February 15, 2005
Speaking of Bull Shit
February 15, 2005 12:05 PM
I had the dubious honor yesterday of showing an admitted 0L around the law school and have lunch with him at the Admissions Office's expense. While Admissions is kind enough to pay for lunch and offer a Do's and Don't List, I am much more curious to get feed back from those concerned about what SHOULD be discussed. Specifically, (1) as a current or former law student what factors do you think 0Ls should consider, and (2) as a pre-law, what do you want to know about a school from a current student that you can't find out from a website?
If you're into abstract discussions, you may want to think about this whole sales pitching a school bit.
Editing an e-mail received...
rule #1 -- unless you're insanely brilliant, and the world would suffer without your legal brilliance, you have no business going to law school without some life experience.
1. Be realistic about the choice; don't fall for recruiting literature. I would tell them that many of the important variables differentiating a top law school have everything to do with the intangibles -- people, look and feel, physical facility considerations (i.e. how much better X's library is than Y's).
2. Don't discount cost-of-living or quality-of-life considerations. You're in class 4-6 hours a day; that leaves a lot of time to be in the city otherwise. Also, you will spend as much on living as you do on law school; make it a consideration. Go someplace you can be happy, period.
3. Visit career services and compare the services that different schools offer, especially in a specific area if you're interested in that (i.e. clerkships or public interest). You don't go to law school for academic enrichment; you go so you can be employed afterwards.
If you follow the Armen plan then you too can get into a T1, like me.
As a 0L, most of the things I'd really like to know are things I'm not likely to hear from someone giving a tour (either because they feel some sense of duty to the people paying for lunch or because the students who choose to give tours sincerely love everything about the school). I want to know the bad or disappointing things about the school. The food, the muggers, the lack of wireless access... We hear enough about the good points; I want to know how your experience has differed from the image put out by the admissions office.
Hmmm, maybe I should try a useful suggestion.
What attracts me to a school is personality. Show me the school's idiosyncrasies. What can you do at School X that you can't at other schools? What's the pizza place/ice cream parlor/bar with the specials on Tuesday? Something to set the school apart from the other schools in my head. They all seem mighty similar to me at this point in the process.
The problem I see is that excepting transfer students, we only have experiences at one school. How does that make us qualified to say that our school is 'better' than any others? I think all anyone in your position can do is share experiences, positives, and negatives. It's admittedly subjective, though.
I'll do you one better. I cringe whenever I hear, "My friend X who goes to Law School Y says he hates it there because..." Just as a personal rule and after an unnecessary warning to the same effect from the admission folks, I don't talk about other schools. That's for the admitted student to find out. But you're assuming my goal is to get every prospective student to come to my school...it's not. So my questions still stand.
Let's see... maybe I can explain things better. I don't want to know why your school is better than other schools. I want to know why you like it and what you think could be improved.
If you went through the admissions process again, even if you would have chosen the same school, there has to be something you would think about differently. What is it and why? What good points about the school did you only learn about once you started attending? What do you wish you would've looked at when you were checking out schools? What did you think was important at the time but now realize isn't that important? Give me something to think about that I can't get from the viewbooks.