Law school interviews (the neverending saga of trying to get into law school)

I know this might be a tad too late since school has begun in Manila, but I thought it would be good to post about interviews in general.

I have gone through a lot of interviews through the course of my career as the interviewee and the interviewer, and I have to say that just like I have butterflies in my stomach every time I am asked to be the emcee in a program or to speak extemporaneously, interviews get me all nervous.. still.  I think I’m much better at doing them now, but you always try to put your best foot forward.

So one of my legal eaglets (a term of endearment for our lawyer – wannabes) wrote me for having been wait listed in the school of her dreams.  She was being called in for an interview.  I received an email and I responded directly but wanted to share with the others what I wrote.. (my now 41 readers as of last count.. Haha!)

I wrote:  Congratulations! I wanted to answer your questions briefly via email to put your fears to rest.. First thing’s first — you need to learn how to put your fears aside or to calm your anxiety or YOU WILL NOT SURVIVE LAW SCHOOL with this kind of attitude. One rule of thumb I have learned to live by is you need to worry about that which you can control, and let go of that which you can’t. You are thinking too much! DO NOT OVERTHINK IT or you might lose all your hair even before you take the bar! LOL (I’m trying to make light of this.)

1.) Once you’re enrolled and attending classes, does it really matter if you were part of the first list or the second? Do they, in some way, discriminate? NO. The teachers have no way of knowing and it’s too much trouble to distinguish and go through all that.  No one will know unless they memorize the list of waitlisted applicants, and the truth of it is, everyone is out there for themselves.  Even among your peers, no one cares that your name was on the initial list or that you were waitlisted, they only care where their name showed up.  You will find that gender and status and even academic background fall second to how you actually present yourself during recitation, or when the bluebooks are returned.  And being waitlisted doesn’t mean that you weren’t good enough — there were just more who were better.  I’d think of it that way.

2.) Do they admit students who have failed at least one subject back in undergrad if they’re not from UP/ADMU?  (Apparently, eaglet had read up and noticed that some got admitted despite their grades but they are from these 2 schools and she is very concerned about her transcript.). – First of all, I am not privy to the authoritative answer on this but logic tells me it’s your average and performance that will pull you up or down the list.  With the number of applicants coming in, you don’t really go through grade by grade and justify or find reasons to accept or not accept an applicant.

So common sense tells me that YES, they will admit you but that depends on your average. I was from UP and my average wasn’t bad but wasn’t sterling. They will evaluate the transcript whatever school you came from, and that is part of the total calculation of your ranking. Ranking, of course, is relative to who else is on the list. If you end up with so many cum laudes, too bad. If you land with other like minded souls with similar grades, that ups your chances. Also, you have to take into consideration that not everyone who passes will enroll, because some will go to UP, others will defer, or others will change their minds altogether for some reason or other. That is the reason there is a waiting list.  (I really think you shouldn’t be too concerned about the others.  This is YOUR journey and your focus should be on you!)

3.) Would (I) know what places applicants in the position wherein they need to get interviewed? Is it because they aren’t part of the top 150 passers or is it that they may have been part of the top 150 but they weren’t impressed with the documents submitted (transcript, application letter, recommendation letter)? During my time which was a lifetime ago, EVERYONE GETS INTERVIEWED. I passed and I got interviewed. The purpose of the interview is to see how suited you are again to the profession. Some people test very well — I don’t. And yet if you let me speak I can sell myself very well and convince you I’m the best person to put on that list.  And who would bother to remember which names were up for interview?  Do they have this on a list in the halls? And even if they did, that list would be off the bulletin board by the time school opens.  Would anyone really care if the person sitting next to them got in effortlessly or via a Hail Mary pass?  They will only get wind of it if you nervously blab about it, so stop and just focus on you– again!

4.) “Since most of the students belong to families of the upper class, I’m afraid I won’t fit in. Am I just overthinking this? I’m used to the Kwek Kweks, Isaws and Fishballs. I doubt there would be food carts in Rockwell, if you know what I mean. “– You’d be surprised — you might find fishball carts. And yes, when the school was still in HV De la Costa, we ate from them, wearing our dresses and the boys wearing their barongs.  (And we envied the boys who could eat with their undershirts on or without their ties..)

You have such an idealistic picture of law school and Ateneo. It isn’t all that. Or it might be, depending on how it wows you, but really, does it matter?  (Okay, Ateneans, chime in!  Let me hear from you about this..)

This is something I need you to seriously think about. Yes, most of the students will be from the upper class because the tuition sort of gravitates towards that end of the social spectrum. If you are not going to be able to get past that, then Ateneo is not for you. With all the aggravation you will get from the course load, the humiliation the teachers put everyone through regardless of gender, social class or appearance (beauty queen looks notwithstanding, — or worse, a famous lawyer surname which always almost means you get picked on), you have to stand on your own merits.
It is a very difficult and rigorous course. You really won’t even have time to worry about keeping up or all that. But you need to learn to get past that or you will forever be the wall flower too dyahe to talk to the cono kids. You will find yourself feeling envious of those kids with their own SCRA (the encyclopedia of cases which literally costs as much as a brand new car), or their fancy laptops and cars. You let that get to you, you won’t make it past first year.

You aren’t there to compete — you’re there to learn and prove to the teachers that you are worth being in that classroom. When you sit in their classes, all that will matter is that you can answer their questions correctly and coherently.  And believe it or not, even if your answer is wrong, if you can argue your case and give a basis for the wrong answer, you will earn their respect.  Forget that you might have a visayan accent or what not — or that you don’t speak as flawlessly as the cono kids do.   If you can find the right answer and analyze the law correctly, you stand a foot above them. At the very least, you will stand with them. There are a lot of very arrogant people in law school, but you’ll be surprised at how down to earth a lot of them are.  Ateneo included. You haven’t had a dose of Jesuit education if you equate them as being sosyal only. There’s a lot of social awareness in that community. More so in UP. We know we have the brains, we might have the money, but we know we have a bigger world that goes beyond us out there.

5.) Lastly, would (I) know what they ask during these interviews? Do they use intimidation to check if you’re fit for law school or is it your typical job interview type of meeting? Mine was ages ago, and it depends on who’s interviewing. But they are trying to see how good you are — meaning do you freeze when asked a profound question? Can you put two sentences together or do you simply answer with a yes or a no? Are you cocky to the point of arrogance? Are you too timid to answer to be heard? One simple rule: Be yourself.

If it’s for you, you will get in.  (Kung para sa iyo, para sa iyo.)  If it isn’t, that’s the end of the road. But you’re still in the race, so keep going. Don’t worry about the others running with you. Just worry about making it to the finish line.

And for what it’s worth, you can realize your dream to be a legal eagle in any school.  Passing the bar exams is not confined to the top schools.  At the end of the day, it is how you chase that dream and hang on to it for dear life that matters.  If at the end of the journey you find that it is still beyond your reach, then at least you know you gave it your best — trying.  You will be surprised at what you will learn along the way — not only about the law, but more so about yourself.

Remember to focus on you.  Everything else around you — the other students who seem to be better than you (and they may very well be, but who cares?!) — is just white noise.

Let me know what happened and where you landed, H!  Be well.

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

Back to Monday Musings (on a Tuesday)

MondayMusingsLogoIt’s a tad frustrating to see that my last post here was mid May and we are getting on with June.  I had unsuccessfully tried to begin half a dozen posts, but no luck.  Rather than write a full post on any given topic or blog prompt, I thought going back to the bullet style update I do under this banner would help me get things rolling.  

What have I been up to?

Summer’s on!  It feels as though we skipped spring altogether and jumped head on into summer!  Is that spring being short or summer coming early?  It’s a little tricky deciding but our days are definitely hotter, and the preview of the heat coming our way is making me wish for fall.  Lighter clothes, less layers — yes!  But then I remember Summer’s past when I had to be creative with commuting to work– I literally had to don something else to brave the heat with and change to more appropriate work clothes when I got there!  Hopefully not again…

There’s a lot of fun summer trends making a come back like off shoulder tops and flowing skirts.  I’m excited because of my newfound sewing skills which I am trying to convert into something I can wear.  I’ll delve into that in more detail in my craft blog, but yes, I’m going to fearlessly declare that I hope to make my own clothes!

Vacation plans brewing.  I am getting ready for a trip the second half of June, but I’d rather write about that while it’s happening or maybe after.  I’m excited for many reasons, but principally because this is the first vacation I’m planning for just myself.  It’s doubly exciting because I’m meeting up with BFF Donna who will be there with her family.

One of my oldest friends from way back when, we only get to meet up when she brings her brood here to New York.  This time, we’re heading closer to her Down Under to get some sun!

I have been putting together my gear the last couple of weeks and have started packing.  Two weeks to go and I’m off!  Blog post coming on what I’m packing and bringing with me.

And of course, I’m still trying to decide when I should actually fly to Manila.  The trips are a little easier and more difficult to do these days now.  Angelo is bigger and is actually a better travel companion, but then adjusting the vacation to his summer schedule can be a bit heavy on the pocket as it’s peak season on our side of the world.  Still, we take into consideration his request to be able to stay in Manila longer so he can immerse himself in the culture, and more importantly, to get to spend time with family on both sides while there.

Make up happy.  I’ve actually avoided writing about this because I hate posting pictures of myself here.  But one thing I will always be is a make up junkie — something I have been since my teens.   My dream as one is to actually be able to sit in Juan Sarte’s make up chair and see myself magically transformed.  The story behind why Juan Sarte is actually rather long and personal, but his artistry should suffice as an explanation.  I would love to be his apprentice if I had the opportunity or luxury but I’d probably have to fall in line behind hundreds of other aspirants.

I’ve been experimenting with lip paint and just found a drugstore brand that compares to the fancier and pricier ones.  (Again, blog post coming.)

At 50 and as an Asian, I get so wowed by the fierce and bold reds and pinks I see in the streets of New York, but I am cautious about the colors I wear.  It’s very tricky when you take into account that the colors you wear should agree with your skin tone, and now at 50, your age, so much so that you just have to be discriminating in what you pick.

But make up has always been a source of joy.  You won’t believe how a quick run through the make up counters back home used to make me giddy happy.  These days, it’s as simple as checking out what’s on sale, and patiently running between the samplers and the make up cleansers in ever busy Sephora.

Sew excited!  Pun intended.  So I wrapped up the 6-week beginner sewing class over at Mood Fabrics’ MoodUniversity.  The next set of classes begin next weekend (June 13 for the Adult Advanced Sewing class), but I am going to have to postpone to the fall due to vacation plans.  And yet I’m all gungho about attempting some sewing for me to wear (yes!) this summer and fall.

More on that on the craft blog!

Legal Eaglets in waiting.  Happiness is completing a blog post here — finally!  Goal for the week: two more posts.  Let’s see where that goes.  I owe two of my 39 readers a reply after I got some very touching feedback via email (pinaynewyorker at gmail dot com) and each one deserves its own post.  Hoping.