Hello everyone. I'm new here and have been poking around and reading for the past week or so... and finally decided it was time to jump in and let people know that I exist.
I'm probably about to write a small novel, so please forgive me in advance- I just want to give some background and get some feedback from anyone who is kind/bored enough to take the time to do so.
Firstly, I am 23 and in my Junior year at Buffalo State College- I started out at a small private school on Long Island (St. Joseph's College). Completed two years there and transferred out after my fourth semester with a 3.7 GPA. I was forced into a bad position by my parents, who were pretty much enraged when I came out of the closet. I had been living at home, working 2 jobs, plus work study, treasurer of the English Club, volunteered weekly as a Youth Leader at my church... I had a lot going for me, and they had agreed to fund my undergrad up until that point. Once I came out, however, they changed the locks, revoked their offer to pay for school, and left me pretty much hanging... I lived in a motel for the majority of my last semester down there, and decided to move up to Buffalo where school was cheaper, housing was MUCH cheaper, and I had a chance at finishing my degree.
Came up here with my girlfriend, no job, no furniture, and $100- with only three weeks before the start of classes. I rushed around to register in time for the Fall 05 semester, thinking I could just keep going. Needless to say, this was far from my best semester. I registered for 5 classes, dropped 3, and of the two remaining I passed one and failed the other (basically, couldn't afford books for any of my classes, no aid because I was still a "dependent" of my parents, and there were many a day when I just didn't even have the money for gas to get to school and back). After this awful and totally out of character semester, I decided that in order to make it, I needed to prioritize, find a stable job that paid above minimum wage (if anyone is familiar with Buffalo, you KNOW that this is no easy task!), get settled into some sort of routine, and THEN re-attempt school.
I took two years off, during which time I landed a job at HSBC Bank (where I've been employed for almost three years now), bought a house (technically the loan is in my gf's grandmother's name, as my credit took a major hit when I moved up here and bills started stacking up- but I'm in the process of cleaning up my credit enough to transfer the mortgage to my name within the next year or so)- and once I was finally settled in enough and felt like I was ready to do so, I resumed my undergrad classes.
After this past semester, my second semester back after a two-year hiatus, I managed to bring my GPA up from that first disaster semester... I had a 1.5 after my first semester at Buffalo State, and after the past two semesters I've been able to raise that to a 3.13. I've used an online GPA calculator to determine my LSAC GPA (which, from what I understand, includes my grades from my first school as well) and if I can earn in A in all four classes this upcoming semester (which I am certain I can do) I will end up with a 3.43 GPA at the time I send out my law school apps and around a 3.55 upon graduation (again, provided I can ace every class...).
My questions now (after a long-winded back-story!) are as follows:
1. Will the two year break I took while earning my BA hurt me severely, or do you think it can be explained sufficiently enough in a personal statement? I am hoping that it may be seen as even something of a positive... that I encountered hardship, realized that I needed to prioritize to be able to succeed, took the time I needed, and then resumed my undergrad and worked hard to pull my GPA out of the gutter, while working FT.
2. I've taken a few practice LSATs and have ranged between 155-175 on those... a pretty wide range of scores, but I've been improving as I keep doing them. I plan on getting an LSAT prep book, studying my butt off, and taking the June LSAT. My prediction is that I'll get somewhere near 170 if I prepare enough, which I certainly plan to do. With a GPA of 3.55 and an LSAT score in that range, is it possible to get into any of the top schools (am I dreaming to want admission to NYU?)- I don't want to waste nearly $100 applying to schools that I don't have a shot in hell at getting into.
3. Any opinions of University at Buffalo Law? It's in the top 100, AT 100... so it's no where near the top of the list, but I'm pretty sure I could get accepted there and be able to stay living in my house (not have to worry about renting it out and trekking back down to NYC!)- But will I be short changing myself by going there? And if I eventually want to move back downstate, how likely is it that any firms in NYC will look at me seriously with a JD from UB Law?
Any opinions, advice, feedback... please feel free. I know I probably went on and on and on..... but it's Sunday afternoon and I have nothing better to do than vomit my life story out to strangers on a message board.