Law School or TFA?

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Law School or TFA?

Postby cestlavie1 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:39 am

Hi everyone,

I have a decision to make and would appreciate some advice.

I am contemplating whether to ride out my law school waitlists (Minnesota, GW) or accept a job offer with Teach for America (TFA), an initiative that aims to close the achievement gap between low income and high income students.

TFA gives members an opportunity to teach for two years in a low income school to raise academic achievement of minorities. After the two years of teaching are over, TFA alumni move on to various professions (many become lawyers) and continue to advocate for education reform.

My goal is to become a public interest lawyer and work with low income communities and minorities, so TFA is appealing to me. However, I see pros and cons of becoming a Teach for America member.

1) Experience in low income communities
2) Allows me the chance to retake the LSAT for a higher score
3) Opens the door to scholarship opportunities
4) TFA has partnered with many law schools (including GW and Minnesota). These law schools are willing to grant a two year deferral to students who are accepted to the law school but choose to join TFA for two years

1) Salary is not very high
2) Extremely demanding work (Masters in Education, extensive training, lesson planning, etc.)
3) May not be the best experience to prepare me for a legal career
4) Must put off law school for two more years (already took one year off after graduating college)

Ultimately, my goal is to become a public interest lawyer. Again, I was waitlisted for Fall 2013 at GW and Minnesota, and GW expects a LOCI from me this week. Should I go ahead and send a LOCI with an update about the TFA acceptance? Should I send a LOCI without mentioning TFA at all? Or should I withdraw my law school applications all together?

Would appreciate any guidance and thank you in advance.

Ti Malice

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Re: Law School or TFA?

Postby Ti Malice » Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:39 am

Just so you know, everyone here knows what TFA is.

Regardless of whether you do TFA or not, you should withdraw your apps, retake the LSAT, and reapply. Going to a school like GW or Minnesota (or worse) at sticker is a very dangerous financial decision.

No one can really tell you whether or not you should do TFA. You'll have to make an honest self-assessment as to whether you can handle the level of stress and the volume of work the job will bring. If you would be doing TFA largely for its instrumental value, then it might well end up being an unrelentingly miserable experience for you. You really need to want to do that work.

Whatever you decide on TFA, though, retake the LSAT.


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Re: Law School or TFA?

Postby californiauser » Fri Apr 19, 2013 3:00 am

TFA, it would be a legitimate discussion if it were HYS vs. TFA. Do TFA and retake. Some here have posited that TFA gives a applicants a small boost for work experience, too.

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Re: Law School or TFA?

Postby JDndMSW » Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:22 pm

Have you considered any other AmeriCorps programs? Their are thousands and most are only a 10 month long commitment. You also get an ed award of 5,500 to use towards school. The pay is crap but you can always look in your hometown are and live with parents or something.

I am currently in a program and while I would never have thought it was a good soft I did get a full scholarship to a T30 that I was under median GPA and at Median LSAT. I know this cycle has been weird but I am the lowest I have seen receive this scholarship without being an URM or something.


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Postby 062914123 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:33 pm

Last edited by 062914123 on Mon Jun 30, 2014 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Law School or TFA?

Postby cestlavie1 » Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:22 pm

Thank you all for your replies. Your input seriously helps me to weigh my decisions. I think I'd like to retake the LSAT and reapply (regardless of TFA).

bee, although I do agree with TFA's mission of closing the achievement gap, I would be lying if I said I'm not worried about the program's intensity. I definitely have some thinking to do.

JD, I am going to look into other AmeriCorps programs, a 10 month commitment is definitely much easier than two years. Thank you for suggesting this.

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Re: Law School or TFA?

Postby DougieFresh » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:06 pm

bee wrote:do not -- i repeat -- do NOT -- do TFA if you are not fully committed to teaching and do not truly believe in TFA's mission statement.

the small, small boost it MIGHT give you in admissions is nothing compared to the actual experience you will go through as a TFAer.

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Re: Law School or TFA?

Postby txdude45 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:13 pm

I hate TFA for a host of reasons, not the least of which being they put people with little interest in making a career out of education into schools with kids who desperately need teachers and not 2 year band-aids. Teaching is a great profession and one that is undervalued by American society. However, doing it for 2 years, even if you work your ass off, does nothing to create a long-term benefit for the students that school serves. Educating poor and underserved students should be a career choice, not a resume booster.

That being said, most people who try to use TFA to get into HYS, or some other law school, will usually at least pay lip service to helping kids. That you didn't even reach this low bar suggests that, while TFA could do a lot for your applications, you will have very little to offer your students in terms of genuine motivation. You don't want to teach. You want to wear the badge of a tragically flawed program to leverage an admissions bump. This mentality, which permeates the entire TFA program right down to their advertising, isn't helping to fix failing schools.

Don't do TFA.
Last edited by txdude45 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Law School or TFA?

Postby RSterling » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:24 pm

Don't do TFA. I know several people in the program and the only ones that actually enjoy it are the ones who actually want to be teachers. 90% of TFAers will end up applying to Law or Business school, so it's not like it's a game changer for your apps. You're better off taking a 9-5 office gig that allows you to study for the LSAT. Based on the schedules of the people that I know, you're not going to have any time to study for the LSAT as a teacher.

Seriously, though. You clearly are just looking at TFA to better yours apps. You will hate it.

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Re: Law School or TFA?

Postby wert3813 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:39 pm

OP you have got some good advice here and you should strongly listen to it. I am not going to say anything new but I will emphasize.

1. The choice is not TFA v. law school. The choice is do I want to do TFA.
2. Think about whether you will actually like teaching.


Because I'm a newb I don't know how to link individual posts. Scroll down to where I post at the bottom of the page and read through the end of the thread.

Based of how you sound in what you post I don't think TFA sounds like something you are absolutely committed to (note, most people want to end education inequality just believing in that isn't anywhere near enough)

Retake the LSAT. Do not go to GW (at all) or Minn (unless you have a huge scholarship and want to practice in Minnesota)

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