What to Do While Waiting for Law Schools
Many of you are still waiting for admissions responses from certain law schools. Unless you submitted all of your applications at 11:30 pm on January 31st, there is a good chance you have heard back from at least one or two institutions, but I understand that waiting can be frustrating. I have heard from two law schools that I would be happy to attend, but am still waiting on my reach school. It takes time to review hundreds and hundreds of applications. Like my great grandfather always used to say “don’t hate the playa’, hate the game.” The truth is that there is plenty you can do in the meantime, as the mailman only comes once a day. Here are some actual productive steps you can take instead of staring out the window as Judge Judy yells at some divorced couple in the background:
1) Submit your FAFSA:
The FAFSA is absolutely necessary if you don’t have $120,000 under your mattress. Most law school students will be borrowing a large amount from Uncle Sam in the form of subsidized loans, and the FAFSA helps law schools determine your financial aid package. Some students assume that after submitting their law school applications, they need to wait on an admissions decision before making another move, and this isn’t the case. It took me approximately 30 minutes to fill out the basic financial and personal information that the FAFSA requires, and if you already filed your taxes electronically this year like I did, the process is even more streamlined. The federal government simply transfers all of the relevant information from your tax return. Make sure that all of the law schools you applied to are listed as recipients, and you’ll be all set (for now). It’s a half hour of your life that could save you thousands and thousands of dollars. In other words, it’s a Geico commercial on steroids. Do it now.
2) Visit Law Schools:
If you have already been accepted to certain schools, congratulations! It is very likely that they will have an open house for all admitted students sometime next month. These can be all-day events where you’ll take a tour of the campus, talk to admissions officers and current students, and even sit in on a couple 1L classes. If this sounds tedious or boring to you, it’s time to slam on the brakes and reassess. To determine whether law school is worth thousands of your dollars and hours, visit the campus and experience a law school class. At this point, you have only invested a few hundred dollars in application fees. Before you take out six figures of debt, you should get off the law school discussion boards and go see it for yourself. While an all-day open house for admitted students is probably the best way to do this, you can contact the admissions office even if you are still waiting on a decision, and I can almost guarantee that they would be happy to set up a tour and a brief meeting with an admissions officer. You want to be absolutely sure that you aren’t simply enamored with the idea of being Ari Gold or Jack McCoy, and that you are cognizant of the nuts and bolts of the law school experience.
3) Talk to Friends and Family:
In addition to visiting campus, the next-best source of information are your friends who are currently in law school, and your family acquaintances who currently practice law. While you are ultimately going to make your own decision, their perspective can be extremely valuable. Find out what they consider to be the best and worst aspects of law school / the legal profession, and what they have found to be the most important factors that contribute to their success or failure. There is only so much information you can get from brochures and web sites, so take them out and offer to pick up the tab. If they are in law school, you’ll be paying for their lunch. If they are a family friend who is a lawyer, you’ll not only get a free lunch, but you’ll get some very important info. Win-win baby!
4) Schedule a Vacation:
You are likely going to take the leap into your first year of law school, which (if done right) will require you to shut down much of your social life for awhile. If you are shooting for Law Review, moot court, etc, then 1L is going to be a battle of epic proportions. You are taking out a lot of debt to do this, so whip out that credit card and go somewhere nice for a couple weeks. Get your mind in a good place before preparing to unleash the thunder on the competition. Grab your surfboard and meet me in Oahu in mid-July. It’ll be great.