Starting Over in the Middle: What It’s Really Like to Transfer Law Schools

Ask anyone who has gone to law school: the application process is a nightmare. It’s (digital) mountains of paperwork, recommendation letters, editing your personal statement and supplemental essays fifty different times, and coordinating transcripts on LSAC from undergrad and beyond.

And then you submit your applications, get in (hopefully) to a few different schools, contemplate your options, submit your deposit, and dive right in to 1L year. But what about people who transfer? There’s lots of speculation and whispering about whether it’s a good or bad choice, with the potential loss of scholarship money, class rank, job prospects in OCI, and the fear of having to start all over again with new teachers and new classmates.

For me, transferring was always my plan, but I had not anticipated how emotionally arduous it would actually be.

I started my first year at a different law school in a different part of the country—and I loved it. My friends were stellar, my professors were thoughtful and kind, and I was performing pretty well academically. But I was in DC when I wanted to be in Boston, and I was managing a long-distance relationship with my partner, who was also in Boston. I decided I needed a change.

Slogging through the transfer application materials as soon as spring semester finished was its own hot mess. I finally had room to breathe after my last exam ended. I didn’t start my summer internship for a few weeks, and I was planning to go visit my parents in Florida and go to the beach for the first time in a millennia. But there was no time to waste because I had another round of personal statements, supplemental essays, and resumes to draft. This took a real toll on my psyche, as I had already done all of that to get into law school the first time. The frustrating truth is, I think (even more so than first-year law school applications) transfer applications are a real numbers game. That’s not to say that my life experience and work history weren’t relevant, but since schools have an actually relevant law student GPA to reference when reviewing my application, I had nothing to do but submit my applications and hope the numbers worked out in my favor.

Fast forward about a month and a half into my internship with a solo practitioner in downtown Boston, and I was accepted to Boston College Law School. I was elated and so relieved to be coming home. But then it set in. I would be a new student at school, and not just any new kid— the new kid, because I would be joining a group of 2Ls who had already had a whole year to trauma bond with each other over their contracts and constitutional law exams, just as I had with my dearest friends in DC. I submitted my deposit, formally withdrew from my first law school, and booked a U-Haul to move everything I owned from my apartment in DC—an apartment that I had ended up subletting for the summer, ironically enough, to a 1L from Boston doing a summer internship in DC.

I was told that the On-Campus Interview process (OCI) would be an uphill battle because of my transfer status, so I had little time to waste when I arrived. I had been an enrolled student at BC for all of three minutes before diving in. The first time I stepped foot on campus was actually for a meeting to discuss OCI strategy and networking. The first time I came face to face with any of my new classmates was on the day of my first OCI screener. I will be candid in saying that my classmates were threatening in their initial appearances. Everyone was suited up in business professional attire and had their briefcases and padfolios ready to go. There was a true palpable tension in the air as everyone worked to prove they deserved a callback while remaining polite and congenial with everyone around them. Everyone was probably suffering from the same imposter syndrome I had. I was trying my best not to look like I was scared out of my mind as I asked random professors and other 2Ls where certain rooms were or how to get onto the wifi. OCI ended up working out for me, and I am so grateful for the experience. But looking back on it as I write this, it was a truly surreal introduction to the BC Law community.

Fast forward again to the start of classes, and I was among these new peers, some of whom I recognized from the OCI process. They were kind to me and offered to help find my classes or maneuver the scheduling system online. They were smart, quick-witted, and painfully unfamiliar. I hadn’t had the opportunity to form bonds with any of them, which made me nervous to say the least. It kept me in this constant state of checking myself to see how people reacted to something I said, and I kept thinking “do I fit in here?”

I felt homesick and disconnected from people. Being a social person, this was a strange experience. I didn’t know the quirks about specific professors, and I kept getting lost attempting to navigate between the three connected buildings. Now it wasn’t all bad, as I did get to come home every day to my wonderful partner, and I was enjoying the classes I signed up for too. But it just wasn’t home, not yet.

As the semester relentlessly pressed forward, I began to find my footing. I have since joined the board of the Boston College Law Democrats, and I greatly enjoy the camaraderie in working towards a common goal with like-minded colleagues. I have friends with whom I study and share meals and lots of laughs. The BC Law community feels more like mine now, even if still a bit strange at times. I find myself often missing my closest friends from my first law school and probably view my time last year with rose-colored glasses.

Still, despite the inevitable struggles to navigate all the new and different spaces I find myself in, I am happy. I credit my happiness to the people, both professors and students alike, who are teaching me to think and engage in new ways. I no longer feel like a total stranger in my own house, which for now, is more than enough to satisfy this new kid on the block.


Tatiana-Rose Becker is a transfer student and a new Impact blogger. She loves hearing from readers: email her at beckerta@bc.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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