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decision 2008

20 March, 2008

The real decision 2008: Where Melissa will go to law school. 

I figure that it is about time for an update on the whole situation – applications, acceptances, waiting, waitlists, and withdrawing. It’s a lot to think about on top of all that stuff I have left to do for undergrad, but things are coming along quite nicely, I think.

I was waitlisted at Loyola Chicago this week, which is fine. Living expenses in the Chicago area would be pretty high on only one full-time income, so I sent notification from them to remove me from the waiting list and consider me withdrawn. The only school I’m waiting for word back from is Marquette. I’m thinking I will send a letter of withdrawal to them next week if I haven’t heard anything. Getting any serious money from them is a longshot, especially as late in the cycle as it is.

I was accepted to DePaul in Chicago last week with an offer of an $8,000 per year scholarship. I also earned space in a special Public Interest legal research and writing class. However, for the aforementioned reasons, I have withdrawn from DePaul. The narrowing keeps on happening!

I have also officially withdrawn from both Nebraska and St. Louis. So that leaves Drake, Washburn, and Hamline…all with generous scholarship offers and benefits of their own. At the same time, there are drawbacks as well. I will elaborate a bit for those of you who are unfamiliar with the process.

The US News and World Report ranks graduate schools every year. These rankings are at best skewed (and often manipulated by the schools) and are not the be-all-end-all in terms of choosing a school, but I certainly looked at them. There are four “tiers” of schools, with Tier 1 being the top fifty, Tier 2 being the next fifty, and so on. Many people say that unless you go to a Tier 1 school, don’t bother. Others say Tier 3 and Tier 4 schools are a waste of time. I say bull. I applied to schools all throughout Tier 2 and 3, and Hamline, which is Tier 4. In fact, the three schools I have left are strictly Tier 3 and 4. And frankly, I’m fine with it.

At Washburn, I was accepted as a Child and Family Advocacy Fellow with scholarship money that would almost equal in-state tuition (which I could qualify for after six months) plus a stipend for the summer to allow me to work at an organization that needed me regardless of the pay. But…Washburn is in Kansas. And I don’t know what the job prospects would be back here in Iowa for me. Sure, Bob Dole went to their school. But Bob Dole didn’t want to go into public interest law in the Des Moines area.

Hamline offered me a Presidential Scholarship, which is a full ride. Wow. The prospect of not having so much debt when I get through with school is amazing. Plus, they have a zillion clinic opportunities. But…they are in St. Paul, Minnesota. Hours from our families. Further north, which equals colder sooner. Boo on that. Plus, Hamline is a Tier 4 school. They were my super-safety, and I don’t know what my job prospects would be with a law degree from them. I’m sure that in the Minneapolis area it would be fine, but we don’t want to live there. We want to come back to the Des Moines area.

Finally, there’s Drake University. Drake is home. Their library is amazing. They offered me $18,000 per year, which is nothing to sneeze at. It’s just shy of two-thirds tuition. Plus it’s Drake. It’s what I really want. It’s what Ryan really wants. It’s what our families are hoping (and gently pushing) for. And to get a job in the Des Moines area, Drake is your best bet–their alumni are very loyal. But…as it stands now, I will have to pay around $10,000 tuition. Which means that student loan money will not be going solely to living expenses…which means that I will have to work part time. I was truly hoping to not have to do that. I haven’t yet heard about the public service scholarship…and it’s been three weeks tomorrow since I applied. Something tells me not to get my hopes up.

All things considered, I’m 99.9999% sure I will be going to Drake. In fact…I put my seat deposit in last Thursday! *giddy grin* It was unbelievable. I pulled up, found a parking space right away, strolled into the admissions office and handed them a check. I wanted them to know that I am serious about going to their school. Plus, I’ll be sitting in on a class next Tuesday. I’m so excited!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. 20 March, 2008 10:29 pm

    First, congratulations. I got to you from Veaj and from a comment you left on Amber/Daydreamer’s site.

    Second, I’m an attorney (but a really nice guy). I can tell you that the whole “tier 2 vs. tier 3” thing doesn’t matter unless your goal is to get into one of the top law firms. You won’t be able to get into Skadden or Wachtel from Drake. Possibly if you’re on Law Review, and then get a clerkship with a local federal judge, you could, but it’s frankly unlikely.

    I didn’t go that route at all. I went to American University (I think tier 2) for law school. I then went to a local prosecutor’s office as an Assistant DA, then to a federal agency which investigates a particular type of fraud. Now I’m an in-house compliance person—a pretty senior one—at a company you’ve heard of. It’s been an interesting, fun, challenging career path.

    My only suggestion to you is to try your best to get on Law Review. It opens up doors, certainly at firms.

    Good luck, and enjoy.

  2. 21 March, 2008 9:25 am

    Wow, Hank. Thank you for the feedback. I definitely have my eye on a spot on Law Review. I don’t want big law – I’m more interested in public service through either the government or nonprofit. I’m interested in criminal law and children’s right.

    Thank you for the well wishes!

  3. Justine permalink
    21 March, 2008 4:43 pm

    Go Drake! Go Miss! Yay for family! Now we can still plan our visits to Iowa, but we can stay in Des Moines and make your mom drive there! haha

  4. 24 March, 2008 8:51 am

    Aunt Tine: Heh. 🙂

  5. 26 March, 2008 10:51 am

    The whole ranking thing really sucks. I recently visited a tier 2 school and a tier 4 school and found the tier 4 to be miles above the tier 2. The people were much better, the facilities were better, the teachers were great and it seem like a great school. The tier 2 was dreary and snooty. The difference was amazing.

    You seem to know what you want. Good luck at Drake!

  6. 26 March, 2008 11:40 am

    It really does! I don’t understand how those things can be so wrong.

    Thank you, and good luck to you too!

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