Balancing Acts

A working single mom attending law school

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Posts Tagged ‘law school scholarships’

Realities of Law School Scholarships

Posted by newlawmom on June 10, 2009

I kept mine. I am grateful. I found out yesterday and it is still sinking in. But the relief that came with that news was tempered by information that a good friend of mine didn’t meet with the same success.  We started together, studied together, shared our concerns and our successes, and met each others’s families. We are both non-traditional students. Beyond that, our similarities end.  I’m a lifelong resident of the state I live in. The other person uprooted an entire family to get here. If one of us was in a better position to lose the scholarship, it was me. I still have a career here. But so it is. Any scholarship that is attached to a class rank is subject to being lost at the end of 1L year. It has been a humbling experience to say the least, and for my friend, perhaps life-altering. I need more time to decide how I feel about this situation, because hard work on its own, innate ability as reflected in GPA’s and LSAT scores on its own, or even the combination of the two is insufficient to insure success. As for the soft factors that were considered for these scholarships, both my friend and myself are the same people that we were before school started. Our life experiences, personality traits, and worthwhile goals and objectives have not changed. It is hard for me to say that either of us is less deserving of the scholarship today than we were last year at this time. Perhaps neither of us deserved it in the first place.  The optimist in me doesn’t want to believe the theory that the law school gives 1L’s money as a bribe to raise their ranking while expecting a certain percentage to fail. But no matter how you look at it, if you accept a scholarship that requires a certain GPA or class rank to retain that scholarship, you simply must consider what would happen to you if you lost it. For me, the risk would have been worth it anyway. For my friend, different decisions might have been made. Top half is not a given, no matter how accustomed you are to being at the top of the class. So….good luck to all those reading. I need some more time to adjust my attitude. For today, I am depressed and contemplative. I need to figure out what I want to do with this educational opportunity. I need to take full advantage of it this coming year, because a third year is not an automatic given. I’m not going to spend my year obsessing about grades, that is for sure. I’ll write again soon. Thank you to all my readers for over 7000 hits to this blog, I appreciate it.

Posted in 0L, 1L, law school | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Law school on scholarship

Posted by newlawmom on July 10, 2008

I spent some time perusing law boards today and feel compelled to discuss law school scholarships. I feel blessed to have received one and I think they get bad press.  While it may be true that certain law schools hand out more scholarships than can be maintained for three years and set students up to lose those scholarships by setting impossible standards, I do not think it is fair to assume that all, or even most, schools operate in this way. I think the simple truth about great scholarships is that you need to accept enrollment in a school where you are coming in with top numbers, both in terms of LSAT and GPA. Soft factors can help. At my school those soft factors involved public service and demonstrated leadership. Valued soft factors may be different someplace else. If you are coming in with top numbers, the school has an interest in getting you to attend. Clearly, if you are at the top of the scale at a school less than a top 10, you have the opportunity to apply and a fair chance of being admitted at a higher ranked school. However, your numbers are not going to be at the top if the school has higher standards. The top schools don’t give out full scholarships based on merit. All of their students have merit. There are too many. But for a lower ranked school, merit can get you significant amounts of cash.

Initially I was offered a $25,000 per  year scholarship at one school with a requirement to stay in the top quarter of my class to maintain it. But after competing for a named award and getting a $30,000+ award with some additional benefits, the requirement became only to remain in the top half. That sounds manageable to me. Perhaps I am being naive. But if someone is going to give me over $100,000 total over three years, then expecting me to perform is not unfair. I feel honored to have been given the award and obligated to do something with it. For me, that is much more important and more of an honor than being admitted in the middle of the class and paying 100,000 plus for the privilege at a higher ranked school. With my career expectations, I believe I have made the wise decision. I hope that other hopeful students reading this blog are encouraged to pursue scholarships and not fall into the idea that the money is given as a trick. It is not a trick, it is a gift. If your attendence contributes to a higher standard/ranking at the law school, how is this a bad thing? You need to rely on the reputation of your school and if you don’t have faith in it, then you shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Posted in Law School Life | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »