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How to Get into Law School with a Low GPA
If you graduate with a low GPA, it might seem as though law school is not an option for you. We’re here with good news: You can absolutely get into law school with a low GPA! Though your application process might look a bit different than those of students who received a high GPA, it is still absolutely an option for you.
In this article, we’ll go in-depth on how to get into law school with a low GPA. We’ll discuss what is considered a low GPA for law school, and then talk about different ways to fill out your application that will compensate for your GPA. Let’s get into it:
What is a low GPA for law school?
Law schools are a generally selective group of graduate schools, but it’s important to note that there is wide variation in selectiveness among different law schools. While top-rated schools such as Yale and Harvard might admit students with close to a 4.0, others such as Southern Illinois University, admit students with a lower-end GPA of 2.7.
So, as you can see, one law school’s low GPA is another’s high GPA. It’s a good idea to look at the average admitted GPA of each school you’re considering, and apply to schools where your GPA falls in the higher percentile, middle percentile, and lower percentile.
Related: Top reasons to become a lawyer
How to compensate for a low GPA
Now let’s get into how you can make up for a low GPA when it comes time to apply for law school. There are many different approaches you can take, and we’ll address all of them here:
Gain real-world experience before applying
One of the best strategies to make up for a low GPA is to gain real-world experience through employment. There are plenty of legal and legal-adjacent jobs that do not require a graduate degree. These include victim advocates, legislative assistants, legal secretaries, law librarians, and paralegals.
Working in one of these roles for a few years is a great way to bolster your application and help you decide whether you want to go on to study law.
Another advantage to gaining work experience is the possibility of making connections in the field. You might build a relationship with a lawyer or law firm that can help you pay for law school or that you might have a good chance of being hired after graduation.
Related: Grad school financing options
Ace the LSAT
The LSAT is essentially the law school equivalent of the ACT/SAT. If you manage to achieve a great score on the LSAT, this can help compensate considerably for your GPA. But this is easier said than done. Start studying early and often, and even consider hiring a test prep tutor to help you stay on course. You can also save money and self-study using free online resources such as Khan Academy.
Acing the LSAT can demonstrate that you thrive in academic environments, even if you did not earn especially high grades. A high score on this test will be a great asset in the eyes of admissions officers.
Also see: Top 10 tips to reduce test anxiety
Focus on your essays
With an unremarkable or low GPA, your essays will become all the more important. Make sure to put a lot of effort into each of your application essays. Demonstrate your capability, your resilience, and your passion for law. It’s a good idea to expand on some of your achievements and reflect on how you learned from them.
To gleam some inspiration, try asking your friends and family about things that you’ve accomplished that would make good additions to your essays. Oftentimes, other people can provide insight about us that we would be unable to name ourselves!
Related: How to write an essay about yourself
Explain your grades
Instead of glossing over your GPA, you should make sure to address it head-on in your essays. Before you begin writing, do some thinking and identify what it was that caused you to earn low grades.
If it was due to extenuating circumstances, such as illness in the family, or financial strain, explain these circumstances and tell the reader how balancing school with your hardships made you grow as a person.
If your low GPA was not due to extenuating circumstances, you can take a positive approach that describes how you have grown and the steps you’ve taken to improve your academic performance. Make sure to find a way to put a positive spin on it; pretending your GPA doesn’t exist won’t work!
Apply to a wide range of schools
As a student with a lower GPA, you’ll be looking at a different set of options than students who graduated with a high GPA. Make sure that you apply to a range of reach, safety, and match schools to bolster the chances that you gain admission somewhere.
To get an idea of your chances at a school, you can look up their average admitted GPA and test scores and see how you fit into the student body. Remember, these averages are not the be-all-end-all determinant of admissions decisions, but they are a good indicator.
Related: Top law school scholarships
Secure stellar recommendations
A low GPA can be a warning sign that a student does not perform well in class. But one of the best ways to combat this impression is to include stellar recommendations from professors in your application. Make sure to choose the right professor to ask for your recommendation, and be very courteous when you ask for your letter.
You might ask the professor to address your low GPA in the letter of recommendation. Sometimes, a professor can vouch for your classroom performance in other areas, such as attentiveness and participation, while acknowledging that these traits are not always captured in grades. A great recommendation can be a great way to balance out a low GPA.
Also see: How to ask for letters of recommendation
Send out lots of applications
If you did not earn high grades in undergrad, you’ll be relying more heavily on aspects of your application such as your essays and personal statements. Unlike numbers, these portions of your application can be interpreted differently by different admissions officers. Some might be very compelled by your writing, while others might be more numbers-oriented.
To improve the chances that your application lands on the desk of an admissions officer who emphasizes essays, make sure that you send your application far and wide. The more schools that receive it, the better chance that you get a sympathetic reader.
Summing it up
Students with low GPAs can absolutely still make it to law school, though their path there may look a little different. It can be extremely helpful to take a year or two off from school in order to gain real-world experience. Great essays, a high LSAT score, and heartfelt letters of recommendation can also go a long way in compensating for GPA.
So, don’t give up on your law school dreams because of a low GPA! Even if you have to take a few years off of school in order to get there, law school is still entirely within your reach. Good luck!
Also see: Grad school financing options