One of the rewards of personal blogging is that you occasionally receive a heartwarming e-mail saying you have been an inspiration to someone who read something you wrote. Although it is not the first time this has happened, I am always deeply humbled by such a declaration and I whisper a quiet thank you across the universe for this feather on my cap.
H wrote me last week with a question about life choices. She is a mother of three young children, the breadwinner, and has always been an obedient daughter. In fact when her parents told her to shift careers, she did, giving up her one true dream to be a lawyer. Then from out of the blue, the question from her parents came — would she like to go to law school?
I have to take a long pause before answering the question because I had chased my dream to fruition without pause — not even when it became financially difficult. And when it became apparent that litigation was not for me, I gave up that pursuit. There are, after all, many ways of being a lawyer. Once I had accomplished that, I set my sights on raising a family, and I crossed the oceans and started a new life to pursue that part of my dream.
So this question comes, and I’m trying to picture myself in H’s shoes. At her age, I had achieved the dream to be a legal eagle, but I didn’t have the family she has had the fortune of building. Three kids — and having just one takes up all of my time, energy and resources and then some.
It is never too late to pursue a dream, but when you have little children to think of, it becomes a totally different story. People are usually surprised to hear I am not a lawyer here in the US. I tell them I have thought about it, but I don’t see myself devoting the time nor the energy towards a career in that path until maybe after Angelo has grown big enough to be more self-sufficient. Maybe when he is almost ending high school, I can give the New York Bar a try. And that remains a serious thought close to a plan in my head.
It’s hard enough being a working mom. Add to that the burden of being a working law student. I don’t know that I would’ve been able to do it, but that was me.
When I was in law school, it took all of my heart and soul as a working student to make it through. The concentration the pursuit of the study requires is beyond normal. It requires 110% of your time and effort. As a young mother of three, I don’t think it’s impossible, but I’d ask you to weigh your options.
You have set your sights on ONLY either UP or Ateneo. Commendable and understandable. I’d say go for it without batting an eyelash if you weren’t working full time while trying to raise 3 kids. While you are indeed lucky to have your husband as the full time caregiver for your children, that does not mean that you are fully excused from the demands of motherhood. I’m sure you will agree that nothing is more precious than seeing our children grow and being a part of their everyday lives. His presence and willingness to fulfill much of that role is certainly a plus, but you have to do your part, too. Which is why I’d like you to seriously think about other schools whose curriculum and schedule are not as heavy or demanding as that of UP and Ateneo.
San Beda would certainly fall under the same rigorous curriculum and academic parameters, but there are schools like Arellano Law and PLM which are trying to beef up their faculty and standards as well. They offer “Executive classes” catering to working professionals pursuing a law degree. FEU is also whipping up it’s faculty, and I’m not just saying that because a dear friend teaches there but because his being there speaks highly of their faculty and academic standards. Do not limit yourself to Ateneo or UP only. Good if you make it in to either one, but let it not be the end of your world if you don’t. UP said no to me. Ateneo welcomed me but it was literally a struggle staying in because of the required quality percentile index. Yet I made it. My passing the bar became part of their passing statistics.
It would be so easy to say “Ateneo or UP or bust!”. But if that dream is really strong in your heart, I’d say instead “law school, come hell or high water” — meaning even if it’s in the usually flooded Taft Avenue of Arellano in Pasay or not. Take all the exams. Do the preparations.
If you strongly feel that your essay writing is what’s holding you back, you need to seriously work on improving that because it IS a major requirement to make it as a lawyer. Beyond the sentence structure and the subject-verb agreement, you have to be able to construct your thoughts in a cohesive and logical manner. You’re there.. Maybe you just need to polish it a little. Beyond trying to see if you can write in basic English, the essays are there to enable them to see if you have the ability to write something coherent. (I would gladly be a sparring partner to help you brush up – let’s start by your e-mailing me a response to this post.)
The vocabulary tests gauge if you have the basic vocabulary required to enable you to comprehend the voluminous texts. In a way, too, they show your aptitude for learning the many concepts that will be thrown at you.
You’ve read my previous posts on preparing for the law entrance exams. Go through them and do the word power exercises religiously. Repeat the books if you must, the idea is not only to familiarize yourself with etymology but to exercise your brain and make the word-root word association almost automatic. That’s the reason why those darned vocabulary tests give you all of 15 seconds to come up with the right answer. See, if you didn’t know it and were hastening a guess, you would probably not guess right. On the other hand, if you were at least familiar with the word, your guess will probably be spot on.
It looks like your parent’s question already takes care of the financial aspect of plunging into the study of law. Forget the immigration updates or deadlines — deal with that when they come.
I say go for it.
But I want you to do it with an open mind. I want you to do it thinking about work, your kids and your husband. At the end of the day, the final equation is not just you and what you dream of. It will take you, and how you juggle all these responsibilities, to get to that dream. If there is any chance to write an appeal when all else fails, DO IT. Pride has no place in seeking something that means a lot to you. It will get you nothing but yet another lost chance.
I don’t think postponing your dream another time will do you any good. You wouldn’t want bitterness gnawing at you and later filtering out to your kids and husband for a dream unfulfilled. You can do it — you’ll just have to compromise a little. Go for Ateneo and UP if you must, Beda, too — but take the exam in the other schools, too. When all the results are in, then make your choice.
Do not let the schools that accept or do not accept you determine your future. For all you know, you were made to land elsewhere for a reason — or if you bag either one, then perhaps it was just all a matter of giving it another try at a later time.
You are so lucky to be given this chance — don’t waste it. If indeed the heavens say “no” in all directions, then perhaps it’s just not the time to dream the dream, but it doesn’t mean you must give up. Never give up.