Law School Discussion

Applying to Law School => Law School Admissions => Topic started by: legends159 on March 26, 2005, 05:37:11 PM

Title: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: legends159 on March 26, 2005, 05:37:11 PM
I know I'm a big young to be on this site, heck I haven't even begun undergraduate yet, but I just have a question and I dont know where else to turn. I don't usually put my faith on a forum but people on this site seem very informative and intelligent so I thought I'd take a chance. Ok so here's the situation:
I dont have the best grades because of a rocky fresh and soph year but I got accepted into a few schools. I've limited my list to

CUNY City college Honors college
Vassar College
New York University
Fordham University
Binghamton (very unlikely)

The top three choices are the most likely schools I would be attending. I would like to go to a good law school and I was wondering whether or not an undergraduate school say such as city college would hinder my chances. The reason I would like to go there though is because it'll give me a full ride plus money and other incentives such as a laptop. All my friends tell me not to jeopardize my education by going there, but I keep thinking that it isn't like I'm turning down HYPS.

So would a law school look down on me if I went to city college even if it is a honors program which is selective, or should I opt to take out loans from say Vassar or NYU? I'm wondering if a top law school would automatically reject my application just because of the undergraduate school I went to. I'm determined to work very hard in college but it would be depressing if my best would not be good enough because of the school I go to.

Sorry if this post is long but could someone please help me out of this dire situation?
Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: equal on March 26, 2005, 09:11:22 PM
I've read a lot of these boards, and chances are some posters will tell you the prestige of the instituion matters.

Don't worry.  The top factors for law school admission are your GPA and LSAT score.  While a GPA from a prestigous school might weigh a bit more, don't count on it.  There are numerous students at the top law schools who recieved a public education.  Go to the school that's best for you, and work on getting the best GPA you can.  That's the top thing you can do to increase your chances of admisson.  Being in the honors program is also a plus.

If you're still worried, I'd recommend asking an admissions office at a law school you're thinking about for a list of undergraduate institutions they have accepted students from. 
Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: SleepyGuyYawn on March 26, 2005, 10:04:23 PM
Legends,

Equal is more or less right.  If you're sure you want to go to law school, the prestige of your undergrad institution matters much less than you might think.  Your LSAT and GPA will determine your success in law school admissions to a much greater extent.  That's not to say that the college you go to doesn't matter, but just to say that it's possible to go to any law school in the country from CUNY. 

If you to to CUNY Honors college, take difficult classes, get good grades, major in something you love (ideally something considered an intellectual discipline -- i.e. not marketing or criminal justice -- try for something that a person could get a PhD in...), and you do well on your LSAT, you'll have a good chance of getting in any law school in the country.  I mean that. 

But don't give up on NYU or Vassar just because CUNY is offering you money (and even though it's fun to think about, the laptop really isn't significant.  you can buy a laptop for a thousand bucks). 

Talk to the folks at NYU and Vassar (in their FinAid office) to see what they can help you with.  You might be suprised.  You might be shocked by how much financial aid you get.  Now, it's perhaps not worth being a hundred thousand in debt from your undergraduate education, but it might be worth half of that.  And there's no reason to necessarily think you'd have to be in debt even that much. 

What I'm saying is that you shouldn't be afraid to take out a reasonable amount of debt for your undergraduate education.  If your heart is set on Vassar, for instance, then try to find a way to go.  You won't regret it.  Money spent on education is money well spent.  In the grand scheme of your life, this kind of money isn't such a crazy amount -- even if it may seem like it now. 

Well, good luck. 
Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: SleepyGuyYawn on March 26, 2005, 10:12:26 PM
By the way, don't listen to your friends.  I'm sure they're nice people, but what they're offering is what I like to call, "brother-in-law advice."  A lot of otherwise smart, nice people are going to offer their opinions on things that they really know very little about (of course, they think they know a lot).  But it's your job to do your own research and learn when to just not listen. 

I remember an example of this when I was in high school.  A couple of my friends were arguing about which was better for getting into law school: going to Michigan State's James Madison School (a political science program) or going to the University of Michigan.   And they were saying that MSU was the better choice because Michigan didn't like to offer seats in its law school to its own grads.  Sound odd? 

Well it was odd.  It was also totally absurd.  Not only was the fact that Michigan didn't like to offer its grads seats in its law school bogus, but in truth there isn't that big of a difference between the way a law school will look at a Michigan grad and the way they'll look at an MSU grad.  It just doesn't matter that much -- it matters a little -- but not all that much.

But when all of your friends are consumed in the process of applying for college, they think everything matters a lot more than it does.

Don't worry so much.  Go to a school you love and major in something you love and do well.  And listen to yourself. 
Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: Matokah on March 26, 2005, 11:02:40 PM
Exactly what SleepyGuyYawn said.

Perhaps NYU would impress admissions committees but not if you have sub-par grades and a low LSAT score.  Find the school that best fits your needs, pick a major in a subject you're passionnate about, do well in undergrad, and smoke the LSAT.  Also try to do some extracurricular activities (anything you're interested in) to show you have another impressive aspect outside of undergrad.

Good luck! :)
Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: legends159 on March 27, 2005, 09:15:37 AM
Thank you all so much for your insight on my situation, especially SleepyGuyYawn. I'm glad that there are people over the internet who would take a significant amount of time to help a total stranger in need of guidance. You guys have made me sleep easier since prior to this information I was struggling with the idea that my dreams would be over because I screwed up in HS as a stupid kid who fell into the traps of peer pressure. Again thanks a whole bunch for all of your comments I'll be sure to post again if I ever have any more questions  ;D
Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: Butch on March 27, 2005, 05:11:29 PM
Go to the school where you think you'll do the best...where you feel comfortable, like you fit in, and where the environment is condusive to you doing well.

And, then do really well...Try to get all As or as close to it as possible. Do whatever you have to do to do this. If you're struggling in a class, use the TA's and go to every tutoring session, etc. Don't just give up!

Be involved in school activities...get some leadership positions, try to be on student government. Do volunteer work.

MAKE CONNECTIONS WITH YOUR PROFESSORS!  Don't just go to class and never see them again.  Keep in touch and make a positive impression, so that they'll be references later!


Study hard for the LSAT, etc...

Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: legends159 on March 30, 2005, 01:48:15 PM
Not trying to revive a dead thread, but I just got more notices and if I also add Boston University and Carnegie Mellon University to the mix what would the general consensus be?

My other schools were

CUNY City college Honors college
Vassar College
New York University
Fordham University
Binghamton (very unlikely)
Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: SleepyGuyYawn on March 31, 2005, 11:34:50 AM
No worries -- four days does not make a dead thread.  Ten days probably makes a dead thread, but not four. 

Boston University and Carnegie Mellon University to the mix what would the general consensus be?

My opinion is essentially the same.  A school with a lot of prestige certainly helps, but not as much as undergrads or people appying to college think. 

Carnegie Mellon, NYU, and Vassar certainly carry a lot of prestige.  Boston, and Binghamton (although I know less about Binghamton) are very well regarded.  Fordham and CUNY Honors college aren't as well known, but they'll still get you in anywhere if you do well enough. 

You might really like Boston U or Carnegie Mellon.  Boston is obviously an incredible city in which to live, but it's also really expensive. 

Pittsburgh, it might surprise you to know, is an awesome city.  It's really cheap (think $300 or so to share a two bedroom apt), and you don't have to own a car (it's a bigger pain, in fact, if you do own a car).  Plus it has a huge student population, between the Univ of Pittsburgh and CMU.  It was named by the FBI as the safest city over a million people last year.  It's actually quite an architectually stunning city, especially in Oakland, where CMU and the Univ of Pitt are located.  And I've found Pittsburgh to be a really fun city, as well.  If you are inclined, you might want to visit CMU.  You might really like it. 
Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: legends159 on March 31, 2005, 01:00:38 PM
Good to hear. I should visit it soon, my only image pittsburg is a gloomy city where the smoke stacks have suffocated the air and death is on the horizon. Plus the only thing I know about the place is that they make good paper which i heard from a nextel commercial.
Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: SleepyGuyYawn on March 31, 2005, 01:18:05 PM
Good to hear. I should visit it soon, my only image pittsburg is a gloomy city where the smoke stacks have suffocated the air and death is on the horizon. Plus the only thing I know about the place is that they make good paper which i heard from a nextel commercial.

Yea... there really aren't many smoke stacks left -- none that I've really seen.

Pittsburgh is just so different from years ago when it was a steel city.  Now their big industries are service related mostly.  Software development and other high tech jobs, higher education, cultural fields, biomedical fields, legal work -- these tend to employ a lot of people in the area now.  I can't say I've heard anything about paper being made there, but who knows.

When you do visit, try to see more than just Oakland.  Check out the cool areas in Squirrel Hill and Shadyside and Carson St. on the South Side.  I think you'll likely be impressed. 
Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: Lanya on March 31, 2005, 01:48:06 PM
legends159,

I agree with everything that has been said so far by others.  Only additional suggestion for you, based on my personal experience, is when evaluating a school, try to get a feel for what the teaching faculty is like.  This is helpful, if you have some idea of what field or fields you might be going into.  I, myself, am a graduating senior at my university.  What enabled me to be successful - have a good GPA and even become involved in some research under the direction of a professor (which looks very good for law schools) - is the really good professors that have really inspired me and made me become interested in my classes.  I know that assessing what the professors there are like might be difficult, until you start to actually start taking courses with them, but some schools have particularly strong departments in some fields - try to find out what those are, you can read professor's resumes on-line, talk to students and/or professors at those universities if you get the chance, look for on-line postings of course evaluations of students at those schools.  Keep an eye out for any clues. 

When it comes to a prestigious school vs. small college, sometimes small colleges can have the better teachers because these colleges are often not really interested in research (unlike the big prestigious schools), and they have a bigger tendency to hire professors on the basis of teaching ability, rather than just research accomplishments.  On the other hand, the bigger top-level universities usually get the professors that are the best experts in their fields, and these people may teach very well, in addition to doing good research.  So it all depends.  You just have to keep these things in the back of your mind, as you research the schools and decide where to go.  In my case, I went to a big and very research-oriented school and had many professors who were great teachers.

Last note from me: beware of free stuff...  The college that offered you a free computer and full stipend might be a great school, I don't know anything about it, so I am not saying that it's not a good choice.  But before you decide to go there; do ask yourself, why are they giving me so much free stuff, when no other school is?  Is it because not a lot of people want to go there in there first place?  Is there a reason others might not want to go there, so they feel that they have to give someone carrots to lure him or her in?  Once again, researching the school may very well allay all of these doubts.  But do research and compare, don't just rush into it because of the money.
Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: legends159 on April 03, 2005, 12:52:52 PM
Thanks Lanya for your very informative response.

OK I've limited my selection down to Fordham and Cuny Honors since they're both giving me full rides. My friends and teachers are telling me to choose Fordham but I want to know what the consensus at this board is.
Title: Re: Undergraduate Question. NEED HELP Please
Post by: SleepyGuyYawn on April 05, 2005, 07:13:25 AM
Wow, full rides?  That's incredible.  I would do some serious research if I were you.  Always be careful about listening to friends and teachers.  Even teachers give a lot of "brother-in-law advice."  Do your own research and you won't be sorry.