Law School Discussion

Undergrad institution

Undergrad institution
« on: October 18, 2013, 08:12:28 PM »
I am currently active duty army and pursuing my BA at Brandman university I am considering switching to cal state fullerton to finish my undergrad degree, because of the name. My question is does the institution matter? Both of these schools are accredited and both have online and in class instruction. Also I plan on applying to UC DAVIS School of Law I am a California native and that is my personal top choice.

Re: Undergrad institution
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2013, 11:36:47 AM »
Not really law schools are driven by numbers and if you have a 3.8 from Brandham it will look better than a 3.4 from Cal State Fullerton. Neither school is an elite institution and the truth is the Davis Admissions Committee won't care one way or the other about the school.

Don't overthink the admissions process focus on getting the best possible GPA and then getting a solid LSAT score. Davis is a solid school, but also don't forget McGeorge if you want to be in Northern California. Good luck on your pursuit of a legal education and thanks for your service.

Feel free to post other law school related questions on this site there are some great posters.

Re: Undergrad institution
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2013, 01:02:00 PM »
Citylaw's advice is essentially correct. The reputation of your undergraduate college usually won't make a difference unless you happen to graduate from an elite institution like Harvard. In that case, it is a soft factor and at least some preference will given based on pedigree. This is especially true at prestigious law schools, who like to admit students from peer institutions.

For example, I have a good friend who graduated from Yale undergrad and it definitely helped him get into a top ten law school. However, the vast overwhelming majority of law school applicants do not graduate from Harvard or Yale. They graduate from places like CSUF. In that case, your admission to law school will be based almost entirely on GPA and LSAT score. 

As far as online schools, however, I wonder of there is price to be paid in terms of admissions? I don't really know if there is, I'm just thinking out loud here. Generally, online education is considered somewhat inferior in quality and standards.

I agree with Citylaw's statement that an admissions committee would prefer a 3.8 from an online school vs. a 3.4 from a traditional college, but when you're talking about Tier 1 schools they won't really be forced to make such a choice. I think a more realistic scenario might be that both applicants have a very similar GPA and LSAT, but one went to an online school and the other went to UCLA, Berkeley, or a state university.   

Highly respected Tier 1 schools receive many more applicants than they have spaces open, and can afford to be very selective. If a school has enough applicants with high GPA/LSAT profiles from traditional universities to fill their class, I'm not sure if there is an incentive to accept the student with the online degree. I think it's possible that an online graduate could be at a disadvantage when they are competing against similarly qualified traditional applicants.

As Citylaw said, there are also other schools to consider besides UCD. Don't get too attached to the idea of one particular school, because the simple fact is that until you have a real live LSAT score you have no idea where you're going. The LSAT is hugely important.

If you do stay with the online school, I think your best bet is to hit the LSAT out of the park.

Re: Undergrad institution
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2013, 02:09:51 PM »
Thanks for the replies, I really appreciate it and they are very helpful. Another question, would veteran status be a big help in getting admitted? I have a 3.8 GPA and I am studying for the LSAT. I  haven't taken it yet, just taking test samples every now and then to familiarize my self. I am enlisted and not an officer, but I have been deployed to Afghanistan for a year. Also when is it recommended that I should take the LSAT and how long do results last?

Re: Undergrad institution
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2013, 09:46:13 AM »
I believe LSAT scores last three years, but different schools may have different policies. It sounds like you want to be in the Sacramento area so I would contact McGeorge and Davis to learn their specific LSAT policy.

As for your service in Afganistan I believe that is something worth mentioning. Generally soft factors matter very little, but military service and literally being in a war zone is an interesting fact. The majority of 0L's will write about their internship at a law firm or how hard introduction to Chemistry was, which doesn't impress egghead admissions individuals nor is that exciting. I would really highlight your experience in your personal statement as I think you have one of the rare instances of an impressive soft factor.

As for when you should take the LSAT you should take it when your ready. It is not going anywhere, but it is a difficult exam and as Maintain said you really can't know your options until you have a score. I would study for LSAT as much as you can and when you feel ready sign up.

Good luck.

Re: Undergrad institution
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2013, 10:56:54 AM »
Another question, would veteran status be a big help in getting admitted?

Veteran status will definitely help, but your grades and LSAT will still need to be within the acceptable range for any given school. Soft factors like veteran status compliment your numeric qualifications, but don't replace your numbers. If two applicants have similar numbers the one with veteran status might get the nod, but significantly higher numbers seem to almost always win out.

Again, really focus on getting the highest LSAT score possible. Lots of people have high GPAs and many of those people will apply to law school. Very few people, however, will have high LSAT scores. I believe only about 1000 people will score above 170. A high LSAT score is worth its weight in gold.