We have something they don't have: Pre-law minor now available at USI

James Vaughn

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Even with a 4.0 grade point average (GPA), sophomore Samantha Schu worries about her dream of becoming a lawyer. The pre-law minor, which became available to students this spring, requires a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

“It is unrealistic to think that’s good enough to get into most law schools,” Schu said. “I am apprehensive about getting into a good law school.”

The required GPA should be higher, she said.

Schu is one of two students who have officially declared the minor, according to the Registrar’s Office. Only one student has declared a minor in legal studies, which is another new option for students interested in law.

 

“Before the minors, there was no guidance (for future lawyers) like pre-med is for future doctors,” she said. “This helps students planning to attend law school and offers better guidance as to the courses that will help them become more diversified.”

Schu said she feels the minors are necessary at USI and at all universities.

Recent USI graduate and Indiana University McKinney Law School student Brett Bueltel would beg to differ.

“I honestly would not have added a pre-law minor,” he said. “Obviously when you get to law school, the professors are going to teach you everything you need to know about the law and how to think like a lawyer.”

He majored in accounting at USI and didn’t go out of his way to take special courses pertaining to law, he said.

“Certain undergraduate majors and classes may help a little bit more than others, but a great work ethic is the most important thing you can take with you into law school,” Bueltel said.

If students have extra room in their schedule, the minor could be beneficial, he said. Bueltel graduated Summa Cum Laude – with greatest honor – with a 3.9 GPA.

“IU isn’t an Ivy League law school, but I was able to receive a full-ride scholarship,” he said.

Political Science Assistant Professor Nicholas LaRowe was the driving force behind the development of the minors. The pre-law minor is for students who anticipate attending law school.

The legal studies minor is for students who simply want a background in law or plan to enter some sort of legal field, he said. The required courses for both minors are similar. However, most students in the College of Liberal Arts opt to take Math 108 instead of Math 111. In order to minor in pre-law, students are required to take an economics course titled Cost-Benefit Analysis.

Microeconomics is a prerequisite for the analysis course, and Math 111 is a prerequisite for Microeconomics. Students minoring in legal studies have more options and are not required to complete Cost-Benefit Analysis.

Based on the number of interested students he has talked to over the past few years as the pre-law adviser, LaRowe predicted that at any given graduation, there will be approximately 20 students graduating with the minors.

“Law schools look for a certain skill set,” he said. “We thought that students at USI who want to go to law school would be more successful if they received kind of a focused, intentional training.”

While the basis of the pre-law minor is to build up a set of skills, the basis of the legal studies minor is to build up a base of knowledge, LaRowe said.

“You can certainly go to law school without taking a single one of the courses listed,” he said. “This is hopefully a way for students to get the most out of themselves while they’re here.”

Bigger state universities such as IU and Purdue do not offer a pre-law minor or feel that one is necessary.

“That’s something that I like, you know, the fact that USI is offering something that a lot of the bigger schools, like IU, (don’t offer),” LaRowe said.

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