Pure lunacy is on display today in the Dear Prudence column on Slate. A prospective law student is set to take the December administration of the LSAT. But his or her grandmother — for ease of reference, I’ll use the male pronoun throughout this post — recently lost a battle with Alzheimer’s. Hence this question to Prudence (from questioner “Funerals and Such”):
I lost my grandmother yesterday, and I am devastated as we were very close. She had Alzheimer’s for years, and I made my peace with this some time ago. My family has planned the funeral for Saturday.
Here is the problem: My LSAT is Saturday, and I have waited for years for an opportunity to pursue law school. (I am near 30.) I told my mom that I couldn’t make the funeral because I cannot reschedule the LSAT, and she was furious! I have been on the phone with the LSAT people all morning, pleading to reschedule. No luck. Mom has informed me that she and my family are really disappointed with me, and I need to be at the funeral in order to pay my respects.
I don’t want to disappoint my family, but I have waited my entire life for this chance at law school, and I don’t want to give it up now. Additionally, if I don’t take the LSAT on Saturday, I will miss the opportunity to take it again in February (possible surgery), and I can kiss law school for next fall goodbye!
Yeah, this fellow is trying to decide between taking the LSAT or honoring his dead grandmother, and it’s apparently an open question. He’s going to make an excellent Biglaw attorney someday.
In the meantime, Prudence and I disagree about the appropriate response….
Prudence suggests that the aspiring law student sit for the LSAT and blow off the dead grandmother and family. You can (and should) read her whole argument here. It appears that Prudence was moved by this guy’s lifelong “dream.”
I’m not sure if Prudence knows that if Funerals and Such really had any clue about how to pursue this dream, he would have taken the LSAT in October (or even back in June). People who have actually prepared for the LSAT are told to take the test in October at the latest, specifically in order to have December as a fallback option.
Or he can take it in February, but I guess February is booked up for him because of a “possible surgery.” What does that mean? Who knows. But it sounds like he left himself with one and only one day to take the LSAT in order to get into law school next fall. Which is freaking dumb, and anybody who claims to be pursuing a lifelong dream should really have done some basic research into how people prepare to live that dream.
Perhaps Funerals and Such hasn’t really prepared himself for the serious undertaking of getting into and getting through law school? If so, this seems like a perfect opportunity to take a step back and maybe redouble efforts for admission to law school in 2012 instead of 2011. He’s already “near 30,” so clearly he’s managed to delay this most important dream a few times before. It’s not like law schools are going anywhere. Legal education, with all of its joys and challenges, will still be waiting for him next year, when he’s able to devote some minimal thought towards the process of getting in.
I counsel the “you need to wait a year” approach because we all know what’s going to happen if Funerals and Such follows Prudence’s advice. This kid — this guy who didn’t even figure out when the “right time” to take the LSAT was, and hasn’t left himself any LSAT back-up plan — is going to bomb the LSAT. Epically. This person is going to roll in there worrying about the dead grandmother (and all the family members who now hate him), and he’s going to roll out of there with a 150.
Oh, but the kid will still go to law school, because the kid has already showed impatience and a poor understanding of how legal education works. This person will get a crappy score, go to a crappy school, and one year from now he’ll be leaving comments on Above the Law telling me to “stop being an elitist snob” and how “not everybody can score really well on the LSAT and the LSAT doesn’t matter anyway.” Well, it does matter. And this decision right here is how wise people ensure that they’ll have the best LSAT score possible, while other people spend their lives trying to excuse a bad score and the J.D. that comes with it.
This kid can spend the next ten years explaining his entire educational history with the “dead grandmother” story that nobody will believe, or he can spend the next ten months putting himself in a position to succeed on this most crucial examination. When you look at it in the correct context, skipping the LSAT now and preparing to take it next year is the best thing for the student’s lifelong dream of going to law school.
And speaking of context, your grandmother just died you self-centered little freaking twerp. Even if you don’t need to be there for yourself, be there for your family. Be a person first, aspiring law student/lawyer second. Christ. I didn’t even like my grandmother, but I was where I needed to be, halfway across the country from where I live, within 24 hours of her passing. It’s okay if sometimes your hopes and dreams and desire to go about life without suitable back-up plans takes a back seat to the needs of your family for a day — or ten months, as the case may be.
Missing the December LSAT isn’t going to prevent you from becoming a lawyer in your lifetime. It’s going to delay it a bit — a delay that was only caused because you didn’t plan far enough ahead. Go be there for your family. If you actually become a lawyer, you are going to have plenty of opportunities to blow them off because of your career.
A Test of Loyalty [Slate]