Pros/Cons of Part-time enrollment versus Full-time

profile427profile427 Alum Member
edited July 2015 in General 213 karma
Hi All,

While I'm trying to get pumped (in the mood?) for the October LSAT, I keep ruminating about part-time versus full-time enrollment. I'd love to hear your thoughts regarding the difference and any feedback regarding my thought process:


Full-time Pros
*Full immersion in the classroom & ancillary activities
*Perhaps better scholarships
*Perhaps better connections & experiences
*Perhaps better job prospects
*Perhaps a faster track to the JD (e.g. NU has an accelerated JD)


Full-time Cons
*Little-to-no income (therefore, much reliance on my partner, assuming that he still likes me by then)
*Less time for personal/work/study balance
*Sticker price (aka potential for massive student debt)
*Blow to confidence if I attempt admission with a lower LSAT score (think under 170), even with solid uGPA


Part-time Pros
*Balance life/work/study potentially better
*Continue to work on-call/contractor to help with tuition (to provide an idea, I make roughly $50/hr on-call and $85-100/home visit as a healthcare provider)
*Perhaps feel less rushed in school
*Perhaps easier chance of enrollment with lower LSAT score (think: under 170, including solid uGPA)
*Perhaps easier to make & feed/water a baby, if that's what we want to do (I'm 32 next year. Dude will be 35)


Part-time Cons
*Perhaps less/no scholarships
*Perhaps poor-to-no job prospects
*Perhaps poor connections & experiences
*Perhaps less recognition/respect
*4ish years to get to the JD

Side note on why I'm even considering part-time app/enrollment:

I spent nearly $100k (including scholarships/loans) on my master's from NU in allied health. My bachelor's cost me much less, as I earned an associate's first and then took advantage of transfer scholarships. Mommy & Daddy didn't pay for college, unless you count my birthday & Xmas cash as student loan payback.

Although I currently make six figs, one of the reasons why I'm pursuing law school is that I've concluded that I no longer find my career path fulfilling, for multiple reasons. I've attempted a few times making changes to my path, but I always come to the same conclusion...I'm bored, incredibly unhappy, and miss using my brain in ways that I feel that the legal field will fulfill.

If I can continue to work as a clinician while going to law school part-time, I feel that I may have more stability in reducing income stress & tuition payments, rather than going into more massive debt. However, my biggest fear is that enrolling part-time will absolutely crush career prospects.


These are just my initial thoughts that keep swimming around in my head (tormenting me as I twist my mind around LR). Thoughts, ruminations, and arguments welcome.

Thanks!

Comments

  • Dr. YamataDr. Yamata Legacy Member Inactive ⭐
    578 karma
    I just don't find full-time to be viable.. I'm 30 with a job/mortgage and Mommy doesn't pay my way, either. I just don't see being around 30k in the red (the cost of law school per year roughly) and another 30-40k in the red due to the income I make now turning into zero. Yeah, I could work part-time I suppose but.. that won't be a lot better. Also, I depend on my job for health insurance. If you factor that in, it'd be like another 200 per month. Adding it all up, it just doesn't make any sense. Part time will let me make my income, and yeah, I will probably go into a little debt to go to law school, but I will be able to offset it a lot easier than the hit full-time would impose on me.

    So for me, it's a process of elimination question ;-)
  • profile427profile427 Alum Member
    213 karma
    Thanks, @"Dr. Yamata" ! Besides location, I'm curious to learn more about how you're going to go about with your process of elimination? Have you heard much about scholarships/funding for part-time students?

    Also, I read somewhere that the ABA doesn't want L1 students to work more than 20 hours per week. However, I'm guessing that the 20 hours restriction is meant for full-time students...?
  • Dr. YamataDr. Yamata Legacy Member Inactive ⭐
    578 karma
    Yeah, from what I understand, that restriction is for full time students. UH and UT anyway (admittedly a small sample, but those are the only schools I'm looking at) restrict full timers to 20 hrs per week. UT doesn't have part time, but UH does, and it imposes no restrictions on part timers. It's only 3 classes per semester for part-time.. which is a pretty light courseload IMO.

    RE: Scholarships, ehhhh probably not as much. On UH's ABA disclosure, it shows part time students got a whopping 0 in funding. The tuition itself is lower though, at approximately 20k whereas full-time tuition is 29k. I do not believe that this includes private scholarship amounts, which could be used to offset tuition. But the way I see it, as long as I can work 40 hrs a week and make a regular income, I should be able to cushion the blow a lot more than if I had gone full-time.
  • jdawg113jdawg113 Alum Inactive ⭐
    2654 karma
    @profile427 said:
    *Sticker price (aka potential for massive student debt)
    this confuses me? no matter what you choose there is potential for massive debt, but you shouldn't be taking sticker... for really any school (well except maybe H/Y)

    as far as choosing, everyone is different and in different situations. The way I see it is as an investment. You can limit/halt income for 3 years (minus summers) and be able to totally focus on your grades and doing the absolute best you can putting you in the best position to make the most you can OR you can take it lighter on the schooling, keep working, have those distractions that might take focus away from key classes and such. I don't think I have ever heard a student or past student recommend working 1L... there is generally a reason for stuff like that. While I have no idea how that relates to PT Im sure there will be some sort of downside.
    Clearly Im on the side of FT & no work but again, different situations. it is a tough decision but it is a potentially life directing one
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    For what it's worth, I would put the work/life/school balance as a con to part time. By spreading yourself thinner across more obligations you will likely do worse at each of them, or else something gets much worse in order to keep the others afloat. Personally I will be raising my two sons by myself throughout all of law school (my wife is also in the army) and honestly I can't wait to just be in school and take care of them. Working full time in the Army, finishing my graduate degree, studying for the LSAT and fulfilling family obligations is a lot to manage. I was actually pursuing a project management certification as well but it was super boring and just too much of a time commitment so I cut that out. But I'm totally ready to treat law school as a full time job and then come home to raise my kids. I'm definitely lucky because law school is paid for by my GI Bill and my wife will be working, but we will have to be apart the whole time so that's definitely a drawback. But I just couldn't imagine going part time and not being fully immersed in school and everything and also having other obligations distracting me from that goal. I can definitely appreciate what a tough decision it can be though.
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @Pacifico said:
    For what it's worth, I would put the work/life/school balance as a con to part time. By spreading yourself thinner across more obligations you will likely do worse at each of them, or else something gets much worse in order to keep the others afloat.
    Agree very much on this.

    For a career in which your first job[s] are often so tied to your grades, I see spreading myself too thin as being unacceptable risk. If that means more debt for 3 years, then so be it. What a pity it would be to swap $20k/year (the amount I'd likely finance just for cost of living) for a lower GPA.

    FWIW, I regret working during undergrad. Why did I need to add *anything* to that already heaping plate ???
  • GSU HopefulGSU Hopeful Monthly
    1644 karma
    Would it be a safe assumption that attending part time would make it extremely difficult to land a big law job since a lot of those offers come from summer programs? With the part time program that I am looking at, I would be going every summer to keep it from stretching into 5 years. Its just doesn't seem worth it to me to sacrifice so many opportunities to avoid a year or two of hardship.
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    Without any real data in front of me, I would guess that would be true because you lose out on so many networking opportunities as well as internships. I also can't help but think there would be a stigma in a lot of big law offices against part time law schools.
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @"GSU Hopeful" said:
    Would it be a safe assumption that attending part time would make it extremely difficult to land a big law job since a lot of those offers come from summer programs?
    Yes, sacrificing summers is ultimately why I know PT isn't viable for me—at least not one with summer courses. I can see myself seriously regretting doing that once graduation comes around and the jobs have gone to people who put in the summer work. Actually it would be like a horrible flashback to undergrad when I realized nearing graduation that all of the intellectually gratifying stuff I'd done over the summers (while others had taken those "lame" or "sell-out" internships) had literally done me zero good in the whole getting-a-job department. Oops.

    Won't do that again!
  • profile427profile427 Alum Member
    213 karma
    Thanks for the responses!

    Ugh, in the past week, I experienced a brief few hours of determination that part-time would be the better (more responsible?) option, but then you guys have some really good arguments about the potential negative consequences of spreading too thinly (if only work/personal/school could = 300% in equal efforts!).

    I'm thinking now that it might be better for me to try to shut off that debate in my brain until I get my Oct score back...oh, decisions.
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @profile427 said:
    I'm thinking now that it might be better for me to try to shut off that debate in my brain until I get my Oct score back...oh, decisions.
    Yes! Word to this. And you might consider getting a free consultation with an admissions consultant.
  • PetrichorPetrichor Alum Member
    359 karma
    I think the biggest hurdle is getting into a high-ranking school with a part-time program. GT is the only T14 school with a PT program, but it also accepts less than 5% of PT applicants. Next up you have GWU (T20?), I have a friend that attends their FT program on full scholarship (turned down UVA and GT) and seems to be doing great and loves the program, I am also looking at the program but it means that I will have to stay in DC for 4 years and hopefully make enough to make a living and not rely completely on loans (100k at least), and the competition for jobs is pretty rough there. With June test takers increasing by nearly 7% I think you got your work cut out for you, best of luck though!
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    edited July 2015 8021 karma
    There are separate rankings of part time programs so it's not entirely apples to apples since GU is at the bottom of the T14 but it the top PT program. And after GWU it gets a bit crazy in terms of correlation between PT and FT rankings as you can see here: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/part-time-law-rankings
  • PetrichorPetrichor Alum Member
    359 karma
    @Pacifico i understand its not a direction comparison but seeing how PT numbers factor in FT ranking its in the applicant's best interest not to be too far off from the FT numbers. I am not sure how firms/institutions gauge PT programs but if they are assuming PT quality=FT quality its probably better to get into the best program possible, and therefore you'd need around FT numbers for the programs you are interested in.
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    I think given that only about a half dozen of the top PT programs are schools that appear in even the top 50 FT programs it really doesn't matter much where you go after the top 3 PT programs (Fordham has some decent employment numbers in NY). So it definitely matters what you're shooting for as I would guess you likely would have less than a 1% chance for big law on average if you went PT. I think clerking would also be pretty difficult to get from PT, even at GU, but a lot of my thinking is related to the fact I think there's still likely a bias against PT among more elite employers both private and public.
  • profile427profile427 Alum Member
    213 karma
    Pray tell, @nicole.hopkins, how does one go about signing up for a free admissions consultation? I'm so behind the times...
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    @profile427 Call literally any admissions consultant and tell them your story and they will likely give you a free consultation so that you can decide if they can help you and if it's worth the cost. I would hurry up if you're going to do it because most consultants fill up before apps open up. If you can't get a hold of someone on the phone (very possible since many of them are wicked busy now) then just shoot them an email that you want to talk on the phone to inquire about services and then y'all can set up a time.
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @Pacifico said:
    I would hurry up if you're going to do it because most consultants fill up before apps open up.
    Yeah ... big emphasis on this. If you want to talk to anyone, please do it now. It would be such a shame to decide you need a consultant at the end of August, given that plenty of them seem to fill up around the end of June.
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