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Undergrad school impact on law school admission

BubblebellesBubblebelles Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
edited September 2011 in Law School
Hello all! I am new to this forum and was hoping to have a few questions answered by you knowledgeable people :)

I am currently a California community college student and I am applying to transfer this semester. My question (as the subject line indicates) is what impact does your undergrad school choice have on law school admissions? I know this is a very general question so I will try and narrow it a bit. My goal (along with everyone else) is to eventually go to either Harvard, Yale, or Stanford law school. The schools I will be applying to for undergrad are Berkeley, UCLA, USC, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, and UC San Diego. Given that none of these schools are really considered "elite" (Duke, Princeton, other ivy leagues) does it really matter which I go to?

The reason for my concern is that I know how law schools are focused on numbers and I want to put myself in the best position to do well. For example, I am a political science major and while UCLA has a good reputation as a school I have heard from other political science students there that the program is awful and as a result they are not doing well. On the other hand a school like UC San Diego is a less prestigious school but they supposedly have a great political science program.

I guess the heart of my question is whether or not I should go for name recognition or the best political science department so that I can excel in that program. Also, like I said before, since none of these schools are "elite" does it even really matter to law schools since they are relatively closely ranked?

Sorry for the long winded post! I appreciate and eagerly await your feedback!
Post edited by Bubblebelles on

Replies to: Undergrad school impact on law school admission

  • CJ MadisonCJ Madison Registered User Posts: 488 Member
    I do believe UC-Berkeley is the #1 Public University in the country as per USNWR. Can't go wrong at Berkeley. UCSD is also up there - either is fine.

    The key is an excellent GPA, which you probably more successful where there's a good program, but more so an excellent LSAT since some law schools weight the LSAT more than the GPA. Your major doesn't necessarily matter as long as you take courses that teach you to think logicaly, write well, speak well. It doesn't have to be polisci.

    Also, to get into Harvard, Yale, Stanford Law you're looking at GPA's in the 3.75 and up, and LSAT's in the 175 and up. In addition, it wouldn't hurt if you did something "unique" to set yourself apart from every other "perfect applicant" to these law schools.

    "Officially" these top law school don't have an applicant profile to guage yourself, but needless to say - you better have top stats.

    CJ
  • andrewt787andrewt787 Registered User Posts: 378 Member
    So doing the first two years of undergrad at a community college won't make a difference in applying to HYS Law?
  • LazyKidLazyKid - Posts: 758 Member
    Also, to get into Harvard, Yale, Stanford Law you're looking at GPA's in the 3.75 and up, and LSAT's in the 175 and up. In addition, it wouldn't hurt if you did something "unique" to set yourself apart from every other "perfect applicant" to these law schools.

    The average LSAT range for Stanford is 170-172. For Harvard, with 3.8 and 173+, you stand close to 80-90% chance of getting admission, granted that your application essays are longer than one paragraph. In short, 175+ on LSAT is definitely not required for entry into Harvard or Stanford, although it would help a great deal.
    My question (as the subject line indicates) is what impact does your undergrad school choice have on law school admissions? I know this is a very general question so I will try and narrow it a bit. My goal (along with everyone else) is to eventually go to either Harvard, Yale, or Stanford law school. The schools I will be applying to for undergrad are Berkeley, UCLA, USC, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, and UC San Diego. Given that none of these schools are really considered "elite" (Duke, Princeton, other ivy leagues) does it really matter which I go to?

    Prestige of undergrad doesn't matter much at all. Or, at least, it doesn't matter nearly as much as LSAT or GPA. You can go to Harvard for undergrad, but if you don't score 170+ on LSAT, you can kiss good bye to any of the top 6 law schools. Even if you get close to 4.0 from Harvard. LSAT absolutely trumps all other factors as far as law school admissions are concerned.

    To tell you a bit about my experience, I recently graduated from Cornell University and I am heading to a top 6 law school, probably next year or in two years. (deferred enrollment) I had 3.6 GPA and 172 LSAT and I got into 3 of the top 6 law schools, and got waitlisted at Harvard Law. On the other hand, my close friend attended a low-ranked state university that a normal person on the streets would have never heard of. (I have never heard of this school until my friend went there and told me about it) He had 3.8 GPA and 173 LSAT. He is right now 1L at Harvard Law School, and also got into Stanford Law. (But chose Harvard over Stanford) At the same time, I know a bunch of my friends from Cornell undergrad, who all had 3.5+ GPA, scored 163-168 on LSAT, and did not sniff a single acceptance letter from a single T-14 law school. There it goes on to demonstrate that getting into a top law school will ultimately depend on your ability to get a high LSAT score.

    Although I went to a more demanding and prestigious institution than my friend for my undergrad, my friend fared better than me at law school admissions since he had 1 point higher on LSAT and .2 points higher on GPA. So, law school admission is all numbers game. The general rule of thumb is to aim for 3.6+ GPA and 170+ LSAT. After clearing these two hurdles, expect to get plenty of T-14 offers.

    There are some people who hold mistaken belief that going to a prestigious college gives noticeable advantage for getting into a top law school, due to the fact that Ivies and other top private colleges constitute large portions of a said top law school. However, one should note that students from schools like Harvard or Stanford undergrad are much smarter and talented than average LSAT takers from 'average' state schools, hence, these elite schools pump out much higher numbers of students with high LSAT scores. As a result, one can expect to see more numbers of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton grads at Harvard/ Yale Law Schools.
    The reason for my concern is that I know how law schools are focused on numbers and I want to put myself in the best position to do well. For example, I am a political science major and while UCLA has a good reputation as a school I have heard from other political science students there that the program is awful and as a result they are not doing well. On the other hand a school like UC San Diego is a less prestigious school but they supposedly have a great political science program.

    I guess the heart of my question is whether or not I should go for name recognition or the best political science department so that I can excel in that program. Also, like I said before, since none of these schools are "elite" does it even really matter to law schools since they are relatively closely ranked?

    Honestly, if I had to offer you an advice regarding your situation, I would not design my undergraduate program/ experience as a stepping stone to get into a law school. Your chances at top law schools will depend heavily on your LSAT score, which is irrelevant to where you choose to study for college or what you major in. Go to a school that you would enjoy and do well there. Remember, you get to go to college only once in your life. And, lastly, I would not be so dead-set on going to a law school. Job market for lawyers is beyond brutal right now. There are recent Harvard Law grads who are literally unemployed now - no joke.
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