T14 with $$ or Engineering?

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JBravo
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T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby JBravo » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:23 am

Hi all,

This is my situation. I am a poli sci major with a 3.67 gpa and a 171 lsat score. At this point in my cycle I have gotten a $75k offer from Michigan. I have also been admitted to Cornell and am waiting on an offer from them (I am assuming I can leverage the Michigan offer for a decent Cornell scholly). Those two schools seem to be the most viable choice for me at this juncture, as other than Georgetown I have been wait-listed or dinged from almost every other T14 (still haven't heard back from Virginia or NYU).

I don't know whether I want to practice law. Honestly, I wasn't even considering it and decided to take the lsat on a whim. When I got a 171 I thought, wow this is a really great opportunity. However, the more I look into the prospect of law as a profession the bleaker my outlook gets. I'm sure that most of you are aware of the over saturated law market, the mediocre pay and the horrific biglaw hours, not to mention $180,000 (in my case) and three years just to take a crack at it.

My parents and grandparents will help me pay for law school so chances are I would come out with about $20k - $40k in debt. I realize this is not a trivial amount but it's hard to complain when some people are looking at over $200k. It is also a major financial strain on my parents in particular.

Recently, I've been looking into the option of doing an engineering degree instead. The undergrad that I graduated from has a top 50 engineering program with some pretty reputable aerospace and chemical engineering departments. I would be paying in state tuition, living near home to cut expenses, and it more than likely wouldn't take me much more than three years given that I have a bunch of the prerequisites out of the way from my previous degree. I took some math and science classes and I did well in them and found them interesting, although I'm not sure whether I have a passion for engineering.

What do you think TLS? I could really use your help. Is a T14 law degree worth the price at half tuition? Is returning to undergrad for an engineering degree feasible? All I know is that my poli sci degree isn't worth dick. I really appreciate any advice I'm going through a bit of an existential career crisis here.

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OhBoyOhBortles
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby OhBoyOhBortles » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:29 am

What have you done since graduating? Would you consider taking some time to get experience in either (or both) field(s) so that your decision can become a little more informed? Do you have any other work experience that is influencing your career path decision?

JBravo
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby JBravo » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:49 am

OhBoyOhBortles wrote:What have you done since graduating? Would you consider taking some time to get experience in either (or both) field(s) so that your decision can become a little more informed? Do you have any other work experience that is influencing your career path decision?


Brother my work experience is essentially non-existent. I've worked unloading trucks on a dock part time during summers and as a janitor for a gym for a year during UG. I didn't even do any internships in UG because I was too busy playing baseball for a local league every summer enjoying life. I suppose I could try to get some WE in those fields, like maybe a paralegal? I'm not sure how to get a really good feel for what actual law or engineering work will entail, especially biglaw.

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OhBoyOhBortles
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby OhBoyOhBortles » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:07 am

Pm'd

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Leo
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby Leo » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:43 am

Why would you get an engineering degree if you don't have a passion for engineering? Engineering, like law, isn't something you can just pick up on a whim. I personally found engineering school harder than law school. Sure, you'll work more hours and be more stressed in law school, but at least the law can be understood by applying common sense principles (disclaimer: 1L here, so grains of salt and what not). Engineering, on the other hand, is more dry and abstractly pretty difficult to grasp. Would you rather learn about proximate causation or the Navier-Stokes equations? Mens rea or polytropic processes?

Basically, don't go to law school unless you actually want to be a lawyer, and don't go to engineering school unless you actually want to be an engineer.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby JohannDeMann » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:57 am

Ehh it's close. 20-40k is low enough debt that you can really take any job with your law degree like government so you won't be pigeon holed into biglaw. If you think you'd like being an engineer more, do that, but law school isn't terrible for you.

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Winston1984
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby Winston1984 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:02 pm

If you made a 171 taking the test on a whim, you should study and get a much higher score.

Maybe don't make your parents contribute as much if you know it will be financially difficult for them to do so. Honestly, graduating from either of those schools with $100k or less would be a pretty sweet outcome.

Also agree with other posters here. Be an engineer if you want to be an engineer. Go to law school if you want to be lawyer. I don't know how anyone can really answer that question for you. If you are mostly concerned about money, I assume a UMich/Cornell law grad with ~$30k in debt will have a much more comfortable lifestyle than an engineering grad.

Cogburn87
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby Cogburn87 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:17 pm

JohannDeMann wrote:Ehh it's close. 20-40k is low enough debt that you can really take any job with your law degree like government so you won't be pigeon holed into biglaw. If you think you'd like being an engineer more, do that, but law school isn't terrible for you.


OP doesn't seem to know if he wants to be a lawyer or what the practice of law involves. Attending law school in those circumstances is always a terrible decision.

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withoutapaddle
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby withoutapaddle » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:26 pm

I have friend and a cousin that are engineers. They make around 60-65K. My cousin works in baltimore, and my friend works in the middle nowhere Ohio.

From what they've told me, engineering jobs are hard to get as well. Also, how good are you at math? You'll be taking up to Calc 4. I did economics with Calc and business mathematics, and I couldn't imagine going past Calc 2

AReasonableMan
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby AReasonableMan » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:28 pm

From a financial standpoint, if you have already done college engineering isn't necessarily such a safe bet. The idea all engineers earn 70k out of school is as false as all lawyers earning 160. Engineering school is also probably harder as engineering and math students have the highest average LSAT score of all majors. This means 1 of 2 things - either engineering is good practice for the LSAT or engineers are smart. It's not the first, and if anything those who study philosophy or English would have the most exposure to the type of material tested on the LSAT. If you could get a 171 on a whim you may be great at law school.

If you don't like the idea of working long hours all the time and pushing paper, you can pick something else. No reason it needs to be engineering or law. There are 10000 other things. The one thing that is apparent is unless you love Charlie work, anyone who gets a 171 on the LSAT will not be limited to cleaning floors. In the current economy there is really no such thing as a path to easy money. Whatever you do you're going to have to be way above average at it. I also don't know if either one is necessarily more work. If your goal is to be median at a school like Michigan and you're naturally good at legal reasoning, you can do less than you did in college and break median. If your goal is to do your best then you can work thrice as hard as you'd have worked in engineering school.

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withoutapaddle
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby withoutapaddle » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:32 pm

I'd wait to see what Cornell and UVA (if accepted) off you scholarship wise. If Cornell gives you a bigger scholarship than Michigan it's a no brainer. Also, with a political science degree do you meet the prereqs for the engineering program?

pferaso
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby pferaso » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:43 pm

Just because you had a good LSAT doesn't mean you'll do well as a 1L. There is a high chance to strike out at OCI or not finding a clerkship--leaving you on the hunt for less prestigious jobs, a very difficult situation even with low debt.

You should defer this decision and work for at least a year to be on a better position. Your LSAT score is going to be there, and will likely lead you to the same outcome in later cycles. More importantly, you should compare carreers looking to what actual professionals do. Under this scenario, you will have nothing to lose, the work experience is also a plus during OCI.

If at the end of that period you decide law is for you, go for it. You can get an even better LSAT, which would be great. Treat law school as an investment, don't just go there because they are offering money.
Last edited by pferaso on Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rdawkins28
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby rdawkins28 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:44 pm

As someone who used to be a full time software engineer for fortune 500 companies and who is now a lawyer (I still do computer stuff part time), it's really hard to advise you one way or the other.

Engineers for the most part are generally nicer than lawyers. But depends on the job, it can be crap or it can be great. I have friends who make from $60K to $400,000 a year. Heck one friend at Google makes an enormous amount. His stock options were worth about $2M, 5 year vesting period. There are times when I worked till midnight, drove into work at 2AM. I was in the middle in terms of pay. By the time I was in my 6th year, I was making $100K, and this was 20 years ago. Then I got pushed into management which I hated and left.

Many lawyers I've come up against are aholes. Some are quite nice and pleasant to deal with whereas others care more about billables. I've had quite few cases where the amount in controversy starts out over 100K. The other lawyer would jump into discovery and spend tons of time. After a year of billing the customer for 50K, we go to mediation and my client ended up paying 3K just so we don't have to go to court. The opposing client is out 47K to his own lawyer. Then there are the liars. The opposing counsels who don't listen to what you have to say and are just plain rude. The ones who love every little procedure trick. It's quite a dirty business, much more then engineering.

Now you look like a really smart person, so you'll probably succeed whatever a career you choose. So I would suggest doing more research on which career suits your personality the best. And even then, if you get stuck in a crappy group, then your job is going to be crappy.

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BearsintheRafters
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby BearsintheRafters » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:48 pm

OP, are you concerned about finding employment with a liberal arts degree? It sounds like you're trying to find a "safe" career path by going into a field of study known to produce good employment outcomes. I only say this because law and engineering are widely divergent career paths, and you already have a degree. Are you worried about finding a job after graduation?

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Superstaranonymous
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby Superstaranonymous » Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:19 pm

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Last edited by Superstaranonymous on Tue Jul 28, 2015 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Desert Fox
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:22 pm

I have no idea if ChemE is in demand, but Aereo is terrible industry. You essentially work for one of the few big companies who all rely on gov contracts. So massive lay offs are common, but when they happen, nobody is hiring.

I'd talk to someone in those industries.

If you just want a steady job, do programming (but not web programming).

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ChemEng1642
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby ChemEng1642 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 2:13 pm

Desert Fox wrote:I have no idea if ChemE is in demand, but Aereo is terrible industry. You essentially work for one of the few big companies who all rely on gov contracts. So massive lay offs are common, but when they happen, nobody is hiring.

I'd talk to someone in those industries.

If you just want a steady job, do programming (but not web programming).


Cheme is in high demand provided you are willing to relocate to Texas. Outside of Texas, not so much.

OP - I don't know if it is worth it to go back to school for 3-4 years for engineering unless you think you will really enjoy it. You would essentially be doing another 3-4 years in school to make ~70K/year (as a Cheme not doing oil and gas) starting. If you do go into oil and gas, you'll get paid more (closer to 90K) but the hours will be awful (with much less pay than Big law) and I know a good number of people in that industry are getting laid off right now (anecdotal though). Outside of oil and gas though, hours are pretty reasonable and the job is pretty stable though that has only been my experience.

Also - are you guaranteed to get into your undergrad school's engineering program? That is also something to consider.

JBravo
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby JBravo » Thu Feb 19, 2015 2:39 pm

BearsintheRafters wrote:OP, are you concerned about finding employment with a liberal arts degree? It sounds like you're trying to find a "safe" career path by going into a field of study known to produce good employment outcomes. I only say this because law and engineering are widely divergent career paths, and you already have a degree. Are you worried about finding a job after graduation?


I'm already a graduate, and yes, I am worried. I suppose it is possible that I could find a job with my degree but I'm a little lost as to what that might entail. I know friends doing advertising and journalism, neither of which appeal to me, and I have no desire to work in the restaurant/bar business, another popular alternative. I suppose this concern is probably weighing on me more heavily than it should. I am a risk averse person by nature.

One of my principal concerns with law is how everyone online seems to think it's biglaw or bust out of school. The general sentiment seems to be that if you wash out biglaw you'll have absolutely no rewarding employment opportunities, and on top of that, biglaw is hell. Where does that leave lawyers? Is it necessary to land biglaw, suffer for years on end and eventually take a risk lateraling in order to find a half way decent law job?

Thank you all for the responses, this has been tremendously helpful!

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withoutapaddle
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby withoutapaddle » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:32 pm

OP, I'd say do what you love but that doesn't pay the bills.

Go to law school with a decent scholarship from the T-13. Job opportunties are going to be limited with just a political science degree.

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Pikappraider
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby Pikappraider » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:42 pm

I would work for a year and study for the LSAT. If you dropped a 171 on a whim, you should be able to improve and could end up with a full ride at a t14 or in at hys if you have a good gpa.

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withoutapaddle
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby withoutapaddle » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:51 pm

Have you applied to Vandy? Full ride would make your decision easy

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RZ5646
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby RZ5646 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 5:01 pm

Engineering is a great career option because you can get a high-paying job right out of undergrad and start making money at age 22 with minimal debt. Unfortunately, that doesn't really apply in your case.

Also, this is an apples and oranges comparison. Figure out what you want to do with your life first.

suppy183
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby suppy183 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 5:30 pm

JBravo wrote:One of my principal concerns with law is how everyone online seems to think it's biglaw or bust out of school. The general sentiment seems to be that if you wash out biglaw you'll have absolutely no rewarding employment opportunities, and on top of that, biglaw is hell. Where does that leave lawyers? Is it necessary to land biglaw, suffer for years on end and eventually take a risk lateraling in order to find a half way decent law job?


I'm a 0L, but from everything I've read it actually sounds like the employment opportunities are pretty good (in terms of pay/hours) after Biglaw, at least if you're able to hang on for a few years and gain some marketable experience (and much more so if you're in a transactional practice area). No one in their right mind is going to law school in order to get biglaw for a few miserable years and then burn out. The long-term expectation/hope here is to end up in one of the jobs that become attainable after a stint in biglaw.

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Winston1984
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby Winston1984 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 5:39 pm

withoutapaddle wrote:Have you applied to Vandy? Full ride would make your decision easy

He probably couldn't get a full ride from Vandy with that gpa.

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Ron Don Volante
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Re: T14 with $$ or Engineering?

Postby Ron Don Volante » Thu Feb 19, 2015 5:48 pm

From a purely financial perspective, law school sounds like your best option. Graduating from a Michigan or a comparable school with less than 100K in debt is objectively a good outcome, even if you don't get biglaw.

But that doesn't mean you should do it if you don't think you'd like being a lawyer. Do some more research and networking and put some serious thought into this.




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