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About that Tuition Bill……

November 27th, 2012 No comments

Financing your legal education ranks among the top worries for applicants.  Scholarships and grants are a best case scenario but in reality most will be taking out loans.  What does that mean for your future?  Well, consider that most law students graduate with a $100,000 bill or more.  This is also a major investment in your future which in most cases pays off within a few years.  Law can be a fulfilling and lucrative career for those who master legal skills and follow their calling.  It’s not a direct path to riches but it can certainly be a path to personal fulfillment.

So moving on, how do you pay for law school?  Here are important considerations:


  •  Ask about scholarships and grants.  Figure out whether you’re competitive for funding and if there are endowed
    scholarship or outside sources available.  If you are competitive for a merit scholarship, then consider a school’s reputation vs. debt load.  Would you attend a lower ranked school in order to graduate with no debt?  What does that mean?  What kinds of jobs could you consider if you graduate with no debt?  Where could you live?  What could you afford?
  • Meet with a Financial Aid Counselor!  Most law schools offer counseling upon acceptance.  Call the Financial Aid office to learn about different loans, deadlines and processes.  Paying for law school requires planning (if you paid for your undergraduate degree then you know this is true!).
  • MINIMIZE  YOUR DEBT!  Try to borrow the least amount possible.  Remember there is interest on loans.
  • Consider your cost of attendance.   Some things, such as a car loan or credit card payment, cannot be included in your budget.  How will you pay for these bills?  Remember full-time students are allowed to work a MAXIMUM of 20 hours per week.
  • Yes, there are a few work study positions in law school.  They are competitive but it’s an option.
  • Watch LSAC’s Paying for Law School on YouTube.  It’s long so set up 45 minutes to watch this.  You’re welcome in advance :)

 

What do you think?  How will you pay for law school?  Maybe follow this guy’s lead and ask for $10,000?

More resources:

Financial Aid FAQs:

http://law.widener.edu/Admissions/CostsandFinancialAid/FinancialAidFAQs.aspx#24

Loan Calculators:

http://www.finaid.org/calculators/loanpayments.phtml

http://www.yourgfm.com/debt-calculators/college.shtml

http://degreedirectory.org/articles/20_Tools_to_Calculate_Student_Loan_Costs.html

What’s an Information Session?

October 19th, 2012 No comments

Widener Law hosts two information sessions per school year.  The next one is this Saturday, October 20 and we are excited to greet aspiring law students!  An information session is invaluable if you are interested in law school.  You can meet professors, students, and staff and get a feel for the school’s atmosphere.  Information Sessions may include:

  • Admissions presentation
  • Clinical opportunities
  • Tours of the law school
  • Financial Aid information
  • Career options
  • On and off campus housing

Visiting a school is essential before attending but it’s only one part of the process.  Make sure to do your research – how does a school match your interests?  What clinics are offered?  What electives are available?  Are there legal specialties?  What do faculty publish?  Do they participate in conferences?  Where do students intern?  What student organizations are available?  Can you live on campus?  Do you want to live on campus?  What is the cost of living?  What is tuition and what kind of financial aid is available?

The great thing about an information session is that you can visit and answer these questions all at the same time.  Meet a variety of people, network, and make sure the school you choose is in a geographical area you hope to practice and a place you feel welcomed for three (or maybe four) years.

Hope to see you at one of our Information Sessions!  The second one will be held January 5 from 10 am – 1 pm.  Email lawadmissions@widener.edu to register!

What do you think?  Have you attended an information session or open house?  Was it worth while?

LSAT Prep

September 11th, 2012 No comments

Picture this.  A college student, lets name her Amy, dreams of becoming an attorney.  She did her research about admission to law school and bought a pile of books to prepare for the LSAT.  She took practice tests in her spare time at a secluded corner in the library to minimize distractions.  She read through each question carefully and took her time to consider each response.  After a few weeks of studying, she felt comfortable with the techniques and confident in her practice scores.

The day of the test, Amy can’t focus.  The student next to her is tapping his foot.  The proctor doesn’t notice the construction going on outside.  Time flies by as Amy tries to read through each questions and consider each option.  By the end of the test, Amy is exhausted and defeated.  She bombed.

What went wrong?  Here’s some tips:

  1.  Time yourself when you practice for the LSAT.  Get used to reading quickly and efficiently.  Take tests over and over again in the time allotted for the actual test.  Don’t slack on this!
  2. Take the test in a simulated testing environment before the actual administration.  Testing rooms, especially for the LSAT, can vary.  Although all environments are carefully monitored, things happen beyond our control.  There are many prep courses that offer practice tests.  Widener Law offers two Mock LSAT experiences in the Fall (Sept. 22 and Nov. 17).  They are offered at no cost and follow LSAC guidelines for administration (including the check in process!).  It’s better to be over prepared than not so take advantage of these opportunities!
  3. If there is a disturbance during the test (such as construction outside), bring it up to your proctor!  Follow up with LSAC to make sure they are also aware.  You always have the option to cancel your score if things go awry.

What other tips do you have?

For more information on Widener Law’s Mock LSAT visit:  bit.ly/mmThVA

For more practice tests visit: bit.ly/SAVas9 or lsac.org

Email me with questions!  asdelpuerto@widener.edu.

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What to Do During Your Law School Visit

August 17th, 2012 No comments

As we start a new school year, some of you may be scheduling campus visits as you apply.  Here’s a few suggestions to make the most out of a visit.

  • Do your homework first

I understand that some people prefer talking to someone rather than doing research.  But you give off a much better impression toAdmissions representatives if you visit a law school knowing the basics.  Research is a major aspect of law school after all, show that you are already savvy with it.  Take a look at Widener Law’s website before you stop by.  All of our application requirements and procedures are listed there.  Create an account through our portal and see what the process looks like.  Also, visit lsac.org for information about the LSAT and creating a Credential Assembly Service (CAS) report.  These are the basic application procedures.

  •  You interview us, not the other way around

Widener Law does not interview applicants so do not consider a visit as an interview for Admission.  No, a campus visit will not sway the Committee’s decision.  We will gladly help improve your application but any requests for reconsideration or clarification should be submitted in writing (email or letter).

On the other hand, this is your opportunity to gauge whether Widener Law is a good fit for you.  Make a list of questions that you feel are important and ask them during your visit.  If anything is unclear, ask again!  We are here to give you a full picture of our programs and atmosphere.   About.com has a good list of questions to ask, but ask anything you want!  If your tour guide can’t answer a questions, then someone else probably can.  Feel free to request another contact for further information.

  •  When should you visit?

Widener Law welcomes visitors any time of the year.  But I usually suggest waiting until you receive a decision.  I recommend applying to a wide variety of law schools (if you can afford it).  After receiving piles of acceptances (hopefully), narrow down your most likely choices.  Then visit those schools.

  • Meet students, faculty, staff, etc.

Visit a class, request to meet a student, stop by our cafeteria (Crown Court) and stroll through the library on your own.  Make sure to meet as many people as you can to get an accurate picture of student life.  We regularly schedule class visits and have an active Student Ambassador group to answer your questions.  US News offers a great suggestion:

“During your visit, try not to let the awe-inspiring (or underwhelming) facilities distract you; stay focused on what really matters. While a grandiose library may be impressive, pay closer attention to how happy and collaborative the students are and how involved they are in the school and in extracurricular activities. Is there a sense of community, both within the law school and within the broader university?”

  • Don’t rush to judgement

Just as when you visited colleges (if you didn’t then, you should visit law schools now), don’t rush to judgement.  I was highly disillusioned with my college visit.  It was a dreary, rainy day.  The campus was enormous and overwhelming.  The food was barely edible.  The location was not exactly “happening”.  And I had trouble really seeing myself there.  Despite the visit, they had great programs and a good price so I chose that school anyway.  I had some of the best years of my life there and I would choose that school again – I’m glad I didn’t rush to judgement!  Sometimes visits don’t give an accurate picture of three or four years worth of education.  Weigh your options.  We all have bad days, classes are not always lively and interesting, and rainy days happen.  Remember what’s important and take visits into account along with the bigger picture.

  • Now you’re ready to stop by!  

I hope you can all take a look at both the Harrisburg and Delaware campuses.  They both offer more than just a building, it’s an entire community.  For the full experience, call 717-541-3903 to visit the Harrisburg campus or 302-477-2100 to visit the Delaware campus or email lawadmissions@widener.edu.  Further details are available on our website.

What do you think?  What additional advice can you offer?  Comment below!

Work, Life and Law School: How Do You Balance It All?

July 11th, 2012 No comments

Troy Riddle, Multicultural Affairs Officer

Working full-time and attending law school can be a scary notion.  However,  Troy Riddle, Widener Law’s Multicultural Affairs Officer, is living proof that it can be done.  Mr. Riddle is an alum of Widener Law’s Extended  (part-time)  Division, his entry below describes his experience and tips that helped him through.

________________________________________________

Law school is challenging for a student of any age or academic pedigree, but I believe it is exponentially more challenging for students trying to balance a full-time job and/or family. The sense of accomplishment one feels, however, when the four year’s are over is euphoric.

As an Extended Division student, I was employed full-time as a middle manager in the healthcare industry, managing a staff of more than forty. The nice thing about my work situation, however, was that my boss and the staff knew I was in law school, and provided a lot of support and encouragement to me. This support system proved invaluable to me. Especially on those days where I hadn’t completed all of my assigned readings and needed to steal a few extra minutes at lunch time to try and cover the material before making the drive from Philadelphia to Delaware.

Four years later, it was all over, and to be quite honest, I was a little sad. I actually enjoyed law school. The rigors of legal education challenged me in ways that I didn’t know I could be. I learned a lot…not just about the law and how to craft ingenious arguments, but about life and how the world really works and how the law influences it. Because law touches virtually every aspect of human existence, it’s almost impossible to leave law school without having at least one “light bulb” moment regarding something you previously thought mundane or ordinary.
There are many ways to approach law school if trying to balance it with work and/or family.

Here are a few tips/advice I’d like to share with you:
• Don’t make any life-changing moves or decisions.
• Know that at times you’ll have more reading than humanly possible to complete.
• Know that the people you always see in the library aren’t necessarily getting the top grades.
• Understand that your family and friends won’t understand the demands being place upon you.
• Talk to your professors when you don’t understand a concept/case covered in class.
• Take as many practice exams as you can and get feedback.
• Take time for you (both mentally and physically); exercise, spend time with the family.
• Take at least one day during the week for a reprieve. (I made Friday my “me day.”)
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. (It doesn’t make you a poor law student.)

Much success to you as you embark upon what I think is the most transformative education one can obtain!

Thank you, Mr. Riddle, for sharing your experience!  If you have further questions about the part-time program please feel free to email the Admissions office at lawadmissions@widener.edu.

What to do when you don’t get in.

May 15th, 2012 No comments

Law school admission is a tough battle.  For some, classes and tests come easy and law schools welcome students with these natural academic skills.  Others work hard to reach their dreams and simply need the opportunity to show their work ethic in a legal setting.  For these aspiring lawyers, getting into law school can be a greater challenge.  If your GPA is less than stellar and your standardized test taking skills need some work, then consider these steps to improve your chances:

  • Prepare for the LSAT.  Take as many practice tests as you can and time yourself in the process!  I frequently meet applicants who study for the LSAT but never timed themselves.  Guess what?  They felt rushed and pressured when they actually took the test.  Don’t be one of these applicants; take a prep class if you feel it’s appropriate.  In addition, search online, contact your pre-law advisor or career development center or ask local colleges if they offer weekend prep courses.  Yes, they are expensive but so is law school.  In the end you might save more money with a scholarship if you score well on the LSAT.  Widener Law offer mock LSAT administration every year.  We invite prospective students to take the LSAT under simulated testing center standards.  This is free and typically offered one week before the actual test.

 

  • Ignore the naysayers.  There’s a lot of gripe about law school out there.  First, yes, it is important to know that you definitely want to pursue law as a career.  Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into (this is a topic for another blog).  If you know it, you can do it.  I believe there is a right law school for almost everyone.  Do your research and find out when law schools begin accepting applications.  Widener Law has a fairly open application season.  We begin accepting application in late August and continue accepting applications through May 15.  However, we continue accepting applications through the summer if space is available.  So if you didn’t get in early, try for different options.  Sometimes schools you never considered are a diamond in the rough, check out JD programs for what they offer rather than just what you heard.

 

  • Contact the Admissions office to ask about your file.  If you were not successful this time around, we can help improve your chances next time around.  Remember that the LSAT and GPA are important criteria for admission.  The Admissions Committee generally looks for applicants close to the incoming class median.  Widener Law’s medians are typically around a 151 LSAT and above a 3.0 GPA.  However, every applicant is review holistically and your personal statement, letters of recommendation, work experience and additional accolades can sway the committee’s decision.

Still not sure where to go from here?  I’d be happy to help, feel free to email me at asdelpuerto@mail.widener.edu.

Should You Transfer?

February 18th, 2012 No comments

Students sometimes struggle through their first semester of law school or college.  However, if you find yourself frustrated with the environment or resources offered at your school then consider other options.  Transferring can stir up a lot of anxiety.  Traci Cosby, third year law student, was unsure about her decision to transfer but ultimately found a great fit at Widener Law.  See her story on YouTube:  Traci Cosby Talks About Transferring to Widener Law.

Pre Law Advisors, Alumni and Professors Offer Valuable Advice

November 17th, 2011 2 comments

PRELAWADVISOROn November 11, 2011, Widener Law invited Pre-Law Advisors from regional colleges and universities to visit the Harrisburg campus and discuss recent trends in law school admission and education.  Topics included the worth of law school, alumni occupations, and advice to offer undergraduates.  Since this blog serves prospective students, I’ll focus on the information most pertinent to you.  And, since there was a wealth of information, this post is long but worthwhile!

First, Professor Ben Barros proficiently addressed the controversy over law school tuition, debt and salary statistics.  If you graduate from law school, you will likely leave with a great diploma and a debt around $90K-$100K, unless you have alternate means like a scholarship or sponsor.  Yes, that’s daunting.  But recall that you have decades to pay off your debt and initial salaries increase within a few years.  Consider the investment you are making, this is your life and you will very likely find a job within law that will cover your debt load.  Dean Linda Ammons reminded us that professional schools in general require a hefty investment, take a look at the tuition rates for medical programs (how about dentistry?).

But don’t take my word for it, take a look at statistics.  The website Law School Transparency uses American Bar Association (ABA) data to formulate reports about salaries, job characteristics, credential requirements and geographies.  Professor Barros encourages everyone to consider the wide range of salary data and look at the whole picture.  What is the cost of living within the region?  Where do graduates obtain jobs?  Typically, law schools are regional.  Plan to practice where you study, that’s where you network, secure internships and learn the law.  It makes sense to place location high on your list of criteria that determine your choice of schools.

The following session showcased alumni addressing their experiences at Widener Law and finding employment.  Once again, networking was a general theme since most, if not all, of the graduates secured a job through friends, colleagues and mentors.  LeaNora Ruffin, Assistant Dean for Career Development, added that Widener offers a mentoring program between alumni and students to learn more about important skills and network into the profession.  She also addressed the difference between J.D. preferred and J.D. required jobs.   J.D. preferred positions tend to require the skills developed in law school, such as leadership and writing.  The jobs, such as lobbyists and executives, associate with the law but are not directly involved in proceedings.

In regards to undergraduate preparation, the panel stressed the importance of writing persuasively. English was an excellent choice of major for several panelists.  Specifically, they mentioned rhetoric and persuasive writing classes as more beneficial than creative writing.  Additionally, public speaking classes can help define the skills necessary to support and argue a legal position.

During the question and answer session, Pre-Law Advisors asked what characteristics are necessary to succeed in law school.  Professor Ben Barros and Vice Dean Robyn Meadows stressed the importance of focus and dedication.  Too often they see students in class wasting time on facebook or attending because it is expected by Mom and Dad.  You should attend law school because it is your dream and passion.  If you don’t like what you do, it becomes obvious in time.  With dedication, most students succeed.  Widener Law professors feel it is their job to train future attorneys and, while a few students are simply not capable of “thinking like a lawyer”, the majority do succeed if they truly desire.

Additionally, when considering scholarships students should ask how many scholarship recipients retain their award.  At Widener Law, the vast majority keep their scholarship since the Admissions office strives to award funds only to those most likely to show extraordinary performance in their first year of law school as illustrated through the LSAT and undergraduate GPA.

Overall, professors, advisors, administrators and graduates encourage incoming students to really consider their professional skills.  Professors are transitioning into practical, versus doctrinal, teaching to develop students into professional attorneys who do not need significant orientation upon entering their first job.  For this reason, they expect students to seek opportunities as they arise.  Don’t wait for a test to find out you don’t understand the material, ask questions often.  As an attorney, you will be expected to dig for information.  That is only achieved by asking questions.  So start now, what is your goal?  How do you get there?  What are the details involved?  Who can guide you?  What questions can you ask them?

As always, I’m a resource to you if law school admission is your goal!

How to Write a Personal Statement If You’re Just the “Average Joe”

September 28th, 2011 No comments

So you have no idea what to write and you don’t think you’re special.  What should you do?

  • Think positive.  You’re not that average, you’re applying to law school.  Not everyone has that privilege.  In fact, only around 10% of the U.S. population earns a professional degree.  That in itself is remarkable!   So how did you get into this elite group?  You might be judging yourself more harshly than you realize.  Although cliché, everyone really does have a different perspective to offer in a classroom discussion.  In the U.S., it seems ordinary for some to go to college and graduate school.  But this is certainly not true.  Even if you had support along the way, you didn’t just sleep your way through high school and college (hopefully).  Take the typical and turn it around.
  • Take the pressure off and just write whatever comes to mind.   Once you have exhausted your thoughts and then review your brainstorming session.  Collect what’s relevant and form it into a paper.  You know how to do this because you’ve been trained to write since childhood.  But if you’re struggling organizing your thoughts, then visit the writing center at your college or alma mater.
  • DO NOT start with “although I’m not traditionally diverse . . .” Widener Law’s Admissions Committee seeks diversity in many ways, some you may not even consider in yourself – reflect.  What have you done that your friends or family have not?  How have you been praised?  What’s your favorite hobby?  Where have you traveled?  Who raised you?  Anything that has led you to the point of considering law school is significant.  You have a story to tell, no matter what your background.
  • The personal statement is important but it certainly does not make or break your application.  Make sure it is well written, grammatically correct, and purposeful.  Keep in mind, however, that Admissions uses your scores (LSAT and undergraduate GPA) as the objective indicator of success in the first year of law school.  Spend time on every component of your application, all of it is important, but if you have to choose between mulling over a sentence in your personal statement or mastering an LSAT question – go with the LSAT.

Finally, watch Dodgeball for some inspiration (and probably a much needed break).  The Average Joes come out on top!

Questions about applying to law school?  Email me – asdelpuerto@mail.widener.edu or visit law.widener.edu/admissions

Welcome to our Student Blogs- Meet Our Former Bloggers!

September 1st, 2011 Comments off

Meet Our Former Bloggers!
{tab=Tom} Tom TrettleTom: My name is Tom Trettel. I am a regular division (full time), second year (2L) student at the Delaware campus. My plan at this point is to graduate in May 2013, then work as an associate for a few years before opening my own “small-town” practice in Delaware. Being a few years older than most students, I had two careers before law. I counseled teenagers at an in-patient psychiatric hospital and then moved on to running a small retail business. After enjoying that for many years, I decided that it was about time to get my doctorate, so here I am. For me, it was a great decision. Follow my posts!

{tab=Jonathan} JonathanSuzukiBlogger400xp-300x288Jonathan: My name is Jonathan Suzuki and I was born in Tokyo, Japan. Since the summer I graduated high school, I’ve been in and around the music industry, and my first foray was translating for major label bands performing at the Fuji Rock Festivals. Because I got a taste for being around musicians, I pursued an undergraduate degree in Music Technology (sound engineering). I found a job at a music publisher after I quickly realized that I wasn’t equipped with the requisite patience to be at the bottom of the studio totem pole. While working for the publisher, I was exposed to onerous songwriter agreements, publishing agreements, and international royalty-collection agreements but in all honesty, I didn’t understand most of it. Not understanding led me to endeavor in law school. Read more on Jonathan’s Blog Posts!

{tab=Chelsey} ChelseyCrockerBlogger400px-300x279Chelsey: “I am currently taking Torts, Criminal Law, Property, Civil Procedure, Contracts, and Legal Methods. To assist you in your understanding of the life of a law student, I intend to blog about my experiences in and outside the classroom at Widener, so you can get a real feel for what it is that we do as students of law. My hope is that as you choose where best fits you for law school, that this may be something that could assist you in that decision. If I could answer any specific questions for you, please don’t hesitate to email me at cdcrocker@mail.widener.edu. Best of luck in the process!” Read more from  Chelsey’s Blog.

{tab=Jana & Jennifer}
Jana DiCosmo and Jennifer Perez are students on the Delaware campus of Widener Law. Jana is an Extended Division student while Jennifer is enjoying her experiences as a First year law student. Click on the slides below to meet Jana and Jennifer! {slide= Meet Jana} Jana & Jennifer’s Blog:

leftSpiffJanaJenAdmissions185pxJana DiCosmo, is a second-year law student in the Extended Division day program. Before joining the Widener Law community, she attended the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. She majored in Political Science, focusing on civil rights law classes and statistical analysis in social science research.

Feel free to email any questions about the first year, or the transition from the first to second year: jrdicosmo@mail.widener.edu. She looks forward to sharing her experiences with you! Read More from Jana

{/slide} {slide=Meet Jennifer} MEET JENNIFER: Jennifer writes that her life experiences and cultural background are greatly responsible for her professional and personal passion for United States Immigration Law. As a child of Latino immigrants living in Camden, New Jersey, the struggles that immigrants in her community overcame were just part of life. As she grew older and looked at her surroundings, Jennifer realized that she could make positive change. For years, Jennifer has relied on the prospect of “giving back” to my community by serving its immigrant population. Thus, from a very young age, Jennnifer has strived to join the ranks of lawyers and judges who also believe that character is forged by helping others. Read more from Jennifer
{/slide}
{tab=Kathleen & Meghan} Kathleen and Meghan are both   First year regular division law students on the Delaware campus. They share what it’s really like to be a first year at Widener Law! Click on the slides below to meet Kathleen and Meghan!
{slide= Meet Kathleen}
KathleenHi! My name is Kathleen Hubbert and I am a first-year law student in the Regular Division. Prior to arriving at Widener, I attended Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA (Go Dips!). There, I majored in Sociology and minored in English. I am from Blue Bell, PA (outside of Philadelphia), but I live on campus in one of the dorms.
I was originally drawn to Widener because of the professor’s reputations, and of the campus’ proximity to both Philadelphia and downtown Wilmington. Now that I’ve been on campus for some time, I know for certain that I made the right decision by coming to Widener.
Through this blog, I hope you’ll be able to get a feel for law school life, and you will get a feel for what life at Widener is like. If I can help you in any way possible, please don’t hesitate to email me at kmhubbert@mail.widener.edu with any questions.
{/slide} {slide= Meet Meghan}
MeghanHello everyone, my name is Meghan Harp. I’m currently a 1L regular division student at the Widener University School of Law and loving it! I’m also a recent graduate from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey where I majored in Political Science. I became interested in the study of law while in my junior year of undergrad after taking a course on civil liberties. I was particularly drawn to Widener Law for its friendly and welcoming environment. In particular, I was interested in their nationally recognized Health Law Certificate Program. Follow along in my blog as I experience what it’s truly like to be a first year law student!
Thanks for reading!
{/slide}

{/tabs}
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