Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Two paths to graduation and law school, which to take?

Return On InferenceReturn On Inference Alum Member
edited May 2017 in General 503 karma

Hi all, I usually wouldn't post on here for advice but I've had no luck talking with my school advisers, and I come from a family of farmers so they don't really know how to help me either.

Essentially, I currently have two choices/paths to take for graduation and attendance to law school, and I would like to hear some of y'alls input if possible. Many of you seem to be much more knowledgeable about the law school game than I am. Here's my situation:

I'm currently in my senior year of undergrad, studying a double major in Finance and Accounting. I currently maintain a 3.9 GPA (this becomes relevant later), and I have two choices for graduation, Spring 2018 or Fall 2017. Both have different advantages/shortcomings.

Spring: If I graduate in the Spring, I will be able to participate in a few programs at my school that I believe would improve my resume. First, I could write an 'Honors Thesis' and graduate with an honors degree. This would modify only one of my bachelors degrees. (i.e., I would have an Honors Finance degree and a regular Accounting degree, or vice versa). If I don't write the thesis, I will still complete an 'Honors Certificate'. In addition to this, I've also been given the opportunity to participate in a student lead investment fund at my school. This program is fairly competitive, and only 25-30 people are chosen each year to participate. As far as I am aware, the program is fairly prestigious as it is one of the largest student ran investment funds in the nation. The downside to this, is that the professor who runs the investment fund program is notorious for being a strict grader, and I know many very smart people who've had their GPA take a significant dip because of this program. I've calculated it out, and if I take the class I'll probably drop to a 3.85-3.87 GPA if I take this course (the professor basically does not award any As).

Fall: If I graduate fall semester, I will not be able to write a thesis or participate in the investment fund program. This will undoubtedly give me more time to study for the LSAT, as all of my fellow students say both programs require significant time investments. In addition to this, if I graduate a semester early I have the opportunity to apply for some scholarships to study abroad. I've studied Mandarin Chinese as a second language, and I hope to one day work in niche Corporate/Tax Law involving the U.S. and China. I've spoken to the directors of these scholarship opportunities, and I believe I have a good shot of being accepted into the program. If accepted, I would be able to spend about 7/8 months in China intensively studying the language. From my current level (HSK 5+), I believe I would be able to achieve my goal of being professionally/business proficient in the language at the end of this time period.

I'm really unsure about which path I ought to take, and I need to make a decision soon. If any of you have insight about how law school perceive these different opportunities, I would greatly appreciate it.


  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    I think all other things being equal graduating in the fall sounds better. I had a similar opportunity to graduate early back in 2014 and I stayed to write an honors thesis and make a minor into another major, etc.

    Looking back none of it mattered much. Also keep your GPA high. Better to have a 3.9 without the honors thesis then a 3.85 with it. Especially if you are aiming for a T6 school.

    Studying abroad and gaining professional proficiency in Mandarin will be something AMAZING to have on your resume for the rest of your career. Be it in law, finance, or whatever else you decide to pursue. The honors thesis will only be on your resume until law school...

    Higher GPA/Once in a lifetime opportunity to gain proficiency in a foreign language spoken by billions.... Definitely better than an honors thesis and a lower GPA.

    Congrats on the amazing achievement and opportunities!

  • nessa.k13.0nessa.k13.0 Inactive ⭐
    4141 karma

    Yeah, I agree with @"Alex Divine" protect your gpa at all costs. Graduating in the fall can also be great because law schools are trending towards preferring applicants with more job/life experience. It seems like that program could also make you a stronger applicant as you'd be able to back up your law aspirations with your resume and experience.

  • Mellow_ZMellow_Z Alum Member
    1997 karma

    Fall is my vote as well. Comparing the two in black and white : honors diploma and student investment opportunity vs. proficiency and real experience in China for 8 months when you hope to find a niche market working with China? The former will only ever matter for law school apps (and even then it will be outweighed by your higher GPA if you don't choose to do it), whereas the China experience will carry weight up through your niche interviews after LS.

    A 3.9 GPA puts you at, or above median at every school. A 3.86 takes you below a few. This is worth keeping.

    Go enjoy China and get away from school.

  • Bevs ScooterMinionBevs ScooterMinion Alum Member
    edited May 2017 1018 karma

    Hands down, I'd pick Door #2: graduate in the Fall and go to China. Certainly for all of the advice above.

    You've already proven yourself in academia with the high GPA and double major, so doing more seems equivalent to a Master's ---low ROI on a law school app (so I've heard). Plus, IT'S CHINA! And, it is where you want to ultimately practice law--get a head start and network sooner!

    I had a similar choice to make once upon a time, and didn't choose China. While I enjoyed choice A, and its rewards, part of me will always wish I had chosen B and gone to China.

    Set your law school app apart from so many others with your real world experience from living in China however long you can and speaking Mandarin for impressive stuff (and not just asking for restaurant recommendations or where the bathroom is). :wink:

    How exciting!

  • Rigid DesignatorRigid Designator Alum Member
    1091 karma

    All other things being equal, I personally would pursue the path that allows you the best LSAT prep you can manage. For you this sounds like the latter option.

  • Rigid DesignatorRigid Designator Alum Member
    edited May 2017 1091 karma

    Just to elaborate... one way of looking at the decision would be like so...

    Let's assume that the extra LSAT prep you get by graduating in the Fall gives you only a 1 point increase in your LSAT score - say, 171 vs. a 170 in the Spring.

    What do you gain from graduating in the Spring for the cost of 1 point on the LSAT? Well in your case it would be a prestigious opportunity with the investment fund and an honors degree.

    With respect to admissions, is this a cost worth bearing? Based on my understanding, no.

    Let's alter the numbers a bit. Suppose the extra time you get means you perform 2 points better than you otherwise might have. UChicago's last LSAT stats were 170 for the 50th and 172 for the 75th percentile. The difference between being in that 75th percentile vs. the 50th is difficult to overstate.

    Add to this the fact that Spring graduation might dip your GPA below the magic 3.9, and the fact we've ignored the AMAZING opportunity to study abroad and learn a very valuable language, then I think the case for Fall graduation becomes more compelling.

Sign In or Register to comment.