College major and career advice

Hi, I am a parent, trying to help my daughter come up with her college planning. She is a sophomore. As of now, she wants to be a lawyer but I heard you can land in a good job as a lawyer if you’re from top 14 colleges. I do understand that there are always exceptions in every career. She is not interested in any STEM majors and planning to major in Pol. Science or Economics or Political Economy or International Relations. We think she should something that helps her get a decent job if she doesn’t get into good Law school or changes her mind. Any advice and the kind of colleges she should look into?

In Summer, she attended one IR program and camp at the Law related Nonprofit. She is currently volunteering with local city council member for canvassing. Is she in the right track to get into a good college?

Thanks in advance

My advice is to let her enjoy her sophomore year and don’t discuss colleges.

She has to get through high school and college before law school. It’s a marathon, not a sprint applies here.

High school students change their mind regularly so next month it might be art history.

Trying to force your kid into a college major/career is a losing proposition.

The key is to find her passion and then help her find the best path. Volunteering and summer programs are a great way to find her passion or find out she doesn’t want to go that direction. It sounds like she’s on the right path.

There are many paths and degrees to law school. Logical thinking and writing are great skills to have. Many degrees help achieve this. Good luck.

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Thanks for your response! I am not forcing her but I think it’s time to at least come up with a basic list of colleges and what they offer and based on her interest we’re just trying to come up with something. Unless you’ve some understanding about the courses and the careers, it’s not easy to do any kind of research. That’s the main reason, I am asking for some advice.

As one suggestion, consider colleges that emphasize writing across their curricula: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/writing-programs.

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Agree with this. If you ask 10 lawyers what their undergrad major was, you’d likely get some interesting answers (I even know one who majored in music).

It sounds like your daughter is on the right track. Continuing to volunteer in her community will expose her to different scenarios where she might be interested in utilizing her future law degree. If she is leaning toward political work, then maybe look at some colleges with educational and internship opportunities in Washington DC.

Try not to focus on top 14 law schools at this point (the list can change)- obviously there are thousands of gainfully employed lawyers who did not go to even the top 50 law schools. If the expectation is set at getting into a top 14 law school - or bust, and it isn’t met, I would be concerned about the extreme level of disappointment.

If law school is the ultimate goal then I’m sure you know it is expensive. Choose from the best undergrad programs that excite your daughter but are also affordable for your family. There’s no award given for spending the most money for undergrad.

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With respect to selection of a college major, Hamilton College’s site offers general advice:

"Since law schools do not require applicants to pursue a specific curriculum, students from virtually every concentration at the college have gone on to study law. . . .

“Acquiring a broad-based liberal arts education will satisfy the kind of curricular background law schools seek, but students may wish to take courses which emphasize the development of skills in communication, both written and oral, and logical analysis as well as law-related courses.”

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This is just one of the times when what you think and what is reality don’t necessarily align.

One of the best things about third level education in the US is that (with a few specific exceptions, none of which apply in this situation) students make their final choice of major as late as second semester of college- ie, more than 4 years from now for your daughter. She is gearing up for the fastest rate of change in her brain since she was a toddler, and in 4 years will have matured dramatically. Because you genuinely can get into. T14 law school with any major, if that’s what she still wants it won’t matter what major she has: her grades, LSAT and experience will be what matters.

You are going to help her thinking more by open ended questions than trying to get her to make choices now. Ask her about what she finds interesting in the work she is doing, ask her how older friends who are now in college are finding their experience (the good/the bad/the unexpected). Listento her answers not looking to make a point but to learn more about how she sees things.

True story: Collegekid1 was on the hunt for colleges from grade 9- completely self-motivated. Spring of grade 11 she had a perfectly curated list, cleared with her GC, including an ED choice she had visited several times. The actual list of colleges she applied to that autumn had only 1 college from the original list - & it was not the ED one! Her summer experience led to a whole re-think of what she wanted from her college experience.

Remember that a lot of who you are as an adult is formed in HS, and HS is not just about what college you get into. Read this:

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How could I forget about my brother-in-law’s path to law school?

He graduated with a degree in electrical engineering and was also ROTC. He was accepted into the Navy’s nuclear power school, and upon graduating there as an officer, served his time as a nuclear engineer on submarines (2 years, I think). He then applied for the JAG program, which he didn’t get but he did go to law school (Albany, so not T14 or even T50 probably) and landed his first job as a patent attorney at one of the biggest patent firms in the country (did that for a few years and then left to run the family business).

My oldest daughter, although no law school aspirations (which is a shame because she would be a fabulous litigator!) applied to her colleges as a biology major with intentions of going to med school. Figured out during senior year of HS that she did not love or even like biology, or science in general, and changed her major to business at college orientation. She now works as an IB analyst. Funny how they can change.

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More like top 14 law schools with respect to “Big Law”. However, graduating from a law school that is highly ranked in the region can be good for regional law job prospects.

Law school admission is mostly about LSAT score and (recalculated) college GPA.

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Thank you for your responses and I totally agree with you all! My question is how can we as parents make sure she gets a decent job and her degree has value in the market if she changes her mind later. That’s the only reason, I am looking for decent colleges that prepares her for any kind of major if she changes her mind. I am not sure if I am thinking right. If no, someone help me how one selects the colleges.