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April 04, 2006

Request: Is upper division GPA important to law schools?

Reader “halai” writes:

when applying to law school, is it the cumulative gpa which is taken into consideration or one's gpa in upper division courses only? i ask because i did very poorly my first two years of college, which obviosly killed my cumulative, however, my upper division gpa is not bad.

which is it?

I'm pretty sure most law schools want only your cumulative GPA. They get your transcript and that's going to give them the cumulative. If your undergraduate school breaks out an upper division GPA on your transcript, that's great, but if you're looking at those GPA ranges to determine your chances of getting into Your Dream Law School, you should consider your cumulative GPA b/c that's what Dream Law School's admissions folks will be looking at.

Can anyone add to that? Do you know of any schools who look at just an upper division GPA?

This is no reason to despair. Your personal statement is a great place to emphasize your great upper division GPA and to explain how it shows that you matured during college and are now on the same path of excellence that you will follow in law school. My understanding is that most law schools like to see that kind of development so this could end up working very much to your advantage.

Posted by mowabb at April 4, 2006 09:20 AM

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A GPA addendum could help, too, pointing out that your grades in your major coursework are good, and explaining any extenuating circumstances that contributed to your low grades in your first year or two.

Posted by: kristine at April 4, 2006 10:09 AM

I was on the admission committee at my school. We looked at the cummulative GPA only.

Like kristine says, though, I would definitely recommend putting a letter or a statement (call it an "addendum" if you prefer) in with your application explaining what happened and explaining what you did to bring your grades up and how committed you are to your academics now.

An explanantory statement can only help you, and not very many applications include them.

Posted by: monica at April 5, 2006 08:57 PM