Law School Discussion

How many options does a 3.8 open vs a 3.6?

How many options does a 3.8 open vs a 3.6?
« on: June 14, 2013, 03:21:04 PM »
Instead of explaining my entire situation, I'll just say that my options are either starting USanDiego or Pepperdine this fall, OR waiting for my grades from this (my senior year, UC Davis) abroad to be recorded in September, then reapplying early for 2014/15. Here's the question everything boils down to:

From a law school admissions perspective, how big of a difference is a 3.6 versus a 3.8 ULSAC GPA? (I'm a transfer, that's why the GPA jumps so dramatically in 1 year.) Along with the 3.8 would be two additional deans' list notations (on top of 1) and a cum laude graduation (possibly magna), AND a senior year entirely comprised of 3 A-'s, 6 A+'s, and an A.

I just don't know if I should be satisfied with the University of Sand Diego (and hopefully Pepperdine) letting me in with a last minute application and a 158/3.6 or if a 3.8 and its bells and whistles (and an early application) can do me better.

Re: How many options does a 3.8 open vs a 3.6?
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2013, 04:14:04 PM »
I guess the question is, what do you hope to accomplish by waiting?

I doubt if the increase in GPA will vault you into a significantly higher tier of schools. Your LSAT will presumably remain 158, unless you plan on retaking, and that probably has a bigger impact on your overall chances than your GPA.

I have heard that some schools (Boalt in particular) value GPA over LSAT. Is there a particular school you're hoping to get into? USD and Pepperdine both have decent local reputations, and with a 158 Boalt/UCLA/USC etc. are probably not in the cards.

Re: How many options does a 3.8 open vs a 3.6?
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2013, 01:31:13 AM »
Thanks for your response Maintain FL 350!

Obviously if I went from no chance at UCLA/USC/Boalt to a "If I'm lucky," that would be nice. But I'm just thinking about any of the UC's and Loyola (I didn't apply to any of the aforementioned schools bc I didn't think I had a chance with my LSAT and only a 3.6 for 1 year of University coursework).

Side question: If I retook and got a 160, do you think it's worth applying to better schools?

Re: How many options does a 3.8 open vs a 3.6?
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2013, 01:59:00 PM »
Take a look at the admissions profiles on LSAC. You can find your numeric range and see how many applied to each school and how many were accepted with similar numbers. It will give you a very good idea as to your chances at a particular school.

Side question: If I retook and got a 160, do you think it's worth applying to better schools?

Well, obviously higher numbers equal broader opportunities. A score of 160 would probably give you a somewhat better shot at Loyola, but if you look at the admissions data on LSAC you'll see that the UCs would still be a longshot. It's all pure speculation at this point, however. You could just as easily retake the LSAT and get a 155.

Also, don't get too caught up in the idea of "better" schools. The minute, subtle differences in rankings that law students tend to obsess over don't play as big a role in the real world. My experience has been that most employers tend to view law schools in much broader terms. They don't really care that Loyola is ranked a few places above Pepperdine or vice versa, they view both schools as basically equal. An employer that is willing to hire from Pepperdine is probably willing to hire to hire from Loyola, too. As far as biglaw, they'd prefer Harvard and Yale anyway.

The fact is, once you get away from the elite pedigrees most law schools won't either help you or hurt you. Your ability to make positive connections and to gain relevant experience will play a larger role than the fact that you went to the #65 ranked law school, whereas your competition went to the #72 ranked school. 

If you're looking at non-elite schools I would focus more on location and $$$. For example, you mentioned USD as an option, a school with a good local reputation and a great choice if you want to live and work in San Diego. If you want to live in LA, however, I think you'd be much better off going to someplace like Pepperdine. In fact, I think you'd be better off going to Southwestern even though it's lower ranked. Why? Because although USD is a good school it's not elite, and you won't be able to rely on your pedigree to open doors. You'd have to hustle and make connections in LA, try to land an internship or summer associate position, and you'd have to do that from 100 miles away. If you simply show up after law school without local connections or experience, finding a job can be very difficult.

Just use your common sense and don't let some ridiculous rankings scheme determine one of the most important decisions in your life.

Re: How many options does a 3.8 open vs a 3.6?
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2013, 08:24:08 PM »
Maintain's advice is spot on and I am just going to add a bit for to it.

First and foremost congrats on getting into an ABA law school. Having gone through law school myself I can't tell you how many people I know that continually put off the LSAT or are never satisfied enough with their score. Furthermore, graduating college and scoring well enough on the LSAT to get into an ABA law school is an accomplishment I know on a lot of these boards you read how awful everything is, but people that sit around attacking people on the internet are typically not who you want to listen to.

A 3.8 or 3.6 with a 158 will not change your options much at all. However, what do you really want to happen if your goal is Harvard, Yale, UCLA, USC and you won't take anything less then retake the LSAT and with a 3.8 you might have a chance. However, there is a 95% chance you won't score in the top 95% of LSAT takers so those schools are probably out of reach.

As Maintain says and I can tell you from being a lawyer nobody even knows let alone cares about any ranking difference between Loyola, Pepperdine, Southwestern, etc none of those schools have employers begging to hire grads through OCI instead you are going to have to make your own luck, but it can certainly be done.

--Main Consideration--
I think if your ready to go to law school then you should go putting law school of for a year usually results in people never attending. If you have some plan or some solid reason for putting law school off then that is understandable, but at this time next year you will probably be in the same spot of choosing between USD, Loyola, Pepperdine, etc and you you will graduate in 2017 instead of 2016 and be one year behind in your career. Assuming you even end up going to law school.

On top of that life has a way of throwing things in the way and a year is a long time to wait. You may get into a relationship, get a new job, get a promotion at your current job, have a family emergency, or simply think about waiting for the same reasons next year and you may never end up going.

I think if you wait for everything to be perfect you will never get anything done and you have put in a lot of work to get a law school admission ticket. If you have visited the schools and have a good feeling about them go for it, but don't put your life on hold in hopes of getting into the 48th instead of the 64th school according to  on  U.S. News a for profit and unregulated magazine.

If you cannot see yourself attending Loyola, USD, Pepperdine, and would be miserable there then don't go to law school just for the sake of going, but from your post it sounds like these schools sound like good options, but you might get something better next cycle. However, with a much higher LSAT you will have these same options next year and again there is 95% chance you won't score in the top 95% on the LSAT.

Good luck whatever you decide