4.0GPA and Transfer Advice

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worfsonofmogh

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4.0GPA and Transfer Advice

Post by worfsonofmogh » Sun Apr 26, 2020 10:47 pm

Hello Everyone,

Before I start I'd like to preface this post. This is my goal, I may or may not fall short of it but that's my responsibility to deal with, so if you have anything to say along the lines of "Don't get your hopes up" or "This is unlikely" I'd ask you to keep it to yourself. I'm looking for real advice that will increase my chances of achieving the goal I have set for myself. I am willing to do whatever it takes.

I will be entering into my 1L year this August and I wanted some advice on how I should approach my goal of maintaining a 4.0 GPA. I would like to transfer to a T14 school at the end of my 1L year, and from what I have been told class ranking is what matter the most in a situation like this.

For those of you that had an exceptional GPA at the end of your 1L could you please share with me the study strategies you practiced, the pitfalls that I should avoid, and anything else you may find helpful?

Also, any books or articles that helped you cultivate your legal writing skills would be a giant help as well, in addition to any advice you have on making sure my transfer chances are maximized.

I have a long and hard road ahead of me if I want to have a chance of achieving the goal I have set for myself, but hopefully with your help I will be able figure out the right path.


Thank you in advance!

worfsonofmogh

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Re: 4.0GPA and Transfer Advice

Post by worfsonofmogh » Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:22 pm

Also, any books that you think I should read before I start school would appreciated as well!

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BansheeScream

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Re: 4.0GPA and Transfer Advice

Post by BansheeScream » Mon Apr 27, 2020 12:42 am

There's plenty of advice on this forum on how to do well in law school using outlining, supplements, and various test taking strategies. You should search for them.

However, by far the easiest way for you to end up at a t14 is to defer for a year, retake your LSAT and reapply. You could spend a full year studying for the LSAT, spend a metric ton of money on LSAT prep, hire an admissions consultant, and still not even scratch the amount of money you're about to throw away by matriculating with the goal to get a 4.0 and transfer.

otisreadingcomp

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Re: 4.0GPA and Transfer Advice

Post by otisreadingcomp » Mon Apr 27, 2020 9:28 am

Take everything I say with a grain of salt because I have not had to go through a real second semester. I finished just outside the historical range of 10% for my school. However, I am waiting on my legal writing grade that could put me in the 10% and I am applying to transfer to the T14.

The answer to whether the decision to start is a good choice and whether you can get a 4.0 or close is that it depends.

As soon as you start law school, a large chunk of your grade is out of your hands. First, you could be put in a particularly smart section. This means the ceiling may be lower for you. The inverse could be true, but that only guarantees a higher floor. And, even so, you can't underestimate anybody.

Second, do you do best on multiple choice or essays? It doesn't matter! Your 1L professors have already chosen the format for you. They've chosen how they're going to teach the class. You don't like jumping around from duty to breach back to duty and to intentional torts before even getting to causation? Doesn't matter! The professor can teach it in whatever way he or she chooses. Your grade in each class (for the most part) comes down to a single test that you have to ace. You mess up one question, you're bumped down to an A-, another question, down to a B+. Your margin for error is thin. You eat the wrong breakfast that day? You're f*ed! (I think you get my point)

The only thing that you can do is to work hard and –– if you are so inclined –- to work harder than everybody else. This may be difficult or near impossible. Some people are just going to work harder than you will. That is inevitable.

To set yourself apart, you have to maintain consistency. You have to dive deep into every case, every class. You have to understand at a high level each concept from –– for example –– offer and acceptance to promissory estoppel to remedies for contracts and be able to apply those to any set of facts. This is tiring. This is especially tiring when you have a closed memo due in a week. Then, it's once again particularly tiring once you go through the open memo and brief while you need to outline.

This is what you are going to have to deal with to accomplish your goal. In particular you'll have to deal with rambling explanations of this sort (just kidding).

The books I read were law school confidential and Getting to Maybe. Law School Confidential wasn't particularly useful once I was actually in law school, but it at least served as a decent primer. Getting to Maybe won't make sense until you're in law school. I'd read it once over the summer then again during the semester once you've got a baseline of understanding. Last, I would go to the lawschool subreddit and find the various guides posted there. None of them are perfect and some may not work for you, but they'll at least give you some insight into what it took for one particular person to succeed.

decimalsanddollars

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Re: 4.0GPA and Transfer Advice

Post by decimalsanddollars » Mon Apr 27, 2020 9:39 am

BansheeScream's right that retaking and reapplying to matriculate to a T14 in the first place is going to be easier and cheaper, especially because your grades are out of your control to some extent. In law school, you're graded on a curve, and your grade is determined by how well you perform in relation to your classmates---many of whom also have a personal goal of getting a 4.0 GPA and may happen to work harder, be smarter, and get luckier than you do. I'm not saying that you getting a 4.0 is impossible or even unlikely, but whether that happens depends on factors beyond your control, and retaking the LSAT until you do well enough to go to a T14 through the front door is much easier to control. Also, once you transfer, you will be paying full sticker price at your new school and have to start your GPA over. Depending on the school, you won't have the same OCI or journal opportunities as a native 2L, so paying sticker at the new school may not even be worth it.

About transfer chances: your ability to "transfer up" does depend on where you start. Coming from a school ranked ~30 will be easier than coming from a school ranked ~90, which in turn will be easier than coming from an unranked or RNP school. A 4.0 from an unranked/RNP school may not be enough to get into most T14s (and really, Georgetown is your only real hope). Schools also take more transfers from schools in the same city or region: UChicago and NW routinely take transfers from other schools in Chicago; Columbia and NYU take a lot of transfers from NY/NJ schools; Michigan draws transfers from MSU and other schools in the upper midwest. Regionality affects your chances significantly. If your goal is to transfer from an unranked school, your best shot will be at the t14 closest to it (and Georgetown, if that's not the closest one).

That said, I will give a bit of advice along the lines of what you asked for: read Getting to Maybe. Read a lot of good writing this summer (I benefited from reading Hemingway's short stories and long-form journalism like the Atlantic and New Yorker, plus some nonfiction about the Supreme Court, fwiw). Don't try to learn black-letter law before you get your first assignment.

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blackcanary01

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Re: 4.0GPA and Transfer Advice

Post by blackcanary01 » Mon Apr 27, 2020 11:05 am

This is exactly what I did my 1L year and, while I did not finish with a 4.0, I did end up in the top 5% of my class. My first piece of advice to you is to adjust your goal. It seems like you are already aware of how unlikely it is to achieve a 4.0, yet you are spot on by admitting that class ranking is what matters most. GPA distributions differ at every school, so even a 4.0 will mean different things depending on the school's USNWR ranking. For example, the person who ended up number 1 in my class ended with a 3.92. So, you do have some wiggle room. And trust me, the pressure of achieving a 4.0 will hurt you in the end because you will be so stressed out trying to reach that goal that your performance will be adversely affected. A better goal would be to strive for all A's (be it A's or A minuses).

Additionally, there are many variables that exist for law school that don't exist for undergrad grading. Because you are graded comparatively in law school, it doesn't matter how well you do because your grade depends on how well everyone else does. For example, in one of my classes in the fall, I earned the 3rd highest score. Normally, a score like this would certainly be an A, but because the curve was so tight (meaning everyone performed well on the exam), I was bumped to an A minus because the median was so high and law school classes have to follow a bell curve distribution. So it was bye, bye 4.0 for me. Relatedly, professors have much more discretion in grading than many undergrad policies would allow. For example, my torts professor weighted participation very heavily, so those who participated a lot in class walked into the final already with a quarter of the points. You could be an expert on torts going into the exam, but if the professor confused your name with another student's (as he did for a friend of mine), you're already at a disadvantage.

Here are things you can do: start outlining immediately. This is something many students fail to do throughout the semester. They used the week in-between classes and exams to make their own outlines for the exam, but while they were doing that I was already using my outline to take practice tests. This brings me to my next piece of advice: practice as many exams as you can in conditions that are as similar to the exam conditions as possible. This is especially helpful for closed-book exams because of something called "matching encoding specificity," which you should look up on your own. Finally, make your own outline or exam materials (like flashcards). There are many ways to get hand-me-down materials from upperclassmen, but if you really want to do well, you need to consolidate the information you're learning. Do this by testing yourself and generating information from memory when making your own outline. Outlines from other classmates or Barbri or Themis are great guidelines for organization and format, but making your own outline is the best way for your brain to store information into long-term memory.

My last piece of advice: get your transfer materials prepared over winter break. This is really the only actual break you get for the entire school year (as many law schools don't have a fall break, Thanksgiving break is right before finals, and spring break is the only break during spring semester and should be used for finals prep). If you're trying to scrape together transfer materials during your second semester while finishing a brief for your writing class and trying to keep up with readings for your other classes, your performance will be impacted. Luckily for me, COVID-19 took away some of the pressure of performing well because my school, like 75% of other law schools, moved to mandatory pass/fail and locked me into my rank of top 5% this year. Unfortunately for you, you probably won't have the luxury of a worldwide collective crisis impacting your first year. So, you'll also need to also figure out a way to deal with second semester burnout.

As you may have gleamed from my response, and other responses for that matter, doing well in law school is really a crapshoot. It might be best to defer, but if you're committed to an entire year high-risk high-reward, good luck to you.

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