Official Numbers vs. Context Forum

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dmbeckcpa

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Official Numbers vs. Context

Post by dmbeckcpa » Fri Oct 14, 2022 5:04 pm

Hello everyone,

I am looking for everyone's thoughts and input. I am 37 years old and a practicing CPA with a successful tax firm. I have always wanted to attend a top law school, albeit for different reasons these days.

In 2004, I began my college career and for three years suffered from severe substance abuse. I jumped to four different schools and received multiple C, D, and F grades, unable to attend class. I was a very sick person, and my GPA after the first year was a 0.84, a ridiculous number. In 2007, I got my life together and found sobriety, enrolling at my fifth and final school. At this school, I performed exceedingly well, completing my first undergraduate degree, a second undergraduate degree, and a master's degree. Eventually, I earned the CPA designation and after seven years working in public accounting, created a successful tax practice. All well and good.

Unfortunately, LSAC policy has made this process very difficult. The GPA calculation policy only considers grades from the first undergraduate degree, resulting in a whopping 3.03 GPA. The problem is that this GPA is not based on logic, but on an arbitrary policy. It ignores the majority of my grades earned under healthy circumstances and includes grades earned under active addiction. When you actually inspect my transcript and look into the situation, a different story emerges. After finding sobriety and enrolling at the fifth school in 2007, I completed an additional forty classes resulting in eighteen A+ grades, sixteen A grades, six non-A grades, and a 3.98 GPA. These classes consisted of nineteen classes from the first undergraduate degree and twenty-one classes from the second undergraduate degree. This course load is the equivalent of a full undergraduate degree of one hundred and twenty credits completed under healthy, ordinary circumstances. It is also the most recent course work.

In other words, I believe my acceptance will require a truly holistic approach from admissions officers. If LSAC policy was instead reversed and utilized only the most recent coursework, my official GPA would be a 3.98. Law schools will have to look past the initial 3.03 calculation, and I'm wondering if you think they will do it? In your honest opinion, do you believe the impact on rankings of the official calculated number of 3.03 will outweigh the context of the situation? I took the GRE - scored in the 97 percentile for verbal and writing. Results were 166/158/5.5. Do I need to score a 170+ on the LSAT to overcome this hurdle?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

anymouseqwerty

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Re: Official Numbers vs. Context

Post by anymouseqwerty » Sat Oct 15, 2022 4:22 pm

If I were in your shoes I’d apply to a few GRE accepting schools this cycle and see what happens. The results can help you know if you’ll need to take the LSAT and, if so, what score range you’ll need. For example, if you are getting hard rejections everywhere, you’ll like need a high LSAT. But, if you are getting acceptances at decent schools, maybe you won’t have to study as long on the LSAT or at all. Either way, if you score in the 97th percentile on the GRE you can likely do very well on the LSAT. Id also consider a admissions consultant. They can advise you on the odds based on past applicants in similar situations.

nixy

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Re: Official Numbers vs. Context

Post by nixy » Sun Oct 16, 2022 5:29 pm

I agree that applying with your GRE score will give you helpful information. Unfortunately at the moment GRE scores don’t factor into rankings and LSAT scores do. While in an ideal world schools would be willing to look past your LSAC GPA in light of your compelling story, in reality, they will be much more likely to be willing to do so if you have an LSAT score that benefits them. I’d say they’re also more likely to look past your 3.03 than they would be a 3.03 belonging to someone who consistently got Bs throughout college and who just graduated and hasn’t shown the development you have through improving your grades and developing a successful career (given that all those things show you’ve moved on and aren’t likely to relapse). But they’ll still likely need to see some other kind of benefit to admitting you.

TheGreatestGunner

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Re: Official Numbers vs. Context

Post by TheGreatestGunner » Wed Oct 19, 2022 12:59 am

1. Law schools will have to look past the initial 3.03 calculation, and I'm wondering if you think they will do it?

No they do not have to nor will they.

2. In your honest opinion, do you believe the impact on rankings of the official calculated number of 3.03 will outweigh the context of the situation?

It does.

3. Do I need to score a 170+ on the LSAT to overcome this hurdle?

You will.*
*Unless URM

---

Let's get down to brass tacks. You "have always wanted to attend a top law school". That means one that is ranked highly. You care about that for important reasons-- 1) better job outcomes 2) prestige 3) overall quality.

They know that. So they are focused on getting candidates with 1) metrics that contribute to their rankings 2) that are interesting and 3) likely to succeed.

Your background fulfills point 2. Point 3 is hopefully shown by your resume. That is the "holistic" part. But it does not excuse you from meeting the first criteria. You have to bring something of value to their rankings.

Here is the deal-- you are not competing with people who are either interesting, likely to succeed, or that have good metrics. You are competing with people that have all three to some degree. That is what it takes to get into a top law school.

If its any consolation, I had a 2.75. Because I partied really hard in college and only attended classes I was interested in. Succeeded in work after, got the above 170 score after about 2x years of studying, got into a "top law school", and now biglaw/fc. But I did not bother to apply until I got the LSAT score to justify my admittance. Earn the score, then go for it.

dmbeckcpa

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Re: Official Numbers vs. Context

Post by dmbeckcpa » Sat Oct 22, 2022 2:28 pm

Aren’t you all proving my point, though? The general consensus here is that a school will only accept an applicant if it benefits the school’s rankings. There’s nothing holistic about this.

Furthermore, most applicants will hope for a holistic review in that they are trying to explain why they had bad grades. My situation is not that - I am trying to get admissions to utilize the straight As that are actually there, instead of using a GPA based on illness and disability.

Isn’t it slightly awkward that my outcomes could be completely changed with a tweek of an arbitrary LSAC policy?

nixy

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Re: Official Numbers vs. Context

Post by nixy » Tue Nov 01, 2022 11:52 pm

I'm confused - who said that law school review of applicants was holistic? You said you would need a holistic review, and posters told you that that wasn't going to happen, or at least, not to the extent you need/hope. I'm not sure what point of yours that's supporting. Whether it's awkward that a change to LSAC policy would alter your circumstances is kind of immaterial - no one here is arguing for LSAC's policy, just answering the question you asked (which was "will schools look past the GPA," not "should schools look past the GPA").

In any case, it's a fairly arbitrary policy, but it's not illogical given the weight that USNWR places on UGPA and the difficulty of comparing UGPA across all kinds of different schools and experiences. LSAC gets to decide that they will privilege easy comparison and success on a traditional timeline over other factors. And the LSAT is there to help even the playing field - if the 3.98 is more representative of your ability, then show that through a corresponding LSAT score.

Anyway, FWIW, there are lots of applicants in your boat - a weaker UGPA followed by academic and professional success. Have you explored retroactive medical withdrawal (non-punitive, I mean) from the classes completed during your addiction? That's one mechanism for addressing your earlier circumstances.

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