Part time program - how feasible is it?

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mandrewsf

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Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby mandrewsf » Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:50 am

I'm currently employed at an entry-level professional position by a federal government agency that is basically my dream workplace given my professional interests - and I know that going to law school will help me a ton in climbing the GS ladder. It was a huge pain for me to get my job so I am reluctant to leave my job to go to law school knowing that returning to my agency wouldn't be guaranteed. Therefore I am looking at part-time law programs (focusing on Gtown's and GWU's programs so far). However, I want to know more about how feasible doing program is given the requirements of a somewhat demanding job:

1. my agency's work is highly cyclical - sometimes we leave at 5 when there's no work, but sometimes 12-hour days are a must. How would this comport with a part-time program's curriculum that requires attendance on most evenings?

2. how much studying is required for a part-time program? Including classes, would 20 hours be enough per week for a good GPA for the average law student? 30 hours? 40 hours? More?

3. as a part-time student, would I typically have to miss out on a lot of extracurricular stuff (mock trials, moot courts, etc)? If so, would this have a negative impact on my law school experience?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

haus

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Re: Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby haus » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:40 am

I am a part-time student who works for the federal government. I am fairly high up in the proverbial GS ladder (as I am an old geezer, who has been in IT/InfoSec for nearly a quarter century).

My focus for the last six years has been incident response, and as you can imagine the work demands can vary unexpectedly. When I applied several years ago, I hit up most of the programs in the DC area (although Gtwon and GW both turned me down). Although I had a few options locally, I was concerned about the schedule requirements, especially for 1L. My concerns were compounded, because I also have a young daughter (she was 5 years old when I started) and the idea of almost never being home on a weeknight before my daughter went to bed did not sit well with me.

During this process I stumbled in to the hybrid online program. While I suspect that the total amount of time that I have spent on school so far is likely greater than I would have spent if I had attend a more traditional program, I have had quite a bit of flexibility as to when and where this school work has been performed. For many reasons, this program is not the right fit for everyone, but for some it is something worth considering.

As for extracurricular activities, I have avoided most of them. Perhaps this would be a problem if I had the intent to look for a traditional legal job, but that is not in my plans.

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TLSModBot

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Re: Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby TLSModBot » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:00 am

Did GULC part-time while working and raising newborns.

Do not recommend for Biglaw but can't opine on how it helps with GS advancement relative to cost/time. I did well but a lot of that was luck.

mandrewsf

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Re: Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby mandrewsf » Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:07 am

Capitol_Idea wrote:Did GULC part-time while working and raising newborns.

Do not recommend for Biglaw but can't opine on how it helps with GS advancement relative to cost/time. I did well but a lot of that was luck.


How did luck feature into the equation for you?

And how easy did you find it to balance your work/school/life requirements?

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Re: Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby TLSModBot » Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:04 pm

mandrewsf wrote:
Capitol_Idea wrote:Did GULC part-time while working and raising newborns.

Do not recommend for Biglaw but can't opine on how it helps with GS advancement relative to cost/time. I did well but a lot of that was luck.


How did luck feature into the equation for you?

And how easy did you find it to balance your work/school/life requirements?

Luck was getting really good grades and my dream Biglaw firm.

Balancing school and other commitments is hard. Exhaustingly hard. My work was flexible including significant work from home time and still it was rough. People who had a very full time job simply couldn't keep up with those who had structurally easier lives.

jd21

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Re: Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby jd21 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:16 pm

I can't speak to most of your questions but law school is just as expensive when you go part-time. Georgetown gives VERY little aid.

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Re: Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby jeffcooon » Tue Dec 12, 2017 11:02 am

I'm a 1L part-time student.

1. At least for 1L doctrinal classes, I feel that attending all classes is very important. It's the best way to learn about professor's style and his/her interpretation of law - which is very important to final exam. My school has mandatory 80% attendance rule for each academic semester, but I just attended all the classes anyway.
2. Studying hour- it really depends. Some have part-time jobs so they could invest a lot of time in studying. As for me, I work full-time, so my weekend was totally up for studying. But as you ease in to the program, you will learn your studying style and adjust to your schedule. I think I studied maybe 10-15 hours per week during non-finals, but one month before finals - it was outlining/taking prac exams whenever I wasn't working/sleeping/workout.
3.Extra curricular activities - you will most likely miss out a lot because a lot of them happen during the day. If you can work near your school and make sometime in between lunch hour then maybe. But things like clinics or externships, it may be tough. Maybe some schools offer clinics, activities, externships, etc that offer to part-time students, but mostly they will be geared towards day students.

Good luck!

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Re: Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby totesTheGoat » Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:58 pm

mandrewsf wrote:I'm currently employed at an entry-level professional position by a federal government agency that is basically my dream workplace given my professional interests - and I know that going to law school will help me a ton in climbing the GS ladder. It was a huge pain for me to get my job so I am reluctant to leave my job to go to law school knowing that returning to my agency wouldn't be guaranteed. Therefore I am looking at part-time law programs (focusing on Gtown's and GWU's programs so far). However, I want to know more about how feasible doing program is given the requirements of a somewhat demanding job:


It's not, and it's one of my biggest regrets from law school. There are three reasons why part-time law school with a demanding job isn't as feasible as it originally sounds.

First, law school is competitive, and while your competitors are going to be relaxing, sipping margaritas and leisurely studying, you're going to be working. (Okay, I exaggerate a bit) The students that you're competing with have all-day every day to focus on school. You're going to be scrambling to find a couple hours on the weekends to cram in your reading. Part-time students working a full-time job have a hand tied behind their back in comparison to full-time students.

Second, you have to make some sort of transition to a legal position while in law school. Perhaps there is a defined path for you at your current job, but I can tell you that in my class, exactly zero of the people who thought they were going to end up working at the same place they started, actually did (including myself). Because of the extremely low chance of a smooth transition from your current job, you really need to prepare to get legal experience so that you can shop your resume at OCI and other interview opportunities. That means trying to find some law firm to hire you on, despite not having a degree yet. There are opportunities, but they may not be a 1-to-1 replacement of your current job (both regarding salary and hours).

Finally, if you do manage to get through 4 years of constant 12-15 hour days, your mental and emotional health will not be in a good place. Of the ~20 part-time students in my class that were working full-time jobs during 1L, only 2 of them still worked full-time jobs at graduation. Of those 2, 1 got divorced and the other is still recovering from all the stress. I made it through 2 years working full-time before going down to part-time at my legal job.

1. my agency's work is highly cyclical - sometimes we leave at 5 when there's no work, but sometimes 12-hour days are a must. How would this comport with a part-time program's curriculum that requires attendance on most evenings?


Most profs are lenient on the full-time working students, but every class you miss involves falling further behind, requiring you to make it up at the end of the semester before exams. We would share notes with one another if somebody had to miss, but the notes didn't substitute for actually being there. All of the folks with "cyclical" jobs like that dropped out or quit their job after 1L.

2. how much studying is required for a part-time program? Including classes, would 20 hours be enough per week for a good GPA for the average law student? 30 hours? 40 hours? More?


It all depends on your specific learning style and your definition of a good GPA. I can tell you that I was lucky if I had 20 hours a week in study time. 40 hours a week? That was out of the question. You can do the part-time program and get a good GPA, but the type of job you're describing will make it extremely hard to do so. Don't underestimate the "decompress" time that you're going to need after spending week after week working 12-15 hours a day. You can't count on 12 hours a day of study time on the weekends, and you're really lucky if you can find time to study during the weekdays. I usually did my readings for classes 15 minutes before the classes started, but that's not exactly a recipe for success.

3. as a part-time student, would I typically have to miss out on a lot of extracurricular stuff (mock trials, moot courts, etc)? If so, would this have a negative impact on my law school experience?


Yes and yes. I don't think that extracurriculars are the most important thing ever, but they're some of the best ways to start growing your network, get to know your classmates and some local attorneys, and get experience that makes your resume stick out from the pile. The thing is that extracurriculars don't meet at 10pm usually.

When I first learned about part-time law school, I thought it was a great idea. After going through the program, my opinion has changed. Obviously, some of the issues may be at my specific school, but I think that many of the issues I and other part-time students had are systemic problems. The part-time program is designed for somebody working 20 hours a week, not somebody working 45-50 hours a week. Save up some money, quit your job, and do the full-time program. You won't regret it.

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Re: Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby DTrainz » Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:45 pm

jd21 wrote:I can't speak to most of your questions but law school is just as expensive when you go part-time. Georgetown gives VERY little aid.


I don't see how this can be if, as a part-time student, you are able to cover your living expenses. According to their 509 report, GULC gives part-time students 1/3 to 1/2 of what they give full-time students.

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Re: Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:05 pm

DTrainz wrote:
jd21 wrote:I can't speak to most of your questions but law school is just as expensive when you go part-time. Georgetown gives VERY little aid.


I don't see how this can be if, as a part-time student, you are able to cover your living expenses. According to their 509 report, GULC gives part-time students 1/3 to 1/2 of what they give full-time students.


Read the 509 closer. Only 12% of PT students even get aid. And of those, almost all (literally all but one of them last year) get much less than half their tuition covered. Then consider that you'll be paying tuition on a per-credit basis, so you don't actually save any money. I'm too lazy to crunch the actual numbers, but it's entirely possible that you end up paying more in tuition and fees just by spending the extra semester at school (plus summers and accruing interest). At the very least, it ends up being the same tuition cost.

So assuming that you only make enough to cover the cost of living ($27k a year), you'd offset that by getting a good scholarship. A greater percentage of full-time students get between half and full tuition in the full-time program than get any aid at all in the part-time program.

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Re: Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby DTrainz » Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:00 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
DTrainz wrote:
jd21 wrote:I can't speak to most of your questions but law school is just as expensive when you go part-time. Georgetown gives VERY little aid.


I don't see how this can be if, as a part-time student, you are able to cover your living expenses. According to their 509 report, GULC gives part-time students 1/3 to 1/2 of what they give full-time students.


Read the 509 closer. Only 12% of PT students even get aid. And of those, almost all (literally all but one of them last year) get much less than half their tuition covered. Then consider that you'll be paying tuition on a per-credit basis, so you don't actually save any money. I'm too lazy to crunch the actual numbers, but it's entirely possible that you end up paying more in tuition and fees just by spending the extra semester at school (plus summers and accruing interest). At the very least, it ends up being the same tuition cost.

So assuming that you only make enough to cover the cost of living ($27k a year), you'd offset that by getting a good scholarship. A greater percentage of full-time students get between half and full tuition in the full-time program than get any aid at all in the part-time program.


I'd like to return to this thread. I've since received a pretty good part-time scholarship to an average school. The part time cost of attendance is $40,000. The full time cost of attendance is $57,000. I received a scholarship to study part-time for $30,000 per year. In this situation, couldn't it make sense to study part time.

The scholarship covers 76% of the cost of tuition. I'm a little concerned about working full-time on top of 9 credit hours, but I have a nice, flexible consulting gig that pays me $20k per year. If I was to do this throughout law school and spend the little savings I have, I estimate that I would graduate with $122,000 in debt. If I was to go full-time, while I would graduate one year sooner, I estimate that I would graduate with $178,000 in debt. If I was to work full time one year and part-time the others, I estimate that I would graduate with less than $100,000 in debt...

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Re: Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby totesTheGoat » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:29 am

I'd like to return to this thread. I've since received a pretty good part-time scholarship to an average school. The part time cost of attendance is $40,000. The full time cost of attendance is $57,000. I received a scholarship to study part-time for $30,000 per year. In this situation, couldn't it make sense to study part time.


Law school for $50k (after tuition increases) isn't a bad deal, but don't decide to go part-time based on finances alone. You will regret it. Ask me how I know...

If finances are the primary driver for you going part-time, then you need to delay your gratification, save up some money, and go in another cycle or two. The part-time experience is inferior to the full-time experience, and it's 4 years of your life where you don't get to have a life. My final semester (when I didn't have a job) was like a vacation compared to my first 3 years (when I was working a full-time or near-full-time job).

If you would like me to get into details about how you're going to be at a competitive disadvantage to the full-time students, I'd be happy to do so.

If I was to do this throughout law school and spend the little savings I have, I estimate that I would graduate with $122,000 in debt. If I was to go full-time, while I would graduate one year sooner, I estimate that I would graduate with $178,000 in debt. If I was to work full time one year and part-time the others, I estimate that I would graduate with less than $100,000 in debt...


Do not go to an "average school" in their part-time program and take out 6 figures in debt. That is utter insanity. Again, ask me how I know.... Many of my part-time classmates are making $50-70k at their shiny new legal jobs and have $150k+ in debt. At the very best, they have 10 years of living like college students before they will get that monkey off their back.

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Re: Part time program - how feasible is it?

Postby rwhyAn » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:04 pm

I'm in my final semester of a part-time program at my local T2. It's definitely a grind, and it's not worth doing unless your 100% committed. I was fortunate that (1) my employer was footing the bill, (2) my job isn't very demanding, and (3) I work two blocks away from the school and didn't have to worry about commuting after work. Because my job isn't very demanding, I'd be able to do some schoolwork during slow periods, which helped ease the workload a bit.

Let me attempt to answer your questions:
1. The 12-hour days and cyclical nature of your job may prove problematic. If you have professors that don't monitor attendance regularly, you'll be ok, but you won't know that until after you've enrolled, by which time it will be too late. If you only need to miss 3-4 classes for each subject a semester, you'll be ok. Personally, I didn't get a lot out of the classes themselves. You just need to make sure that you don't miss more classes than the ABA-required attendance policy permits (need to attend a minimum of 80% of classes).

2. My school doesn't rank, but I'm fairly certain that I'm in the top 10% or thereabouts. I think 20 hours per week of reading/studying is sufficient for good GPA. I don't think I do any more than that. Maybe an occasional 30 hour week, but not too often.

3. Yes, you would typically have to miss out on a lot of extracurriculars. I, personally, did not do any extracurricular activities. There were some part-timers who were on law review, journal, or moot court, but they usually fell within two categories: (1) the extreme workaholic with no life and (2) those who were either unemployed or worked part-time jobs. Personally, I chose to focus on obtaining good grades and having somewhat of a personal life instead of pursuing the extracurriculars. Would it have a negative impact on your law school experience? That depends on what type of experience you're seeking. For me, I approached law school more like a business transaction. I came there to study, get the degree, and move on. I didn't really try to enjoy the experience. Did I miss out making some connections? Probably. But, I have a job lined up and I made a decent amount of connections among the fellow night students. The biggest negative going part-time is that it's difficult to get legal experience unless you already work in a legal job or you quit your full-time job to work as a summer associate at a firm. As far as the jobs after law school go, you'll be at a disadvantage compared to all the other students who did summer internships, associateships, etc.

Lastly, let me just mention that you're competing against every one else, which puts you at a disadvantage by having a demanding full-time job. Most of the part-timers in my class either quit their full-time jobs or switched from full-time to part-time positions during the program. Additionally, after my first year, a significant number of full-time day students would take classes with the night students. Since everything is on a curve, I'm being graded against a lot of students who are only taking one more class than I am but don't have any responsibilities out of work. Whereas I'm getting about 4-5 hours of sleep per night, working 8 hours a day, and then going to class until 8 or 9:30 at night, the full-time students and part-timers with no jobs are well-rested and have plenty of time during the day to study. Therefore, you'll have to work that much harder and efficient in order to do well.



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