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Easy Classes vs. High GPA

Hi,
I am graduating this May from Emory University and I am debating whether I should stay another semester to improve my GPA for a better chance at T14. I majored in Media Studies (Mass Communications) and will be graduating with 3.78 GPA. I understand that Media Studies is often easily judged as a "soft" and "easy" subject and I was wondering if such "bad reputation" will have an affect on how my GPA is viewed (and if so, how much of an impact it would have). If I do stay, I will be pursuing a sociology minor. I am torn between graduating now and focusing on LSATs to apply this cycle or postponing a year and applying with a stronger GPA and a major and minor. But is the latter choice worth the headache and extra tuition?

Any thought/advice would be extremely helpful! Thanks.

Comments

  • Mellow_ZMellow_Z Alum Member
    1997 karma

    It depends. What are your options? If you don't go back for a minor is there any compelling work experience you could get? If you had a job lined up, work experience might weigh more than a few hundreths of a point increase in GPA.

    Also, what are your goal schools? Your GPA as it stands right now is at or above median at about half of the T13. Depending on which school you want to go to, you might be more inclined to try and raise the GPA up more.

    To your advantage, your UG major doesn't mean much (if anything) to law schools. There is no asterisk next to GPA's that denote a harder or easier major. All the schools care about is having their 25/50/75 percentiles as high as possible.

    Sorry for the jumble of info and questions I provided. There's just a lot that would influence your decision and they don't exactly flow together smoothly :smiley:

  • Colin1485Colin1485 Legacy Member
    edited April 2017 108 karma

    Focus on the lsat - 3.78 gpa is good. I'd venture to say at least 60% of entry and tuition discount is based off the lsat alone.
    If your wanting a top law school, focus on on the lsat now and aim to get in the 170s. The rest is your self story/essay, recommendations, experience and the school's pool /affirmative action/how many applicants they are taking that year.

    good luck!

  • LSATman1LSATman1 Alum Member
    386 karma

    Here are some things to think about:

    -How much could you raise your GPA in one semester? Even if you get all A's for one extra semester, how much higher would your new GPA be?

    -What would law schools think if you took an extra semester to complete your degree? While students have many reasons for taking extra time to graduate, a law school might want to know why you spent an extra semester.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    26362 karma

    If you're just starting out, be aware that needing to postpone is a very strong possibility in any case. Becoming T14 ready is an enormous undertaking and it takes a lot more work and time than most people realize in the beginning. If your diagnostic is in the mid 160's, that may not apply to you, but if you're more in the 150 range, you're already behind. So if you can finish your minor with all A's from a few easy classes, and if that will bump your GPA to 3.8+, it might be worth thinking about.

  • danielznelsondanielznelson Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4181 karma

    @LSATman1 provides some very important questions. Your GPA probably won't demonstrably improve over one semester, even if you receive all A's for that semester. I'm sure you could do the math to find out.

    Are you planning on maximizing your potential for the LSAT at least somewhat in favor of going all in for a certain cycle? If so, time for the LSAT is even more important for you. I would say it is in either case, of course, and I would be tempted to argue that the extra months you could use towards the LSAT would far outweigh the potential of boosting your GPA.

    I think there's one more consideration, albeit a minor one: even if you do increase your GPA, are schools going to be impressed by it? Obviously, they'll want the higher number for their numbers, but if you're below the median anyway, I don't think a slightly higher GPA gained through obtaining a soft minor would do you much good in their eyes. I could be wrong on this, but the reason and substance behind a GPA is factored to at least some degree. In your case, any boost would be less impressive than a similar boost gained through one's major, in my opinion.

    Honestly, you're in a good spot. Your major probably won't hurt you; it won't be as impressive as a physics major or something, but that's more of a boost to a resume more than your major is a negative blow to your resume. You would have to boost your GPA by .15ish for it to really be worth it, and you would have to risk spending less time on the LSAT if you're posing time constraints on your studies. Not to mention, of course, the added cost of attending another semester if that's going to be a factor for you. Your GPA puts you at the median for Michigan, Columbia, Cornell, and Georgetown. You could maybe surpass the medians for Northwestern and NYU (and maybe UVA and Harvard), but you'd have to do the math on that, which will largely depend on your credit hours.

    Your goal schools will be a factor in considering whether you should do this. Regardless, you're inevitably sacrificing time spent for the LSAT, which is the biggest part of your application. In my mind, if you're applying for next cycle without any consideration of postponing, don't do the extra semester. Otherwise, there might be some worth in entertaining the idea.

  • Waiting For Grey DayWaiting For Grey Day Alum Member
    323 karma

    @Mellow_Z Thanks for your advice! As of now, my other options are...none, haha. I am still waiting for a possible position as a paralegal position but its very unlikely. I am also trying to get together my application for CASA. My goal schools are HYS with emphasis on Yale. I know their median is 3.89 (with 25 as 3.79) and I know that one semester will not increase my overall GPA as much, or even closer to 3.89 but like you said, there are many elements that influence my likeliness and I was wondering if a 3.8 would have a significant difference in my overall likeliness.

    @Colin1485 Wow, 60%? Considering your comment, I am leaning towards not postponing and just focusing on LSATs full-time this summer after graduation. Thanks for your advice!

    @LSATman1 You brought up a really good question, thank you for that. What law schools would think of the longer time in completing a BA degree never crossed my mind. At the same time, I understand that they have less than a second to glance at my transcript so I don't know whether the longer time would have as an adverse effect to override the higher GPA point. If my calculations are correct, I think my GPA will increase to 3.8 (that is, of course, if I get all A's). Honestly, I don't think another semester is worth it.

    @"Cant Get Right" I was originally planning to apply last cycle but I postponed after my humbling LSAT score. I think focusing on LSAT is more important for me at the moment.

    @danielznelson Thank you for the long, thoughtful response, I appreciate every piece of it. I agree that another "soft" minor might not be impressive and worth the tuition and time lost from LSATs. Your advice has been invaluable and I think I will devote all my energy on LSATs.

  • Mellow_ZMellow_Z Alum Member
    1997 karma

    @"Color Me Grey" You're welcome!

    I just did some quick math.. it's likely incorrect since I don't know your specifics.. but I assumed you had 128 semester hour credits, at 3.78 gpa. Even if you took another 20 hours (which is unlikely given you are only adding a minor - it would probably be less), and assuming you got A+'s in all of these classes (4.2 GPA weight), your GPA would only go up to 3.83.

    Alternatively, 120 hours credited, with 14 more hours of 4.2 credits results with a 3.81 GPA. So it's a lot of risk with not a huge amount of reward. But that is definitely a judgement call on your end as to whether or not a 4.2 in every class you take would be possible.

    The time it would take to bust your ass to get that extra 0.05 GPA could be spent studying full time for the LSAT, or working; both of which will likely yield better return on time invested than the gpa.

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