A bad year... GPA concerns/transfering?

<p>I'm a rising sophomore at Grinnell College and I had a pretty bad year in terms of GPA. My first semester was so bad that I actually withdrew from a class (computer science), although I took a half semester course and got about half the credit back. I have barely a 3.2 after my first year. My study habits were bad and my sleeping schedule was even worse. But it is a tough school and I consider myself lucky that I didn't get a C or a B- in either semester. The bad news is that I've been told from my upperclassmen peers that my GPA only goes down from here because I've done most of my introductory level classwork. I have no idea if I can get a respectable GPA for law school, but I consider myself bright and intelligent to get a decent LSAT score. It worries me so much that I wonder if I should transfer somewhere else and get my grades up...because like I've said, Grinnell is really demanding. How bad is my situation? Would an upward improvement help my case at all? I know I will probably get into a law school SOMEWHERE, but do I have any chance at any top/prestigious school? </p>

<p>People have advised me against it because it will look like I took the easy way out, but I thought law schools didn't even care where you did your undergraduate work in the first place. What difference does it make if I had started out at no-name state school rather than transferring in two years later? Most people have told me that going to a top 20 LAC won't count for anything...is this true? Will my GPA at a tougher school have no consideration at all to everybody who started in community college? Should I transfer or is that really drastic? Should I wait it out and see how this year goes? Regardless of transferring or not, I'm planning on really busting my ass to get my GPA up. Please advise.</p>

<p>No, law schools do not care where you go to undergrad unless it's HYP. I'm in somewhat the same situation as I transferred from a large public university to a top 10 school and my GPA at this top 10 is a full .2 lower than my gpa at the public. I know this is going to hurt me for law school, but I also know if I decide not to go to law school I'll have much better job opportunities in Finance (my major) than I would have otherwise. And as a anecdote I spend close to double the time on school work here than I did at my old university. </p>

<p>You're in a little different situation, schools like Grinnel basically breed people into graduate programs, this is because LAC's don't offer a lot of the "hard" degrees (engineering, sciences, finance, etc) that can get people solid jobs and careers just after undergrad. So i'm not sure if I really see a reason for you to stay if you know you want to go to law school. But you also shouldn't just transfer to an easier school because it's well easier. You have self proclaimed bad study habits and bad sleeping schedules, this will only get harder as a transfer due to the much harder atmosphere with making friends and getting involved. Believe me it is hard as i've been through this. And getting these things in order should really be your first priority. </p>

<p>Now, you have two years to two and half years to raise your gpa before i'm expecting you be applying. This means you should be able to bring up your gpa to 3.5-3.6 with a lot of hard work, whether at Grinnel or another school. A 3.6 can get you into any law school besides HYS with the appropriate LSAT score. And even a 3.3-3.4 can get you into a t14 with an appropriate LSAT score, so there isn't that big of a need to worry. That said, the worse your GPA the more pressure it puts on the LSAT, and plenty of extremely smart people just don't get the LSAT or suffer from some test anxiety that just doesn't allow them to reach their potential. So you can't count on that either. </p>

<p>I'm rambling, but basically, do the best you can in school and on the LSAT. If you really are set on law school, or decide you don't want to do whatever it is your major is, then transferring could be a good option. But don't expect to do well at your state school if your bad habits continue.</p>

<p>Look, no matter where you go to college, you've still got your 3.2. Switching colleges doesn't give you a mulligan for LS admissions. </p>

<p>Unless Grinnell is a really unique college, the idea that your grades will go down after freshman year is odd to say the least. MOST college students get their WORST grades during their first year. There are a gazillion studies that confirm that. Usually, as you get further into college, you take more courses in your major and most people have higher gpas in their majors than in their other courses. </p>

<p>If you were my kid, I'd advise you to go to the careers services office--Grinnell has one--and speak to the pre-law advisor. Find out where Grinnell students go to law school and look at the "girds." Most colleges have these. They show where past students applied and the law schools that accepted them and the median gpa and LSAT for students accepted. </p>

<p>Hey, was your mom the one who posted here last summer? I googled then. I googled again. Here's how Grinnell did in LS admissions. If you go live and in person, there's probably a more detailed break down. You're 3.2 puts you in the bottom half of LS aplicants from Grinnell, so you need to get it up. But, you've got some time. <a href="http://webtest.grinnell.edu/files/downloads/Law%20School%20by%20the%20Numbers%202007-08,%203-Yr,%205-Yr_0.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://webtest.grinnell.edu/files/downloads/Law%20School%20by%20the%20Numbers%202007-08,%203-Yr,%205-Yr_0.pdf&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>That should make you feel better.</p>

<p>I agree with Patriot that the issues you've cited aren't goiong to magically cure themselves if you transfer. </p>

<p>If you check some old threads, you'll see that the idea that a 3.9 at Widget Directional State is the same as a 3.9 at Princeton for LS admissions purposes is not universally accepted on this site. The report sent to law schools with your LSAT will tell those law school not only your gpa, but the median gpa of all the other folks applying to LS from your college and the distribution of gpas.</p>

<p>Nah, it probably wasn't my mom.</p>

<p>And I realize that transferring is not an instant cure for the GPA issue, but I'm almost sure that I would have an easier time at a different school raising my GPA than at Grinnell. I personally really like liberal arts colleges, but some offer more vocational preparation (in terms of classwork) than others. Grinnell would be at the low end of that. I'm just pondering if it would be at all advantageous to stay at Grinnell (without any financial consideration) when I could go to some place like Lake Forest College or Illinois Wesleyan University. Are those places roughly comparable with Grinnell to law schools? They aren't top 20 LAC like Grinnell but I get the impression that law schools are just so anal about GPA that it wouldn't make a huge difference if I applied with the same GPAs at Grinnell and Lake Forest. </p>

<p>Those places are definitely lighter and less rough with the workload. And like I've said, I'm not guaranteeing a 4.0 if I end up at those places but it would almost certainly be easier for me to bring up my GPA. </p>

<p>Factoring the median GPA of my school would definitely help me out... but there is the idea that I might just be a not so bright student at a good institution. I guess no one can tell me except myself but I often do feel really intimidated by the intelligence of everybody here. I know an upperclassmen who specifically did not apply to law school because they ranked in the lower half of their class and did not feel confident about their chances, so that concerns me a bit. </p>

<p>So, it's not that I <em>don't</em> want to work hard, but I fear that my ability to succeed might just be hampered by the rigor of the institution I may or may not have gone into as a fluke (my ACT certainly ranks towards the bottom of admitted Grinnell students, among other things). I really don't mean that as an excuse, but I say that as a person who is not exceptionally intelligent and with the hope I didn't screw over my only shot of attending a top law school by not attending Widget Directional State.</p>

<p>I believe that if you manage your time better and make better decisions regarding your sleep, your grades may improve. I do not understand why you would so hastily look to transfer when your problems may be solved by working on your bad habits.</p>

<p>There is just the possibility that I would have gotten decent grades in spite of my bad habits at an easier school. I know that because I had these same habits in high school but was still an excellent student, albeit but a very sleep deprived one. If I worked very hard one semester at Grinnell or say, Lake Forest or Illinois Wesleyan - I'm almost, almost certain that it would be reflected much more on GPA at the latter two than Grinnell. I just want to know if the transfer would be worth it for that reason or if I should stick it out and receive a top 20 LAC education and almost certainly end up with a lower GPA than if I had gone somewhere else. </p>

<p>Also, wanting to transfer has a couple more reasons that I haven't stated. In the event that I don't go to law school, I want to have options but I'm not entirely sure a degree from a top 20 LAC will help me find a decent career track. People have told me numerous things regarding this - but the consensus seems to me that I will have to be a little lucky and have excellent connections. Also, I'm not sure if I fit into the culture of Grinnell very well. I knew that this campus was going to be liberal and open minded, but I never thought it would as activist as it is. The activism sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable because I often feel excluded because I never care about the issues that drive the rest of campus (apathy as opposed to opposition though).</p>

<p>It sounds to me like your self-esteem has taken a beating this year. But half of the solution is understanding the problem: I think you've nailed it - work harder and get more sleep. A lot of people have a really rough first year getting used to the workload at a demanding school after cruising through high school, and sometimes it takes a while to find your crowd (or at least, a crowd that has a better grip on the mix between work and play). It's possible that the culture is indeed not a good fit for you, but I'd assume the problem is more likely the work/study/self-esteem problem. You'll know better after next semester. </p>

<p>As for the career prospects, where you go as an undergrad isn't going to matter a great deal from a name perspective to any particular law school - but the quality of the education is going to make a huge difference to your intellectual development long term. Don't short-change yourself educationally by going some place easier, where you aren't challenged to produce your best work. </p>

<p>You should definitely visit the career center and explore options for internships over the coming summers - with lawyers, law firms, legal departments and legal aid societies. Grinnell-in-Washington can give you exposure to the regulatory process as well. Finally, don't underestimate the alumni network: Grinnellians are nothing if not passionate about their school and taking care of their own. Use the network to do informational interviewing about careers in law, and to find an position in a law firm or legal aid society when you graduate. Plan to spend a few years working in a legal environment, and then apply to law school. Your work experience will be invaluable in many ways (I personally spent a year as a paralegal at a corporate law firm in NYC after college and HATED it. Glad I learned this the easy way instead of after 3 years and $150k.). </p>

<p>(And Patriot, you comment about LACs not offering the hard classes is silly. They don't offer engineering or finance-but they excel in their teaching of biology, physics, chemistry, math, economics, and many other subjects. They just don't offer pre-professional classes.)</p>

<p>I said LAC's don't offer hard classes? You should probably re-read my post, I think you are misunderstaniding the usage of the word hard.</p>

<p>Also, you could try changing your major.</p>

<p>First, this may sound rude. Please just believe me when I say it isn't meant to be. I'm just trying to point something pretty basic out to you that I think you're missing. </p>

<p>If you feel intimidated by Grinnell students and think the work load is too tough, why do you think you can not only get into but succeed at a "top law school?" The LSAT doesn't measure aptitude, but it does measure something. The median LSAT of Grinnell students is 161, according to the link I posted above. The median LSAT at Duke Law is 169. So, if you are intimidated by Grinnell kids, why aren't you worried about being intimidated by the students at a top law school? Do you think the workload will be easier in law school? If so, let me assure you that it won't be. </p>

<p>If you think that you can go to a different college, keep the same work habits, get a better gpa and catapult into a better law school-- I think--well, again this may be rude, but it's true--that you are engaging in wishful thinking. There's a reason why each law school you apply to gets not only your gpa, the median gpa of the LS applicants from that school, and the distribution of grades, but also the median LSAT of your college. And, believe me--I know some folks on this forum don't--a 3.2 at a college where the median LSAT is 161 and the median gpa is 3.3ish isn't going to be in worse shape than someone with a 3.4 at a school where the median LSAT is 149 and the median gpa is 3.2.. I know, I KNOW lots of people think that Yale, Harvard and Stanford Law are filled with folks who got 4.0s at community college followed by 2 years at Widget Directional State. But, while there are certainly people who get into these schools from CC followed by 2 years somewhere else, most of those folks do amazingly well at the 2 years somewhere else and have high LSAT scores. And they are FAR outnumbered by the # of people who went to top 20 LACs. If you're going to play the percentages, the LAC plan gives you much better odds. </p>

<p>Now I happen to think that some LACs do a less than stellar job with career guidance. But I poked around a while on Grinnell's website as well as that of Illinois Wesleyan and Lake Forest College. Now, perhaps the websites are misleading, but I came away with the impression that Grinnell is WAY ahead of the other two schools in terms of law school guidance AND career guidance. I'm not knocking the other schools, but I LIKE LACs that put the link to career guidance right there on the home page. I like LACs that offer LSAT and MCAT classes right on campus with a special discount rate negotiated by the college, that have an internship data bank, a resume review service, internship programs offered for credit, and several other things I noted on the website. And I also like LACs that say right upfront how they do in terms of placing students into med and law schools..and hand out info like the median gpa and LSAT scores of LS applicants. </p>

<p>Who are these people who are telling you that everyone at Grinnell gets worse grades in their soph,jr, and sr years than their freshman year and that Lake Forest College or Illinois Wesleyan will give you better career prospects than Grinnell? Because while I don't have access to grades at Grinnell and I'm not a human resource department manager, I have a really, really hard time believing that either of these statements is true. </p>

<p>I think M's Mom has it right. Your academic difficulties and the 3.2--which is nothing to be ashamed of--have beat up your self-esteem a bit. You'd rather be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. You don't like being average or a little below average. If that's the problem, face up to it. Don't try to convince yourself that transferring means you'll get into a better LS or you'll get a better job...because if you do 3 years from now, you're going to be kicking yourself when those unreasonable expectations don't come true.</p>

<p>I agree with jonri. If you can't cut it in a "tough undergrad" institution, I don't think you have any chance of cutting it at a reputable LS. Top law schools have the BEST and the brightest from around the nation with people competing for top grades. Some are more lax than other, but due to the relative grading scheme that most schools employ, you're going to going up against people who had 3.7+ GPAs throughout college and want to continue that.</p>

<p>sorry, but according to grade inflation.com, grinnell's mean gpa is 3.34, which is around the mean for many private colleges. Thus, it is no more difficult (or less) than its peers.</p>

<p>I would like to point out the extremely faulty logic that bluebayou used here. Don't do that when you take your LSAT.</p>

<p>"As for the career prospects, where you go as an undergrad isn't going to matter a great deal from a name perspective to any particular law school - but the quality of the education is going to make a huge difference to your intellectual development long term. Don't short-change yourself educationally by going some place easier, where you aren't challenged to produce your best work."</p>

<p>I really, really hope that my education will take me somewhere because it's getting increasingly harder to justify my decision to go to Grinnell with my friends and family who just don't buy the liberal arts education argument. </p>

<p>"If you feel intimidated by Grinnell students and think the work load is too tough, why do you think you can not only get into but succeed at a "top law school?" The LSAT doesn't measure aptitude, but it does measure something. The median LSAT of Grinnell students is 161, according to the link I posted above. The median LSAT at Duke Law is 169. So, if you are intimidated by Grinnell kids, why aren't you worried about being intimidated by the students at a top law school? Do you think the workload will be easier in law school? If so, let me assure you that it won't be."</p>

<p>"If you think that you can go to a different college, keep the same work habits, get a better gpa and catapult into a better law school-- I think--well, again this may be rude, but it's true--that you are engaging in wishful thinking. There's a reason why each law school you apply to gets not only your gpa, the median gpa of the LS applicants from that school, and the distribution of grades, but also the median LSAT of your college. And, believe me--I know some folks on this forum don't--a 3.2 at a college where the median LSAT is 161 and the median gpa is 3.3ish isn't going to be in worse shape than someone with a 3.4 at a school where the median LSAT is 149 and the median gpa is 3.2.. I know, I KNOW lots of people think that Yale, Harvard and Stanford Law are filled with folks who got 4.0s at community college followed by 2 years at Widget Directional State. But, while there are certainly people who get into these schools from CC followed by 2 years somewhere else, most of those folks do amazingly well at the 2 years somewhere else and have high LSAT scores. And they are FAR outnumbered by the # of people who went to top 20 LACs. If you're going to play the percentages, the LAC plan gives you much better odds."</p>

<p>Okay, that last sentence made me feel better, thank you. </p>

<p>I'm not under the impression that law school will be easier. And while I'm not denying that the LSAT will probably standardize scores, I'm not personally confident about my intelligence enough to really well LSAT. What I'm saying that is that I actually think I could be a pretty good student at Directional State, which almost certainly has an easier workload. Unless Grinnell's superior intellectual experience actually helps me on the LSAT... I think I would've been better off as say (assuming my LSAT score is independent of the college I go to)...3.9 at Directional State than say, 3.3 at Grinnell. Because everybody has given me the impression that law schools see GPA as absolute anyways. But is that what you're trying to tell me - that Grinnell's tough standards will help me do better on the LSAT? </p>

<p>But let's say I was a better student and that I had average grades and LSAT for Grinnell. Are you saying that being average at Grinnell is just as good as being very good at Directional State for law school applications? Because if that holds true, that would definitely boost my confidence. How about even being below average at Grinnell? </p>

<p>See, I was under the impression that being above average ANYWHERE is what law schools prefer. And my rationale would then be that it is far, far easier in an absolute sense to be above average at Directional State than it is to be above average at Grinnell. </p>

<p>"Now I happen to think that some LACs do a less than stellar job with career guidance. But I poked around a while on Grinnell's website as well as that of Illinois Wesleyan and Lake Forest College. Now, perhaps the websites are misleading, but I came away with the impression that Grinnell is WAY ahead of the other two schools in terms of law school guidance AND career guidance. I'm not knocking the other schools, but I LIKE LACs that put the link to career guidance right there on the home page. I like LACs that offer LSAT and MCAT classes right on campus with a special discount rate negotiated by the college, that have an internship data bank, a resume review service, internship programs offered for credit, and several other things I noted on the website. And I also like LACs that say right upfront how they do in terms of placing students into med and law schools..and hand out info like the median gpa and LSAT scores of LS applicants."</p>

<p>""Who are these people who are telling you that everyone at Grinnell gets worse grades in their soph,jr, and sr years than their freshman year and that Lake Forest College or Illinois Wesleyan will give you better career prospects than Grinnell? Because while I don't have access to grades at Grinnell and I'm not a human resource department manager, I have a really, really hard time believing that either of these statements is true.""</p>

<p>Well, thank you for putting that much effort into knowing about my issue! I certainly appreciate it. I'll admit that I wasn't aware that we had that many career services. Maybe I assumed too much based on the goals of students I talked to Grinnell. Few people are career driven. Most people don't even know what they want to do yet, which I viewed as a good thing because I'm a little bit of the same way. </p>

<p>But by the same token, most people don't even seem to care about earning a living. I get the impression that most people want to live off of their parents for a while and go to grad school (by grad school, I mean academic and nonprofessional)...which is not at all what I really I want to do. I guess I feel so uneasy because many people on capus actually make fun of themselves by saying something to the effect "After I get out of where, I'd be lucky to get a job. I think I should stay in school longer" ...which makes me sometime wonder "Why did I go here? I wanted to be able to get a job after college. I thought that was one of the points of going to college." If I'm not going to any better off than the kids graduating from Illinois Wesleyan and Lake Forest (where some classes have a more professional focus), then I wouldn't care at all. </p>

<p>I get the impression that my grades will not improve because many students tell me that intro classes are easier...to the point where people take certain intro classes and call them "GPA boosters." I don't plan on taking many more introductory classes, so I would have lost that cushion. Again, I'm not trying to excuse myself for being lazy but I don't want to come out of college with an embarrassing GPA that I will constantly have to explain. </p>

<p>But yeah, I'd like to thank all of you guys for giving me feedback. I'm sorry if I act like I know how the world works or I'm basing life on false impressions... but I know that I don't know how anything works. I'm just a clueless kid who needs advice on what to do.</p>

<p>I couldn't read that entire novel, but I caught a few glimpses, and yes there is the argument of intrinsic value that comes from being at a better school. And if this is true it should help on the LSAT and in law schol. But again a 3.4-3.5 at any state school is going to be looked at more favorable than a 3.2-3.3 at grinnell. That is just the fact of law school admissions. But I do get the impression that you think that gap is far bigger than it really is between Grinnell and other schools. A 3.2 does not equate to a 3.9 at really any state school with the same habits. Since i've been through this same situation IMHO opinion I think a 3.2 probably equates to about a 3.4-3.5 at said lower tier state school. Really, you just need to work harder.</p>

<p>You should really check out this website: google "STUDYHACKS"
It's run by an MIT grad student who gives amazing advice on studying, school, life and all of the in-betweens. He really gives you a new perspective on life and school that will help, to some extent, on raising your GPA.</p>

<p>empower:</p>

<p>you might wish to visit with a counselor at Grinnell. One thing that LACs are supposed to be good at is a more personal touch than Big State U, so I'm assuming that they would offer good support. Some counseling advice is probably important since you appear to be going thru buyer's remorse based on your other posts (turning down a 8 year DO program for a LAC).</p>

<p>Two: you need to separate your major from your college choice. A Lit major at Directional U (or an Ivy, for that matter), has the same minimal job prospects as one from Grinnell, in today's economy. An engineer or undergrad biz major, however, may have better prospects, regardless of the college. Since LACs by definition, (with few exceptions), don't do undergrad biz or engineering, two typical pre-professional majors, LACs don't have a pre-professional vibe.</p>

<p>Third, if you really are considering law school (from prehealth?) you should understand that the gpa is only ~50% of the admissions game; LSAT is the other ~50%. (Obviously, some law schools rate gpa more highly, for others LSAT is more important.) But the point being is that a 3.7 gpa and a low LSAT will not make a successful applicant to higher-ranked law schools.</p>

<p>Good luck.</p>

<p>You're just overreacting to what was not really that bad of a freshman year. Just work to get your grades up and don't panic.</p>

<p>"But I do get the impression that you think that gap is far bigger than it really is between Grinnell and other schools. A 3.2 does not equate to a 3.9 at really any state school with the same habits. Since i've been through this same situation IMHO opinion I think a 3.2 probably equates to about a 3.4-3.5 at said lower tier state school. Really, you just need to work harder."</p>

<p>I'm not entirely sure about that. While I would love to believe that, I know some pretty unmotivated kids from high school that went to party schools and 3.5+ GPAs with (probably) little effort. I'm highly skeptical that these kids suddenly developed good study habits in college, but I could be wrong.</p>

<p>"you might wish to visit with a counselor at Grinnell. One thing that LACs are supposed to be good at is a more personal touch than Big State U, so I'm assuming that they would offer good support. Some counseling advice is probably important since you appear to be going thru buyer's remorse based on your other posts (turning down a 8 year DO program for a LAC)."</p>

<p>That remorse is a little more directed towards sacrificing my professional certainty for a LAC than turning down a med career, really. Science doesn't appeal to me and while I probably would have had a easy time during undergrad (at a pretty pedestrian school), actual med school might have just been too much for me. And yeah, I've always been more interested in social sciences and humanities than I was in science. I only applied into a pre-health program because basically my parents forced me into it (in general, they don't see anything that isn't science related or engineering worth doing).</p>

<p>"Two: you need to separate your major from your college choice. A Lit major at Directional U (or an Ivy, for that matter), has the same minimal job prospects as one from Grinnell, in today's economy. An engineer or undergrad biz major, however, may have better prospects, regardless of the college. Since LACs by definition, (with few exceptions), don't do undergrad biz or engineering, two typical pre-professional majors, LACs don't have a pre-professional vibe."</p>

<p>Do biz majors actually become relatively prosperous? I feel as if management degrees are a dime a dozen and I know somebody with a marketing degree from a run of the mill state school who is working at a grocery store now. Based on my vocational concerns, I kind of opted to go for an economics major. I have no idea how marketable that would be.</p>

<p>You base the prospects of entire majors/degrees based on two anecdotes?</p>