« on: April 30, 2009, 12:47:40 AM »
Here are my points:
1) No, you cannot raise your GPA once it's in stone. And you cannot go from 2.7 to 3.0 in a reasonably short time. At the UW-Seattle, some people have figured out that they can wait to confer their degrees, re-take some courses, get A's and receive the averages between their grades and those A's as "final grades"; that can raise your GPA quickly. But, they are still in school.
2) You can give adcoms something else to look at by taking additional courses (some will be more lenient than others). They are not going to "ignore" your grades, but they will "look beyond them" if you give them a reason to.
3) Many schools have cutoffs, but they are not "formal"...At Yale, they will not tell you that they have a cutoff, but when have they admitted anyone with a GPA below 3.2 who wasn't a legacy, a URM, an Olympic athlete, a reformed convict with an extraordinary story, or from a foreign country with a wierd grading system, and/or didn't have an LSAT above 170? Probably not in a good long time...like maybe ever. Every school claims that there is "no point on the GPA or LSAT scale below which an application will not be considered". They have to say that.
Even at 3.2, Yale might admit one or two at the most in a given year. And, believe me, those two people are in a unique situation. Like I said, daddy$ money, URM, etc, plus a great LSAT. Remember, we are talking Yale.
Now, at Duke, I know a guy (a White guy) who got in with a 2.9/170 last year. That's doable b/c Duke doesn't have a 3.2 cutoff. GWU and several other schools use an "index", which is just a fancy word (semantic) for "cutoff". At a certain GPA you will need a certain LSAT score to have a decent shot at getting in, that's what it means. But there are top schools that take students with GPA's below 3.0. They don't take many, but they will take a few. Soft factors and LOR's CAN help if they are very strong. Texas, GWU and some other top schools have taken 2.5 students...not many, but it happens.
And again, the further outside of a school's numbers you are, the more closely they will scrutinize your soft factors. The reason for this is that schools are looking for reasons to say "Yes" b/c they don't want to miss a hidden gem. And they want diversity, which comes in many forms. Legal education would duck if everyone was cut from the same mold. Soft factors ensure that the schools have diversity of ethnicities, experiences, etc.
On the flip-side, if you apply to Harvard with a 3.9/170, you will also be scrutinized b/c most of the applicants look like you on paper. So the schools have to find a way to differentiate you from other applicants whose numbers are just as stellar as yours. Does that not make sense? Thus, your essays will matter, your LOR's will matter, your extra-curriculars, work history, community service will matter. So, contrary to what most people on LSD and TLS will say, "soft factors" make a big difference. Otherwise, how do schools pick between several thousand students with similar stats? Admissions would not make sense otherwise.
Soft factors matter a lot, and so does additional course work. The top schools will pay as much or more attention to soft factors than will the so-called lower-tiered schools. Yale seems to have an informal, but hard, cutoff, while the other schools have "soft cutoffs", which just means that it will be rare, but not impossible (that's the distiction), for anyone with certain numbers to get in.
Grade thresholds exist b/c everyone understands that different GPA's represent different "levels" of acheivement. As another poster also said, there's a big difference between 2.7 and 3.11. And people understand, that the 2.7 student is a B-/C+ student, whereas the 3.1 student is almost a B+. Big difference in the level of consistency, and in class rank and percentile. Most college students are C/C+ students, which people also don't seem to know. And at certain schools grades take on different meanings, but the thresholds still remain the same: 2.5, 3.0, 3.2, 3.5, 3.75 (which I forgot below), and 4.0. Everyone knows how they feel when their GPA reaches or crosses those marks, which makes it real.
Also, my response to bl825 is based on other responses I have received from bl825 in other posts. I wish people would refrain from calling people's remarks "flawed" without addressing the flaws. You did a good job of addressing an "apparent contradiction" and I have responded to it. But most of the time, people just reject what I say out-of-hand or attack me personally b/c they really cannot refute what I am saying.
I have hard evidence for the things I am saying. I get my info from experience, books, research, etc. But people want to say I don't know what I am talking about. Yet, when I quote chapter and verse, they have no response. They often have no evidence for their claims, and I have to call them on it. I don't pull anything out of my ass, that's the point. bl825 stalks me. That poster fights me constantly and seems to respond to everything I post. There are times when I love him/her, and times when I'm like..."Go somewhere!"
If you want to know where I get my info, I will be glad to tell you. I'll post it here b/c I have nothing to hide.