Deciding Where to Go > Where should I go next fall?

Good Schools on the East Coast within my numbers?

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bertinellis:
Hello everyone! I'm currently a senior Sociology major, graduating this Spring with plans on attending law school on the East Coast cause I'm very attached to it.
I'm almost 100% positive that I'll graduating with a 3.7 but I already sent in my transcript to LSAC that demonstrates I have a 3.5 GPA. Had a rocky start as a freshman Biochem student and it took me 2 years to realize that my true calling was sociology so my grades were straight As from the end of my sophomore year.
I did poorly on the June LSAT, only scoring 151 but that's because I didn't study + English being my second language.
My scores went up 5 points in October (156) though that's disappointing as well because I scored in mid 160s during PTs and once again, I miscalculated the amount of time I'd have to prep for the October test.

My top choices are University of Florida, Florida State, and University of Maryland.
While I know that they're somewhat out of my league numbers wise, I'm hoping my resume + unique background might have them reconsider. I have very strong personal/diversity statements. I'm URM even among URMs if that makes sense...Moved to a rural part of West Virginia from Central Asia only 7.5 years ago and spoke no English. My small high school didn't even have an ESL program so I had to teach myself English.
So my question is - if those three options fall through, what are my other choices around the East Coast? The milder the winters, the better.
I'm struggling because I don't want to underestimate or overestimate myself. I don't want to apply to lower-ranked schools when there might be a possibility of some Top40 or Top50 school accepting me. I don't want to settle but at the same time I don't want to apply to schools where my chances are slim to none and shoot myself in the leg with lack of choice.

All of your opinions will be greatly appreciated!
Cheers

Miami88:
A few things:

1) Why are you so concerned with ranking? Really, until you get to the very top schools - top 20 or so - there really is not that much of a difference between tiers. Once you pass the bar, you are in the same boat as everyone else. Don't get me wrong, ranking is still a nice tool to gauge general things, but should not completely guide your decisions.

2) It sounds like you have an interesting background. Just make sure you put in the time/effort into your essays in order to present that background in the most effective way possible. This is especially true since, given the schools you are interested in, you are not necessary the most competitive candidate numbers wise. In other words, the important aspect to soft factors is not WHAT they are, but HOW you portray them.

3) I'd look at FIU. They are not ranked as high as you want, however, have a strong program that is skyrocketing. Their employment and bar passage rates are both extremely attractive. Plus, tuition is super cheap and its in sunny miami. Honestly, I'd prefer FIU over UM (another school you could check out).

Good luck!

bertinellis:
I have no idea why I'm concerned with ranking...I think it's mostly because that's all I ever hear about from other 0Ls even though I know I'm bound to receive the same education in almost every accredited law school. Maybe it's because I think I'll have a better chance at landing a decent job when I graduate if I'm coming from a somewhat reputable school. Is this even true or I'm misinformed?

But thank you so much for all of your input, it's greatly appreciated.

Miami88:
No problem for the info. Thats what boards like these are for!

So, instead of taking an anonymous internet poster's word, check out all the employment statistics for the schools you are interested in (as well as some that you may be skeptical about). Be sure to take note of the % of students that have submitted info, high/low range, bar passage rate, regional placement, etc. Also take a look at how much debt you will have to take on and compare it with what your realistic salary would be. Is this debt manageable given your lifestyle or will you be in debt through retirement?

Also take a look at some of the law firms/business/gov. agencies that you may be interested in in the regions you want to live/work. Where did those lawyers go to school? Were those lawyers at the top of their class (if you see some latin honor like Summa Cum Laude... they were at the top of their class)?

You should also make a list of your priorities in a law school. i.e. is the location more important than debt? bar passage rate more important than class size?

You may end up finding that, all things considered, a lower ranked/cheaper school in the region you want to live and work in will mean for a much happier career prospect. Likewise, you may find that law school outcomes are not as strong as you were hoping for, and may choose to study for a higher LSAT? I'm sure the former is the more likely result of the above process (or at least I hope it is). :)

Good luck!

livinglegend:
Miami offers some great advice and FIU is a solid school I nearly went there based on the cheap in-state tuition. I know Florida, Florida State, and if you wanted to be in New York CUNY also offer very cheap in state tuition you may also want to scholarships realistically getting out with as little debt as possible is far more important than what a for profit unregulated magazine thinks about a school.

Please do not make a life altering decision of where to attend law school based on the rankings. Remember it is a magazine. When your a OL or in the bubble of law school it seems to mean something, but once you graduate you will sign up for Batbri or Kaplan and be in a room with freaked out students from every law school for bar review then in July you will be in a room with thousands of grads from every school taking the bar. You will either pass or fail and the graders have no idea what school you went to. If you pass your a lawyer if you don't your not and what you do with that license will be far more dependent on you than the name of the school on your degree.

With that said you should you should choose a law school that works for you. You want to attend school in a location you want to live in,, because you will be spending a minimum of three years there and likely the rest of your life, because you will take the bar in the state your school is located and once you take one it is highly unlikely you will take another.

Also visit the school each has their own culture and whether a school is a good fit for you is a question only you can answer. Walk around the campus, talk to professors, admins, see if there are things nearby you enjoy. No Internet poster, magazine, blog etc can know how you will personally feel about a school so visit and make sure it is a good fit.

As for your numbers you probably won't get into UF or FSU law school admissions based almost 95 percent on numbers. You should still apply if those are the schools you really want to attend go for it and you might get in, but don't be discouraged of you are not admitted there are a number of east coast schools you can attend with a 3.7 and 151 FIU, CUNY, New Hampshire, New England to name a few.

As you correctly stated every law schoil will teach you the. Same exact thing. In law school you read Supreme Court cases and believe it or not the Supreme Court does not write seperate opinions for every law school nor does the law change if you attend Cooley or Harvard the elements of murder are the same.

There are obviously a few schools that have such name recognition i.e Harvard or Yale that they are worth the extra cost etc, but I don't think you needed U.S News to tell you those were good schools and frankly nobody in the real world cares if a school is 48th or 74th.

Good luck

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