The school you choose

In the midst of the corona virus pandemic enveloping the globe, life decisions have to be made. There is comfort in the thought that the world continues spinning and each day comes and goes, reminding us that there IS tomorrow.

Although there is much uncertainty about the face of education given our current dilemma, there are hopes and dreams that cannot be put on hold — more so those that involve deciding where we will go, or what we will do. The school calendar hasn’t completely stopped — school has just taken on a new face, until we can grapple with the challenge of going back to what used to be without causing the spread of more infections.

I’ve been writing about life in New York in the time of the Corona virus, and I was ready to begin a post focusing on my day in Central Park two Saturdays ago. That will have to wait.

I woke up to this email at pinaynewyorker@gmail.com from a lawyer wannabe. That was indeed a pleasant surprise and at the same time, it is not, being that my most popular posts in the blog relate to the pursuit of a legal education. That’s the main reason why the posts dedicated to this topic are grouped together under a specific section. I am no expert in this field but I’ve lived it, and I’ve always been more than happy to give my two cents on this topic near and dear to my heart.


So our lawyer wannabe wrote:

“I came across your blog as I have been sad and lost for the past weeks because I did not get into my dream law school – the Ateneo Law School (ALS). I typed “I didn’t pass Ateneo Law School” in the Google search bar and your blog came out. Your stories are very inspiring!

I graduated from De La Salle University (DLSU). While taking the Ateneo LAE again next year is an option, my family and some friends are telling me to take DLSU Law instead since it is still a good school even though it is relatively new (10 years), and also it is the only school that is still accepting applicants for this year (2020).

My question is if your law school would really matter in long-run?
Say in the workforce? In firms or in the government? After I graduate law school and pass the Bar, I am also planning to live either in New York or D.C. And I think it is coincidental that I was able to find your blog.

Looking forward to hearing from you!”

And the Pinay New Yorker says:

Let me preface my answer with the caveat that this is MY personal opinion. This is in no way cast in stone and some people might disagree, but like I always said, I write here for my personal benefit, not to gain profit or followers, or to persuade others.

I am, however, being cautious. I have learned through the years that what I write or say here does make an impact. I have been heartened by emails or comments from young people back home — and some of those that have meant the most came back years later with an affirmation that their efforts saw them succeeding in their chosen path. I don’t take credit for any of that, just that as we say in the vernacular, nakakataba ng puso. It warms my heart.

So you asked if your law school would really matter in the long run.. Yes, it does.

But I think that’s not really your question based on whether or not which school you choose really matters. You’re asking if you should keep trying for the Ateneo School of Law. (It is ASL not ALS)

My personal choice/s. I had only three law schools in mind, and my first choice was UP Law, having come from UP for my prelaw, and the alternative — not a second choice, —was Ateneo School of Law. It was one or the other. I did take the entrance exams to San Beda Law as a back up. That was my second choice. I had gone to college to go to law school — so I was getting into a law school come what may. Being a lawyer was a dream I had nurtured long before I even graduated from high school. Everything I did was meant to get me there.

I wasn’t cocky enough to think either or both my first choice was a sure shot, because I knew I was competing with hordes of other hopefuls. My time in UP taught me one thing — I sit among people with the same if not more superior intellect than I possess. No matter how good I thought I was, there were hundreds more who would clearly edge me out. I took the entrance exams knowing that I was in a numbers game. If luck was not on my side, I would not be as high on the totem pole as I would hope to be to make the cut off.

I also took the exams accepting that making it to any one of the three schools would be my dream come true. Unlike you, I had not singled out one school. If it was meant to be, they would choose me. My grades were passable but not stellar, but I prepared with word power exercises with the intent to “exercise my brain” and improve thinking speed. There really is no “studying” for these entrance exams, because they are aptitude tests that gauge your suitability to the course based on what you already know. I knew I had the English to carry me through an eloquent essay. And I gave that essay my all.

So why did I choose these three schools? UP was obvious and not because I think it is the better school, but because I was from UP, and everyone thinks highly of the state university which is a reputation well deserved. Ateneo was as good a choice as UP because I consider their academic standard equal, but I also knew their bar passing rate was higher. San Beda appealed to me as a good back up choice because of their distinguished list of alumni which seemed to back a solid reputation as well.

At the time I made these choices, I was a full time student, our business was doing okay so I had no money worries, and I had the determination to land in law school. I was at the threshold of seeing my dreams come true.

So as it happened, UP said no, and Ateneo and San Beda said yes. But with a yes from ASL, that was that. I would have loved to have landed UP, but even if I didn’t make it to Ateneo and ended up in San Beda, it was the pursuit of a legal education that mattered to me. Then and even now, I lived by the mantra that if it was meant to be, it would land on my lap.

Does it matter which school you choose when it comes to finally going out into the real world? This, to my mind, is not an exclusively law school related question. This is a question that everyone asks even when it comes to college education. And the reality of it is, it does.

Whether it is in the field of law or of any other profession, when people hear you’re from UP or Ateneo or yes, even DLSU, they look at you differently compared to the other universities. When hiring people and going through dozens of resumes for any given position, your academic background will make you stand out. The truth is, the school where you come from gives you that added edge. If, say, you’re hiring for an entry level position, and you are faced with candidates who are fresh graduates from UP, Ateneo and DLSU and other schools, the resumes with these three schools will be on top of the pile. That is the plain truth. All things being equal and the position requires the mental acuity that these institutions are known for, you would pay the successful candidate the same starting salary. So there is a tendency to prefer one from the so called top schools over the others. That sounds very biased but it is how it goes.

Of course, this is not to say that the hiring manager has no other preferences to consider. Their own alma mater always figures, but is not always a deal breaker. In the long run, experience tops the academic background although it will always be a consideration.

I do believe that the better question that you should be asking is which school would best prepare you to pass the all important hurdle of the Bar Exam. This question is answered on a case to case basis, because not everyone has the same personal circumstances. Not having made it to your dream school doesn’t mean that you are not cut out for the legal profession — it just means you didn’t make the grade for ASL. Do not compare yourself to the others who made it — they might have performed better than you did during the actual test, or they answered the essay question a certain way. They might have better grades. It doesn’t make them better than you — it just meant that by ASL standards, they and those who passed, made the grade.

The Quality Percentile Index requirement of ASL is also very rigorous, seeing the original freshman class dwindle to half by the time they make it to the bar exams. So while working students may make it to the roster as freshmen, it is not the best environment for someone who is working full time during the day. It requires a different kind of focus and tenacity to make it through the rigorous curriculum.

If you feel very strongly about giving ASL another try, remember that they don’t accept transferees, so you cannot go to one law school this year and transfer next year. And I hate to say this, but taking the entrance exam a second time is no guarantee you will make it.

I consulted one of my friends who has a successful practice and is a name partner in one of the law firms in Makati. Here’s the voice from the other side of the table — the one hiring. I am paraphrasing his answer to your question, but he believes that the quality of applicants is apparent depending on which school they came from. But it isn’t one school vs. the other. He separates UP Law and Ateneo law as a class all its own. “There is a presumption of competence and capability as compared to other law schools. x x x. Those who came from these schools tend to have the ability to think critically and question the norm.”

I cannot speak about UP Law or San Beda Law because I came from Ateneo. I know that years after I left and I successfully passed the Bar with a cursory review, I realized what training I got from the case overload and the questions that seemed to be pulled from several different books or chapters I hadn’t even gotten to yet. Even the dress code made sense to me. What had appeared to be arrogance by some professors showed me a different side of the the legal field. I still hear the lectures I heard ringing in my ears when I reminisce sometimes. Through blood, sweat and tears, I lived my dream.

Weigh your options very carefully. If DLSU Law is an option — do not take the relatively young history of their law school against them. Faculty comparisons don’t always work as well as you don’t know which professors will be there when you take a certain course. Also, it’s not unusual to have two professors teaching the same subject, so seeing a star faculty member in one roster doesn’t mean you will get that professor. That is not unusual because these professors are not full time faculty — they all have a legal career. I have friends who are UP Law or Ateneo Law graduates and who are now teaching in UE and FEU, so do not belittle the lesser known law schools, and more so the younger ones.

Ateneo Law and UP Law have very rare “crossovers”, as most of their faculty are their own alumni, but it is not unheard of. During my time in Ateneo, I was fortunate enough to have had the chance to be taught by an esteemed UP law professor — the only one from the “other school” who taught in Ateneo at that time. So to land in DLSU law doesn’t meant that you won’t have those occasional UP or Ateneo Lawyers at the helm of a class. It has also been touted that they have the deep pockets to pay decent honoraria to these professors from the other schools to beef up their faculty.

My two cents: Focus on the here and now. While worrying about the future is a real question that you will hurdle in time, you are faced with the first important step to get there: making it through law school. You can land in your dream school, but getting from the first to the fourth year of that arduous course is going to be a big hurdle by itself. Get to a law school of good repute. They each have their standards — Respect that. And yet do not let yourself be cowed by their refusal. Instead, work on making that your crutch to prove them you will be a passing statistic for the other school that accepted you. That’s what I told myself — when I pass, I will be part of the passing statistic of Ateneo. That’s one less for UP.

Wherever you land, do not think of the “could have been’ s”. Think of the “what is.” Not landing in Ateneo doesn’t mean that you won’t be the best damn lawyer you can be in the future. Whether you decide to stay in the Philippines or move here to the US, you will always be a lawyer wherever you are. You will be a legal eagle whether you practice or not, for as long as you live your dream, survive law school and pass the bar.

If you choose to move here, will it really matter to the firms here that you studied in Ateneo or UP or DLSU? Only if they came from those schools themselves. When you get here, it’s a totally different ball game and another Bar exam. Right now, you train for that if that is your end goal, and any decent law school can bring you to that point.

Is money a problem? Is English proficiency lacking? Are you starting a family? Are you supporting siblings? No. The one big thorn on your side is that you didn’t get to your dream law school.

I get it, the disappointment is eating at you. You have to get over that, and get over it quick. You will have many more of that in whichever law school you land in. I remember many tests where I thought I did okay and my grade was many levels below what I expected. Or those days when I memorized dozens of codal provisions only to be asked about a case I didn’t even get to read the digest of. I remember telling a professor I did not read the case. He gives me a second chance with another, and still, I didn’t read that either. And I sit down, head bowed. I remember semesters when I nervously gritted my teeth as the grades were released praying as hard as I can that I make the QPI. (You will understand what I mean when you get to law school.). I was lucky that by my junior and senior year, all classes were in the late afternoon and evenings, and I kept going even when I had to work full time to support myself through the second half of law school. How I envied my classmates who were full time students — whose lives revolved around being able to study all hours of the day and saunter into class without worrying about rushing from work to school. And finally, when I sat for the bar exams armed with more hope than actual preparation, I wrote with the determination and feigned confidence that would convince the examiner I could argue my case, even if I answered the question incorrectly.

You have the English to get you through.. I can see that. You have the fire in your heart. Don’t let the fact that ASL didn’t accept you snuff that out. Don’t make it the be all and end all of this dream. Focus on what you have and work on that.

You want to be a lawyer.

Law school is just a step towards making that come true. Get yourself on that road by studying as hard as you can and never let go of the dream. And write me five years from now that you passed the Bar.

Related posts on the topic of law school and the pursuit of a legal education based on my personal experience can be found in this section: Lawyer Wannabe

Drop me a line at pinaynewyorker@gmail.com

Feedback on Feedback from M

I have been meaning to respond, but that is taking me forever and a day. So before this “gets away from me” and I am left with a half finished post, I thought I’d share with you a heartfelt and most heartening shout out from one of my 34 readers. The email below is unedited and cut and paste from his original comment.

Before you read on, I just want to say it’s emails like this that makes me feel I am doing something beyond feeding my need to journal online, and write for myself. That maybe– just maybe– I am helping someone else and paying forward what good has come my way and spreading positivity and love around.

Response coming soon.. promise.

M wrote:

A glorious new year to one of the most influential people who helped me change my life and shape my inner self 4 years ago. You pushed me to become the person that I am today, and for the person that I will become in the future.

It’s been a while, Attorney. I have countless of things to thank you for, but I think there’s going to be a perfect time for that (fingers crossed). Right now I just want to tell you how much I appreciate everything you said here in your blog including your personal message to me, and that all the things you said about life (law school in particular) were on point. It kept me moving forward even in roads I never thought I could possibly survive. So thank you. Thank you so much for bringing out the best in me. It’s been years since I read your blog and right now I could only wish that I should’ve visited this during my times of struggle. To bring you the good news, I’m now in my senior year in law school, a full-time regular student, still in San Beda Mendiola, struggling to have the best of both worlds since 2014 (full-time work and school so I could afford my fees). You really made a huge impact in my life (and you still are). Among others, I pray for your happiness and good health this 2018. Should the stars align soon, I hope I can help you publish your inspirational book for lawyering hopefuls in our country. You are truly a gift, a gem given to this world by our ‘big boss’ above. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING!!!

My inner fire burns again: huge, fiery hot, in crimson red! same as what I had when I went through my 1st year in law school like an eagle diving to get his prey with absolute precision without dropping his focus!”

Thank you, M.

More posts like this one on trying to become a lawyer or thinking of being one can be found in the Lawyer Wannabe tab on the header menu.

Dream and Live the Dream

I am happy to welcome those legal hopefuls who manage to stumble into this space in their quest for answers or enlightenment, neither of which I claim to offer — but I am happy to share my two cents’ worth based on personal experience.  Some queries I end up answering straight away in an email, and others I try to postpone for a blogpost here. While some end up unwritten or unpublished, there are topics and questions that I just have to share.  How many times do we find ourselves reading something that we identify with, because we hear our voice in another person’s story?

Several weekends ago, this came my way. Reading it before my morning cup of coffee and being fully awake would’ve normally merited only a cursory reading, but it came out so loud and clear that I read it from start to finish right there and then.

“I am N, a  24 years old probinsyana who found her way to Manila in her pursuit to be in the legal profession. I stumbled upon your blog through searching online about the feasibility of working and studying law at the same time. That was the first post I read from your blog. It inspired me so much that I started to work on my application at ALS.

There are many things that I have to consider in my pursuit to become a legal eagle. One, is the financial stretch. I also came from an Ateneo school in the province but my legal pursuit is something that I do not want to be my family’s financial responsibility anymore as my single mother is already old and gray. And so, I am currently on a job that pays me 20 thousand a month with the pressure of achieving a monthly quota not to mention the almost three times a week fieldwork.

I’ve read in your post that you encourage us the hopefuls to try to apply in different schools as well, I’ve thought of UP and PLM but my heart really belonged to the Ateneo. And so, I applied for jobs nearer in Makati and eventually got an offer to become a compliance officer somewhere in Ortigas, the pay is 50% higher but the risk of giving up my current job to embrace an altogether different job with no assurance yet that I’ll be accepted in the Ateneo scared me.

Now, I find myself in the crossroad and the what ifs. I know deep in my heart that the l am meant to pursue law. But it feels like with all the moves that I can possibly make to get there, the risks are too high. I do not have a safety net in case things don’t work out the way they should be, and that is the main reason why up to now I have not made a career move yet.

Chasing a dream is not only challenging but sometimes a lonely road to take. Reading your blog kept me from focusing on why I decided to endure this job and live in Manila despite a comfier life back home. To be admitted in ALS in itself is an almost impossible feat for me; taking into consideration my finances and TOR. But the thing about dreams is that when it hits you, it hits you hard.

I hope to hear from you, Atty.

Kind Regards,

N”

And the Pinay New Yorker says..

This reply took a long while and for this I apologize. I have always been careful Ispeaking about life in general because I am aware that it reaches a deep note within those who read what I write here. But here I am.. and here goes..

I have always said each of us has our own story to tell, and while I do not judge the way emails are written or how a message is conveyed, there is much that is said by the way a legal eagle wannabe writes me. I told N that this was one of the best emails I have received, for being clear, to the point and well written as a whole. It is by no means perfect, but if you’ve gotten this far in reading this post, then you know what I mean.

The pursuit of a legal education is by no means an easy ride, and the only way to truly survive it is to really want it so badly you will fight to make it to the end– literally. There are many obstacles along the way, on top of the very demanding curriculum in whichever school you choose. To make it, there many sacrifices one has to make.

I was a working student through most of law school. It was not easy traveling around the country and juggling schoolwork and case loads with all that, along with a 9-5 job when I was in town. My work-life balance was non existent but I knew my priorities. I was working not to work and build a career, but to see myself through school. So the paycheck was relevant, because it allowed me to pursue my dream.

Switching careers or jobs is never an easy choice. But you have to consider that a job offer means the hiring party saw potential in you. Sometimes, the most unlikely field choices turn out to be life changing moves that bring us closer to where we want to go. Or, and I say this with caution– the switch makes us see a different picture altogether, pointing us in a totally different direction.

I know that you would’ve made your choice by now. I know, too, that is likely that you chose to stay. If you ever come across such an option again, I would grab the higher pay. Law school is a very expensive undertaking even if you can borrow books, get hand me down reviewers or have the time to live in the library to study there in person. It is not only an intellectual and emotional investment, but more importantly, it is an economic one.

If you ask me, work in any shape or form is a distraction from school. If one has no choice but to work and study at the same time to pursue law, then let’s make the distraction that work is, worth the aggravation. Goose the one that pays more. You don’t want to be saddled with the rigors of work on one hand, and the expense and mental weight of memorizing and reading all those books and cases on the other. To make it, you have to make it clear that work is just the means to get to your dream.

And again, the choice of school matters not just as far as which one is the best. You have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and see what works best for YOU. Not what works in the eyes of your family or in your view.. but what actually works for you.

Schedule wise, financially, standards (QPI be damned), location. If Ateneo can work and granting that you do make it, then go for it. But if it doesn’t, the Ateneo is not the only road to making your dream come true. Being a working student means being able to make both schedules work. It means working with half the time a full time student has to study– and cramming everything into what pockets of time you find. It also means working on finding a way to make the expenses of law school fit into your budget. And I’m talking about every day expenses, not even the tuition fee.

I can feel the heaviness on your shoulders as they sag reading what I am writing here. I am not trying to discourage you– I just don’t want to sugarcoat the situation because it is far from a joyride. If it is a lawyer that you want to be, then you focus on that dream and everything else will have to be a means to get to that. There will be a lot of stumbling blocks and wrong choices made. But if you are focused on that dream, you will be able to pick yourself up from each fall and keep going.

Choose your schools and take the entrance exams. Let’s see which one(s) accept you and then you lay down your options. Look at things objectively from all viewpoints. Do not let the financial consideration be your only parameter. What if Ateneo accepts you? What are the other options open to you?

I wasn’t the only working student and you will not be the only one. There were even others who were working and who had families to take care of. Dads and moms. And it wasn’t just in the Ateneo. Other schools offer executive classes which mean going to school Saturday and Sunday. I have many friends who are now teaching in non-Ateneo schools and they are imparting their Ateneo and UP legal wisdom in schools like Arellano and FEU. Those students should be proud to be learning about the law from these distinguished lawyers– and I say that not because they are dear friends from even before law school, but because I know the length and breadth of their expertise and legal experience speaks volumes of their worth.

Again, look at what works for you. After all is said and done, it will be your choice, your dream.

Ps. Related posts can be found in LAWYER WANNABE where there is a list of previous articles on the topic.

Thank you for making my day (Feedback on feedback)

Thank you for making my day… I am always thrilled to read that (1) I actually have readers .. And my running joke is there are maybe 20 or so readers out there who keep my blog from slipping into oblivion. Those who have read up my posts about blogging per se know that I don’t really write to cultivate readership, so I am happy with my small group of readers!  In addition, I love to know that (2) what I write actually resonates with others– more so the younger generation. I know I have been given a gift to write like I do but to be able to do more than pull the words together — to actually be able to speak to someone out there– that, to me, is a blessing.

There are emails and comments that I cut and paste, but others that I prefer to just respond to.  This will be one of the latter.

Thank you, A, for writing.. for speaking your heart out, and for reminding me that I was a tad harsh with the reference to doubting in my previous post, “To each his own (So you made it!)“.  Please do not give up no your dream because there is that doubt present in your heart and mind.  That was not my intention, but I do realize it might have come across differently.

It appears that one particular paragraph I had written had struck a cord and had caused A to second guess her doubting heart.

Any half-hearted effort will land you someplace you wouldn’t want to be.  So ask yourself now if you’re up to it, because if there is even an iota of doubt in your mind or deep in your heart, you should seriously think of changing paths.  It is never too late to back out of a dream or a pursuit or a journey — whatever you may want to call it, for as long as you do it out of your own choice.  Do not put yourself in a position where your circumstances force you to change direction.  Put your heart and soul into it, give it 110% (everyday!), and pray, pray, pray!

Ah, those persistent doubts that hound you forever and will keep hounding you unless everything starts going and staying in your head that you are the best without a shadow of a doubt.  (Yes, the doubts will disappear when you start thinking and believing you are THAT good..)

You will always have doubts in anything you do, and that is good, because it means you haven’t lost touch with the real you. It means you have your feet still rooted on the ground.  You know that even if you’re 90% genius, there is that 10% that gives you space to doubt and make room for modesty or humility or both.  To doubt is to recognize that you are not perfect, and that should challenge you to better yourself, while at the same time preparing you for those times when you actually take a fall.

I often have doubts, too, and there were times when I was lost and weak in the knees — to the point of giving up.  And I tried to make those doubts work for me, and not against me, by reminding myself that I have a dream I am working to achieve.  It is when those doubts creep up behind you that you need to remind yourself how badly you want this dream, and when you must take stock of the fact that you probably did something right, because you are now in law school.

Keep writing.. Keep believing and keep fighting for the dream you have in your heart.. I am still dreaming and believing and fighting and getting disappointed occasionally and I’m 50! But see, I can say I tried.. I got this and maybe I didn’t get that– but I tried..

And I’m still trying.

 

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.)
 

Feedback on Feedback : Feeling the love

Felling the loveI used to respond to all comments here individually — back when I could focus and give ample time to write a blog post.  At the moment, I think I’m around 5 to 10 comments behind, but I think I have to start and try to catch up somehow, if only because I’ve been swamped with a lot of much-needed love pats lately.  I know I don’t hear from most of the people who read my posts — and I am grateful to each and every one of the 35 of you.  (Okay, maybe 40.. LOL)  You can see that I haven’t lost my knack for self-deprecating humor when it comes to my readership.

But let me just say I am thankful, and truly grateful that there is that small portion of my ever tiny readership who write and let me know that some of the things I thought made sense only to me actually make sense to others as well.  Not everyone leaves a comment, and there are one or two who e-mail me directly at pinaynewyorker at gmail dot com — and while I don’t get to respond to that in a timely fashion either, reading your questions and notes are a warm hug to my heart.

I hope the others won’t feel bad if I focus on two particular comments received very recently, but I have to start somewhere.  (Kim, I haven’t forgotten about you.)

Tita Clarita wrote:

Hello Dinna,

I read your blog and sorry that I rarely leave a comment but this time your to do list for 2016 inspired me to restart “decluttering/downsizing” my “stuff” so to speak. I am a Lola (73 years old) and I feel this is a good time to seriously start cleaning-up. I did some crafty things (cross stitching, crocheting, knitting, jewelry making) but not expertly, I’d say the result of my efforts doing a project is very basic, passable to a certain point. I have already given away some and now I am going to sort my beads (seed beads, stones, etc) and let go or donate some of them.

I will also “try” to read books to help sharpen my ageing brain, enroll in an aquatic class to gently relieve me of my knee pains, and possibly do a little bit of domestic or overseas travel.

I am not getting any younger so I will try to do my best to reach some of my goals this year or the next.

I hope this New Year and the next ones will bring good health to you and Angelo, achieve your goals, and most of all feel content about your life which I think will in turn bring happiness. You take care.

Fondly,
Clarita

To which the Pinay New Yorker says:  I am glad to hear that people of all ages find some sense in the things I write — and always happy to contribute to your self improvement.  I’m sorry I never directly responded via a blog post to your earlier comment (or I might have), but I do remember.

I am most grateful for your well wishes and your sage advise about contentment.  I am trying very hard to be happy with what I have, because it has helped me to appreciate how blessed I am.  The past few years have been a big challenge, and I know that I have quite a journey ahead, but I think life has been kind with its lessons, and I have been fortunate to have the discernment to know my strengths and weaknesses.  The former have kept me up on my feet, and the latter have continued to keep me grounded and humble.  I keep hearing the universe and the big Guy upstairs reassuring me all will be well — from the way the sunshine feels so differently when it touches my skin, to how words of encouragement come from the most unexpected people like you.

If you are ever in my neck of the woods, please let me know.  I’d love to have coffee or even lunch or dinner with you.  Keep reading!

—–

And an old “friend” from Etsy and here, brought my way by another blogfriend who I have already met in real life (Lou), pops back in.  Cora writes:

Hi Pinay New Yorker,(Dinna)

I was cleaning my computer and saw my old bookmarks with Pinay New Yorker on it. I clicked the link and found your site. It’s amazing to find you are still blogging. Do you remember when I used to order your hand made jewelries thru Etsy?

Well, so many years have gone by, I have a 2 yr. old granddaughter now and will be a grandmother again this coming May. My daughter and her family lives in Brooklyn and I frequently travel back and forth to NY and Chicago to help out with the kid. I was in NY last week during the big snow storm .

Hope things are well with you. God bless and keep on blogging.

Cora 

To which the Pinay New Yorker writes:  Okay, Cora, you owe me a date!  LOL  (I have written her separately to ask that she contact me next time she’s in town.)  A faithful customer of my Etsy Shop (when it’s open, and right now it is!) — from way back.  People must think I’m nuts when I say they can ring me up if they’re in town — and I would be more than happy to make time unless my world is totally turning upside down.  (Half the time, it’s close to that!)  But that is a sincere invitation and I am hoping more will take me up on the offer.

Yes, I’m still blogging and hope to keep blogging, Cora.. there is so much more that I want to write about but hardly have the time to sit here and compose my thoughts.

It has  been such a perk to actually meet strangers who become friends because of this corner of the web.  I had started this blog with the sole thought of being able to do an online journal for my own personal benefit, and that hasn’t changed.  While I have grown in other directions, I have made a very conscious effort to keep this space the same way it’s been through the years.  Other writing ventures — if there are any — are in another space separate from this personal corner.

I have always enjoyed the conversations in this space both on the blog and offline.  Your comments and notes have made such a big difference in keeping me writing, through the challenges the past 11 years this blog has been in existence.

Yes, I’m feeling the love.

Feedback on feedback: Making it to law school

I often wonder what has happened to the people I had shared a piece of my mind with through the years.  One of the law students who wrote me eventually made it and passed the Bar.  It was easy to find his name on the roster of successful bar examinees because he had written me from his personal e-mail.  I haven’t heard from him since, but I’m proud of him.

I recently received a follow up comment from Mike who had written me about choosing to go to law school on what others may call “a whim” despite having never thought of it before.

Here’s what he wrote:  

Hello again, Atty! How are you? I just want to thank you for all the advice you have given me! I passed the recent law school admission test in San Beda and guess what? The results weren’t that bad. I received a rare above average grade and was admitted in one of the “star” sections of our school. I had a rough time in the last part though, which is the essay. Well, the first part was already grueling to begin with so I guess preparation paved the way for luck. Thanks, Atty! By the way, I keep on reading your blog and I really appreciate your love for the arts. Too bad the school year is about to begin and I’m already preparing myself for the challenges ahead. May the Lord bless you and your family always, Atty! and keep on inspiring people 🙂

And Pinay New Yorker says:  

I always say that everything happens for a reason.. You made it! You made it to a good school!! You did very well!!! I must say I am disappointed, though, that you continue to underrate yourself. All of this was achieved through your own efforts. While prayer and luck may have figured in your landing the spot, without your own skills, knowledge and aptitude, no matter how rigorously you prepare for the test, the questions are designed to probe what that brain of yours already knows.

So you made it– now what?

I hate to burst your bubble (kidding!) but that essay you found difficult is probably going to be peanuts compared to what lies ahead. But I like that you are embracing it and owning it — and that’s the right attitude. I just hope that through the ups and many downs ahead, you’ll keep that fire in your heart.

Yes, even when you find yourself questioning your decision to go to law school when you can’t seem to get the answers right.

Yes, even when you didn’t get enough sleep memorizing the codal provision and you get called on a case you didn’t read in the original.

Yes, even if the darned QPI gets you and they decide they don’t want you there anymore– DO NOT LET THE DREAM GO! It only means that another university will proclaim you as a PROUD bar passer someday.

And yes, if — by some fluke– you don’t pass the Bar during your first take. Grieve, pick up the pieces, hit the books and take it again.

Some of the best lawyers I know, and some who are dear friends got booted out of their original law school of choice. Some of them didn’t make it their first and even second take– but they never let the dream go.

Believe in yourself. Believe that God put you there. . Do not waste the opportunity or squander away this gift. Remember the parable of the talents — these are yours.

Thank you, Mike. I am happy to have been a part of this journey and hope to one day hear from you, telling me you passed the Bar. In the meantime, I’m just a few keystrokes away.

Ps. I received an email from someone in Davao– I’ll get to you in a separate post.

Related posts can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE which can be found in the navigation bar.

Feedback on Feedback: Words.. and more words

Words - my own graphic for a of post on that topic using PictureBlurIt’s been a while since I have found the inspiration to write a post on my feedback on feedback I’ve gotten.  (Hence, “Feedback on Feedback”.)  For the most part, it’s because the people commenting are now real friends (Yes, finally met Lou, for one..) — or friends from another realm (like Kat of Postcrossing Philippines) and Bernie who I first bumped into as a customer of my Etsy shop but who might as well be a sister from another lifetime reincarnated into someone else..  And I’ve come to accept that 7 of the 10 or maybe 11 readers are actually “lurkers” who never say a peep.  (And that’s perfectly okay, too..)

So you can imagine how truly moving it is for me to find a comment that someone takes the time to write to let me know my words make sense to them, too, besides the three others I’ve mentioned here. =)   And if I have neglected to mention you and you are always making your presence felt with a “like” or by leaving an echo through a comment, apologies… the Pinay New Yorker is almost 48 and not quite as good remembering.

Thank you, Mike.

Mike, you see, had strayed into my space and had left a comment after reading “Broken Links and trying to get into law school“.  He wrote:

I’ve started reading your blog a few days ago and all I can say is that, with all honesty, I really love it. Even though I find it hard to keep up with the width of your vocabulary, it occurred to me that, maybe, just maybe, you are the voice inside my head. It’s the only voice which helps me cope with most of my law school dilemmas including my inability to pursue law straight after college because I thought that I wasn’t ready yet (financially and emotionally). It pains me to see my former classmates charging through the rigors of law school (because I wanted to be in their position), while I’m still here waiting for the opportunity to enter the same. That’s why after a few months of working in the government sector, I finally decided to take up law in San Beda (my Alma Mater) as a working student. However, law school requires proficiency with the English language, which I consider, my greatest weakness. So aside from reading literature and answering WordPower books, could you please share your story on how you became articulate with this language; how you fell in love with it; and how you managed to keep on improving it? I asked these questions because I was greatly impressed by your writings. I can feel that your heart was really into it. And just by reading your blogs, I can already exercise my use of proper grammar and expand my vocabulary. I wish that I’d be able to speak and write like you Atty!

To which the Pinay New Yorker says:

First of all, thanks for the idea for a dozen or so blog posts which I will now have to write because I wouldn’t be able to sit tight on any other topic until I do that.  =)  I like your calling me “the voice inside your head” which I would reply to with a curt “Be careful what you wish for.” LOL.. I’m not making light of your comment — but the truth of the matter is, when I read that, I actually told myself YOU sounded like the voice in my head.

Second, the fact that you read my blog makes me eternally grateful because now I guess I have 11 readers.  (I love making a joke of that..)  So I guess it’s you who’s been pulling the stats for the Philippines up.  It’s both heartening and depressing to see my stats every day where they are — and I wonder from time to time who in Dubai or Turkey might be reading what I write here — but I am a very shallow person when it comes to people reading my blog, so when I see some new “country” popping up, I’m thrilled pink.  Of course when the ticks for the Philippines shows more than 2, that gives me a reason to smile.  On the otherhand, it’s depressing because wouldn’t it be great to see hundreds of hits a day?  (Hint: I get waaaaaaaaay less than that.)  I’d be lying if I said I never thought about chasing that, but then when I tried to grow my audience and make the blog’s readership reach “stats heaven”, I lost a big chunk of the authenticity of the personality of my little corner here.  It just wasn’t for me, and it wasn’t what kept this blogging going all these years — I’ll say it again, I write for my personal benefit.

I went back to writing for myself and that’s just the way I like it.  But of course I cannot deny the fact that I like that I somehow make sense to other people, too, so I guess I’m not crazy after all.

Let’s start a topic at a time.  I would normally start by chastising you for belittling your grasp of the English language but that’s a whole post altogether.  And so is the need for English proficiency and your chances at surviving law school.  Today, I’ll talk about my favorite topic: me.

How did I become articulate with the English language? 

Let it be known that my parents came from very humble beginnings.  My mother only  finished elementary school and soon after worked as a housemaid to support her family and younger siblings.  My father was a high school graduate.  I am not saying that to rob them of credit for who I am and the way I am right now — but simply to state that from those simple backgrounds, they nurtured my siblings and I to be the best that we can be.  And they would have been brilliant if only life gave them a chance to further their education — I know I’m smart because of genetics and not because of a fluke.  They worked very hard to send us to the best schools, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

The first person I’d credit for my English is my Auntie Lydia who insisted on speaking with us in English at home.  She was a former nun and introduced us to fairy tales and musicals like The Sound of Music.  My mom sort of clashed with her on this because she was afraid that we would stop learning Tagalog and my grandmother who spoke only Bicolano and Tagalog would have an even harder time communicating with us.  But up to the death of my grandmother in her 80s, all she needed to do was give us those every tight hugs I still remember for almost choking me telling me how much she loved us.

Auntie Lydia called us off for using slang which was forbidden. No “gonna” or “wanna”.  (And she wasn’t a Paulinian nun, mind you!)

Secondly, the Paulinian sisters should take a huge chunk of the credit.  I remember they would penalize us for speaking in Taglish.  When I was in gradeschool, the fine was 25 cents. Of course it was just a threat.  The rule went that if you were to speak in Tagalog, start and finish the sentence in the same language.  And to this day, that rule is embedded in my head.  If I talk to you in English, I will do it in straight English.  No “tusok-tusok the fishballs.”

I started writing when I was 11.  I wrote poems, stories, letters, diaries.  And I went back to the stories I wrote and re-wrote them again.  I kept notebooks of prose which I had brought back to New York in the hopes of encoding them sometime in my lifetime and actually produce a compilation even just for my own benefit.  I still have one or two old letters I wrote to friends or to my mom and I didn’t write this way then.  I had grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.  But I never stopped writing.

I haven’t written poetry in over a decade now but I have written as much as I can on paper and here.

I like to listen to my voice resonating in the bathroom as I read the newspaper.  Maybe that’s why my resume has “Newscaster for an FM radio station” as one of previous jobs held.  I’m an “aural” person.  (I work best when hearing what I need to remember.)  Even when I memorized in law school, I had to hear myself speak the verse or provision for it to stick to my head.  Most of my study aids had to do with Baroque music playing in the background because one of the books I read said their cadence and melodic progression somehow “opened up” the brain to be more receptive to memorizing.

As I got older, I tried to seek out advice and pick up the comments and suggestions of people who had done this for years and years.  I’ve always said that anything can be learned.  But more than that, you have to want to learn and be open to absorbing new information and words and styles like a sponge.

There was Sir Cas, a 70-something veteran in Manila City Hall who was dredged from retirement by one of my first bosses to help us with a government project.  From him I learned such basics in English like how to address a memo properly.  You say “TO:” when it’s a peer or someone under you, but to a superior, you say “FOR:”.  (And I don’t care if the memo police swat my hand because Sir Cas said that.)  Add to that that you don’t sign off with “Sincerely” unless you are attesting to something.  Hence, “Truly Yours” which a lot of people find sort of “old” now.  Besides, “Sincerely” sounds better, true — but what are you being sincere about?

Then there was Triccie C, one of the most remarkable people I have met who had influenced my writing style, and who, to this day, is a proven expert in the field of communications.  Her elegant style and attention to detail has made me think of all the reminders she would chirp in whenever we were working together.

Much like what you are doing now — trying to seek advice and find bits and pieces to pick up from other people’s experiences.  They will not all work for you, but if you look and are open to it, you are bound to find something that will help you improve yourself.

I devoured Reader’s Digest, Time and Newsweek when I could.  It takes a certain patience to go through their sometimes lengthy articles, but I enjoyed them immensely and regretted not having the time to pick up one as the years passed.  These days, I regret that their issues are much thinner and less substantial than they used to be.  I still pick up an issue once in a while, and when I grab a magazine, I try to finish the article from start to finish instead of just flipping through the pages.

I actually take the time to find the meaning of strange or new words to me.  When the definition was ambiguous, I didn’t leave it at “I have an idea what it’s meaning is.”  I went to the dictionary.  (Of course these days, googling the word will give you a definition easy.)  When I was reading books, I scribbled the new words I didn’t know the meaning of at the back page and I looked up their meaning when I paused between pages or chapters.  I probably would remember 3 of 10 words I sought definitions for, but reading the definitions of the other 7 gives me a better chance of properly defining the word later if I do encounter it.  The new words whose definitions I remembered, I tried to use in an every day context.

I have had a love affair with words all my life.  From the children’s books I read over and over again to my endless ramblings here.  Proficiency in the English language, like any other, takes practice to master.  Write.  Read.  Then write again.  And read again.

I don’t see what your problem is.  Save for a correction or two, your comment as written doesn’t need to be edited.  And I’ll tell you a secret: I make those mistakes, too.  You have to be comfortable writing and speaking the language to be able to paint a canvas with your words.  You have to be confident enough that your words will come naturally without sounding too high brow — and you will be able to switch your tone and language depending on whether or not you are writing a formal letter or if you are poking fun at yourself like I often do.

That you are willing to learn and better yourself is a big leap towards the right direction.  Just keep going and keep learning.  Open yourself to keep growing and grow you will.

The rationale behind comment moderation

… is that I refuse to be bullied or told off here on my own blog.  There was a time when a blog reader went around a pool of bloggers whose blogrolls had each other’s blogs on their list and taunted the blogger with non-sensical insults.  I shut her up by identifying her location based on her IP address.  Brooklyn, after all, is not too far from where I am.

I also refuse to be used to promote or tick up someone else’s blog stats. 

To those who feel they find something lacking in the way my blog is written or presented or it’s not exciting enough, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t really care about stats nor readership.  I’ve said it from the very start:  this blog is for my own personal benefit.  If it were a commercial site instead of a personal blog, it would probably be a different case.

Then I noticed that the comment was left by a URL hoping to land in my comment roll and have a few additional clicks for this product they are selling.  No, I didn’t bother to click.  I wouldn’t want my click raising their blog stats even by one.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Concerned Citizen, I haven’t forgotten…

I received a letter from a young man who strayed into my blog with a life question. I am touched to have been asked to give my two cents’ worth, and I haven’t forgotten. Like I wrote you, Concerned Citizen, I just wanted to be able to sit down and write a coherent answer to your query.   Just give me a little more time…

Sometimes, the answer we seek is found in the most unexpected places.  It’s like channelling the universe.  I get a lot from television these days.  Like these scriptwriters actually knew what was running through my head and came up with an answer.  Bam!  Or from songs I hear from out of the blue… “You are not alone…”… “Searching for a heart”… “Body of Christ, save me…”..

E-mails, queries, recipe questions, and what have you are always welcome.   Gives me a sense of who’s been here.. thanks for making me a part of your day even but for a minute when you glanced into my corner of the web.