Today (Feb. 2) is Groundhog’s Day. Remember that Bill Murray movie? The one where his character re-lives Groundhog Day everyday for seemingly forever? He goes back-and-forth between despising it and embracing it until he finds that happy medium. Stretch your imagination a little and you can see some similarities between Bill Murray’s character and law students wrestling with the decision to attend law school.
Instead of experiencing the exact same day repeatedly, law applicants experience an unbreakable news cycle. The news? Law school is too expensive and not a good decision. Potential law students must decide if they are going to ignore these messages or embrace them.
A recent article from U.S. News suggests embracing them. And they even give ideas on how to do just that. In case you haven’t heard, law school is expensive. According to the American Bar Association, in 2012, the average cost for tuition at a private American law school was $40,634. In that same year, the average cost for in-state tuition at a public university was $23,214. The average out-of-state cost was $36,202.
How does one embrace those costs? Choose a cost-efficient law school. The U.S. News offers four suggestions for doing just that. First, make sure your career and life goals align with the law school you wish to attend. More specifically, think about what exact type of lawyer you want to become and where. This will allow you to get a close to precise idea of what your salary will be. Consider states where cost of living is cheap. Hello, Midwest and South!
Next, when comparing scholarships, be sure to read the fine print. Make sure you understand how long the scholarships last. Some might decrease or completely disappear after the first year. Next, think twice about doing a part-time program. If a part-time program is cheaper and you think you can work while attending law school without getting burnt out, it might be a good idea. If you are one who wears down easily or struggles with juggling tasks, it might be better just to pay the extra for a full-time program.
Finally, consider lower ranked schools. But only consider them if they are offering a lot more money. Obviously, the lower ranked schools will most likely not carry the brand name that higher ranked schools do. However, if you can find a school that might specialize in a specific kind of law or carry some regional prestige, it could be a good option if it might lead you to fulfilling your career and personal goals,
Now, more than any other time in recent history, it is essential to make the right decision regarding if you should attend law school and where.
Source: U.S. News
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