International student - help me make an informed decision!

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steffanimal
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2015 4:29 pm

International student - help me make an informed decision!

Postby steffanimal » Tue Jan 27, 2015 4:37 pm

Hey everyone, it's my first post here even though I've been lurking for a while trying to seek out relevant information. I'm in a bit of an unorthodox and peculiar situation and I'm about to hit a major crossroad in life, so I hope you guys and gals can help me out a little here. (I also hope I'm posting in the right subforum...)

I'm an international student-athlete from a third world country about to enter my senior year in a small state school in the south of the United States. I've always had a penchant for law and even considered staying home to study it (where I come from, Law is an undergrad major), but I completely wrote off the idea ever since my arrival to the U.S. because of the horror employment/debt/admission stories I've heard and opted to focus on technology. In light of my graduation, which is a year from now, I've started thinking about life after undergrad and despite the tales of the grueling life as a law student/lawyer I'm still very much keen on going to law school if deciding to go down this path makes sense, given my nationality and financial situation.
I've taken a sample LSAT and scored 156 without a days worth of study. Since I wouldn't take the actual test until next fall, I'm hoping that have enough time and ability to prepare well enough to score high and pray for admission to a T14 school. Sounds optimistic, I know, but I'm really keen to give it all I've got and have a go. However, once again, because of my 'situation', there are a few things that are troubling me and blocking me from fully committing to law.

- I know the job market isn't the most forgiving, and that it doesn't overly caress international students either because of the complications that come with obtaining a work permit. I'm assuming that this is even more so the case in law. Can anyone shed more light on employment prospects for international students that go on to obtain a JD in the U.S.? Does anyone have any personal stories or stories of friends to share? I'm keeping in mind the fact that a fair amount of job prospects are out of the equation for me right off the bat because I can't do any federal or government related work.

- I've ridden my luck up to this point because I was recruited to play D1 sports and, as a result, I'm yet to pay a cent for my education. The school I attend is, at best, not very good - it is a public, state university which doesn't even show up on highly regarded U.S. school ranking lists. On the positive side I've managed to keep a stellar record here - 4.0 GPA, captain of my team, community service, one internship related to my current course of study, tutoring, etc. How will this pan out in my application?

- Money. Like I said, I'm part of the lucky bunch that got to go to school for free because of decent athletic ability. I know that there's no such lottery ticket for law school. For a number of reasons, no matter what post-grad program I choose - I can't afford to pay much. My countries' economy is down the toilet after it was torn apart by a recent war and the average wage doesn't even clear $500 a month, and I can only make so much as a student, not nearly enough to cover even a shred of the cost of law school. On top of that, I lost my mother a few years ago and my dad is confined to a wheelchair after a serious stroke severely impaired his physical and mental ability. Now, I'm pretty sure that anyone can come up with a sob-story that would melt the hearts of anyone working in admissions, but I'm genuinely struggling to keep myself afloat in life, much less save up or receive third-party aid for law school. Do schools take this into account? I've read some schools, such as Harvard, offer need-based aid. Hypothetically, if I maintained my undergrad record and scored well on the LSAT and gained admission, what would my odds be of receiving a good/full scholarship?

- Currently, I'm studying Computer Information Systems. My entire record and resume revolves around this field. Does this bear any weight in the application process? Will the fact that I don't have any legal experience whatsoever hinder me when I apply, or start my studies?

I'm keen to do some more research to determine whether this is the right path for me, and make an informed decision. I really hope some of you can give me advice that can help me out. I do apologize if I've missed some relevant information already on this forum/website and, well, as I said, I'll appreciate any form of direction and counsel.

Thanks in advance!

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Auxilio
Posts: 582
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2014 3:51 pm

Re: International student - help me make an informed decision!

Postby Auxilio » Tue Jan 27, 2015 5:08 pm

I cannot answer everything you asked, but I can address a lot of it.

First, from what I understand law firms are very willing to hire internationals, maybe partly because it is less tedious for them to get a visa. At least if you are coming from a good school/not a flight risk.

Getting 170+ is very doable with a 158 diagnostic, especially for someone who got a 4.0 in a STEM major. The softs will help a bit, but not going to overcome subpar LSAT.

I think your biggest difficulty is going to be securing loans for going to school, even with a big scholarship. I doubt you can get much from your home country and US banks won't lend to internationals. Your best outcome in this regard would be to do great on LSAT (173 higher ideally, with a little room for a drop) and try and get into Harvard. They are the only school which provides institutional loans for internationals who cannot secure third party loans.

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admiringatticus
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: International student - help me make an informed decision!

Postby admiringatticus » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:53 am

Auxilio wrote:I cannot answer everything you asked, but I can address a lot of it.

First, from what I understand law firms are very willing to hire internationals, maybe partly because it is less tedious for them to get a visa. At least if you are coming from a good school/not a flight risk.

Getting 170+ is very doable with a 158 diagnostic, especially for someone who got a 4.0 in a STEM major. The softs will help a bit, but not going to overcome subpar LSAT.

I think your biggest difficulty is going to be securing loans for going to school, even with a big scholarship. I doubt you can get much from your home country and US banks won't lend to internationals. Your best outcome in this regard would be to do great on LSAT (173 higher ideally, with a little room for a drop) and try and get into Harvard. They are the only school which provides institutional loans for internationals who cannot secure third party loans.


All of this is correct. I would also add that in order to get your student visa, you need to prove that you have funds to cover all three years of study (tuition + living expenses as assessed by your school's annual budget). If you have enough money to cover living expenses on your own, then I would say your best strategy is to score as high as possible on the LSAT and milk the scholarships; a 4.0 GPA does nothing for scholarships in the T14 without a good LSAT.




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