« on: December 09, 2005, 10:06:20 PM »
i'm a 1L PT student at GW this year, transferring to FT next semester. there's some comments i want to make about the situation, and i can try and offer some advice, or answer any questions people have.
you can transfer after the first semester no matter what. the school told us at orientation that the bulletin says they "reserve the right" to forbid someone from transferring from one to the other, but they have not yet ever actually done so. additionally, seeing as how grades don't come out until part way through the 2nd semester, even if you were to fail a class (which is almost impossible, and if so, you should probably seriously reconsider the whole law school thing), you'd be in full time before they could do anything about it.
what i wasn't made aware of until orientation, is that while you do gain full time status your second semester, unfotunately you still have to take classes with the part timers. that means spring semester 1L you're taking all your classes with the evening students, with an additional class during the day to make you "full time". that leaves 2 classes of the required "core" to take. a lot of people take one of them over the summer (and do an unpaid internship in the area) and then the other one in the following fall. others do an externship for credits, or study abroad, and then take both of the classes the following fall. either way, because of GW's residence requirement, in order to graduate within 3 years you have to take some kind of credits over the summer (which you probably should anyways).
this is really a popular option. of the 120 or so people in the PT division, i think about 50, maybe even around 60. many came in with the plan to transfer, while others have quit their jobs since and plan to go FT. really, being able to start FT in spring semester is a great option, and not a bad way to ease yourself in to law school.
there is probably a legitimate worry about going this route not being as prestigious as getting in FT. unfortunately, like it or not, there are probably some employers who are going to actually care about this, despite the school's strict policy of telling us that having started PT won't matter at all, that no one cares, and that no firm has the time or energy to see why you didn't take property your first semester. i think it's bull. however, i think in the end the difference is more subtle, and probably doesn't end up affecting most people. if you want a market-rate job, GW is a place where you really have to finish in the top 1/2. having gone PT is not going to give someone who ranks in the bottom third of the class more options than you if you rank in the top third, or any such nonsense like that. when you're in the school, employers are going to care about where you finished overall. the only time i can imagine it would matter is if they were choosing between you and someone with the same grades who happened to start FT. even then though, from all the 3L's i've talked to who switched themselves, this really doesn't seem to be the case.
i see no reason to go to a lower ranked school unless it's somewhere around the top 25. again, there might be some stigma involved with going PT to FT. however, in the end, you're still at a school where the top third (perhaps even 40-50%, some tell me) can get market-rate firm jobs. i would see no reason to go a lower tier one that doesn't offer the same opportunities. i had a 3.5/161, only sent out a few apps, and got waitlisted at wisconsin and indiana-bloomington. i don't know if i did something wrong (i'll never know, really), but that left my choices between GW PT and Loyola Chicago FT, so the choice seemed clear. i guess the only person who i would say choosing to go to GW PT might be a tough choice is for someone who gets in to somewhere like BC or fordham FT. in that case i would say go there. i have one friend at GW who got in to boston u FT, and for some reason went to GW PT...that makes no sense.
you also have to realize that there are some other potential problems with starting out PT. one major problem is that you don't really get to meet the FT 1L's. you'll have no problem meeting other PT'ers who are transferring, so it hasn't been an issue for me. however, it is a little weird to walk around the school during social events and not really know anyone. i met some FT 1L's at the beginning of the year, but haven't talked to most of them since. it just seems to work out that way unless you happen to know some people in the FT division from before school starts. another problem is student activities- a lot of them meet around 5 or 6, right when evening classes start, so you can't get involved in much your first year (you can probably pay to join, but that's about it).
and if you are considering this option, be warned- do not fool yourself in to thinking that it's a secret way of starting law school in which you can do absolutely fabulous becuase you have all day to study 2 subjects. everyone thinks this is how it's going to be and it never is. even when people are told it won't work out that way, they always think it's going to be different for them. but there's a very good chance it won't. i don't know what it is, but i think it's that there's really only so much you can do when it comes to studying. reading the assigned reading over and over all day is not going to help you understand the material any better, and when the semester comes to an end you'll be in basically the same spot as the PT'ers who work during the day. the only way i see around this is to get a study group together within the first couple weeks of school, get together a few hours at the end of every week (unlike FT 1Ls, you have no class on friday), and just discuss everything you learned during the week.
lastly, having nothing to do until 6 is a schedule that is pretty hard to get used to. i think it has really gotten to a lot of my fellow students. take this in to serious consideration if you choose this option.
wow. i didn't plan to write so much, but that's what i wanted to let everyone know about the matter. any questions, don't hesitate to ask.