Hello! Please see your Top Ten Career Tips below.
Although these tips are designed to challenge common assumptions about law school, I encourage you to apply these insights to any career choice—grad school, med school, or any type of career quandary you may face when you are considering signing up for a degree program to expand your job prospects!
- You don’t know what to do with your college degree, so going to law school seems like a good idea . If you are unsure what path to take, I highly recommend seeing a career counselor. Law school is not your only option. It could be one of many. Think about grad school, med school, or nursing school. What is your dream job? Is a college degree required to succeed at it? If so, put on your investigative reporter hat and interview as many people you know who have pursued the career you plan to take. What you find may surprise you.
- You think that the Admissions exam is like a Magic 8 Ball: If you do well on it, you’ve found your calling. I believe standardized tests really only measure one thing: your ability to do well on a standardized test. The admissions test is important, so don’t blow it off, but don’t look at it as a fortune cookie predicting your future career fulfillment. For instance, the LSAT corresponds to your performance in your first year of law school, but not much else. The SAT and ACT are important in determining your chances of admission to certain schools, but other factors such as GPA and personal statements come into play when the Admissions Committee determines whether or not to accept your application. Also, just because you are admitted to a program doesn’t mean you are obligated to attend.
- You have never shadowed a person who does the job you want, but you think you will like the kind of work they do. It is too bad the apprenticeship way of teaching has gone by the wayside in many academic curriculums. Law schools have been criticized for focusing too much theory and not enough on practice. Many a good law student comes out of law school with not enough practical experience to land a job in a top law firm. If the degree program you are dreaming of has an internship or externship program, look into it closely. If you’re extra diligent, work for a year in the field you wish to pursue. Observe the workplace dynamics. Pretend you’re Jane Goodall.
- You think your future career will make you a lot of money; therefore, it is your best career choice. To quote The Beatles, “Money can’t buy me love!” Of course you have to pay your bills, but potential earning power is just one factor in your overall career happiness. Do your research, but also listen to your intuition.
- You want to get an education to accomplish a goal, but you can’t exactly pinpoint how you will achieve that goal. Is a degree necessary to what you feel is your vocation? In other words, would you be able to do that job without a degree? In many cases, a law degree/doctorate/MD, etc. is a good choice. But think carefully. Can you achieve your dreams without taking on $150,000 or more in debt? Higher education is a significant investment.
- You think the person sitting next to you in class is smarter than you. Succeeding in school requires self-confidence. Believe in yourself! Even if the material is challenging, you may have many resources at your fingertips such as tutoring, peer-partners, or study groups to help you succeed. And if you’re like me, give yourself a reality check: is the program you’re pursuing the right fit for you?
- You find answering your teachers’ questions terrifying, and no matter how hard you try, you find that the reading materials are really boring. I must admit, higher education requires good reading comprehension so you can answer the questions in which your professors pummel you. I recommend borrowing a book from someone who has suffered through similar pain and reading several sections before you even fill out an application. For instance, since law school does not require a pre-law curriculum, it would benefit you to orient yourself to the way cases are written before you subject yourself to reading and briefing hundreds of them.
- Your roommate is psycho, therefore you must flee immediately. Okay, I am only kidding. You are the master of your own fate, but it does help to live with someone who is like-minded. Academic climate and culture matters, so visit the campus you plan to attend to get a feel for the place.
- You have a particular learning style, but are not sure if you will be taught using that method. Everyone’s learning style is different. Whether you like to learn by conversing with other students, or understand the material best by taking notes, pay attention to what works for you. Is the academic program you’re interested in compatible with your learning preferences? For example, at most law schools, you will not be tested at all for the entire semester until the final exam. Luckily I had a midterm in one of my classes, so I had a preview of what the final would look like. However, I prefer classes that build on your knowledge and give you feedback along the way so the final is not a pressure cooker waiting to explode at the end.
- You desire balance and good health in your life, in addition to a fulfilling career. If you’re a perfectionist like me, you can easily let a rigorous curriculum take over your life. But there is more to life than studying and more studying. Take time to set your priorities and enjoy your life. School should supplement your current talents, not feel like a hostile takeover.
Well, there you have it, my top ten career tips from a law school dropout’s perspective. I hope some of my advice rings true to you. For more information, please check out my blog:
www.talesofalawschooldropout.blogspot.com or my book, Tales of a Law School Dropout, available on Amazon.com. For more tips, go to my author website, www.GinaAkao.com and “like,” comment or share.
Have a great day,