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Author Topic: do majors with "honors" matter?  (Read 996 times)

bblue359

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do majors with "honors" matter?
« on: July 02, 2012, 07:16:56 PM »
For T14 law schools, does it matter if your major is designated as an honors program?

For example, for my major, I could choose history (plain and simple) or history honors.

With History with honors, you have to take special honors classes that teach you more and are HARDER at the same time. So I'm wondering if it's worth the slight decline in GPA?

FalconJimmy

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Re: do majors with "honors" matter?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2012, 09:45:25 PM »
I don't think anything is worth a decline in GPA.  Take that for what it's worth: anonymous advice from the internet. 

bblue359

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Re: do majors with "honors" matter?
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2012, 02:10:42 AM »
I don't think anything is worth a decline in GPA.  Take that for what it's worth: anonymous advice from the internet.

Is anything worth a decline in GPA?

FalconJimmy

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Re: do majors with "honors" matter?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2012, 06:15:49 AM »
Is anything worth a decline in GPA?

This is based on general knowledge of how things work when you're sifting through a large number of applicants and also some hearsay from folks who have spoken to admissions folks.

Law schools, especially the good ones, get thousands of applicants.  Their first pass will ALWAYS be based on numbers, alone.  Good numbers can make you an auto-admit at some schools.  They can also make you an auto-reject at any school.  The only question is where those thresholds are.  Also, at the very best schools, they probably don't auto-admit based solely on numbers, but you can bet they auto-reject.

Whether you attended an honors program or whatnot is something that won't really be discovered until/unless you made that first cut.  Also, probably not a factor unless it comes down to you and a couple other nearly-identical students who are all on the bubble.  If you can avoid being on the bubble by having a gpa that's .05 higher, I'd say avoid being on the bubble.

Also, there is no required program of study for pre-law.  You can major in electrical engineering or communications.  I doubt anybody in their right mind thinks that a 4.0 in one is analogous to a 4.0 in the other.  You can get your grades all at the honors college or you can get half your credit hours from the local junior college where anything less than an A means you didn't turn in all your work. 

In the end, that first cut is made on GPA and LSAT, alone.  Anybody who tells you otherwise is delusional.  For the majority of applicants, the ONLY cut is made is GPA and LSAT alone. 

It's a game.  Play it strategically.

bblue359

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Re: do majors with "honors" matter?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2012, 04:16:57 PM »
Is anything worth a decline in GPA?

This is based on general knowledge of how things work when you're sifting through a large number of applicants and also some hearsay from folks who have spoken to admissions folks.

Law schools, especially the good ones, get thousands of applicants.  Their first pass will ALWAYS be based on numbers, alone.  Good numbers can make you an auto-admit at some schools.  They can also make you an auto-reject at any school.  The only question is where those thresholds are.  Also, at the very best schools, they probably don't auto-admit based solely on numbers, but you can bet they auto-reject.

Whether you attended an honors program or whatnot is something that won't really be discovered until/unless you made that first cut.  Also, probably not a factor unless it comes down to you and a couple other nearly-identical students who are all on the bubble.  If you can avoid being on the bubble by having a gpa that's .05 higher, I'd say avoid being on the bubble.

Also, there is no required program of study for pre-law.  You can major in electrical engineering or communications.  I doubt anybody in their right mind thinks that a 4.0 in one is analogous to a 4.0 in the other.  You can get your grades all at the honors college or you can get half your credit hours from the local junior college where anything less than an A means you didn't turn in all your work. 

In the end, that first cut is made on GPA and LSAT, alone.  Anybody who tells you otherwise is delusional.  For the majority of applicants, the ONLY cut is made is GPA and LSAT alone. 

It's a game.  Play it strategically.

Thanks for the insightful post.

So after you make it through the initial grind, what sort of qualities are most sought after?

I know they like everything - internships, ECs, leadership, etc etc. But relatively speaking, what is MOST valued?


oh, and PS, is there a way to get rid of this image verification process when you most something? It seems stupid: I'm not a computer!!!

Maintain FL 350

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Re: do majors with "honors" matter?
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2012, 04:48:53 PM »
FalconJimmy is right. At the vast majority of law schools you will be admitted/denied almost exclusively on GPA/LSAT. Soft factors come into play when you are being evaluated against other applicants with very similar academic qualifications. If your academic numbers are below par for a given school, your soft factors would have to be truly outstanding to have much (if any) impact. This is especially true at elite schools.

As far as what soft factors are most useful, I'd say URM status (specifically African American, Native American, some Latino classifications), followed by extensive non-profit/public service experience.

Let me give you a quick (true) example: A friend of mine graduated from an Ivy with OK, but not great, grades. After college he spent several years teaching in a very poor inner city school, the kind of thing that law schools love. He had multiple other very unique and impressive soft factors that I don't want to specify. Trust me when I say that if you looked at his life story you'd say "Holy s***!" He took the LSAT, scored in the 170s, and was STILL turned down by several top schools. He got into a very good school anyway, but it shows you how even with amazing softs you've still got to show up with the academic credentials, at least at the top schools. 

makaylalt

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Re: do majors with "honors" matter?
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2012, 05:27:56 PM »
I spoke with BU Law today and they said they definiately do count what classes you take as opposed to high GPA

legend

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Re: do majors with "honors" matter?
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2012, 05:40:17 PM »
Some good advice above and as others stated take anything you read on this board or others with a grain of salt. Everyone who posts myself included doesn't actually know the answers and I doubt even the admissions officers at these schools could accurately tell you what the better option is.

With that said having gone through law school in my opinion it does seem that schools care about numbers above all else. I have never worked in an admission office though and I could be wrong, but that seems to be the basis and it makes sense. The reality is if your shifting through 1,000's of applicants the only way to even start is by looking at the numbers. LSAT you can't manipulate, but GPA you can and if they see a 3.8 in an easy major that will probably look better than 3.1 in Nuclear Physics. They are not really going to look at the majors just the numbers.

Furthermore, schools really care about what U.S. News thinks it is unfortunate for legal education, but U.S. News looks solely at the GPA number it doesn't care what your major was in and a 3.8 in a easy major will look better to U.S. News than a 3.1 in Nuclear physics. Since all U.S. News will see is a 3.8 opposed to a 3.1.

On top of that Honors history will likely not be much of a soft-factor. Most people that go to law school did some pretty cool things and having a Honors History opposed to non-honors likely won't make you stand out much.

CONCLUSION:
If your soley focused on going to law school then get the best UGPA you can. That would be my advice however I am an anonymous internet poster, who has never worked in an admissions office, but my reasoning is set forth above although I could be 100% wrong.

However, I don't know how old you are and if your only 19-20 you might not end up going to law school and if your making all kinds of changes based on something you don't know will come to fruition it might be a mistake. Especially if you have not taken the LSAT yet. Reality is you could have a 4.0 in Honors History and if you don't score about a 165 no T14 will touch you. That is in the top 90% of test takers I believe and very few people end up satisfied with their LSAT score and there is 90% chance you won't be in the top 90% of LSAT takers. Not a knock on you just a fact. If you give up Honors history and get a 154 on the LSAT you may not end up going to law school and you will have give up Honors History for something that never came to fruition.

If Honors history is really something you want to do then I would recommend that path and see where it takes you, but only you know how important or unimportant that it is to you. In my experience a great deal of people PLAN on going to law school and very few end up actually going. Just something to think about.

Good luck whatever you end up doing and remember what I or anyone else says is nothing more than anonymous internet poster advice so treat it as such. I am typing in between breaks to kill time and there are no repercussions for me if I am completely wrong.