Law School Discussion

Transferring T4 to T1 w/ top %3

Transferring T4 to T1 w/ top %3
« on: February 17, 2015, 09:38:59 PM »
I finished my first semester at T4 Widener w/ a 3.8 gpa, ranked 3 in my class and/or top 3% and received a CALI award (just discovered what it is). I am filling out my applications for transferring, but want to be realistic about my odds. I anticipate [or pray] that I will have the same success in the Spring semester, and assuming I do, would love some feedback on personal experience or advice on what I should expect to see come decision time. I plan to send transfer applications to Temple, Villanova, Drexel, Rutgers and just for the hell of it, Penn and Georgetown. I also have a solid platform of legal work experience and am a Realtor, if that has any weight I'm not sure, but worth mentioning while I am here.
Cost is obviously a large factor in the decision, but Widener is expensive, and anywhere I would transfer is likely equal or less than it. I am at Widener on scholarship but still pay a substantial amount in tuition.

Any help would be more than appreciated.


Re: Transferring T4 to T1 w/ top %3
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2015, 03:09:41 AM »
You can try, but expect it to be a wasted admissions fee in the wishing well. Almost ZERO percent of transfers happen. The reality is that they know that if you were T1 material, you wouldn't be starting in a T4. If you REALLY want to transfer look at more lateral moves. But no shame in aiming for the stars, just don't expect to reach them. There are WAY too many out there who start out thinking this is doable somehow. Its saddening.

Re: Transferring T4 to T1 w/ top %3
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2015, 08:47:12 AM »
I somewhat disagree. The chances of transferring to Penn or Georgetown are pretty low, but Villanova/Temple etc seems realistic. Top 3% is very good, and neither of those schools are incredibly competitive in the first place. I know people who made similar transfers from So Cal T4s to Loyola, and they weren't even top 3%. More like top 10%.

I think the bigger issue is whether you have reason to believe that transferring is worth it. You could graduate near the top of your class from Widener, or (probably) middle of the pack from Temple. I'm not sure that a average student from Temple or Villanova is necessarily better off than a high ranked graduate from Widener. The schools you mentioned (with the exceptions of Penn and Georgetown) are not elite. Are their employment prospects really that much greater than Widener? I dunno, but I'd look into it. Personally, I wouldn't make a decision like this based on rankings alone.

Another option is that you may be able to leverage your ranking into greater scholarship aid. Graduating higher ranked and with little debt from Widener may be more advantageous in the long run than mid ranked (this happens to many transfers) and in debt from another school. Something to consider.

Re: Transferring T4 to T1 w/ top %3
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2015, 09:08:41 AM »
First and foremost congrats on the great semester!

Before I say anything substantive realize that anyone posting on this board or others  my post included is coming from anonymous internet posters and should be taken with a major grain of salt. For all you know I am the Dean of Georgetown Law or a crackhead in a public library on anonymous internet forums either individual can post the same as the next.

With that intro Doctolaw's post is typically true to transfer up at all you need to be in the top 10-20% and to transfer to a T14 in the top 5% or higher.  Obviously 80-90% of first year classes do not finish in the top 10-20% and 95% don't finish in the top 5%. However, ranking in the top 3% after your first semester there is a chance of transferring assuming you keep your grades up, but the bigger question becomes do you want to transfer?

There are pros and cons to transferring. I went to a low-mid-level school the rankings have changed so drastically since I graduated I don't even know what it is anymore. Anyways,  I finished in the top 10% after 1L and could have transferred, but choose not to. Many of classmates transferred and many stayed some loved the transfer others hated it.  Below are some factors to consider when choosing to transfer or not and it is up to you analyze them and make the decision.

I think the following factors in this order are what any law student should consider when choosing a law school.
(1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal Feelings about school and your network at current school; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education; (5) Last and least U.S. News ranking.  Here is a pretty good article explaining it, but it is more geared towards 0L's not transfers.

Things to consider as a transfer:

Ask for scholarship money:
You mention costs and one thing to definitely do with your class rank is negotiate scholarship money. Many of my classmates that stayed and myself said we would transfer if they didn't give us scholarship money and our school did. If you don't ask they won't give it to you, but if you are in the top 3% you are an excellent performer and they don't want to you leave. You should apply to the other schools and tell Widener you are thinking about transferring, but you can stay if they offer you scholarship money. If they don't budge then f em you can transfer to a new school.

Your current network at school:
One thing a lot of my classmates that transferred struggled with was adjusting to the new school. During 1L clicks are formed and you typically have your group and it makes law school enjoyable. If you don't have that then not really something to consider, but I know I made several really good friends in law school that I would have lost had I transferred after knowing them for just one year.

Also, just adjusting to a new school as the new person can be tough if you are a bit shy and reserved. If you are a super outgoing person then that is less of a factor, but that is a question only you can answer.

Being the Big fish in a small pond or normal fish in a giant pond?
If your in the top 3% there is a chance you could graduate as the number 1 student in your class, which is impressive at any ABA school. Odds are the students above you will transfer up making you the top 1%, which is more impressive than being in the middle of the pack at Temple.  You can basically be the star at a small school or be another guy at a better school, but schools like Rutgers, Drexel, Villanova aren't going to impress employers they are fine, but nothing special. I interview people and if I saw 1 at Widener or middle of the class at Villanova I personally would choose to speak with 1 at Widener. Obviously, other people might think differently, but that is the world some people will love Widener others hate it. Some will love Georgetown others will hate it so on and so on.

One other thing to realize is the importance of confidence particularly in preparation for the bar exam. If you are just killing it at Widener and doing a great job you are going to feel good and confident. If you transfer to Villanova and struggle 2L, which can happen you might lose confidence and think you should have stayed at Widener. Or you might be super motivated to be the best at Villanova or wherever you transfer, again I don't know you or how you will react and odds are you don't either.

One final thing to consider is that before you choose to transfer visit every school you are considering. I know as a 0L I visited a number of schools and some I loved others I hated. I can't explain, but they just me a feeling, but others might love it. Much like a City I live in San Francisco and I love it, but plenty of people hate it. I personally do not like Sacramento, but there are plenty of people that love it there. The same is true of law schools and you need to visit each and determine if it is a good fit for YOU.

Whether to transfer or not is a highly personal decision. Before even considering that you should focus on this next semester and keep your grades up. I knew several people that did well first semester and thought they had it all down only to get back second semester grades, so you are still a 1L with a lot to learn. Stay focused on the school you are at for the time being.

If you do great after 1L and have the option to transfer negotiate for scholarship money. I know several of my friends got $25,000 per year scholarships for not transferring. I do not know if Widener will do that or not, but there is absolutely no harm in asking.

Then consider how you feel about Widener do you like the professors, have friends, so on and so on is it worth it to transfer to some mid level school like Villanova? Maybe.

One final point I want to reiterate is the U.S. News rankings please do not let it be to large of a factor in your decision. Schools like Penn & Georgetown can open some doors, but Villanova or Temple etc change drastically year by year. See attached chart

Realities of U.S. News Rankings and their irrelevance
In 2009 Villanova was ranked 61st today it is in a 7 way tie for 93rd. In five years it could easily be back at 61. In 2009 Template was 65th in 2011 it got up to a three way tie for 58th now it is in a 3 way tie for 61st. The rankings aren't actually based on anything it is just a for profit magazine offering an opinion. Nothing wrong with them doing it, but they rank more than law schools. Alberqueue, New Mexico is the #1 place to live according to U.S. News . I do not see New Mexico on your places to transfer to, because it probably seems crazy to move to a new city based on what a magazine says. However, for some reason and I was no different when I was in the law school students make life altering decisions regarding their careers based on a magazine and it is not a good idea.

Georgetown and Penn are well known schools that even if U.S. News ranked them dead last people would still know and U.S. News would lose credibility by doing that. However, Villanova, Widener, Drexel they could be top 50 or 180 nobody would think much of it they are all fine schools that will teach you the law.

Good luck in your decision and congrats on your strong first semester.


Re: Transferring T4 to T1 w/ top %3
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2015, 06:37:46 PM »
I was aiming my post more at students in general, but the comments on top 3% are good points too. For the most part students (like the rest of us) get stuck mentally  in the trap of basing their thinking (and thus their decision making) based on what they have to come to know as their "real world" bubble. As a young person its harder to avoid that trap since even a few years feels like a lifetime. k-JD especially view the world from Academia. They are literally at the tail end of that experience but still viewing their future from that perspective. They get tripped up between that and "my first job" as if the whole universe stops at that moment and stays stuck there for all eternity.

If you can get into your dream school do it. If you can't and its no worth doing it elsewhere, I find this odd, but whatever. Do NOTHING then is what I recommend. Odds are you won't transfer, Odds are you won't get that dream first job. Do it to graduate and get licensed, and accept your lot in life (its really not that bad compared to the 97% of society who won't even start grad school)

All that being said, if I was top in my class and wanted to transfer and let some idiot online talk me out of even trying..............I'd be an idiot. If it matters to you, then its worth aiming for brother. I hope you get it. I just feel bad for the 90% of people who start out SURE that their 3.0 GPA and 150 LSAT somehow won't stop them from being the highest ranked person in their class since (insert radom cliché reason here). I have seen people LOSE THEIR MINDS once 2L starts. I don't mean just mad I mean APESHIT!!!!

Re: Transferring T4 to T1 w/ top %3
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2015, 08:38:56 PM »
For anyone who may find this at a later time, my stats are in the original post. I was successful in transferring from T4 Widener to Georgetown and got in early decision. So, it is possible & if I can take anything away from this "shot in the dark" acceptance, as that what I viewed it as when I applied, is that it there is no bright line formula of determining whether or not you'll be accepted. Work hard, concentrate on grades FIRST then worry about transferring etc.

Re: Transferring T4 to T1 w/ top %3
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2015, 02:02:43 PM »
Awesome congrats on your transfer. Good work.

Not sure if the whole thing went through or not, but you might want to see if your T-4 would offer you a full scholarship and living expenses instead of transferring.

A debt free ABA J.D. would be nice. If they offer that is be something to consider if they can't do then head to the T14.

Good luck and congrats on your accomplishment!

Re: Transferring T4 to T1 w/ top %3
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2015, 04:31:15 PM »

It's worth noting that Georgetown's early action is somewhat unusual in that it doesn't require two semesters of transcripts, but if you killed it first semester seems like a good option, unless it's contingent on grades your 2nd 1L semester.