I’ve been reading your site and emails for a while, and definitely have found them to be super helpful in a general sense. I would like your advice on my situation in more specificity though.

Shoot it at me, Hannah!

I’m a senior in undergraduate, and have been accepted to one of my top law school picks so far. I’m trying to get as much scholarship money as I can, since by the end of law school I’ll be looking at about $200,000 spent towards the degree. Kind of a hefty sum.

If by “kind of” you mean “Damn, I’m gonna owe a lot of money!”, then yes, I agree.  :)

I am very blessed in that my parents have taken the burden of paying for my four years of undergraduate education. I had a merit scholarship through my college, which definitely helped. However, the deal in my family is four years. My parents take care of our first four years in whatever way we choose to spend those years. One sister dropped out after her freshman year, the other did a year at Community and three at her undergrad, I have done four at my institution with one semester abroad.


That is, indeed, generous of your parents.  Maybe you can ask them if you can have the money they would have spent on your sister that only attended one year of school! (I’m kidding.  Sort of…)

However, law school is going to be entirely on my back. That’s totally fine, I completely understand and appreciate the help they have given me. I don’t want to ask them for more. The school I will likely be attending gives out extremely limited scholarships for public service students only, which I didn’t qualify for.

So I’ve been applying for scholarships out my ears through ScholarshipPoints.com, Cappex.com, filled out the FAFSA, etc. I have not received anything I have applied for, which I totally understand, but it is getting a little frustrating. I’m beginning to wonder if people have an issue with my life plan, me personally, if I seem like a goody two shoes or just what exactly I’m doing wrong.

Good on you for beating the money trees to see if anything falls out.  It sounds like you’re already doing this, but make sure you apply for EVERYTHING you qualify for.  It’s just like asking out a cute guy/girl – the worst that can happen is you can be told no, and you’ll never know if the answer is going to be yes if you don’t ask!

But try not to be discouraged about why you aren’t getting the scholarships.  As a scholarship judge many times over, I can tell you that many times there are several very, very good applicants, all of whom are deserving of the award.  But, of course, there can only be one winner for each.  Yes, you need to make sure that your essays are all on point and your resume is impeccable, but sometimes you just don’t win because someone else did.  You can’t beat yourself up about that.

I’m going to be completely blunt here–I’m going to law school because I want to make a lot of money. There are two primary reasons here. First off, I want to live comfortably. I don’t want to ever worry about not having enough, and I know that could be in reach for me.

This is completely understandable, but as I am sure others have forewarned you – beware of that strategy.  My best friend did EXACTLY this.  He went to law school and became a lawyer for the sole reason that he wanted to make a lot of money.  He didn’t grow up wanting to be a lawyer.  Hell, he never even met a lawyer until he was in law school.  He just figured that lawyers make a lot of money, and that he was smart enough to become one, so that’s what he did.

He graduated in the top half of his class, got in with one of the top firms in his city and began practicing, only to find out that he hated it.  Oh, and that not all lawyers make a ton of money – especially those who are not partners with their firms.

After about 7 years he was offered an opportunity to become a partner in advertising firm, something he had never done before, but seemed much more enjoyable to him. He left the practice of law (despite an impending partnership offer & large income increase from his firm), and took the advertising gig.  8 years later, he has never been happier.  He works from home, gets to see his wife and son all the time, and has never spent a day wishing he was working umpteen hours a week, making the big time law bucks, instead of enjoying his job and the time he gets to spend with his family.

Now, I’m not saying that your story will end the same way, I’m just sayin’…

Second, after earning my Juris Doctorate, paying off my student loans and locating an appropriate property, I intend to open an animal rescue for older, disadvantaged, sick or injured animals. I want to take animals that would be deemed unadoptable and euthanized at the shelter and give them a forever home. This is a HUGE, daunting, **expensive** venture. But it’s what I want to do with my life, and I know I could make a huge difference.

Good for you!  And forget those who don’t like it – you can spend your whole life trying to justify your actions to haters, and you will never get anywhere.

I’m concerned that people are reading about my desire to help animals and asking “Well why doesn’t she do anything for people with that fancy law degree she wants?” But people aren’t my primary personal concern. Should I avoid responding to essay questions that ask about my future plans? Or do you think this is a reasonable enough situation that just needs to find the right judges?

Again – forget what other people think about what you are doing and why you are doing it.  That’s a complete waste of time.  In the end you are planning on doing good – and  feeling good – and that’s what matters.

If you try to get into the head of what a scholarship judge may or may not advocate (in terms of animal rights versus human rights, at least) you’ll drive yourself crazy.  Not only that, you’ll write a crappy essay.  A good judge can tell when someone is actually passionate about something – and thus more deserving of the award – or just feeding them a line of B.S. to get the money.

Also, although I would not spend a lot of time explaining your concerns in your essays, it’s perfectly fine to take a paragraph to explain that you are aware that there are plenty of human rights issues that need help, but animals are where your passion lies, and you want use your future earnings to help in an area that you are very passionate.  After all, you can do a lot more for a cause by really getting into it and using not only your money, but your time to help that cause, rather than just throwing money at something because it’s the P.C. cause du jour.

Thanks for your time and attention. I appreciate any advice you can give me.


Thank you, Hannah!

What do you all think?  Should Hannah change up her future plans, or stick to her guns?


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