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Author Topic: Law school without an undergraduate GPA  (Read 2272 times)

ssstnd11

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Law school without an undergraduate GPA
« on: May 22, 2011, 06:43:46 PM »
Hello all,

This is somewhat of a two part question.  I tried searching the site, but didn't really find anything similar, please point me in the right direction if there's been previous discussion about this.

I've been planning on going to law school for sometime now, and am starting to get the ball rolling in earnest now.  The "issue" is that I went to a non-traditional college for undergrad and have written evaluations from my professors instead of grades.  In someways, I think this could help me because it presents a more holistic picture of who I am as a student but:

1) I'm at a loss as to how to identify schools that are a good "match" for me without having an undergrad GPA to compare.  I took one practice LSAT "cold" without having read any prep material first and got a 160--so that's one ballpark figure I can use for now (and hopefully, after a lot of studying, can raise!) but does anyone have advice on how to identify good safety, good fit, and reach law schools without a GPA to refer to?

2) Does anyone here have experience with, or feedback on, how law schools evaluate students without a GPA?  Lots of people have told me that graduate schools "like" graduates of my college because we focus heavily on research and independent study--but I have very little first hand evidence from people who've actually GONE to law school to back that up.

Any help would be great, and sorry this was so long!

Thane Messinger

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Re: Law school without an undergraduate GPA
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 05:01:12 AM »
I've been planning on going to law school for sometime now, and am starting to get the ball rolling in earnest now.  The "issue" is that I went to a non-traditional college for undergrad and have written evaluations from my professors instead of grades.  In someways, I think this could help me because it presents a more holistic picture of who I am as a student but:


There are a number of possible answers.  An initial question:  is your college regionally (not nationally) accredited?

As to the LSAT, get a sufficiently high number there and, if the other factors are within the LSAC parameters, you will get a holistic review.

Thane.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Law school without an undergraduate GPA
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2011, 10:02:06 AM »
I've been planning on going to law school for sometime now, and am starting to get the ball rolling in earnest now.  The "issue" is that I went to a non-traditional college for undergrad and have written evaluations from my professors instead of grades.

I have a stupid question:  does your college have basic regional accreditation? 

ssstnd11

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Re: Law school without an undergraduate GPA
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2011, 09:43:29 PM »
Sorry, I forgot to add that.  I went to The Evergreen State College, which has regional accreditation.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Law school without an undergraduate GPA
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2011, 11:28:52 AM »
Yep, definitely accredited by the NWCCU.

Very interesting school.  So, no grades, eh?  I've heard of other schools doing this in certain circumstances.  For instance, I don't think Stanford awards any letter grades for Freshmen.  I think Brown had some sort of deal where they don't give letter grades, too, but I honestly can't remember on that one.

I don't really have much guidance to give you.  I guess in your case, you just submit an LSAT score and it'll largely go just based on that.  Although I think letters of recommendation are usually throw-aways, I'll bet in your case they'll be critical.  I'd get way more than the minimum.  Like seriously?  I'd be thinking 10 or more.  You don't have grades to report, so you'll need professors to give the admissions committees a window on the quality of your undergraduate work.  That, in my clearly non-expert opinion, is the way you can compensate for not being able to report a GPA.

Thane, there really isn't such a thing as national accreditation.  There are 6 regional bodies and that is who deterimines whether a college or university is accredited.  For the most part, that regional accreditation is what allows a person to, say, apply for federal financial aid, or to have a degree for the purposes of qualifying for officer programs in the military, etc.  Evergreen has it's accreditation.  So, from a basic accreditation standpoint, it's as accredited as Harvard.

ssstnd11

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Re: Law school without an undergraduate GPA
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2011, 05:48:22 PM »
Thanks FalconJimmy.  I do have written evaluations (roughly 500-750 words apiece) from every professor I took a class from, which talk about how I performed, my strengths, any independent study/research I did, etc so it's not as though there's no feedback at all (thank god!)--do you think that'll make a difference, especially regarding letters of recommendation?

And yes, there a couple schools who do the no grades thing as well--but I think Evergreen's is one of the most "out there" with their approach.  Both Sarah Lawrence and Brown award letter grades--but neither release them unless a student specifically requests their GPA, which according to people I know who went to both, most don't.  UCSB I know doesn't have letter grades--but I'm not sure if they do something similar to SLC and Brown.  There are a few more scattered around the country also, but their names escape me at present.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Law school without an undergraduate GPA
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2011, 06:23:07 PM »
Thanks FalconJimmy.  I do have written evaluations (roughly 500-750 words apiece) from every professor I took a class from, which talk about how I performed, my strengths, any independent study/research I did, etc so it's not as though there's no feedback at all (thank god!)--do you think that'll make a difference, especially regarding letters of recommendation?

Ordinarily, I don't think they look at LORs very much at all, but in your case, it probably will matter given that they will need to use some discretion in determining whether you should attend law school or not.  Just nail down a good LSAT, and it seems to me, you'll be fine.

ssstnd11

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Re: Law school without an undergraduate GPA
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2011, 12:46:45 AM »
Thanks for your feedback, Falcon.  I guess I'll start putting together a long list of possible references to contact now. 

One more thing, since transcripts go through LSAC, am I right in thinking that my GPA is just going to show up as a big "N/A" of sorts and no admissions counselors are ever actually going to see any of my evaluations?

FalconJimmy

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Re: Law school without an undergraduate GPA
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2011, 04:45:36 AM »
One more thing, since transcripts go through LSAC, am I right in thinking that my GPA is just going to show up as a big "N/A" of sorts and no admissions counselors are ever actually going to see any of my evaluations?

LSAC puts your gpa on there based on transcripts.  So, yeah, it would probably be something like n/a, though I can't say for sure.

One thing you could do to game the system would be to go to a local community college, take 3 credit hours in basket-weaving and get an A. 

At that point, near as I can figure, you'd have a 4.0 average. 

(Of course, if you boot it and get a B, you'd have a 3.0.)

Personally, if I were in your shoes, I'd give that a shot.  Maybe take one class over the Summer in one of those 6 week terms.

I think generally speaking, admissions people only hit the LORs if you're really on the bubble.  With undergrad admissions, it's almost always GPA and SAT / ACT.  Anything else is only applied in a small number of cases.  I could be totally off-base, but with Law School, I am guessing that the vast majority of people are admitted based on LSAT and GPA, only.  The ones who are borderline, maybe they dig a little deeper. 

Schools where basically everybody has a 3.7+ and a phenomenal LSAT, maybe they dig deeper.  Most schools aren't like that.  So, most schools probably apply a relatively simple arithmetic formula, then they glance at everything else and most people are admitted or not based on that.

ssstnd11

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Re: Law school without an undergraduate GPA
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2011, 11:33:00 PM »
Thanks Falcon, you've been really helpful!  I have to take some classes I never took in college so I can qualify for a masters I'd like to do joint anyway--so hopefully I can get all A's and have at least some traditional grades on my transcript.