Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

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ravens9111
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Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

Postby ravens9111 » Sat May 22, 2010 1:26 pm

I am very thankful to find this forum. After reading many of the other threads, I have been able to find valuable information I could not find elsewhere. I am in somewhat of a difficult situation right now as far as deciding what I need to do in order to get into a top 30 to 50 law school. I know my chance of anything ranked higher is remote.

As other people have posted, I did not do as well in school when I originally attended college back in the year 2000. This was due to working full time while attending school. I was able to work in the mortgage business my beginning years of college. I did very well, but my grades were sacrificed. A couple years later, I joined the Navy because of 9/11. I thought it was the right thing to do. I gave up my job and school to serve. From what I have read on the forum, that does not mean a whole lot anymore these days. I was honorably discharged a couple years later. I picked up where I left off and began working in the business again while going to college. Still, I had a very difficult time managing both. I shortly after decided to stick with my career, as I was promoted to be a branch manager. I knew then that I had to make a decision to either finish college or move ahead. I chose the latter. I was branch manager for a few years and eventually opened my own company at the age of 26 obtaining licenses in 12 states with FHA and VA approvals. A couple years after that, when AIG, Merrill Lynch, and Lehman Brothers went down, I decided it was time to hang it up. I closed up shop and decided to take a new direction. I wanted to focus on just school without any interference.

Since I have been back to college, my GPA has been around a 3.8. I know my undergrad from my early years will be counted. With that taken into account, my GPA is around a 3.1. I have not yet taken the LSAT, but my practice exams put me in the 160-165 range. So, the question is, do you think I should apply this year with the above GPA? Or, should I postpone graduation another year to get the overall GPA up to a 3.2-3.3? Is that extra .1 or .2 worth postponing graduation? Would it be better to finish with a 3.1 and get an MBA instead? I understand that once you graduate, other coursework will not be included in the calculation. If I postpone graduation another year, I would be able to graduate with 4 degrees... political science, economics, business administration with concentration in legal studies and finance. Does any of that mean anything? Does my work experience and owning a business at a young age factor in? Is that not even worth mentioning?

My schools of interest are:
Washington-Missouri (reach)
Indiana-Bloomington (reach)
UNC
George Mason
Maryland
American
Cardozo
UCONN

Is it worth applying to the part time program to increase my chances if the above are unrealistic? Thanks in advance for your input.

yeff
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Re: Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

Postby yeff » Sat May 22, 2010 1:37 pm

ravens9111 wrote: Would it be better to finish with a 3.1 and get an MBA instead?


For law school admissions, your time and money would probably be better spent on LSAT prep.

But I want to flag this question quoted above. Why do you want to go to law school? Are you sure you want to be a lawyer? What are your goals? If you're still undecided about what it is you'd like to do, I think finding that out is more important than your original question.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

Postby vanwinkle » Sat May 22, 2010 1:40 pm

First of all, thank you for serving our country.

Second, while it's not the kind of prestigious or unique thing that'll get you into top schools, being in the Navy is substantive real-world work experience, which is considered valuable on law school applications. The fact that you've run your own business will also be valuable and only add to the strength of your application. Substantive work experience is well-regarded at many law schools because it indicates maturity and likelihood of success. Not only that, but your overall GPA is above a 3.0; this is actually very good news, since many schools have a silent 3.0 cutoff, and you're above it. You're still not in great shape, but you've got stuff to work with.

Here's what I recommend:

Abandon any thoughts of staying in school longer, unless you really, really want to. It won't help that much; you're pretty well stuck with a below-median GPA at the schools in your range. Since you're applying this fall to attend next year, you can stay in through the next year (I don't know if you've already accounted for doing so or not) but don't plan on anything longer. Also, trying to get an MBA just to get into law school is crazy. It's a soft factor, like owning your own business is. The fact that you've owned your own business shows you have business and work experience already.

Study like hell and get the highest LSAT score possible. If you're in the 160s now you can probably get up into the 170 range consistently by October. Even if you can't make 170 on test day itself, high 160s will really open doors for you.

WUSTL, UIUC, IU-B, and a few other schools are well within reach as schools that will forgive low GPAs for high-160s/170s LSATs and work experience. If your LSAT is high enough they may even offer you some scholarship money to attend. Alternately, if you can get into the 170+ range you can ED to Northwestern; they particularly like work experience and high LSAT scores, and they've taken quite a few high-LSAT/low-GPA splitters with several years of work experience.

You'll probably need a 172 or higher for that to be effective, but the point is, if you really want to get into the best school possible, at this point your time is better spent preparing for the LSAT than taking more UG classes. If you can't get that 170s score you need for Northwestern, you could still end up in the high 160s and get into the likes of WUSTL or UIUC pretty easily.

Until people know what your actual LSAT score is, it's hard to give more specific advice, but that's kind of outlining the possibilities for you and why you need to focus on LSAT more than anything now. It's going to be the biggest boost to your chances that you can get.

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Grizz
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Re: Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

Postby Grizz » Sat May 22, 2010 1:53 pm

You sound like you've got a good head for business. Think long and hard about why you want to go to law school.

Thank you for your service.

ravens9111
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Re: Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

Postby ravens9111 » Sat May 22, 2010 2:11 pm

yeff wrote:
ravens9111 wrote: Would it be better to finish with a 3.1 and get an MBA instead?


For law school admissions, your time and money would probably be better spent on LSAT prep.

But I want to flag this question quoted above. Why do you want to go to law school? Are you sure you want to be a lawyer? What are your goals? If you're still undecided about what it is you'd like to do, I think finding that out is more important than your original question.


The MBA would be more of a backup in case I don't get in right away. Don't get me wrong, law school is where I want to go. I am not going to sacrifice my education this time around. I am not pressed for money, so I am not in a rush. I want to advance my education as much as I can. I am already 29. I want to put myself in the best situation possible. Even if it means delaying the process and waiting a little longer, I have no problem with that. I am able to use my GI Bill so I do not have to work. I am taking full advantage of it while I can.

Why do you want to go to law school?
To become a lawyer, of course. I know what I am in for... long hours studying, lots of pressure, competition, not much free time, dedication, etc. It won't be easy, but I think I am up for the task.

Are you sure you want to be a lawyer?
Yes, I am sure.

What are your goals?
Eventually, to start my own practice after gaining experience at a firm.

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Grizz
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Re: Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

Postby Grizz » Sat May 22, 2010 2:16 pm

Still didn't answer why you want to become a lawyer.

ravens9111
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Re: Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

Postby ravens9111 » Sat May 22, 2010 2:28 pm

vanwinkle wrote:First of all, thank you for serving our country.

Second, while it's not the kind of prestigious or unique thing that'll get you into top schools, being in the Navy is substantive real-world work experience, which is considered valuable on law school applications. The fact that you've run your own business will also be valuable and only add to the strength of your application. Substantive work experience is well-regarded at many law schools because it indicates maturity and likelihood of success. Not only that, but your overall GPA is above a 3.0; this is actually very good news, since many schools have a silent 3.0 cutoff, and you're above it. You're still not in great shape, but you've got stuff to work with.

Here's what I recommend:

Abandon any thoughts of staying in school longer, unless you really, really want to. It won't help that much; you're pretty well stuck with a below-median GPA at the schools in your range. Since you're applying this fall to attend next year, you can stay in through the next year (I don't know if you've already accounted for doing so or not) but don't plan on anything longer. Also, trying to get an MBA just to get into law school is crazy. It's a soft factor, like owning your own business is. The fact that you've owned your own business shows you have business and work experience already.

Study like hell and get the highest LSAT score possible. If you're in the 160s now you can probably get up into the 170 range consistently by October. Even if you can't make 170 on test day itself, high 160s will really open doors for you.

WUSTL, UIUC, IU-B, and a few other schools are well within reach as schools that will forgive low GPAs for high-160s/170s LSATs and work experience. If your LSAT is high enough they may even offer you some scholarship money to attend. Alternately, if you can get into the 170+ range you can ED to Northwestern; they particularly like work experience and high LSAT scores, and they've taken quite a few high-LSAT/low-GPA splitters with several years of work experience.

You'll probably need a 172 or higher for that to be effective, but the point is, if you really want to get into the best school possible, at this point your time is better spent preparing for the LSAT than taking more UG classes. If you can't get that 170s score you need for Northwestern, you could still end up in the high 160s and get into the likes of WUSTL or UIUC pretty easily.

Until people know what your actual LSAT score is, it's hard to give more specific advice, but that's kind of outlining the possibilities for you and why you need to focus on LSAT more than anything now. It's going to be the biggest boost to your chances that you can get.


"First of all, thank you for serving our country."
You're all welcome. I thought it was the right thing to do.

Thank you for the advice. I thought the extra .1 or .2 would not make much of a difference either. When I put the numbers in on the websites, not many of the results show "Admit". They mostly show "Consider". That did not give me much confidence. When I change the data to part time, the results change to "Strong Consider" or "Admit". Would you recommend applying to both, full and part time? I don't want to be overly confident and expect a 168 to 170. Realistically, a 165 is more likely although I will aim for higher. I, too, thought studying for the test in October would be the right choice. Thanks again.

ravens9111
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Re: Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

Postby ravens9111 » Sat May 22, 2010 2:52 pm

rad law wrote:Still didn't answer why you want to become a lawyer.


I have always enjoyed helping people and fighting for the rights of others. That is why I joined the Navy in the first place. Specifically, defending others who are innocent or making someone pay for harm they caused someone else would be rewarding. Public service in law would also be rewarding. I think it might be best to decide a concentration after the first year to see which direction to take. Having been involved in law suits in the past, I feel that I would be a great advocate for other individuals and businesses. To me, it is not about the prestige or money. I am not getting into law for the wrong reasons. At least I don't think so.

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Grizz
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Re: Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

Postby Grizz » Sat May 22, 2010 3:10 pm

ravens9111 wrote:I have always enjoyed helping people and fighting for the rights of others. That is why I joined the Navy in the first place. Specifically, defending others who are innocent or making someone pay for harm they caused someone else would be rewarding. Public service in law would also be rewarding.


Keep in mind that not a lot of the law actually involves "helping people" in the sense that many people think. You said you want to go to a firm. Here you will mainly "help" people in the sense that they will pay you exorbitant sums to obtain satisfactory (not necessarily "morally good") results for them, of which you will probably play a very small part in the actual process as an associate.

Even at a place like the Public Defender's Office in my home town, many times the attorneys walk into court, find their client whom they have never seen before, read the file, talk to the State Attorney, and have a plea deal in 20 minutes. Guilty or innocent, these people normally take plea deals to save time and money. The clients are normally unappreciative. This really does "help" people, but probably not really in the sense that you were thinking.

You sound like you're interested in criminal defense, aka "helping people who are innocent." I've worked in a couple criminal defense firms. Most of the people did commit crimes, which I'm okay with, but you may not be. Also, most of your day will be spent visiting with clients, talking to them on the phone, and listening to them yell and demand stuff from you, and then refuse to pay you after getting them sweet plea deals. Most of criminal defense isn't really defending the innocent, but making sure the govt. follows its own laws and investigates and arrests fairly, which I'm interested in, but you may not be.

There are true public interest jobs that really do help people, but they are few and far between. I would recommend doing some research and figuring out if the is really something you want to do.

afa_brandon
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Re: Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

Postby afa_brandon » Sat May 22, 2010 11:43 pm

ravens9111 wrote:A couple years later, I joined the Navy because of 9/11. I thought it was the right thing to do. I gave up my job and school to serve. From what I have read on the forum, that does not mean a whole lot anymore these days.


i don't think it "doesn't mean a whole lot... these days," i just think it doesn't mean a lot ON FACE. law schools aren't going to hand out acceptance letters to everyone who has ever served, because, let's face it, not everyone who serves is praiseworthy (i say that as someone who has served from 02-present).

i think if you "sell it" correctly, it can be a one-stop shop for a lot in terms of softs. a lot of leadership, international experience, demonstrated willingness to sacrifice for others, discipline, pushups, character, sweet haircut and a litany of other characteristics that people might associate with military service, but definitely don't hurt to emphasize.

disclaimer: i haven't begun applying yet, this is just stuff i've inferred from research.

and to answer the title question, i don't think you should postpone. play around with lawschool predictor and you'll see that .1 means a lot less on a GPA than 1 pt on an LSAT, so that's probably your best place to focus time/money. if you REALLY want to spend a year working your ass off to get into a better school, from what i've read, it'd be better spent at a lower reach law school pushing for a transfer


Also, UCONN law has free tuition for veterans, if you didn't already know. makes them a sweet safety school.

afa_brandon
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Re: Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

Postby afa_brandon » Sat May 22, 2010 11:48 pm

oh, and re: your GPA, i'm in a similar boat, although the difference isn't as large.

write an addendum. it's very compelling, i think, if you just explain that you used to be a dumb kid, you grew up thanks to your service, then you went back and kicked ass.

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Grizz
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Re: Postpone Graduation to Raise GPA?

Postby Grizz » Sun May 23, 2010 12:16 am

afa_brandon wrote: if you REALLY want to spend a year working your ass off to get into a better school, from what i've read, it'd be better spent at a lower reach law school pushing for a transfer


Don't go to a school you wouldn't be happy graduating from, and never count on transferring.




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