The Waiting Game (Lawyer Wannabe Anxiety)

I have been slow to write of late because the little guy has been down with strep throat.  I can deal with pressure from work at any given day, or even with the unexpected potholes in life, but when my guy is sick, everything is up in the air.

I had my week planned, and of course that went this way and that.  I’m good now because he is well and back to school.  The marathon to catch up and get ready for school and tests has already begun.  Why are they studying The Odyssey in sixth grade?  That was senior high school reading for me along with the Illiad.  The good news is, it’s just the “story” and not the book.  Still.

Homer Simpson wrote me during the week and I received a similar question via a comment here from Kim a while back.  (My bad for taking forever and a day to write a reply.)   Their queries have more or less the same slant with anxiety creeping up because of having taken law school entrance exams or planning to take it and regretting or worrying about how they had done in pre-law.

So here goes.

 

Let me tackle the two together, although if you read what they wrote, they have a different slant on the question I’m trying to answer.

Kim wrote:

Hello ma’am! I read your post about law schools and I am a UP/Ateneo/Beda law school aspirant. I am quite anxious but reading your blog posts helped me.

I was enrolled in Ateneo de Manila for 3 years but transferred to a school in province. I was not kicked out, it was financial. However, my grades are not that clean. I had my fair share of drops (PE classes) and fails (Accounting). My average was alright because my other subjects pulled it up. When I transferred to a university here at the province, I took up Political Science and Public Administration. I am on my last semester. Even though my General Weighted Average could make it, my TOR spells “inconsistent”. Again, there were a few dropped classes (PE mostly- again). However, I enjoy my Political Science subjects and it reflects in my grades. The law schools ask you to submit your TOR and I am worried about my grades more than the entrance exams. I passed ACET, UPCAT, etc before. Also, I have been a paid part time writer online for 6 years and a recognized student journalist and debater for as long as I can remember, but, my grades are not that pretty. What can I do about it? I cannot bring back time. I was immature then and did not think I would be worrying about grades someday.

I also want to ask if a very nice co-curricular would help? I was President of the PolSci org in school and VP for the city-wide and regional Polsci orgs. Although not perfect, I am confident I can speak well and write well. I won in writing contests and debate competitions. However, I feel it wont’t be enough. I am very insecure about my grades it is giving me this feeling of hopelessness. 😦

Meanwhile, Homer Simpson wrote:

I’m really anxious about the Ateneo Law Exam Results. I really want to pass. I know I have the option of attending other law schools but still. Being an Atenean is still different. I live in the south so it’s a lot nearer than SBC. Living in the dorm is not an option because I have to take care of my parents. There are a lot of construction happening right now in Sergio Osmena highway. I’m incredibly worried that I’ll spend most of my time in traffic if I attend SBC, and I can’t risk it given the mortality rate there. You see, Metro Manila traffic is really bad right now.

I’m just really worried that my undergrad grades aren’t worthy for ALS. I have one failing grade and I am not from UP or Ateneo. I worked harder to get my grades up after my first year in college and it did. I worked at a law firm for a year so I think I did mature a lot since graduation and I do think I’ve changed. While I did proper preparation prior to the exam, I’m worried that it won’t be enough to get me in ALS. I reviewed using LSAT reviewers. I reviewed like crazy. Would that be enough? I actually finished the exam already. Not to brag but it was easier that what I expected ( I took UPLAE so I expected it to be a lot like LAE, if not more difficult) but isn’t that the scary part? I might have answered it wrong or it is too easy that a lot of applicants will be good at the exam as well. Also, how do the interview portions go? Do you have any tips? How do I go about calming my nerves!? Results come out in 2 months. I really want to pass ALS..

and the Pinay New Yorker says:

First of all, let me declare it here that I am in no way privy to the criteria nor the process of selection beyond my actual experience of having successfully passed two of the three law school entrance exams I took.  I cannot say with authority that one thing will work or not.  I can, however, speak to what worked for me, and what I think should be taken into consideration by the people who are going through what I have gone through now as they try to go through the process of entering or being in law school.

That said, here’s what I have to say.

I have a rule of thumb about trying to focus on how to channel my anxiety.  I try to deal with that which I have control over, and just hope for the best when it comes to those that I cannot steer this way or that.  Like things that have already happened and cannot be undone.  They are beyond your control so while entertaining bouts of remorse about what one could have done differently, the truth of the matter is, the die, as they say, has been cast.

I used to be guilty of the same thing they are indulging in — I would worry myself to death and then spend sleepless nights with “what ifs”.  Then I came to terms with the fact that worrying about them didn’t exactly solve the problem.  So yes, I still indulged myself with a bit of worrying and then whipped myself back up and moved on.  I let the anxiety be a mere blip instead of a horn blowing over the sound of the world going on around me.

I’ve written about it time and again that the entrance exams are meant to pinpoint aptitude — which is defined by  Webster.com as ‘a natural ability to learn or do something’.  So for all the figures and math and words that you encounter in the tests, they are actually picking through your brain trying to see if there is an iota of a chance that you have the ‘natural ability’ to embrace learning about the law.

I will be the first to admit that my grades in college were never sterling.  I wasn’t a Dean’s lister, and I basically went to college to do away with the pre-law requirement.  If I could go straight to law school, I would have.  I felt that that was my end goal.  I wanted it THAT bad.

I did do a lot of extra curricular activities, (student council and all), but really, I don’t think that figured much into my getting into law school.

Entering the law school of your choice, or any school for that matter and taking the entrance exam to that school (such as the much anticipated, dreaded and heartbreaking UPCAT), is a numbers game.

You have to consider the fact that there are so many souls out there vying for only so many slots.  So with that in mind, do not lose the dream just because the law school of yout choice did not pick you.  It might not just be your performance in the exam per se, but there are other factors like choosing the wrong university location, the wrong course combinations, etc.  Given the number of examinees and the actual slots open, you are actually competing with the rest of the world.  The first step is to actually pass that exam, or at least find yourself in the top percentile of exam takers, high enough to make it above the cut, so to speak.

So the entrance exam is key.  If you don’t make it then, your grades will not even factor in.  You may graduate with one of those ‘laudes’ — but if you don’t pass the exam, that speaks a lot about your ability to handle law school.

The fact that there are so many passers who will make the grade is what puts your performance in college or pre-law into play.  That’s when the ‘laudes’ will matter.  Or the ones, or the fours, depending on which school you went to for your prelaw.  Will they look at your extra curricular activities?  Logic tells me that they will, but only if you make it to the interview process.  That means you’ve been shortlisted from the shortlist — passed law entrance exam and brought a decent transcript that didn’t push you to the bottom of the list.  Will that sway a decision to bring you in?  I honestly don’t think so.  I have always been heavy on the extra curricular activities back in school, but the truth of the matter is, while they help you come up with better-rounded personality, school is really about academics.  And schools evaluating who gets to sit in your classrooms will look at the aptitude and performance of those vying for a slot.

As for the location of your school, Homer, my university of choice way back when was really DLSU which was located on Taft Avenue.  My Dad vehemently protested saying the driver would have to wade through the traffic caused by the original LRT construction back then, and it might adversely affect the schedule for my siblings who were in Pasig (St. Paul) and Mendiola (San Beda) respectively.  He wanted me to go to UP Diliman.  When the UPCAT results came out, we ended up in UP Manila, a ride away from DLSU and which was hit by the LRT construction — but I was in UP and he was happy.  No regrets, but at the start, I was really upset.  And yet, it worked out.

Law school was really a toss up between UP and Ateneo for me — and okay, maybe San Beda — but when UP said no, I figured I just wasn’t meant to be there.  Of course I said, it was their loss.  (After all, when I passed the Bar, I became a chalk mark for Ateneo instead of UP.)  But things happen for a reason, and sometimes, we have to listen to the universe when it says this isn’t the place for you.  “You are supposed to be somewhere else.”  And just like in taking law school entrance exams, these tests are supposed to tell you where your brain is best suited, even if your heart is screaming “LAW!”.

I was about to hit “publish” when I recalled something from when I was taking the Bar Exams ages ago.   Back then, I sat with people taking the bar exam for the nth time — and some of them were old enough to be my grandmother or mother.  They looked as determined as any of us haggard and harrassed Ateneans clutching our printed-on-blue-paper reviewers and tips.  We saw familiar faces but usually, we were the only one from our school in any given room.  There were that many of us taking the exams.  One of those Sundays, I got terribly sick because the airconditioner was on full blast and my body was ready to give in to the pressure.  I was having a hard time focusing and them I was reminded of what brought me to that point — after all was said and done, there I was, taking the final battery of tests in my pursuit of a dream.  And that jolted me to reality.  That was my reality.  That was where I was meant to be.

You have to tenaciously hold on to your dream, yet at the same time, make room for adjustments, if needed.  We don’t always get what we want, but we can help prod the universe, by going after it.

I know that what I’m saying isn’t very reassuring, but I think you have to go back to the rule of thumb I have put down somewhere at the start of my reply: don’t fret about things you have no control over.  I would put my heart and soul to preparing for the test (for Kim) and I will sit it out and just wait, Homer.  Good luck to you both.

 
Related posts can be found here at Lawyer Wannabe.  (See navigation bar.)
 

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