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Sasha7

INSIGHT - 3 Year vs 4 year honors: does it matter?

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I would appreciate your logic, compassion, and strategic decision making skills --especially if you're 27 years old & above! I have these 3 qualities, however, there has been a question circulating in my mind for almost a year and I must make a decision because the Fall semester is close and I feel too emotional and confused about it. 

Currently, I have my 3 year general degree with an 80% GPA, my overall is more powerful than some of my semesters, but I did make deans a few times! I'm a mature student, so time is a major concern for me, however, I want to come up with a strategy rather than settle with my circumstances. I want to know your insight (whoever you are) so that I can have some ideas to work with in order to make a decision asap! There are some challenges I've dealt with which resulted in only a 3 year degree, but I keep thinking of getting my 4 year degree because it's 2 semesters. However....

What are your thoughts on applying to law schools in Ontario with a 3 year General bachelor degree? If I aim for an LSAT of 160 and above,  2 academic references, and a solid essay. I know the typical applicant who gets into law school has a 4 year, but not everyone is the same applicant.

I would appreciate your insight into whether I should push PAST the thing that stopped me from getting my 4 year, or should I just compete with my 3 year. Law school itself is 3 years and I've proven I can do 3 years of study and do well too. Are my semesters perfect? No. But isn't all about the LSAT, essay, and references in the end? I feel anxious about my 3 year, but I truly worked hard for it. The idea of doing 2 more semesters and risking health, happiness, and pushing my LSAT test to September 2019 seems daunting. 

If I do 2 semesters as of this fall & get my 4 year, then I would take the LSAT in September 2019 - studying in Uni is already high pressure and I'm all about focus, so that's why it would be Sept 2019.

OR I  compete with my 3 year degree which would mean I take the Oct , or December, or February LSAT to hopefully get in for Sept 2019 

I'm sure many of you will say 4 year simply because you have it, but I'm looking for a strategic answer, because as a woman I feel time is not on my side and I want to get into law school as soon as possible. 

I would appreciate your insight. Please answer with empathy, because if you're under 25 then you've got time or feel as if you've got time, but over 30 feels rushed and intense because you want to do law, have a baby, make money, so it feels quite overwhelming. 

 

 

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It sounds like you need to do the four year degree. If you're a mature student right now, it means you don't qualify for the Mature discretionary category at some schools, which normally requires you to be 5 years out. That means you're competing with the general applicants where most have four year degrees, and a 3 year general would be a disadvantage. Simply being older isn't even close to setting you apart from the rest of the pack. And no, it isn't simply about the LSAT, essay and references in the end. If anything, it's GPA and LSAT in the end, everything else is a bonus that might push you over (unless it's a discretionary applicant).

Also, what's the thing that's stopping you from a four year degree? If it's not an external cause (family death, financial issues, etc), and you can't finish the last year of an honours degree, that's not a good indication that law school is the right choice.

Sidebar: 80% isn't a GPA. Straight numbers don't penalize inconsistency how the actual GPA scale does. Odds are an 80% cumulative average will be below the 80% GPA equivalent of a 3.7. Also, shoot for a 160 LSAT, but until you actually achieve it, everything we tell you is all academic.

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2 hours ago, Sasha7 said:

I would appreciate your logic, compassion, and strategic decision making skills --especially if you're 27 years old & above! I have these 3 qualities, however, there has been a question circulating in my mind for almost a year and I must make a decision because the Fall semester is close and I feel too emotional and confused about it. 

Currently, I have my 3 year general degree with an 80% GPA, my overall is more powerful than some of my semesters, but I did make deans a few times! I'm a mature student, so time is a major concern for me, however, I want to come up with a strategy rather than settle with my circumstances. I want to know your insight (whoever you are) so that I can have some ideas to work with in order to make a decision asap! There are some challenges I've dealt with which resulted in only a 3 year degree, but I keep thinking of getting my 4 year degree because it's 2 semesters. However....

What are your thoughts on applying to law schools in Ontario with a 3 year General bachelor degree? If I aim for an LSAT of 160 and above,  2 academic references, and a solid essay. I know the typical applicant who gets into law school has a 4 year, but not everyone is the same applicant.

I would appreciate your insight into whether I should push PAST the thing that stopped me from getting my 4 year, or should I just compete with my 3 year. Law school itself is 3 years and I've proven I can do 3 years of study and do well too. Are my semesters perfect? No. But isn't all about the LSAT, essay, and references in the end? I feel anxious about my 3 year, but I truly worked hard for it. The idea of doing 2 more semesters and risking health, happiness, and pushing my LSAT test to September 2019 seems daunting. 

If I do 2 semesters as of this fall & get my 4 year, then I would take the LSAT in September 2019 - studying in Uni is already high pressure and I'm all about focus, so that's why it would be Sept 2019.

OR I  compete with my 3 year degree which would mean I take the Oct , or December, or February LSAT to hopefully get in for Sept 2019 

I'm sure many of you will say 4 year simply because you have it, but I'm looking for a strategic answer, because as a woman I feel time is not on my side and I want to get into law school as soon as possible. 

I would appreciate your insight. Please answer with empathy, because if you're under 25 then you've got time or feel as if you've got time, but over 30 feels rushed and intense because you want to do law, have a baby, make money, so it feels quite overwhelming. 

 

 

1) Aiming for 160 on the LSAT doesn’t mean you’ll get 160. You can’t really aim for a number on the LSAT. Don’t start assuming you’ll get into law school before you see that score.

2) When you say push past the thing that stopped you getting a 4 year degree.... this is still an issue? If it stopped you getting a 4 year degree won’t it stop you getting a 3 year law degree? 

3) You don’t need a 4 year degree to go to law school. Most people have them and there are advantages - more time to mature, more options to drop the worst courses from calculation of your GPA, taking harder courses that better prepare you for law school. But it is not mandatory.

4) I am not sure how one year makes such a difference to your “life, health and happiness.” It may take more than a year to get in to law school if your LSAT is not good, etc. 27 and 28 aren’t materially different. There are people in law schools those ages and older.

5) Law school admissions are primarily about LSAT and GPA. References and essays and so on are less important.

6) You mention having a baby. Do you have a partner or are you wanting to do this alone? 27 is still young to worry about this unless there are specific medical concerns. There’s no magic time to have a baby. If you rush through law school and then try to have a baby, if you are successful, you will probably impact your ability to article, find a job or advance in your job. If you have a baby in law school, you may impact your grades, ability to do extracurricular activities, etc. Plus with either of these two options, it may be hard financially. If you wait until a few years into practice, it may be harder to have one but more financially feasible and less destructive to your career. If you can afford it, freezing eggs now is a good idea. 

If you want to make the commitment and investment of law school, you should focus on that. If your priority is having a child, you should focus on that. Trying to do both at once and have it all may not be the best idea especially if you have other challenges. I started law school as a 24-year-old single mother and would never wish that on anyone. I’m pregnant again now years into practice and it is difficult to manage my career especially as I’ve had various complications. You don’t know what kind of pregnancy you might have either. 

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11 hours ago, RNGesus said:

If you're a mature student right now, it means you don't qualify for the Mature discretionary category at some schools, which normally requires you to be 5 years out.

I just wanted to add to this that the OP should check with the individual schools as to what their mature category is. Because while it’s true that you generally have to be so many years out of University, there are also some schools (like Osgoode) that also care when you started university relative to graduating high school.

For example, at Osgoode, I believe the rule is, if you started university 7 years out of high school then you’d be a mature student even if there’s no gap between your bachelors and starting law school. So double check to see which schools have this two-tailed test for mature status. 

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11 minutes ago, Ryn said:

I just wanted to add to this that the OP should check with the individual schools as to what their mature category is. Because while it’s true that you generally have to be so many years out of University, there are also some schools (like Osgoode) that also care when you started university relative to graduating high school.

For example, at Osgoode, I believe the rule is, if you started university 7 years out of high school then you’d be a mature student even if there’s no gap between your bachelors and starting law school. So double check to see which schools have this two-tailed test for mature status. 

I don't think Osgoode has the mature category anymore

But I do agree with the general advise given. I believe most schools with the mature category require that either you took a certain period of time off after your undergraduate degree, OR that you took a specific amount of time before you started your undergraduate degree. I cannot recall any school having the requirement for the mature category that there must be a gap between the bachelors and law degree, but I could be mistaken and one should double check that.

Edited by Timmies123
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1 hour ago, Timmies123 said:

I don't think Osgoode has the mature category anymore

It’s not a category, per se. It’s an idenfication you can make if you meet the requirements. 

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Thank you to everyone who has responded. Greatly appreciated. 80% cumulative is a 3.7 GPA. I do actually qualify for the mature student as per the requirements. For example at Western: 
"Mature candidates must have at least five years of non-university experience since leaving high school and a minimum of two years full-time (or equivalent) university study. A competitive candidate in the Mature category will have an overall average of B+ (78% / 3.3 GPA) and an LSAT score above the 65th percentile. Mature applicants are asked to provide a resumé as a supplementary document when filing their application." 

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2 hours ago, Sasha7 said:

 80% cumulative is a 3.7 GPA. 

OLSAS does not calculate your GPA based on your cumulative average. They translate each grade to a GPA score and calculate average GPA score based on class weight. So, if you got 80-84% in every class, then yes, your GPA is 3.7. But from what you say, your "overall is more powerful than some of your semesters", so it's safe to assume your GPA will NOT be 3.7.

An example calculation would look like this. Say you took 5 courses in a semester, all courses were weighted equally at 3 credits per course for a total of 15 credits. You got at 77, 86, 81, 87, and 74. That's an 81 average, so you'd think 3.7. But no, the GPA for that term would be calculated as such:

77 = 3.3, 3.3 x 3 = 9.9

86 = 3.9, 3.9 x 3 = 11.7

81 = 3.7, 3.7 x 3 = 11.1

87 = 3.9, 3.9 x 3 = 11.7

74 = 3.0, 3.0 x 3 = 9.0

Total: 54.3 / 15 - . Your GPA is 3.62

If you qualify for the mature category in some schools, great. You may also, when you see a breakdown of your GPA year by year, want to focus on L2 schools if your later years were stronger. You may consider doing the 4th year as a way to bring up your L2 GPA. All up to you, but it's important to know your actual GPA in order to assess your competitiveness as an applicant.

 

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I'll tell you what a Western applicant told me the other week (we were connected by a mutual friend). She applied with a 3 year general degree, a 3.6 gpa (not sure about L2), and a 160 LSAT. She was waitlisted and ultimately did not make it off. She said she called Western to get some advice, and they said her general degree made it hard to compete with other applicants (among other things I'm sure, but she seemed to think that was the take away).

I'm sure if she bumped her LSAT up she would have a good shot at Western.

I'd say go for the four year degree (especially if it gives you the chance for a robust writing assignment). What's an extra year? I know you're feeling the pressure cause you're a mature student (and honestly, I cannot relate and will not try to), but in the grand scheme of things it is not that much. But then again, I am not in your shoes..

Good luck! I hope everything works out.

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First off, everyone aims for an LSAT of 160 or higher. Unfortunately, by design only 20% of people achieve it. Don't hedge your future on aspirations.

Now, with a competitive enough LSAT and some interesting/relevant life-work experiences, you could absolutely gain admissions without a 4 year degree as a mature student with your GPA, I did this year. As mentioned earlier though, there's no way to predict whether your baseline LSAT will be a 160 or a 130, and if you are on the lower end it's a bigger hurdle than you can imagine to get yourself into a position to be competitive (if ever), so don't make any life plans until you are full on into the LSAT.  If I were you, I would enroll in fall classes for your 4th year, write a diagnostic LSAT and start or continue studying for it.  If you have to, wait for the December write if you are feeling confident you will be competitive enough.  Apply broadly across Ontario for the upcoming year as a mature student, Osgoode for example only specifies that applicants who want mature consideration have: 1) They are at least 26 years of age; and 2) They have a minimum of 5 years of non-academic experience. Mature categories are a bit of a mixed bag it seems, and statistics alone don't necessarily predict admissions as well as in the general stream.

Also, don't discount the idea of finishing your 4 year degree, carrying on with another career and life in general, then revisiting law school after you have a family. There are simply no guarantees with law school admission, no matter how badly you want it.

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Also, in terms of "Pushing past the thing that stopped [you] from getting [your] 4 year", I think the answer will be obvious to you.  If you were to gain admissions to law school for next year, you would need to push past it anyways.   If you want to have a shot at most post-degree programs, you'll need to push past it anyways. The 4-year degree will arguably put you in a better position to land meaningful employment after graduation if you don't pursue further education. The real question is, if you do have higher aspirations for education, why wouldn't you push past it? Are you sure you're ready for 3 years of law school? (You don't need to answer these, they're just meant to encourage you to reflect)

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36 minutes ago, TrqTTs said:

First off, everyone aims for an LSAT of 160 or higher.

Can definitely attest to this. I've never heard anyone say "I want a 150", including me. It still kicked my ass.

My diagnostic was 150 and I scored 157, so there is room for improvement, just don't minimize the amount of work that needs to be put in.

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