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AnalBeads

Computer Science before Law School

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Hello guys, 

I'm a first year CPSC major and I love the law. My absolute dream is to be a lawyer and yet I am forced to confront the possibility of being rejected from law school.

This is why I'm a CPSC major because in case of law school not working out I can still get a job relatively easily that pays quite well. My issue is that I would much rather be a lawyer than a software developer, and I am very interested in politics. I know I would get quite good grades (3.3-3.6 GPA) in political science, but I would only be able to get something like a 2.9-3.2 GPA at best in CPSC. Is there any way to get into law school with a lower GPA but in a field that is harder and more technical? 

 

I withdrew from my first year of university entirely due to abuse from my home life, and I had to see a psychologist who helped me out a lot. This was due to my mother being very nasty towards me, and I don't blame her too much. Me and her went through a lot when my dad abandoned us 2 years prior. I fell into an addiction, depression and I hated myself every day. Today me and my mother's relationship is a lot better, and I am still at university. I am looking to apply into law school as a special applicant but I do not know if these circumstances (among a few others not written here) are sufficient grounds for being a special/discretionary applicant. I have been very active in politics like I mentioned before and in fact I met a lawyer who I'm volunteering for at the moment, who's going to be elected soon (we're campaigning but he has a really good shot). He was also the son of a single mother, and I'm sure he would write me a stellar recommendation. 

 

Having said all of this, what do you guys think my best route to take would be? I would love to be a lawyer more than anything, but seeing my mother struggle to support us I can't imagine going into political science and being rejected only to make a meager salary. Computer science would allow me to live above my current means, but also hinder me in terms of GPA for being admitted into law school. 

 

Thanks for your help.

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1) How do you know you will get 3.3-3.6 in poli sci  and 2.9-3.28 in comp sci? Those are pretty specific numbers.

2) You should take the courses you can get the highest grades possible in - higher than 3.3-3.6 if possible. Generally you’re more likely to get good grades in courses you like. Law schools care more about your GPA than what subject your degree was in. 

3) Sorry about your circumstances. I would think they are within what is contemplated by special circumstances, but be aware that there are limited places and lots of people who have had difficulties so don’t count on it. 

4) Grades and LSAT count a lot more than recommendations.

5) Don’t worry about the fallback career yet. Take what you like and can get the best grades in. If you don’t get into law, then you can take an extra year or two of computer or other courses, part time if you need to work.

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17 minutes ago, providence said:

1) How do you know you will get 3.3-3.6 in poli sci  and 2.9-3.28 in comp sci? Those are pretty specific numbers.

2) You should take the courses you can get the highest grades possible in - higher than 3.3-3.6 if possible. Generally you’re more likely to get good grades in courses you like. Law schools care more about your GPA than what subject your degree was in. 

3) Sorry about your circumstances. I would think they are within what is contemplated by special circumstances, but be aware that there are limited places and lots of people who have had difficulties so don’t count on it. 

4) Grades and LSAT count a lot more than recommendations.

5) Don’t worry about the fallback career yet. Take what you like and can get the best grades in. If you don’t get into law, then you can take an extra year or two of computer or other courses, part time if you need to work.

I can guess from my previous classes how I'll be able to do. My issue is in the worst case scenario (which I should plan for, this is law school) I'll have to finish a degree in poli sci, then do another degree to finish computer science. I'm currently 19 and if I go that route, I'll finish university in 6 years at best, which is 25!! My 20's will be half over and I'll have a load of extra debt from my useless poli sci degree. 

 

I'm being realistic with myself, special circumstances is my only shot in. AFAIK LSAT scores and recommendations mean a lot for special applicants, but I need to know what will make me stand out amongst them, since like I mentioned it's pretty much my only shot. 

 

By the way, the GPAs I said I could get are based on a 4.0 GPA system, so a bit higher on the 4.3 system. 

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If you want to be a lawyer, do whatever program will give you the highest GPA. Law schools (for the most part) do not care what your undergrad is. All they care for is grades and LSAT score, unless you're applying to a holistic school like Windsor where they weight other factors as well. Still, a 2.9-3.2 is very low for any Canadian school. 

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1 hour ago, AnalBeads said:

I can guess from my previous classes how I'll be able to do. My issue is in the worst case scenario (which I should plan for, this is law school) I'll have to finish a degree in poli sci, then do another degree to finish computer science. I'm currently 19 and if I go that route, I'll finish university in 6 years at best, which is 25!! My 20's will be half over and I'll have a load of extra debt from my useless poli sci degree. 

 

I'm being realistic with myself, special circumstances is my only shot in. AFAIK LSAT scores and recommendations mean a lot for special applicants, but I need to know what will make me stand out amongst them, since like I mentioned it's pretty much my only shot. 

 

By the way, the GPAs I said I could get are based on a 4.0 GPA system, so a bit higher on the 4.3 system. 

I would not bank on special circumstances-  it is hard to predict who gets admitted, lots of people have them, and they can be a lot more significant than what you’ve shared. You still need to get the best LSAT score and grades that you can. 

What you need to consider is whether you have the chops to make it in law school, if getting so-so grades in law school is that difficult for you. 

I wouldn’t do two undergrads back to back. And the grades on both might count for some law schools. I’m saying do one, and if law school doesn’t work out, you could do the other. 

Going to law school at 25 is no biggie.

Edited by providence

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I don't know how if it's similar in computer science, but in my program (molecular biology) everyones GPAs went way up after the first two years. Maybe talk to an upper year student in the program and see if it's similar?

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I see that you have asked what will make you stand out as an access applicant, and to be honest, your best bet is to show an upward trend in your grades and score well on the LSAT.  The rest of an application is so subjective that its difficult to say what would make you stand out in 3 or 4 years time. 

I think the access/special applicant programs are designed to be more holistic for people who may have other factors preventing the 4.0/170, which it sounds like you do have.  If you read through the threads though, you'll find tons of access applicants across a wide(ish) range of LSAT scores and GPA's both admitted and rejected.  My takeaway from that is that applying in these categories gives your application an extra consideration, where POSSIBLY your performance may not be weighted as heavily, but I wouldn't rely on it.  Your numerical performance is still going to be the most important factor and you're still going to be up against people who did just as well or better than you, but maybe have an even more compelling story/references/ECs. 

Sounds like you're about to head into the second year of your degree, so you have loads of time to buckle down and try to do well, but I wouldn't take any schooling based solely on the job its going to get you afterward.  Pick something you like, and work your butt off to do well.  If you like computer science, then by all means stick with it, but if you want to get into law you should try to figure out a way to pull up your grades.  

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A lot of employers will ask for grades when you head into the market with your  cs degree, I have friendswho just  graduated from u of t with cs degrees and they mentioned that good grades was a huge factor for employers, I don' kno how accurate that is it was 2 people' opinion so take it for what's it' worth, but all things being considered with new grads being all inexperienced, the kids with the best grades from the best schools will probably ( I assume) have first dibs on the most coveted jobs,( although a friend went to college for cs with decent grades not amazing  and after 2 years had decent employment) my friends got.jobs after undergrad but they had undergradresearch and were among the top at u of t for cs, they found jobs within a few months of graduation downtown, so first ask yourself what exactly are your odds of getting employment after your bachelor's with poor grades with a cs degree from whatever school you are going to, and what kind of jobs will you have access to exactly and what kind of pay hours etc. they might come with 

Talk to people who just graduated in your school if possible  and see where they going with life

And why do you wanna go into law so badly, it' a question to ask yourself to assess how much you are willing to risk and sacrifice, examine the underpinning of this desire and really critically attack it and dissect it before you make your decision of which path to go

You deifntley have access claims and I'm sorry you had to go through all that, show through the next 4 years you can rebound and you are capable of academic excellence, work your ass off and never be outworked, it's about showing ya you were down but you climbed and you got back up.and you persevered 

I don' think your cs degree would give you much advantage in law admissions , not enough to outweigh poor grade and poor lsat  , a high marks and lsat will be the deciding factor more than anything else except for a few schools but even there gpa and lsat still hold a significant weight for admissions , but you still have the lsat and we can hope you destroy it which can help somewhat negate a poor gpa, and plus if you have quite a few years left a lot of schools are last 2 schools and you could still bring up your grades by a lot

In summary a cs degree will probably give you more employment opportunities after your bachelor's ( but look into how many doors a cs bachelor's degree with poor grades  opens and what kind of doors are we talking?), for law the cs degree won' help with admissions, law schools want gpa and lsat, i would try to get a high gpa in each year left of my undergrad and really try to knock out my last 2( olsas equilvilent 3.85 or higher most schools for undergrad shoot for a 4.0) and I would study as much as possible for the lsat with a significant time allowed for studying and retakes , and deifntley would apply access if in your situation and you have strong access grounds but only if you can rebound your grades 

 

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I feel like I can comment on this. Although it's not computer science, I did math before applying to law school - mainly b/c I thought that was what I wanted to do. 

The biggest regret I have isn't my program (which I enjoyed for the most part), it's rushing through it. I finished it in three years, and I only took core courses, which were usually pretty difficult for me. I ended up with a low cGPA of 73% and I believe this really hurt my law school application. 

If I could do it again knowing I would apply to law school, I would take my time, take a LOT more electives/bird courses, and I wouldn't shy away from doing an extra year to boost my GPA. So, if you feel that you want to continue doing CS and if you don't hate it, then maybe you should keep it up, but try to pad your GPA wherever possible so that law school is more attainable. (it might also go up in upper years, as you take more specialized courses). 

Having said that, I don't know about applying in a discretionary category and honestly it sounds like you're pretty set for recommendations and EC's in a way that I wasn't.  You've also started planning for this pretty decently, and so I genuinely believe you could make it happen, and I don't think that you'll need 2 degrees for it. 

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I'm basically in the same boat that you're in. I'm doing a CS undergrad at Waterloo right now but I also really want to get into law school and hopefully pursue IP in the future so take what I say with a grain of salt.

There are a lot more companies that hire computer science interns so maybe you could try getting some industry experience to try and boost your application? I'm not sure how heavily that's taken into account with acceptances but it gives you the opportunity to try a different career for a bit and potentially give you material for your personal statements. 

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