Hello everyone!! Happy President’s Day and Happy Early Birthday George Washington!
In honor of the main man himself, I decided I would talk about GW (the school) and my transfer experience!
Last week one of my friends asked me for advice on which medical school she should go to, because she knew I had to make the decision of choosing between a school that I really liked the vibe at, and a school that would help me academically in the long run. After talking to her, I decided to write this blog post!
I hope this post is helpful in shedding some light on the transfer experience, but I’m sure that everyone’s experience is slightly different. In fact, some of the transfer students I’ve met at GW have also had completely different experiences than I have.
First, a little background on the transfer process
One “advantage” about Law School is that you can transfer after your first year, whether it’s because you think your 1L school isn’t right for you, you want to be closer to home, or for financial reasons, whatever it may be! When applying you have to generally submit your first semester/first year grades (depending on when you apply), your undergraduate transcript, letters of recommendation (where the required number changes per school), your LSAT score report, a personal statement, and a resume.
When I was applying as a transfer student, I talked a lot to the admissions officers in different schools that I was interested in. Although they all said that they consider a myriad of factors, including whether that student would succeed at the new school, whether they’d benefit from a legal education at the new school, and whether they’d contribute to the legal community, they focus a great deal on first year grades.
From a direct email I had with Georgetown Law, the admissions officer said: “We recommend that to be competitive, students should be in the top 15% of their class with an A-/B+ average. In addition to examining the applicant’s law school academic performance, the Committee also considers the personal statement, letters of recommendations/evaluations, extracurricular activities, contributions to the community, and professional experience.” In other calls and emails to other schools, all of the admissions officers said that rank and grades are the greatest indicators.
That being said, if you don’t have the grades you want to transfer, you should still give it a try! The process is so arbitrary that you never know!
So let me tell you more about my story.
More About Me
I loved Drexel and I loved my first year – of course there were normal ups and downs, but I felt a genuine happiness doing law that went beyond how I felt while I was doing economics and was working in the government. It felt like every moment in my life had led me to law school, and it made me feel like the rest of my life was finally beginning, which is an incredible way to feel.
The reason that I wanted to transfer is not only because I wanted to be closer to home, but because I ultimately wanted to work in D.C. in the future, it made sense to go to a school in D.C., so I could get connections that I couldn’t make at Drexel.
I got my transfer acceptance on a Monday morning in the middle of summer, and I had until Friday afternoon to decide. Those 5 days were the most stressful experience of my law school journey thus far, even more stressful than the LSAT, than applying for schools, than write-on for law review, or even my 1L exam weeks. I knew that the decision that I made, had the chance to completely change my life. Everyone had an opinion about what I should do. A few of my closest friends said that I should stay in Philadelphia because I’ve established myself there, it’s where all my law school support system is, and I’m in a nice, safe bubble where I don’t have to deal with the drama that happens at home. But then a few other of my closest friends told me that I need to “stop being stupid” and remember that GW was my dream, not only in undergrad but also for law school, before I went to Drexel.
It wasn’t until I was talking to my friend about what I should do that the decision finally seemed easy. 2 years ago, after graduation, my friend was torn between the decision of working at a company in Virginia and still living at home and being with his friends, or moving to California to work at Google. I remember the exact conversation that we had when he told me he was torn.
Him: “I’m trying to decide between [company] and Google”
Me: “… You’re kidding right?”
Me: “Don’t be stupid. Go to Google. This has been your dream, this is what you’ve been working for. Yeah it’s scary, yeah it’s a change, and yeah you won’t be close to your friends and family, but it’s the better decision, now, and in the long-run.”
That week he signed his Google offer letter, and he’s still there now!! He basically recited the same conversation back to me when I was deciding whether to transfer or not.
On Thursday night, at 2 a.m., I sent my acceptance to GW.
“Should I Transfer?”
If you came to this post hoping to answer the question: “Should I transfer?” all I can say is: no one else can answer that question but you. Block out all of the noise, ignore what everyone else is saying, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do I want to transfer?
- Will I be okay starting over?
- Does this make sense for me in the long-run?
- Am I okay with dealing with the consequences?
All of my questions seem to be on the negative side, but they’re not; these are just realistic questions you need to ask yourself.
You will have to deal with (some) regret
Even though I say that, I still think “what if?” all the time. I think about how I’d still be close to my friends in Philadelphia, and how I’d be a full city-girl.
It wasn’t until recently that I was talking to one of my friends at Drexel. I have been lucky enough to meet such incredibly kind people in my first year of law school that even after being 250 miles away, it feels like nothing has changed. It was a regular boring Thursday afternoon and I was sitting in my favorite room in the Law Library when my friend texted: “Sandhya, I don’t think you would have been happy if you stayed at Drexel.” But of course I was confused; where was this coming from? I quickly replied back: “What are you talking about? I loved it, I loved spending time with you and all our friends, I loved living alone, it felt like I was living out the way that I imagined my 20s to be like!” I sat in the library with my textbooks open, my notebook blank, and my laptop on, tapping my pencil away and waiting for her to text back. Finally, she did: “Yeah, there were definitely some good times, sitting in the library, getting spontaneous coffee, etc., but if you stayed here, you’d always wonder ‘what-if?’ Anytime anything minorly inconvenient happened, you would probably have said something like: ‘ugh, I should have gone to GW’ and you would have resented yourself for staying here when you had the opportunity to go to a place that was once your dream school.”
I let that sink in – when I left the library, as I was in the metro, that night before I went to sleep – and it wasn’t until that moment when I realized that she was right.
If I didn’t go, I’d still always think: “what if?”
Downsides to transferring
- Depending on which school you go to and whether you know anyone in the area, you will have to start over.
- Having to rebuild a support system is not an easy thing to do. I told myself over the summer: “I got this, I don’t need friends, I’ll just study and work hard and it’ll be great” but in an incredibly competitive atmosphere like law school, you want to have people you can rely on.
- The other 2Ls that you meet have all of these shared experiences of going through 1L that you don’t have, and breaking into that circle can be difficult.
- You will also have to create new connections with faculty, professors, and the career center. If you get into your transferred school, I recommend visiting the career center before classes start just to make yourself known and talk to them about what your goals are – in fact, in some schools, a preliminary meeting is required.
Is it worth it?
I always tell myself that I don’t believe in regret – and to an extent, I stand by it. I think it’s easy to look back at a decision and say: “ugh, I shouldn’t have done that!!” but that’s your hindsight talking. When stuck in a tough position, it’s hard to pick which one will be better for us in the long-run because we just don’t know. The thing is though, we shouldn’t regret, because we made the decision at that time for what we thought is better for us, for whatever reason.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know the answer to the question of: “Was it worth it?” yet. I don’t think I’ll know the answer until I graduate, get a job, live out my life and reflect back and ask myself if it was worth it.
All in all though, I don’t regret my decision – there are some times that I still think “what-if” but I think that would be true no matter what.
So you decide to transfer – any tips?
I can’t speak for everyone but I will say the following:
- Besides making sure you work really hard that first year of school, write a solid personal statement. Really think about why you want to transfer and why you are applying to that school specifically. When I was applying as a 0L, I applied to so many schools, most of which I wouldn’t have attended if I got in, because I just “had to get in somewhere.” As a transfer applicant, I was much more meticulous. I only applied to law schools that I could actually see myself attending
- Contact each of the schools admissions offices and ask them questions. Make sure they know your name and if you can, go to the school, tour the campus, and ask questions in person. All of the schools I applied to knew that I was interested in transferring to their school.
- Letters of Recommendations: I was talking to one of my friends who is also a transfer student and she said that asking her professors at her old school for recs was incredibly awkward because they seemed shocked that she wanted to transfer. I luckily didn’t have that experience and I was direct that I wanted to transfer to a school with better connections in the type of law that I want to pursue. They were all incredibly understanding! From my experience, most professors want to help you succeed, especially if you put in the work for their class and are committed to doing well!! Don’t be afraid to ask for help!!
- Do things in advance! This is my biggest tip. I was doing so many things at the same time that I thought I had ordered transcripts to send to my application schools but I hadn’t!! The deadline was in 3 days and I had to pay for priority shipping to send the transcripts. Don’t be like me. Order transcripts early!! Also talk to your professors early, start your application early (so you can keep editing it), and make a realistic timeline for yourself and set reasonable deadlines!
My general advice: if you have the means, then just apply. You can decide what to do afterwards, but if there is a thought in your mind that you want to go to a different school because you want different/better opportunities, you like the geographic location, etc., then just do it.
Everyone’s situation is different, and everyone’s reasons for transferring is different, but here’s my two cents.
If you want to talk more personally about your situation or ask more questions about my experience, feel free to message me or comment below so other people can benefit from your questions as well!