Application/Scholarship Chances?

General admissions strategy questions, what are my chances, discussion of specific application materials like financial aid and scholarships.
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nooney
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Application/Scholarship Chances?

Post by nooney » Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:02 pm

Hello all,

I'm interested in applying to law school and I'm hoping that those more knowledgeable on the subject than I can offer some guidance. Here's a bit about me:

I graduated from a small regional school 4 years ago with a B.S. in Political Science. My GPA was 3.33 due to my aimless first couple of years, but my major GPA was over 3.9 and I really performed well during the last two years. I completed a thesis-length piece of original scholarship during my senior year (related to National security law and whistleblowers), which earned me "Student of the year" honors in my department. (I've since presented this paper in an academic conference).

I decided to go to grad school, and took the GRE which I just about aced (Verbal 167---98th percentile; Quant 161---75th percentile; Writing 5.5---98th percentile). I just this year earned a Master's degree in Public Policy at a large public university with nearly a 4.0 GPA. I had a paper of mine published in a peer reviewed journal and completed a thesis where I conducted policy analysis on municipal environmental law (specifically, noise pollution laws) which was received well by my adviser/committee members.

I have not taken the LSAT, nor do I intend to, so I'll be limited to applying to schools which accept the GRE (but assume I am not bound geographically). So, what I'd like to know is:

1. Does my strong academic performance since my first two undergraduate years make up for my somewhat meager undergraduate GPA?

2. How do admissions committees think about Grad school? Does the fact that I excelled in grad school give me a competitive advantage?

3. Although my GRE score is quite strong, will I be competitive for law school scholarships having only taken the GRE?


Thanks for all comments in advance

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pancakes3
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Re: Application/Scholarship Chances?

Post by pancakes3 » Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:16 pm

why do you want to go to law school?

1) no, your uGPA is what it is.
2) they don't really factor it in because admissions is a numbers game between test scores and uGPA because of USNWR rankings. they use rankings as marketing so if they slip in rankings, they get bad publicity, and they lose out on attractive candidates. it's a perilous house of cards.
3) decent verbal score, meh quant. percentile-wise, you're at like a 163 LSAT. not going to get a lot of scholly.

nooney
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Re: Application/Scholarship Chances?

Post by nooney » Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:45 pm

I want to go to law school because I'm really good at arguing, I want to make the world a better place, and....blah blah blah....No, seriously, I want to go to law school to grow intellectually and so I can practice law! I'm interested in public law, criminal justice, and eventually working as a public prosecutor.

I'm not sure on what planet scoring in the 98th percentile of anything is merely decent, but perhaps I should have thanked those in advance with constructive commentary!

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UVA2B
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Re: Application/Scholarship Chances?

Post by UVA2B » Tue Sep 01, 2020 3:28 pm

nooney wrote:
Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:45 pm
I want to go to law school because I'm really good at arguing, I want to make the world a better place, and....blah blah blah....No, seriously, I want to go to law school to grow intellectually and so I can practice law! I'm interested in public law, criminal justice, and eventually working as a public prosecutor.

I'm not sure on what planet scoring in the 98th percentile of anything is merely decent, but perhaps I should have thanked those in advance with constructive commentary!
Please understand that when he said decent, that’s in the context of law school admissions at top law schools, where the expectation is you’re in the 98th percentile of all test takers. You have a good GRE score, but in the context of law school admissions, at least at the top, it’s not setting you apart by any means either.

The rest of his post is accurate, though. Your GPA is what it is and will be weighing you down for admission at top schools. Your masters performance will be a soft factor considered for purposes of admission, but they will at most align with many other competitive candidates. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you see it), law school admissions near the top of the food chain is intensely competitive to the point that even top scores and GPAs do not guarantee entry, but merely make it plausible. You are missing one thing schools deeply care about in a high uGPA, and the data on how the GRE is treated for admissions isn’t good enough yet to draw any strong lines of what score would make you competitive while carrying a low uGPA. Until USNWR starts collecting and assessing schools based on GRE and LSAT rather than just LSAT, schools aren’t really incentivized to weight GREs like they would an LSAT. What that could mean in admissions is that GRE applicants are best seen as fertile ground for grabbing up high uGPAs, since they aren’t reporting on GREs. Or they might be treating GREs similarly to LSATs already, the data is too new to be able to accurately say one way or another. All previous evidence of law school admissions behavior does suggest that until they have to incentivize GREs like they do LSATs and high uGPAs, they won’t.

All of that said, there are enough schools who accept GREs now that you definitely will get into “a” law school, but depending on what you mean by public prosecutor (local vs. federal), it’s tough to say whether you’ll be competitive for the schools that do statistically better at putting you in those jobs. If you want local, you’ll be in fine shape wherever you end up going to in that locality. If you want to be at the DOJ, no one here would rightfully (e: more like knowledgeably) say you’re competitive for the T14 for the above mentioned reasons.

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Nony
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Re: Application/Scholarship Chances?

Post by Nony » Tue Sep 01, 2020 4:12 pm

^what UVA said. Decent wasn’t meant a dig at you.

You have good academic softs, but they will serve largely to distinguish you at the margins. You may have an edge over someone with your stats without your softs. But your softs won’t get you into schools you’re not at all competitive for.

You can use all these things to craft your application around a compelling central narrative, which can help. But law school applications aren’t like other grad school applications. They’re much more numbers-based, and it’s hard to know what they’ll do with yours because of limited info about the GRE.

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pancakes3
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Re: Application/Scholarship Chances?

Post by pancakes3 » Tue Sep 01, 2020 5:51 pm

maybe i should just @brut and let him answer.

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