Expected 3.75 GPA / 172 LSAT -- Chance at Harvard?

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programmerlawyer
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Expected 3.75 GPA / 172 LSAT -- Chance at Harvard?

Postby programmerlawyer » Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:37 pm

I've read a number of posts on different message boards, and I've gone through a few books, but I'd like to see if anyone could offer input on my particular situation.

I'm currently in my third year of a Computer Information Science degree. I've maintained a 3.67 GPA while working full-time and taking night classes and summer terms. I'm at a private, 4-year university, and while I could transfer to a much more challenging Computer Science program, it would delay me from graduating till at least mid-2012. In addition, it would require moving, spending a lot more on tuition, and giving up a great job paying close to six figures. In short, it would require a substantial sacrifice, and other than possibly improving my chances at getting into a top law school, I see little other career-related benefit. It's a move I would not make were I not hoping to go to a top law school.

At my current rate, I'm expecting to graduate debt-free next December (in a year). This is because I've entered the adult learning program at school, which will grant me nearly a year's worth of credit for life and work experience. On the positive side, this will save me close to $25,000 in tuition, as well as a year of coursework -- a year that could be used to pursue other interests or even to learn advanced programming concepts that are not part of my degree plan. The downside is that upon graduating, I'll have taken only about 90 hours in the classroom (vs 125 for traditional students), and many of the classes I'll have avoided taking would have been easy A's. My concern is that having taken fewer classes, I may not appear as competent in the classroom. Also, having taken only harder classes, my GPA will be lower than it would have otherwise been.

By the time I plan to apply to law school (next November), I will have had nearly six years full-time work experience developing web applications, as well as several years of freelance experience. I'll have worked my way through college debt-free and sustained approximately a 3.75 GPA while working full-time. (This is about the extent to which I can raise my GPA while working full time--but it is realistic.)

In addition, I expect to get a 170-175 on the LSAT when I take it next October. I realize this is easier said than done, but I have full confidence that I can do so. I've already begun preparing, and I believe my brain is wired to do well on the logic-oriented parts. Remember, I'm a programmer--logic is my world. Also, I've excelled at a wide variety of standardized tests.

Although my academic credentials are weak, I feel that one of the areas where I will excel is my purpose statement. Having grown up overseas and spent a lot of time traveling the world, I can draw on experiences in ways few other applicants can do. I believe that when finished, my purpose statement will be quite compelling--my reason for pursuing a law degree, discovered while doing volunteer work in Iraq during the war.

Also, I hope that as a twenty-three year old applicant, six years of full-time programming experience will help to balance out a less than stunning academic portfolio.

My dream is to get into Harvard Law School. I've read that a number of professors at Harvard take a strong interest in Intellectual Property law--an area I would much love to pursue--and I've heard rumors that the same GPA in Computer Science tends to carry more weight than it would with some other majors. I realize my GPA is low, and even a ~172 on the LSAT would be just average.

In light of the things mentioned, does anyone think Harvard Law School is within my grasp, and if so (or if not), are there are any particular adjustments I should make now to maximize my effort over the next year? For example, I've considered finding a part-time contract job to be able to devote more time to school and my application over the next year. If this came at a cost of $25,000 in lost income, would it be worth it? Truly, if it would make the difference, $25,000 would be a small amount in the end. If so, would I be better off focusing on school or my LSAT? It appears that there's a tremendous difference between, say, 172 and 175 -- is this so?

If I were to quit my job and focus primarily on school, I believe I could bump my GPA up to just under a 3.85. It would take some hard work and a couple A+'s, but it would be doable. Not just that, but if 1-2 points on the LSAT made a major difference, an extra 5 hours a week may very possibly do the trick. Granted, this would come at a cost closer to $40,000. Also, if I applied in November, and those grades weren't in till mid-December, they wouldn't reflect in my GPA.

My comfort is that Georgetown Law School's last incoming class had at 3.67 / 170, which would put me right on target--and if I don't get in to Harvard, I would love to be in DC. Naturally, I'll apply to a few other T14's, as well, but I expect Georgetown to be attainable--which is part of what makes this a hard question:

How much should I sacrifice to improve my chances at Harvard, and do I have a competitive chance, even if I do?

Thank you to anyone who has taken the time to read this and responds.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rick

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eatmykant
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Re: Expected 3.75 GPA / 172 LSAT -- Chance at Harvard?

Postby eatmykant » Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:46 pm

Score 173+ and I think you have a solid shot.

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englawyer
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Re: Expected 3.75 GPA / 172 LSAT -- Chance at Harvard?

Postby englawyer » Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:58 pm

programmerlawyer wrote: It appears that there's a tremendous difference between, say, 172 and 175 -- is this so?


yes, check out LSN. 172/173 usually requires 3.9, 174/175 requires 3.8 and if you score higher there is a sliding scale

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mallard
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Re: Expected 3.75 GPA / 172 LSAT -- Chance at Harvard?

Postby mallard » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:02 pm

You have pretty neat softs. Try and pick your LSAT above the 75th percentile.

Casus
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Re: Expected 3.75 GPA / 172 LSAT -- Chance at Harvard?

Postby Casus » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:05 pm

Just my $.02:

I would be very hesitant to give up a near six figure income on the chance that I might get into Harvard, given all of the things that have to fall into place for that to even have a chance work out. You are assuming that you can raise your GPA from 3.67 to a 3.75 or 3.85 and score in the 99 percentile on the LSAT. There will be more than 100,000 LSAT test takers this year, many of whom are incredibly bright, and less than 1,000 will score a 175 or above.

Best case scenario is a 3.85 and a 175. Looking at LSN, that would give you a good shot at Harvard, but nothing guaranteed. A 172 with a 3.75 puts you firmly in WL territory. Regardless of whether you can do it, you should understand that there will be Harvard Law grads this year who do not make as much as you are making now.

I'd say: study as hard as you can, don't give up your job, and see where things go. If you swing a 3.75 and a 172, you can almost certainly get into a T14 and probably a T6. Take this spring to study for the LSAT and see where you are at when May comes around. Take a few practice tests under real testing conditions, see how much you understand, how much you have improved, and how far away you are from your goal of 172. Then you can start to have this sort of conversation with yourself. If you really want to go to law school, there are plenty of good schools that you can get into with those hypothetical numbers that would require you taking on much less risk.

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im_blue
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Re: Expected 3.75 GPA / 172 LSAT -- Chance at Harvard?

Postby im_blue » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:11 pm

I think you'll need a 173-174 for Harvard. Applicants with two below-median numbers are auto-rejects.

programmerlawyer
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Re: Expected 3.75 GPA / 172 LSAT -- Chance at Harvard?

Postby programmerlawyer » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:44 pm

All of you, I appreciate the input. It sounds like the key right now is to focus on the LSAT. I believe I could pull off a 172 / 3.75 with some hard work but without leaving my job. As to a 175, I have hesitations. There are a number of factors such as testing conditions that could make a 1-2 point difference, and with that type of goal there is little margin for error. I'd hate making my strong point something over which I have little control--whereas with my GPA, I know I could pull out a 3.8+.

It sounds like a 174 should be enough to get me in the game, and so for now, that will be my main priority. I'm going to use the next couple weeks to study for the LSAT, and take a practice test under real conditions before next semester starts. If my score is my main weak point, it will become the priority. If my GPA is the weak point, vice versa. If they don't both show good progress after a month or two, I'll have to choose between cutting back at work and redefining my goals.

I realize many law school graduates these days don't start out with good jobs, and that definitely is a concern. However, I have a huge number of very diverse interests, and I hope that by working hard I can find an edge in at least one of them.

Thanks again, everybody. It sounds like this isn't impossible, and that's really all I was hoping to hear. My fear is the 172-173, but having good odds at other top schools helps cushion that risk.

Off to the library.

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englawyer
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Re: Expected 3.75 GPA / 172 LSAT -- Chance at Harvard?

Postby englawyer » Tue Dec 22, 2009 12:47 am

also, your user name is remarkably similar to mine. good job :shock:




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