Shannon Whitson,

No matter how high my grade point average is after each semester, I always seem to find myself staring at my GPA and continually scanning my DARS on Miami University’s BlackBoard portal.

While I examine every single one of the grades I have received here at Miami in the past two years, I continue to ask myself the same question semester after semester: How will I get into law school? This very question haunts me as I study for each and every exam and on days when I log onto Niihka in order to see if the two all-nighters I pulled were in fact worth it.

When I decided to come to Miami and leave the only state I had ever known, Texas, there was one person who helped me make my decision and really pushed me to settle here in the tiny, but satisfying town of Oxford for the next four years. This person is my aunt, Shelby Marie McMillan. Because of the strong influence my aunt had on me as a child, I am now pursuing my education at Miami University.

My aunt attended Easter Tennessee State University, where she received her undergraduate degree, majoring in political science with a minor in criminal justice. While she stayed close to home in Knoxville, Tenn., for college, following graduation, Shelby began to weigh her options. After much contemplation, my aunt Shelby then went on to attend the University of Dayton Law School right here in Ohio. Today, she is a partner at Reminger & Reminger, a prestigious law firm in Cincinnati. Although my aunt is one of the most successful and driven people I have ever known, in high school and throughout part of her college career, my aunt did not in fact maintain an extraordinarily high GPA. Nonetheless, once she began to attend ETSU in Johnson City, Tenn., she also began to embark on the endeavor of paying for her college education entirely on her own.

With graduation drawing near, Shelby proceeded to take the LSAT, the law school entrance exam; and as she started the application process for law school, she caught a glimpse of the gap that stood between her GPA and LSAT scores and the dedicated and devoted student she had become during the four years she spent as an undergraduate. After comparing her LSAT scores, and ultimately, the way these numbers portrayed her with the type of student and professional she saw herself to be, my aunt asked herself the exact same question I ask myself at the end of every semester: how will I get into law school?

Many of you are probably asking yourself: how does any of this apply to GPAs and whether or not they determine the future success of a student? You see, unlike my aunt, every semester, I mindlessly stare at my grades and my GPA and doubt whether or not I will be successful. Instead, my aunt wrote her law school admissions essay about this topic completely. Not once did she question or even doubt the fact that she was indeed going to be successful. My aunt wrote the two or three pages of her applications about how her LSAT score and GPA would never indicate the amount of success she would have as a lawyer or in life.

My aunt told me this story one night as I sat doing the exact same thing I had done after the ending of every semester I had taken throughout my premature college career. Since then, I am no longer letting my professors, those who interview me for internships or jobs or really anyone, belittle me for mistakes I have made. Whether those mistakes are failing a class or simply having a bad semester, having a high GPA might get you your first job, but it will not get you your second. And overall, it is not the end all be all when applying for law school, graduate school, medical school or for jobs out there in the real world.