Congratulations on making it through! Acceptance letters have started rolling in! The feeling of being accepted must have put you on cloud 9! It is OK to cherish ‘your’ moment for a while. But after that you need to give a serious thought about making the final decision. It might be one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life. Getting wobbly feeling already? Don’t fret! Here are a few factors you need to mull over before you make the ‘right’ choice.
1. Location of the Law College:
Location carries a great significance when it comes to selecting the ‘right’ college for you. Let’s be realistic, the city you live in will have a tremendous impact on both your personal life and professional career. You need to consider –
• Career options after graduation
•Potential law firms
For example, if you are planning to shift to Chicago to attend a law college, you get a much larger alumni network at your disposal and dozens of connections after graduation. Apart from professional perspective, you also need to think about –
• Weather of the city
• Distance from your family
• Sports in the city
• Nightlife in the town
On the other hand, if you enjoy the countryside and college football, choosing Ivy league colleges in a big city can be a terrible choice for you.
Most of the law students appear in the bar exam in the state where they attend college. Hence, they work in the same state in which they are licensed. There are very few who are licensed in more than one city. In addition to the limitations, almost all law firms, government agencies, companies recruit within the region. They do not hire employees outside the region unless you are from Harvard, Yale or any other Ivy League institutions. So choosing the location where you want to spend next few years is very important.
2. Cost of Studying:
Getting to a law college only ends up being as one of the biggest expense a student has to bear. This apart, students still have to make provisions for textbooks, rent, food, entertainment, travel and other costs, which make more or less $9,580, according to the cost of living in any American big city. In order to get away from such spending, students prefer to avail loan from either government or private agencies. Student loan money is easy to come by for a law student. But after graduation, these loans become a real financial problem for students. So think twice or thrice before getting a student loan. Just because the college name has a high price tag, it does not mean it is a wise choice for you. So you need to take a few things into consideration –
• Tuitions fees for in-state students and expats
• Scholarships, grants or any other type of financial aid provided by the educational institution
• Hidden charges beyond the standard tuition
• Cost of living (if you choose to stay in a big city)
Most of the law colleges in USA charge between $40,000 and $50,000 per year. But these colleges offer cheap in-state tuitions and charge heavily from international students.
3. Services Provided by the Law College:
Almost all law colleges boast a separate career services office for its students. Due to the increased significance of the hands-on experience in learning, each law college is seriously considering about offering academic research and professional opportunities to students outside the classroom. In order to assess how diligent a law college is in providing opportunities to students, you need to check –
• Does career services staff provide personal assistance to help students find a job in their area of interest?
• What is the job placement rate of the college?
• What is the ratio of law firms and public sectors and non-profit sector in career services?
• Does the college have clinics for the offer?
• Does the college share any externship with firms, companies or judges?
• Does the library of the college boast journals and other sources?
4. Courses Offered by the College:
Hope, you have already decided what type of law you want to practice. Because you need to choose a law college that specializes in the same sub-field on which you want to pursue a career. For an example, if want to flourish in the domain of criminal law, you should go for Ivy League colleges such as Stanford, Yale, Harvard or Georgetown University of Law Center, William and Mary Law College, Boston College Law College, etc. It is OK if you choose a college, which is slightly lower in the overall world ranking. It is your diligence and hard work that will impress your future employers not the rank of the university. Before you make the decision, you need to make sure –
• The college offers the same course that you have been looking for
• You compare the coursework (of first, second and third year) offered by different law colleges.
5. On-campus Experience for Students:
You cannot learn much about a law college from a glossy brochure and flashy website. You need to be physically present in the place where you plan to spend the years to come. So rather than getting a virtual tour through its official website, look around the college because campus experience still matters. While visiting the college, you need to discover –
• Culture and community
• Environment of the campus (is it competitive)
• Social life on the weekends
• Extracurricular activities
• Students’ organizations (attend one of two meetings in order to get more information).
6. Campus Infrastructure and Classroom Facilities:
Law colleges aim to offer great technology enabled physical space for learning. For an example, Lincoln hall is perhaps the single most amazing classroom space in a law college in USA. While assessing the options at hands, you need to confirm whether the law college meets the demands of a modern law college.
• Is the building new or old?
• Are classrooms equipped with modern amenities?
• Is classroom space fully functional?
• Do you feel comfortable in it?
• Do you access to gym, pool and other recreational activities?
Is there any public or any university transportation facility available? (in case you are living off the campus).
7. Passage Rate of the State bar Exam:
You definitely want to excel when appearing for the state bar exam. So it is wise to choose a law college that has a high state bar exam passage rates. Picking a college with high state bar exam passage rate not only boosts your confidence, but also keeps you one step ahead of other students, taking the same test. While reviewing law colleges, you need to check –
• What is the state bar exam rate of the college?
• What is the bar passage rate while compared with the overall passage rate for that state?
• How potential college’s test-takers stack up against students from other colleges?
Now, everything has come down to you,
As you can see, every college has a unique culture, environment, courses and services to offer incoming law students. Each college has its own cons and pros to consider. But after scrutinizing each option on technical parameters such as cost of the law college, location, career services and curriculum, you need to reflect on your personal feeling about the college because everything cannot be decided by seeing magazines, internet posters, glossy brochures or online articles. Students need to visit the campus in order to talk to the professors, existing students and admin staff.
We hope now choosing the best law college will be a lot easier for you!
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