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General questions relating to law school or law school admissions.
 ashane33
  • Posts: 7
  • Joined: Oct 16, 2020
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#82401
Hello,

I am currently working on my applications for the Fall 2021 semester. I need advice on writing an effective addendum to explain my poor undergrad GPA. A little about my situation, LSAC has my GPA at a 2.5. I graduated Arizona State back in 2015, joined the Marine Corps, honorably discharged in 2019 and enrolled in a M.S. program at the University of Miami. I recently graduated with my M.S. with an overall GPA of 3.81. I have plenty of accolades and achievements from my military career as well as had a few semesters at ASU where I was on the Dean's list.

I don't know how to go about explaining my poor undergrad performance because I don't have a typical explanation such as, sickness, family/financial problems, ect. The truth is, I was just focused on my military career and at the time, never saw myself attending graduate school, let alone law school. I thought I was going to be in the military my whole career and if not, I was planning on entering the law enforcement field. My main focus was to just graduate with my B.S. and then embark on my military career. Like I said, I had a few semesters where I flourished (the best was probably Fall 2015 when I needed to override on credits, taking 21, in order to graduate that Spring. I obtained a 3.6-3.7 GPA that semester). However, I feel like I don't have a compelling story to justify these poor grades. My undergrad GPA is clearly not a good indicator of my academic potential due to the fact that 1) I had no intentions of ever pursuing law school/those grades were over 5 years ago now, 2) I had a few semesters of academic achievement, and 3) I went on to graduate with my M.S. with a 3.81.

Do you have any advice on how to effectively articulate to the admission committees I am more than capable of succeeding in law school? (I plan on talking about my passion/achievements in the Marines/grad school and how my maturity and mindset has completely changed since I began and graduated from undergrad).

Thanks for the help!
User avatar
 KelseyWoods
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 981
  • Joined: Jun 26, 2013
|
#82419
Hi ashane33!

I think you're already on the right track here--emphasize how your maturity level and focus has changed since undergrad, that you have demonstrated this in grad school and in your military career, etc. It's also important to strike the right tonal balance here :longline: you don't want to come off as making excuses. And with what you've written here, it doesn't seem to me like you are. I'd own up to your undergrad performance without over-emphasizing the fact that you weren't the most diligent student. Instead, emphasize that you were focused and ambitious--it was just in a field for which you didn't think your GPA was important and you were young and a little short-sighted. And then emphasize all of those other accomplishments and your new dedication to academic pursuits. I wonder if there's any more specific reason that you weren't really considering graduate school. Had anyone in your family been to graduate school before? What was it about a military career that was important to you? What experiences have led you to change your mind and inspired you to go to law school? You may have already touched on some of these ideas in your personal statement. You don't want your addendum to just be a repeat of your personal statement but they can work together. And the more concrete you can be about why your mindset has shifted, the better.

The frustrating truth is that law school is such a numbers game and your undergrad GPA matters a lot, even when it's from years ago and you have a graduate degree. Some schools may pass on your application even if they like your explanation. But the trick is to give them the best argument for why you know you can succeed in law school despite your undergraduate performance and hope that they find it compelling enough to overlook the actual number!

Here are some other forum posts and a blog post that you might find helpful. They give some specifics about how to right the addenda (focused, specific, brief):
https://forum.powerscore.com/lsat/viewtopic.php?t=32455
https://forum.powerscore.com/lsat/viewtopic.php?t=26986
https://forum.powerscore.com/lsat/viewt ... f=9&t=7591
https://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/whats- ... h-addenda/

Hope this helps! Good luck!

Best,
Kelsey

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