Print Story Meltdown
By rafael (Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 09:51:51 AM EST) (all tags)
I had a meltdown over the weekend, and today i'm in full-bore waiting mode: $BOLT_SCHOOL said that I should know the results of their review of my file after today, and a bunch of people who got the same email I did said they heard yesterday.

Law School became a reality Friday when I was accepted by $EXPLORER_SCHOOL. It hadn't been a reality, somehow, when I was accepted by $FOURTH_TIER_SCHOOL (probably because I quickly decided I wasn't going there in any event). Once the exhiliration and the happiness and the sense of affirmation (somebody wants me!) passed, it was replaced with a growing dread:


$EXPLORER_SCHOOL estimates COL+tuition to be USD$41,000/yr. I have no savings. Most of that will come in the form of loans, either federal or private. That means I may be looking at $123,000 in loans (worst case) ... which is to say, over a ten-year period, I would have to pay back an average of 12,300/year, not including interest, which will probably be 7-8%. That makes for a likely monthly payment of $1500-$1600 .... and the average starting salary for $EXPLORER_SCHOOL grads is USD$51,000 (less than I make now). Of course, I could probably come back to tech after law school (not that i would want to), and having connections here means I would be more likely to be able to get a local job that pays more ... but still. That's <terrifying</em>.

Things are better if I go to, say, $BOLT_SCHOOL (with a much higher expected salary) or $VALLEY_SCHOOL (with a lower COL and tuition and connections into state government). Things would be even better if I decided to fuck the fulltime programs and, say, go to $CITY_SCHOOL part time (i'd still have to borrow money, but it would end up being less, because i'd have an ongoing income in the meantime, so COL would be paid for). There's a degree to which this entire endeavor makes questionable economic sense.

That said, going to law school is something I want. I've never understood the phrase before, but I want to get into $BOLT_SCHOOL so badly I can taste it. I want to get into $VALLEY_SCHOOL only slightly less. It's something i've played with on and off mentally for over a decade. Yet now for the first time i'm faced with the opportunity cost: this means putting off owning a home (which is something Jared really wants), and commits us to a large debt more or less indefinitely.

I want it more than I want the things i'd be forgoing - but i'm not certain that I won't change my mind in five years, after it's too late to back out, and i'm not certain that Jared won't find the situation intolerable.

I was spinning on this all weekend. Jared and I had a talk in the car on the way to work yesterday about some of it; he thinks I'm overestimating the difficulty of paying back the loans, and isn't worried about it. I find that heartening (Jared, more than anyone else, really understands the degree to which I am finding tech intolerable - something that he remembers when I, caught up in the fact that the current moment is good, forget). He'd even prefer for me to go somewhere local and take out more loans than go somewhere far away and take out fewer (a possibility, depending on where i'm accepted and what kind of packages they offer). I got the strong sense that he's behind me fully ... but I still feel a bit like i'm near a cliff and about to jump off.


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Meltdown | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Have you considered robbing a bank? by Heppcat (1.00 / 1) #1 Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 11:24:15 AM EST
Obviously, you may or may not get caught.  If you don't get caught everything is fine.  If you do get caught you just need to tell the judge that you did it to pay for law school and he will see you as a determined person.  This will inspire him to throw out the case and pay for you to attend some big shot school.

that's for saps by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 04:25:29 PM EST
The average bank robbery nets $2500 and the average bank robber robs less than ten banks before being caught.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Interesting by creo (2.00 / 0) #2 Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 01:48:39 PM EST
I have thought about law school, even though I generally detest lawyers (especially ambulance chasers, whom I could quite happily run over with an ambulance).

However I am infuriated by the rape of the public domain by big content, and (unfortunately) have a sense of social justice that every now and again rears its ugly head. I came to the conclusion that the only way to defeat the enemy and restore balance to the system is to fight from within, and the only way from within the system is to understand how it works - which basically means law.

So I'm in a dilemma - do I suck it down and go to law school and come out on the side of what I believe is right? or do I sit on the sidelines and wonder how long before they make DRM and untrusted computing compulsory and debuggers and libraries (as in book libraries) illegal.

At the moment sitting on my arse and raking in the cash is winning, but I am getting less satisfaction each day. An old truism applies here though - it is easy to get less enjoyment out of raking in the cash when you have a fair bit of it - especially if you are not fundamentally greedy. I think if this was ten years ago I would not have even considered this, or if I was the cash would have won out for sure.

Anyway, good luck with your wait, and let us know how the whole thing goes.

"I shall do what I believe to be right and honourable" - Guderian

The question is... by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 10:29:37 PM EST
Could you make a living sticking it to the man as a lawyer? It seems like difficult job to land, and it might be more efficient to contribute to someone who's already gone through law school with some of your rake cash.

Just sayin'

[ Parent ]
A Fair Question by creo (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Mar 23, 2006 at 01:32:52 AM EST
I don't want to necessarily destroy the system - I just want it to return to realistic balance between content providerpatent holdercopyright holder and the commonwealth of the public.

Basically I just want the system to work as it should - allowing rightsholders to get some profit and then the general public ben efitting.

Unfortunately you kind of highlight a snag - to get good at lawyering, you need experience, and to get experience I would have to join a lawyer crew whose beliefs fundamentally oppose mine (i.e. your usual bunch of bloodsucking 'IP' specialists). For example, I could not take on  a case that allowed further blowout of copyrights and/or extensions of items that are patentable.

I guess I will just continue my EFF membership and hope for the best...

"I shall do what I believe to be right and honourable" - Guderian

[ Parent ]
You need to do it by Forbidden (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 02:54:11 PM EST
Go for broke.

But if you plan on going to law school and not working full time as well, you're fooling yourself. Working full time would bring that figure down to something more reasonable and you may be able to hedge out less than 40k in debt when you're done.

Also, Jared has life insurance, doesn't he? Kill some hobo, have Jared crash his car into a fuel truck, and then pull a bait and switch. By the time they put the fire out, they wont be able to recognize the body. Jared can sip tequila in Mexico for three years while you take care of your shit.

You once was.
working full time by rafael (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 03:58:49 PM EST
I'm not fooling myself. The ABA insists that if you're in a full time program, you may not work more than 20 hours a week; most law schools will not allow you to register for classes unless you attest to this, and will expel you if you lie. In addition, first-year students are strenuously advised against working at all.

This doesn't hold if you're in a part-time program, but the opportunities and doors which are open to you are significantly restricted if you're in a part-time program.

Working full time and going to a local part-time program, over four years instead of three, would probably still necessitate on the order of $70,000 in loans total.

[ Parent ]
Does the wife work? by Forbidden (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 04:12:08 PM EST
It seems that, making over 50k a year, your COL might be overly high.

That seems like an unnecessary requirement, as well. Very strange. One can work full time to become a surgeon, but cannot work more than 20 hours a week to be a lawyer?

I realize now why law school wasn't for me.

You once was.
[ Parent ]
COL figures by rafael (2.00 / 0) #8 Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 05:19:16 PM EST
COL figures are provided by the school. As an example:

$VALLEY_SCHOOL estimates that tuition is $25k/yr, and COL (which covers housing, books, food, etc) for the nine months of the school year, is $13k.

given that this includes rent in davis, estimated at $600/mo, and books, estimated at $1000/yr, that comes out to $733/mo for other expenses, which doesn't strike me as being outrageously high, and is actually only slightly more than the comparative estimate for when I was an undergrad.

[ Parent ]
Contract programming by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 04:29:06 PM EST
See if you can get short-term programming contracts. (Do you get summers off?)
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
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