If I withdraw from a school before the start of classes, will that affect future applications?

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PeanutButterJealous

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If I withdraw from a school before the start of classes, will that affect future applications?

Post by PeanutButterJealous » Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:59 pm

I enrolled at a T50 regional school with an unclear career goal (maybe BigLaw? Maybe state government/politics?) and I now fear it was a mistake, for multiple reasons. My personal and family circumstances have changed dramatically, and I’m no longer sure I’ll be content practicing in my current region. Additionally, my mental state is pretty poor (been unable to sleep for the last week, extreme anxiety and panic attacks), so I think going to any school right now would be self-defeating.

More importantly, I think I need to take a few years off and figure out my life, because I am a would-be KJD who was only attending school because my parents said it would be a good idea to “give it a try, what’s the worst that could happen? You were really good at reading and writing!” They’re telling me to “tough it out” and go for at least a semester and drop out if I need to, but upon further reflection, that’s a really stupid, self-defeating idea and I don’t know why I agreed to it.

Based on my LSAT (170) and GPA (3.61), I should be able to get into a T14 at a later date, say, several years down the line. I did not send in a bill yet, and I have not attended classes. If I withdraw before orientation, and apply to T14 schools, would I have to answer the “Have you ever attended any law school” question in the affirmative? And if I do, would I be autodinged, or would a school hear me out so long as I explained what happened/that I’m not just a flake?

Finally, if I “try” for a few weeks and drop out, what happens then? I feel like this is a patently bad idea but I wanted to see if any experts could weigh in. The main reason I'm even considering this is because I'm just really afraid of disappointing my parents as "the boy who was too afraid to try in law school."

(Please don’t make fun of me. I am already extremely upset with my poor decision-making, and I know I should have done my diligence earlier.)

beinghuman

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Re: If I withdraw from a school before the start of classes, will that affect future applications?

Post by beinghuman » Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:27 pm

I think you should be fine if you withdraw before school starts. At this point, you have only accepted an offer but have not yet attended the school. But you should double check on that.

I would NOT attend for a few weeks and then drop out, that would be bad. And do not go when you know you're in a difficult situation mentally.

I personally think it's better to take a few years off between undergrad and law school. If you wait and get some experience, you will make a better informed decision. And yes, with your LSAT, you should be able to do better.

Another advantage with waiting is that we'd have a better idea of how this pandemic will really affect the legal market a few years down the road.

Those are my thoughts.

PeanutButterJealous

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Re: If I withdraw from a school before the start of classes, will that affect future applications?

Post by PeanutButterJealous » Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:22 pm

Allow me to add some more information, as I realize I didn't give you full disclosure.

I have taken the LSAT three times and exhausted my study materials, so I think retaking is not a good idea.

Similarly, while I called myself a would-be KJD, I just turned 24, and I did spend about a year and a half working retail, but nothing that really gave me any idea of what to do with my life. In fact, I've been trapped on my grandfather's pullout couch, taking care of him, for the last two years while studying for the LSAT and avoiding my toxic household. The last 5 months, during COVID, have been especially difficult as I've had no private space to think or consider life goals.

Further, the school I sent my enrollment forms to, did give me a decent offer: it's an NYC T1 school (lower than Columbia/NYU, higher than St. John's, Cardozo, and Brooklyn) at 135,000 3-year scholarship; I should realistically get more for my numbers, but they are infamously stingy with financial aid. Further, it is commutable from where my mother will live when she's done divorcing my father, so again, maybe it'll be a good place to attend when I have my life more figured out. If, upon further review and life experience, this school does prove to be the best choice, I'm afraid that they will hold my current withdrawal against me, as the enrollment form did state that by signing, I would be "formally matriculated." I cannot blame them for such sentiment, and that is why I am so angry at myself for not simply withdrawing my application, and communicating to them that this year would be too risky for me. It would have avoided burning a bridge and given me more time to soul search. If I had just withdrawn the damn application instead of withdrawing this late in the cycle, I could have left that open as an opportunity. I'm just mad because this was extremely avoidable, yet I stumbled into it anyway.

Finally, how would I check about whether schools would hold a pre-orientation withdrawal against me? I saw that Michigan, for instance, asks students if they've ever so much as "registered" at another law school, while Georgetown and Columbia specifically ask if I've ever attended any law school.

Many thanks in advance. I'm sure I'll come back with more questions later, but my head is swimming and I feel sick thinking about this.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: If I withdraw from a school before the start of classes, will that affect future applications?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sun Jul 26, 2020 10:19 pm

PeanutButterJealous wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:22 pm
Finally, how would I check about whether schools would hold a pre-orientation withdrawal against me? I saw that Michigan, for instance, asks students if they've ever so much as "registered" at another law school, while Georgetown and Columbia specifically ask if I've ever attended any law school.
Even if it did, it wouldn't be a big deal: just write a short addendum about how how your plans had to change because of changes in your personal circumstances and/or COVID. Nobody's going to hold that against you. Starting law school and then dropping out would be more of a red flag, although not a fatal one.

bwh8813

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Re: If I withdraw from a school before the start of classes, will that affect future applications?

Post by bwh8813 » Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:30 am

It sounds like you've had a rough go of it lately - take care of yourself first. Withdrawing before school starts won't be held against you and, as others have noted, this year of all years it certainly won't be held against you. Your school may try to influence you by telling you you're not guaranteed the same scholarship amount (or even acceptance) if you try to apply again sometime down the road but don't let them manipulate you. Once you're in a better place mentally, try to find work that's both fulfilling but that also will help give you a sense of the type of work you'd like to make a career.

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lavarman84

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Re: If I withdraw from a school before the start of classes, will that affect future applications?

Post by lavarman84 » Sat Aug 01, 2020 4:09 pm

I think the best move for you is to withdraw, get into a better head space, and figure some things out. Forcing yourself into law school when you're not 100% mentally and not sure you want to be there would be a massive mistake.

crazywafflez

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Re: If I withdraw from a school before the start of classes, will that affect future applications?

Post by crazywafflez » Sun Aug 02, 2020 1:02 pm

Not to pile on, but I really think withdrawing would be the best move here. Nobody, especially this year, is going to hold that against you. If you really feel the need just write an addendum, if they ask if you registered or something, and say due to COVID, your family, and other personal reason I had to withdraw. 24 is still really young... At my T1, most of the folks were 24-28 for 1L; but there were a decent chunk older and younger. Take a year or two off and clear your head and come at it again. Law school will still be there.

PeanutButterJealous

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~

Post by PeanutButterJealous » Wed Aug 05, 2020 6:37 pm

Thanks for the input. Here's an update.

So, I stopped freaking out quite as bad. I'm seeing a psychiatrist. I'm still nervous, but only because A) I don't want to go THIS YEAR, while the economy is in complete flux/Zoom classes, B) I am unsure of what kind of work I like to do, and I don't know what schools will get me into what positions. I was interested in BigLaw because I heard the salaries and exit options were good, and I am interested in working in NYS politics as either a state employee or campaign assistant, because I think the progressive movement is on the rise here, and simply by being a New Yorker, I could help drive the direction of national politics by being in the right place at the right time. I feel like I should have more concrete goals.

I think a lot of my freaking out came from realizing I should have listened to my gut and withdrawn my application months ago if I was so unsure. This is on me. I'm making peace with what I've done because beating on oneself for past mistakes is useless.

My parents' divorce isn't affecting me as much anymore, at least not consciously. I'm mad that the messy termination of their relationship led to me being stuck without private space so long that it precluded my ability to think straight. The fact that I committed to school without being 100% certain only means I'm probably going to at least burn a bridge at my current school if I withdraw. This is upsetting because if I didn't go T13, this would be a really good option. This year should be workable, if not ideal. My parents are selling their house this week, and my mom lined up an apartment owned by a friend of hers that's commutable from my current school. Still, with how crazy COVID is, the current tenants of said apartment might stick around there indefinitely, and that would complicate matters for me. I really want it to work out, and I think it will, but the uncertainty has eaten at me.

My final piece of disclosure to consider is, I enrolled to my current school in a really awkward and abrasive way. I was so overwhelmed with personal life and COVID that I just didn't check my email for a week. When I did, the enrollment deadline had passed, so I asked to enroll late. The AdComm had already canceled my seat, and had to reinstate me. I wrote that I wanted to go to this school, because I did, but now that I realize I have so little of an idea why I'm going to any law school in the first place, I realized that I didn't have a good motivation or a good gameplan. I think that, on some level, I wanted a dopamine hit because my life was just so miserable. I just wanted something to do and this school seemed like a good place under ideal economic circumstances, but now I'm worried that a COVID depression is going to smother non-T13 Law School job placements, and that while this school was a good choice when I first applied, that the world and my worldview has shifted so much that I don't even know why I'm doing this anymore. It's a respectable T50 school, I'd have CoL covered and minimal debt upon graduation (~$30k), so it's not a bad option. But, why the Hell am I doing this? How can I effectively pursue my goals if I'm not even sure what they are?


I'm still gonna take a few days to review my options. I asked Michigan's admissions office about how they'd feel if I applied to them but withdrew from a school before attending due to a personal situation, and they said that they'd like to see some supporting documentation of my situation, and specifically suggested a letter from my current school's AdComm "confirming the details." I'm afraid that I've made such a mess out of my current enrollment that if any other schools want to check with my current school, they'll tell them what an asshole I've been. I know I've acted callously and hastily; I expect that my current AdComm would hold it against me because if I was in their shoes, I'd be mad at me. I acted like an immature dick out of fear of losing a respectable offer at a respectable school. Now I realize I don't know why the Hell I'm going and I'm trying to figure out how to resolve that problem. I just don't want it to affect my entire life trajectory. If I could withdraw with zero future consequences, if I could safely take a big TIME-OUT, I would, but I fear I've gone too far now.

Final notes and points to consider for moving forward.

I am currently unemployed and have been since COVID hit. The main reason I enrolled this term is because I really don't know when I could find gainful employment or an internship in the meantime. I just foresaw myself losing my mind more and more as I had nothing to do. I thought if I had rigorous coursework to occupy my time, it might actually cure my sense of hopelessness and depression.

I will far more easily be able to justify withdrawing if I can find a worthwhile way to spend the next year or two. How do I find an internship? How do I find a job that will improve my resume? My parents are of little use in this regard: one parent has been chronically underemployed since 2013, and the other is a recently-retired civil servant with no social life and no network.

Finally, I spoke to someone familiar with the Law School admissions process, and he said that there is an argument to going to my current school now, if I felt able to. Low debt load from a T50 school is nothing to sneeze at, and what else am I going to do with my life? For all I know, admissions standards could get a lot stiffer in coming years, and scholarship funds could dry up.

Post-Script

I inquired about schools on here a while ago. People told me that school prestige is very real and very important, and I just couldn't deal with it because my family members are all older and believe that any JD is a good JD. It made me feel bad, it challenged my prior assumptions, and so I was stubborn for a while. I should have listened earlier. Thank you for your help, and please keep doing your good work.

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