Well, you already know what’s coming, it depends. Transferring to a new law school can definitely have its perks. It could mean access to a broader network, which could then mean access to better jobs, better pay and less student loan debt. I mean isn’t that what we all want? However, as tempting as these perks may seem, you should definitely consider the downside to this big decision. Transferring could pose risks such as: paying a higher tuition cost, re-taking 1L courses or missing out on law school extracurriculars such as: law review, moot court or mock trial. Therefore, if you really hate your law school, consider the below factors before transferring.
1. Assess Why You Really Hate your Law School
Before pursuing the transfer process, take a moment to assess why you really hate your law school. Write these reasons down and reflect on whether transferring can truly take these issues away. If you’re a 1L, there are a million reasons why you may feel that your law school isn’t a perfect fit. Everything from the students to the professors to the overall environment can be extremely overwhelming. However, these issues may stem from your transition into a brand new environment versus the law school just being a bad choice. Therefore, if you make the rash decision to transfer before you’ve really gotten a chance to give your current school a solid shot, you may run into the same issues as a new student at your new school and possibly feel the angst of transferring again. Transferring is a major feat, and it will be a waste of time and resources to relocate and face the same issues.
As you write down the reasons why you hate your school, also write down whether you can personally make an adjustment to improve these issues or seek guidance from a mentor regarding how you can make it better. If after completing this exercise you are still unable to come to a solution or if your law school is truly an unhealthy environment, then transferring may be a good option for you.
2. Do You Have Good First Semester Grades?
The next and possibly the most important factor you should consider are your grades. If your first semester grades are excellent or at a minimum above average, then transferring may be a great option! Your first semester grades are truly the first opportunity that you get to possibly change the course of your law school experience. Unfortunately, there are brilliant students who may have received a low LSAT score and as a result ended up at a lower ranked school. Students who aren’t good at standardized testing have the opportunity to prove their skills by receiving excellent scores on a law school exam. If you fall into this category, transferring is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door at a higher ranked school.
If you’re already attending a high ranked school, transferring may still be a good option for you. Students at tier 1 schools use their first semester grades to rank up and transition into Ivy League schools. If you fall into this category, transferring can be beneficial, especially if you desire to work in BigLaw. However, please be aware that by transferring you may miss the chance to join law review, moot court or mock trial, as most schools would have already selected their teams in the prior semester. These extracurriculars are crucial in developing skills that could serve you well as an attorney. Additionally, participation is a great way to broaden your network and improve your chances of securing a job offer. So, if you’re currently at a good school, seriously consider the opportunities you may miss out on by transferring.
3. Are You Committed to a Specific Job Market?
If you’re committed to a specific job market, then transferring may be a good option if you have strong grades and if your current school has limited reach to access the job market you would like to work in after graduation. Breaking into the legal job market is a difficult hurdle and sometimes just having a certain school on your resume can help to improve your chances. However, I truly believe that developing a strong network in the job market of your interest can help to increase your chances. I recommend really weighing the burdens and benefits of the transfer process before making this decision solely based on your job market of choice.
4. Can You Handle Increased Tuition?
Finally, another factor to consider, is whether you have the financial capacity to handle increased tuition costs. Unfortunately, transfer students are sometimes exempt from scholarship opportunities, which means, you may be required to pay the full sticker tuition cost. If you’re on a scholarship at your current law school, you should especially take this factor into consideration. Even if you have good grades, it may not necessarily be worth it to transfer and risk increasing your debt. Now, if you’re able to handle this cost, then transferring could still be a good option for you. However, truly consider the other risks of transferring and determine whether this option is worth it.
If you make the decision to transfer, I wish you all the best!
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