GPA vs. Mock Trial

<p>I'm an undergraduate freshman this year at UT Austin, and though I was really interested in Mock Trial, I decided not to try out because I wanted to focus on my GPA. At the end of this semester, I easily maintained a 4.0, and I think I'll be able to keep that up (or at least very close) through upper division courses... unless I do Mock Trial.</p>

<p>That sounds a little fatalistic, but I know myself well. In high school, I got really caught up in Academic Decathlon and wasn't able to keep my grades up; I made a conscious effort to focus on classes even as Ac Dec got more competitive, and I just couldn't do it. From how the coaches and team members describe it, UT Mock Trial seems even more rigorous than Ac Dec was.</p>

<p>So my question is this: If I want to go to a Top-14-or-so law school, would it be better to keep my grades up and have a few minor ECs or to do Mock Trial and have maybe closer to a 3.5?</p>

<p>P.S.: I don't mean to come off as really cocky! Of course, I don't know for sure that I'll make Mock Trial or be able to keep close to a 4--I'm more just asking as a kind of strategic decision for admissions.</p>

<p>Please remember that none of us are professionals and none of us know you, but here is my advice. I don't work in admissions at a LS, so you should take this advice with cups of salt. </p>

<p>First, how good are you at standardized tests? The LSAT is even more important than GPA in terms of getting into LS. If you are good at standardized tests and got a 1550+ on the two main portions of the SAT and can buckle down to study for the LSAT, then you can "afford" to let your gpa suffer a bit. On the flip side, if your SAT was after studying, a 1350-1400--very good scores, of course, just not super scores--then you're going to need every point of your GPA.</p>

<p>Second, do you really think mock trial will make you drop .5? That's a huge drop. If you really think you can't do it without dropping that much, then I wouldn't do it, especially if you're not a wiz at standardized tests. But if you are really talking about a 3.7 or so, that's a different story. </p>

<p>Third, how good are you at mock trial? Dropping your Gpa .5 to do mock trial is not a good idea if you are good enough to make the team, but not good enough to be a <em>star.</em> I've nothing but my gut to back this up, but I think LSs are a bit more willing to forgive a bit of a drop in grades for those who end up being truly outstanding at ECs than for those who spend just as much time doing them but aren't <em>stars.</em> </p>

<p>Fourth, how high are you aiming for LS? There's a lot of difference in terms of difficulty of admission between YHS and Georgetown or Cornell. (In fact, if you are a Texas resident, I'd recommend UT Law over G'town or Cornell.) While ECs play a FAR lesser role in LS admission than in college admissions, LSs do want to see that you did something more than study for 4 years. If you don't do mock trial are there other ECs you will participate in that may be a bit less time consuming, but are still more than resume padders? if the "minor ECs" you are talking about are pure fluff that's different than if they are substantive. </p>

<p>I can't answer your question for you, but these are some of the things I think are relevant to making your decision.</p>

<p>I realized after posting this question that it's probably a lot more complicated than I made it out to be, but I definitely appreciate the input.</p>

<p>The part about the LSAT is reassuring. I've never taken it before, but I made a 2370 SAT and have always been voraciously into complex logic problems. I only did high school Mock Trial as a witness for one year, but I made a perfect score at the state competition.</p>

<p>Even still, in high school, my grades dropped dramatically--I made Cs on the year in Bio and Calculus.</p>

<p>I don't know--I guess maybe there's just no right or wrong answer...</p>

<p>P.S.: Yeah, UT Law is probably at the top of my list unless I can get money to a T14.</p>

<p>GPA is more important than any extracurriculars, and law schools will take note of a downward trend in your grades. With that said, it would be a shame to miss something you really like (and that could help you decide what you like about law) just for the sake of law school admissions. Could you try mock trial and see how much your grades go down, and quit after a semester if you're unhappy with your grades? You could make a deal with yourself, like "I will not start my mock trial work until I have studied for x hours today."</p>

<p>Pursue your passion. If you can't handle Moot Court (Mock Trial) & undergraduate academics at a large state university, then it is unlikely that you will be comfortable at a Top 14 law school. Also, I do not agree with the above stated correlation between SAT & LSAT scores--although there may well be a correlation. Anyone scoring 700 or above on the SAT I CR section is capable of achieving a very high LSAT score with adequate preparation & motivation. I am referring to four years of undergraduate preparation of pursuing a rigorous & challenging course of study as well as review specific to the LSAT exam.</p>

you can't handle Moot Court (Mock Trial) & undergraduate academics at a large state university, then it is unlikely that you will be comfortable at a Top 14 law school.


<p>Again, I respectfully disagree with ColdWind. I don't think the OP is talking about flunking out. It's just that, based on prior experience, he knows that he can get so "into" his ECs that his grades will suffer. He's said he's afraid he'd drop to a 3.5 or so. Mock trial at some colleges is a 30-40 hour a week commitment, as much as a Division I varsity sport. If you can devote 30-40 hours to any activity and pull a 3.5 at UTexas-Austin, you'll do just fine in LS.</p>