Like many other young undergraduate students, I had my heart set on law school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, and law seemed like the perfect field for the aspiring academic. Prestige, challenging/thoughtful work, and great pay. What top student wouldn’t want to be a lawyer? The stereotypical great student has always been a lawyer or a doctor. That’s why so many undecided undergraduates choose law school.
I purchased my LSAT books and begin preparing for the all important. The LSAT is an aptitude test that is required for entrance to law school. Unlike the SAT, ACT, or GRE, which end up being a small factor, the LSAT is a major factor in the admissions process. To law schools, the one-day LSAT test tells whether a student will be a good lawyer. The test is so important, many students spend over $1,000 dollars for a professional to teach them how to do well on the test. Others study and practice the test over and over again. One student who lived near me studied so hard, he was missing sleep and getting sick. The LSAT is generally considered equally with the college GPA, making the test hugely important in the law school admissions process.
My goal was to score around 160 (about the 80th percentile of LSAT test takers). With my GPA and that LSAT score, I could get into a top law school that wasn’t Ivy. Northwestern University, Boston College, and Boston University came to mind. With a 160 LSAT, I would be almost assured of $125,000 per year.
Well I bombed the test, scoring in only the 57th percentile. Not good. To be fair, many students dole out more than $1,000 to be taught to take the LSAT by a professional, and I didn’t. But regardless, this was a terrible score for me, essentially ruining my prospects of going to a top law school. They put a lot of emphasis on one day!
Around that time, I had been reading One L by Scott Turrow. I recommend this book to all who aspire to law school, even though you might end up deciding law isn’t for you. This book gave me a feel for the realities of law school. There’s a certain culture to the law field. Long hours, tedious work, ultra-competition…all stuff that I realized I wasn’t particularly interested in. Why would I want to join a field that made me compete this much just to get into the school? I had to study this hard and spend over $1,000 dollars, just to do well on an entrance test? Law school clearly wasn’t for me. And I’m glad I realized this before I wasted money on it.
In the end, I chose to go to graduate school in the Public Policy field. It’s more laid back, and idealistic. With jobs in public policy, I feel like I am making a more meaningful contribution to the world. But the pay is much lower. For unsure but aspiring law students, I suggest looking more into public policy schools and then deciding which route is best for you. Don’t go blindly into law school just to find later that law school wasn’t for you. Soon I’ll be writing an in depth article on public policy school. If you’d like to read it, just click on my name to see my other articles.
So I decided law school wasn’t for me, and that I wanted to go to policy school. But I had one more task to complete before I could be done. Since taking the LSAT the first time, I didn’t study, prepare, or spend any money to have somebody teach me how to take the test. But I retook the LSAT, and scored 159 (78th percentile), which was what I intended to score originally. I just wanted to show that I could do it, and that my original score was an aberration. Good test, huh? Good thing students study so hard and spend so much to prepare for the test. Good thing this erratic test makes or breaks one’s prospects of attending a good law school. (I’m being sarcastic).
Yes, I definitely made the right decision. I don’t want to be a part of the field of law.