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Messages - qmmm

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The breakdown is that the first 10 questions tend to be the easiest.  The last 5 tend to be of medium difficulty.  Questions 10-20 or so tend to be the hardest. 

One theory is that questions 10-20 are hardest to help differentiate test-takers.  By making the middle the hardest series of questions fewer people get to the last couple with time to answer them thoughtfully so that there can be better differentiation amongst test takers. 

Some suggest to not take the questions in order.  By doing the first 10 followed by the last 5 or so-- although you really should do entire pages in the test book so that you don't accidentally forget a question --, you can maximize your effort on the easiest questions.  I, personally, rarely had issues getting through the section, so I didn't really find this suggestion all that helpful.  If you are having trouble getting through the section in time, it will probably help you more.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: SCREWED by WCL Fin Aid
« on: April 12, 2007, 12:14:53 PM »
To clarify, my issue is not so much that I did not receive financial aid from WCL, but more so with the basis on which it was denied to me.

I am financially independent from my parents so I don't see why their income should be factored in to my ability to pay for law school.

You plus parents with collateral who cosign can get private funding.

You plus parents with no collateral cannot get private funding. 

The GradPLUS loan is meant to ensure that people without other means can obtain the funding necessary to complete a graduate or professional program.  That's why your parents net worth is information the financial aid deptartment needs.

For paying back tuition debt, a simple estimate is 10% of your gross salary.  Although, it's really a matter of what sort of life style you want to live.

If you make $80k/yr, take out 10% for debt and 40% for taxes.  That leaves you with $40k/yr for all other expenses like housing, food, and so forth.  Considering $40k/yr is the median pretax income in many places, this isn't exactly living like  a pauper.

So, if you expect to be able to pay $8k/yr in debt repayment, you can then estimate how much debt you'd be willing to accept.  If you take out $60k in loans @7% interest and have a 10 yr repayment schedule, you will end up needing to pay back $83.6k; roughly $8k/yr. (estimates from

Let's get back to the $40k in desposible income.  Would you be willing to use some of that for loan repayment?  If so, you could assume more debt or pay off the $60k example earlier to reduce the amount of interest paid.  If you looked to pay it off in say 8 yrs ($10k/yr), you would save yourself about $5k in interest charges.

Anyway, I hope that helps a bit.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Ph.D. Deferral?
« on: April 10, 2007, 01:24:07 PM »
qmmm - thanks for the congrats..the dissertation was accepted by the school today, officially ending my graduate school career.  whew.....

It's it great that you're graduate career ends with someone pulling out a ruler to check that your margins? 

BTW, do they still hand out the UW label pins?

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Ph.D. Deferral?
« on: April 10, 2007, 11:41:47 AM »
Bucky, congrats on the defense. 

I'm not sure that my earlier posts really summed up my feelings correctly, so I'm going to try again.

A PhD is work and outside of the first year almost nothing like college.  It really is an apprenticeship with long hours, little pay (at least in the sciences -- those in the humanities have it rough), and oftentimes unrealistic expectations.  But the roughest part is the frustration that will develop as you work on getting the next line of the derivation.  You really have to want to see it through to finish, and for most people the reason to see it through is for the love of the subject.  The people who are happiest in grad school are those who work 70-80 hours/week, not because they have to, but because they want to.  Yes, those people do exist and even they think about quitting at some point.  In my opinion, if you already know that you want to do something else in the long term, the frustration will be that much worse.

I'm not saying that you should explore your options.  Law school will wait; even for the PhD, if that's what you decide.  Personally, I think a masters makes more sense from what you've said.  You get to spend time primarily on the background in your field without the heavy emphasis on the original research.  Also, if you find you really do love it, you can always continue towards a dissertation.

I suppose in the end, I wouldn't make the decision between either a JD or PhD.  There are so many other possibilities.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Ph.D. Deferral?
« on: April 09, 2007, 04:04:06 PM »

Honestly, BlueWhite, I really don't think that you'll have a problem getting into some great schools.  In fact, I suspect that you'll do better at all of the places that dinged me.  Besides, you can always point out that your recent LSAT score and PhD are better indications of your mental ability now than some grades that may be 8 or 9 yrs old.  (I'm curious, what's your field?)

I never thought that I would get in either, but I would have always wondered if I didn't bother to try.  I suppose that's the scientist in me showing through.

I agree that doing a PhD in an attempt to get a better IP job is a little silly.  I would have mastered out long before I would have erenstly thought to write a single word of my thesis.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Ph.D. Deferral?
« on: April 09, 2007, 03:33:23 PM »

I didn't actually decide to go to law school until about 6 months into my postdoc.  I suppose that some think that this is late, and a lot of people wonder why I even moved onto a postdoc.  There were indications I should leave the field in grad school.  Although, I thought that most of my discontentedness in the maining months of grad school were almost entirely about getting the thesis done.  I figured that once that was out of the way and I got to start on some new projects, I'd be fine. 

The postdoc is suppose to be the best couple years in academia, right?  You can essentially be autonomous in lab. You have no responsibility except to do kickin' research.  You don't have to worry about writing grants or teaching.  For about two or three months, things were pretty good.  It didn't last, however.  The discontentedness returned and I had to admit that it had nothing to do with the thesis.

I eventually realized that while I like learning and talking about science, I didn't really like doing science.  So I started to think about how I might be able to still learn and talk about science but make those things a more integral component in my daily activities.  I also realized that the process of the transmission of information was really important to me.  So after considering various options, I starting to think about intellectual property and for a myriad of reasons came to the conclusion that this change was right for me.

Well, so far things seem to be working out.  I'll be attending Berkeley next year.  I was a little surprised when I got the nod -- just below median for both UGPA and LSAT.  I was dinged at all of the other reaches, so I think that they thought more highly of the PhD than the other schools with similar reputations.  I also think that it helped me getting into the Univ. of Washington as an out-of-stater (WA law require 70% of seats to go to residents, in case you didn't know).  Other than that, I got into or waitlisted at the schools that I thought were 50/50 and into the schools that were a bit safer.  And, the PhD sure as heck doesn't help get money.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Ph.D. Deferral?
« on: April 09, 2007, 01:42:50 PM »
As someone who has completed a PhD in chemistry and is going to law school next year I have to say, don't go to grad school.  I'm not saying that because I didn't find my grad work in chemistry rewarding or fulfilling.  In fact, I think that it's helped me a lot in maturing as a person and I wouldn't trade that time for anything.  However, I would more or less agree with BlueWhite.

If you aren't 100% committed to your field of study, do NOT attempt a PhD.  As rewarding as it was, I don't have a single friend from graduate school who wasn't at some point ready to quit because of the frustration.  During graduate school it's common to spend months trying to figure out a problem with an experimental method.  Most of the time you figure it out, but almost everyone has at least a few problems that can't be overcome. 

This was a typical cycle: 1) spend months to develop a new experiment and if it doesn't work start over, 2) collect data over a couple of days, 3) analyze data and if it doesn't make any sense go back to (1) and start over from the beginning, 4) spend a month to write it up, 5) repeat.  The whole point of grad school is to minimize the amount of time you spend in step (1).

The process is neither glamourous nor fun; and no one does it because they think that it'll be a hoot for 5 yrs.

As far as career prospects in law, I doubt that it would either hurt or help your career.  This is especially true because your math background probably wouldn't be directly applicable. 

If you end up going to grad school, I would suggest that you start working on the answer to the question, `So why did you get a PhD in math?'  Everyone is going to ask.  Everyone.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: California Resident by second year?
« on: April 01, 2007, 10:58:01 AM »

The short answer is, yes, you can get residency for the 2nd and 3rd yrs.  However, there are somethings that you need to prepare for.

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