October of 2019, just one year ago, feels like a different world.
I had just received my LSAT score as I was sitting at a car service shop with my laptop, waiting for an oil change and completing my first law school applications. I remember the poorly formatted sinkhole that is the LSAC website, and obsessing over every comma and margin—imagining some doomsday scenario in which a tweedy and officious admissions officer made a decision based on some typo I had neglected or word I had misused.
I figured that after a few months of apprehensively refreshing my Outlook junk folder (where all my law school emails automatically went for reasons I’ve never been able to determine) I would start receiving admissions decisions. I imagined flying from place to place, attending admitted students’ weekends and trying to figure out what the next chapter looked like for me. I also imagined where I would be a year later, attending class and getting to know new people.
Waiting for those decisions proved difficult. I spent my downtime watching movies. This helped me take my mind off of the admissions message boards that I scrolled through each day, examining the auguries’ of my peers’ decision results to try and predict how I might fare.
In an old World War II movie I watched, there was a scene in which a pilot regaled his buddies about the travails of “flying blind” through dense cloud cover and fog across the English Channel. The phrase stuck with me. It perfectly described where I was at, and what little I knew about what was on the horizon.
One of the things I was most looking forward to as a 2L was being able to select my own classes. Unlike my undergraduate experience where it felt like the list of required courses was never-ending and took up most of my schedule, BC Law gives students a ton of flexibility when it comes to deciding their courses of study.
My strategy to picking classes falls into three categories: classes that will prepare me for the bar, classes that I think will be helpful in practice, and classes that I simply find interesting. Last semester I tended to focus on bar classes (including Evidence and Corporations), but my spring course load is filled with classes that I thought sounded interesting.
Below I provide a brief overview of my spring semester, including why I chose to take the classes I did:
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.
Applying to law school is no easy task. You have to gather a number of recommendation letters, study for the LSAT while you are either in school or working, and craft the perfect narrative for your personal statement. In short, you need to figure out how to paint the best picture of yourself for an unknown admissions team.
The Impact blog previously did a series on tips for making your law school application stronger (see below links), but we thought it would be even more helpful to get the inside scoop on the BC admissions process from Assistant Dean Shawn McShay. Dean McShay has been overseeing admissions at BC for over four years, but has nearly twenty years of experience in law school admissions.
Here are Dean McShay’s responses to questions he receives from prospective students time and time again:
Just days into my law school experience, I was beginning to crack under the pressure of my classmates’ impressive achievements. I had met lots of amazing people I would be spending the next three years with, and I already felt as if I was behind schedule.
Their lives seemed filled with work experiences in fabulous cities, fancy internships with important people and exquisite accomplishments at the country’s top schools. These experiences were just part of their lives, or at least so it seemed. I could not help but wonder—what was I doing here?
1-Take Advice with a Grain of Salt
First-year law students love looking for advice and seasoned law students love giving it. It reminds us that we are no longer the new kids on the block and it makes us feel better about our overzealous course loads, far too many extracurriculars, and that interview we did two weeks ago that we’re still obsessing over. You want some advice, we’ve got it! The catch; that advice may not always be right for you.
Now, before you decide to purchase a garlic necklace to repel your friendly 2L and 3L mentors, hear me out. I am not saying the advice you get will be bad. We’ve all gone through 1L, most of us have passed all of our subjects, a few select unicorns have gotten A’s on those subjects, and most of us really do know what we’re doing. You should hear us out and try some of the study tips we give you–just make sure not to double down on them if they aren’t working. When a 2L approaches you and says, “this is the best way to study,” what they are really saying is “this is how I studied, and I did well, so it must be the best way.” Insert biggest eye roll here!
The application process is quickly coming to a close—you’ve already taken the LSAT, visited some schools, and put your first seat deposit down (woooo!). You’ve made a huge decision in choosing the right school for you, but now you face another challenge of navigating this new arena.
Questions popped up for me like, “What do I need to do before classes start?” and “Where is the best place to live?” and “Do I need a car to get around?” It is undeniably an overwhelming process, but BC Law is here to help!
A couple of years ago, the Law Student Association partnered with BC Law’s Admissions Office to produce the Admitted Students Guidebook, which is meant to help answer all the questions you may have about BC Law.
We’ve just updated the guidebook for the Class of 2021! So without further ado, here it is: Volume 3 of the Admitted Students Guidebook
Though I knew I wanted to go to law school since I was relatively young, by the time I graduated college I had let my doubts get to me. I became anxious about the competitiveness, the time commitment, and the amount of debt law school would bring, and convinced myself that I couldn’t handle it. Even after getting into my top choice school, I considered trying out a different career path instead. Thankfully my parents convinced me to give it a shot. They tirelessly encouraged me that I could handle the challenge, that I was meant to do this, and that I shouldn’t give up on my dream. They knew that I would thrive here and they never let me forget it. I just want to take this chance to thank them, because I’m so incredibly glad I made the decision to attend.
Above photo is the BC Veteran’s Memorial “dedicated to the memory of Boston College alumni who died in service to their country.”
Two days into a trip from Boston to the Panama Canal, my Coast Guard cutter tucked into a harbor off Long Island to anchor while we waited out a winter storm. Like most of the crew, I took advantage of what might be my last hours of American cell phone service for three months to text family members and obsessively refresh my email. I stood on the flight deck and felt a momentary reprieve from the wind and snow whipping my face as I read the subject line, “Congratulations from BC Law.”
My first reaction was an embarrassing combination of shock and fist pumps directed in no particular direction. My second reaction was a sobering, “Now what?” After ten years in the military I’d grown accustomed to having a checklist and pre-planned response card for everything I did, now I was temporarily severing my connection to the outside world without any idea how I’d prepare or pay for law school. I didn’t know what kind of help to ask for, much less who to ask for it.
I have been grappling with the sometimes-tenuous relationship between my expectations and reality since I was a six-year-old girl, kissing my perfectly healthy mother goodbye before school. When I got off the school bus that afternoon, I expected my mother to be waiting for me at the bus stop, a snack to be on the table, and my father to be at work. Instead, it was my father waiting for me, no snack, and the news that my mother had taken a nap that morning and had never woken up.
Several years after my mother’s death, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, but I think emptiness is a much more complete way to describe what was happening inside my head. When people think of depression they think of sadness and tears, but depression is more like a parasite that sucks away all human emotions; happiness, anger, even sadness cannot exist as long as depression is present. Being depressed is like being locked behind a one-way mirror; isolated, invisible to your loved ones, and forced to watch them live their happy lives without you.