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Author Topic: Taking a break number 2  (Read 601 times)

Allicat062609

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Taking a break number 2
« on: March 01, 2010, 09:56:45 PM »
Hello,

I realize someone else has posted a question like this, but I want some additional advice anyway.

I am currently in my second semester of a Tier 2 law school.  I have a BA from a liberal arts college (major in International Studies) and I took a year off to work for a law firm between undergraduate and law school.  I am happy with my school (though I have considered trying to transfer to my number one choice - I did not get in the first time around, but we'll see).  Again, I would be happy staying at my school and transferring is not my question. 

I did fairly well last semester - I could have done better, as one of my professors put it "you should be happy, but not thrilled" and I believe I can do better this semester.  None of my professors had anything bad to say, just some tweaking that will bump my grades up.  I mention all of this because I want to make it clear that law is what I want to do, eventually, and that I am in good standing to stay where I am.

My issue is with my previous degree.  Honestly, I picked the wrong school and the wrong major.  I went to a good school and got a great education, don't get me wrong, but now that I'm older I realize that I probably would have been better elsewhere.  Same goes with my major.  I chose international studies because I thought it was what I wanted to do.  I love cultures, languages, human rights, travel, etc.  However, after four years of it I've realized it is not what I want to do.  I should have majored in psychology.  I took AP psychology in high school and loved it. 

Many on here may be wonder, "okay so what's the big deal?  Many people would do it differently if they went back, who cares now that you're in law school and that's where you want to be?"  The problem is that I would really love to combine psychology and law to work more in a law enforcement/investigation kind of career.  I feel like I realized that too late.

I am wondering if it would be worthwhile for me to take time off after my first year is finished to get a certificate in psychology so that I can then get a masters in forensic psychology - all before possibly returning to law school?  I realize this may sound ridiculous and I agree, but I still want to ask.  I've checked into certificate programs and they take roughly 16-18 months.  Would it be better for me to just continue on the track I'm on, get my law degree, and then see if I still want to go the psychology path (I mean, who is to say I can't just take some psychology courses after law school, right?). 

I just want some opinions and advice.  I honestly have no one with any real knowledge of these kind of things that I can talk to about this.  Maybe I'm just feeling this way because it's my first year and many of us are wondering "did I make the right decision?"  Who knows.  Just want some advice.  Thanks.

Thane Messinger

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Re: Taking a break number 2
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2010, 10:10:56 PM »
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I am wondering if it would be worthwhile for me to take time off after my first year is finished to get a certificate in psychology so that I can then get a masters in forensic psychology - all before possibly returning to law school?  I realize this may sound ridiculous and I agree, but I still want to ask.  I've checked into certificate programs and they take roughly 16-18 months.  Would it be better for me to just continue on the track I'm on, get my law degree, and then see if I still want to go the psychology path (I mean, who is to say I can't just take some psychology courses after law school, right?).  

I just want some opinions and advice.  I honestly have no one with any real knowledge of these kind of things that I can talk to about this.  Maybe I'm just feeling this way because it's my first year and many of us are wondering "did I make the right decision?"  Who knows.  Just want some advice.  Thanks.


Allicat -

Not a bad question at all, and the fact that you're asking it is a good sign.

Rather than offer advice, I'd pose a few additional questions:  

What is the benefit to a certificate program rather than a graduate (Master's or PhD program)?  Would these be graduate courses that could later count toward a degree?

Have you spoken with the chair or professors at your school's graduate pyschology program?  (Assuming you would be comfortable with degrees from that school.)  If so, would they be open to a provisional admittance (for study next fall), pending the GRE (assuming you'd not taken that)?  With a careful approach, both the law dean and psychology chair might be quite amenable to special consideration, if, for example, you explain your unique interests and plan.  Even if not, they might be open to a provisional admission pending the summer GRE.  Too, this might tie in to other programs in psychology that are perhaps an even better fit for you.

You worked in a firm, which obviously gave you a sense of the law practice world.  Do you see yourself in a criminal defense or other field, particularly one likely to place you in a government agency?  Have you checked out any that might offer a year-long position, or internship, in the area you are interested in?  With the above point (requests to the dean and chair), the more you have by way of concrete experience and evidenced desire, the more they will be inclined to move mountains for you.

[Among other things, the above can be quite helpful in your transfer application, should you decide to go that route.  Also, if you are interested in an academic career or one in government, a JD/PhD program might be a good option, particularly if a government will pick up part of the tab.  By the way, if you are interested in transferring, you might check out The Art of the Law School Transfer for advice in that world.  The qualifier in your case is that the soft factors you mention might be a boost in your transfer application, outweighing--slightly--less-than-stellar numbers.  Grades are quite important in a transfer application, and among the few soft (i.e., non-grade) factors that can conceivably make the difference in an application are the ones you state.]

Please don't fret about choosing the "wrong" program.  Now is the time when this can be fixed.  = :  )

Thane.



Allicat062609

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Re: Taking a break number 2
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2010, 10:49:50 PM »
Wow, great response.  First, yes I have looked into the "Art of the Law School Transfer" - I'm still kind of in the air, though, of whether I really want to transfer as would be happy staying in the school I am in.  But I will certainly look into it further as the end of the year approaches.

My school does have PhD programs in both Organizational Psychology and Clinical Psychology, so I very well could look into going into one of those (most likely clinical).  I tried to see of my school offered any post-baccalaureate classes in psychology and they do not seem to offer such opportunities. 

The benefit of the certificate program is that it fulfills the prerequisites that I would need in order to get into an MA or PhD program in psychology.  There do not appear to be that many forensic psychology programs around and some of them do not require any background in psychology as long as you can pass the psychology GRE subject test (which I feel would be difficult without any courses in psychology under my belt).  Other programs require at least 12 credits of essentially psychology 101.  So my thought was do a certificate program - which only requires that you have a bachelor's degree from an accredited 4-year institution - which would enable me to get into an MA or PhD program. 

As far as law practice goes, I've been strongly considering criminal prosecution or a governmental organization.  I would even love to get into something like profiling or legal advising for law enforcement departments (I've applied for an internship as a legal advisor at a police department - generally people who do that plan to get into enforcement/investigation).  I don't think I would go into be a police officer or anything, hence the law degree - I prefer this side of it all.  I'm also no scientist, so careers such as crime scene analysis (as awesome as that sounds) are really not for me. 

I'm still working on finding and taking opportunities to really show that this is what I want to do (instead of just saying "hey I want to do this, make it happen").  I will see about talking to my school's psychology department - great suggestion.  My undergraduate is only undergraduate with no graduate programs or I would have sought advice from them first.  I know my current law school only has a joint JD/MBA program, but I could see about combining psychology and law.

My other concern would be the cost of all of this - but that concern will come much later in the process.

Again thank you for your insights!  I greatly appreciate it!

jasontaylor9944

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Re: Taking a break number 2
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2010, 02:41:04 AM »
Psych was my undergrad, and it was a joke.  I was actually in the same boat you were when I started undergrad.  I wanted to combine psych and the law being as those were the only two things I had an interest in.  Psych allowed me to work a pretty much full time job as a Medical Asssistant (32 hrs), take more than 15 units, and drink heavily 4 nights a week.  I got over psych really quick because it was always a class full of guys with testicles removed, hippies, and women complaining about their problems/telling you how much their lives sucked.  Don't forget the old biatch who was too fat to fit in her desk who always complained about her fibromyalgia and made us stay 15 minutes after class ended to tell us stories about her mother that no one cares about.  The worst was the teachers who thought telling someone that they were wrong would hurt their psyche.  I got my professors to change grades by telling them crap like it would "damage my educational progress to get this type of grade, I'm really trying."  Do you want to go to the Zen center and stare at the wall with Buddhist monks for 2 hours trying to find yourself?  Psychology is great and I actually love it, the problem is that the idiots have taken over the curriculum in the name of tolerance/diversity/idiocy.  One of my classes we watched episodes of star trek every week and had to write a one page psychological analysis that he admitted he never read.  As long as you turned in something you got an A.  The final was a 20 point quiz that he gave us the answers in advance to memorize. 

Ultimately it's your choice man, but I'd say not worth it considering you are doing well and are in the law school frame of mind. 

Best to you bro

Thane Messinger

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Re: Taking a break number 2
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2010, 03:45:03 PM »

Wow, great response.  First, yes I have looked into the "Art of the Law School Transfer" - I'm still kind of in the air, though, of whether I really want to transfer as would be happy staying in the school I am in.  But I will certainly look into it further as the end of the year approaches.

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Allicat -

A number of thoughts, in no particular order:

Not having a significant background in one of the subjects you're interested in does pose an additional challenge, in that it will be harder for administrators to bend rules for a genuine interest, as that interest will be a bit more amorphous.  It might, however, be possible to eat your cake and have it, too.  Most law schools will allow up to six graduate credits outside the law school, as long as the connection is reasonably defensible.  You might check your law school's policy, and take at least one course each semester next year.  That would accomplish several things, and would keep you on track in terms of graduation.

In addition, if you focus in governmental positions that would coincide with a further education in psychology, chances are good that you could attend such a program later, at your employer's cost.  (*That* is a benefit.)

As to cost, it really is good to consider these costs up front, as they are significant.  They don't seem quite real now, but they become all too real upon graduation--and are one of the major reasons for discontent in one's chosen career.  Without scholarships or income from, say, a part-time law office, it's possible to encumber yourself under a mountain of debt.

As to transferring, just FYI, that's a process that's actually well underway now.  If it's at all a thought, don't delay.

And, as to Jayson's points, having a few decades in academia I'll abstain from too much editorializing . . . except to write that many programs, including law, have been so affected.  This might well be an issue that the current generation is left to clean up.  Sorry about that.  (It is fun to go to the Zen center and stare at the wall with Buddhist monks for 2 hours trying to find yourself, however.  = :  )