Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

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Fearful
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Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Fearful » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:18 pm

Hi, folks --

I have a feeling I know the answer to my main question, but I figured I had little to lose by asking for your input, anyway. I'm new to this site and unfamiliar with a lot of the "local vernacular," as it were, so please bear with me if I misused "splitter" in my Subject line or failed to use relevant abbreviations below. Here's my situation, which is nearly impossible to condense down to fewer words than what you see here:

I graduated from the University of Georgia in 2001, with an undergrad degree in psychology and a lot of research experience in various labs on campus. My undergrad GPA of 2.96 was pathetic -- reflecting a lack of consistent effort. But due mostly to my research experience and a high GRE score (something in the low 1500s out of 1600 on the part that mattered), I got right into a clinical psychology Ph.D. program at another big state university several hours south of here. Two years later, I made the asinine decision to leave that program after I was forced to take a medical withdrawal mid-semester. My two-year GPA there was around a 3.4. Making matters worse, I discovered when I requested my transcript this past fall that that school thinks I owe them tuition money for my last semester, which is impossible due to my having had a full tuition waiver the whole time I was there. In spite of that impossibility, I couldn't produce the $2000 they say I owe quickly enough to slide in under my target schools' deadlines, and contesting that now-ten-year-old debt will require an out-of-state trip to that campus to collect and distribute the requisite documentation. Thus, that transcript is unavailable, at least for the immediate future.

After an interim year working in retail and advertising, I applied to a couple of other doctoral programs and was again accepted, this time choosing to attend a bottom-tier doctoral program at a for-profit chain university. Unbeknowsnt to me at that time, that school's accreditation was on thin ice due to abysmal retention and postgraduate employment numbers, and I was ultimately one of their many casualties (only about 55% of my 150-student class completed the program). Unfortunately, I deserved much of the blame for being given the boot after five years in that program, as I very quickly began to make only a pretense of being motivated to complete it. In spite of an "F" during my last semester there -- a byproduct of that school's policy regarding late-term dismissals -- my transcript from there shows a 3.47 cumulative GPA and a nonterminal master's degree.

It took me a couple of years and a lot of soul-searching -- not to mention working full-time as an evaluator at a forensically-oriented psychology practice -- to finally come around to the notion that I probably should have applied to law school rather than clinical psychology doctoral programs in the first place. I had entertained the idea of law school toward the end of college, but I felt at that time that I was too far down the psychology path to turn around, and my undergrad professors agreed.

At any rate, after being dismissed from a fairly crappy doctoral program in 2009, I took the LSAT in October 2012 (score = 164) and applied to the only two local law schools I thought MIGHT accept me. I'm now married, with a whole lot more general stability in my life than I had at any point during grad school; more importantly, I now know beyond any doubt that my skills and experience are far more relevant to a career in law than to a career in psychology. (Incidentally, it's due to that stability that I can only apply locally: my wife has an excellent job where we live, and we bought a house shortly after getting married. We can't leave here.)

I wrote a good personal statement, but I obviously had to write an addendum discussing my grad school history, and I got all kinds of conflicting advice about that. My main supervisor at work said that that addendum "should consist of two sentences: 'It was a bad time in my life. Things are better now.'" Friends both currently in law school and recently graduated from law school offered a variety of ideas, as did my wife and others. Ultimately, I decided essentially to be fully forthcoming, telling my target schools basically everything I've said here (minus the part about my second doctoral program's poor retention rate, a fact which maybe I should have included). I wrote about my medical withdrawal from the first program, and I admitted to and thoroughly discussed my poor motivation and effort at the second. I pointed out that my grad school GPAs were still pretty okay, in spite of all that, and my personal statement focused on the relevance of my recent work experience. [Edited to add] It may be worth mentioning that I got three very strong recommendation letters, two from current supervisors and one from a former professor at the school from which I was dismissed.

My main target school is ranked between #41 and #59 overall, depending on whom you ask; my backup is way, way below that. But I have a bad feeling those rankings are meaningless in light of the deep, deep pit I dug in grad school. Even with a few years between me and my terrible crash-and-burn at the second school, I'm guessing I have no chance at law school almost no matter what I do. I'm currently awaiting decisions from both of the schools to which I applied.

What do you think? Are my law school chances permanently doomed? (Again, UGPA = 2.96; LSAT = 164; cumulative grad school GPA just over 3.4.)

Just for the hell of it, let's say, hypothetically, that I'm not offered admission at either of my target schools during the current cycle. Would there be any sense in reapplying very early in the next cycle (to begin law school in fall 2014), possibly with all my transcripts available? If so, what else could I do between now and then to make myself more "marketable?"

Honestly, I kind of dread reading people's responses to this, but I clearly have nothing to lose at this point.

-- Fearful in Atlanta
Last edited by Fearful on Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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BerkeleyBear
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby BerkeleyBear » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:36 pm

"What do you think? Are my law school chances permanently doomed? (Again, UGPA = 2.96; LSAT = 164; cumulative grad school GPA just over 3.4.)"

tl;dr. Had to skim to the end. I suggest you retake if you can take the LSAT again. Shitlaw looms otherwise.

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Clearly
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Clearly » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:45 pm

Yeah, splitter applies only in the relative sense between your numbers, neither stat is over the 75th (or median for that matter) of any school worth attending, so you're likely locked out for now. I would seriously advise you to retake the lsat, prep your ass off for it, and you will have some options open up. For what its worth, I have a worse GPA, and will likely have some good options. My first lsat was exactly your score, I prepped for a year, retook and broke 99.5th percentile. There are splitter friendly T14s that will overlook a bad GPA if it comes with a stellar LSAT (and possibly work experience, in some cases). So I would say it's less that your doomed, but more that you have a lot of work left to do if you really want to practice law, and want a desirable outcome in terms of admissions. Good luck!

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Clearly
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Clearly » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:49 pm

Oh, and don't go to any school ranked anywhere near what your thinking of without a full ride, your loan payments will be thousands, and you have a better shot at not getting a job, then you do at getting one. Google law school transparency and look at your schools, please for the love of god look this up and do your research before even continuing to think about law school.

Fearful
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Fearful » Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:50 am

Clearlynotstefan wrote:Yeah, splitter applies only in the relative sense between your numbers, neither stat is over the 75th (or median for that matter) of any school worth attending, so you're likely locked out for now.


I think this site's perception of which schools are "worth attending" is less relevant for me than it might be for others.

I live in Atlanta and am not free to move away to attend law school. This means that my only options are Emory, Georgia State, and John Marshall. I'm not getting into Emory -- ever -- with a 2.96 UGPA and a history of leaving and getting kicked out of grad schools, which really leaves Georgia State as my only genuine option. For Georgia State, a 164 LSAT score is above the 75th percentile, while a 2.96 UGPA is below the 25th.

At any rate, as a truly nontraditional student with a background like mine -- and no geographical freedom -- I'm really targeting solely Georgia State. I don't know if that changes anything with regard to advice moving forward, but it does eliminate every other school from my process.

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Clearly
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Clearly » Tue Mar 26, 2013 11:19 am

Fearful wrote:
Clearlynotstefan wrote:Yeah, splitter applies only in the relative sense between your numbers, neither stat is over the 75th (or median for that matter) of any school worth attending, so you're likely locked out for now.


I think this site's perception of which schools are "worth attending" is less relevant for me than it might be for others.

I live in Atlanta and am not free to move away to attend law school. This means that my only options are Emory, Georgia State, and John Marshall. I'm not getting into Emory -- ever -- with a 2.96 UGPA and a history of leaving and getting kicked out of grad schools, which really leaves Georgia State as my only genuine option. For Georgia State, a 164 LSAT score is well above the 75th percentile, while a 2.96 UGPA is below the 25th.

At any rate, as a truly nontraditional student with a background like mine -- and no geographical freedom -- I'm really targeting solely Georgia State. I don't know if that changes anything with regard to advice moving forward, but it does eliminate every other school from my process.

Still doesn't provide an answer as to if its worth doing. The answer is only with some scholarship is the benefit likely worth the risk. "Worth attending is less relevant to me" -- Worth attending isn't relative at all, its simply a matter: will a job you get from that school be sufficient to cover the cost of that school. In state tuition works in your favor, but the job prospects are a serious risk at any price. It's a personal decision only you can make, don't pick a school just because its your best option, if all the options have too much risk / too high cost, it's still not a good option.

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lawschoolwoohoo
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby lawschoolwoohoo » Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:26 pm

maybe if you studied really hard for the LSAT and got like a 170+ you may be able to LSAT your way into Emory, which is the best option in ATL.

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Superbeast
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Superbeast » Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:42 pm

Fearful wrote:
Clearlynotstefan wrote:Yeah, splitter applies only in the relative sense between your numbers, neither stat is over the 75th (or median for that matter) of any school worth attending, so you're likely locked out for now.


I think this site's perception of which schools are "worth attending" is less relevant for me than it might be for others.

I live in Atlanta and am not free to move away to attend law school. This means that my only options are Emory, Georgia State, and John Marshall. I'm not getting into Emory -- ever -- with a 2.96 UGPA and a history of leaving and getting kicked out of grad schools, which really leaves Georgia State as my only genuine option. For Georgia State, a 164 LSAT score is above the 75th percentile, while a 2.96 UGPA is below the 25th.

At any rate, as a truly nontraditional student with a background like mine -- and no geographical freedom -- I'm really targeting solely Georgia State. I don't know if that changes anything with regard to advice moving forward, but it does eliminate every other school from my process.


goto whatever school you want, pref one with highest chance for biglaw (if thats what you want). disregard any BS info about debt/loans on this forum. max fed loan $$, murder your 1L grades, and spend all that loan $$ partying 2L/3L...when all is said and done, you cop that PAYE

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Clearly
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Clearly » Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:21 pm

Superbeast wrote:
Fearful wrote:
Clearlynotstefan wrote:Yeah, splitter applies only in the relative sense between your numbers, neither stat is over the 75th (or median for that matter) of any school worth attending, so you're likely locked out for now.


I think this site's perception of which schools are "worth attending" is less relevant for me than it might be for others.

I live in Atlanta and am not free to move away to attend law school. This means that my only options are Emory, Georgia State, and John Marshall. I'm not getting into Emory -- ever -- with a 2.96 UGPA and a history of leaving and getting kicked out of grad schools, which really leaves Georgia State as my only genuine option. For Georgia State, a 164 LSAT score is above the 75th percentile, while a 2.96 UGPA is below the 25th.

At any rate, as a truly nontraditional student with a background like mine -- and no geographical freedom -- I'm really targeting solely Georgia State. I don't know if that changes anything with regard to advice moving forward, but it does eliminate every other school from my process.


goto whatever school you want, pref one with highest chance for biglaw (if thats what you want). disregard any BS info about debt/loans on this forum. max fed loan $$, murder your 1L grades, and spend all that loan $$ partying 2L/3L...when all is said and done, you cop that PAYE


Are you going to post the same advice on every thread, or just a few? PAYE is not foolproof.

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cahwc12
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby cahwc12 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:22 am

Fearful wrote:I think this site's perception of which schools are "worth attending" is less relevant for me than it might be for others.

I live in Atlanta and am not free to move away to attend law school. This means that my only options are Emory, Georgia State, and John Marshall. I'm not getting into Emory -- ever -- with a 2.96 UGPA and a history of leaving and getting kicked out of grad schools, which really leaves Georgia State as my only genuine option. For Georgia State, a 164 LSAT score is above the 75th percentile, while a 2.96 UGPA is below the 25th.

At any rate, as a truly nontraditional student with a background like mine -- and no geographical freedom -- I'm really targeting solely Georgia State. I don't know if that changes anything with regard to advice moving forward, but it does eliminate every other school from my process.


In your situation, I think you should definitely look into GA State, which is in my opinion an underrated law school. John Marshall is a profit-driven JD mill and you should steer far away from it. Also, in this climate of receding law school applications, I wouldn't rule out Emory just yet if you retake.

Your grad GPA and activities matter shit all for law school. I have a much worse graduate transcript, and I've talked to deans/adcoms/etc and they've all said basically the same thing: as long as you have some reason for it if asked, it won't matter. I didn't see your age or how far removed from this you were, but assuming it wasn't this semester with law school being your next logical option, you should be completely fine there.

For most people with your numbers and track record I would adamantly say to steer far away from law school. Your situation is a good example of how a good regional/local law school can be a saving grace. Definitely consider GA State, and if you are up for retaking, there's a good chance that if you kill the LSAT a higher ranked school will bite and that could translate into scholarship $$ (however minimal) at GA State.

Play on mylsn.info and lawschoolnumbers.com before you decide whether or not to retake. Also, even if you don't plan on leaving atlanta, you should try to use your LSAT to get into some peer schools or better schools in order to leverage scholarship. Even something like $2000 would be a worthwhile discount because that's real money you will have to pay at some point (with interest).

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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Fearful » Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:22 pm

Sorry for the delayed response.

Yeah, John Marshall's really a non-starter. I aborted my application there before wasting money on the fee. That place is very comparable in reputation/value to the doctoral program from which I was booted -- in fact, that school's corporate owners actually owned John Marshall for several years.

I'm 33 years old and have been out of grad school since December 2009, which I hope puts enough space between my ignominious burnout and my pending Georgia State application. I am aware of Georgia State's rising reputation (even if it's never going to crack the consensus Top 15), and given my inability to leave Atlanta and my history, it is absolutely my best option. I have several friends who graduated from there in recent years and are doing more than fine for themselves in large firms, small practices, and local/state government jobs. Given that my income ceiling at present is around $50K/year, the usual barometers which define "success" for many aren't applicable to me.

I won't hesitate to prep harder and retake the LSAT if I don't get into Georgia State this time around. I seriously doubt I will get in this year in light of my mediocre-or-worse UGPA, my withdrawal from one grad school (whose transcript I currently can't produce), and my dismissal from another. I wish my grad school GPAs counted for something, but I know they don't...and I know that those GPAs are, at best, negated by my getting kicked out of one of those programs.

With utter sincerity, I know that I am far more motivated and prepared for law school now than I would have been right out of college or grad school, and I know beyond any doubt that I'd crush my coursework if I were to get in. But for all the reasons above, I'm not optimistic about getting in during this cycle. If I were to retake the LSAT, I am almost certain I'd score appreciably better than 164 (the product of literally about five hours of prep, squeezed in during an overwhelming several-month binge of unrelated work). So here's hoping I beat the odds in the near future, but if I don't, I'll attack it much harder this fall.
Last edited by Fearful on Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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cahwc12
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby cahwc12 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:47 pm

You should be fine on the grad school end due to the time disparity. I think you're also in at GA State if you apply this cycle.

The big thing is that you'll be attending at sticker, but it's one of the cheapest law schools to attend, and has a relatively good employment record. If you understand what the cost of attendance will be and are willing to assume that risk, then best of luck to you. One thing I definitely recommend is that you visit the campus and try to get in touch with graduating 3Ls and ask around about their jobs/etc. Check on the Ask a Law Student forum here as well and see what others say. Even if you retook and annihilated the LSAT, I would take GA State at sticker over Emory at sticker, since those would be your only options and with your GPA, it looks like neither will offer you any aid.

Just to be clear, if you're AT ALL willing to relocate, retake all the way and blanket the T13 if you can break 170+. But if that's absolutely not an option, I think GA State is worth the risk in your situation, although definitely do your diligence.

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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby SteelPenguin » Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:43 am

Superbeast wrote:
Fearful wrote:
Clearlynotstefan wrote:Yeah, splitter applies only in the relative sense between your numbers, neither stat is over the 75th (or median for that matter) of any school worth attending, so you're likely locked out for now.


I think this site's perception of which schools are "worth attending" is less relevant for me than it might be for others.

I live in Atlanta and am not free to move away to attend law school. This means that my only options are Emory, Georgia State, and John Marshall. I'm not getting into Emory -- ever -- with a 2.96 UGPA and a history of leaving and getting kicked out of grad schools, which really leaves Georgia State as my only genuine option. For Georgia State, a 164 LSAT score is above the 75th percentile, while a 2.96 UGPA is below the 25th.

At any rate, as a truly nontraditional student with a background like mine -- and no geographical freedom -- I'm really targeting solely Georgia State. I don't know if that changes anything with regard to advice moving forward, but it does eliminate every other school from my process.


goto whatever school you want, pref one with highest chance for biglaw (if thats what you want). disregard any BS info about debt/loans on this forum. max fed loan $$, murder your 1L grades, and spend all that loan $$ partying 2L/3L...when all is said and done, you cop that PAYE


Assuming he took out any schools loans at any point before 2007, he's not eligible for PAYE.

Fearful
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Fearful » Sun May 05, 2013 10:11 pm

FWIW, I did get into Georgia State -- an indescribably massive relief. I look forward to starting this new phase of my life in August. In the meantime, I'll stay busy working full-time and counting my blessings!

-- Justin
a.k.a. Fearful

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Robbin Blue
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Robbin Blue » Mon May 06, 2013 11:54 am

Thanks for the update, good luck!

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cahwc12
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby cahwc12 » Thu May 09, 2013 1:09 am

Fearful wrote:FWIW, I did get into Georgia State -- an indescribably massive relief. I look forward to starting this new phase of my life in August. In the meantime, I'll stay busy working full-time and counting my blessings!

-- Justin
a.k.a. Fearful


congrats on making the right decision and please continue to update and contribute with your experiences.

best of luck

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Dr. Dre
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Dr. Dre » Thu May 09, 2013 7:49 pm

What did Emory say?

Fearful
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Fearful » Sun May 12, 2013 2:24 pm

Dr. Dre wrote:What did Emory say?


With a UGPA of 2.96 and a grad school history of one voluntary withdrawal and one dismissal, Emory clearly wasn't an option.

rad lulz
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby rad lulz » Sun May 12, 2013 2:41 pm

Fearful wrote:
Dr. Dre wrote:What did Emory say?


With a UGPA of 2.96 and a grad school history of one voluntary withdrawal and one dismissal, Emory clearly wasn't an option.

You could probably get in w an above median LSAT

Fearful
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Re: Splitter with spotty grad school record...am I doomed?

Postby Fearful » Sun May 12, 2013 2:57 pm

rad lulz wrote:
Fearful wrote:
Dr. Dre wrote:What did Emory say?


With a UGPA of 2.96 and a grad school history of one voluntary withdrawal and one dismissal, Emory clearly wasn't an option.

You could probably get in w an above median LSAT


Maybe so. Either way, I'm going to Georgia State. I couldn't afford to pay sticker for Emory even if I could get in there.




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