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Reporting grades for unfinished degrees?

Posted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:05 pm
by Llewellyon
I'm applying in the upcoming cycle, and had a question about reporting grades in my applications. In short, I completed my undergraduate degrees in mechanical engineering and physics in 2012 with a GPA of about 3.95. Afterwards, I join the Navy for 5 years, during which time I took some classes for a masters in nuclear engineering. Unfortunately, my GPA for these classes is not as spectacular. While I don't have the numbers in front of me right now, I was doing fairly well (mostly A's) until this past spring when I failed both classes I was taking due to a combination of anxiety issues, stress from work, and (to a degree) apathy. Although these were the last two classes I needed for my degree, I have no intentions of going back to complete them as I really want nothing to do with engineering for the rest of my life if I can help it. My question is though, do I have to report these grades along side my undergraduate grades? Further, I don't think I'll be able to get any letters of recommendation from my masters degree teachers, as all of my classes were distance education courses and I didn't really get to know any of the professors. Do you think law programs will require letters from these professors, since they were my most recent classes I've taken? I don't think my masters degree courses are really representative of my academic potential as I took them while working a 9-5 office job and never got to attend class in person, so I would hate to have them count against me.

Re: Reporting grades for unfinished degrees?

Posted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:13 pm
by cavalier1138
You do have to send LSAC those transcripts, but graduate GPAs don't get counted toward you LSAC GPA. There's no point in getting LORs from those teachers, especially if they don't actually know you. You'd be better served by getting in touch with a professor from undergrad who you worked closely with and pulling the other letter from a supervisor who knows you well.

That said, you should probably plan on writing an addendum to explain why you didn't complete the graduate program, because that will raise questions.

Re: Reporting grades for unfinished degrees?

Posted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:18 pm
by Llewellyon
cavalier1138 wrote:You do have to send LSAC those transcripts, but graduate GPAs don't get counted toward you LSAC GPA. There's no point in getting LORs from those teachers, especially if they don't actually know you. You'd be better served by getting in touch with a professor from undergrad who you worked closely with and pulling the other letter from a supervisor who knows you well.

That said, you should probably plan on writing an addendum to explain why you didn't complete the graduate program, because that will raise questions.

I'll definitely address the two F's in the application somewhere, the rest of the grades aren't half bad though thankfully. All of the other 500 level classes I took I got A's in, and besides that I got two C's, but one was a 400 level intro class and the other was a 400 level lab.

Re: Reporting grades for unfinished degrees?

Posted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:22 pm
by cavalier1138
Llewellyon wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:You do have to send LSAC those transcripts, but graduate GPAs don't get counted toward you LSAC GPA. There's no point in getting LORs from those teachers, especially if they don't actually know you. You'd be better served by getting in touch with a professor from undergrad who you worked closely with and pulling the other letter from a supervisor who knows you well.

That said, you should probably plan on writing an addendum to explain why you didn't complete the graduate program, because that will raise questions.

I'll definitely address the two F's in the application somewhere, the rest of the grades aren't half bad though thankfully. All of the other 500 level classes I took I got A's in, and besides that I got two C's, but one was a 400 level intro class and the other was a 400 level lab.


Just to clarify: the grades aren't the important bit. Schools don't really consider your graduate GPA, because different programs have very different standards for grading. The important thing you need to address is that you started a graduate degree and didn't complete it; that's the potential red flag for admissions.

Re: Reporting grades for unfinished degrees?

Posted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:35 pm
by Llewellyon
cavalier1138 wrote:
Llewellyon wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:You do have to send LSAC those transcripts, but graduate GPAs don't get counted toward you LSAC GPA. There's no point in getting LORs from those teachers, especially if they don't actually know you. You'd be better served by getting in touch with a professor from undergrad who you worked closely with and pulling the other letter from a supervisor who knows you well.

That said, you should probably plan on writing an addendum to explain why you didn't complete the graduate program, because that will raise questions.

I'll definitely address the two F's in the application somewhere, the rest of the grades aren't half bad though thankfully. All of the other 500 level classes I took I got A's in, and besides that I got two C's, but one was a 400 level intro class and the other was a 400 level lab.

Just to clarify: the grades aren't the important bit. Schools don't really consider your graduate GPA, because different programs have very different standards for grading. The important thing you need to address is that you started a graduate degree and didn't complete it; that's the potential red flag for admissions.

Is there a right or wrong answer for this sort of question? Personally, I was taking the classes because they were free (work was paying for them) and it was hard to turn down a free masters degree. However, by this past spring, I realized that I didn't really want to do engineering for the rest of my life, and combined with anxiety/depression/stress from work, I just sort of burned out on it. Going to law school is returning to my core desire to help people, something I never felt like I really did in the Navy, but that I can do through PI work.

Re: Reporting grades for unfinished degrees?

Posted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:50 pm
by cavalier1138
Llewellyon wrote:Is there a right or wrong answer for this sort of question? Personally, I was taking the classes because they were free (work was paying for them) and it was hard to turn down a free masters degree. However, by this past spring, I realized that I didn't really want to do engineering for the rest of my life, and combined with anxiety/depression/stress from work, I just sort of burned out on it. Going to law school is returning to my core desire to help people, something I never felt like I really did in the Navy, but that I can do through PI work.


I wouldn't say that there's a 100% right/wrong answer, but I would probably highlight the not-what-I-want-to-do-forever narrative more than the anxiety-depression-stress narrative. You want to avoid mentioning any mental health issues on your application.