Law school Q
December 27, 2006 4:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm applying to law school this September (after finishing school in may) and I have a question.

I've got a solid GPA (3.8) and pretty good LSATs (170's). However, one summer between high school and college I took two science + lab classes in a local state university and promptly bombed them (we're talking C range for one the classes). Is there any way for the law schools I'm applying to ever know I was enrolled in the classes?

I've seen this question
so I see what everyone says there about it possibly impacting you down the road. Nonetheless these two classes would drop my GPA significantly and I really don't want them to show up.

Is there some secret database that the LSDAS has with every school you've enrolled in? Or is there no real way for them ever to find out?

I've set up an account at if you want to email me.

Thanks a lot.
posted by anonymous to Education (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Don't be a jackass. Don't be an idiot.

Either a) someone, somehow will find out, and you risk being refused admission to law school/kicked out/disciplined/having trouble on character and fitness, (with more to lose at each step) or
b) they never find out, and you've gotten an unfair advantage over the people who are honest about their undergrad records.

Most law schools give less weight to science/math classes, classes you took early in your career, and classes from less well-respected institutions. I can't imagine that the grades from 2 classes and labs can bring your GPA down so far as to scotch your chances at the school of your choice. Write an explanatory note -- all the applications will give you the option of explaining any hickeys in your record -- and let it go.

Remember, in the whole LSDAS/law school process -- these are lawyers you're dealing with. They've seen every kind of "clever" move you can think of, and they have no sympathy for them. They have set the system up, and if you deliberately violate it and are caught, you will not win.

I'd apologize for being so harsh, but this is exactly the kind of shit that gives law school and lawyers a bad reputation, and that makes it a pain in the ass for those of us who are honest. Don't do it. Don't contribute to the problem.
posted by katemonster at 4:20 PM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

Have you even figured out whether this needs to be disclosed? Place an (anonymous) call to the admissions office and ask whether college classes taken "between high school and college" count for anything. Chances are they don't, or that you need to send in the transcript and it won't get rolled into your indexed GPA.

Seriously, the difference between 3.8/"170s" and 3.7/"170s" is bragging rights at the weekly 1L pub crawl. Not even Yale will drop you from the first screening with those numbers. Don't obsess over things like this. Disclose, disclose, everything so you don't get hosed later.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:57 PM on December 27, 2006

If you didn't use those classes for the purpose of receiving your BA/BS, then frankly, i don't think it matters. They'll want your transcript from the school you graduated from and anything that contributed to your GPA there. if you never transferred the credit from those classes into that program, then you're probably just fine. I've got classes i took at a community college that i just chalk up as extracurricular learning/experience that had nothing to do with my undergraduate work. I never transferred those credits even though i received A's in all of them; they're the sort of thing that no one but myself need know about.
posted by quadrinary at 5:08 PM on December 27, 2006

Ask the schools. You have to pass the character and fitness part of the bar exam after graduating, and getting dinged for something like this would really suck, especially when you spend the next ten years paying off student loans for a degree you can't use.

Go to and see how you'd do at various schools with and without the crappy marks. I think you'll see it's not worth the risk.
posted by ewiar at 5:36 PM on December 27, 2006

Yes, you have to provide transcripts for any college or university (undergrad or grad) you have attended ("attended" in this context meaning taking a single course). Relevant section of the LSDAS website.
posted by mlis at 6:25 PM on December 27, 2006

MLIS and katemonster have it. Yes, the LSDAS requires the inclusion of this school. It will barely matter in your application. The LSDAS will produce an overall GPA based on all included transcripts, and the effects of two "bombed" classes (only one of which was even in the C range) will not affect your LSDAS GPA significantly.
If you fail to do this, you risk expulsion or prevention from taking the bar exam.

Also, even if there were actually "no real way for them ever to find out," you have the rest of your life for the profession to gradually erode your ethics. Don't start now.
posted by Partial Law at 6:56 PM on December 27, 2006

I did three hours of credit at the local community college between high school and undergrad and transferred those hours toward my undergrad degree. I sent both my undergrad and graduate transcripts to LDSAS thinking they wouldn't care about my CC credits. I subsequently received a postcard from them saying they needed my CC transcript to complete my file. So it would appear as though they want CC transcripts as well.
Echoing what Saucy Intruder says, with your numbers you've got no worries anyway. And remember, you're going to be filling our your character and fitness apps within a year, and they'll want the info anyway.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:53 PM on December 27, 2006

I think the most important part of this is not whether they will find out, but rather the great consequences it could have if you don't report it and they do, no matter how small the chance is, its totally not worth it. Your school could sanction you or kick you out (although I don't know how likely that is) but it would certainly give you problems in the morals/ethics part of the bar exam. I don't know what state you're in, but one of the head guys for the CA moral part of the bar came to our school and talked to us, and basically, if you don't disclose to them and then they find out, man you're screwed. The chance that you'll get through law school and end up with a worthless degree isn't worth it, no matter how small that chance.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 12:34 AM on December 28, 2006

People who aren't intimately familiar with the law school applications process-- Why do you feel the need to offer uninformed opinions? Law schools unambiguously require you to report all post secondary institutions, so the fact that this violates their rules is not in question.

Anonymous-- They probably won't find out during the acceptance process. They probably won't find out when you apply for admission to the bar. So you can probably get away with this blatantly unethical action. There is the benefit analysis.

You are going to graduate with how many credits? I'm assuming 120? And you got 6 credits of not great credits to add to that? What is the actual numerical difference in your GPA? That's your cost analysis.

I know very well that the difference between 3.75 and 3.8 is not trivial, but it is small. Will your GPA be affected even that much? If so, how about you take 21credits spring semester, all the extra credits being classes you are sure to get A's in. Actually, I wish I had done this anyway, since law schools are such number whores, they'd rather have an applicant who got an 'A' in basket-weaving than one who got a 'B' in nuclear engineering (thought they'll never admit it).
posted by bluejayk at 3:09 AM on December 28, 2006

Disclose all your grades. Include an addendum to your applications explaining that your LSDAS GPA is 3.7x instead of 3.8 because you took two classes between high school and college that you weren't ready for. 99% of ad comms will not care about two classes you took before college, given that your subsequent history shows that you are capable of performing well at a college level, and will take this into account when considering your application.

The cost-benefit analysis seems pretty simple here. On one hand, you have a small drop in your average GPA that can easily be explained away in a 100-word addendum and will make little difference in your applications. On the other hand, you have the small but real chance of this coming back to bite you in the ass three years and $100k in tuition fees later. Duh.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 1:20 PM on December 28, 2006

Did you report your summer classes to your undergraduate university? Were you required to do so?

Did you use your social security number or other readily searchable, permanent identifying information to register for your summer classes?

LSDAS does not have a mega-database, but do not assume that you will not get caught.

I will add my preaching to the choir: do not be short-sighted. 175 LSAT and 3.8 GPA from a decent school will make you a good candidate at most USN&WR Top-15 law schools. 175 LSAT and 3.6 GPA from a decent school puts you in basically the same position. What you think is a "significant[ ]" drop in your GPA really isn't. And you do not want to be the guy who gets caught and made an example of for something so trivial, right?
posted by Slap Factory at 5:15 PM on December 28, 2006

Don't be shady. A 170+ makes you a shoo-in to a good school anyway, or guarantees you a free ride a mid-level school

Just tell them form the outset, don't risk screwing up your future if they find out you lied to them.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:07 PM on December 28, 2006

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