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Topics - Coffeebean12

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Choosing the Right Law School / Stetson vs. Ave Maria vs. FIU
« on: May 29, 2012, 05:54:46 PM »
Hi everyone! I was wondering if you guys can help me with a sticky situation I'm in. I know this is long, but I would really appreciate some advice!

First, A Little About Me:
I live in Southwest Florida and I do want to stay and practice somewhere in the state of Florida, so going to a law school in Florida is my best bet. My applications took FOREVER to result in a reply of any kind and they all just got back to me fairly recently, so now I'm in a time crunch. I was really hoping for UF (or at least FSU), but I got rejected at both. :'(  After getting those rejections, Stetson and especially FIU (because of its location and economical tuition rates) were my next two top choices. Ave Maria was honestly just a back-up/"I just applied for the heck of it" option. I also live close to Ave Maria, though not close enough to commute, but I know the area. Big law isn't really THAT important to me, though it might be nice to have as an option after graduating, but honestly I'm not even sure if I'd even want to do that anyway. My family has offered to help me out some financially. Money is important to me; I don't want to get myself up to my eyeballs in debt and if possible, I'd like to avoid loans all together. However, even more important to me than money is my future job prospects at graduation.
**Also: retaking the LSAT, reapplying to schools, and waiting another year is not something that can be considered as I have already done this, so it is not even an option.

And Now...The Situation:
I got accepted at Stetson (sadly, with no scholarship), accepted at Ave Maria (obviously, except that I was also offered a scholarship for $28,000/year), and waitlisted at FIU (quite probably because I applied so late due to an issue with one particular LOR). I'm still hoping for FIU, but in the meantime I have to make a decision between Stetson and Ave the next 5 days!  :o :-\ So now I'm facing a dilemma: should I go for the money, or for the school with a slightly better reputation? And does it even matter in the long run?

The Pros and Cons:
Pros- Slightly better reputation (it's a T3 with a couple national rankings in specific programs), it's located in Tampa so it would allow me to finally move out of the Southwest Florida region and live/experience a different (and bigger) city, there are fairly large scholarships available for incoming 2 and 3Ls (though I realize that I cannot count on this possibility)
Cons- I wasn't offered a scholarship which means I'd be paying the ticket price of somewhere around $35,000/year for tuition alone (and I wonder if that's truly worth it for a school like Stetson), I don't know the area well so finding a living arrangement may be a little more difficult with the time crunch I'm in

Pros- $28,000/year scholarship, I know the area so figuring out living arrangements this late in the game will be significantly easier, I have family and friends in the area so I will have a form of emotional support
Cons- It doesn't have a very good reputation (T4 school), I'd feel "stuck" in the same region (Naples/Fort Myers area) that I've lived in my entire life (I also went to undergrad in this region), the $28,000 scholarship is contingent upon me maintaining a 3.0 GPA at the law school (which makes me very skeptical because I haven't found anywhere where they publish what their grading curve is), I worry that if I have a difficult time adjusting my first year and lose my scholarship that I'll then be trapped paying $35,000/year for a T4 school and that will make me want to kill myself

Pros- Economical (for a resident like myself), it's been moving up in the ranks and reputation I believe (currently a T3), located in Miami which would allow me to venture out from Southwest Florida, plus Miami is a big city with (maybe?) lots of opportunities
Cons- I was waitlisted and may get a reply anytime between tomorrow and the end of summer, I don't know the Miami area that well so figuring out living arrangements so late might be rather difficult, I've heard that the school has a tough grading curve to "weed out" weaker students and it had (as of a few years ago at least) a high attrition rate

The Decision:
So, what should I do? Is Stetson worth it at that price? Is Ave Maria too sketchy of a deal or should I just go for the free money? Is there a big enough difference in job prospects between all three of these schools? Which one (or more than one) of these options should I do in my current situation?
1. Hope and prepare for FIU just in case (while having a back-up, of course!)
2. Choose Stetson (either for certain, or as a back-up until I hear back from FIU)
3. Choose Ave Maria (either for certain, or as a back-up until I hear from FIU)
4. Attempt to "negotiate" with Stetson and Ave Maria and try to get some money or some kind of incentive at Stetson or more money and better scholarship stipulations at Ave Maria

Hi I'm new, but I've been reading some of the topics on here for a while now. This is really long and I apologize for that. But I'm really freaking out!  :'( So to whoever is willing to read this, I would really, really appreciate some advice.

I'm taking my LSAT in February, in two weeks. I've been studying for the last 6 months or so, but the first few months I was more relaxed and wasn't studying every single day. For the last two months I've been studying every day, for at least 3-4 hours (and WAY more than that often). I've been taking a prep course, taking lots of practice tests, spending lots of time in review, and studying a lot on my own as well as focusing on my problem areas and working on pacing. I understand everything; I have no major issues with any type of question. From the very beginning, timing was my biggest problem. However, I have worked on my timing and pacing and when I'm practicing, even timed, I've been improving. The problem is my practice tests.

I feel as though my body goes into shock mode or something whenever I'm taking a practice test. Everything I know is gone, my mind is blank. My head is spinning, I'm shaking, and I have to read every sentence 5 times to understand anything. I feel as though my mind is frozen and I can't think. My first cold diagnostic practice test was a 149 and my goal has been a 160 (though I'd even be happy with a score in the higher 150s). But after so much studying, I have not improved at all. EVERY SINGLE practice test I take ends with the same score: 149. It has been extremely frustrating to put in so much effort and see ABSOLUTELY NO RESULTS. I'm officially depressed and hopeless about this. I'm freaking out and I don't know what to do anymore. :'(  :'(  :'(

After my most recent practice test was yet another 149, it occurred to me that my practice tests are not going to suddenly jump up several points within the next couple weeks before February 12. (Especially since I have been performing so consistently on my practice tests!  :'() Although it would have been at the last moment, I was planning on at least applying for the Fall 2011 admissions cycle and seeing what that would lead to. (I graduated university this past December and was hoping to try applying for this admissions cycle and then, if I were to get into a decent law school, start this fall. I don't like the idea of waiting a year and a half doing nothing.) But obviously now I need to seriously reconsider my plans and options.

This is where I would really like some advice. Given my present situation, should I...

--Skip the February test altogether, since there's no way I'll be able to do well enough on it by now? (It's too late to the change my test date.)
--Take the February LSAT (since I paid for it), get the experience of it, and then probably cancel my score?
--Give up even attempting to apply for this admissions cycle, keep studying, take the June test, apply really early for the Fall 2012 cycle, and wait another whole year?
--Give up on the LSAT and law school altogether? (Since I clearly cannot even improve my practice test scores.)

Any other options, along with LSAT studying tips for someone like myself, would also be greatly appreciated!  :'(  :'(  :'(

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