Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

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dresden doll
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby dresden doll » Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:26 pm

In the vast majority of cases, no.

MTaylor25
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby MTaylor25 » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:42 am

I simply do not believe that it is t-14 or bust. Being extremely ambitious while making the absolute most out of every opportunity given to you can go a very long way despite what law school you graduate from. Yes there is no doubt that a graduate from Harvard at the bottom of their class rank will have far greater options than a graduate from a t3 who finished at the top of their class.

Having said that, I honestly believe it is foolish to think it’s a mistake to pursue a law degree from a school at the bottom of the top 100 or a t3 school. If you are ambitious and will do absolutely everything in your power to finish at the top of your school then I believe you will have great opportunities regardless of what law school you attended.

I live in Sacramento and our District Attorney didn’t even graduate from a law school that was ABA approved, she graduated from the Lincoln Law School of Sacramento! Now this is obviously a rare case but it also shows how far a great deal of ambition can take you.

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Helmholtz
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby Helmholtz » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:49 am

MTaylor25 wrote:I simply do not believe that it is t-14 or bust. Being extremely ambitious while making the absolute most out of every opportunity given to you can go a very long way despite what law school you graduate from. Yes there is no doubt that a graduate from Harvard at the bottom of their class rank will have far greater options than a graduate from a t3 who finished at the top of their class.

Having said that, I honestly believe it is foolish to think it’s a mistake to pursue a law degree from a school at the bottom of the top 100 or a t3 school. If you are ambitious and will do absolutely everything in your power to finish at the top of your school then I believe you will have great opportunities regardless of what law school you attended.

I live in Sacramento and our District Attorney didn’t even graduate from a law school that was ABA approved, she graduated from the Lincoln Law School of Sacramento! Now this is obviously a rare case but it also shows how far a great deal of ambition can take you.


+1

It's like what I tell my 5'6" friend all the time: dude, if you keep practicing and give your heart to the game, there's no reason you can't make it into the NBA. There are players shorter than that in the NBA, so why not you?!? All you need is drive, motivation, and x-treme ambition.

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Doritos
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby Doritos » Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:18 pm

First I want to wish Helm's 5'6" friend good luck in the NBA. Two words..Muggsy Bogues.

MTaylor25 wrote:I simply do not believe that it is t-14 or bust. Being extremely ambitious while making the absolute most out of every opportunity given to you can go a very long way despite what law school you graduate from. Yes there is no doubt that a graduate from Harvard at the bottom of their class rank will have far greater options than a graduate from a t3 who finished at the top of their class.

Having said that, I honestly believe it is foolish to think it’s a mistake to pursue a law degree from a school at the bottom of the top 100 or a t3 school. If you are ambitious and will do absolutely everything in your power to finish at the top of your school then I believe you will have great opportunities regardless of what law school you attended.

I live in Sacramento and our District Attorney didn’t even graduate from a law school that was ABA approved, she graduated from the Lincoln Law School of Sacramento! Now this is obviously a rare case but it also shows how far a great deal of ambition can take you.



Ok, I mean drive and ambition are great and I think needed if you are to succeed in an over saturated and competitive market but lets be realz. Everyone is going to be ambitious. That is why they are dropping big dollas and forgoing 3 years of employment to do outlines and read cases. I am inclined to select schools based on finishing median or a bit below it and when you get there shoot for the stars. You just can't spend all that money and start your career off somewhere based on thinking you are going to be so ambitious and try so hard that of course you're going to be top 1% in the class. It's all on a curve so you are going against your classmates who are all plenty smart and driven.

awesomepossum
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby awesomepossum » Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:21 pm

Helmholtz wrote:
MTaylor25 wrote:I simply do not believe that it is t-14 or bust. Being extremely ambitious while making the absolute most out of every opportunity given to you can go a very long way despite what law school you graduate from. Yes there is no doubt that a graduate from Harvard at the bottom of their class rank will have far greater options than a graduate from a t3 who finished at the top of their class.

Having said that, I honestly believe it is foolish to think it’s a mistake to pursue a law degree from a school at the bottom of the top 100 or a t3 school. If you are ambitious and will do absolutely everything in your power to finish at the top of your school then I believe you will have great opportunities regardless of what law school you attended.

I live in Sacramento and our District Attorney didn’t even graduate from a law school that was ABA approved, she graduated from the Lincoln Law School of Sacramento! Now this is obviously a rare case but it also shows how far a great deal of ambition can take you.


+1

It's like what I tell my 5'6" friend all the time: dude, if you keep practicing and give your heart to the game, there's no reason you can't make it into the NBA. There are players shorter than that in the NBA, so why not you?!? All you need is drive, motivation, and x-treme ambition.


+1

Me too. Although I've never really played basketball and I'm Asian, the NBA is my backup plan. I know that with extreme ambition and if I do everything in my power, I can be a lottery draft pick. Besides, in the NBA I'm a URM!

stateofbeasley
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby stateofbeasley » Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:24 pm

You haven't taken into account the other side of the equation: most of your peers at a lower tier school are also ambitious and will do everything in their power to finish at the top of their class.

It's not enough to "do everything in your power".

It's only enough if your competition is simply not up to snuff, and for the vast majority of law students, average grades are the best they can hope for because of mandated grading curves.

Government jobs like DA are generally less grade conscious. In Philadelphia for example, an average student could get a job with the Philadelphia DA if they demonstrate interest in criminal law and trial work. The classes you elect to take, the clinicals you participate in, and your internships or summer jobs have much more influence than grades alone.

People need to be realistic. Trying your best just isn't good enough where it comes to law school grades. In a game where the winners take all, going to a lower tier school is an extremely risky proposition if there is a lot of debt involved.

MTaylor25 wrote:If you are ambitious and will do absolutely everything in your power to finish at the top of your school then I believe you will have great opportunities regardless of what law school you attended.

I live in Sacramento and our District Attorney

bahama
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby bahama » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:54 pm

MTaylor25 wrote:I simply do not believe that it is t-14 or bust. Being extremely ambitious while making the absolute most out of every opportunity given to you can go a very long way despite what law school you graduate from. Yes there is no doubt that a graduate from Harvard at the bottom of their class rank will have far greater options than a graduate from a t3 who finished at the top of their class.

Having said that, I honestly believe it is foolish to think it’s a mistake to pursue a law degree from a school at the bottom of the top 100 or a t3 school. If you are ambitious and will do absolutely everything in your power to finish at the top of your school then I believe you will have great opportunities regardless of what law school you attended.

I live in Sacramento and our District Attorney didn’t even graduate from a law school that was ABA approved, she graduated from the Lincoln Law School of Sacramento! Now this is obviously a rare case but it also shows how far a great deal of ambition can take you.


I wish I was still this naive.

There are lots of ambitious people who work extremely hard and still end up in a horrible situation. Not just in law, but in life. It is a huge diservice to tell people they will overcome odds that are heavily stacked against them - some will, but most won't, that's just the tyranny of long odds. And it is a huge gamble to bet six figures that you are going to be one of the ones who beats the odds. Honestly, you have better odds of coming out ahead playing blackjack than by going to some schools. What % of tier 3/4 grads get a big/midlaw or government job with decent pay, benefits, and career prospects?

I don't think it is a mistake for people to go to a lower ranked school if that is what they really want to do, as long as they are realistic about the likely outcomes and have to have some sort of plan/means for how they are going to pay their bills if they aren't one of the lucky people who gets a "good" job. But this doesn't mean it is the best financial decision.

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beach_terror
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby beach_terror » Sun Jan 03, 2010 5:37 pm

If you don't get a decent size scholarship from a T3/T4, then it's an extremely risky decision. However, if you're in the running for a sizable scholarship, then I think a T3 is a great decision if it has a good regional placement rate. My personal standpoint is that I'll go where I have a good shot at getting a job. Pitt is a viable option because they dominate the Pittsburgh market. However, Syracuse is also an option because they place well in their area of NY (and I'm hoping for some solid $$$ from them). So for me, T3 with $$$ is something I'd definitely consider.

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84Sunbird2000
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:56 am

I think it's only really worth it from a cost-benefit if you are a) inclined to take ADA, PD and other jobs , or b) going to a school that dominates its region. I suppose that I could have a c) want to go into a very narrow field and are really sure about it. Yes, you'll do ok-ish in Environmental law from Vermont and Pace (just learned more details in another thread tonight), and maybe OK in IP from Kent. C likely applies to very few people.

There aren't many schools that do B from my research, but some that do. For example, do you want to live in N.Dakota, S.Dakota, Maine, New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, or Montana? If so, those schools own their region, because they are the only schools. For example, every person on the S. Dakota Supreme Court is a grad of S. Dakota. You won't make a lot coming out of school or even down the line, but it's cheap as hell to live in most of these places, and the small-city and small-town vibes are pretty awesome (to me).

Do you want to confine yourself to a small region you like? Then there are a lot of T2s and some T3/T4s that do well enough in their region. Not 160k or even 130k, but 60k jobs to a good percentage of those seeking private practice.

Pitt and Duquense do well in Pittsburgh - Duquesne is amazingly well-placed for a T4, but still nothing amazing overall.

I like Stetson, and I mention it as a T2/T3 - nice campus, does great in Tampa and decent throughout Florida, and has two great but ultimately meaningless specialty rankings (trial advocacy and legal writing). Give out tons of full rides and rides plus stipend to those with even a 3.7/160 line.

Lewis and Clark is a high T2, but does well in Portland.

Tulsa's a T4, and Tulsa kinda backward IMO, but it does okay-ish in Tulsa.

There are probably a dozen or two dozen more schools that have a "sphere of influence" and can be worthwhile to some degree if you have different priorities. It's just that some schools are in heavily-populated regions with lots of other schools. For example, NELS in Boston, or Pace in New York (outside of Environmental law), or actually anything in New York below Cardozo/BLS. There are several really awful schools in the T4 in Florida that don't place well either. U Balt. and D.C. are really very limited in their prospects, though DC is mainly into PI and PD so it makes sense.

Anyways, I don't mean to override anything that previous posters have said, I'm just trying to synthesize what I have learned through about 5 weeks of intense, sleepless research - reading, arguing, calculating, and asking about schools that I thought I was going to apply to until my LSAT matched my PT numbers instead of being a bomb like I expected it to be.

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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby Helmholtz » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:58 am

Going to a lower tier school is fine if you enjoy the taste of cat food.

MTaylor25
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby MTaylor25 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:26 am

LOL at some of these replies. Some people here are far too superficial. There is an obvious risk that comes with attending a lower ranked law school. I never denied that at all. I stand by what I said though as I believe it is absurd to have that "t-14 or bust" attitude. Yes if you can attend a prestigious school like that then it is obviously in your best interest to do so but it is a joke to act like law schools under that rank are worthless.

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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby awesomepossum » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:07 am

Helmholtz wrote:Going to a lower tier school is fine if you enjoy the taste of cat food.




--ImageRemoved--

09042014
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby 09042014 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:28 am

MTaylor25 wrote:LOL at some of these replies. Some people here are far too superficial. There is an obvious risk that comes with attending a lower ranked law school. I never denied that at all. I stand by what I said though as I believe it is absurd to have that "t-14 or bust" attitude. Yes if you can attend a prestigious school like that then it is obviously in your best interest to do so but it is a joke to act like law schools under that rank are worthless.


Its a lot more than obvious risk. Lower ranked schools just aren't worth the money. And if you are looking for big law jobs its just not worth the risk in this economy, and lower than T1, it wasn't worth the risk ever.

Shit I'm scared going to Northwestttern, and I'm patent bar eligible with a bachelors in EE.

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Mr. Matlock
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby Mr. Matlock » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:32 am

awesomepossum wrote:
Helmholtz wrote:Going to a lower tier school is fine if you enjoy the taste of cat food.




--ImageRemoved--

HOLY SHIT that thing is fucking creepy! :shock:

Give him/her the damned cat food!!

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homestyle28
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby homestyle28 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:39 am

I live and work in a small rural county in Ohio. Nearly all the city's and county's lawyers are from t3/t4 schools. Many of them are recent hires...in general they all start out around 40k...which in this area is approx equivalent to 80k in bigger cities...Even the PD's can afford to live in the nicer houses in towns drive nicer cars etc. Now they're not in 3000 sq. ft. homes or driving BMW's but they're doing fine. Getting that kind of job without substantial law debt can = a very nice qol, esp. if one's partner makes a similar wage. So as has been said many times above...IT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU WANT.

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Borhas
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby Borhas » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:52 pm

ambition is the least risky path to misery

BruceLee
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby BruceLee » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:43 am

Miniver wrote:This is my story about my law school experience. It is not worth much, but take from it what you will.

I am sure a site like "Top" Law Schools is likely to have people mostly interest in rising to the "top" jobs in the national and international legal arena. For such people, I think most would agree that it would be prudent to attend a law school no lower than the first tier, with the ideal being attendance in T14.

The reality, of course, is that there are not enough of these "top" positions for each aspiring applicant. Unless you have a long track record of high academic success, it would be naive to bank on guaranteed access to such positions. The amount of debt likely to be accumulated in the process would likely present too much of a risk for such an uncertain benefit. However, there are also people such as myself who are aware of their intellectual limits and also disinterested in "top" positions. People in this position may likely be in just as much of a struggling position, but good can still come of it for some.

I am a 3L a regional unranked school. I was accepted with a 3.99 GPA and 157 LSAT score. This was the only school I applied to because I knew I only wanted to practice in my home state. I also decided to go to law school for the purpose of working in public service. Knowing that I would not be making much money, I knew I could not be taking on a large debt load. I was fortunate to have a lot of family financial support and cheap in-state tuition; without these, I would have never bothered to attend law school. Additionally, thanks to a large amount of grant money provided by my school, I was able to have 40% of my tuition costs completely eliminated. I will be graduating in May with a debt load under $30K.

While having a low debt load is an important part of having peace of mind in a low tier school, it is still pointless if one cannot get a job. As I said above, I knew I wanted to work in public service; so prior to law school, I started volunteering with the government office I hoped to work for. I spent a few hours each week helping with clerical tasks for several months. Because the office is involved heavily in litigation, the supervisors recommended I pursue a judicial clerkship for my first job after law school to gain courtroom experience. I kept this in mind when I entered law school.

During my 1L summer, I volunteered with a state circuit judge. I got along well with the judge, and he has been a great reference (although I did not want to work for him in light of the type of work he handled). During my 2L year, I participated in a clinical course that allowed me to handle cases from the same government office I volunteered with earlier, and I continued building rapport with the supervisors. During my 2L summer, I volunteered with the office again by handling appeals. After all this, the head of the office told me I will always be one of their top applicants and that I should apply any time.

As I was still interested in a clerkship, I sent out applications to judges during my 2L summer. I did not participate in law review or moot court , so I knew appellate clerkships would be futile, and I did not want the workload that came with such positions anyway. I narrowed my applications to state circuit court judges, with most not resulting in offers. However, there was one judge who, coincidentally, happened to be the former head of the government office I had been working with for the past two years. There were a dozen people competing for this position; I got the job. I have not yet asked the judge why I was hired above the others, but I know the judge spoke with both the current head of the government office along with the judge I volunteered with during my 1L summer. Although my grades are good (top quintile), I believe it is more likely that my volunteer experience and common ties with the judge were the most significant factors in getting the job.

With all that said, I think my situation boils down to one thing--luck. I applied to only one unranked law school for one simple, specific purpose; I got in. I needed money to do it and could not take on a large debt load; I got the money and have very little debt. I wanted a state judicial clerkship; I had the connections to get it.

If I had known things would have been cut so close to the wire, would I have done law school differently? Probably. Might not have even attended in the first place. But I do not think a person will necessarily be left in ruins if they attend an unranked law school. I would not recommend it if you must take on a large debt load; and if you can get over that hurdle, I would recommend alternative methods of getting jobs by volunteering and networking. I also would not recommend it if your intention is to make a lot of money, as such opportunities will not present themselves for many people coming out of such schools. And as a personal opinion, I believe money is a poor motivation to want to become a lawyer in the first place. We should exist for the sake of providing people with access to justice; not to line our own pockets with gold. But, as I said, this is a personal opinion; do what you feel you must. You know your needs better than I do.

That is all I have to say. Good luck.


To be honest, I think atleast 80% of law school students do it for either the prestige and/or $$$. It's a sad world we live in.

sibley
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby sibley » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:49 am

Well... I know someone who went to Hofstra and is now a medical malpractice atty for NYS. She's doing pretty well (she likes her career but it isn't her sole priority)... but she also graduated ages ago.

And I know a guy who's a 2L at Albany. What's that, Tier 3? He's been working at clinics and stands out, probably because there aren't a whole lot of law school options in that region.

Cloud9
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby Cloud9 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:00 am

This is not unique to law schools...

For what it's worth, I attended a city university in NY (CUNY) school for my undergraduate degree.

I was naive at the time. I had the opportunity to attend Columbia, but did not want the large debt that I would have incurred by attending there. Most of my professors also taught at NYU and Columbia, and they reminded us often that we were getting the same education, but paying less. Same professors, same textbooks.

I had friends attending NYU at the time and we often compared notes. For many of the same classes which were 3cr at CUNY, they were 4cr at NYU. Yes, they were 4hr classes, but often times with breaks they ended up being no more than 3.5hrs.

It also meant that taking 4 classes at 4cr was 16 credits whereas I took 5 classes at a time for 15 credits. The extra class meant less focus than if I just had 4 classes. It also meant graduating in 5yrs vs. the 3yrs that many NYU students graduate in by taking summer classes (which I also took).

The real kicker was after graduation. Most were offered jobs making $5k-20k more even though I'd been working full-time all along. I was actually offered less by potential employers than I was making at the time upon graduation. Though employers didn't know I was already working full-time when I interviewed.

I chalked the whole thing up to lessons learned. Two years later that's when I really got pissed off. An outside consultant from the big 6 was brought in on a project I was managing. He and I got to chatting and talking about compensation. He was making $75k at the time and mentioned he went to NYU having just graduated a year earlier. I had assumed he was talking about graduating from the NYU MBA program, but when I found out it was from the undergraduate program, I prodded a bit expecting a 4.0 GPA or something special, but no, his whopping 3.2 GPA had landed him a $75k gig at a big 6. And here's the kicker, the company paid back part of his education loans.

The next morning I was told I would be reporting to him, while advising / teaching him about the project. That was the last straw. I put in my resignation the same day, signed up for the GMAT, applied to NYU for MBA (ranked #13 for full-time, ranked #1 for part-time) and started working for a top tech firm making six figures.

Ironically, when I graduated from the NYU MBA program, I was in the same boat. Receiving offers for less than I was making at the time. So I ended up staying with the company.

I will say this, doors were just flung open for me in a way that I never experienced after CUNY even though my GPA was the same (and by the way, if you're curious, the NYU education even at a higher level was way easier than the CUNY education I received).

Now I'm considering LS. If I don't make it to the top 20 (maybe top 30), that's it for me. As far as I'm concerned, it's a crap shoot much beyond that, and I for one don't like cat food.

The other thing I would say about education in general is - get a real degree - don't end up with some literature or art degree. That may work out just fine if you went to a top school, but beyond the top 20 you're toast with such nonsense degrees.

If you're flat broke (like I was) and attending a school other than top 20, go for engineering, mathematics, etc.

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Space_Cowboy
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby Space_Cowboy » Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:05 am

Out of curiosity, why are you going to law school? You already make six figures and have an MBA.

Cloud9
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby Cloud9 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:46 am

Space_Cowboy wrote:Out of curiosity, why are you going to law school? You already make six figures and have an MBA.


My job was outsourced to India. Haven't been able to land another since then. Might as well do something with the next couple of years....

BruceLee
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby BruceLee » Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:32 pm

Why didn't you write your experience down on your resume? Wait, was this like pertinent work experience or just a job?

Cloud9
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby Cloud9 » Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:27 am

BruceLee wrote:Why didn't you write your experience down on your resume? Wait, was this like pertinent work experience or just a job?


BL, not sure if that was directed at me, but my experience is on my resume. Actually, many companies simply say, "overqualified" or can't believe I'm not working given my experience. Unfortunately, the reality is that the large companies that are likely to hire me have hiring freezes in place.

Not a day goes by that I'm not "networking" with industry colleagues, and applying for leads they send me. Its just gotten to a point where I'm unlikely to return to those types of jobs, not due to lack of interest or desire on my part, but that's just the way corporate america works. If you've been out of action for a long time, specially in your 40s for the IT industry - you're out - period.

So I'm hunting a next career option.

Aloha4
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby Aloha4 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:06 pm

If its your only choice, take it. Work your ass off and you'll be fine. There are people out there without high school degrees that are multimillionaires, you just need to have heart and work like crazy. If you have a choice between a t14 or lower tiered school, obviously you chose t 14. By lower tiered school I mean t 3 or 4.

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Nom Sawyer
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Re: Honestly, is it even worth it to go to a lower tier school?

Postby Nom Sawyer » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:08 pm

Aloha4 wrote:If its your only choice, take it. Work your ass off and you'll be fine. There are people out there without high school degrees that are multimillionaires, you just [strike]need to have heart and work like crazy[/strike] need to win Powerball. If you have a choice between a t14 or lower tiered school, obviously you chose t 14. By lower tiered school I mean t 3 or 4.




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