What Pre-Law Students Think About Most

Altman sees the goal-setting problem diminishing, but still widespread. “Many people come to law school without an idea of what they want other than they have a humanities degree and their parents think they need to be there,” says Altman. “That number is shrinking, but it’s still there. Being sure why you want to come to law school before you come is one of the things you should do.”
Zearfoss says many new law students don’t realize how dramatically the practice of law can vary and that students should be proactive in figuring out those variations and where they want to focus on practicing.
“You should be thinking about learning, working hard, and trying to master material,” Zearfoss says. “This is your chance to be exposed to a lot of different aspects of the law. Take advantage of lunch talks and alumni who show up on campus. You should really be diving in with both feet and not just sliding along.”
Altman says if students are accepted to a law school they are meant to be there and must not lose sight of that as they enter classes with equally intelligent and capable students.
“Number one, if they are going to law school, they’ve been very successful at something in their lives for the past few years—whether that’s been school or work,” says Altman. “Realizing what has brought them this far successfully will get them through law school successfully. Those skills and techniques will continue to serve them well.
“But one thing is different. Most people who are going to law school have received ‘A’s most of their life and for the first time they are not going to be the smartest. This doesn’t mean they are incompetent or anything—just that they are in a new and competitive environment.”
And as for the huge debt numbers and horror stories the media likes to throw around, Altman says students should spend less time being anxious about it and more time mitigating it.
“Law school is cheaper now than it has been for a decade,” says Altman. “Scholarship spending has gone up and they are more generous than ever before and that should be a source of comfort for students. Instead of being anxious about debt, they should be proactive about debt.”