Thursday, February 16, 2012

North by Northwestern (and other law school news)

Another tap on the brakes of my Getting Into Law Schools Locomotive: I was waitlisted by Northwestern.

It's not that big of a disappointment, because Northwestern wasn't a school I had on my list from the get-go. I don't have any special inclination toward Northwestern or the Chicago area. The school showed up on my radar because they offered me an application fee waiver way back when I had a 161 on my LSAT. For such a high-ranked school to let me apply for free with only a 161, I was curious. So then when I had a 167, I thought I might as well try.

Oh well. I'm not too down about it. I was more disappointed by being waitlisted by Notre Dame, but even then it's not a big deal. Notre Dame would have been cool for a lot of reasons: a unique education with a Catholic perspective to add to my expertise; Erin, Allisyn and I have been to South Bend; and Notre Dame football. Notre Dame would have been cool, but it was only one among a few cool schools.

And, I might still fill out the paperwork for them to keep me on their list and reconsider me. Notre Dame and Northwestern couldn't tell me anything until May, which is past the deadlines for deposits at other schools. So I would probably decide on one of the schools that accepted me first. But, still, it's not like I was rejected by either Notre Dame or Northwestern.

More than the disappointment, I think, is actually a little bit of relief to still have only eight factors so far in this decision-making process.

That makes the score 8-2, or 8-2-0 if you count the waitlisting as a tie. :)

Well, enough about the schools I didn't get into! You're probably more curious about our final decision.

We are still a long ways off before we know for sure. We've set a deadline for ourselves of April 1, since that's the earliest of the schools' deadlines for paying deposits. And I think we are going to use as much of our time until then as we can.

But I will let you know that the schools I think about the most are Iowa and North Carolina. Iowa has really done a lot to "woo" me: I've received emails from at least five different students who also happen to be members of the Church, all telling me how great Iowa is. I also got a call from a dean who came to the law school fair, who remembered me and my family. The school is also a full-tuition scholarship. And, it's the school Erin is the most excited about.

At North Carolina though, I was not only accepted and offered a scholarship, but selected as a finalist for the Chancellors' Scholars. Which is about as fancy as it sounds. I think of it as a sort of "National Honor Society" at UNC Law. Plus, just for being a finalist I get at least a 75%-tuition scholarship, and if I become one of the top 10 finalists after an interview-by-Skype, I can get full tuition and get into the club.

UNC is on the East Coast and closer to Washington, D.C. and New York City, where a part of me wants to live or at least have another law internship or clerkship or something. Not that I couldn't go to New York or D.C. from Iowa or somewhere else, but it would probably be easier from UNC. Also, I think there are more opportunities at UNC for going into immigration law, which is one of my many ideas for a career. And, the weather is better in Chapel Hill. Plus, UNC basketball.

But whenever I think to myself, "Okay, so it's between Iowa or North Carolina," then I remember, "Wait! I also got excepted to Texas and Minnesota! And Ohio State!" I'm still waiting to find out if I got a scholarship at Ohio State. Minnesota offered half-tuition, and as far as I know I wouldn't get one at Texas. But maybe it would be worth going to Texas, I don't know. And, I shouldn't automatically rule out BYU, Utah or Baylor.

Anyway, that's the thought process we're going through. What do you guys think?


  1. If I were you, I'd do what I could to try to visit the actual schools and see if they're good fits for what you envision. BYU and the U are close and I know they're both going to have "admitted students" days and they'd both be willing to give you personalized tours. Even if they're not at the top of your list, they'll at least give you a point of reference for when/if you make it out to visit some of the other schools. I was talking with our dean of admissions and he says that applications are down 20-25% from 2 years ago nation wide and as a result a lot of schools are willing to fly out their accepted applicants, especially the ones that have scholarships. I would ask UNC and Iowa if they'd be willing to help out with/pay for a trip to visit the campus.

    As well, until you've paid tuition (and even sometimes afterwards) if you'd rather go to a school you've been waitlisted on, you can pay the seat deposit at your favorite school you've gotten into and hold out hope for the wait listed you'd rather go to. This happens all the time and it's not something that anyone takes personally. If you really do want to go to ND, tell them to keep you on the list, pay your deposit, and if you end up getting into ND, the worst that's happened is you might be out a couple hundred bucks.

    I'd consult the schools on any questions you have about scholarships. Find out any terms (semester, year, 3 year, renewable). Another thing our admissions dean talked about is how some schools do the "renewable" scholarship scam where they give 1/2 the class renewable scholarships and set it up so that only 10 percent or a quarter of them can actually get them. Make sure that you know exactly what you're getting into and what the expectations will be because I imagine you'll want to minimize debt as much as possible.

    Lastly, here's some reading about how law school sucks. It's good to go in informed (if you haven't read this stuff already). I have some classmate who I feel like already wish they had chosen a different route. Best to decide before you move, spend a lot of money, etc

    Let me know if some of this didn't make sense.


    1. Thanks again for the great advice. I had actually thought of a lot of these things, but you still put it in a way that makes me think about it differently.

      I'm actually going to an event today for admitted BYU students, and I would like to visit the Utah campus sometime as well. There's also an event in Utah for Ohio State students, I guess there are enough OSU alumni in Salt Lake that they're going to put together something locally. I've thought about making visits to other schools that are farther away, but I want to narrow it down before asking for time off work for so many weekends. I have been paying attention to the travel reimbursements being offered, I know Iowa and Minnesota both offer up to $300, and I think the other schools have some sort of offer as well.

      Originally I had thought that paying a deposit to a school I wasn't going to would be a waste, but you and a couple of other law students made me think of it differently. Maybe it's just one out of many expenses that are part of the normal process of getting into a law school. So I think I still want to avoid it, but I'm reconsidering it. Mostly, even though I'd like Notre Dame, I don't think I like it so much more than another school that I would pay $100 or $200 somewhere else. But I'll keep it as an option.

      I think most of the scholarships that have been offered have given some of the details on how to keep the scholarships. And one of the law students Tim knows in Iowa told me it can be a burden staying high enough in the class to hang onto it. Thanks for the heads up.

      You actually sent that NY Times article before, but I'll be sure to read the other two links you sent.

      Thanks again!

  2. The U will be doing an event some time next month. (Also, FWIW, they'll be sending out scholarship info in a few weeks as well) You can also schedule a visit any time you want. I'd be happy to be the one to give you a tour or have you come to class with me, but it might also be good to get an opinion from someone who's not me. You already have my perspective and know you can have it whenever you want.

    Also, I have heard from many people at Iowa that it is really cutthroat and obsessed with class rank, and I think part of it is because everyone knows that only a few of them will be getting the scholarship that scholarship renewal. My friend Dan who went there was always obsessed with class rank and Tim mentioned that some of his friends were as well. We don't know it here and they don't tell you at Minnesota either and I think it makes it easier to not feel like all of my classmates are my enemy.

    At any rate, you'll make the right decision. How many more schools do you need to hear back from in the next few weeks?


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