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To give up or not to give up...

sbc.mom_3xsbc.mom_3x Alum Member
in General 1501 karma
I haven't had it easy to say the least. Without delving into my life story, I'll just sum it up to, my goal is law school. I'm trying really hard. I am 3 semesters shy of completing undergrad. I am retaking the LSAT this September. My first score was below 150. I anticipate my GPA being right at or just right below a 3.0. With that being said.. I actually have a few F's on my transcript, but I did retake those courses and replaced the F's. But I know they are still "there" although the GPA was recalculated, the failing grades are still in existence. I'm just wondering am I completely doomed with these F's on my transcript.. or what? I read (too much) on the internet, and other sites and forums, and some people say that the schools / LSAC rarely even take into account the personal statement or hardships, etc. (I'm doing pretty well considering circumstances)... *sigh* I do not want to give up, but if it's nearly not even possible then.. I would hate to have wasted time and money. Guess I'm feeling discouraged.. but don't encourage me just because. Honest, blunt opinions please!


  • danielznelsondanielznelson Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4181 karma
    I think the fact that you have before failed courses makes the LSAT an even greater opportunity for you. Taking the LSAT while in college is tough - something I don't think I would have ever dared to try. Though I would urge you to consider moving your test to a later date if you feel like you still have work to do in terms of your studying, a September test is at least after graduation, and having a few months to study post-graduation will help you significantly.

    It seems like you really are putting in effort and that your circumstances haven't exactly dealt you a strong hand. In this case, personal statement, addendums, and diversity statements are particularly helpful to building your case. If you are able, contacting a consulting group could be a major boost to your chances, though they're expensive, and they aren't for everybody. I believe many of the consulting firms do free consultations and will tell you if you have substantive reasons to take in their services.

    Definitely keep at it and work hard to perform as best you can on the LSAT. Given that the LSAT is generally the biggest factor in determining your place in applications, you still have a lot of potential to become a great applicant. What seem to be damaging life circumstances can be explained and possibly even make you a standout among the rest of us.
  • apublicdisplayapublicdisplay Alum Member
    edited May 2016 696 karma
    @hmccabe1214 said:
    schools / LSAC rarely even take into account the personal statement or hardships, etc.
    Where did you hear that? I've visited several schools and spoken to many admissions committee members and the overwhelming impression I've had is that they really do care about what you write in your personal statement. Not to mention you have plenty of opportunities to write an addendum to explain extenuating circumstances. Any cursory look at admissions data will also show you that numbers are not the exclusive factor. If you look at the figures and judge applicants by their GPA and LSAT {} a lot of it seems rather erratic, which leads me to conclude there's more to it than just numbers. In fact, if your numbers are lacking, that just puts even more importance on your PS and other "softs" so it would be unwise of you to neglect them. I recommend you give schools a call or schedule a visit and speak to them directly instead of exclusively consulting online forums and discussions.

    Also, you're 3 semesters shy of completing undergrad yet you've already taken the LSAT? What's the rush? While circumstances may vary, I tend to think people take the exam at least during the end of their junior year. Even then, many people take gap years so they can study and really do well. A good LSAT score can do wonders for you and I wouldn't get discouraged just because of your GPA. Other things you could do if you're worried about your grades is to take some time off and get a decent job related to law. This way you'll distance yourself from your grades and give schools solid proof of your capability to do well as a prospective law student.
  • sbc.mom_3xsbc.mom_3x Alum Member
    1501 karma
    Thank you both for the comprehensive responses. I guess I can give some info. I am almost 28. I am a single mom to three kids. I have been a paralegal for 7 years now. Always wanted to go to law school just kept putting this process off (regrettably) and meanwhile had three children (of whom I have NO regret, they are absolutely wonderful and I love them so much and THEY are actually what has driven me to finally reach for my goals and I need to prove to them that it is not acceptable to give up on your dreams, regardless of what curve balls life throws..). So I guess to answer your question of why the rush, because I have waited so long I need to get it done. I'd like to start law school the summer or fall of 2017. However, I do realize that better scores are worth the wait......
  • danielznelsondanielznelson Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4181 karma
    Wow. Then studying after graduation is even more important, given that you have three children. You have a decent amount of time before having to take the December or the more restrictive February test in order to enroll next year. But I am with your realization - I have passed on two years of law school in favor of my job (which I enjoy) and more significantly, my LSAT score. I am so glad I've done it.
  • sbc.mom_3xsbc.mom_3x Alum Member
    1501 karma
    In all reality, I should probably finish these three semester, then spend summer-17 studying hard core for the LSAT, take it in September, then anticipate starting in 2018. I'd just like to get it over with sooner than later.. so I can be on my way to my career instead of on the journey to.
  • sbc.mom_3xsbc.mom_3x Alum Member
    edited May 2016 1501 karma
    But then again, on the other hand... I think if I bust my ass, then I can pull it off.
  • danielznelsondanielznelson Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    edited May 2016 4181 karma
    That's entirely understandable. I apologize, I didn't realize you were three semesters away. Though I've never been in a situation such as yours, I would highly recommend allowing yourself the luxury of studying outside of college. Granted, I try to give this advice to everyone, because I know what time can do to your LSAT score, for better or for worse.

    Why not readjust your priorities so as to focus solely on your GPA the last three semesters? Not only does three semesters provide you with a decent opportunity to boost your GPA at least somewhat, it could also display a new and improved track record. Kick butt the last few semesters and law schools will notice, especially via your addendum. Showing dramatic improvement in the face of an overall GPA speaks volumes. Then, of course, you also open the opportunity to excel at the LSAT, since you have a sole focus with a longer amount of time to spend on that focus.

    A year wait isn't fun, but in the grand scheme of things, it's an investment well worth your while. If you've always wanted to go to law school, why compromise on that dream? Provide yourself with the best opportunities to meet that goal in ways far better than settling for just anything.
  • apublicdisplayapublicdisplay Alum Member
    696 karma
    Be wary of the simple one-size-fits-all answers people (myself included) tend to give on discussion forums. In reality nobody knows your particular situation but yourself and any advice will depend on some degree of speculation.

    I don't know what school or score you're aiming for and that can make a big difference. I also don't know about your capacity to improve from a 150 to the score you want but I can say it may take time to improve. It all depends on how well you're scoring right now and whether you still feel like there's potential to improve.

    Before you ask yourself if the 4 and 1/2 months or so until September will be adequate to get that score you want, you should get a firm grip on how well you're doing. I'd recommend you consult some of the free resources on this site, like the 7sage Blind Review method {}. After taking a few tests and reviewing them properly, you'll be better situated to know where you stand. Then you'll be better able to judge where you should go from here. Even if you're aiming for September, there's still a lot of time to get a sense of where you are and what you should do. Don't rush into making a decision or into taking the exam without this. Prioritize studying properly to get to the score you want, be very diligent and honest about the time you'll need, and go from there before you decide on what you should do.
  • sbc.mom_3xsbc.mom_3x Alum Member
    1501 karma
    Perfect advice. Very well said...
  • draj0623draj0623 Alum Member
    916 karma
    I agree with @danielznelson that focusing on your GPA for the next three semesters would be advisable. I often wish I had the opportunity to go back to college and improve the grades I was less satisfied with. Spreading yourself thin may deteriorate the quality of both objectives: your GPA and your LSAT score. You should definitely not give up on your dream. You still have so much opportunity to look forward to. I am going to be 28 this year so I understand the urgency and impatience but I think we may have some compelling cases to make that can only be strengthened by strong GPAs and LSAT scores. Giving ourselves enough time to make sure both are achieved is so important. Wishing you the very best and congratulations for being a wonderful role model for your children. :)
  • Nicole HopkinsNicole Hopkins Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4344 karma
    @hmccabe1214 said:
    and some people say that the schools / LSAC rarely even take into account the personal statement or hardships, etc. (I'm doing pretty well considering circumstances)...

    I got into Northwestern on a half tuition scholarship—a T14 school—with a sub 3.0 GPA and a 170. If they didn't take anything beyond numbers into account, I wouldn't have gotten in anywhere.

    Take heart, OP. Focus on school for now. Later, focus on LSAT. Some doors will be closed with a sub-3.0 GPA (HYS, Chicago, Berkeley) but many, many more will remain open. Consider working with a consultant when the time comes and consider taking several years to get substantial work experience. Those things are especially important for splitters.
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly Member Sage 🍌
    25607 karma
    I’m 30 if it makes you feel any better. I totally understand the feeling of urgency. I feel like I’m already behind. My original goal was to apply for Fall 2016. Didn’t happen. At first I was really upset. One more year gone. But the more I’ve learned about this process, the more I realize it’s absolutely fine. An extra year isn’t going to be a huge difference at this point. And being older and having that additional experience actually gives us an advantage in the admissions cycle. Law schools want to build diverse classes, and we offer experience and perspective that they can’t assume they’re getting from the youngins. We make up a very small minority of the applicant pool and schools compete for us. You’ve shown incredible strength in the face of adversity and you’ve overcome many challenges. If I’m a law school, you better believe I want me some of that!

    The best thing you can do going forward is to give them the best numbers you can. Of course the F’s aren’t great, but ultimately it’s your GPA that they care about. The rankings are determined by GPA so if you’ve been able to replace the F’s so that they don’t affect your GPA, that’s the most important thing for them. And you’ve got an additional three semesters, that’s great! You’ve got an opportunity to really control your narrative and give admissions something to think about. Finish strong and your narrative could be, “My GPA isn’t a 4.0, but check it out. I hit some bumps earlier in my academic career. I handled it. Then I destroyed everything in my path.” If your transcript tells that story, that will really help you out. Focus on finishing your degree strong, it’s worth holding off on the LSAT.

    And then there’s the LSAT. You’ve just got to invest the time to get it right. It will get you into better schools with more money. Even looking at it purely economically, it’s a good investment. If you can go from getting in to a school to getting in with 100k in scholarships, that’s worth it. I will have studied for a little over a year by the time I take the LSAT this fall. That’s a long time, but economically, there’s no better way for me to have spent that year. Once you finish your degree out strong, sign up for 7Sage and slay this thing. It’s a monster of a test, but I get the feeling you can handle a monster. You got this.
  • sbc.mom_3xsbc.mom_3x Alum Member
    1501 karma
    You guys are so empowering.
  • marcosmcqueenmarcosmcqueen Member
    241 karma
    I, too understand the sense of urgency. I'm even older than yourself, by almost a decade. I think it will help you to separate the things you can control (which are worth time and energy) from those that are beyond your control.
    You can't improve your past grades (and believe me, I wish it weren't so). No point in spending any time there.
    You can improve your overall GPA. It's going to demand some time. If you set aside (not give up) the LSAT studying you can focus your current classes and nail them.
    You can improve your LSAT. It, too, will demand time. Completing your degree is going to give you a sense of accomplishment and, more importantly, more time to study for the LSAT.
    The potential payoff is huge. By boosting your numbers you're likely to give yourself more options for school. Imagine being able to chose between several programs based on what best fits your children's schedule, or your budget. While it will demand a great score there might even be some schools that offer financial aid.
    Look, if you're suffering a terminal illness then I understand the rush. If your death is eminent then waiting a cycle could have a dramatic negative impact on you.
    Short of that, there's really not a whole lot of negative to waiting a year and nailing your LSAT. I can just about guarantee you that in the long run there will be no difference between beginning law school at 29 and beginning law school at 30. When you're 60, you're not going to look back and see that one year as pivotal (unless you go to a crappy school and accrue massive debt because you rushed things).
    It sounds like you've had some challenges and I can respect that. I'd encourage you to ask yourself if any of those were the result of rushing something. I don't know any of your circumstances so I don't know the answer to that question. I mean no judgement. If, however, you're like myself you can probably look back and say, "Man, I really wish I had slowed down and thought about that a little more."
    Plus, since you're obviously a dedicated parent, I think this is a real chance to teach your kids a valuable lesson. You'd really be demonstrating to them that while it's not always easy to be disciplined, it's worth taking the time to slow down and do things the right way.
  • stepharizonastepharizona Alum Member
    3197 karma
    @"Cant Get Right" said:
    The rankings are determined by GPA so if you’ve been able to replace the F’s so that they don’t affect your GPA, that’s the most important thing for them.
    Not to be the downer on this thread, but this is not correct when it comes to your LSAC UGPA. The LSAC says: "Repeated Courses
    All grades and credits earned for repeated courses will be included in the GPA calculation if the course units and grades appear on the transcript. A line drawn through course information or a grade does not eliminate the course from GPA calculation if the course units appear on the transcript." See:

    BUT this does make it even more important for you to really focus on your remaining 3 semesters and if possible, add in a class or two that you feel you can achieve a guaranteed A in, if possible. The more credits with As the better your UGPA will be. You can do the math using a UPGA calculator, to see if it makes much of a difference (adding in extra classes).

    I too am an older student, and I was in a rush as I was extremely interested in JAG, however I accepted, I will age out before I am able to pass the BAR. Unless you have something like that (and even with that) you have to hit pause to do what is best for you.

    Your entire world can change with a better GPA and a higher LSAT score. You are in a position to be able to control both, so work on the GPA first, then go after that LSAT and test when you have the score you need.
  • GordonBombayGordonBombay Alum Member
    456 karma
    If you're passionate about becoming an attorney by all means do not give up. There are people on this very forum who have sub 3.0 undergrad GPA's and who are non-URM applicants who have still gotten accepted (with scholarship money) to T14 law schools.

    It will be tough, and it will take time, but my advice to you is to immerse yourself in the LSAT full time post graduation. Take as many PT's as it takes to start scoring in your goal range. Don't rush into retaking the LSAT, you only get three chances so wait until you're consistently hitting your goal score before you take an administered one again.

    You're in an adverse situation, but all you can do in adverse situations in life is to wake up every morning and keep chopping wood. Work your butt off to finish undergrad with the best GPA possible. Work your butt off on the LSAT when you graduate. You can do it if you're willing to put in the time and effort.
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly Member Sage 🍌
    25607 karma
    Thanks for the correction @stepharizona . That just makes the remaining three semesters and LSAT all the more important.
  • sbc.mom_3xsbc.mom_3x Alum Member
    1501 karma
    Brings me to my next question. I spent 2 years and received an associate degree at a trade like college.. (studying 'paralegal studies'). It's not accredited by the higher learner commission, but the ABA and another career college commission, and I wonder if the LSAC will consider these grades in determining my UGPA? The credits did not transfer when I started undergrad unfortunately. I started over. Wish I knew then what I know now...... but anyway, does anyone know if my grades from there will be taken into account for the UGPA...?
  • bbutlerbbutler Legacy Inactive ⭐
    401 karma
    @hmccabe1214 I think a lot of us are in the same boat. I graduated last year and my friends/parents/family want me to go to law school immediately and I definitely feel like life is passing me by because I will not be applying until later 2017 after graduating in 2015. A lot of times the plans that we sit and plan out, don't end up working out, it doesn't mean the plan wasn't good it's just that life gets in the way. I had friends that were very smart in undergrad try to take the LSAT while in there and their grades suffered. Like others have suggested I don't know exactly your personal situation but I think now is the time to really focus on your grades primarily, it will help your GPA, and if you have an upward trend in your grades, schools will consider that as well. The LSAT will always be there and if you have some free time feel free to stay on here and do some preliminary studying just to get more exposure to the test but personally I would wait and focus on school and then go all out so you put yourself in the best situation for you. Regardless of what you decide wish you all the best and we're all here if you need anything along the way!
  • sbc.mom_3xsbc.mom_3x Alum Member
    1501 karma
    Thank you all so much, you're are very right. I have decided to put if off and I'll take the LSAT in September of 2017. Last year I was in a nearly similar boat.. then I unexpectedly got pregnant and put it off for a year... and that year flew by and my baby is 4 months old. Spending one more year to increase my chances, will be well worth it.
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly Member Sage 🍌
    25607 karma
    @hmccabe1214 said:
    Spending one more year to increase my chances, will be well worth it.
    Agreed! Destroy the rest of your undergrad, then hope to see you back on 7Sage!
  • sbc.mom_3xsbc.mom_3x Alum Member
    1501 karma
    My <150 LSAT score was achieved with having not studied, only 2 PTs, and having just days before the LSAT found out I was expecting 3rd baby (and was harassed daily by father to terminate, who 10 years ago scored 155 on LSAT and is a dumbass deadbeat..needless to say I was stressed).. soooo.. if I can get a not-so-good score with all of that... I've got to be able to get a good score with studying ?!?
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly Member Sage 🍌
    25607 karma
    Absolutely @hmccabe1214 . The LSAT is beatable. It is more about how hard you're willing to work and how able you are to weather the intellectual and emotional storms during your prep. If you can work hard and bear the stress and never be satisfied, then yeah, 180s the limit.
  • danilphillipsdanilphillips Alum Member
    edited May 2016 200 karma
    Since law school apps are down 50% from a decade ago, and schools are pretty desperate for students, I'd think you have a chance. I also think all of the odds you have faced may appeal to admissions commitees, but the LSAT score will be important.
  • hlsat180hlsat180 Member
    edited May 2016 362 karma
    @hmccabe1214 said:
    I have decided to put if off and I'll take the LSAT in September of 2017.
    Consider taking the June 2017 LSAT, which offers several advantages:
    + apply for earliest admissions (~Sep onward) with your LSAT score known beforehand
    + if not happy with score, you can still re-take Sep (largest test pop.)
    + use rest of Jun-Aug to focus 100% on finalizing your admit packet (PS, LORs)
    + June tests are MON 12:30pm (sleep in a bit and prep!); all other tests are SAT 8:30am

    If you start to prepare now, and schedule smartly around your other responsibilities, there is sufficient time to do extremely well. Many top scorers, who started out with mediocre scores and juggled work/school, simply invested the proper time and dedication. You can, too.

    - fellow older student with a family
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