2.96 gpa/172 lsat and a bunch of questions

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tumbleweed664
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2.96 gpa/172 lsat and a bunch of questions

Postby tumbleweed664 » Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:36 pm

Hey all,

Bet you guys are sick of looking at these, eh? I was hoping to get some advice concerning where to apply; I am having trouble finding a good range because my scores are so divergent.

The bad news: I have a 2.96 GPA. I majored in Psychology at a tough school (tough enough that they send cover letters with every transcript saying they are tough/refuse to use grade inflation, have a low average gpa, etc.), but I have no idea if schools care at all about that.

The good news: I took a LSAT diagnostic at the state school near where I live and got 172 without studying. It was under real conditions, full of annoying, noisy people and timed and proctored by a professor. I am hoping to raise the score with actual practice before June, and will be shooting for a 180.

Also, in college I had a number of extracurriculars: I was the Chair of the school's Judicial Board, a Resident Advisor, and have spent summers taking classes at Harvard, Cambridge, and the Iowa Writer's Studio, and have gotten awards from two of those programs and got A's at Harvard. I spent a summer teaching the local Sheriff's department a combination of topics. I was also on a bunch of committee’s at college, and volunteered consistently through the four years. Oh, besides being an RA (which pays surprisingly well), I worked part-time to help pay for college.

So, my questions:

1. Where, in general, should I apply? I know my GPA is criminally low. I do think that if I spend the months before the LSAT prepping, I could really bring up the 172.

2. The State University near where I live makes it very easy to take classes without enrolling full or part time. I am considering taking classes there next term and over the summer, and I plan on getting A's, since I seem to be able to at every school except my college. Does this make sense? I want to show schools that I can succeed academically.

3. Recommendations. I have secured two letters: One from my favorite Psychology professor. I did well in his classes and he was also my thesis advisor, and he said he would more than happy to write one, so that is a no-brainer. The staff advisor to the J-Board also said she would be happy to write one. She is my college's Registrar, and I know she likes me based on the number of things I did on the Board besides the normal chair and member duties (I sent e-mails to the community explaining the process, helped train new members, helped codify our process overall). But she isn't a professor (she has a PhD, but doesn't teach at my school), and so I am leery. I have spent this year working at the ACLU as the legal request counselor, and my boss has repeatedly complemented me and my performance. I haven't asked her for a rec., but does it make sense to ask her?

4. Bonus question! I have an offer to teach the LSAT for Kaplan. I am planning to do so because I would essentially be getting paid to take their course. But, should I put this on my resume? I have heard that schools dislike groups like Kaplan, and I can't really afford to give them a reason to reject me.

My dream school is Boalt, but I totally get that it is practically beyond reach. I just love that it has such a focus on academics and social justice and learning as opposed to competition and rankings and placement in a huge corporate law firm. They sound like they care about the person more than the numbers. But then again the numbers don't lie, and I am sure there are plenty of people applying who are similar to me except they managed to maintain a 3.8. If there is a school like Boalt I have a better shot at getting into, I would be delighted to hear it. Otherwise, what are the good law schools that people think I have a shot at getting into? I plan to apply as early as possible, which is why I am starting now.

Any and all advice is appreciated, and good luck to everyone else who is planning to apply or waiting to hear back!

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Whats an URM?
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Re: 2.96 gpa/172 lsat and a bunch of questions

Postby Whats an URM? » Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:43 pm

Definitely apply to Boalt

tumbleweed664
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Re: 2.96 gpa/172 lsat and a bunch of questions

Postby tumbleweed664 » Thu Nov 13, 2008 10:18 pm

Oh I totally plan to appl to Boalt. The only 100% way to not get into a school is to not apply to it.

But beyond Boalt, I am having a lot of trouble gauging what schools are reaches, likelys, and safeties. My GPA make every top school seem like a reach (or an extreme reach), while my LSAT is in the range of the top schools. I'm not sure if it makes sense to sort of average them, or what.

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dailygrind
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Re: 2.96 gpa/172 lsat and a bunch of questions

Postby dailygrind » Thu Nov 13, 2008 10:25 pm

The apply to boalt guy was pulling your leg. They are a gpa heavy school, and the numbers aren't favorable for you, although it only costs you the application fee to apply.

I'm in the range as you, numbers wise, 174 with a 3.0, and you'll find quite a few people like us kickin around. Our strategy seems to be to bombard the 14 outside of HYS with applications, possibly ignoring Boalt and Duke, and maybe extending outwards to GW, Minnesota, Vandy, or w/e your preference is. We're called splitters, do a search and you'll find some interesting threads.

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Ken
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Re: 2.96 gpa/172 lsat and a bunch of questions

Postby Ken » Thu Nov 13, 2008 10:44 pm

Corsair, a moderator on the site, had numbers similar to you and ended up with some surprising results such as being rejected from American, Case Western, etc. but then being waitlisted then accepted at Northwestern. He then did amazingly well in his first year and has some nice job options. His TLS Stats are at:

memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=3957

Try to apply to schools that favor LSAT such as Northwestern and Georgetown and you have a chance of being waitlisted and hopefully later accepted. Unfortunately, Berkeley is almost impossible to get in to with your numbers unless you have something very unique in your application. Best of luck. Studying TLS Stats stats.php and look for those with high LSAT and lower GPA's and see what law schools they were eventually accepted in to and that is one way of seeing how your peers have fared.

Best of luck,

Ken

tumbleweed664
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Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:34 pm

Re: 2.96 gpa/172 lsat and a bunch of questions

Postby tumbleweed664 » Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:21 am

Thanks for the advice!

It's nice to know there are other people in the same boat, it makes me feel less antsy about not going to a school with a 3.4 average.

How about the schools in the top 40? Which ones does it make sense to apply to with my numbers? I am not dead set on the top 14 or anything (I mostly just really liked Boalt's philosophy).

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enygma
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Re: 2.96 gpa/172 lsat and a bunch of questions

Postby enygma » Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:03 pm

tumbleweed664 wrote:Thanks for the advice!

It's nice to know there are other people in the same boat, it makes me feel less antsy about not going to a school with a 3.4 average.

How about the schools in the top 40? Which ones does it make sense to apply to with my numbers? I am not dead set on the top 14 or anything (I mostly just really liked Boalt's philosophy).


I'd say your best shots would be at northwestern, georgetown, WUSTL, and minnesota, in descending order of rank.

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observationalist
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Re: 2.96 gpa/172 lsat and a bunch of questions

Postby observationalist » Wed Nov 19, 2008 12:50 am

tumbleweed664 wrote:Thanks for the advice!

It's nice to know there are other people in the same boat, it makes me feel less antsy about not going to a school with a 3.4 average.

How about the schools in the top 40? Which ones does it make sense to apply to with my numbers? I am not dead set on the top 14 or anything (I mostly just really liked Boalt's philosophy).


With your numbers (assuming a 172 or above) you have a decent shot at Vanderbilt... if you're really looking for a school with progressive options we've got a great Social Justice Program. The Program pulls in speakers and professors from around the country to help students learn about alternative career paths, and we've had a lot of success this year in forming Law Students for Social Justice (the student group w/in the program, currently with about 20% of the 1L class active members and 10% of the school overall). Our strongest international ties rely heavily on the Yunus connection and LLMs, so if you were at all interested in exploring development in India or Bangladesh Vandy would be a great fit for you. Options exist on both fronts for people who want to spend their summers abroad or do an externship. Interaction with the LLMs in particular is something that's unique to Vanderbilt, and at least two of them each year are selected by the Director of the Social Justice Program. I've learned a lot about legal services in Nicaragua that I wouldn't have if I didn't become friends w/ one of the professors who's here on Fulbright.

There's also a strong interest in pulling in JD candidates with public service backgrounds. We've got Peace Corps/TFA/Americorps alums this year and, unlike other schools, I'm of the opinion that those are considered strong softs for Vanderbilt. In recent years the increase in students coming here on scholarship (foregoing T-10 schools in favor of coming here and entering public service afterwards) has helped make the Dean's case for allocating more funding towards public interest education. We just had the director of the Public Citizen Litigation Group here last week teaching a short course on PI Litigation, which was amazing and well worth the four hours I spent Saturday learning about appellate advocacy. The school encourages students to create our own short courses and puts up funding to fly professors in for a week or two... last year we had Abby Ginzberg come over from Cali to teach a course on judicial activism and screen her film on Thelton Henderson. We've also got one of the most (if not the most) progressive Deans in the country, and since he arrived we've seen not only the emergence of the Social Justice Program but increased funding for public interest summer stipends (the Dean actually matches all the funds raised by Legal Aid Society each year) and the Loan Repayment Assistance Program. There's also a new campus-wide poverty alleviation project (Project Pyramid) that ties in development projects in Bangladesh and Nashville with graduate students from the Biz, Law, Med, Education, Divinity and (i think) Engineering programs. With the exception of Biz all of the schools are T-20 and the people I've met through them have been very supportive of each other. This isn't to say they're shoving public interest down our throats: a lot of it looks at how people can tailor their private practices to engage in the sort of service work they find interesting. As someone who's leaning towards private practice I've found my experience in the Social Justice Program creates a very strong balance that you don't often find, especially for a school that works very hard to publicize the fact that our large firm placement numbers are as strong as many schools in the T-14.

And there are currently only two schools I know of that encourage personal interviews as part of the application: Northwestern and Vanderbilt. It's a great chance for you to interact with alums or adcomms, talk to students (if you came to campus to interview) and help you get a feel for whether you'd be comfortable moving to Nashville for a few years. It's a great city and surprisingly progressive on many fronts. And FWIW I like that you've at least dabbled in Creative Writing at Iowa... one of my favorite professors in undergrad came out of there and she always spoke highly of the program. G'luck on that LSAT.




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