Law School Discussion

Law School Mama!

Law School Mama!
« on: January 18, 2008, 12:34:00 PM »
I need a bit of advice. Basically, I was wondering if any of you "non-traditional" students have gotten into schools that you don't think you would have gotten into "normally." Have your numbers been lower than their 25-75 percentiles, but you think your non-trad. status has helped you?

I am a 22 yr old mom of an adorable almost 1 yr old. My S.O. of 5 yrs and I were definitely surprised when we learned we were expecting, but decided to finish college and pursue our career ambitions.
When I was expecting my daughter, I took 8 classes in one semester- 4 at my degree-granting school and 4 at a local community college. I did this because a) I only needed to get Cs in these community college courses to get the credits transferred and b) I wanted to get as much credits out of the way before operation baby began.
While I got straight A's in my normal college's classes, I got C's in the other ones. (I also gave birth in Feb. of that same semester!)
This coupled with an illness my first yr of college (at a different school) has totally brought down my GPA.
At the risk of public mockery (PLEASE DON'T- I feel dumb enough already), I had not done much research into LSAC before this year. I had absolutely NO CLUE that they would average GPAs from all colleges. I figured my good grades at Penn State (my degree-granting school) would be the only ones used.

As far as the LSAT, I took the test in September and scored a 149- no prepping. I was definitely bummed, but it was really hard to find time to study, with taking 19 credits AND caring for a baby.
I took a one-weekend prep course and raised my score to 155 in Dec.
Many people on this site seem to have really high scores- 165 and up. But most of them don't have a screaming toddler who requires ALOT of attention and sometimes- including the night before the LSAT- wakes up every 5 hours.

Unfortunately, I really want to attend Temple and these numbers are NOT going to get me in there, unless they are looking for super-hard-working mamas who have managed to balance school, baby, working PT, and still make Dean's List.

The only people I've seen on who got in to Temple with similar numbers were URM. Too bad I'm as white as they come  ;)

What do you guys think?
I think I've shown dedication to finishing my degree. I work twice as hard and have taken NO time off. (Try 19 credits in 4 week summer sessions, ugh   :( )

Think it's feasible to hope for being admitted? I think my LOR should be good, I love my personal statement, and have included an addendum explaining the GPA thing. My grades from PSU are wayyy higher than the cum. GPA.

Any advice is welcome. Maybe you've been in a similar situation and got in, despite low numbers?

(If it helps, I checked FT or PT on the application. I'll take whatever they can give me!)


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Re: Law School Mama!
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2008, 12:50:16 PM »
I guess I would ask why the rush?  You are still very young.  It seems like you could take a year or even two or three off, work as a paralegal or something else law related and study.  If you study for a year or more, plus get some work experience, plus put some distance between you and your GPA, plus give your baby a chance to get a little older you might enjoy yourself more and have more time to enjoy your daughter.  A long time with plenty of time to study (a 40 hour work week and study time for the LSAT is probably easier than you are used to!) could really help your LSAT score reflect your abilities.  I took lots of time off and I don't regret it a bit.

Re: Law School Mama!
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2008, 01:23:54 PM »
Thanks for your reply.

In the event that I don't get accepted into Temple, I plan on taking a year off, working PT (preferably in a law office as an assistant or something), and re-applying for the next year.

I completely see your point about "why the rush," but in OUR situation, it would be best to get in and finish school as soon as we can. The sooner we get our grad. degrees, the more financially secure we'll be, as those advanced degrees will hopefully be accompanied by higher salaries. We currently live with my family in a large 3 floor home (we have our own floor with privacy). But obviously, we want to be able to get our own home sometime in the next few years.

Additionally, we would like to have more children, but don't want to do this before starting law school or during school. If I wait 2 or 3 yrs to begin L.S., spend 4 yrs in a PT program, it could be 6 or 7 years before I could even think of having another baby. I don't want our children to be quite that far apart, besides the fact that at that point I'll be entering my late twenties. After 30, a woman's chance of getting pregnant is cut in half. I really want to get into law school, get my JD, and then be able to expand my family.

(I hope this doesn't come across that I'm neglecting my daughter in any way!!! I've been a "stay-at-home" mom for the past year and only take evening classes, when she's already sleeping. At the time that Fall classes will be starting, she'll be nearly 2 and ready to start preschool- we have a really great school in the neighborhood she could attend. If I was accepted into the PT evening program, I'd continue staying home and "enjoying" my daughter!)

Thanks for the advice, though!


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Re: Law School Mama!
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2008, 03:21:48 PM »
What kind of law are you hoping to practice?  A part time law school program is probably more family friend if you want to have more kids than most law jobs, but of course there is money to factor in.

Anyway, I am a non-trad with no kids although I know plenty of people with kids in law school.  I found no significant bump in my applications, though, due to being a non-trad and having lots of work experience.  This is why I suggested taking time off and maybe letting your husband finish his grad degree, then you do your turn at law school and make the family thing work.

Good luck whatever you decide!


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Re: Law School Mama!
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2008, 08:19:59 PM »
I read your OP and was stunned to see my own biography!  Only the difference is that I'm 17 years ahead of you.  I got married at 19; went to 3 colleges b/c his job kept transferring him; got pregnant in my senior year, 1990; took 22 hours in 2 summer sessions to finish my degree. I totally understand how hard it has been for you!  I did it too.  Here's how my story unrolled for whatever it is worth.

I stayed home with my daughter for a year or two and then went into teaching.  I got a James Madison Fellowship and went back to school to get my MA in American Constitutional history (1995 - 1998).  Had my son in 1997.  Went back to teaching 1998 - Present.  Got divorced in 2003 (never should have married him anyway).

Now I"m heading to LS at age 39 just as my daughter enters her senior year.  Actually hoping to join Aerynn at W & M this fall.

My UG gpa from my degree granting school is a 3.58 but my LSAC gpa is a 2.95.  My 1st LSAT was a 157 but I just retook it on 2/2 and am hopeful of cracking the 160 barrier.  I am deeply grateful that I've "taken the long way."  Teaching has been wonderful.  It has allowed me to be a very engaged mom (I teach at the HS where my daughter goes and we both love that, believe it or not.  She is sad at the thought of me not being there this fall).  I've also built a foundation that will take me farther now that I'm ready.  I truly think that I'm better for having NOT gone to LS back in the early 90's and I echo Aerynn's comment that you are young and you have time.

Do not rush.  In many ways it is to your advantage to work part-time for several years.  Your SO could finish grad school and start working; you could savor time with your little one and maybe have another; you could put more years between you and your GPA; your low LSAT will disapper after (I think) 5 years.  When you get to LS at 30 or maybe in your early 30's your kids will be older; your spouse's income regular; you'll be wiser; your GPA won't matter so much; you'll have a professional resume to supplement your app's.

Life is going to throw a lot of zigs and zags in your path (you've already had one show up -- your little girl -- and you've handled it well).  Every detour is a learning opportunity.

As far as your original question.....I'll let you know when I get responses from my two remaining schools.  I got NO extra consideration from UVA, but it was a heck of a reach anyway.  I don't think schools would really consider you a non-trad yet.  You gotta earn some grey hair for that label!   ;D  Though you are "different" from the typical applicant you're still pretty much straight out of UG and from their perspective, what do you have to offer the class?  From an admissions dean's point of view, a non-trad's value is that we offer greater maturity, a wealth of life experience to illuminate problems, and a professionally rich background.  You don't really have that yet.

I hope that I'm not sounding to preachy or know-it-all.  My goal was to help you see your options and weigh them and to also affirm for you that LS will still be there.  I will be sooo much better at it now than I would have been when I was in my 20's!

Re: Law School Mama!
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2008, 06:37:34 AM »

1st congratulations to you and your S.O. for pulling through. My situation was somewhat similar (I became a single mom half-way through undergrad and although I graduated with honors from my degree granting inst., grades from previous attendances dragged my LSDAS GPA down) and also very different (I am non-trad with 7+ years of f/t WE and a graduate degree). I have a few peices of advice (not that I am any type of expert on law school admissions. I am as humbled by and paranoid about this process as most on LSD). The bottom line is you have to sell yourself to the adcomms (don't take that the wrong way  :o) and your numbers are much more than half the package.

1- If you think you can do EVEN BETTER on the LSAT, then retake in June or Sept and apply again next cycle. Or write an LSAT addendum but be careful not to give the impression that you will not be able to balance LS with having a young child.

2- In any event, this year or can use your PS to show your level of resilience and determination, highlighting your ability to overcome what could have been an obstacle in your educational and professional path.

3- If you don't want to use your PS for this, I highly encourage you to write a diversity/adversity statement highlighting the challenges you have faced and overcome as a young mother in undergrad and since.


Re: Law School Mama!
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2008, 01:02:37 PM »
I can only say that I have always been a nontraditional student.  I was married at 17, divorced at 20, went to college as a single mom, got married, had two more kids, went to grad school (where I got a 4.0), and I have worked as a paralegal for 13 years.  All of that, and despite the fact that I have a long history of work experience, and a non-traditional background, I did not get in to Temple, and so far have only had offers from T3 and T4 schools.  This is very disappointing because I am very bright, very hard working, and extremely ambitious.  I put a lot of work into conveying that in my law school personal statement.  However, I still have a lot of applications out so we shall see.  I am 31 now, and ready to do this.

Re: Law School Mama!
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2008, 01:21:01 PM »

First, any college courses you took before graduating will likely be calculated into your LSAC GPA.  Bummer, but there you go. 

I am currently waiting to see if a good "I'm a strong mommy" PS can mitigate borderline numbers (I'm divorced, so I only have a choice of two schools).  If I get in to the better one it will likely be due to my diversity factor as a single mom of three kids under four years of age.  I should hear in a month or so and will post here to let you know.  My GPA is at their median, but my LSAT is at their 25th.  I took it twice and got the same score, which really made me mad.  I just didn't have time to prep the way I needed to.  If I were you I would take a course.  For people trying break the 160 barrier they seem to be a good investment.
Don't ask me how I'm going to swing 1L; I have no freaking idea;-).  I'm twice your age, and would kill for the flexibility in timing that you have - though I respect your logic as far as having more children, etc.