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What are my chances of being admitted to Berkeley or Davis???

Jesus will return before that day. (impossible)
I'll win the lottery/be struck by lighting before that day. (possible, but almost not)
You've got a 5-20% chance here pal.
The perverbial coin toss.
Worried about admittance??? You'll be getting the full ride.

Author Topic: Fourth Year Teacher, 155 LSAT, 3.25 GPA. Advice Please!!!  (Read 2563 times)

dsnider

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Fourth Year Teacher, 155 LSAT, 3.25 GPA. Advice Please!!!
« on: July 05, 2012, 04:26:51 AM »
Looking to apply for Fall 2013 admissions. LSAT - 155 (first attempt), GPA - 3.25. I'm a 26 year old male, studied English at Texas Tech University and have taught three years of high school English, about to begin my fourth year. The high schools I've been teaching in are urban/title I schools. I hold a Texas Educators Certificate and a Real Estate Salesperson Certificate (sold real estate for one year between my third and soon to begin fourth year of teaching).

Wondering what my admission chances will be.... I know my LSAT and GPA scores are average, but I'm hoping my professional career, personal statement, and letters of recommendations will pull some serious weight.

Ultimate dream schools are Berkeley, Davis, and Hastings... and this here ladies and gentlemen is why they call them "dream" schools. I'm pretty much embarrassed to even give five seconds to think of attending the first two. Looking to apply to Loyola (CA), San Diego, Santa Clara, University of Pacific, and University of Hawaii.

Any troll can google admission statistics and figure out their chances from numbers alone. So I'm really looking for some solid advice/wisdom as to how much my professional background might pull in being admitted to the schools listed above.

Peace and Love.

jack24

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Re: Fourth Year Teacher, 155 LSAT, 3.25 GPA. Advice Please!!!
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2012, 10:56:36 AM »
My impression from schools other than the two you mention is that factors other than LSAT and GPA are only considered in the second round of review.   The school I graduated from, for instance, would do an index that factored only LSAT and GPA (weights: 65% LSAT 35% GPA).  They would automatically drop whoever was below a certain index (except for some URM) and automatically accept those above a certain index.  Then they would take the middle chunk and look for notable things like URM, an engineering degree, NCAA athletics, particular types of hardship. 

I had a strong professional background.  The admissions people told me they didn't even consider that stuff.

I'm not saying it's the same everywhere, but this type of analysis is common.   Lsac gives you close to a 0% chance at UC Davis, so I would guess that you wont' make the first cut and they will never consider your personal statement or resume.

https://officialguide.lsac.org/release/OfficialGuide_Default.aspx

Maintain FL 350

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Re: Fourth Year Teacher, 155 LSAT, 3.25 GPA. Advice Please!!!
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2012, 11:38:16 AM »
There have been some recent threads on this issue that discuss "soft factors" vs. GPA/LSAT at length, try to check them out.

Here's the bottom line, however: admissions at all law schools (even Berkeley) is primarily numbers driven. Do soft factors matter? Yes, but they matter most when you are being compared to other applicants with similar academic qualifications. For example, if you apply to a school whose average GPA/LSAT profile is 3.25/155 (your numbers), your soft factors will set you apart from the sea of 22 year olds with no experience. It may even get you a scholarship. At a school with average numbers slightly higher than yours, say 3.4/158, your soft factors might help too.

The problem with places like Berkeley, and to a lesser extent Davis and Hastings, is that they have so many applicants with high GPAs, high LSATs, and very impressive soft factors. I'm not trying to sound discouraging, (seriously, I'm not) but at all three of those schools you won't be the only teacher applying. You'll be one many applicants with impressive public service experience, and many of the other applicants will have 3.5+ GPAs and 165+ LSATs. Regardless of what any rep from the admissions office tells you, all law schools weed people out by GPA/LSAT. It is a necessity in order to reduce the applicant pool to a manageable size.

You can see this reflected in LSAC's admissions grids. Below a certain GPA/LSAT, most schools will have zero (or close to zero) admits. That's just the way it is.
Your chances are a little better at Loyola, SCU, USD, and Hawaii, and much better at McGeorge. I would suggest applying to part-time evening programs, too. They're usually a little easier to get into, and you might be able to transfer to full time after a year. Check into each school, however, because they may not let you transfer.

Sorry if I sound discouraging, I'm just trying to be honest. I had an average GPA, great LSAT score, several years of non-profit/public service experience, and a host of other great soft factors when I applied to law school. And you know what? My offers of admission/letters of denial were completely 100% predictable based on GPA/LSAT. That has been the case for almost everyone I know, which is why I roll my eyes when schools say "We take the whole person into account." Hope that helps, and good luck with everything!

dsnider

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Re: Fourth Year Teacher, 155 LSAT, 3.25 GPA. Advice Please!!!
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2012, 01:51:26 PM »
Thanks for the good advice... I wasn't aware of the filtering system before the soft factors are considered, despite the dean at Berkeley saying he "reads the personal statement before looking at any other application factor..." when considering candidates.

I was scoring 157s - 159s on my timed practice exams, but I think anxiety sometimes gets the best of me and probably hurt my score during the actual exam. A 160 would put me closer to the middle of the pack with Loyola, USD, SCU, and Hawaii. Maybe a retake for a 160 would be a good call for these schools bc they'll take a serious look at the soft factors.

I cringe when I think about retaking though; I busted it when I prepped so it's not like I went in there and took it cold. My cerebral max is probably a 161-162.  That test is abominable and deserves to be thrown into the lake of eternal fires.

Maintain FL 350

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Re: Fourth Year Teacher, 155 LSAT, 3.25 GPA. Advice Please!!!
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2012, 02:21:54 PM »
BTW, I don't claim to know what exact, specific process Berkeley or any other school utilizes. The dean at Berkeley may very well read each essay before looking at grades and LSAT. My only point is this: regardless of whether or not they read the essay first, if an applicant's numbers are significantly below the school's average, the chances for admission are very low. Admissions reps love to talk about how they take a holistic approach and consider many factors, blah, blah, blah.

The numbers that the schools themselves report to LSAC, however, seem to contradict their claims. For example: according to Davis's own numbers, an applicant with a 3.25-3.49 GPA and a 155-159 LSAT has a slightly better than 1% chance of admission (3/212). Davis claims that admission "is by no means mechanical . . . with consideration given to many factors." Alright, fine, but it would seem that below a certain threshold an applicant's chances are nearly zero regardless of such consideration. I'm not picking on Davis, this is standard operating procedure for most law schools.

dsnider

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Re: Fourth Year Teacher, 155 LSAT, 3.25 GPA. Advice Please!!!
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2012, 02:42:06 PM »
Thanks Roald. I think you're probably right. What would your advice be on possibly retaking the LSAT to shoot for a 160 or to just keep my scores as is... all for the sole purpose of having a decent chance into the 50th - 100ish schools, Loyola, USD, SCU, Hawaii, McGeorge (think Hawaii and McGeorge are good possibilities as is... so really the first three).

If perhaps my scores as of now would pass the litmus test for my soft factors to be considered, then I'd probably skip the second LSAT and see what happens. I'd have a decent chance. But, If these first three schools would just toss my app out as Davis probably would, then I'd definitely want to retake. Essentially, could I get past the first round with the Loyola, USD, and SCU? Ultimately, my goal when I started this deal was to attend a top 100 school in California.

Speaking of which... what do you guys know of McGeorge and Hawaii. They are at the top of the tier three. I'm from Texas and the McGeorge of Texas would probably be Texas Tech, which is considered a "good" school here in Texas. Bar passage rate beats UT Law grads, I've heard they teach more to pass the bar where UT focuses on more of a  philosophic approach. Tech is at the top of the list in the "value" school category. Decent academics, low cost, good shot to pass bar, and to have employment in the region Panhandle and North Texas regions.

What's the word on McGeorge and Hawaii who are essentially tied with Tech in rankings.

Appreciate the feedback everyone.

jack24

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Re: Fourth Year Teacher, 155 LSAT, 3.25 GPA. Advice Please!!!
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2012, 04:02:10 PM »
I have several friends who attended McGeorge and they really loved it.  One even transferred to a higher ranked school after his first year and he felt like McGeorge was superior.

My impression based on hundreds of applications and tens of interviews (I went to a T2) is that employers care less about ranking difference the further out you go.    They may see the difference between 25 and 65 to be huge but I just don't think they would consider the difference between 65 and t3 to be huge.   Local reputation, your rank in the school, and your job experience during law school will be crucial.

All that said, there are always exceptions.  I was in an area with a good T2 (60-80) and a good T3 school nearby.  Nobody seemed to think the T2 offered a better education, but the T2 also had a great university and fantastic sports program.  It's silly, but I think that's why employers strongly favored the T2 school in head-to-head comparisons.   

I just jumped on kmtg.com and looked at their sacramento office.  Their attorney's graduated from:  (14/41  from McGeorge)

UC Davis
UC Davis
UC Davis
UC Davis
McGeorge
Golden Gate
Stanford
Cal Western
Pepperdine
UC Davis
UC Davis
McGeorge
Golden Gate
McGeorge
St. Mary's
Mcgeorge
Hastings
McGeorge
McGeorge
McGeorge
McGeorge
Berkeley
Texas
Hastings
Hastings
Davis
Davis
Hastings
McGeorge
Santa Clara
Berkeley
McGeorge
Davis
McGeorge
Santa Clara
McGeorge
Berkeley
Berkeley
MCgeorge
Mcgeorge
Hastings
McGeorge

dsnider

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Re: Fourth Year Teacher, 155 LSAT, 3.25 GPA. Advice Please!!!
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2012, 04:38:17 PM »
Also... I'm sure you Jack and the other bloggers all live in Cali.??. But.... what is your impression on the job market for students graduating from schools like SD, SC, McGeorge (t2, t3). I'm looking at more govt. type work and not big law.

All these schools boast job placements in the 90%s after nine months but I don't trust these numbers. Half of them could be working at Starbucks. I live in Texas but have always wanted to practice law and live in California... so why not do both at the same time, right?

It's tough to get an impression of the state without being there.... I know in Texas, I could go to Tech and it probably wouldn't be to tough to get an ADA job in the panhandle etc...

What's your impression?

legend

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Re: Fourth Year Teacher, 155 LSAT, 3.25 GPA. Advice Please!!!
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2012, 05:04:49 PM »
There is some great advice above, but remember everything you read on this board or others comes from anonymous internet posters mine included so take whatever you read with a grain of salt. I enjoy posting to make people think and I have gone through law school, but remember nobody posting knows you, your situation, or what is best for you.

With that said I will offer some anonymous internet poster advice.

ADMISSION AT THESE SCHOOLS:
Check out lawschoolnumbers.com it gives you a more detailed description than LSAC although. As to the schools you listed I would say there is almost no chance of admission. You have listed some very hard schools to get into and the reality is at every ABA school from Harvard down to Cooley law students are smart, hard-working, and motivated. To get into any ABA school you need to finish in the top 50% of LSAT takers and that consists of people that earned a B.A. and got a 3.0 or higher generally. Your score puts in the top 60-65% of a pretty elite group, but there are people that simply did better than you.

LSAT RETAKE QUESTION:
I would not hold off your application to retake. This is for two reasons (1) odds are you will not improve. The LSAT is the first of many times on the law school route where you do not perform as well as you expect. If you end up enrolling in any law school  on the first day of class 100% of students think they will be in the top 10% and the LSAT was a fluke.  Each person will they think they have an edge over everyone else because they having worked in a law-firm, were a cop, a pro-athlete, went to Harvard for undergrad, etc whatever it is 100% of the students will think they have some edge that make them special and they will be in the top of the class. You don't need an A in first grade math to see what happens when 100% of people think they will be in the top 10%. This is why so many student are upset about their first year grades. So your performance on the LSAT is pretty good and probably won't improve and being somewhat disappointed is something all law students need to get used to.

With that said if you wait another year to retake the LSAT life will probably get in the way something at work will come up, you will get married, have a kid, or simply think you will get a 170 on the LSAT the third time you take it. Then you may never end up going.

-Recommendation-
So I would advise you to do this if you have just taken the July LSAT send out your apps as planned and then sign up for the October and February LSAT. If you end up scoring a 170 then alter your plan and I believe most schools no longer average your score so there is no penalty and your in an everything to gain nothing to lose scenario. Check with each school though. If you end up getting a 155, 157, etc then your applications are out and you can enroll and you have lost nothing.

LAW SCHOOL GENERAL ADVICE:
When choosing a law school many OL's take the rankings, opinion magazines, and anonymous internet poster advice far to seriously. In my personal opinion location, cost, personal feelings about the school, and any specialty program if you know what you want should take precedent over what a for-profit, unregulated magazine, offering an opinion thinks or what some random person on the internet tells you what is best for you. 

LOCATION IMPORTANCE TEXAS QUESTION?
I noticed you are from Texas and attended Texas Tech and are now considering California schools. Out of curiosity what is bringing this change. No matter what the National Jurist, Above the Law, U.S. News, etc thinks location is going to play a bigger role than anything in your legal education.  Law school does not exist in a vaccuum and if you go to law school in San Francisco it is going to be a lot different than Texas.  L.A. is massive sprawling city and you will need a car to do anything. These all considerations to take into account. So many OL's just move across country based on what a magazine says is  think everything will work out, but you will have time to be a human being in law school.

Furthermore, over 3 years your roots will get dug in. You will get an apartment, get a relationship if you don't have one already, make friends, and most law graduates never end up leaving the city they went to school in. 3 years is a long time and law school years particularly 1L could be counted in dog years it is a long haul. If California is where you want to end up then go to school there, but don't expect it to be easy to just up and move across the country somewhere else.

 On top of that if all your family, friends, and so forth are in Texas you are going to miss them. I don't know if that is the case, but as I stated above you will have time to be a human being while in law school. If you go to a new city, you don't know anyone, your struggling to find an apartment in an unfamiliar environment, you don't know your way around, all while trying to grasp the concepts of Covenants, the Rule Against Perpetutities, and so forth it is going to be very hard on you. 

 I could belabor this point even more than I have, but location is important.
 
PERSONAL FEELINGS ABOUT SCHOOL
I did a lot of mock trial competitions in law school and visited different schools. Furthermore, I visited a lot of schools as a OL. Each school has a culture or feel to it and there were some places I did not like and others I loved. However, that is my own personal feeling and what I liked you may have hated and vice versa. Neither I, U.S News, the National Jurist, and so forth could possibly know what YOU like. So I strongly encourage you to visit the schools, talk to students, talk to professors, admins, and see if YOU like it. This is a life altering decision so make sure you like the school you will be attending.

COST:
Despite location or personal feelings costs is important money is money no matter what. If you graduate 150k in debt accruing 8.5 interest it is something to think about. With your numbers you may be able to get scholarships at some schools and getting a debt ABA degree is something  to consider.

However, if you do get a scholarship be wary of the conditions on them this NY times article does a good job of explaining why. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/business/law-school-grants.html?pagewanted=all . Classic example of law students not understanding that not everyone can be in the top of the class. If you get scholarships  ask questions do not assume everything will just work out. All law schools are businesses first and foremost.

REALITY OF LEGAL EDUCATION:
Despite what these anonymous internet posters and opinion magazines say law school education is the essentially the same no matter where you go. First year will consist of Torts, Civ Pro, Property, Contracts, LRW, Crim Law, Con Law, and Crim Pro. Or some slight variation on that and in these courses you will read Famous cases. Pennoyer in Civ Pro, Palsgrass in Torts, Hadley v. Baxendale in Contracts, the mud-flap case in Con-Law and this is the case at almost every school I have encountered.

SPECIALTY PROGRAMS:

This does vary from school to school and if you know exactly what you want to do then consider it. If you want to do entertainment law then you should first consider location. Where does entertainment law happen? L.A or New York and therefore schools in L.A. or New York often offer courses in entertainment law and have adjuncts who can teach, because entertainment lawyers live in L.A. or New York.

If you want to do IP law then go to school in the Bay Area that is where the IP companies are and the adjunct professors teach. If you want to do Martime law do not go to Nebraska it's landlocked and therefore will not likely have courses in martime law. Point being again do not leave your common sense at the door when making your law school decision.

If like most law students and lawyers you don't know what you want don't worry about it. Only consider that if you do.

RANKINGS:
Use rankings in your decision, but do not make them a primary consideration.  Remember U.S. News is a magazine nothing more and they rank more than law schools. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/real-estate/articles/2009/06/08/best-places-to-live-2009 . U.S. News claims Albuquerque New Mexico is the best place to live should you move there? I will admit I am little more interested in the town than I was, but I am not loading up a U-Haul for New Mexico anytime soon. The same logic should apply to your law school decision sure look at the magazine and consider it, but don't make a LIFE-ALTERING-DECISION on a for-profit, unregulated, magazine opinion.

CONCLUSION:
Again remember no anonymous internet poster myself included can possibly know what is best for YOU. Neither can U.S. News, the National Jurist, Above-the Law, or any other source. The school you choose will impact a minimum of three years of YOUR life, 100,000 or more of YOUR money, and YOUR legal career. Use your personal experience, listen to people that know YOU, and here is a little humor as to why you should not take anonymous opinions to seriously. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFBDn5PiL00

Also remember I could be 100% wrong. I am nothing more than anonymous internet poster myself so take everything I have said with a grain of salt.

Maintain FL 350

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Re: Fourth Year Teacher, 155 LSAT, 3.25 GPA. Advice Please!!!
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2012, 01:24:43 AM »
Also... I'm sure you Jack and the other bloggers all live in Cali.??. But.... what is your impression on the job market for students graduating from schools like SD, SC, McGeorge (t2, t3). I'm looking at more govt. type work and not big law.

All these schools boast job placements in the 90%s after nine months but I don't trust these numbers. Half of them could be working at Starbucks. I live in Texas but have always wanted to practice law and live in California... so why not do both at the same time, right?

It's tough to get an impression of the state without being there.... I know in Texas, I could go to Tech and it probably wouldn't be to tough to get an ADA job in the panhandle etc...

What's your impression?


I'm a recent grad from a California ABA school, and the job market is very, very tight. Obviously, graduates from top ranked schools like Stanford and UCLA have a reputational  advantage that graduates from lower ranked schools don't. That having been said, I know plenty of people who graduated from places like Loyola, USD, and even newly accredited schools like La Verne who got good jobs straight out of law school.

There are a couple of things to realize. First, if you go to a decent local school like the ones I just mentioned you probably won't be competing with Stanford and Berkeley grads anyway. They're not applying for the same jobs that you are. Trust me, your  local public defender's office is NOT flooded with applicants from Stanford and Columbia. It is, however, probably flooded with applicants from some of the schools you're talking about. The same goes for small family law firms, real estate firms, etc. If you want to do biglaw you need an elite degree or you need to be very high-ranked at a lower tier school. For government and small firm work you need solid, meaningful experience.
I cannot emphasize this point enough. The people I know who had job offers at graduation began their job search on day one of the first semester. They interned as much as possible, did good work, acted smart and professional, and made contacts. These people were not always the highest ranked students, but they were very good at marketing themselves. You will be amazed at how many of your classmates either wait until the end of law school to start looking for an internship, or who obtain one  but don't take it very seriously. In this market, that just won't cut it. It is imperitive that you get some experience.

I had the opportunity to intern at a great, very supportive government office. They allowed me to take on as much work as I could handle, and I immediately recognized how lucky I was. While most of my friends were writing research briefs, I was writing motions for summary judgement and making appearances in court. I reapplied for the same internship the next year, got it, and continued to learn. By the end, I had been given a case which I worked up and argued in court. (CA allows law students to get certified. You can make appearances and argue misdemeanor and some small civil cases). As graduation neared the experience and recommendations I had acquired paid off with a job offer.

I'm not telling you this to brag about myself, I'm just trying to point out that although the market sucks, you'll be a much better position to succeed if you follow some basic steps: get experience, make contacts, and be friendly and competent. Seriously, you'd be amazed at how far the friendly and competent part will get you.