Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

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John Mill
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Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby John Mill » Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:35 am

So Ive wanted for a long time to be a lawyer. Recently I began doing some serious research, and even hearing all the horror stories and terrible news about how bad the job market is hasn't deterred me. It has however made me much more cautious about how I got about my education. My goal is a T14 law school, if I cant make any schools in the T14 then I will likely decide on a different career path.

I'm in my first year of undergrad school after dropping out of high school four years ago due to a persona tragedy. To give myself a leg up I'm planning out my education as early as possible. I've researched and read about how the two things law schools look at are your GPA and LSAT scores. I'm overly worried about my GPA, all I can really do about that is study, work hard, and give up a social life. So my main concern had been the LSAT.

I've read that Philosophy majors do the best on the LSAT due to certain skills it trains you in, and I have been enjoying and doing well in the first philosophy class that I'm taking. There is however, not much I want to do with a Philosophy degree if plans with law school fall through, and my current school doesn't offer a major in Philosophy.

So I'm planning on majoring in Political Science, or possibly English and minoring in Philosophy. My question here is, will a minor in Philosophy give me the skills I need to have the edge on the LSAT?

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cahwc12
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby cahwc12 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:22 am

Studying for the LSAT will give you the skills you need to do well on the LSAT.

If you want to develop a mindset to crush this test and in dealing with the work that goes into it, major in electrical engineering and double in English rhetoric.


A lot of people are going to tell you that you should major in something silly and easy like political science, and it's good advice for getting into a top law school, but terrible advice for developing yourself intellectually.

Also, a degree in philosophy or political science or English is only going to allow you to apply to law school, whereas a degree in chemical engineering or finance or something more substantive will set you up immediately for a job in the real world should you decide to not go to law school.

The bottom line is take something that will challenge you, and excel at it. If you take something easy and excel at it, you'll have the same GPA to show, but you'll be less of the person you could have become.

Also you shouldn't have to give up your social life to excel in school, and especially not if you pick a popsicle major political science. Try to get involved on campus in clubs, frats, meet with professors--anything social where you can network and meet lots of people. Those connections will provide much better value for you later on than the extraneous hours you toil away in your bedroom.


I chose to take much more challenging coursework than was necessary, and my GPA did suffer, but not because of the challenging coursework--I simply didn't have the requisite work ethic developed from years of getting by on raw ability alone in high school.

Being that you've a few years older than most college freshman though and clearly seem to be engaged in school, I think you have a leg up on the whole process though.

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boblawlob
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby boblawlob » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:03 am

A philosophy minor might help you, but it might not (well, most likely not) be sufficient in and of itself to help you do well on the LSAT.

Just don't expect to take a few classes in philosophy and then take a diagnostic and score 170+.

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John Mill
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby John Mill » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:15 am

cahwc12 wrote:Studying for the LSAT will give you the skills you need to do well on the LSAT.

If you want to develop a mindset to crush this test and in dealing with the work that goes into it, major in electrical engineering and double in English rhetoric.


A lot of people are going to tell you that you should major in something silly and easy like political science, and it's good advice for getting into a top law school, but terrible advice for developing yourself intellectually.

Also, a degree in philosophy or political science or English is only going to allow you to apply to law school, whereas a degree in chemical engineering or finance or something more substantive will set you up immediately for a job in the real world should you decide to not go to law school.

The bottom line is take something that will challenge you, and excel at it. If you take something easy and excel at it, you'll have the same GPA to show, but you'll be less of the person you could have become.

Also you shouldn't have to give up your social life to excel in school, and especially not if you pick a popsicle major political science. Try to get involved on campus in clubs, frats, meet with professors--anything social where you can network and meet lots of people. Those connections will provide much better value for you later on than the extraneous hours you toil away in your bedroom.


I chose to take much more challenging coursework than was necessary, and my GPA did suffer, but not because of the challenging coursework--I simply didn't have the requisite work ethic developed from years of getting by on raw ability alone in high school.

Being that you've a few years older than most college freshman though and clearly seem to be engaged in school, I think you have a leg up on the whole process though.


I hope I don't come off like a dick, but I kind of get exasperated where every single place that I ask this question I get advice on my major rather than an actual answer to the question. The same thing happened on Yahoo answers, the guy ignored my question about Philosophy and said I should drop my PoliSci major for Economics. I'm not really that great with numbers. Im good at math, but my real strengths lie in other areas.

I have actually given some thought to my major, and even if plans with law school did fall through I have other options. I've done some amateur voice acting work which I may explore, and if I get some kind of business degree I have a spot in a company a friend of mine is starting. I also might try and explore a career in writing.

But like I said I really only posted here to get an opinion about whether the Philosophy minor would give me the same edge on the LSAT that a major would. And again I like philosophy, so even if not I might still choose this.

boblawlob wrote:A philosophy minor might help you, but it might not (well, most likely not) be sufficient in and of itself to help you do well on the LSAT.

Just don't expect to take a few classes in philosophy and then take a diagnostic and score 170+.


Oh I wont. I'm going to study for that when the time comes, and take all the courses and such. But that's a few years away, I'm trying atm to give myself every possible advantage since I know this is a competitive path I'm choosing, and I'm not that competitive a guy by nature.

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cahwc12
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby cahwc12 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:23 am

Just look at it this way: you have to take 120 credit hours to graduate. Most majors only require 30-60 hours of work, plus 30 hours or so of general education requirements.

You have room already for enough electives to get a philosophy minor. If you're interested in the classes, then take them. Symbolic logic is likely the single best class you can take in undergrad that will be of direct benefit on the LSAT.

Something like calculus up through multi-variate would also be good prep (although less directly) because you learn a system of rules and apply concepts, and because calculus will require you to develop a work ethic that will stay with you long after you forget what you studied.

You'll likely have up to 10 or more classes you can take as electives depending on what major you ultimately go to. Just abide by this rule: challenge yourself.

But to be clear, likely the only class that will directly aid you on the LSAT is symbolic logic, which is quite a bit different from classes on political thought or something of the like.

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Poo-T
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby Poo-T » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:25 am

Certain Philosophy classes are better than others. A mathematical logic class will help give your mind good training for analytical thinking. That's pretty useful for the test.

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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby Theopliske8711 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:26 am

If philosophy, it should be analytical 20th century Philosophy. That might help you develop the kind of inference skills you will need but don't go overboard. The amount of logic that is used in the LSAT doesn't go above a few weeks of an intro to logic class, honestly. Very basic stuff.

The best thing to prepare yourself for it (and I am studying now) is to just be critical and analytical on your own and develop a linguistic framework. The LSAT is more language than anything else (besides the logic games) and so you'll need a particular understanding of how we phrase our words and how we use language. I took classical languages in college, very demanding stuff and some the language was so arcane and complex that I had to sit there deciphering what in the hell was actually being said even after I translated it. I think that really helped me, a lot. Take some courses like that, a hard foreign language, like Chinese or something. You will improve your English language skills as you study it.

Read academic journals and really try to understand them. Your school will have a plethora of journals available, in social sciences, in whatever. Philosophy, the sciences. Just majoring in something is not going to develop the skill for you. Colleges nowadays have become notorious for their academic mediocrity when it comes to undergrads. 36% don't graduate with the skill of properly identifying an argument from an opinion; that's telling! Read heavy, read often and digest it.

I think that, more than anything, will prepare you. You don't need to become Noam Chomsky or Bertrand Russell, but going their path will help you.

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North
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby North » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:36 am

I added a philosophy minor to help me with the LSAT. I'm sitting for tomorrow's exam and can confirm this:

cahwc12 wrote:Studying for the LSAT will give you the skills you need to do well on the LSAT.

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John Mill
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby John Mill » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:49 am

Theopliske8711 wrote:If philosophy, it should be analytical 20th century Philosophy. That might help you develop the kind of inference skills you will need but don't go overboard. The amount of logic that is used in the LSAT doesn't go above a few weeks of an intro to logic class, honestly. Very basic stuff.

The best thing to prepare yourself for it (and I am studying now) is to just be critical and analytical on your own and develop a linguistic framework. The LSAT is more language than anything else (besides the logic games) and so you'll need a particular understanding of how we phrase our words and how we use language. I took classical languages in college, very demanding stuff and some the language was so arcane and complex that I had to sit there deciphering what in the hell was actually being said even after I translated it. I think that really helped me, a lot. Take some courses like that, a hard foreign language, like Chinese or something. You will improve your English language skills as you study it.

Read academic journals and really try to understand them. Your school will have a plethora of journals available, in social sciences, in whatever. Philosophy, the sciences. Just majoring in something is not going to develop the skill for you. Colleges nowadays have become notorious for their academic mediocrity when it comes to undergrads. 36% don't graduate with the skill of properly identifying an argument from an opinion; that's telling! Read heavy, read often and digest it.

I think that, more than anything, will prepare you. You don't need to become Noam Chomsky or Bertrand Russell, but going their path will help you.


Chinese is a no go with me, I have a very mild case of dyslexia. Its a type that doesn't effect me much in writing, at least nothing that spell check doesn't fix. And Iv'e always scored very high in reading comprehension, but foreign languages have always been kind of tough for me.

I like the rest of what you've suggested though, especially the thing about reading academic journals. I think Im going to start checking that out regularly this week.

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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby TylerJonesMPLS » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:41 pm

I was a philosophy professor / philosophy graduate for 25 years, as well as a professor in a Great Books program that was in effect a philosophy minor. I was also the primary law advisor in both departments for six years. I’ve seen lots of my students and advisees get into good law schools, both majors and minors in philosophy. The study of philosophy will not just help you get into law school, it will help you do well in law school, and it will help you in your career as a lawyer. But you do need to choose the right courses. Be sure to take a critical reasoning course, that covers propositional logic well. The LSAT does not require more than propositional logic. Philosophy departments use the phrase “Formal Logic” in a different way than the national LSAT prep companies do. In philosophy “Formal Logic” courses almost immediately go into proofs, that are closer to mathematics than the sort of argumentative analysis essential in law school and the profession of law.

I know several people who teach in law schools. They say that most of what they do when they teach the first year classes is teaching students how to argue. Philosophy majors and minors already know how to make good arguments themselves, how to analyze complicated arguments and how to think critically. You can definitely learn these skills with only a minor.

Since you enjoy philosophy, and have an aptitude for it, you should minor in philosophy. Really, there is no better preparation for law school.

As for the LSAT, philosophy will definitely give you an edge. For instance, you will know conditionals inside and out. You will be familiar with all the flaws (fallacies) that show up on the LSAT. You will know how to outline arguments and so will be able to do e.g. the parallel reasoning questions much faster than most students. You will be practiced in the sort of critical reasoning that the RC tests. And philosophy will help with the LG as well.

Also, good grades in philosophy classes will impress admissions committees.

I agree with Theopliske8711 about doing analytical philosophy. In the U.S. there are two main schools of philosophy: analytic and continental. Ninety percent or more of American philosophy departments are analytic, although they may have a continental philosopher to represent that school. Analytic philosophy is much more argument oriented, and so it is more useful for the LSAT and law school. But I have to disagree about doing exclusively 20th century philosophy. Doing the history of philosophy will build your critical reasoning like nothing else, because you are working with unfamiliar concepts and analyzing arguments based on unfamiliar premises. After you learn to analyze arguments in e.g. Aristotle, you will be prepared to analyze unfamiliar concepts in law school with perfect confidence.

But, as you say, you do need to study for the LSAT, even though a philosophy major will give you an edge. Some of the terms used on the LSAT are different than the terms used in logic proper, and you will have to get used to the spacial reasoning in the LGs etc.

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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby eyescream » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:52 pm

One of my majors is in philosophy. My focus was logic, which had me studying informal, formal (different orders), modal and metatheory.

Did this help me? Maybe by a few points. In my opinion, though, what gave me the greatest yield was studying for the LSAT by using LSAT materials like the Powerscore books.

Like someone mentioned here before, the logic of the LSAT doesn't go much above the first several weeks of most beginner's logic courses (typically informal). Taking the course might help you a bit, and I urge you to take it for the sake of learning about the subject of logic, but don't do it only for the LSAT.

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Charlie.Home
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby Charlie.Home » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:28 pm

I was in a similar position to you, and chose to add the philosophy minor. While I enjoyed the classes, it absolutely did not help me on the LSAT. At all.

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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby Locke89 » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:52 pm

I completely agree with you cahwc12, I could have chosen an easy degree but I choose Electrical Engineering because it opens more doors and I still have a GPA > 3.7 and am in my last semester. I will now be able to pursue patent law, an engineering field, or anything really. It is very easy for me and my classmates to get job offers 60k+, even with ZERO work experience. Cah is right on the money with developing yourself intellectually as well. I have learned far more about thinking, logic, and work ethic from engineering than I ever would have in an easy liberal arts degree.

Also I agree with the consensus here to just use the time you would have wasted on that minor studying for the LSAT.

cahwc12 wrote:Studying for the LSAT will give you the skills you need to do well on the LSAT.

If you want to develop a mindset to crush this test and in dealing with the work that goes into it, major in electrical engineering and double in English rhetoric.


A lot of people are going to tell you that you should major in something silly and easy like political science, and it's good advice for getting into a top law school, but terrible advice for developing yourself intellectually.

Also, a degree in philosophy or political science or English is only going to allow you to apply to law school, whereas a degree in chemical engineering or finance or something more substantive will set you up immediately for a job in the real world should you decide to not go to law school.

The bottom line is take something that will challenge you, and excel at it. If you take something easy and excel at it, you'll have the same GPA to show, but you'll be less of the person you could have become.

Also you shouldn't have to give up your social life to excel in school, and especially not if you pick a popsicle major political science. Try to get involved on campus in clubs, frats, meet with professors--anything social where you can network and meet lots of people. Those connections will provide much better value for you later on than the extraneous hours you toil away in your bedroom.


I chose to take much more challenging coursework than was necessary, and my GPA did suffer, but not because of the challenging coursework--I simply didn't have the requisite work ethic developed from years of getting by on raw ability alone in high school.

Being that you've a few years older than most college freshman though and clearly seem to be engaged in school, I think you have a leg up on the whole process though.

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Br3v
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby Br3v » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:59 pm

no (well maybe) but no

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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby relevantfactor » Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:02 am

John Mill wrote:So Ive wanted for a long time to be a lawyer. Recently I began doing some serious research, and even hearing all the horror stories and terrible news about how bad the job market is hasn't deterred me. It has however made me much more cautious about how I got about my education. My goal is a T14 law school, if I cant make any schools in the T14 then I will likely decide on a different career path.

I'm in my first year of undergrad school after dropping out of high school four years ago due to a persona tragedy. To give myself a leg up I'm planning out my education as early as possible. I've researched and read about how the two things law schools look at are your GPA and LSAT scores. I'm overly worried about my GPA, all I can really do about that is study, work hard, and give up a social life. So my main concern had been the LSAT.

I've read that Philosophy majors do the best on the LSAT due to certain skills it trains you in, and I have been enjoying and doing well in the first philosophy class that I'm taking. There is however, not much I want to do with a Philosophy degree if plans with law school fall through, and my current school doesn't offer a major in Philosophy.

So I'm planning on majoring in Political Science, or possibly English and minoring in Philosophy. My question here is, will a minor in Philosophy give me the skills I need to have the edge on the LSAT?


No, it will not give you the skills you need to have an edge on the LSAT.

I skipped the long background stimulus and went straight to the question, sorry.

EDIT: Also, wasn't there just one question? I feel compelled to read it all and find out how this suddenly became a "select a major debate".

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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby ninetails » Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:23 am

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Last edited by ninetails on Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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CyanIdes Of March
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby CyanIdes Of March » Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:04 am

cahwc12 wrote:Studying for the LSAT will give you the skills you need to do well on the LSAT.

If you want to develop a mindset to crush this test and in dealing with the work that goes into it, major in electrical engineering and double in English rhetoric.


A lot of people are going to tell you that you should major in something silly and easy like political science, and it's good advice for getting into a top law school, but terrible advice for developing yourself intellectually.


Thoroughly disagree. In what world is it true that a major that requires you to read (a ton), write (skills you definitely need for law school), evaluate and argue various positions while gaining a deeper understanding of the world, be any less intellectually valuable? There's a strong argument that it is not professionally advantageous but its naive and purely elitist to claim electrical engineering is going to "develop" your intellect and that a political science (or any liberal arts degree) will not.

I chose to take much more challenging coursework than was necessary, and my GPA did suffer, but not because of the challenging coursework--I simply didn't have the requisite work ethic developed from years of getting by on raw ability alone in high school.

Being that you've a few years older than most college freshman though and clearly seem to be engaged in school, I think you have a leg up on the whole process though.


In fact, all of your advice is terrible. Get involved with frats? Don't worry about your grades as much as you do getting into clubs and having a major that you can brag about to people like you? Just horrible advice for getting into LS because what is more important than anything is studying something you will enjoy, something that you can excel in, not joining groups of d-bags who are going to demand a semester's worth of your time in order to see how trashed you can get. I've never met anyone who went through the frat-process and didn't have a huge drop in their grades.

OP, your major is not going to benefit you in any way really. Cah listed his GPA in his profile as a 3.4... do you want a 3.4? Someone as intellectually developed as himself could have taken an easier major, gotten the grade he needed for his ultimate goal (assuming law school is his goal now) and went to a library every weekend to read something more on his level. You are your only barrier to intellectual development, if you don't want a job in one of those fields its not worth the substantial risk. You might benefit from the extensive reading you do w/ liberal arts degrees, you might benefit from the challenges a more technical major (like engineering majors) will offer, but what matters is that you do something that you enjoy and that you can get as high of a GPA as you can. Don't worry about appeasing people if you have no intention on taking a job in another field.

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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby foggynotion » Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:17 am

First of all, before you make any decisions, I think you should take an lsat exam on your own to see how well you'd do on it at this point. Maybe you're a natural at it, maybe you have a long road ahead of you--either way, it would be helpful to know before you make any serious school decisions. You can download a fairly recent test for free from the lsac website.

As far as a minor in philosophy goes, I think you should minor in philosophy only if it interests you and you want to minor in it--don't do it just for the lsat. If you eventually decide that taking the classes will help you, you can always take some as electives (in other words, why put the pressure of a minor on yourself unless you want it for its own sake). I agree that the most helpful courses will be a course in symbolic logic and a course in critical thinking. But symbolic logic can get pretty involved, and even though I definitely think it would help, you would probably learn way more than you need to know for the lsat, so I would keep that it mind while making a decision.

Another thing you can do that might be helpful is to do logic-oriented puzzles. Puzzles are fun, they can help you to think in certain ways that are helpful for the test--they're not a replacement for studying, of course, but they're a fun way to sharpen your logic skills. Magazines like Dell's Logic Lover's Math & Logic Problems have some pretty good puzzles in them. And you might want to check out some books by Raymond Smullyan, such as "The Lady or the Tiger" and "What is the Name of This Book"--the puzzles in these books are entertaining and fun, but are based on symbolic logic. If you like the puzzles, you'd probably like symbolic logic too.

As far as understanding how language is used, if you're taking philosophy and you're doing well, I'm sure you can read complicated texts and understand them. Again, before taking any college courses you wouldn't otherwise be interested in, I think you should take an lsat exam to see how you'd do.

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Clarity
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby Clarity » Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:18 am

TylerJonesMPLS wrote:I was a philosophy professor / philosophy graduate for 25 years, as well as a professor in a Great Books program that was in effect a philosophy minor. I was also the primary law advisor in both departments for six years. I’ve seen lots of my students and advisees get into good law schools, both majors and minors in philosophy. The study of philosophy will not just help you get into law school, it will help you do well in law school, and it will help you in your career as a lawyer.


I feel like this should be the start of an LSAT question.

To the OP, major in what you want to major in.

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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby cahwc12 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:15 am

CyanIdes Of March wrote:
cahwc12 wrote:Studying for the LSAT will give you the skills you need to do well on the LSAT.

If you want to develop a mindset to crush this test and in dealing with the work that goes into it, major in electrical engineering and double in English rhetoric.


A lot of people are going to tell you that you should major in something silly and easy like political science, and it's good advice for getting into a top law school, but terrible advice for developing yourself intellectually.


Thoroughly disagree. In what world is it true that a major that requires you to read (a ton), write (skills you definitely need for law school), evaluate and argue various positions while gaining a deeper understanding of the world, be any less intellectually valuable? There's a strong argument that it is not professionally advantageous but its naive and purely elitist to claim electrical engineering is going to "develop" your intellect and that a political science (or any liberal arts degree) will not.

I chose to take much more challenging coursework than was necessary, and my GPA did suffer, but not because of the challenging coursework--I simply didn't have the requisite work ethic developed from years of getting by on raw ability alone in high school.

Being that you've a few years older than most college freshman though and clearly seem to be engaged in school, I think you have a leg up on the whole process though.


In fact, all of your advice is terrible. Get involved with frats? Don't worry about your grades as much as you do getting into clubs and having a major that you can brag about to people like you? Just horrible advice for getting into LS because what is more important than anything is studying something you will enjoy, something that you can excel in, not joining groups of d-bags who are going to demand a semester's worth of your time in order to see how trashed you can get. I've never met anyone who went through the frat-process and didn't have a huge drop in their grades.

OP, your major is not going to benefit you in any way really. Cah listed his GPA in his profile as a 3.4... do you want a 3.4? Someone as intellectually developed as himself could have taken an easier major, gotten the grade he needed for his ultimate goal (assuming law school is his goal now) and went to a library every weekend to read something more on his level. You are your only barrier to intellectual development, if you don't want a job in one of those fields its not worth the substantial risk. You might benefit from the extensive reading you do w/ liberal arts degrees, you might benefit from the challenges a more technical major (like engineering majors) will offer, but what matters is that you do something that you enjoy and that you can get as high of a GPA as you can. Don't worry about appeasing people if you have no intention on taking a job in another field.


First, it's not elitist to say that a degree in electircal engineering is far more rigorous than a degree in political science. You have clearly never taken a difficult class if you believe political science to be intellectually as or more demanding than electrical engineering. The two are night and day. The amount of extra work, problem-solving, and critical thinking that go into a substantive hard-science major blow social science out of the water. How do I know this? Because I majored in one of each. Anyone you ask who has taken classes from both ends of the spectrum will agree with me--I'm sorry if that makes you feel less about your degree, but that is the reality. It would be elitist to say that my political science degree from Princeton was worth more than yours from Average State U.

You're absolutely right that my GPA was 3.4, and he should not strive for that, but my GPA and the courses I chose to take are independent of one another. If I had taken easier classes for a higher GPA, I genuinely feel I would be less smart than I am today. Most who have taken a similar path agree, although many (not me) were able to retain that high GPA. I switched majors before having developed the requisite work ethic to excel academically. I dropped out at one point and had to take super-human loads (and make A's) to graduate on time. The difference though is that I have those skills now, while someone who never challenged himself isn't necessarily going to have those skills.

You also do a fantastic (awful?) job of distorting what I said--the only thing I claim throughout the post is that he should strive for academic excellence. That doesn't require one forego a social life, but merely to balance it. There are many types of fraternities, and they aren't all what you surely imply them to be (insert Will Farrell or John Belushi film). Many are service-oriented, including one I was heavily involved in. Even social fraternities provide excellent networking opportunities though if you participate in rush week (which does not oblige you to pledge for any social frat). You will meet a ton of people and my point is that these connections you make will help you later on. Never again will you be a part of such a diverse and motivated group of people as at a university, and you should exercise every opportunity to meet new people and get involved. This does NOT have to come at the cost of academics.

Perhaps most importantly, it's a terrible idea to major in something only because you enjoy it and it's easy. Do this and you will lock yourself into applying for law school because you won't have any other options. Do you suppose it's more likely that those who major in English, Political Science, Philosophy, etc. end up going to law school because they wanted to all along, or that they can't actually get any job because their undergraduate coursework didn't prepare them for anything?

OP, you need to appreciate the difference between pursuits of hobby (art history, politics, literature, etc) and substantive pre-professional coursework (chemistry, mechanical engineering, finance, etc). Find something in the latter category that you enjoy. If you choose from the former category, you are severely limiting your options and won't be learning anything that translates into a profession.

Finally, if and only if law school is something you truly want should you take coursework with the sole intention of maximizing your GPA. But this is a very dangerous proposition, for you may change your mind at any point in the next three or four years, and if you do you will have studied perhaps interesting and easier subjects that ultimately do not translate to any professional work. And taking more difficult, engaging, intellectually-demanding coursework is not a death sentence for your GPA. There are droves of students who graduated with high honors in academically rigorous majors and attend top law schools. But there are far more on this forum who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Right-Handed Stress Reduction Techniques, think they know everything, and won't admit that they are applying to law school because either their parents want them to, or they simply have no other option.

Challenge yourself and you will reap the benefits.

alex.feuerman
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby alex.feuerman » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:32 am

NO

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CyanIdes Of March
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby CyanIdes Of March » Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:43 pm

First, it's not elitist to say that a degree in electircal engineering is far more rigorous than a degree in political science. You have clearly never taken a difficult class if you believe political science to be intellectually as or more demanding than electrical engineering. The two are night and day. The amount of extra work, problem-solving, and critical thinking that go into a substantive hard-science major blow social science out of the water. How do I know this? Because I majored in one of each. Anyone you ask who has taken classes from both ends of the spectrum will agree with me--I'm sorry if that makes you feel less about your degree, but that is the reality. It would be elitist to say that my political science degree from Princeton was worth more than yours from Average State U.


I specifically said that I wasn't implying poli sci was more difficult, only that it wasn't going to develop you intellectually more so just because it is more difficult. There is a lot more that goes into intellectual development (as loose a term that is for this argument) than rigorousness of ones studies.

I disagree that the "critical thinking" is night and day, though. I use to major in a hard science before switching to my current ones (fresh to soph until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life) and while the hard science major was clearly more difficult (as my grades show), it was not more developmental. It requires more technical thought development, it develops your ability to think analytically, but as far as critical thinking goes there's a lot that can be said for having to read dense material and derive arguments and understanding from them.

I have no insecurities about my degree, I knew when I chose it that I'd have fellow students I use to study with (and people like you) who would look down on me because the elitist culture that engineering/hard sciences grows is palpable. It's disgusting the a mentality that develops there, to the point where simply a choice you make on how you want to pursue life determines your intellect. What I chose was the right choice 'for my goals', for law school, and my GPA is evidence of that. Had I stuck it out in my past major I'd be in your position, low GPA but attempting to compensate for it by trashing other people's decisions by virtue that mine was harder and as a result I'm somehow better than them because of it.

You're absolutely right that my GPA was 3.4, and he should not strive for that, but my GPA and the courses I chose to take are independent of one another. If I had taken easier classes for a higher GPA, I genuinely feel I would be less smart than I am today. Most who have taken a similar path agree, although many (not me) were able to retain that high GPA. I switched majors before having developed the requisite work ethic to excel academically. I dropped out at one point and had to take super-human loads (and make A's) to graduate on time. The difference though is that I have those skills now, while someone who never challenged himself isn't necessarily going to have those skills.


I don't agree that you're any smarter because of your choice to stay in a more difficult major, but even if that were true and if that was what the OP wanted advice on, why not obtain that knowledge elsewhere in a manner that isn't going to seriously weaken your chances later on (if you have no interest in a job in that field)? You don't need someone standing at the front of a room teaching to learn anything, there's amazon, school and public libraries for a reason. If this is something the OP is serious about there's a lot that can be said for self-study, something you could have done if that's how you really felt.

But again, I don't think one makes you smarter than the other would, it's easy to say that now because you see yourself compared to how you were before your college experience and you can't see the alternate you. I feel the same way, I recognize myself as being a completely different person than I was prior to college, I can't say that learning something technical would have done anything more for me other than distort my priorities.

You also do a fantastic (awful?) job of distorting what I said--the only thing I claim throughout the post is that he should strive for academic excellence. That doesn't require one forego a social life, but merely to balance it. There are many types of fraternities, and they aren't all what you surely imply them to be (insert Will Farrell or John Belushi film). Many are service-oriented, including one I was heavily involved in. Even social fraternities provide excellent networking opportunities though if you participate in rush week (which does not oblige you to pledge for any social frat). You will meet a ton of people and my point is that these connections you make will help you later on. Never again will you be a part of such a diverse and motivated group of people as at a university, and you should exercise every opportunity to meet new people and get involved. This does NOT have to come at the cost of academics.


To be sure you don't HAVE to forego a social life to excel, but it certainly helps to cut back a little and give academics their due time, joining a fraternity is absolutely not going to do that. I'm not sure what the difference between social and service fraternity is or to what degree they overlap (I know a lot of fraternities I'd consider social that did a lot of service activity as well as ones that considered themselves academic while still presenting all the problems a traditional frat offers), I know there are a few professional fraternity (co-ed pre-law ones, for example). And participating in rush week is far different from joining a frat, and that's what you suggested so let's stick on that.

Frats offer networking (and I'd have to say at the detriment of society considering the type of people that join these things, you may notice by now I'm not a fan and that's largely due to the experience I've had here with them, every confrontation I've had has been because of one of these drunken idiots), but do you really think it's worth it? Not only is it insanely expensive, degrading, and detrimental to your grades in a way nothing else can hold a candle to, you are only then rewarded with having to associate with the most obnoxious group of people you can find on campus. On the other hand, I agree joining clubs is a good idea and it shows that there are plenty of other wise to network that don't involve any of that mess.

Perhaps most importantly, it's a terrible idea to major in something only because you enjoy it and it's easy. Do this and you will lock yourself into applying for law school because you won't have any other options. Do you suppose it's more likely that those who major in English, Political Science, Philosophy, etc. end up going to law school because they wanted to all along, or that they can't actually get any job because their undergraduate coursework didn't prepare them for anything?



While I don't agree with the common "Make sure you get a nice comfy cardboard box to live out of after college is over if you major in lib arts" cliche, but I do think a lot of people percieve of a lack of opportunities and take law school on after making that realization and that's obviously the result of bad planning. But that's not the case here with the OP. He is early in his academic career and already has his sights on law school. He isn't choosing Phil or anything else "because it's easy", he's was considering it presumably because he enjoys it and because it may have helped him with his goals.

OP, you need to appreciate the difference between pursuits of hobby (art history, politics, literature, etc) and substantive pre-professional coursework (chemistry, mechanical engineering, finance, etc). Find something in the latter category that you enjoy. If you choose from the former category, you are severely limiting your options and won't be learning anything that translates into a profession.

Finally, if and only if law school is something you truly want should you take coursework with the sole intention of maximizing your GPA. But this is a very dangerous proposition, for you may change your mind at any point in the next three or four years, and if you do you will have studied perhaps interesting and easier subjects that ultimately do not translate to any professional work. And taking more difficult, engaging, intellectually-demanding coursework is not a death sentence for your GPA. There are droves of students who graduated with high honors in academically rigorous majors and attend top law schools. But there are far more on this forum who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Right-Handed Stress Reduction Techniques, think they know everything, and won't admit that they are applying to law school because either their parents want them to, or they simply have no other option.

Challenge yourself and you will reap the benefits.


OR take this advice, end up with a sub-par GPA, and compensate for it the rest of your life because you resent lib arts majors and their higher GPAs. This really comes down to how committed someone is to the whole law school thing. I made a decision that I had no interest in any other field (and my time in other majors proved to me that I would not be happy with any of the job prospects related to it) and now I actually have more, not fewer, options ahead of me.

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cahwc12
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby cahwc12 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:05 pm

CyanIdes Of March wrote:OR take this advice, end up with a sub-par GPA, and compensate for it the rest of your life because you resent lib arts majors and their higher GPAs. This really comes down to how committed someone is to the whole law school thing. I made a decision that I had no interest in any other field (and my time in other majors proved to me that I would not be happy with any of the job prospects related to it) and now I actually have more, not fewer, options ahead of me.


While I do appreciate your thoughtful reply (not going to quote it all), a couple final notes before we agree to disagree (or maybe not, but it doesn't seem to me that you're open to reconsider your position):

* Picking more challenging classes is NOT necessarily correlated with tanking your GPA. It was for me only because at the time I switched I was woefully unprepared for the work ethic it takes to succeed in these classes.

* Failing out of freshman-level science classes does NOT constitute a valid perspective on substantive STEM coursework and its intellectual merits.

* By switching from STEM to classics or some other liberal arts degree, you will always severely limit your opportunities, not increase them. It's a long road ahead for both of us, and neither of us can be certain we'll be happy with legal careers, assuming we can even attain entrance into the field after three years at presumably good law schools. Should you strike out, you can't fall back on a liberal arts degree, but you can fall back on a STEM degree or other pre-professional-oriented degree.

* I'm not trashing anyone's decision, merely the defense that their degree is somehow as or more difficult or better preparation for law school. It is simply not the case that liberal arts degrees better prepare you for law school, much less real world jobs. In stark contrast, a STEM degree is more substantive, will help you develop a rigorous work ethic, and give you fallback options unavailable to liberal arts majors.

To anyone who stumbles upon this thread in days or months or through pulling up TLS archives, understand this:
If you want to pursue a liberal arts degree, you should appreciate the utter lack of professional options that choice will grant you (one of them being law school). But don't tout it as on par with STEM or another pre-professional degree in terms of academic rigor or intellectual stimulation/development. Most liberal arts degrees are hobbyist degrees. Calling that perspective elitist is to imply that that perspective is somehow jaded, skewed or otherwise invalid when it is an objectively accurate assessment of the worth of that degree.

Here's a sobering link to a study published last week on the efficacy of various bachelor's degrees. Footnoted is that these salaries don't represent the percentage of graduates with those degrees who can't find any job at all.

Ultimately it's naive to preempt your own job opportunities years later by choosing a major solely to chance a benefit to an aspect of law school admissions to a law school you can only hope will net you a job as a lawyer. While GPA is a major consideration for law school admission, LSAT score is just as, if not more, important. The debt you take on is a major factor, as is your ability to even find a job at all. If at ANY point in the next seven years you change your mind and decide that law school isn't for you or that it isn't working out, having a STEM or other pre-professional degree will offer you a fallback plan, whereas a liberal arts degree will simply leave you with nothing at all.

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abcde12345
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby abcde12345 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:15 pm

Successful philosophy major here (4.0). A philosophy minor will help you ONLY IF your teachers are demanding enough to get you to write correctly. Philosophy uses a certain style of writing that requires superlative articulation of ideas and clarity of thought. I know, I know: you're thinking, "I already write well!" Well actually, if you're a freshman, you almost certainly don't. And if you haven't taken more than one philosophy course, you almost certainly don't write philosophy well. Your teachers, if they are good, will rip into the BS you write and make you defend your position with utmost clarity and strength. This skill of clarity will help you in any verbal discipline. Also, this rigor is lacking in many other liberal arts majors--especially in English, where imagining "creative" outlandish interpretative "philosophies" counts more than plausibility.

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relevantfactor
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Re: Will a Philosophy Minor Help Me With the LSAT?

Postby relevantfactor » Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:39 pm

Guys! What about nutrition and sports science, will that help me have an edge on the LSAT? (Really hoping someone from either of the majors will start another argument).


EDIT: As evident as this may seem to most people reading, this a classic correlation vs causation flaw. And it is possible that either both or neither majors will improve your skills in some area related to the LSAT.




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