TFA and Law School

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sundance95
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby sundance95 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:36 pm

HITeacher2 wrote:The lying you did to get into TFA came back and bit you in the ass. If the organization knew what kind of person you really were, you wouldn't have gotten in and it would have turned out better for you, for TFA, and most importantly for the kids you taught. This just underscores how important it is to be honest when applying for jobs. If you don't want to sacrifice your work/life balance and work 100 hours a week so you can make $160k a year, you shouldn't say you do in the BigLaw or IBanking interview. Similarly, if you aren't 100% passionate about closing the achievement gap and don't want to make the sacrifice to do it in your classroom, don't say you are in the TFA interview. You don't sign up for a "cushy" job at TFA, you sign up to change kids lives because it's the right thing to do - you have to believe that, or just like SBL you'll just end up miserable and lash out at other people because of your own lack of confidence.

...

That said, OP, if you have to come to a forum and ask anonymously whether you should do TFA, you really shouldn't be doing TFA. How can one go to an interview and talk for hours about how committed they are to the mission of closing the achievement gap and how unfair it is that kids don't all have access to an excellent education, then not even have enough confidence to say yes without asking an online forum of strangers. Say no and save the students you would have taught two years of of a miserable teacher.


Am I the only one surprised that a former TFAer could be such an elitist prick?

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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:38 pm

HITeacher2 wrote:That's funny, maybe it was just because I taught in a "good" region, but I genuinely felt like I did reach kids and turn their lives around.

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nealric
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby nealric » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:44 pm

I'm only anonymous b/c law schools do look at this site and don't want to get rejected b/c they know i'll defer them.



Don't kid yourself. You have any idea how much time and effort it would take to match anonymous user names to real applicants? They probably spend less time looking at your application than it would take to find and log onto this site.

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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:54 pm

nealric wrote:
I'm only anonymous b/c law schools do look at this site and don't want to get rejected b/c they know i'll defer them.



Don't kid yourself. You have any idea how much time and effort it would take to match anonymous user names to real applicants? They probably spend less time looking at your application than it would take to find and log onto this site.


Don't be too sure. I work in undergrad admissions and we have our students keep tabs on the forums, and if it's something we want to know about we'll try and figure out who it is.

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nealric
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby nealric » Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:19 pm

Don't be too sure. I work in undergrad admissions and we have our students keep tabs on the forums, and if it's something we want to know about we'll try and figure out who it is.


There has to be at least 100 potential TFA corps members out of the 10,000 apps most law schools receive per year. I can't fathom how a school would be able to attribute a post to a particular person short of a revealing username, someone telling their life story on the forums, or an IP subpoena.

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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:39 pm

nealric wrote:
Don't be too sure. I work in undergrad admissions and we have our students keep tabs on the forums, and if it's something we want to know about we'll try and figure out who it is.


There has to be at least 100 potential TFA corps members out of the 10,000 apps most law schools receive per year. I can't fathom how a school would be able to attribute a post to a particular person short of a revealing username, someone telling their life story on the forums, or an IP subpoena.



Let's just say I wanted to be extra sure.

HITeacher2
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby HITeacher2 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm only anonymous b/c law schools do look at this site and don't want to get rejected b/c they know i'll defer them. I am asking here, in a forum full of random people, because I want to hear what other people think of TFA and what their experiences have been, and my original question, which you may not have understood, or maybe i phrased it wrong... what I'm trying to figure out is if I should defer law school and do tfa, or just reject every law school and apply later on after I'm done with TFA, not if I should do TFA or not. Thanks for your input though.

Edit: Also I'm being smart and doing some research instead of jumping into something without knowing what it is. Don't know why you hatin HITeacher


That's fair, I misjudged and I apologize. I'll see if I can give you some feedback that's of value instead of hating on you.
So the question is - should I defer law school to pursue a 2-year job, or just not defer law school and still take the job.
General Pros and Cons of deferring law school
Pros:
- You have a guaranteed spot in law school so you can pack your worries away.
- You have a guaranteed option to exit teaching after 2 years if you realize it's not for you.
- There is no fault if you decide not to go to law school and do something else (keep teaching, get another job, med school, etc)
Cons:
- You (usually) have to pay a nominal deposit you will never get back unless you actually matriculate.
- You can't hold a deferral to School A and apply to School B hoping to get in, keeping your deferral to School A in case you don't get in. You must first tell School A "no thanks" then apply to School B.
- Not doing the above may get you in some trouble if School A finds out and tells School B, including School B reneging on you.

Besides that stuff, one of the reasons you may consider not deferring is because you think you can get into a better law school after TFA and the deferral may tie you down by making you complacent. That may or may not be true.
- Having work experience will make you a little (very little) more attractive to law schools. Think schools you would be waitlisted at without work experience. TFA looks great on your resume, but so do many things (Peace Corps, Consulting, Fullbright) and all these things pale in comparison to the impact your GPA and LSAT have.
- That said, its incredibly difficult to write an application while working. This isn't TFA specific, but especially true of TFA. Getting LORs, taking the LSAT and writing a personal statement are all 10 times easier during college then while working.

Also, keep in mind that which law school you're deferring also plays heavily into this equation, though that information opens up a whole new can of worms. Anyway, given all these things, the only real cost of deferring is the $500 that the school will charge you to hold your place that you get back if you matriculate. Unless you're on a very tight budget, it's probably worth it to defer just to have the safety net.

sundance95 wrote:Am I the only one surprised that a former TFAer could be such an elitist prick?


My response to OP was way over the line. Besides that paragraph, I do stand by the basic tenets of what I said. You shouldn't lie during interviews for a job that's known to have horrible work/life balance or you'll end up being miserable in your job. I said it in a mean way to SBL because his quote made me really upset, but I don't really see how that's elitist. Please enlighten me.

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arism87
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby arism87 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:24 pm

If the question is should you apply and defer or wait to apply, I usually recommend waiting. As stated above it MIGHT give you a SLIGHT boost (not trying to start this argument). More importantly, it gives you a great topic for a personal statement. It's not hard to get an app together in TFA because you have the summer off, which is the ideal time to be getting it together anyway. There are TFA fee waivers almost everywhere and scholarships in many places.

That said, it sounds like you've already applied, so my usual response isn't as relevant. If you HAVE applied and get in where you want to go, defer. You probably won't be a much better candidate 2 years from now.

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TIKITEMBO
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby TIKITEMBO » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:34 pm

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Last edited by TIKITEMBO on Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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20160810
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby 20160810 » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:22 pm

HITeacher2 wrote:
SBL wrote: You will not "reach" kids. You will not inspire them. You will not change lives. You will not turn a kid away from gangs and towards books. You will mainly just grade papers, do paperwork for your administration and get called a [HI I'M THE WORD FILTER. THIS PERSON MIGHT BE A DICK.] a lot by illiterate children. If this does not discourage you (btw, don't start thinking "Well MY experience will be different!" - we all thought that, yours won't be different, it will be shitty), then do TFA.


That's funny, maybe it was just because I taught in a "good" region, but I genuinely felt like I did reach kids and turn their lives around. And I wasn't the only one, I would say the vast majority of CMs at the school I taught at, and the majority of CMs in the region I was in felt the same way. There's a difference between sharing your own experience "eg: I did not reach kids, I just graded papers and got called a [HI I'M THE WORD FILTER. THIS PERSON MIGHT BE A DICK.] all day and now I'm bitter" and telling someone else they'll have the same experience. You don't speak for me and you don't speak for anyone else but yourself.

The lying you did to get into TFA came back and bit you in the ass. If the organization knew what kind of person you really were, you wouldn't have gotten in and it would have turned out better for you, for TFA, and most importantly for the kids you taught. This just underscores how important it is to be honest when applying for jobs. If you don't want to sacrifice your work/life balance and work 100 hours a week so you can make $160k a year, you shouldn't say you do in the BigLaw or IBanking interview. Similarly, if you aren't 100% passionate about closing the achievement gap and don't want to make the sacrifice to do it in your classroom, don't say you are in the TFA interview. You don't sign up for a "cushy" job at TFA, you sign up to change kids lives because it's the right thing to do - you have to believe that, or just like SBL you'll just end up miserable and lash out at other people because of your own lack of confidence.

There are plenty of people who are willing to make the sacrifices necessary for those "elite" jobs in the "elite' firms, be they TFA, Goldman Sachs, Wachtell or McKinsey. You know because you've met them, they made you feel sorry about yourself, and now you lash out telling people at the door that they'll "never make it." To anybody considering lying during the interview process for these jobs, know that you're going to be miserable when they're your peers and you just can't cut it. The people who speak honestly during interviews are the people who end up happy in their careers.

That said, OP, if you have to come to a forum and ask anonymously whether you should do TFA, you really shouldn't be doing TFA. How can one go to an interview and talk for hours about how committed they are to the mission of closing the achievement gap and how unfair it is that kids don't all have access to an excellent education, then not even have enough confidence to say yes without asking an online forum of strangers. Say no and save the students you would have taught two years of of a miserable teacher.

Let me explain something to you which was obvious to pretty much everyone else reading this thread: I was not making a statement of objective fact; I was expressing my opinion, which opinion was informed by my two (shitty) years working with Teach For America. Because I (generally - there are exceptions, and you are one of them) respect the intelligence of people who read these boards, I did not feel the need to prefix every statement of opinion by identifying it as such. I figured that people reading my posts would be smart enough to say "Hey, this is this guy's experience, I'll read it and consider it for what it's worth.")

And once again, I'd like to point out that people like you are what makes TFA so terrible. Once again we see the recurring mantra that anyone who doesn't like the job is somehow bad at it (I wasn't, by the way, my student achievement data was rock solid) or doing it wrong. I did my job properly, and my students were in no way harmed by the fact that I didn't really like teaching.

It sounds like you enjoyed your experience, and that's fine. By all means share that enjoyment with the OP, as he asked for our opinions. But to suggest that I'm somehow wrong for not liking my time in TFA, or to suggest that I'm wrong for warning the OP that many people find TFA to be a depressing, shitty 2-year slog is absurd. The idea that the only people who dislike TFA are those who didn't deserve to be there in the first place is shitty, circular self-reinforcing logic. Some people just come to discover that they'd rather be doing something else, and that's OK. Sort of like how you did TFA, but now you're on a law school admissions forum.

buxfactor
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby buxfactor » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:28 pm

I did TFA for two years and thought it was a great experience. I generally had success with my students and thought I was able to "reach" some of them, and hopefully they are better off as a result. However, like other posters have said, it can be either hit or miss. If you're looking for something just to take up time before law school, just understand that TFA is a difficult experience no matter where you go, but you do learn a lot about life and I found it great preparation for law school in terms of helping my work ethic. The one thing that everyone learns, whether you had a good or bad two years (or more), is how defunct our country's education system is in many areas.

I also found TFA and work experience in general to be an advantage when applying for law firm jobs. I don't think it was a huge factor in getting an admissions boost though, but you do get fee waivers from some law schools, which was nice.

Like OP, I had always wanted to go to law school, but ended up just applying between my first and second years of TFA.

zephyr36
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby zephyr36 » Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:14 pm

In an attempt to deflect all the pointless arguing that's happening in this thread, I have a question: to those of you that did TFA, is there a correlation between a "good" experience and the length that the region as been established? I am applying for TFA and my first choice would be a brand new region. How likely is it that organizational/administrative problems with provide extra barriers to an already difficult experience?

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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby 20160810 » Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:35 pm

zephyr36 wrote:In an attempt to deflect all the pointless arguing that's happening in this thread, I have a question: to those of you that did TFA, is there a correlation between a "good" experience and the length that the region as been established? I am applying for TFA and my first choice would be a brand new region. How likely is it that organizational/administrative problems with provide extra barriers to an already difficult experience?

In my experience, the larger regions tend to be the best-run. I've heard pretty good things about Houston, Baltimore, DC and NYC especially. The executive directors in those regions are generally the most capable and best compensated of the bunch, for one thing, so there's usually better leadership, which helps enormously.

One concern I'd have about choosing a brand new region is that a lot of TFA's success in school placements comes from building relationships with principals who come to love TFA teachers and thus be more willing to potentially take a chance on you despite your (presumable) lack of experience. In a new region, these relationships wouldn't exist, which might make your initial placement more of a hassle.

Overall though, I'd suggest an urban region if nothing else but because if you find yourself growing annoyed with your fellow CMs, you'll have other social outlets and you aren't stuck in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of kids who wear Tevas and want to talk about the validity of their week-end assessments.

HITeacher2
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby HITeacher2 » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:26 pm

SBL wrote:
zephyr36 wrote:In an attempt to deflect all the pointless arguing that's happening in this thread, I have a question: to those of you that did TFA, is there a correlation between a "good" experience and the length that the region as been established? I am applying for TFA and my first choice would be a brand new region. How likely is it that organizational/administrative problems with provide extra barriers to an already difficult experience?

In my experience, the larger regions tend to be the best-run. I've heard pretty good things about Houston, Baltimore, DC and NYC especially. The executive directors in those regions are generally the most capable and best compensated of the bunch, for one thing, so there's usually better leadership, which helps enormously.

One concern I'd have about choosing a brand new region is that a lot of TFA's success in school placements comes from building relationships with principals who come to love TFA teachers and thus be more willing to potentially take a chance on you despite your (presumable) lack of experience. In a new region, these relationships wouldn't exist, which might make your initial placement more of a hassle.

Overall though, I'd suggest an urban region if nothing else but because if you find yourself growing annoyed with your fellow CMs, you'll have other social outlets and you aren't stuck in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of kids who wear Tevas and want to talk about the validity of their week-end assessments.


Larger regions do tend to be much better run, but they're a little more impersonal as well. The nice thing about newer and smaller regions is that TFA tends to see you more as an individual and less as a cog. Placement will probably be a little harder in a new region and you'll definitely be frustrated by some of the inefficiencies of the TFA staff as they struggle to get it together, but you'll matter a lot to your fellow CMs and staff and feel a little more like you're part of a family. Besides, in a new region you get to be that teacher that makes the principal fall in love with TFA teachers - it's a pretty good feeling.

The urban/rural trade-off is interesting as well. Urban areas give you far more social outlets than rural areas, and a lot of people who grew up or went to college in urban areas suffer in rural areas because there's nothing to do. It's really easy to feel trapped in a rural area. On the other hand, your chance of having a really negative experience seems to be a little higher in an urban region than in rural regions. Think gangs.

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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby 20160810 » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:39 pm

Also, based on impressions I got, it seemed like the rural CMs who preferenced those regions tended to be a lot more "granola" so to speak, whereas the ones in urban regions were a bit more normal. If you do not like spending a lot of time around white people who think it's incredibly important to eat locally-grown, organic produce, then I suggest focusing largely on urban regions.

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clintonius
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby clintonius » Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:04 am

And whatever you do, don't go to Newark.

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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby 20160810 » Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:07 am

clintonius wrote:And whatever you do, don't go to Newark.

This sounds like credited advice.

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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:49 am

As someone who taught in one of the biggest messes of a school in a region that is NOT known for being one of the best run regions, I wanted to chime in and say that TFA can be a great or a horrible experience. Which it is will be based partially on what you make of it and partially on luck of the draw. In my case, I didn't get lucky, but I made the best of things and actually had a pretty great two years. I found the teaching rewarding, my fellow TFA-ers (mostly) inspiring and interesting, and surprised myself by actually having a pretty good time throughout. I also did definitely change the lives of a few kids I know about (and hopefully a couple more I don't know about), although definitely not as many as I hoped for in my most hopped-up-on-TFA-propaganda moments. I don't think my experience is super representative, though (at least wrt my being happy pretty much throughout)--the first year of teaching is pretty damn hard for everyone, and if you're just staying afloat, you're doing pretty well. That said, I would wager that well over 50% of the core members in my region had a rewarding experience (I'd guess it was closer to 80-90%) that they did not in any way regret.

The most important question any prospective TFA-er should ask themselves is which group they think they're likely to end up in. Think long and hard about what you're getting yourself into, because your two years (or six months if you end up quitting like one of the above posters) has the potential to be BAD. Be very sure about your decision; otherwise, you could end up doing both yourself and your students a huge disservice.

Turning now to the specific question of TFA and law school, I ended up in a T3 law school and couldn't be happier. Most likely I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for TFA (my grades/LSAT alone woulda just barely gotten me into a T10), but I'm pretty certain it wasn't the TFA name on my resume that got me in. Rather, it was the way the experience changed and shaped me as a person. Sure, everyone says something like that, but the primary "boost" that people get from TFA doesn't come from an after-the-fact insincere attempt to pretend like you learned or grew in a positive way from an experience that has really just left you bitter. Everyone learns from TFA, but the sort of growth adcoms want to hear about, like it or not, is not in a cynical direction. My guess is that for these cynically-touched people, their TFA experience will impact their admission outcomes less than had they found some alternative, but better for them, two-year pursuit following undergrad. Instead, like most successful and most happy TFA CMS (and I don't mean to imply that the two groups have 100% overlap, although there is a significant correlation there), I was touched by my experience in a unique and personal way that I won't bore y'all going into any specific detail about.

More crucial than for admissions outcomes, I find that my TFA experience has given me the maturity, drive, perspective--you name it--to succeed in law school. I think taking time off between undergrad and law school can be valuable in general, but if that time off coincides with an experience as substantively rewarding as TFA can be, so much the better. That said, I don't know that if I had spent two years feeling miserable doing TFA, if I would feel the same. The act of doing TFA alone doesn't necessarily prepare you to succeed in law school (although many of the skills you need to be successful as a teacher overlap with those you need to be successful in law school), so I'll return to my refrain; if TFA isn't the "right" thing for you at this point in your life, don't count on it helping you much with law school.

As a footnote, rural regions have gangs too, and at least my region had higher rates of violence, drug abuse, poverty, etc, etc, than the vast majority of the urban regions. That's not to say that it was "harder"--each region comes with its own set of unique challenges and it's stupid to get into a pissing contest over what regions are harder or easier.

Oh, and sorry about the mediocre writing in the post--I'm too tired to edit well and I know that if I don't post tonight, this ain't going up.

akahn2
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby akahn2 » Sun Dec 26, 2010 2:27 am

Plain and simple: this forum asked a question and sought answers. There's no correct one, just opinions and experiences. Everyone should share their side. I think we are bright enough to read two differing opinions and synthesize them to reach our own decision. Thanks to those offering advice, but attacking others accomplishing nothing. Spend your time on something more productive. Give your side and move on. I'm in the same boat on TFA, but leaning against it if I get an offer. Not sure I am committed enough (I think any hesitation now means I'll be in trouble once a real challenge comes). Good luck!

PriyaRai
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby PriyaRai » Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:13 pm

Happy to chime in. I had a wonderful experience. Taught middle school in NYC. I had a good placement, though. A school where students underperformed and were broke, but it was also run decently, had a lot of young teachers with a lot of energy, I never felt unsafe, worked really hard and moved my students a long, had a great time working with them, the other faculty, and the administration. I feel like I learned a lot about life (as vague and ridiculous as that sounds)

I deferred my acceptance to LS, so it was great knowing there was something waiting for me at the end of the 2 years. It was basically all I talked about in every OCI interview/callback.

Happy to field any questions.

Lagunitan
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby Lagunitan » Tue Dec 28, 2010 8:18 am

zephyr36 wrote:In an attempt to deflect all the pointless arguing that's happening in this thread, I have a question: to those of you that did TFA, is there a correlation between a "good" experience and the length that the region as been established? I am applying for TFA and my first choice would be a brand new region. How likely is it that organizational/administrative problems with provide extra barriers to an already difficult experience?


I'm a first-year TFA corps member in a brand new region (brand new for the 2010-2011 school year - I don't think TFA has announced any new regions for next year), so there's a decent chance that your first choice is where I'm teaching. PM me if you have questions.

bjg4e
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby bjg4e » Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:32 pm

this conversation is horrible... I am a new poster but have been checking the site on and off for the last 2 years. TFA is considered the most prestigious program one can enroll in prior to entering law school point blank. The only thing you can do for two years that would compare would be to work at a top consulting or top i-banking position.

Some schools (Mich) hold spots for TFA grads...the most recruited network at HLS?...TFA, it had 24 members there last year, more than harvard undergrad etc.

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arism87
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby arism87 » Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:40 pm

bjg4e wrote:this conversation is horrible... I am a new poster but have been checking the site on and off for the last 2 years. TFA is considered the most prestigious program one can enroll in prior to entering law school point blank. The only thing you can do for two years that would compare would be to work at a top consulting or top i-banking position.

Some schools (Mich) hold spots for TFA grads...the most recruited network at HLS?...TFA, it had 24 members there last year, more than harvard undergrad etc.


Regardless of whether that means anything, that totally means this conversation is horrible... :roll:

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Moxie
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby Moxie » Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:55 pm

bjg4e wrote: TFA is considered the most prestigious program one can enroll in prior to entering law school point blank.


Rhodes Scholarship? White House Internship or staff position?

arism87 wrote:Regardless of whether that means anything, that totally means this conversation is horrible... :roll:


+1.

Anonymous User
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Re: TFA and Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:36 pm

Moxie wrote:
bjg4e wrote: TFA is considered the most prestigious program one can enroll in prior to entering law school point blank.


Rhodes Scholarship? White House Internship or staff position?

arism87 wrote:Regardless of whether that means anything, that totally means this conversation is horrible... :roll:


+1.


I had a terrible TFA experience for many reasons that have already been mentioned (pushed, sexually harassed-staff and students, money stolen, death threats, etc.) . I also had friends who had wonderful experiences. It really depends on the school that you are in and very much on your principal. Go visit a classroom in a high performing charter school for a day, ask the teachers about their workloads, how the feel, etc. Then go visit a classroom in the absolute worst high school in the region (the one in the news, with the gang fights, arson, the alternative school, or whatever) and watch some classes and spend 20 minutes in the hallway seeing how the administration deals with the school as a whole. Realize that you could end up with EITHER ONE of these placements and you have no control over it. Make sure that you could survive in the most chaotic, violent, disorganized setting before you sign up. Hopefully that won't be your placement, but if you couldn't do it for two years then do not do TFA.




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