Throwaway account. First things first, these are my app cycle results;
U Penn, U Virginia, Boston U, Fordham, UC Irvine: Denied
George Mason, Villanova: Waitlisted
U Illinois: Accepted off WL with 15k/yr up from initial offer of 11k/yr.
Chicago-Kent (T2): Accepted with 13k/yr
U San Francisco (T2-T3): Accepted with 21k/yr
Please note that I had to apply before my 2nd LSAT score were released, which is why I have some schools listed that would seem absurd to apply to given my stats. I also was limited this cycle to schools that had deadlines past 2/1/12.
I have a 2.75 LSAC GPA, probably will be at 2.8-2.9 by the end of summer when I graduate UG. Double major; POSC and PHIL/LWSO. Major LSAC GPAs are 3.122 and 3.0. I have received a 3.5 or higher the past 3 quarters, albeit taking only 8 units for the last 2. I have taken the LSAT twice, and received a 155 (12/10) and 166 (2/12). I am registered to take it in again in June. My apps were all worked on after my second LSAT, giving me less than a month for most (including personal statements, etc). I applied on the deadline day for all schools except Fordham and Illinois. I did those about 15 days before the deadline.
Here is my question;
Should I accept Illinois, place down a seat deposit and take the LSAT in June I already registered for (only will have 4 weeks additional studying total) and reapply next cycle if I get 173+/appeal my rejections if I get 167+/haggle for a bit more $ if its 167+/just go to Illinois with 166 or lower?
Should I wait to retake in October, forgo the scholarship and hope that applying early with hopefully a 5-7 point increase & more than a total of 3 weeks to craft PS and fill out apps will get me into an "elite" law school (USC or better)?
Since I was waitlisted at both Illinois and George Mason and rejected from all other T1 schools I applied to, I am hesitant to give up the scholarship even though I am certain I can pull at least a 5 point increase if I wait until October (I didn't study for the first LSAT & that score was lower than my diagnostic so please don't let my first score affect your recommendation if you feel that the increase is unlikely from the 2nd to the 3rd).
My location rankings are such; 1- NY. 2- Boston. 3(T)- LA/DC. 5- Chicago.
I am going for M&A/Big Law (however, I do not want this to be a factor in anyone's recommendations please). Please answer as if I am undecided on career path.
Here are a couple reasons I am worried about taking the $ at Illinois:
1- Their scandals in the past 3 years and the negative impact it potentially will have on employment
2- The uncertainty of what the caliber of student will be admitted to Illinois this year onwards due to the scandal’s affect on applicant pool and the negative impact this will potentially have on employment.
3- The fact that they had roughly 105 firms represented at OCI 2 years ago, but only 70 last year.
4- Last year, when their median LSAT was only 163, they gave out scholarships to every student that attended with a minimum of 8k and an average of 20k.
5- They had to give out 20k average to every incoming 1L (According to ex-dean Pless in a thread on TLS right before the onset of this application cycle) just to get a 163 median LSAT and that was BEFORE the bigger of the 2 scandals that hit them in the past 3 years.
6- The general drop in legal employment in Chicago and the fact that Chicago biglaw, in particular, is increasingly harder to access from outside of NU and U Chicago.
7- The general consensus that law schools factor scholarship budget into tuition costs, so that ppl that pay sticker are actually "paying" part of someone's education and (my own) presumption that they are probably giving out more scholarships this year than last year. At best 8k scholly is the technical "sticker" price (assuming scholly money stays same and doesn't increase, which I think it will). This coupled with the 7k out-of-state difference in tuition essentially negates my scholarship completely and makes me a sticker payer. (It would be the same as Illinois reducing tuition 15k to entice applicants and me going there at sticker -the analogy holds up since Pless stated everyone received a scholarship. If you've been doing too much LSAT studying and want to argue that the out-of-state tuition shouldn't be included in my math, then please just consider moving costs from Cali to be an equalizer in that respect).
8- With Illinois being one of the most expensive public schools in the country I'll still end up with 150k debt from law school after scholly. This is in addition to 75k UG loan debt.
Here are a couple of reasons I am afraid to give up the money and acceptance;
1- What if I don't increase my LSAT enough to get into any schools in the T30 and Illinois would be the best school I am accepted to in the end anyways?
2- What if I don't even get into a school as good as Illinois next cycle (since I was WL’d there and at George Mason, I am not sure how far away from an accept I am there or at any of the better/peer schools.)
3- What if something in my application would prevent me from even obtaining admission to a better school (petty theft charge at 17 which was expunged and a sub-3.0 gpa) so me reapplying is a horrible idea with not nearly as much upside as I'd like to believe?
4- Wasting another year after spending 6 at my UG (no CC, just on the “Van Wilder” track). I'll be 28.5 when I graduate if I wait another year.
5- Loans will start requiring payments 6 months after I graduate in August and if I wait and retake I would want to finally have a little bit of time where all I have to worry about is LSATs so payments would become a worry relatively soon after LSAT test date when I would want to focus on finishing up my apps.
6- I have over 75k in debt from my UG and want to start making real money ASAP . I was hoping to be out of debt by 30,31.
7- I won’t be able to actively search for a full-time job until after LSAT/apps are complete. So unless I get this LSAT tutoring job which I auditioned for today (I already failed this audition 3 months ago so I’m not going to get my hopes up), I am looking to be in a financial crunch come October end.
8- I passed the deadline for LSAT date change and will have to pay for the LSAT once again (On the list due to annoyance rather than weight of financial burden - I have already paid for 2 LSATs ($300), 1 test date change ($60), 1 test site change ($60), 1 cancelled LSAT ($150) and the current LSAT I am registered for ($150) that is past the deadline for changing the date so I would have to simply cancel).
I am not sure if I am just justifying procrastination or if it is truly the right move to make by reapplying next year with everything considered. I’ve pretty much listed all relevant details of my life so that anyone who has the time can help me make an informed decision. I did not include a poll because it would probably lead the majority of TLSers to simply click “retake reapply” without reading the specifics of my situation. For those who do, I thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
So, with UG debt and Law debt, you are looking at 225k....
You should take a seriously look at what your life would be like IF you got big law, in terms of loan payments and potential future expenses (marriage, kids, house, etc) , factor in that most people do not like working in big law, don't work there for more than a few years, and that everyone there works massive hours, then realize that this is your best case scenario coming out of UIUC and that you will very, very likely not get big law anyway.
IMO you shouldn't retake or don't go, but if you have different career/personal goals than me I can def respect that.