Was this a wise decision?

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Constructive Notice
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Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:22 pm

Was this a wise decision?

Postby Constructive Notice » Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:45 pm

I am (or was) a 2L at a T2 law school prior to my withdrawal on the final day of class. I had been experiencing an abnormal amount of anxiety and related depression throughout the semester, became physically ill for a week in connection with this, and felt distracted and extremely unprepared to take the finals - I had only cracked a page on my outlines prior to my withdrawal on the last day of class. I discussed my options with my adviser and some of the administrators, and they advised me that if I felt unprepared to perform to the best of my ability on the finals, I should withdraw and potentially reapply at a later time if I decide definitively to pursue law as a career. I do enjoy the study of the law and the atmosphere and people at my school in general, but have been burdened by these issues this semester. I should also add that my first year class rank was close to the bottom of the class.

I have thought about this decision and its potential impacts on future endeavors. I have completed approximately one year of an MBA program, in which my GPA is approximately 3.9. It is an evening program at a branch campus of the school at which I am (was) pursuing my JD. It is not ranked in the top 100 MBA programs. I enrolled in the program directly out of undergrad because I wished to continue my education, and have little work experience aside from a few part-time positions, volunteer work, and legal intern/externships. I am beginning to wonder whether my decision to withdraw prior to finals due to my anxiety and potential poor grades was a wise decision - any thoughts? I am potentially interested in pursuing law, or another non-business or -law related graduate program, but at this point I am uncertain.

What chances do you believe I have to become reenrolled in my current T2 school, or another reputable (i.e. Top 100) program, if I so decide to do so? How would the withdraw reflect on other grad school applications? Do you believe that if there is any way for me to potentially reverse this decision as soon as possible that I should take it? Would taking the finals, getting poor grades (although hopefully not academic disqualification level) and withdrawing thereafter be or have been more advantageous to me than withdrawing immediately prior to finals? Thanks in advance for your advice.

Sorry if this is the wrong forum for this question, btw.

MrAnon
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Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby MrAnon » Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:50 pm

Its just school. Its the easiest thing you'll encounter over the next 40 years. Try to calm down about it.

Constructive Notice
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Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:22 pm

Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby Constructive Notice » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:03 pm

The withdrawal form has already been submitted. I am just curious of how this will impact my chances of being readmitted or admitted into another program. Some have tried to convince me that the MBA would be more financially beneficial to me, at least in the short term, than a law degree with a ranking near the bottom of the class. I am generally averse to the idea of backing down from a challenge, but I was very concerned about my prospects for the exams due to the issues I have been experiencing lately. The post-decisional boredom has already set in, and I wonder if I would have been more satisfied studying day and night the next 2 1/2 weeks to attempt to earn decent grades, but I suppose completing the MBA and then reapplying to law school, or another endeavor, is a feasible option.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:30 pm

You are/were a 2L? What were you planning to do post-graduation? What's your loan situation? It doesn't sound like you've got much of an idea what you're going to do with the degree, so unless it's free or close to it, I think dropping out is wise. Maybe your anxiety was related to this uncertainty. Anyway, no sense in beating yourself up over it; don't go back just to prove something to yourself.

shock259
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Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby shock259 » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:46 pm

Two thoughts:

1) Figure out what the hell happened this semester before you worry about starting to apply to another program. Did you just not study? Did you put the effort in, but still feel overwhelmed? Etc. Do some serious soul searching.

2) Assuming you soul search and still want to go back, this is a very specific question and I doubt many TLS-ers have encountered it. I have absolutely no experience with this, but I would say that an ad-comm would probably want to know why you withdrew, and what assurances you can give to show that you won't do so again. A personal statement hitting on these may be wise. Or an addendum at the least.

You may be better served by talking to adcomms directly about it. They may give you a bullshit answer, but they may level with you.

Diablo360
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Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:02 pm

Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby Diablo360 » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:52 pm

Hey, I'll share my experience with you. I know that there are probably only a handful of people who have dropped out before first semester finals, so finding info on this topic will be next to impossible........ Back in 06 I started law school at a higher ranked T2. I won't get into school specifics but let's just say that it was a decent private school, in a major city on the West Coast, that was ranked in the in the 60's, or perhaps even high 50's at the time. I was 22 and straight out of undergrad, and definitely not ready for law school. I obviously had the intellectual capability, but it just wasn't my time for law school....... My first semester was HELL. I hated school and I barely studied at all. I ended up dropping out DURING finals. "Drop out" might be an understatement and/or inaccurate in my case. I pretty much boned the fuck out after taking my first (civ pro) final and writing almost nothing..... I skipped the rest of my finals and never came back, nor did I say anything to the school, its staff, or my professors, or anybody I knew there. That was one of the stupidest things I had ever done. Not just the fact that I dropped out, but also the way in which I handled it. Fast forward 3 years. I decided I wanted to go to law school again and applied to the same school I dropped out of and similarly ranked schools (rank 50-100). All in all I applied to about 15-20 schools. I had nothing really substantive to add on my app and my essay addressed the reason for me dropping out. My "new" law school app was pretty mediocre actually...... It was evident that I just dicked around for 3 years and made up a lame excuse for dropping out the first time. My original law school dinged me of course, but my surprise came when I started getting acceptances left and right. In total I think I got into 7-8 schools. Some of them even offered me decent scholarship money (as high as 50% tuition)!

So what was the lesson from all of this? It's pretty much a numbers game. A small percentage of schools will ding you hard for dropping out and there is no way you can get around that, but the rest will "play the game" and base everything on your numbers. I got dinged at some schools where I thought I was a sure lock (GPA and LSAT above 75th percentile), and I got into a few others where I was split (GPA and LSAT wise). Some of the schools where I was a "shoe in" wouldn't even process my application, but most schools were fine with the fact that I had dropped out before. The school I ended up at for round 2 is very similar to one I got into the first time, but just on different coasts. So my overall point is to not be discouraged. If you got into a decent school the first time then you'll have no issue getting accepted to a similarly ranked school the second time. Just make sure you apply to at least 5-10 because there is no guarantee where you will get in.

Diablo360
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Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:02 pm

Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby Diablo360 » Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:02 pm

Dude, I just saw that you are a 2L. Doh!!! I swear I must be dyslexic lol. That might change things a bit, but I can still comment on the matter because I have been in your shoes. During my 2nd year of law school (round 2) I took a leave of absence and withdrew from classes before taking my finals. My excuse was for "personal reasons." The true reason was that my new internet business was taking off and I was making tons of money and I didn't have time for school anymore. Rather than drop out, which is the last thing I wanted to do, I asked if there was any way I could withdraw from classes for the semester. Of course with my luck I was more than half way through and there was no way to withdraw from classes, but what my dean did was withdraw me for the semester and give me incompletes in the classes I was enrolled in. I was then allowed to take those courses (free of charge since I already paid tuition for them) upon my return and my new grades replaced the incompletes. No ding to my GPA, no record of withdrawing for the semester. Voila!!! My school allows for 2 consecutive semesters off and I only took one. If you think that you might want to return to law school at some point then you might want to go talk to your dean and see if they can set up an arrangement similar to mine. Permanently dropping out is a huge P.I.T.A. because you need to reapply, and also there is no guarantee that you will be able to get back into the school you were at and/or transfer your credits from first year to another school. You already paid for your first year and you've already received the credits; you should just put things on hold instead of dropping out!!!! Leave of absences are not a big deal......

Just fyi, I'm also more of a "business oriented" person and my law school experience the second time around is anything but "traditional," and I'm fine with that. My interest in practicing law comes secondary to making a lot of money, so I'm treating it more as an MBA program while I work on growing my internet business. I'll graduate as a 4L, but in the meantime I get to take 6-8 credits a semester, which results in me having plenty of time to develop my business. I think the "one size fits all" law school experience isn't necessary. If you want to do other things in addition to law school then by all means do it.....

Constructive Notice
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Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby Constructive Notice » Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:01 am

I lost focus halfway through the semester for particular stressing reasons, and felt very unconfident in my abilities to successfully complete the finals even were I to study the hardest I could during the preparatory period. The administrators and professors advised me that I should drop out and reapply, or seek a leave of absence, which I may still do. My LSAT score entering law school (I took it in December 2009) was very strong (164, approximately the 95th percentile for the school) and my UGPA was a 3.39, which was around or slightly above average for the school. Diablo360, you mentioned that your LSAT was in the top 75 percent for some of the schools you applied to the second time - was this a retake, if I may ask how much time passed between your first and second endeavors?

Constructive Notice
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Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:22 pm

Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby Constructive Notice » Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:02 am

Oh, never mind, you did say that it was 3 years later. However, did you use your original LSAT score?

Diablo360
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Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:02 pm

Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby Diablo360 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:45 am

Well, I have an interesting story with my LSAT also....... My first time around I got a 161 taking it cold. I took it in the spring of my 3rd year of UG. Note that my undergrad GPA was in the high 3.7's and I have a liberal arts major from a respectable (non-ivy) public university (Univ of...... ). After I dropped out of LS, around the 2nd year of my "break" I retook the LSAT. So appx. 3 years after my first LSAT. I studied a LOT and was scoring in the high 160's/low 170's on practice exams. I really thought I was going to nail it and ended up getting a 159! After this I got discouraged and put off re-applying for another year. In my mind I convinced myself that I needed an uber high LSAT score to overcome my dropping out of law school; so no high score = no law school for Diablo. Then right before the 3rd year of my break I took the Oct LSAT right before I sent in my apps. I BOMBED the games section (for sure) and I didn't have time to finish the last reading passage so I withdrew my score. So when I reapplied to law school for the second time I think I had one of the most tarnished apps out there lol. I had already dropped out of law school once, scored lower on my second LSAT, withdrew the 3rd score, had almost no extracurricular activities or work experience, had a personal statement that had to address why my life was so f***ed up, etc...... I'm pretty sure that the only thing that saved me was my high GPA and decent first LSAT score....... Basically I had to go through all the trouble and expense just to get back into the same type of school that I got accepted to the first time. If I could take it all back I would have taken an official leave of absence the first time, or had them defer my admissions. 6 months after I dropped out I knew I wanted to go back, but there was nothing I could do about it at that point. Lesson learned........ Your stats are pretty similar to mine, so in the event you reapply I'm 1000% certain that you'll have plenty of options; but why waste a years worth of tuition and credits for nothing? Are you planning on trying to get into a better school?

My honest suggestion to you is that if you know that you want to give law school another shot then don't "drop out" or withdraw permanently. Just take a one semester leave of absence and take some time off to chill. You'll get your motivation back after you sit around and do nothing for 6 months. Take spring semester off and resume with summer classes, you'll come around by then. And honestly, it does get better the second year. The lack of a forced curve results in MUCH easier grading, and you can get away with a LOT, trust me. Since I started school the second time around I have NEVER cracked open a case book, only go to classes that take attendance, wait to study until the final exam reading period, etc..... I can pull all B's now no problemo. I guarantee you that my habits have not changed. If anything I have gotten lazier and I spend waaaaaaaay less time on school due to my full time business obligations.

In the end there is no rule that you have to finish law school in 3 years, or that you have to get perfect grades, etc. Fuck that. Finish it on your own terms and do what's best for you. If you need a break then take it. That's what leave of absences are for. Either people who are tired of school or who have more important shit to do for a semester or two. Also you're not the only one who gets burned out from law school. I know a lot of people, including myself, who HATE every minute of school and who have tons of other shit going on in their lives that is 1000x more important than school. Sometimes the pressure gets to you but you just need to focus on your long term goals. In my case it took a little bit of fucking up to realize what I wanted, but in the end I feel better about myself and the fact that I'm finishing school on MY OWN TERMS. It makes it 1000x easier to cope with. Also You say that you lost focus halfway through this semester and that don't feel confident about your ability to do well on finals; well, that's exactly how I feel right now. I guarantee you that I have done practically ZERO this semester and have skipped more classes than I have gone to; and to top it all off I'm taking 16 credits and have 5, yes, 5 finals. FML for the next 1.5 weeks...... But my point is that if I can do it then you can do it.....

Now go meet with your dean tomorrow morning and tell him/her that you want to take a leave of absence for "personal reasons" and that you'll resume in the summer or next fall! Trust me, you'll thank me for my advice later on.

Constructive Notice
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Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby Constructive Notice » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:13 am

Interesting - I had been worried about the grading system, but reviewing it I notice that my school's policy establishes "suggested" curves for courses, which I assume implies that after the first year the grading is virtually at the discretion of the professor. My 1L grades were not pretty, having received one D (Civ Pro) and 2 C plusses on a B average curve. I suppose that contributed to my apprehension about approaching this finals period with even less preparation prior to its start than in the two previous semesters. Thanks for your advice, and I will probably request a leave...

Diablo360
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:02 pm

Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby Diablo360 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:39 am

If it makes you feel any better I pretty much bombed my first semester also. I had a straight C average :shock: My second semester I got all B's, except for the D I got in Con Law. I froze during the exam and was drawing blanks. The fact that it was closed book didn't help out any.....

But getting back to the main topic, 2L grading is much much easier. Based on our stats I would say it's safe to assume we go to similarly ranked schools; and I couldn't imagine that 2L/3L grading at your school is that much different. I have a lot of friends at law schools all around the country and they unanimously agree that grades go up 2L year even though effort substantially decreases. It's funny how these things work lol...... Anyways, good luck with everything and I'm glad I could be of help!

Constructive Notice
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Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:22 pm

Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby Constructive Notice » Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:15 am

I'm not certain if this is a serious concern of yours, but did your fellow students or professors treat you any differently upon your return? Essentially everyone - from my parents, to my professors, to the administrators with whom I conferred - was convincing me to withdraw the semester due to my lack of focus and depression. I did not feel comfortable raising the issue with more than one other student whom I trust. I am probably going to be granted a leave of absence; I was seeking one anyway but I do greatly appreciate your advice.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Dec 03, 2011 12:23 pm

OP: I'm confused by your original post in this thread. Are you currently an MBA student or a law student ? Seems as if you were/are doing both concurrently. Can you clarify ?

Constructive Notice
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Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:22 pm

Re: Was this a wise decision?

Postby Constructive Notice » Sat Dec 03, 2011 5:14 pm

That is correct - I am taking both programs concurrently. I am probably going to continue with my legal studies, but I am wondering which degree would be more beneficial career-wise if completed solo at this point. I suppose it depends on my ultimate aspirations, but solely from a financial return standpoint, for someone in my position (little work experience, etc.) which degree do you believe would be more valuable?




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