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Messages - Miami88
It will be an uphill battle. At this point, all you can do it blow them away with your application. Write killer essays and make your resume tight and sparkly. Get on that asap. The earlier you apply, the better. Applications should have opened up already (or will soon). But don't send it in until your essays and what not are perfect. Do anything you can to give yourself a leg up.
Also, make sure to address your GPA issue in an addendum. PS should not talk about this directly. Make w/e happened in undergrad look like a positive thing.
Finally, present yourself. Go to as many open house/preview weekend things you can get to.
In the end, that GPA will be difficult to overcome. The only way to do so is to present yourself in the best light, and that is done in the application.
You are almost there!
First off, just because someone is in the medical field, it does not make them "brainy." I have met several pharmacists and doctors alike whose intellect are questionable at best. Of course, the likelihood is much stronger that the person is highly intellectual if they received an extremely high GPA from an extremely prestigious institution. However, the OP has a 3.1. This is a solid GPA, but not necessarily "top of class." We don't know where OP went to school, but regardless, let us assume they went to Harvard and a 3.1 places them in the top percentile of their class. Great. It still doesn't mean that they are "brainy" - it just means they got into Harvard and did well in their classes. Yes, it means that it is more than likely the case they are highly "intellectual," but not necessarily so.
Second, even if the OP is "brainy," the LSAT is not a test of how "brainy" you are - at least not primarily so. Math/Science tests are primarily tests of information - how well you can recall facts about a given subject. You either know the names of the bones in the human body or you don't. You either know the effects of a given drug or you don't. Of course, there is some application of this knowledge, but usually the application is yet another means of showcasing THINGS you KNOW. With some exceptions (some mathematics courses), the application processes itself is not the primary thing being tested. For example, a Pharmacist may be expected to calculate dosage of a drug. They need to KNOW the formulas for the drug, KNOW what information is needed to plug into those formulas, KNOW how to find that information, etc. The fact that they compute may be expected, but not primary. In sum, these tests are tests of knowledge (noun).
The LSAT is not a test of "information" - it is a test of how efficient and productive you can 1) digest (verb) and understand (verb) new, convoluted information and 2) analyze/synthesize/problem solve (verb/verb/verb) with that information. The things being tested in the LSAT are not nouns (i.e. knowledge), but verbs (i.e. ability to DO). The LSAT, then, is a "skills" test. The LSAT does not test your knowledge, but rather how well you APPLY new knowledge. The LSAT is closer, then, to the ways abilities are tested of performers/artists/athletes. The major difference, of course, is that of the medium. The medium performers/athletes use to showcase their skills are physical in nature (running/playing an instrument/painting - all verbs). However, LSAT takers showcase their skills through cognitive and intellectual means. How well can they intake (verb), understand (verb), and synthesize (verb).
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that this means people with Pharmacy backgrounds cannot perform well on the LSAT. All I'm saying is that just because you are a Pharmasict, it does not necessarily mean you will do very well on the LSAT. Moreover, given that the primary - if not only - means of testing a Pharmasict has been exposed to has been knowledge based, doing well on the LSAT may in fact be more surprising than "realistic" as you suggested. This is actually shown to be the case. The top scorers on the LSAT tend to be people who have been tested via skills tests. Phylosphy, Economics, History.. and on the science side, Engeering/Physics (where the PRIMARY testing method is skills based).
I went on to say that if OP is capable of scoring a 175 (and as I showed above, this does not NECESSARILY correlate to being a person of high intellect), it still does not mean much. You might be capable of being a Mozart, of being Picasso, of being da Vinci. Just because you are capable of being does not mean you are. The difference between these amazing performers and most everyone else that is "capable" is that they practiced - a lot. Mozart did not just "study" the parts (noun) of music - he practiced (verb) applying (verb) it via performing (verb) and composing (verb) - hours and hours and hours. Therefore, assuming OP is capable, they will need to practice and practice in order to get to a 175. This practice is far more intensive than most anticipate. That is the primary point I was trying to make in my statement.
How hard is it to get to a 175? What exactly is, as you said, a "high" LSAT score? It certainly is subjective - but can it be defined? Certainly, average or below average would probably not be considered a "high" score to the reasonable person. Indeed, a "high" LSAT score would at least be above the average. Probably higher than JUST above average, but at least above average. The average statistical LSAT score is somewhere around 147-157 (plus/minus 5 from 152). So if a 158 (around the 75th percentile) is considered "high" - what do we call a 175? It is mega high!... 175 is not merely a "high" score. It is THE "high" score. Really, there is no great significant statistical difference between a 175 and a 180. We are now in the top 1% of all LSAT takers. The top fraction of a fraction of the top 1% of the total population. It will take work to get there. Lots of it.
So, no, it is not "unreleasitic" to expect anyone, even the OP (or particularly OP) to get a 175. Er.. excuse the double negative..... It IS unrealistic to expect a 175. Period. Again, this does not mean it is impossible, it is actually completely possible - it is just unlikely. Yet, even if all the facts situated the outcome to be "likely," it would still be extremely difficult.
You may think this overly blunt at best or overly mean at worst, but trust me, it is merely the former. This is blunt. It has to be. Because if someone actually is capable of getting a 175 thinks that just because they are capable, they will get it... they are doomed. Someone who is capable of a 175 needs to be pushed, needs to be challenged. They need to be hit over the head with the bluntness of this post, because if they aren't, then they probably won't get to that 175. They won't get to their fullest potential. It might hurt OP's ego (or any other reader's for that matter), but at least this post would help them get to where they are going.
I'd imagine with a 161 and a 3.99 you won't have much trouble getting in. Add to that an army background and work experience... Just make sure your there are no fatal errors in your essays/application (i.e. bad typos).
for reference, check out...
1) 160-170 is a HUGE range. Really, this is the difference between schools ranked in the Top 10 and around 50ish. University of Florida is not the same as UMichigan.
I would recommend spending some time messing with http://www.lawschoolpredictor.com/wp-content/uploads/Law-School-Predictor-Full-Time-Programs.htm
as well as
This is where the predictor grabs its data fyi.
All that said,
If you end up with a 3.0 and a 160, you are in okay shape for schools ranked between 50-100 and in good shape for schools outside the top 100. If you end up with a 170, you are looking at Top 50 schools.
Note on ranking
Don't get worried about its hype. The reality is the strong majority of schools outside of the Top20 have pretty similar employment figures. Between T14 and T100, there are surely differences, but no the same as T6 v. sub-T100 schools. In other words, for the schools you would be considering, ranking plays a relatively small role in your end career. The big factor that will drive your employment (and, lets face it, that is the whole point for law school) out of these schools will be the particular school's regional pull. Therefore, apply to as many schools in the region you hope to live and work in after law school.
170-175 LSAT is not easy. Seriously. I'll assume in the below that you get there, but understand that even assuming you are actually capable (not being mean, just realistic), it will still take a ton of work and effort to get there. Way more than you will ever expect. So, if you really think you can make it there, prepare to practice the LSAT BIG time - like part-time job (if not full time job) worth of preparation.
IP would be great. Know that you need to have advanced degrees in science. I'm not sure of the specific requirements to sit for the Patent Bar (there is a specific licensure you need to actually practice Patent Law), but I believe to be somewhat competitive in this field you need a Ph.D. (not just masters, and certainly more than a Bachelors). Good, qualified IP (specifically Patent Law) lawyers are rare and, if you hustle, can be quite lucrative. It is extremely niche, however, and will thus require exceptional entrepreneurship.
In genearl, about 66-75% of a law school's decision is simply placed on your GPA and LSAT. These are your hard factors (factors that are firm and measurable). If both of these are at or above a school's median, you have a legitimate shot. If you are an underrepresented minority (URM) AND you are at least within the average band (25-75th percentile), then you have a legitimate shot. Other factors, like work experience, your application essays, your undergraduate major, etc., are considered soft factors and play a relatively small role in the decision (about 25-33%, if that). These factors are more so tie breakers than decision makers. Strong softs might push you over the edge if your hard factors are borderline, but they will not make up for relatively poor hard factors.
The sorta-negative (not really negative, just more realistic)...
Assuming you are not a URM, the issue you will be facing is that of your GPA (and even if you are a URM really). If you do indeed score in the 170-175 range, then your LSAT is within range of the very top schools (Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, etc.), however (big however), your GPA will place you far far below their average band. This scenario is referred to as a splitter (above median LSAT, below median GPA). The likelihood of getting into these schools as a non-URM splitter - even with really strong softs - are slim. You might be able to sneak into a lower T-14 (T-14 refers to the US News Top 14 ranked schools, generally considered the elite national schools), but I wouldn't count on it.
The positive (yay!)
Your best bet would be to apply to schools relatively lower ranked schools (fyi - there is nothing wrong at all with these schools, but not all schools can be Harvard, ya know). Again, assuming you do indeed score in the LSAT range you are looking for, you will be a shoe-in for serious scholarships at these schools. You will probably get full tuition scholarships from several. Understand that Big Law is extremely limited if not impossible for grads coming from these schools. Your best bet would be a small law firm specializing in IP Patent Law.
I would specifically apply to lower ranked schools in the region you wish to work in. A law school's employment prospects become more and more regional the lower in rank it is. For example, where a degree from Harvard (ranked 2nd) can legitametly help you get a job almost anywhere in the US, Vanderbilt (16th) will be more so confined to the South. University of Florida (50ish) will be more so confined to Florida, University of Miami (75ish?) will be confined to Southern Florida, and FIU (100) to Miami in specific.
So... rock the LSAT, apply to all the T14 schools (you never know!) and any school in the region(s) you want to work in, and take the least expensive option.
Quick answer - from my gut - USD. They are comparable in employment stats and USD will end up being far cheaper.
You have to assume the worst case scenario when it comes to law school. Of course, work you butt off to get the best case scenario, but PLAN for the worst case. If you assume you will lose that pepperdine scholarship come your second and third year, and you take into account tuition increases, and you take into account interest on your loans (as they will not be subsidized during school), and assuming you don't incur any additional costs (which you will), and assuming you won't have any other sources of aid ..... then, by the time you graduate, your debt will look sorta like...
If the costs were the same, sure, I would say go for Pepperdine, but they are by no means the same. Pepperdine is not a Harvard, these two schools offer comparable employment and prestige. If it were me, I would go for USD in a heartbeat.
In all seriousness, your law school decision should be based on where you want to live. This is especially the case given your GPA and LSAT. The schools you are looking at are going to be more regional than national. This means that where you go to school is more than likely where you will be working afterwards. If living in a warmer climate is a must for you post law school, then you should definitely look for school there.
In Florida you are looking at UMiami, FIU, UF, FSU and a few others. Your LSAT is great, but your GPA makes you a splitter.. someone who has a LSAT above a school's median but GPA below the school's median. There are other schools like St. Thomas, Nova, and Ave Maria that would probably offer you a lot of $$ to get you (they will look at you as a way to boost their LSAT avg.)
Any specific questions?
« on: July 28, 2014, 10:33:41 PM »
I think most people - including me - on this forum would support a decision of taking a "lower ranked" school at a lower cost than a relatively more prestigous one at a higher one.
Also, my overview was just that, a generalization. Just because you go to a "lower ranked" school doesn't mean you will have a hard (or even harder) time finding work. You just need to understand that, if you aren't in the top of your class and are attending a school outside the T6, big law may not be a safe bet. There are plenty of people who graduate from lower ranked schools and are fully employed. Big Law is just one sector of the work force, and one that several lawyers get burned out in. In fact, the strong majority of lawyers out there didn't attend a Top 6 school and don't work at those firms. Again, you just need to get realistic and forceful with your job search. As Citylaw says, outside the very top law schools, finding work is far more dependent on YOU rather than the school on your resume. And even for top law school grads, they still need to work their butt off to find the work, the doors will just be a little easier to open.. that's all.
A few things to keep in mind in your decision when it comes to debt and picking a lower ranked school...
1) Look at the total cost of attendance, not just tuition Also, for public schools, check out the difference in cost for in state tuition and, if you aren't a resident, what it takes to bbecome one.
2) Deduct from the total cost of attendance your scholarship. These are the numbers you need to compare. You might get $100k from school A and $50k from school B. But if A's COA is $250k and school B is $100k, that makes the effective COA for each school respectively $150k and $50. Therefore, school B is the better option from a money perspective even though they gave you far less in scholarship.
3) Figure out what conditions, if any, the school has on your scholarship. Some schools, particularly the top schools, just require that you don't flunk out of college. Other schools require that you maintain a particular GPA. A 3.0 might not sound that bad, but also find out what percentage of students that is associated with. It might be that 80% of the class has a 3.0 or better, which isn't that bad. However, if a 3.0 is like, the 90th percentile, then you have to keep in mind that you might very well lose that scholarship come your second and/or third year.
4) Do take into account employment statistics both in general and, more importantly, in the region you want to work in. Going into $30k of debt for a school in Seatle v. $60k for a school in Miami might sound like a no brainer, but if you want to practice in Miami, you will be facing a very steep journey coming out of Seatle.
5) Make a decision on your own personal circumstances. No one on here can tell you X Debt for Y School is worth it or not. We are not in your shoes. Maybe you are 50 y.o. and have 3 kids... maybe you are 20 y.o. with $0 debt as is. Maybe your entire childhood was a mess because of debt issues. Maybe your family is loaded. Who knows. You need to decide for yourself if something is or is not worth it.