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Chances - 2.9 - 178

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Graduated from McGill with a 2.9 GPA, 3.05 for the 3 best years, 3.15 for the best 2. And I just got a 178 on the June LSAT. I have about a year of work experience, half of it in China, and I speak decent mandarin. Very average extra-curricular activities during university. I really struggled with posting this, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

 

My situation is this: with my GPA&LSAT combination I have much better chances of getting into a great school in the US, but I would really like to study - and practice - law in Canada. What would be my chances of getting into UBC, Osgoorde and (gotta ask) U of T ? I understand that some Canadian universities take a more holistic approach to law school admissions, but I'm geographically pretty confined to the East Coast (although I could make an exception for UBC). I understand that anywhere in Quebec is pretty much out of the question because of the gpa.

All thoughts/suggestions welcome, feel free to flame on the terrible GPA.

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For what it's worth, I got into Windsor and Alberta with a 2.7, 163 (waitlisted at Calgary, Western, Dalhousie and Lakehead).  I do, however, have 5+ years of full time work experience.

 

I know someone who got into UofT with a 2.7, 172 (albeit back in 2004 or 5), but he also had 5+ years of work experience

I also know someone who got into Osgoode with a 3.0, 160ish lsat in 2012 (with a few years of work experience) 

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Whoa! you killed that lsat. Congrats.  I have never seen a score that high. I am but a lowly 0L who is not an expert on the chances dept, but u of t is almost a definite no...

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That sure is one hell of a split. Are there any monetary reasons that would prevent you from applying to all or at least many schools in Canada? If not, then just apply everywhere. Are you going to get into UofT with those marks? Probably not but nobody here can say that with absolute certainty. It doesn't matter what school it is, they'll have a tough time ignoring a 178.

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You guys are making me feel a little better about this. I know this kind of super-split is not unheard of in the US, but Canada is really more GPA centric :/ Hopefully someone will want to grab me for the score.

The main reason that constrains me geographically is work opportunities for my SO. The east coast is where work is, and the farther you go from big city hubs, the worse it gets.

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Is your best 2 your last 2? I know you didn;t ask for it specifically but I think you could get into U of A with that LSAT if you have a ~3.1 in your last 2 years.

 

Also, not to be negative about your chances but your US chances aren't amazing or anything. You could get into a couple of T14s, probably GULC and NU but don;t expect a lot of money and when you look at the job market there, even for some great schools plus the debt, I'd stick to Canada. 

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Yeah, your "great opportunities" in the states really need to be contextualized, particularly vis-a-vis your expressed desire to practice in Canada. Quite frankly it's hard to know what will happen; applying everywhere is probably your best bet.

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Because you're such an extreme-splitter, and you clearly have other things besides just stats in your application, I think the best advice is just to apply to all the schools you're interested in and I'm sure some will bite.

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Well, you're in a better position than the vast majority of people who post with sub 3.0's.  Kudos on being accountable for your shitty cGPA. 

You'll get in somewhere, though it's best not to be picky.  You aren't relegated to the Dual at Windsor/Detroit, Lakehead or TRU, but you won't get into U of T unless you have a remarkable story.  Osgoode is difficult to predict because this cycle seems to indicate that they are focusing primarily on cGPA.  UBC is an excellent school and you may have the index to sneak in.  I agree with Wagstaff, that's your best option. 

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Thanks for the replies. Unfortunately my best two is not my last two, it's my first and last year. I have already looked at U of A though, and would apply there for sure if it wasn't for the location.
I don't exactly expect a great opportunity in the states, only a T14 school, most likely at sticker which as some of you pointed out is not necessarily better than a lesser known Canadian one. You're right DSman, most likely that would be NU, GULC or UVA. I'm hoping for a bit of lenience, especially on the scholarship money front, but I have no illusions.

 

I just wanted to know where I stand for Canada. So I guess I'll blanket Canadian universities with apps, same as the T14, and hopefully someone will bite.

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Thanks for the replies. Unfortunately my best two is not my last two, it's my first and last year. I have already looked at U of A though, and would apply there for sure if it wasn't for the location.

I don't exactly expect a great opportunity in the states, only a T14 school, most likely at sticker which as some of you pointed out is not necessarily better than a lesser known Canadian one. You're right DSman, most likely that would be NU, GULC or UVA. I'm hoping for a bit of lenience, especially on the scholarship money front, but I have no illusions.

 

I just wanted to know where I stand for Canada. So I guess I'll blanket Canadian universities with apps, same as the T14, and hopefully someone will bite.

But if your goal is to practice law in Canada, going to a bottom tier T14 school does you no favours. You're going to spend more money, not learn Canadian law, and then will have to explain why you would privilege UVA over Windsor.

 

If you want to live and practice in the states... it's doable and all, but from what I gather its a much more competitive legal market. Again, being a Canadian who graduated from a bottom tier T14 school will place you in a difficult position. I've read that the process to get a permanent work visa is much more difficult than many people think.

 

Your split makes you a unique applicant. Provided you aren't too picky and apply broadly, you'll have options to choose from in Canada that will all be financially and logistically superior to your American options (assuming you wish to live and practice in Canada).

 

 

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I don't think you can afford to be completely picky about where you study, but how broadly you apply is up to you. I applied down to the least appealing school to which I knew I'd get in (Manitoba), and for comparison, started the cycle as a 179/3.28, and finished as a 3.49. I was also at McGill. As an aside, If you're willing to make an exception to your geographic considerations for UBC, it's almost certainly worth making it for other schools. 

 

You will have the slimmest of chances at U of T, entirely dependent on how much your PS/additional essay makes the admissions team want you at their school. When I withdrew, I was told they were really interested in me, but it wasn't until they got my winter grades that they said "quick, make an offer to lunaraeon!" I squeaked by as a waitlist admit--unless you're significantly more special than I am, your GPA, especially with a downward trend, will be difficult for them to look past. Especially now that they're ranking candidates with an index.

 

Osgoode, I don't know. They waited until quite late to take me, but unless I'm mistaken they didn't have my winter grades (so I was a 3.4 to them.) Their insistence on having three small, specific questions shredded my PS to bits.

 

UBC, check this forum for the index formula. It's not perfect, especially since you'll have to convert your GPA into percentage and that's not a clear process, but do what I did: convert all your grades at the top of their percentage equivalence ranges, at the middle, and at the bottom. See how you feel about your chances. I would have to check, but I think your GPA will be too low. They are entirely numbers driven.

 

If you don't mind the application fees, apply because your chances are not zero, but not high.

 

You'll have a better chance at other Ontario universities, but again, I don't know how much of one. Queen's took me very late, as did Ottawa, and Western was only a bit earlier. These could easily have been rejections if I had a worse third year. Windsor I couldn't say, I didn't apply, but generally seems to be the most forgiving of flaws.

I would venture an application to McGill if you understand French. They took me quickly, and they have a smaller pool of high LSAT scores. Probably contingent on how interesting of an applicant you are.

 

Check Manitoba and Alberta, you can predict how you'll fare (pretty sure you're an admit), and Calgary may be more forgiving of your grades. I was pretty quickly in at all three once I completed my application. I would think Saskatchewan would take you, too.

 

Don't apply to the US, clearly. You want to practice in Canada. I cannot see any school in the T14 that you would make it into (you're a sub-3.0, below many GPA floors) offering you much money, if any. They would never be as worthwhile as a Canadian school for your goals.

Edited by lunaraeon

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As people have said, if you want to practice in Canada you would likely be better off at basically any Canadian law school. I was a crazy splitter as well and almost applied to US schools, but decided that I wanted to practice in Canada and it didn't make any sense. Splitters at T14 schools don't usually get much in the way of scholarships, so you would likely be borrowing 200k+. Realistically the only way to pay that back is to take a US biglaw job (if you can find one).

 

I think UBC is an index so you should be able to figure out what your chances are there. U of T seems highly unlikely. I believe you would get into U of A and U of M because they give a lot of weight to the LSAT. Anywhere else seems like anyone's guess -- I think your plan to apply broadly and see what happens is a good one. I would guess that you would likely wind up with some options.

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I have no idea where you'll get in because your case is so odd, but I'm sure someone will take you.

 

In your personal statement, you need to talk about why your grades are low. I realize a 2.9 isn't crazy low, but they're going to look at your 178 and think of you as a brilliant underachiever - not exactly the kind of student many are looking for. It's nothing that you can't diffuse and deflect in the personal statement, but start thinking now about how you want to talk about it.

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Apply broadly across North America. If you get one of your desired Canadian schools that makes the decision easy for you. If you get into a solid T14 with a super financial package then at least you have options. My advice would be invest in those application fees and cast a wide net (15+ schools).

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I have no idea where you'll get in because your case is so odd, but I'm sure someone will take you.

 

In your personal statement, you need to talk about why your grades are low. I realize a 2.9 isn't crazy low, but they're going to look at your 178 and think of you as a brilliant underachiever - not exactly the kind of student many are looking for. It's nothing that you can't diffuse and deflect in the personal statement, but start thinking now about how you want to talk about it.

A 2.9 is really low. There's no use sugar coating it, and I think the OP knows that, which is why they are asking for some candid advice.

 

Don't let index scores blur reality. Your cGPA and LSAT aren't two halves of an equal whole. The LSAT measures a very specific set of skills, on one day, through one test. Your cGPA is a demonstration of 4 years of undergraduate work. They might get equal weight through an index score, but in real terms they do not equally speak to your depth and breadth as a potential student. (Obviously this is the sort of thinking employed by cGPA-centric universities, and I guess I come from a similar point of view as their adcoms).

 

I'm not sure if I'd even directly mention your cGPA in your personal statement. Your cGPA isn't drastically far off your Best 2, which would lead me to assume that there wasn't some sort of extenuating circumstance which made you bomb 2/4 years. Excuses sound lame. What I would do is highlight the areas you did excel in, campus leadership etc., or those classes that you really kicked butt in, and how those experiences will make you an excellent law student.

 

 

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I would apply at all schools but I would gauge UofM/UoS/UofA/UBC being pretty viable candidates as they seem to stick to their index score pretty tightly (your ridiculously high LSAT score should be enough to offset your cGPA, at least to make you as competitive as a regular applicant).  UofC/Osgoode might be worth a shot if you have an interesting compulsion to attend law school as they seem to be pretty holistic in their recruitment approach and seem to look for candidates that are good matches for their schools.  For comparison sake, I had a cGPA/LSAT score that was several times higher than the typical candidate at UofC and I only received an offer from them a few weeks ago.  On the flip side, my cGPA/LSAT score were not significantly higher than the average admit at Osgoode and I received an early offer + scholarship from them. I am not familiar with Windsor/Queens/Western/Ottawa/McGill or any school further east as I didn't apply there.

 

I personally do think you have an excellent chance of being admitted somewhere in Canada though.  

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Don't let index scores blur reality. Your cGPA and LSAT aren't two halves of an equal whole. The LSAT measures a very specific set of skills, on one day, through one test. Your cGPA is a demonstration of 4 years of undergraduate work. They might get equal weight through an index score, but in real terms they do not equally speak to your depth and breadth as a potential student. (Obviously this is the sort of thinking employed by cGPA-centric universities, and I guess I come from a similar point of view as their adcoms).

 

This is pretty irrelevant to the OP -- they are wondering about their admission chances, not their "depth and breadth as a potential student". At lots of schools, GPA and LSAT are actually two halves of a whole for admission purposes, and the OP's LSAT score is going to overcome a lot of GPA deficiency. If they get equal weight in an index score, I don't see what else the OP cares about.

 

And while you may personally disagree, I thought the consensus was that available research suggests that LSAT score is a stronger indicator of future law school success than GPA alone (with the two together being the best indicator). The LSAT tests a specific set of skills on one day through one test -- so do law school exams! I get that a GPA this low will obviously raise concerns for adcoms, but I think a low LSAT score raises another set of concerns.

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