A little over a year ago, I was in your shoes: making a law school decision. Here are three things that I found important in choosing a school. Interestingly enough, I only discovered how important they were to me once I began my journey here at NYU Law. I hope they can assist you in the present.
1) Will you feel at home?
NYU Law’s Black Allied Law Students Association is my family away from family. I’ve laughed in front of some of my fellow members, borrowed money from others, and shared hopes, dreams, and aspirations with each and every one of them.
When you walk the hallways of the law school, can you imagine yourself there?
When you see current students, do you envision your next set of peers, colleagues, and business partners? When you witness professors in the hallway or on stage speaking with you, can you conceive of walking into their offices to have academic, personal, or professional conversations?
If you have had the opportunity to visit law schools, the answers to these questions come easily. If you have not, the Internet and its unlimited sources make crafting these answers almost effortless. Search, find, and Facebook the chair or members of the affinity group in which you are interested. Use LinkedIn to locate a student who participates in an organization, fellowship, or scholarship program that has caught your eye. Then? Respectfully, yet unapologetically, ask them questions about all aspects of their experience. We are not far removed from where you are right now. We understand the value of making informed and deeply reflective decisions about where you will spend the next three years diving into every corner of legal academia. Our (hypothetical) doors are open: just knock.
2) Do the school and the city open doors?
Law school is more than a degree. When you cross the stage in three years, the professional network, personal relationships, and unique experiences you’ve gathered will follow. Consider what city will complement your law school experience and open doors that, perhaps, you can’t even imagine at this very moment. Fashion? Investment banking? Media? International relations? Arts? Public defense work? If 1) you’re still figuring out your niche, or 2) you are interested in more than one specialty, the location of your law school is of utmost importance. You may arrive as a stranger to the city in which your law school is located, but one certainty is that you will graduate having conquered everything it has to offer. Make sure you are seizing the right city!
3) Does the idea of the law school push the limits of your comfort zone?
This one is the most personal. I was born in Texas. I obtained my undergraduate and graduate educations in Texas. I worked in Texas. The inner me desired to explore other cities more deeply, but my love for my great state runs deep. Law school was an opportunity for me to obliterate the zone of familiarity and immerse myself in cultures, experiences, and conversations that have challenged me socially, personally, and spiritually. This is your opportunity. Are you tempted to upend the predictable? To live and study at a school and in a city where the possibilities have no bounds?
You’re fully equipped. You know what to do if you have the answers to these questions. You know what to do if you are still in the process of discerning (see #1!). No matter your decision, it will be a great one, a
life-altering one: a decision that you will never regret. Reach out, ask questions, and don’t hesitate. The next three years of your life depend on it.