Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

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chocolatecake
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Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby chocolatecake » Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:18 pm

Here's my situation: About a month before I moved to the city where my law school is located, my father died of cancer. I thought about trying to defer, but I decided to continue as planned because I knew my father would have wanted me to continue. As it turns out, I am having a really difficult time focusing on my studies. I do the reading but I feel like I am just going through the motions and not really studying.

To make matters worse, I moved across the country for law school to a place where I have absolutely no ties. I don't have a single non-LS friend or close family member within a 2500 mile radius. I think I would have been able to handle LS better even at this time if I had my family, SO, and friends with me, but they are all 2500-5000 miles away.

I really want to dropout and reapply to schools closer to home, but I would feel really ashamed of dropping out and don't know how that would look to schools I am applying to. The other option for me would be to try to transfer, but I am afraid that I won't do well grade-wise (and therefore won't be able to transfer) since I have not been able to focus.

I am a 1L at a T14 school on an approximately half-tuition scholarship. Money is a concern, and from perusing this website, it looks like not too many transfers get money at their new schools. Would I have a better chance getting a scholarship if I were to drop out and reapply to schools like USC/UCLA as opposed to trying to transfer to these schools?

Any advice on what to do in my situation would be appreciated. If I do dropout, I would like to do so before finals (which begin in two weeks).

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vanwinkle
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby vanwinkle » Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:35 pm

Talk to your dean of students tomorrow. See if they'll let you withdraw and re-enter next fall. That's your best bet. You may not get the same scholarship but you'll have a better outcome after being more prepared for it than struggling through 1L, which is when you need to do your best.

chocolatecake
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby chocolatecake » Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:46 pm

vanwinkle wrote:Talk to your dean of students tomorrow. See if they'll let you withdraw and re-enter next fall. That's your best bet. You may not get the same scholarship but you'll have a better outcome after being more prepared for it than struggling through 1L, which is when you need to do your best.


I have already talked to the dean of students but did not ask about withdrawing and re-entering next fall. Frankly, I don't really like the school itself or the location, and I would prefer to go elsewhere. Maybe my father's death has had some effect on my dislike of the school, but I think I would be happier being closer to my SO and family.

lawschoolgrapedme
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby lawschoolgrapedme » Sun Nov 27, 2011 5:57 pm

never make a plan that says I will be in the top 10% and then I will transfer. If you do get the grades, that great and I would encourage you to transfer (I'm a transfer student). That said, odds are against you, especially since you dont even have a semester's worth of grades.

Either stick through it or withdraw.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby Lawquacious » Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:27 pm

The fact is you are in a good position relative to the vast majority of law students--at a T14 with scholarship. The whole reason that many ppl target the T14, aside from simply the prestige factor and general comparative overall placement power, is that these schools can place graduates into other regions of the country. Hence the title "national" law schools for T14 v. "regional" for non-T14. Of course this is a simplification, and it does sound like maybe you didn't make the best choice of which school you wanted to, but I personally think you should probably try to stick it out, or do what Van Winkle suggested and ask for permission to take some time off and come back. I think schools are pretty willing to work with that scenario.

As a separate note re: the top 10% comment on transferring, I think you would prob just need to be top 30-50% to transfer to another T14 if there is one of the same or slightly lower ranking that you are at now, so that may well be a possibility. With a compelling reason (which it sounds like you may have), I think even slightly subpar grades could do the trick for an entirely lateral or slightly downward move.

chocolatecake
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby chocolatecake » Sun Nov 27, 2011 8:12 pm

Thanks, everyone, for your advice.

Lawquacious wrote:The fact is you are in a good position relative to the vast majority of law students--at a T14 with scholarship.


I realize that I am in a better position than most, and I wish I could be more appreciative of that. I think that part of the problem is that I never wanted to go to the school that I currently attend. I applied only because I got a fee waiver after I took the LSAT. (If I had not gotten a fee waiver, I would not have applied). I didn't like the school/city when I visited. I chose the school because I thought I couldn't dare turn down an opportunity which people would kill to have.

Lawquacious wrote:As a separate note re: the top 10% comment on transferring, I think you would prob just need to be top 30-50% to transfer to another T14 if there is one of the same or slightly lower ranking that you are at now, so that may well be a possibility. With a compelling reason (which it sounds like you may have), I think even slightly subpar grades could do the trick for an entirely lateral or slightly downward move.


Unfortunately, there aren't any T14's in my hometown (LA). Berkeley and Stanford would be the closest. The top 10% comment (plus a ton of luck) would be true at Stanford, so I know that S isn't very realistic. Berkeley would be a lateral move from my current school, so maybe I would have a better chance trying to go there. I don't know how well I could play the geography card with Berkeley though since it's still a good 375 miles or so from LA.

chocolatecake
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby chocolatecake » Sun Nov 27, 2011 8:31 pm

Anyone else want to weigh in on dropping out/reapplying vs. sticking it out/transferring? Thanks.

NotCreative
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby NotCreative » Sun Nov 27, 2011 8:38 pm

"Prestige" and opportunities others would "kill for" mean nothing if you aren't happy, especially given your circumstances.

I would also strongly caution against making any decisions based on what you think your father would have wanted. That, in my opinion, is a dangerous road to go down given the effect it might have on you if it ends up a poor decision.

Even if you would lose money on what you think is the right decision, you should do it. The money will sort itself out in the end.

I am sorry for your loss and hope you are able to make the decision that's right for you. Regardless of whether you stick it out or withdraw I would encourage you to spend as much time as possible with your SO/family.

- edit -

Just re-read part of your OP. You should not feel ashamed at all if you decide to withdraw. What happened is not some small bump in the road. It is one of the largest events you will ever experience. If you withdraw and reapply you would simply add an addendum to your applications explaining the circumstances. If an admissions committee cannot understand why you decided to withdraw, is that really a school you want to attend?

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Lawquacious
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby Lawquacious » Sun Nov 27, 2011 8:49 pm

chocolatecake wrote: I don't know how well I could play the geography card with Berkeley though since it's still a good 375 miles or so from LA.


Unfortunately I think Berkeley is comparatively tough to transfer to compared to some of the other T14 schools, so I would guess my comments probably would be too generous re: % of class you would need to be in to lateral or make a move slightly down to Berkeley. Then again, they tend to be fairly 'holistic' with admissions so the strong desire to be close to home may help in your case. But really I think you will probably be at least as well off if you stay at your current T14: you will lose scholly if you transfer, and frankly I get the impression Berkeley is having particular trouble with placement power in the last couple years compared to schools of the same or slightly higher rank (though obviously all schools have had trouble, and for CA it is probably better than most other T14s, although even in CA they seem to have had a fair amount of trouble). My impressions may be totally wrong, so please just take them as the generalized speculative opinions that the represent. Best of luck.

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Hjones33
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby Hjones33 » Sun Nov 27, 2011 9:30 pm

NotCreative wrote:"Prestige" and opportunities others would "kill for" mean nothing if you aren't happy, especially given your circumstances.

I would also strongly caution against making any decisions based on what you think your father would have wanted. That, in my opinion, is a dangerous road to go down given the effect it might have on you if it ends up a poor decision.

Even if you would lose money on what you think is the right decision, you should do it. The money will sort itself out in the end.

I am sorry for your loss and hope you are able to make the decision that's right for you. Regardless of whether you stick it out or withdraw I would encourage you to spend as much time as possible with your SO/family.

- edit -

Just re-read part of your OP. You should not feel ashamed at all if you decide to withdraw. What happened is not some small bump in the road. It is one of the largest events you will ever experience. If you withdraw and reapply you would simply add an addendum to your applications explaining the circumstances. If an admissions committee cannot understand why you decided to withdraw, is that really a school you want to attend?


+1

If you would be a lot happier at UCLA and could get into there, I would definitely do it. I would much rather go to a lower ranked school and be happy than to be at the t-14 school and just be depressed. And it is UCLA, so it is not like we are talking about Thomas Jefferson (assuming you can get into UCLA). I am making another assumption here, but it seems like you have also realized you would want to work in SoCal, and UCLA is just as highly regarded as most t-14 schools in SoCal.

chocolatecake
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby chocolatecake » Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:14 pm

NotCreative wrote:"Prestige" and opportunities others would "kill for" mean nothing if you aren't happy, especially given your circumstances.

I would also strongly caution against making any decisions based on what you think your father would have wanted. That, in my opinion, is a dangerous road to go down given the effect it might have on you if it ends up a poor decision.

Even if you would lose money on what you think is the right decision, you should do it. The money will sort itself out in the end.

I am sorry for your loss and hope you are able to make the decision that's right for you. Regardless of whether you stick it out or withdraw I would encourage you to spend as much time as possible with your SO/family.

- edit -

Just re-read part of your OP. You should not feel ashamed at all if you decide to withdraw. What happened is not some small bump in the road. It is one of the largest events you will ever experience. If you withdraw and reapply you would simply add an addendum to your applications explaining the circumstances. If an admissions committee cannot understand why you decided to withdraw, is that really a school you want to attend?


Thanks for this, NotCreative. Helps to put things in a different light.

Lawquacious wrote: Then again, they tend to be fairly 'holistic' with admissions so the strong desire to be close to home may help in your case.


Berkeley's hollstic bullshitistic (sorry, just bitter) got me rejected the first time around, so I don't know that I would fare any better now.

Hjones33 wrote:If you would be a lot happier at UCLA and could get into there, I would definitely do it. I would much rather go to a lower ranked school and be happy than to be at the t-14 school and just be depressed. And it is UCLA, so it is not like we are talking about Thomas Jefferson (assuming you can get into UCLA). I am making another assumption here, but it seems like you have also realized you would want to work in SoCal, and UCLA is just as highly regarded as most t-14 schools in SoCal.


I got into UCLA the first time around, and everyday, I regret turning them down. The timing of events was just horrible: my father was diagnosed in May, after UCLA's deposit deadline (and after I had rejected their offer). If I had known that he had cancer, I would have stayed in LA and gone to UCLA. I also very very wrongly thought that once he was dead, that it wouldn't make a difference whether I was in LA or not. This is the first time I lost someone close to me, and I didn't realize the importance of having an establish strong social support system in the months after his death.

And Hjones, you are absolutely right that I have realized that I want to work in SoCal, and I'm 100% sure. Prior to LS, I was 90% sure that I wanted to work in SoCal but knew that a mid-range T14 would open up more doors for me in other markets case I changed my mind. The timing was also horrible in another respect: after I started LS, I was offered a job for summers and after graduation at a family friend's law firm in a secondary market (which is not where I want to work but would do so if I couldn't get a legal job in LA). So in other words, I didn't need T14 to have a better shot at a getting a job.

So, if I want to go to UCLA, is TCR to dropout/reapply or try to transfer? I know I had the credentials pre-LS for UCLA but don't know how they would view dropping out of my current LS. As far as transferring goes, I'm concerned about not having good enough grades to transfer.

NotCreative
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby NotCreative » Mon Nov 28, 2011 12:49 am

I do not have first hand experience with transferring, but from what I understand it is a total crap shoot unless you meet very specific numbers and "other" criteria. Some people I go to school with had top grades and did not get in to their desired transfer schools, so even that is not guaranteed. That plus your concern (even though all 1Ls have grade concerns) about your grades, leads me to think relying on transferring is not a good idea. Again, I don't have first hand experience, so I could be wrong.

Having said that, I would call UCLA in the AM and try to speak with Mr. Schwartz. Be completely honest about your situation, have an answer prepared for why you turned down UCLA the first time (you might even want to be proactive and tell him), and ask him for guidance. Do not ask him if you would get in the second time around; just say you're seeking guidance and that because UCLA would be your top choice, if you choose to withdraw, you wanted to get his views/respect his opinion.

Additionally, while he is not the dean of admissions, Dean Rasmussen at USC is extremely approachable. If you don't have a strong preference for either school I would seek his guidance as well.

I would also make sure to make your decision before you take a final. I'm not sure how your current school operates, but here once you take the final your grade is locked in, and even if you withdraw that grade becomes a part of your record.

Danteshek
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby Danteshek » Mon Nov 28, 2011 12:59 am

I think you should drop out now, relax for a year (or two), and then apply to UCLA/USC.

monkeywrencher
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby monkeywrencher » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:26 pm

This is flame.

shock259
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby shock259 » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:37 pm

I'd really recommend talking to your dean and figuring out your options from him/her. I think they are better suited to give advice than us, despite our good intentions.

chocolatecake
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby chocolatecake » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:21 pm

monkeywrencher wrote:This is flame.


No, not a flame.

shock259 wrote:I'd really recommend talking to your dean and figuring out your options from him/her.


I have already spoken with my dean of students, who said dropout or transfer. I didn't inquire about withdrawing and reentering the same school next fall because I don't think that's something I would want to do. I was kind of surprised that my dean did not try to encourage me to stay at the school.

shock259 wrote: I think they are better suited to give advice than us, despite our good intentions.


My dean was not particularly helpful, but I agree that in general, a dean would be better suited to give this kind of advice. I had posted here hoping that someone would have some anecdotal evidence on doing a lateral/downward transfer because of some strong need to be in a different geographic area. Anyway, thanks to everyone who gave advice!

monkeywrencher
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby monkeywrencher » Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:29 am

If not a flame then I'll be the first to say stick it out. One option no one here has mentioned is that even if you're not able to transfer you might not be stuck for 2 1/2 years. You could always bust ass as a 2L and apply as a visiting student to a school close to where you would like to be during 3L. This will allow you to develop get contacts, while still participating in LR, Moot Court, OCI if applicable. Also if you go this route it doesn't matter if you visit a TTTT because you get your degree from the school you're at now. Alternatively If you decide to drop out you don't know if you will get in where you want, and you can't be sure that moving will make you significantly happier. IMO you shouldn't drop out unless you have decided you don't want to be a lawyer.

Most importantly you don't know what grades you're going to get. But you've spent a year of your life and a ton of money to go to school (you said this was an issue), and I'm guessing you went to a top school because you knew that you can get a job with less than a top showing in your class. Every 1L is worried and feels like they will fail their finals, and everyone in law school is smart and you probably won't do as well as in UG, but thats to be expected. Everyone on TLS seems to think that top 10 is possible for everyone but it isn't, and if you are median or even bottom 3rd you will be fine. It's not too late to study hard get through your finals with decent grades. Worst case is that you will be where you're at for another 2 years then you can get out ASAP but if you bust ass through finals you might just be able to leave ahead of schedule. Best of luck to you in whatever you choose.

charliep
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Re: Dropout and reapply or stick it out and try to transfer?

Postby charliep » Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:50 am

firstly, i'm truly sorry for your circumstance. something similar happened to my friend who ended up turning down T1 offers to go to a T3 close to home (he doesn't regret this at all and is doing very well). i know another concern is scholarship money at the new school. ucla offers some program-specific scholarships, so if you are interested in any of their specialized programs, such as the public-interest program, i would inquire into your eligibility for those scholarships.




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