Taking up law school nowadays can be a challenge. The idea has often crossed my mind, but I guess my life took on a different turn. As for those eager to tackle the admission requirements in law school these days, I might be able to provide a few tips, especially on how to get into a law school with a low GPA.
What is a GPA?
For those enrolled in a Bachelor’s or Master’s program, your GPA is an important figure to watch out for, especially if you are planning to take up law.
GPA or the “Grade Point Average” is a figure that shows your average score in your courses. Generally, you will have a score on the GPA between 1.0 and 4.0, throughout your learning, and it provides a basis for whether your overall grades were high or low. Your GPA is later used to determine whether you qualify for the standards and expectations set by a degree program or university you are applying for.
Why is a GPA important?
As part of your education, your GPA is an essential basis that shows your performance as a student and whether you have been doing your best during the program. Even if you know whether you have passed and excelled in your courses, your GPA provides a broader indication of your overall grades and scores.
Generally, during your Bachelor or Master degree, you might be asked to provide your GPA in certain situations such as the following:
• Applying for a scholarship
• Engaging in extra-curricular activities
• Joining a club or organization
• Applying for a graduate or post-graduate program (Master or Ph.D.)
In several ways, your GPA is vital since it allows you to take part in other activities during your student life. If an organization or club wants to know what kind of student, you are – your GPA is a good starting point.
What is considered a good or bad GPA?
On a national level, it is essential to note that the average unweighted GPA in high school is around 3.0, which is equivalent to a B average. In case your GPA is higher than 3.0, you are doing well, but it depends on how your school calculates the GPA and what your main objectives are.
This is the norm for all students throughout the country. It includes around 34% of high school students who opted not to proceed to college. The average GPA among high school students who plan to go to college is likely higher than 3.0.
Generally, a 3.5-4.0 GPA, which is equivalent to an A- or A average is a usual requirement for admission to the top colleges. Nevertheless, one can still gain entry to a school with minimum requirements with a GPA of 2.0, equivalent to a C-average.
How to calculate your GPA
A GPA or grade point average is calculated by averaging all your grades by a point system, usually on a scale of 4.0. In simple terms, every grade has designated a point, and they are added together and divided by the total number of grades to get the average.
There are two types of GPAs – semester GPA and cumulative GPA. For a semester GPA, it is based on grades for a specific semester, while a cumulative GPA covers all the grades since the start of the school, either high school or college.
How to address a low GPA when applying to Law School
For those who have plans to apply to a law school, I must give you a tip that there are two crucial elements in your application – LSAT score and your GPA. Although different schools designate different weights to each of these figures, both will play a significant role in where you will end up studying law.
While the best route to a stress-free application is to ensure that your application has a strong LSAT score and GPA, not everyone is lucky enough to gain these assets. For those who might be lagging in one of these figures, I have a few tips to share that can help you get into law school with a low GPA.
I need to clarify something first. When it comes to a low GPA, it mainly depends on the school. Generally, if your GPA is close to or below the 25th percentile in a class, consider it a low GPA. Remember, though, that not all low GPAs are equal. If you see yourself among those with a low GPA, I have several tips to improve your chances.
Clearly define any circumstances surrounding your GPA
I know that those who have a subpar GPA have several reasons. It might be an illness, the death of a loved one, or facing an uncontrollable life event that has a significant impact on academic performance. These explanations for a low GPA must be highlighted in an addendum to your application.
From a different perspective, if your GPA suffered since you did not take your studies seriously, there is no need to explain your mediocre performance. Your chances of getting into law school with a low GPA might increase if you point to something that made an impact on your ability to succeed as a student.
Improve your chances by becoming a “splitter”.
I have noticed that most applicants who do not have superior scores are included in a category called “splitters.” The reason is that they split their performance in pertinent metrics. If you have a high GPA and low LSAT score or vice versa, call yourself a splitter.
If you have a low GPA, your LSAT score is a prominent figure. For those with a low GPA, I suggest aiming to be a splitter by getting an LSAT score above the 75th percentile target. Remember that it is worth spending extra time getting ready for the test to improve your odds of getting into a law school with a low GPA.
Get strong recommendations
Getting the right recommendations might help, especially those who can consider themselves as borderline cases. If you have a low GPA, I suggest getting strong recommendations for your application. It simply means finding the right individuals who genuinely know you, enjoy working with you, and can share your strengths as a student. With the right words, it might be the key to getting into law school with a low GPA.
Full-time employment before the application
From what I have seen lately, more law schools these days are valuing work experience. Besides providing you with an alternative venue to make the most out of your skills, having work experience, especially a long one, will work wonders.
Sadly, law school is not similar to a business school where long-term, superior work experience can negate a subpar GPA, but it can still add some benefit. I suggest looking for relevant, meaningful work for your legal goals.
Furthermore, adding work experience to your application gives you the chance to gain an extra recommendation for your application. Even if it is just a few years, you can present a fresh slate of positive achievements separate from your grades.
Set your target schools to the realistic ones
Although this may not be as attractive as some of the tips I mentioned, it is best to widen the scope of your applications if you have a low GPA. The best bet is to include law schools where your GPA is at or above the 50th and 75th percentiles of incoming students. Along with the other tips I mentioned, this will ensure that you have a good selection of law schools to choose from.
List of ten Law Schools that accept low GPA scores
Getting into the law school of your dreams can be a tough ordeal. If you reach the minimum requirements, your dream of becoming a lawyer is possible.
Most law schools require a specific minimum GPA and LSAT scores to qualify. Some of the top-ranked schools require a GPA of at least 3.50 and an LSAT score of 170. These are rigid requirements that many applicants cannot reach.
Luckily, I am eager to share this list of law schools that you can consider if you have a low GPA and LSAT mark. Rest assured that most of these schools have high approval rates.
• Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego
You need to get a minimum LSAT score of 144 and a GPA of 2.80 to gain entry to this school, but the tuition and fees that can reach $49,500 might make you have second thoughts.
• Southern Illinois University
This school has a higher bar passing rate of around 69%, which is still noteworthy. You need to have a minimum LSAT score of 147 and a GPA of 3.00. Aside from getting a superior educational experience, this law school is quite affordable.
• Charleston School of Law, South Carolina
The school requires a minimum LSAT score of only 14 and a GPA of 3.00.
• Thomas M. Cooley Law School
This is one of the most accessible law schools worth considering. It has an approval rate of up to 85%. The minimum LSAT score is 142 and a GPA of 2.90, but it comes at a price. The tuition and payments can reach up to $51,000, but the school has an above-average bar passing rate of 60%.
• Loyola University, Chicago
If you want to increase your chances of getting into a law school with a low GPA on your first attempt, this school should be on your list. The school boasts a bar pass rate of around 76%.
• Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
This school has an acceptance rate of 65%. It has a minimum requirement of 144 on your LSAT and a GPA of 3.00.
• North Carolina Central University
As long as you have a minimum LSAT score of 140 and a GPA of 2.90, your chances of getting into this school are high.
• Appalachian School of Law, Virginia
The school requires a minimum LSAT score of 143 and a GPA of 2.80.
• Willamette University, Salem, Oregon
The school has a high acceptance rate of 76% as long as you have a score of 152 in the LSAT and a GPA of 3.10.
• Concordia Law School
The school accepts applications with a minimum GPA of 2.9 and an LSAT score of 147. The best part is the high bar pass rate of 90%.
Applying to law schools with a low GPA might be a hurdle for some, but it is not the end of everything. I must point out that you should be realistic with your overall objectives and use the tips I mentioned with your applications.