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Failing Out of Undergraduate Program

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Hi all, 

I'd like to start by saying that I'm new here. I'm sure this topic has been covered on the forum before, so I am sorry for starting a new thread, admins.


Like many people, I moved away for uni at 18. In retrospect, this was a mistake. I lacked any sort of maturity or discipline, so I immediately felt overwhelmed. After 3 semesters, I had a 1.63/4.33 (cgpa) and a big 'Required to Withdraw' on my transcript. 


Two semesters of full-time work and countless hours of reflection later, I’m back. This semester has been a small step in the right direction. I have consistently been getting 80s, but I recognize that there is plenty of work to be done. My hope is that my grades will continue to improve in the last 2 or 3 years of my degree. 
This is beginning to sound like a journal entry, so I think I'll leave it there. 


I have a couple questions:
1. Has anyone experienced something similar? If so, were you eventually accepted? I'd like to know if I have a chance. Your honesty is appreciated. 
2. Do law schools prefer students who have finished their undergrad degree in 4 years?

Thanks for your time :)

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I can't speak specifically to how law schools might react to your situation, not being a law school (;-)), but I'll apply my first comment to a supposition about them in a moment. However, from the point of view of a college-level teacher with a few years of experience under my belt, I'll say this: I have had students who have done very poorly at first, including some who failed my classes, who have subsequently picked themselves up and exhibited real excellence. 

Some of these students have stayed in touch over the years, and have gone on to very successful careers in their chosen fields. In order to do so, most have had to work exceptionally hard to overcome their earlier difficulties, but my message to you is that it can be done — and based on your self-described situation, I suspect that you can do it too. It depends to some extent on the specifics of your life, though, so YMMV.

As for what law schools will say... well, I can't tell you, but I'll speculate and others with more experience can either correct me or back me up. I believe from reading the forums that many law schools take a hard look at  your progress and not just your starting point. So my opinion is that if you stay focused and achieve excellent results from now on (which it sounds like you have started to do), it is at least possible that many law schools will take your application seriously, especially if you do well on the LSAT.  I would counsel guarded optimism. Go for plan A. Have a plan B. 

For now, you have a couple of years to go before finishing your undergrad, and you never know where life will lead you. If you stay focussed and positive, setting goals and working towards them, staying open to the good and putting the bad behind you, you'll succeed even if you don't end up in law school. 

I wish you well!

Edited by GreyDude
just eliminated a little repetitive language and extra words. :P Also changed a knowledge claim to a statement about belief.
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It's a setback for sure but not insurmountable. I think you could get into a Canadian law school eventually if you keep doing everything you can to build your resume back up again (nothing less than 80% in undergrad courses from now on, MA after undergrad, work experience). Then you can spin it in your applications like you really bounced back and didn't let failure stop you from going for it. 

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I agree with what everyone has said - early failure should not be a deal-breaker, as long as you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and show (a) that you’ve learned from it and (b) that you’re better for it. I had a heinous undergrad, but spoke to it in my PS and wasn’t rejected from every school I applied to (just some!).

That said, I think @Disputes is absolutely correct - you will need to demonstrate excellence from now on.

Word of caution: you will be asked to declare your required withdrawal during the application process - DON’T LIE!!! In fact, I recommend owning it and showing how it made you better. “Resilience”, “tenacity”, “ability to adapt” are all great characteristics to highlight in a PS - or so I’d hope.

In response to your second question, I would say that it depends on the school - UofA just looks at your last 60 credits (or so), regardless of whether it’s a 4 or 5-year program, summer classes, or part-time studies; other schools look at your best 2 years of full-time studies (e.g. USask); and I’m sure some care about 4 or 5-year programs, but may factor in varsity athletics, part-time jobs, or other mitigating circumstances. Best to focus your research/inquiry by school.

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Granted, it was years ago, and his overall stats/softs are anyone's guess, but there's a PROF at my law school who failed out of his undergrad after first year, and later went back. I think there's a way to tell your story that shows resiliency. Best of luck!

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Definitely possible to get in. Prioritize your grades for now and make sure they are above a 3.7 GPA (ideally 3.85+). Get an LSAT score of 160+, ideally 165+, and along with a personal statement explaining your prior failure and your subsequent improvement as well as the time that has passed, you'll have a good chance of getting in.

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There are definitely law students who have overcome a bad year in undergrad. What has to happen, though, is you need to show that you're capable of getting good grades, and you need to do that from now on. :)  You're likely going to need three years of good grades to make yourself a competitive applicant, along with a good LSAT score.  If that takes you five years, so be it. Taking longer than four years to complete your degree is not necessarily a disadvantage.  

It's early on for someone in your position so continue to work hard and when you have enough credits in hand with good grades, then prep for the LSAT.  You're going to have to provide a transcript that includes your rough first year and a half, so keep a rough idea going forward of how your cgpa increases as you get those good grades. 

Best of luck.

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I posted this before.  I had a straight D year in undergrad.  1.0 out of 4.0,  but my last year was 3.94 out of 4.0.  And I got accepted by several law schools.  However. this anomaly  did follow me into articling interviews though, and required explanation.  I just said I had a party year, then smartened up (true).  And, that it was more likely that an A student had a bad year and got Ds than it was for a D student to get lucky and get straight As.  Articled. called, career......good times!  :)

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Keep your head up!

I had a similar situation to yourself. In my second year of University, I received a couple Fs resulting in that dreaded "Required to Withdraw" message on my transcript. It was a devastating blow to my ego and self-esteem, but it opened up my eyes to reality and caused me to reflect deeply on my mistakes. I ended up going back to school with a strong desire to succeed and ended up doing 3 years with a GPA of 3.97/4.00. Although, my CGPA is a lot lower and this excludes me from being competitive for schools that look at CGPA.

However, there are schools like U of A, U of C, U of M, and U of S that take into consideration Last Two Years GPA, Best Two Years GPA, or Drop Lowest Grade Courses.

My suggestion now is to work your but off and try to minimize failures. Aim for 90% or higher on all of your courses, plan diligently to achieve this. Buy a LSAT prep book like The LSAT Trainer and start studying the LSAT for 1 to 2 hours a week now. If you finish your next 2 to 3 years with a GPA of 3.9/4.0 and are scoring above 160 for your PTs (and able to hit 160 or higher on your actual LSAT), you will be competitive in all of the schools I mentioned.

Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions.

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On 11/30/2019 at 2:51 AM, LSATGRIND69 said:

Keep your head up!

I had a similar situation to yourself. In my second year of University, I received a couple Fs resulting in that dreaded "Required to Withdraw" message on my transcript. It was a devastating blow to my ego and self-esteem, but it opened up my eyes to reality and caused me to reflect deeply on my mistakes. I ended up going back to school with a strong desire to succeed and ended up doing 3 years with a GPA of 3.97/4.00. Although, my CGPA is a lot lower and this excludes me from being competitive for schools that look at CGPA.

However, there are schools like U of A, U of C, U of M, and U of S that take into consideration Last Two Years GPA, Best Two Years GPA, or Drop Lowest Grade Courses.

My suggestion now is to work your but off and try to minimize failures. Aim for 90% or higher on all of your courses, plan diligently to achieve this. Buy a LSAT prep book like The LSAT Trainer and start studying the LSAT for 1 to 2 hours a week now. If you finish your next 2 to 3 years with a GPA of 3.9/4.0 and are scoring above 160 for your PTs (and able to hit 160 or higher on your actual LSAT), you will be competitive in all of the schools I mentioned.

Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions.

Thanks for this! It's encouraging to hear from people with similar stories. 

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