TFA or Law School

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rjparson
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TFA or Law School

Postby rjparson » Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:54 pm

Hey all-

I've been accepted to Teach for America to teach math in a pretty high profile region. I've also been accepted to NYU and am waiting to hear back from some other T10 schools (Harvard+CCN etc., but I have a negligible chance at H).

I'm having trouble deciding if I should do TFA or just go on to law school (and I definitely do want to go soon).

On the one hand, I'm already 2 years out of undergrad so waiting another 2 years would have me graduating LS at 30, likely with six figure debt.

But if I wait, I'll probably pay down the grad school debt I have (about 45k) and could probably squeeze a few more LSAT points out.

I realize this is a deeper issue than I've reduced it to here, but I'm interested to see what perspective TLS has.

Stats:
LSAT- 165, 168 (I might be able to study more and break 170 but I think I'm at the point of diminishing returns)
GPA- 4.0 from a TTT state university
Masters from an Oxbridge University
Currently working in a non-profit setting

So should I: do TFA and try again with a stronger softs in a different cycle, do TFA and defer an acceptance somewhere and pay down debt, or just give TFA my regards and call the bank?

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fatduck
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby fatduck » Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:56 pm

do TFA, retake and reapply. or don't do TFA, retake and reapply. either works.

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smaug_
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby smaug_ » Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:58 pm

Do TFA and study for the LSAT. Graduating at 30 w/ less debt or a degree from HYS will be better than graduating at 28 w/ loads of debt from a general T14

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bizzybone1313
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby bizzybone1313 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:08 pm

rjparson wrote:Hey all-

I've been accepted to Teach for America to teach math in a pretty high profile region. I've also been accepted to NYU and am waiting to hear back from some other T10 schools (Harvard+CCN etc., but I have a negligible chance at H).

I'm having trouble deciding if I should do TFA or just go on to law school (and I definitely do want to go soon).

On the one hand, I'm already 2 years out of undergrad so waiting another 2 years would have me graduating LS at 30, likely with six figure debt.

But if I wait, I'll probably pay down the grad school debt I have (about 45k) and could probably squeeze a few more LSAT points out.

I realize this is a deeper issue than I've reduced it to here, but I'm interested to see what perspective TLS has.

Stats:
LSAT- 165, 168 (I might be able to study more and break 170 but I think I'm at the point of diminishing returns)
GPA- 4.0 from a TTT state university
Masters from an Oxbridge University
Currently working in a non-profit setting

So should I: do TFA and try again with a stronger softs in a different cycle, do TFA and defer an acceptance somewhere and pay down debt, or just give TFA my regards and call the bank?


During my senior year of undergrad, I was recruited by TFA. I made a big mistake not going that route. Instead, I started working a corporate job and never could find the time to study for the LSAT, so I recently quit to focus on this test. If I was in your shoes, I would sit for the LSAT one more time in June and call it a day. If you score higher than what you have, I would reapply next year. If you don't score higher, I would evaluate your options and see what you really want to do with your life. I regret not going K-JD, but I was so burnt out from undergrad that I couldn't force myself to study for the LSAT during that time period. If your ultimate goal is to be an attorney, I don't see why you would do TFA at this point. You are just wasting time and not working towards your ultimate goal.

Based on what you have done so far, it looks like you are shooting for a political career, which is what I want to do. In that case, your time at TFA will look good on your political resume for the future.

Edit: TFA will look good if you are going to run as a Democrat. Otherwise, if you are going to run as a Republican, it would be better doing something along the lines of what Mitt Romney did-- stick it to the poor and working class through his business ventures-- Republican primary voters will like that. :/

iteachtenthgrade
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby iteachtenthgrade » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:28 pm

Do TFA only if you're sure you want to do it - for the right reasons. do it because you want to learn more about education. Do it because you want to help kids and build valuable leadership skills in the process.

Do NOT do it to increase your chances of getting into HYS. If that's your primary reason, it will be a long, hellish two year commitment.

I'd never trade my corps experience for having gone straight to school or anything else, for that matter. Without a doubt, it's helping my cycle. More importantly, though, it changed my career trajectory and goals dramatically and now I plan to dedicate my life to the field of education. Teaching mainly to get into a better law school is not fair to you or your future students, but if you're signing up because you truly want to dedicate 100% of your time and energy to a great cause, it's a solid choice.

PM me with specific questions if you have any. I was also a TFA recruiter back in the day, so I have some other insights beyond my own experience if you want them.

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bizzybone1313
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby bizzybone1313 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:32 pm

iteachtenthgrade wrote:Do TFA only if you're sure you want to do it - for the right reasons. do it because you want to learn more about education. Do it because you want to help kids and build valuable leadership skills in the process.

Do NOT do it to increase your chances of getting into HYS. If that's your primary reason, it will be a long, hellish two year commitment.

I'd never trade my corps experience for having gone straight to school or anything else, for that matter. Without a doubt, it's helping my cycle. More importantly, though, it changed my career trajectory and goals dramatically and now I plan to dedicate my life to the field of education. Teaching mainly to get into a better law school is not fair to you or your future students, but if you're signing up because you truly want to dedicate 100% of your time and energy to a great cause, it's a solid choice.

PM me with specific questions if you have any. I was also a TFA recruiter back in the day, so I have some other insights beyond my own experience if you want them.


+1. I grew up working class and am a minority. I would have been an excellent role model to those kids. I know a lot of what they are going through at that age. I regret it everyday not doing TFA. I cannot doing anything about that now though.

bfigsan
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby bfigsan » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:39 pm

You should only join TFA if you are doing it for the right reasons. I'm a current second-year corps member and have applied this cycle for c/o 2016. I am enjoying my TFA experience immensely but it is NOT easy. It is far from a walk in the park, though it is certainly fulfilling. Definitely don't do TFA if you're looking for two enjoyable years off before going to law school, because aside from law school TFA will probably be the most demanding and stressful thing you'll ever do. I could write a book about being a first year corps member that would rival the book "1L".

That said, if you love teaching, are willing to dedicate your entire being to teaching children then go for it! Also, you can defer your debt while doing TFA and defer law school as well. Something TFA doesn't advertise, however, is how expensive it is to get your credential, so you may have to put a few thousand dollars into that.

bfigsan
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby bfigsan » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:40 pm

Oh, forgot--do TFA and study for the LSAT only if you want the most hellish experience of your life. That's what I did--literally the most miserable 4 months I've ever had.

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bizzybone1313
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby bizzybone1313 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:40 pm

OP, have you considered doing City Year or VistaCorps for a year? That is probably what I am going to do. I guess you are in a different boat than me though, because I don't have the debt you have. The committment is only for a year.

rjparson
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby rjparson » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:03 pm

bizzybone1313 wrote:OP, have you considered doing City Year or VistaCorps for a year? That is probably what I am going to do. I guess you are in a different boat than me though, because I don't have the debt you have. The committment is only for a year.


I'm with VISTA now.

To the other posters:
I apologize for reducing this to a pretty shallow question. I'm passionate about wanting to do TFA, going to law school, and hopefully combining the two into a policy-related career. I'm just having a hard time planning the next 5 years of my life at once and grappling with how much debt I may or may not have at 27 or 30 or whatever.

I've been talking to quite a few lawyers and TFA alums about their views, I was just hoping that TLS could provide a more utilitarian perspective (i.e., I wouldn't do TFA just to be more competitive at HYS, but is the fact that I would be more competitive a valid reason to consider delaying law school, etc.).

EDIT: I think my main issue is that I don't know enough to know what to ask or what to consider. Ideally I'd wait till April when decisions are in and I can compare $$ but I don't want to string TFA along if I'd ultimately be backing out.

guinness1547
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby guinness1547 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:10 pm

fatduck wrote:do TFA, retake and reapply. or don't do TFA, retake and reapply. either works.

+1. Your app will be stronger in two years even with zero LSAT improvement, and you may even find you no longer want to attend law school by then anyway.

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you'rethemannowdawg
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby you'rethemannowdawg » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:19 pm

If you want a policy-related career, why law school and not an MPP/MPA?

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bosmer88
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby bosmer88 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:03 pm

iteachtenthgrade wrote:Do TFA only if you're sure you want to do it - for the right reasons. do it because you want to learn more about education. Do it because you want to help kids and build valuable leadership skills in the process.

Do NOT do it to increase your chances of getting into HYS. If that's your primary reason, it will be a long, hellish two year commitment.

I'd never trade my corps experience for having gone straight to school or anything else, for that matter. Without a doubt, it's helping my cycle. More importantly, though, it changed my career trajectory and goals dramatically and now I plan to dedicate my life to the field of education. Teaching mainly to get into a better law school is not fair to you or your future students, but if you're signing up because you truly want to dedicate 100% of your time and energy to a great cause, it's a solid choice.

PM me with specific questions if you have any. I was also a TFA recruiter back in the day, so I have some other insights beyond my own experience if you want them.


Well put! The only thing I would add is that I found it *extremely* difficult to study for the LSAT while doing TFA. If you decide to do TFA, I would suggest doing a Sep./Oct. LSAT after your commitment is done. That is what I personally had to do since classroom duties/outlines/lessons took up so much of my time and a June test was not an option for me.
Last edited by bosmer88 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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NinerFan
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby NinerFan » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:03 pm

Do TFA and see how the legal economy is in 2 years.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:09 pm

NinerFan wrote:Do TFA and see how the legal economy is in 2 years.

+1. All things equal, there is no reason to turn down a job you're interested in to go to law school now. If you think you'd like TFA, then go do it, and then see where life takes you. If you still want to go to law school after then try to break 170 and reapply. I just don't see the benefit to not taking the teaching position.

jym_dawg
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby jym_dawg » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:17 pm

you'rethemannowdawg wrote:If you want a policy-related career, why law school and not an MPP/MPA?


IME JD is often seen as superior to MPP/MPA and also opens more doors on the politics side than just a Masters, especially if you want to run for things down the road.

rjparson
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby rjparson » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:25 pm

jym_dawg wrote:
you'rethemannowdawg wrote:If you want a policy-related career, why law school and not an MPP/MPA?


IME JD is often seen as superior to MPP/MPA and also opens more doors on the politics side than just a Masters, especially if you want to run for things down the road.


+1.

I already have an academic Masters, and I think I would genuinely enjoy law school.

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polareagle
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby polareagle » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:28 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:
NinerFan wrote:Do TFA and see how the legal economy is in 2 years.

+1. All things equal, there is no reason to turn down a job you're interested in to go to law school now. If you think you'd like TFA, then go do it, and then see where life takes you. If you still want to go to law school after then try to break 170 and reapply. I just don't see the benefit to not taking the teaching position.


As a current 2nd year corps member, I would say that you really need to want to teach (at least for two years) in order to have a positive TFA experience. Note, I did not say you need to be committed to ending educational inequality, though that helps too, you need to want to teach. It is very hard to figure out how you'll respond to teaching until you've done it, and it will be a huge psychic burden either way.

Put it this way, I know a not insignificant number of other corps members who've faced severe depression issues and dropped out. I can guarantee you that joining TFA and dropping out will put you in a much worse position when applying for law school.

I also can't fathom studying for the LSAT during my commitment. Power to those of you who managed it, my first year I was at school from 7am to 9pm and brining work home pretty much every day until March.

If you want to teach and help kids, there is no more positive experience than TFA, and it will have a great impact on the rest of your life, but if you are not 100% into it, you will end up spending two of the potentially most fun years of your life utterly miserable (not my experience--I've been happy overall--but not an uncommon experience either).

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Mr. Pancakes
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby Mr. Pancakes » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:34 pm

DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL.

iteachtenthgrade
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby iteachtenthgrade » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:55 pm

I took LSAT in college and it was a great decision.

Also, I am a CM with a second job (waitress) in addition to Master's work and I manage it, so it's definitely doable but probably not preferable.

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NinerFan
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby NinerFan » Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:42 pm

A policy related career from law school is not easy.

Once upon a time, I was like you. I too went to a state school, excelled, got a good LSAT score, and almost did TFA. Instead, I went to a T-14. When I first matriculated, I wanted to end up in the government or something. I was interested in policy (Poli Sci Degree, did debate, etc).

I ended up on the big law track, like most of my classmates. It's rare to find someone who actually ends up doing policy things, especially right out from law school. It's certainly not impossible, but there's only a handful a year from my school. And, the price of it is three years of hard work and uncertain employment. Most of your classmates will be relaxing with their biglaw or equivalent job, while you hit up the public interest office, go to EJW every year, and pound the pavement for a low-paying PI-ish job. It's not impossible- A friend of mine will be working for a large national policy organization post-grad.

If you're dead set on this, only do it if you can get a substantial amount of scholarship money at a t-14 or t-10 school so you can hedge your bets a bit.

Some practical stuff- the whole legal market is pretty uncertain right now and applications to law schools are plummeting dramatically. If you do TFA for 2 years, you will come out of it a more attractive candidate because of the TFA line on your resume, and because the competition for law school spots might be even softer in 2 years if apps and LSAT takers continue to decrease. Your 165/168 could go further than a 170 or 171 a few years ago. Less applicants = better chances at better schools and better negotiating leverage for scholarships. Less fellow students = less competition for precious few jobs.

Take the TFA job, bro.

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you'rethemannowdawg
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby you'rethemannowdawg » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:02 am

The idea that a JD helps you with a policy career isn't really true anymore unless you go to HYS. For baby boomers ( and even 10 years ago) law school was less expensive and the legal market was better, so going to law school gave you more options.

Of course, law schools don't want you to think that, but getting a JD isn't the golden ticket for policy and politics that it used to be. Getting 200k in debt to NYU or Chicago to work as an LA for 35k isn't a great move, and you miss out on 3 years of making connections and getting real policy experience.

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suralin
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby suralin » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:04 am

jym_dawg wrote:
you'rethemannowdawg wrote:If you want a policy-related career, why law school and not an MPP/MPA?


IME JD is often seen as superior to MPP/MPA and also opens more doors on the politics side than just a Masters, especially if you want to run for things down the road.


:roll:

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wert3813
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby wert3813 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:39 am

.
Last edited by wert3813 on Fri Oct 31, 2014 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

rjparson
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Re: TFA or Law School

Postby rjparson » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:31 am

wert3813 wrote:
Also, I'll just say this. "prominent region" sounds like NY, Chicago, SF, DC, etc. I'm in a city with no trouble attracting teachers. Something like 70 teachers applied to the job I got due to TFA. Many were way more qualified. Just know that depending on where you are, you aren't necessarily taking a job that the school would have trouble filling. Of course, the irony is many of the places that actually need TFA (Delta, Indian Reservations, Rio Grande) TFAs don't want to go either.


I actually meant one of those three regions, I guess what I should have said is prominent based on its prominence in the application process.
Last edited by rjparson on Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.




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