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How to Deal with Law School Admitted Student Days

So I write you this week from about 3,200 miles above the ground, as I sit on a trans-American flight and pound into my keyboard as hard as possible to annoy the girl in front of me who has decided, despite the fact that it is not even seven o’clock, to recline her seat into full sleep mode and co-opt every last ounce of legroom she can. Luckily, I’m vindictive, and figure in the next four hours I can easily scratch out enough blogs that I can finally stop worrying if MSS is going to fire me in the exceedingly near future, and Queen Head Lice Dreadlocks in front of me can feel the wrath from now until JFK. That’s right honey. Enjoy it.

Of course, as much as I’m sure the Pre-Law community would enjoy hearing about my airborne woes for the next thousand words, today I do not bring extended tidings of such issues. (Although, I will say, if I ever do go to work at a firm, you can rest assured that the ability to afford first class seats was one of my primary motivations.) Instead, I hope to share with you some information that may make your future travel plans a little more fruitful, as you jet around the country to check out various admitted student days and other law school events to decide on your home for the next quarter decade or so. Keep these three things in mind, and your experiences should be both enjoyable and help make the final decision a little easier.

Admitted Student’s Day Advice Number One: Do not bring your parents.

Hopefully the majority of you are thinking that I’m out of my mind to even address such a thing, but year in and year out I have at least one student wonder if this is kosher. So I pass along the same information that I have been sharing with them: once upon a time it would have been. Of course, once upon a time you were an 18-year-old, undergrad-seeking, naively optimistic dreamer who believed that you would reach all major life-goals by age 25, that Brad and Jen were the perfect couple, and that you would be able to save yourself for the “perfect” man.

Today, you know as well as I that the only life-goal you’ll reach by age 25 is earning some crappy liberal arts degree, that Angie’s sexy pout knocked out Jen’s SoCal charm in the first round, and unless you count “perfect” as synonymous with “not giving you the HIV”, the saving didn’t go exactly as planned. Long story short, you’ve grown up a lot in the last half-decade. If nothing else, you’ve outgrown your need to bring your parents to your prospective law school, so please leave them at home.

Admitted Student’s Day Advice Number Two: Do not underestimate the importance of decent professors.

So Ginny and I told you true when we ranked financial aid and employment prospects as the two main things you should look at when making your decision about which law school to attend. We weren’t lying; these are still the two most important things. Today, however, I would like to suggest that the third is the quality of your professors.

Now, definitely if you are attending an actual planned admitted student program, but even if you are doing some law school arranged tour, the school will likely have you sit in on a class or at least meet some professors. Clearly, these classes will be taught by some of the best professors at the law school. I mean, these schools are trying to coerce you into handing over the value of a nice sized three-bedroom house, so they are going to round up the best horse and pony show they can. Which means you have to go rogue to learn the real deal.

Honestly, if you are going all the way to the school anyhow, sneak into some classes. Just take a peek into the room, and if you see an open seat in the back, open the door and make yourself at home. I promise that at worst you’ll get a dirty look or two, in which case you should just mouth a “sorry” and take out a notebook. Stay for about ten minutes, and see what you think. Clearly, you will likely have no idea what is going on, but imagine how you would feel about the professor if you did. After a little while, leave and repeat in another room. Again, it is unlikely that anyone is going to notice/care. After you’ve seen five or so non-university sponsored classrooms, you’ll have a much better idea about what level of professor quality the university possesses.

Admitted Student Day Advice Number Three: Check out your future classmates, while they are drunk.

After money, employment and professors, I’m going to go ahead and rank your classmates as the third most important part of your law school decision. But, like the law school sponsored classrooms, don’t trust the students who you meet during the actual law school presentations. They are being bribed to put on a happy face, at the very least by free food, possibly even with a t-shirt or two.

Instead, try to infiltrate an actual social event. Now, if you have a friend at the law school, use them to figure out the where and when. Even if they aren’t planning on going, they’ll have access to the necessary calendars to provide you with the vital info. If you don’t know anyone attending the school, then just ask around. Any given week there is going to be at least one school sponsored happy hour/”bar review” (which is a cutesy name for a school sponsored debauchery outing), so check it out. As long as you don’t make a fool of yourself (Note: advice number four would be to not make a fool out of yourself) no one is going to take a second look at your presence there.

While there, take a good look. When your future classmates get drunk, do they talk about overthrowing the man or owning a Porsche? Do they slam back the Beast, or extra dry martinis? Which group would you rather associate with? Could you picture hanging out with them, dating them, and swearing them to secrecy after they witness your mid-finals, Twinkie and Redbull driven breakdown? Of course, unlike undergrad, these are not the most important considerations when choosing a law school. But, if you are still undecided after taking everything else into account, this is where I’d place my final evaluation.

So there you have it. My advice from the sky, to you and yours as you finalize your admitted student soiree travel plans. Although, if I may leave you with one last piece of advice: fly United. Sure, they pretty much suck as an airline, but they are currently playing the episode of The Office where Jim and Pam get married on all flights. Which almost makes my lack of legroom worth it.