re: Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby Ormsby » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:57 am

I am in one of the army bands... Largely in the active reserve component. Nothing particularly exciting in terms of national hero type stuff. I am a music teacher and realistically the professional competency needed to secure a position in such an institution is impressive but I would not suspect anyone outside of music, especially a law school admission committee, to understand or appreciate that. I also spent some time working military honors where I've done nearly 200 military funerals. That's something that brings be immense personal honor but again nothing that I would ever expect anyone to e particularly impressed with.

I have a pretty unique story. I lost a parent at an early age which was pretty traumatizing and I spent a little time homeless. I could make an argument that those things do wonders for character development but in the world of academics they don't mean very much. What I think is most frustrating is that, at 30 ie had many years to explore and demonstrate my competency in my profession and my craft. I've done a lot of unique and exciting things dice graduation. I have complete control over my future but I can do nothing to change an undergraduate gpa that I unfortunately earned 13 years in the past. The system is what it is and I'm in no way spiteful, but the helpless feeling associate with being demonstrably greater than my number indicates is potentially heartbreaking.

Apologies for the recent frequency of odd typos. I'm not on my iPhone and autocorrect can do some odd things on occasion.

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bluepenguin
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Re: Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby bluepenguin » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:27 am

I feel you.

Obviously those things are useless in academia but they actually carry some weight in law school admissions. I look at LSN and see basically no one (white) getting in with a sub-3.8 and it's hard to see how you could ever squeeze in there. At the same time, it is a somewhat holistic process, and I wouldn't be utterly shocked if you get in if you split the medians.

Ormsby
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Re: Common question, slight twist - GPA

Postby Ormsby » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:03 pm

By the way, not that you asked, but if you're looking for ed degrees you should really check out the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Best ed program in the country, tons of study options, and next year they're moving from an Ed.D program to a Ph.D program.




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