2.8 splitter - T14 plausibility?

I am well aware that a 2.8 is an awful GPA to get into a top law school, but I’ve been working on my BA over nearly 10 years with breaks and a good bit of life happening in between. In summer of 2017 I was kicked out of University for low scholarship. I was working 50-60 hours a week and had separated from my husband leaving me a single mother and very little income (which led to the extreme work hours).

I spent two years getting my life together and returned in the fall of 2019. I averaged a 3.88 GPA during the 4 quarters I had left making Dean’s List each time. I raised my GPA a full point during that single year (to a 2.8). It’s a bit frustrating that my University (University of Washington) does not allow weighted GPA’s as I received over 4.0’s in a few courses which would have helped a good bit. In addition to that, I also went through a divorce and finally won the fight to gain sole custody of my now 10 year old daughter in October 2019 and have maintained 40-50 hours a week working as a career USPS carrier throughout it all. While it is only a single year, it is my most recent school attendance and showcases that I can not only handle an extreme workload, but also do well in school during such.

I have NOT taken the LSAT, but I have scored well on all of the practice exams I have taken leading me to [naively] feel confident about the exam itself. I intend to take the flex exam this November.

Should I split and do very well on the LSAT, do you believe I should try for my top school(s) such as NYU? Would they even bother reading my personal statement after seeing a 2.8 GPA?

Getting in to a T14 appears to be outright unheard of with a below 3.0 GPA.

The good news is that all professional schools love non-traditional students. And you have a powerful story to tell.

To have a shot at NYU, you will need a 17x score; a 172 is their 75th %, so it would receive a solid look. Columbia also loves high scores. Fordham punches above its weight in NY and a 17x might get some money from them.

That said, be prepared to pay sticker as that GPA may preclude merit money at a T6. Taking on a lot of debt to attend a T6 is not recommended, particularly given your family situation. Unless you positively have to be in NYC, look for merit money even at a lower-ranked school.

Northwestern has historically been the most splitter-friendly, and on occasion, a 2.8 has gotten in. (typically an engineering-type as those undergrad GPA’s are lower)

Once you obtain a 17x score, send a short e-mail to Admissions to any law schools – including the t14 – of interest, explain that you are a non-traditional single mom really interested in their school for its [find a reason on their website], and ask if your score might be eligible for an application fee-waiver. If so, apply. But also apply to schools far outside the t14.

Good luck to you.

1 Like

To be more clear on my purpose in writing this, I am seeking advice on how to stand out should I apply. I am a woman, a single mother, a first generation high school, college and university graduate and I’ve greatly improved my work and academic workload/GPA, but what more could I push for. Due to other life circumstances, I was not involved with student organizations or sports. There simply was not enough time in the day.

I’m concerned that I will be immediately overlooked by the majority of schools should I apply to them due to my overall GPA, despite many of those grades being 3-6 years old and during extremely difficulty points in my life.

I’m happy to read any advice you may offer and should you know of any instances in which a low GPA was admitted, I’d be interested in researching that too!

Unlike undergrad admissions, law schools don’t much care about those things.

Sent a pm, hope it came thru. (not sure if new posters can receive them)

Thank you!

I was actually mulling over whether to contact the admissions offices due to the concern over being told that I should “just apply and see what happens” or getting the general response along the lines of “we consider all aspects of an application”, but it bearing no real merit. I am currently still in the research phase on schools to include everything from location, job prospects post-graduation, family opportunities such as schools for my daughter and housing options on/off-campus. While I’d love to say I had eyed “x” school since I was a child and had been looking forward to and working for it my entire life, the reality is that I thought I had completely lost my opportunity at a future when I got pregnant in high school and lost my military contract. Can you imagine a 93 ASVAB score as a kid finding out I was pregnant a week before I was officially old enough to sign my contract and escape the hell I grew up in. That was a hard blow, but 11 years later things are good so maybe it was the right path for me.

I was denied an LSAC fee waiver due to my income and am awaiting the response to my appeal. From what I’ve found on most school’s websites, they require an LSAC fee waiver to qualify for an admissions application waiver and that is maxed out at 6 from LSAC. I had not considered requesting one directly from the institution anyway should I score high enough to warrant consideration.

I have also selected a few other schools which chart all over the place such as University of Georgia or even Georgia State which would put me closer to where I grew up and University of Washington which is where I received my BA, but so far, the only school that screams me is NYU. Not so much for the big city location as it is for the job prospects after graduation. You’re right about debt and my family situation though. It is a concern I have taken into account every day of my life thus far. I’ve managed to pay off almost all of my marital debt over the past year while working my butt off so taking on $300,000 or so is not ideal.

I appreciate your recommendations and will certainly be looking into them more!

Law schools primarily care about two things and two things only: GPA + LSAT score.

If you have one or both above their medians, they are interested in you as you can raise their profile. They will pay for high scores with a fee waiver. In fact, shortly after your 17x hits the system, you may receive invites directly from law schools with a fee waiver (assuming you check the box to share your score). For others, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

NYU is a great school, but their job opportunities aren’t any better than schools ranked a few spots down. Law in NYC is so big its the easiest job market to enter, so there is some self-selection going on with their numbers, and Columbia’s and Fordham’s. But Michigan, Duke & Northwestern grads that want to go to NYC can also do extremely well.

If you apply to a regional school, only go there if you would be happy to live and work in that locale, and can attend inexpensively. UGA (and U-Dub) may place well locally, but their degrees won’t travel as well as a T14. But if you want to settle in an area, the state public can be a great choice.

Just try to minimize debt.

OP wrote:

“I have NOT taken the LSAT…”

Until you have an actual LSAT score in hand, any discussion about NYU or other T-14 law schools is premature.

Because you are debt adverse, NYU should not be a target law school unless you score above 173 on the LSAT. And even then, a significant scholarship award is unlikely for a few reasons including the thought that NYU will not have to buy you in order to deter you from attending a higher ranked law school.

P.S. What is your vision of yourself as a lawyer ? (For example: Type of law firm, hours worked each day & each week, and particular area of law that you wish to practice.)

P.P.S. You may be a great candidate for Georgia State’s law school.

The conversation is certainly one that is premature, but I consider myself fortunate to enjoy research and have found that being overly prepared for various outcomes will result in the highest potential for success. As a recent graduate from UW, where I spent the past year as a full-time student in addition to working 40+ and raising my daughter on my own, I fully believe in my system of over preparation. When one plan falls through, I intend to have backups each with their own backups. My life has previously fallen apart (hence the GPA), but I learned from it and I’m not risking that again. So I plan - in advance - for everything.

In my current hopeful mental state, I would like to work as a criminal defense lawyer. My B.A. in criminal justice and previous involvement with the juvenile justice system has led me towards this goal, but I am not incredibly knowledgeable in other areas as of yet. The path I take will likely be molded into a more firm concept as I move throughout my research.

It would be my goal to continue on with a heavy workload/hours. Having previously worked 10-12 hour days and fulfilling full-time coursework requirements in the evenings while still managing to find time with my daughter, it is something I am comfortable with. Ideally though, I would devote the time towards school or work rather than both simultaneously. I bore easily with nothing to do, hence the immersive research into law schools I’ve found myself doing to fill the time I was previously utilizing for schoolwork.

My concern over going to a smaller school, such as Georgia State, is that I will be less capable of leaving Georgia afterwards. I grew up there, but the military moved my family to Washington where we currently reside. I intend to move back to the East coast, but do not have a definite goal as to where currently. I have options that I am considering, but at this point my own set goal is New York. Atlanta offers a lot, but the considerations for schools there rely more on family and friends in the area while I attend rather than what would happen afterward graduation.

Truthfully, my impression after reading your posts in this thread is that you are unfamiliar about the realities of law school & the practice of law. And that would be okay except for the facts that law school is expensive and that you are a single parent of a pre-teen who will still need your attention.

Many non-K-JD law students have a story similar to yours. Many practice in the area of family law as divorce attorneys since going through a tumultuous divorce & child custody battle while dealing with financial difficulties is a life changing experience.

The best use of your time & energy at this point is to prepare for the LSAT. Better to research LSAT prep courses than law schools.

If you want to practice criminal law, then you should research schools which offer public defense clinics (or prosecutorial clinics if interested in becoming a prosecutor).

Due to your financial situation, you really need to earn an actual LSAT score & find law schools which might offer you a significant scholarship based primarily on your LSAT score as your cumulative GPA is quite low.

This is all rather impressive advice.

But another factor re: where you go to law school is your own salary expectations. Are you looking for the big bucks and some fame? Or one-by-one support to a population in need of dedicated quality legal support? The former generally requires the T14 range. Other work, not.

A friend just graduated from a regional law program, is studying for the bar. (She somewhere in her 50’s. Only recently got her BA, too.) Despite a regional rep only (as far as I know,) the apparent quality of her education is superb. (Trust me on thiat one.) She intends to go into human rights, especially women’s, and will surely succeed. Likely, a decent working salary, local reputation, would be a superb public servant and I could see a political future.

But no Amal Clooney.

What do you really want? Do you want to go into biglaw and work long hours as you have been? Or are you striving for a nice career path with somewhat decent work/life balance? Because there is no need to go to a school where cost of living is high and you may not get $ if you want the latter. Be careful not to get pulled in to the prestige. You may apply just to see, but I would really consider those other schools, ones that are decently ranked and will offer you money so you can let go of some of your stress. And we are in a constantly changing world where I have seen lawyers easily move states so while it is easiest if you have all your contacts, etc where you hope to stay, it isn’t as necessary as it used to be. But also, where do you want you and your kid to end up? After law school, do you continue to want to pay high rent in NY? I think you should use your personal statement to tell a cool story about you - maybe the long hours stuff, your diversity statement to talk about single momhood and an addendum to explain your GPA. If you score really well, it’s possible for them to look deeper into your file IMO. But just try to ask yourself not what CAN you do but what SHOULD you do. What will lead to your happiness? Not necessarily your top level of “success”. Because your happiness is truly your success.