So Northwestern just offered me a substantial scholarship, with no mention of GPA requirements at all, if I switch to their Accelerated JD program. Classes would start mid-May. My problem just got very, VERY concrete. It's NU and quitting my job, or Chicago Kent at 75% scholarship and also working full time.
My wife will really have to find a job in her non-existent market, or decide to go outside of her market. Until then, we'll have to have loans in lieu of income. Additionally, we'll have to go on NU's super-expensive family policy unless I can get my kids on the Illinois kid's insurance, which I haven't yet figured out. I've got less than 10 days to make a decision.
AIB, I am currently 1L at a similarly ranked school in a major city with a local T-14. I did not have your options when applying because I did not see how I could take 3 years of incurring significant debt and no income. I have two young kids and my wife is a full-time parent. Here are some things I have learned after 7 months of law school experience as an evening student with a full-time career:
1. Financially being able to support my family
2. So far, no school loans and hope to grad w/ zero debt
2. Gaining solid work experience while in law school and experiencing very long days (start at 8am and get home at 12am)
1. I found full-time career workers are in the minority at my school so you are competing with full-time students in a part-time program and others who may work but not very demanding jobs
2. I don't know this to be true but I would venture to say going to law school full-time is less challenging than work a demanding job and going to law school in the evening; I personally enjoy it however if I did not have to work I would not
3. The full experience of law school is really geared and designed for a full-time student - such as Law Review, Moot Court, Clinicals, etc...; they attempt to accommodate evening students but you miss a good part of the experience being part-time
4. Internships/Employment - my colleagues are going after summer internships and gaining experience and connections while I continue to work in a non-related position for a Fortune 100 company
We took 11 credits the fall semester and the full time program took 14. The full time students are not permitted to work. So, there is a 3 credit difference between the two programs and that permits you to work 40+ hours a week. If I didn't have to work I'd trade the 40+ hours and ass whoopings for 3 credits.
My plan assumes I will remain with my current employer until I graduate (4 years now almost 3 years). But there are no guarantees and my employment may end. I'm burning it on both sides and hoping I don't get caught in the middle. So I hope to be able to get to the end with no debt but there are no guarantees that will happen and 4 years is a long time for things to happen. I am also considering an internship the summer after my 3rd year that would require me to leave my job. Maybe I could return after the internship but I highly doubt it. I would hope to leverage some law related work during my 4th year but have no idea the likelidhood of that. There is a strong possibility I am not working one of those 4 years and my financial responsibilities extend beyond law school tuition.
When I first read your post I thought you had a tough decision but after writing about my experience I am envious. I am not sure how you pass up and opportunity to go to Northwestern. And I certainly don't know how you do that with a "substantial" scholarship and accelerated program. That reminds me you start earning lawyer money in two years at NW vs. four years at Kent and your opportunities across the board will be much better because (1) its NW and (2) you are a full-time vs. part-time student. Congratulations and enjoy Northwestern!