Law School Discussion

Prestige of UG

Prestige of UG
« on: March 16, 2013, 06:43:55 AM »
Hello guys!
I'm wondering how top law schools (Eg T14) look at undergraduate institutions.
Do they look at its prestige? I mean I attend a for-profit regionally accredited UG (campus and online), and many times I heard that it is difficult to get accepted by top law schools from such as UG because it is not seen to be as rigorous as a non-profit UG. Is this true? Can a high LSAT compensate for this , or should I switch to a non-profit UG?

Thanks! :)

Re: Prestige of UG
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2013, 09:20:10 AM »
If you look at the matriculation profiles of elite schools (not just the so-called T14, but more like the top 5-10) there does seem to be a preference for peer institutions. At other schools, I think it matters a lot less. Law school admission is primarily a numbers game, and your GPA/LSAT will dominate the process regardless of where you went to college.

However, when you're talking about elite schools, they have so many well qualified applicants that they can afford to take undergrad prestige into account. If you look at the entering students' profiles of elite schools, you'll see that a large percentage of students come from other Ivy League universities, elite liberal arts colleges, and highly regarded public universities (Berkeley, Michigan, etc). That said, people absolutely do get admitted from less prestigious institutions, but the numbers are smaller. The thing to understand is that admission to these schools is highly competitive, and lots of factors that wouldn't matter too much at other schools can matter within this context. 

At the vast majority of law schools the prestige of your undergrad degree will not matter much at all. You won't get dinged for attending a non-prestigious school. I know people who went to UCLA and Berkeley and who graduated from commuter state schools. However, even at lower ranked schools, I think a degree from a well known school can help. I attended a highly regarded university for undergrad, and one of the scholarship offers I received specifically mentioned the reputation of my undergrad institution. I got the impression that it was a soft factor, probably on par with extracurricular experience. Not a big deal, but a boost.

Re: Prestige of UG
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2013, 09:49:53 PM »
It's largely irrelevant where you went to undergrad. What matters is your GPA and the percentile your GPA represents. After that, maybe the name of your school, if well-known, might be considered, but in a very minimal way.

Truth is that the advantage of going to certain elite school is their high GPA curves, but that could be the same at Middle State U, it just depends. Some state schools have high medians, some are low, regardless of US News ranking.

What above poster said about many students at elite law schools attending elite universities is true, but I offer a different explanation: higher quality students at elite universities are likely to earn higher LSATs and other factors that make them more attractive to elite law schools. The average LSAT from elite school undergrads is significantly higher than most.

Re: Prestige of UG
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2013, 03:53:37 PM »
I'm wondering how top law schools (Eg T14) look at undergraduate institutions.
Do they look at its prestige? I mean I attend a for-profit regionally accredited UG (campus and online), and many times I heard that it is difficult to get accepted by top law schools from such as UG because it is not seen to be as rigorous as a non-profit UG. Is this true? Can a high LSAT compensate for this , or should I switch to a non-profit UG?

Aloha, Marissa -

As is often the case, the answer is a bit of "All of the Above." 

Yes, law admissions committees DO look at one's alma mater where it matters most . . . when the candidate is on the border.  This is usually true at a reach school, or at any top law school.  In such a case, this does come into play.

Moreover, for those still in their undergraduate years, not only do committees look at the school, they look at the courses, grades for each course, and sometimes (oftentimes, at a top school) they will know, personally or by reputation, the writer of the letter of recommendation AND the professors of senior-level courses.  It gets that granular where it counts the most.  So, if your years are filled with underwater basket-weaving, even if you do have a high GPA that will count against you at a reach school.  And, if your grades topped out when you hit your senior-level courses, or when you took 18 credits, or when you hit a rough patch, that will also count against you.  Deans and professors, who are usually part of this process (especially with the hard calls), are very much aware of these academic aspects. 

This will not be true for a graduate of a for-profit college, as there IS the presumption you state.  But it is a rebuttable presumption.  So a solid GPA and top LSAT, plus other softs, will be cruicial for a reach application.  Do not dismiss the value of these soft factors for a top law school:  this applies to nearly ALL candidates, as nearly all candiates have tippy-top scores.  Harvard and Yale and Stanford could, famously, accept only 4.0 students.  They don't, which is why these other factors are important, and also why the conventional wisdom among future law students is so incomplete or downright misleading.

There's a good book that goes into some depth in this.  It's Law School Undercover, by Professor "X."  (Not I.)  Well worth reading for ALL applicants.  If you're still in undergraduate school, take an afternoon of your Spring Break to read this.  Though less fun than your other activities, it could be the best (i.e., most useful) four hours you spend in college.



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Re: Prestige of UG
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2013, 11:17:44 AM »
I think depends on the specific law school as Maintain States Harvard or a more elite school has so many applications from top candidates that they will do an in-depth look at courses, school, GPA etc.

However, a schools like Marquette, University of San Francisco, New York Law School, Univeristy of Oregon on and on will simply look at GPA/LSAT and care very little about your undergraduate school.

Thane's points are true and he has some great books, but I think part of the problem with many of the law school books etc is that they are written by individuals like Thane who attended T14 schools and their advice and experiences describe what happens at T14 schools, but they are in the small minority of what law school is about.

Bottom line if your trying to get into Harvard, Yale, etc and went to an online school it will count against you.

If you want to attend a regional ABA law school it won't matter.

Re: Prestige of UG
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2013, 08:45:44 PM »
It is a numbers game - just like a lottery. Some schools will not read your application.  There are two people who look at your file initially.  One is the person who screens the LSAC reports which are sent in.  The other person has a "profile" sheet corresponding available seats to candidates the school "wants".  They know how many people will likely apply and how many they want. Out of the number they want (say, 240), they know that a percentage will not accept the admission and matriculate.  Every week, they pre-screen and pre-select the seats they have to fill (special needs, military, foreign students, minorities, disabled, public interest scholarships, etc.) from the "profile list".  They always leave a few seats empty until the very end (well past the deadline) in case some genious who is too dumb to apply to a better school sends in an app with glowing recommendations and 179 LSAT!; or, some legacy candidate (or someone who knows someone) just can't seem to get in their first choice of school.

The best index* scores (some function of the SAT and GPA "majic" formula) are matched against this list.

Should you get lucky and your LSAC file comes in when there is a vacancy on the list, then you are chosen.  It is only then that your application and supporting documents will be put aside to review later.  That is why it is a numbers game with some degree of luck involved. If by chance you are denied, then you are DENIED.  The file goes away.  This explains why some people who wait until the last minute with mediocre grades, low LSATS, and criminal records, get reviewed - some even GET IN!..while other seemingly more astute do not. 

* Some schools publish their index, some do not, adding more mystique to this unscientific approach.

It is therefore imperative that you consistently apply to as many schools which may match your "numbers" as possible.  If your file gets read, then you stand a better chance of getting in.  Two people are not going to read 3,000 applications!  When those two people have seen 300, then the committee picks from those. Then to really make it interesting, some schools have "rolling" admission.  ROFL!  WTF? -the unmitigated audacity to let you know in advance you are getting it!

That is the grand science, in a nutshell, of modern law school admittance.  Best of luck, on your TIMING:)

As far as prestige goes, get prestige to pay the tuition.  It is a farce. T14, T34, whats next? T155?  Get a degree where you can get in #1
#2- Get it paid for
#3 - Pass the Bar - all that learnin' don't do no good without a license! Unless you want to deny SSI applicants all day for a living
#4-Refer to #3
#5-Refer to #4

As far as LSAT and GPA scores go, get as high as you can get and live with it.  Do not be ashamed to apply to a "top" school with mediocre credentials.  Explain why you did so in your personal statement. Someone may actually read it:)

The rest is all a bunch of hooey.