Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Law School Gamble

I've often wondered how sound of an investment it is for me to be attending Law School. Apparently, there is much more risk involved than there used to be:
The two disillusioned attorneys were victims of an unfolding education hoax on the middle class that's just as insidious, and nearly as sweeping, as the housing debacle. The ingredients are strikingly similar, too: Misguided easy-money policies that are encouraging the masses to go into debt; a self-serving establishment trading in half-truths that exaggerate the value of its product; plus a Wall Street money machine dabbling in outright fraud as it foists unaffordable debt on the most vulnerable marks...

The one certainty: The average law grad owes $100,000 in student debt. "There are a lot of aspects of selling education that are tinged with consumer fraud," Sander says. "There is a definite conspiracy to lead students down a primrose path."

This only makes the pressure of landing a well-paying job after graduation that much greater. Im personally expecting at least ten to fifteen years of repaying loans once I complete law school. The worst part is that I'm not convinced there is a good remedy available for this situation right now. Costs of both undergraduate and post-graduate schooling rise every year; my own undergraduate institution now costs at least 15% more than it did my freshman year. In many cases, schools have simply been forced to raise tuition to make ends meet.

As schooling costs continue to grow, there is a growing risk for many young people that college and graduate studies are bad investments. Certainly there is a sense among many (especially in the middle class) that a four-year degree is something non-negotiable that must be attained in order to make a decent living. It's what high school guidance counselors and college recruiters preach on a regular basis. The truth is that some young people would be better off avoiding the costs of college (and the necessary debt) and pursuing trade jobs or other careers where they can be trained specifically on the job.

At this point it seems I'm stuck enough that I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed.