Law School Discussion

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Messages - P.H.M.

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I went to law school in the mid west in 2007  (from NYC) to my first choice, a Top 100 school. I was unprepared for the academic program involved and began experiencing severe anxiety towards the end of my first semester due to the pressure of family obligations 2000 miles away and returning to school at a fairly advanced age (39). I was given the bad advice by a teaching assistant to proceed with my finals because "no one gets below a 'C' with the curve;" my grades were: B, D-, and an F. I took a medical leave of absence to have the symptoms of anxiety and depression I was experiencing evaluated and treated by university medical professionals. I returned the following Fall semester to repeat the classes, and found myself unable to balance work, and school, and still a little bit rattled by having receiving the poorest grades of my lifetime in my first semester. With the loneliness I was feeling, symptoms of depression, and concern about not being able to work as a part-time student in the prime earning years of my life, I withdrew from school. Two months later, I immediately regretted the decision, and was re-admitted for the third time to retake the first semester already $30,000.00 in debt. My third semester was somewhat of a success however I made two critical mistakes: I did NOT take practice exams in preparation for two finals, and handed a paper that represented 60% of my grade late by twelve hours; I ended up with a B-, C, and C this time around. The anxiety of being on academic probation and having little margin for error eventually resulted in more severe health problems for myself, an inability to concentrate, pressure from my family and friends, a decreased and weakened confidence in myself, and I eventually withdrew from law school altogether, $79,000.00 in debt. I will always regret having quit, even with the mounting debt, and not securing the J.D., and not having found a way to enhance my mental fortitude, find the right help and resources and the right mindset and support system to get the job done. I am now faced with trying to explain to my family and friends what went wrong, address psychological issues I never experienced before attending law school, and returning to a career I have been absent from for three years without being able to explain why I went to law school and did not work for three years and do not have a law degree to show for it. If I had to do it all over again, I would have went to a Tier Three school and a little more relaxed environment for someone my age - the first year is the toughest and if I was successful I could transfer; otherwise I could remain in the Third Tier School and earn one of the most coveted of graduate degrees: a J.D. Think carefully about yourself, especially if you have been out of school for sometime, about what you are capable of, and what this degree might mean to you. I now dread turning 55 without a professional degree, and not a minute goes by that I do not wish I knew in 2007 what I know now; as of today, the law school experience, while providing some of the fondest memories of my life, has in many ways ruined my life. A law school curriculum, particularly for non-conventional students, should be designed to give such students every possible chance for success (e.g., three exams per class in the first semester, not one final and an automatic dismissal for students with a G.P.A. of 2.20 or less).

2
I went to law school in the mid west in 2007  (from NYC) to my first choice, a Top 100 school. I was unprepared for the academic program involved and began experiencing severe anxiety towards the end of my first semester due to the pressure of family obligations 2000 miles away and returning to school at a fairly advanced age (39). I was given the bad advice by a teaching assistant to proceed with my finals because "no one gets below a 'C' with the curve;" my grades were: B, D-, and an F. I took a medical leave of absence to have the symptoms of anxiety and depression I was experiencing evaluated and treated by university medical professionals. I returned the following Fall semester to repeat the classes, and found myself unable to balance work, and school, and still a little bit rattled by having receiving the poorest grades of my lifetime in my first semester. With the loneliness I was feeling, symptoms of depression, and concern about not being able to work as a part-time student in the prime earning years of my life, I withdrew from school. Two months later, I immediately regretted the decision, and was re-admitted for the third time to retake the first semester already $30,000.00 in debt. My third semester was somewhat of a success however I made two critical mistakes: I did NOT take practice exams in preparation for two finals, and handed a paper that represented 60% of my grade late by twelve hours; I ended up with a B-, C, and C this time around. The anxiety of being on academic probation and having little margin for error eventually resulted in more severe health problems for myself, an inability to concentrate, pressure from my family and friends, a decreased and weakened confidence in myself, and I eventually withdrew from law school altogether, $79,000.00 in debt. I will always regret having quit, even with the mounting debt, and not securing the J.D., and not having found a way to enhance my mental fortitude, find the right help and resources and the right mindset and support system to get the job done. I am now faced with trying to explain to my family and friends what went wrong, address psychological issues I never experienced before attending law school, and returning to a career I have been absent from for three years without being able to explain why I went to law school and did not work for three years and do not have a law degree to show for it. If I had to do it all over again, I would have went to a Tier Three school and a little more relaxed environment for someone my age - the first year is the toughest and if I was successful I could transfer; otherwise I could remain in the Third Tier School and earn one of the most coveted of graduate degrees: a J.D. Think carefully about yourself, especially if you have been out of school for sometime, about what you are capable of, and what this degree might mean to you. I now dread turning 55 without a professional degree, and not a minute goes by that I do not wish I knew in 2007 what I know now; as of today, the law school experience, while providing some of the fondest memories of my life, has in many ways ruined my life. A law school curriculum, particularly for non-conventional students, should be designed to give such students every possible chance for success (e.g., three exams per class in the first semester, not one final and an automatic dismissal for students with a G.P.A. of 2.20 or less).

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