Dual Majors - Worth it?

<p>Was wondering how applicants to law schools who have dual majored are regarded? More specifically does it help if the majors are from different ends of the spectrum?</p>

<p>Example: I'm an English/Biology major at my school, is this gunna help me or not really?</p>

<p>I would suggest you double major if you are passionate about those two areas and will obtain excellent grades. Law schools want to see you take difficult courses and do extremely well in them. Having majors at opposite ends of the spectrum will make you appear well-rounded (and that is good), but being well-rounded will not materially increase your changes of admittance as compared to having very good grades will increase your changes.</p>

<p>I agree with thinkingoutloud, however, I would emphasize that law schools want to see top grades as a first priority, and difficult coursework as a distant second priority. This whole idea of trying to 'impress' law school adcoms with difficult coursework or "well-rounded" coursework is really neither here nor there. Engineering students work far far harder than most other students. Yet a law school adcom would value straight A's from a mediocre school in a do-nothing major over a guy who got a B average in electrical engineering out of MIT, despite the fact that the latter guy probably worked 10 times harder than the former guy did. Law school adcoms don't really care about that. They care about grades. So if that means taking easy classes in an easy major, well, that's what it takes.</p>

<p>Engineering is often a difficult major, but not one designed to prepare one for law school. Some engineers (not many) go to law school and then end up in patent law which can be very lucrative and rewarding. Engineering often focuses on mathmatical problem solving and that is not a skill needed in law school or to pratice law. Developing skills necessary to do well in law school is as important as getting into law school and that means a lot of reading, writing, and critical thinking. By taking difficult courses as an undergraduate, a student can best prepare for the level of course difficulty and competition found in law school.</p>

<p>The flip side of the coin is that by taking difficult courses, you run the mortal risk of getting grades that are subpar enough that you won't get admitted to law school. Who cares if you are highly prepared for the level of course difficulty and competition at law school, if can't get in? </p>

<p>The first priority for any budding lawyer should be doing what it takes to get admitted to law school. This sounds like a tautology, but it really does bear mentioning that if you want to be a lawyer, you first gotta get into law school. Once you've gotten in, then you can worry about the competition and the difficulty of law school. But if you don't get in, then it's all moot. You've already lost before the game even started.</p>

<p>As I mentioned in another post, it is far more important for a college student to focus on what happens after law school than on merely getting into law school. There are two ways to be an extremely successful lawyer coming out of law school. The first way is to be in the top third or top quarter of your law school class at an average to above average law school. The second way is to be in the top three quarters of an elite law school such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc. If a college student is not prepared to compete at the law school level, he or she will be in the bottom of his or her class and that is not a pleasant experience. A law student is better off quitting law school and finding some other career then the law student is graduating at the bottom of the class.</p>

<p>Pick the easiest major you can and don't waist time and effort double majoring. Law school doesn't care what major you get, or how hard your major was. A communication major with a 3.5 is viewed the same as a statistics major with a 3.5, even though the statistics major is clearly more difficult. So drop your bio major since it will only hurt you.</p>

<p>thinkingoutloud you stated that engineering is most focused on mathematical problem solving, which is a non-essential skill for law school. i beg to differ seeing as that engineering by far probably prepares you the best for law school (assuming you get in of course), primarily because of hte critical thinking and logical/analytical skills you gain from it. most engineers that go on to law school graduate at the top of their law school classes and many engineers that i personally know actually feel that law school isn't much harder than their undergraduate level education as an engineering major. law schools state that there is no pre-defined major to prepare you for law school, but state that one that develops critical thinking and analytical skills is good, and there is probably not a major better designed to do so than engineering.</p>

<p>Oh, I don't know about that, thinkingoutloud. I wouldn't mind being the worst graduating student from, say, Yale Law.. I think a lot of people in the world wouldn't mind it. Yeah, you'd probably end up in some weak law job starting out. But hey, that's still a whole lot better than what a lot of people have right now. I think that quite a few people would happily trade what they have right now to be the worst student at Yale Law. After all, it's still Yale Law. Forget about being an extremely successful lawyer, and let's just talk about being a mediocre lawyer (at least, mediocre according to Yale Law standards). It's still a lot better than the boring Dilbert-esque that a lot of worker bees have now.</p>

<p>Hdotchar, your statement in your last sentence is factually true but tremendously misleading. I agree with you that there may not be a better major that will teach you critical thinking and analytical skills than engineering. The problem is that engineering is arguably the worst major to choose for prelaw - for one simple reason. Engineering is really really hard. Hence, you are likely to get much lower grades if you choose engineering, and not have time to do the EC's that law school adcoms like to see. So by choosing engineering, you are probably severely reducing your chances of getting into law school. They want to see high grades, and it is very difficult to get high grades as an engineer. Hey, if you're one of those rare workaholic geniuses that can get top grades in engineering while still doing EC's, then more power to you. But most people aren't like that.</p>

<p>In law school you spend most of your time reading volumes of cases trying to identify significant facts and resulting legal principles of law. You write research papers presenting arguments supporting your conclusions. You take exams requiring you to write clearly, pesuasively, and quickly to communicate your legal analysis. If you could clone a high school student entering college, the clone majoring in history, English, or philosophy will beat the electrical engineer clone when both are in law school any day of the week.</p>

<p>The last student in his class at Yale law school may have difficulty passing the bar of his intended state and will likely have difficulty finding a job with a medium size law firm. All the avantages of going to Yale Law School will disappear and make him not much different from the average student at your average law school.</p>

<p>sakky. i mentioned in parenthesis (provided you get in). 'If you could clone a high school student entering college, the clone majoring in history, English, or philosophy will beat the electrical engineer clone when both are in law school any day of the week.' this is based upon an assumption upon a stereotypical engineer and/or history english philosophy major. but then again, the stereotypical EE engy probably wouldn't even bother with law school. i think this is a rather unfounded conclusion drawn from questionable premises.</p>

<p>Let me first deal with the contention that it is bad to be the last in your graduating class from Yale Law. It is obviously not great. But, hey, you're still a lot better off than the vast majority of working stiffs out there. Sure, you might have difficulty passing the bar (although I don't know about that - the bar is substantially different from law school, such that if you're good enough to get into Yale law, you should be good enough to pass the bar), and you might have difficulty in getting a job at a law firm.</p>

<p>But that's not the point. The point is, is that better than just being a regular working stiff? I would argue that, yes, it is. Let's face it. Lots of people have difficulty finding jobs. Lots of people have unstable careers where they're always worried about getting laid off. Lots of people have dead-end jobs where they're just barely making it. I think we'd all agree that these people would love to trade what they have (which isn't much) for a degree from Yale Law, even if they graduated last. Graduating last from Yale Law isn't great, but neither are the lives they have now. The question is, which is worse? </p>

<p>Besides, look at it this way. Just because you graduate from law school doesn't mean you have to be a lawyer. You can go take a regular business job. But you now have connections at arguably the most elite law school in the country - people who will be moving on to highly prominent positions in law, in politics, in whatever. It's the same reason a lot (not all, but a lot) of people go to an elite MBA program - not to get the education, but just to establish strong connections. Lots of people go to get, say, their MBA at Stanford or Harvard with the primary purpose of meeting people and establishing their network. You can treat your experience at Yale Law in the same way. Why not? Just because you graduate from law school doesn't mean that you must become a lawyer. Just use it to build connections. </p>

<p>Now, hdotchar and thinkingoutloud, you guys are not playing fair when it comes to comparing history/english students and electrical engineers, because you forget one key thing, and it is precisely that one key thing that makes the difference. I agree with you that history/english/liberal-arts students are probably more prepared for reading, for critical analysis, and all the other things necessary to do well in law school. But what they are less well-prepared for is the workload. Let's face it. We all know that a lot of liberal arts students at many schools can get top grades in their classes while, to be honest, not really studying very hard. At quite a few schools, notably the ones with lots of grade inflation (i.e. HYPS), as long as you do the work and you show up in a liberal-arts class, as long as you the work, you're pretty guaranteed to get at least a 'B'. </p>

<p>And even that may not be necessary. I knew a guy who took a liberal arts class at an elite school that shall remain unnamed, where he barely ever showed up to class, and where the only assignment was a final paper based on some books. The paper was due on a Friday. He started reading the books on Sunday. No, not the Sunday before the paper was due. I'm talking about the Sunday afterwards. In other words, 2 days after the paper was due, he actually opened the books for the first time in order to start the paper. He handed in the paper on Tuesday, and got an 'A-', and the only reason why he didn't get a sold A was because it was late. So basically, this guy did essentially nothing for a class until the very end, and even in the end, the final assignment was completed late, and he still got a very good grade. Nor is this unusual. The guy was telling me that this was quite normal for the classes in his major. He reported getting an A- in another class where he never did any of the reading, hardly ever showed up to class, and just had to write reports on other books, and since he never read any of the books, all he did was just go on Amazon.com and read the reviews of the books and then basically reworded those reviews. </p>

<p>Now I agree that that's an extreme example. But on average, I think we would all agree that liberal arts classes require less work than do engineering classes, and hence the the average engineering student is harder-working than the average liberal arts student is. Exceptions exist, but the trend is true. For example, you will often hear students say that they wanted to studying engineering, but they found it was too hard and they didn't want to study so much, so now they're majoring in some liberal arts subject. I have never heard of anybody saying that they wanted to study, say, Peace and Conflict Studies, but it was too hard and they had to do too much studying, so now they're majoring in electrical engineering. </p>

<p>The upshot is that lots of liberal arts majors who go to law school don't have a very strong work ethic, because in many cases they didn't really have to study all that hard in their undergrad days. The engineers, on the other hand, are very used to studying extremely hard and to pulling all-nighters when necessary. That's what it takes to do well in engineering. </p>

<p>Hence, I would argue that it is questionable in the least as to whether, on average, a liberal arts major would really beat an engineering student in law school. I grant you that the liberal arts guy would probably be more used to the format of the curricula. On the other hand, the engineering student is probably harder working. I know many liberal arts- students who go to law school and report that they've never had to study and work harder in their life than in their 1-L year. Yet engineers who go to law school typically report that their 1-L year is no more difficult than a typical year as an engineering student. They're used to an extremely tough and grueling pace, whereas the liberal arts students are not.</p>

<p>Hence, it's an open and empirical question as to who really is better than who. But the crux of my argument is a simple. Liberal arts classes tend to be significantly easier than engineering classese, and hence liberal arts students do not develop as strong of a work ethic as do engineers.</p>

<p>Allright, I just thought of a way to think about this whole idea of taking 2 cloned people and having them walk through different paths in life.</p>

<p>Take one guy, call him A, and have him go to college for 4 years. Take that guy's clone, call it B, and have B join, say, the Marines, for 4 years. Now have both A and B go to law school (yeah, I know, B can't technically go to law school because he doesn't have a degree yet, but let's say that he could go to law school anyway). Who would be better? Remember, we're talking about a cloned situation - so each person has the same innate intelligence. Who would be better in a law-school setting?</p>

<p>I think the answer is 'it depends'. It is clearly true that A would have more book smarts and better academic preparation. On the other hand, I would argue that B would be a more mature, tougher, harder-working ,more self-disciplined, and mentally stronger individual. Success in law school, or anything else for that matter, is not just about affinity with the material. It also has to do with basic personal characteristics. Who's willing to continue studying on a Saturday night when everybody else is at the bar drinking? Who's more likely to have strong time management and self-discipline skills so that he can successfully divide allotments of time amongst various tasks? Who will be more willing to deprive himself of sleep and of leisure time if that's what it takes to get an assignment done? In all of these cases, I would argue that the Marine would be more capable. B has learned from the Marines to be a more disciplined and mentally tougher individual. Whether A's superior book smarts compensates for B's superior personal characteristics is an open question.</p>

<p>Now, I think that engineering can be compared to joining the military. Note, I am not saying that they are equivalently tough - clearly joining the military is tougher. But I am saying that engineers bring many of the same sort of traits that former soldiers bring to the table in terms of personal drive, self-discipline, and simple work ethic. If you are an engineering student, you are forced to develop these skills or you will flunk out. The tolerance for less disciplined, softer, and downright lazier people is far lower in engineering than it is in the liberal arts, where, let's face it, there are a lot of lazy students who are still getting good grades. </p>

<p>Getting back to the military angle, I have always been deeply impressed by the work ethics of all former soldiers that I've worked with. You can almost always tell whether a guy is ex-military from simply the way he chooses to conduct himself in the office. Regular (non-military) employees seem to spend quite a bit of time on coffee breaks, surfing the Internet, calling their boyfriend/girlfriends, and basically goofing off and wasting time for much of the day. You rarely see that with people who have a military background - generally speaking, they don't waste time and they don't goof off. They are always getting things done and they are extremely efficient with how they use their time. Furthermore, they are tireless workers. If something is tremendously tedious or boring, it is usually the non-military guys who shirk, and it is the former military guys who end up getting it done, because they have a superior work ethic. They're not afraid of hard work, whereas other people are. Absenteeism and irresponsibility are almost never a problem with them in the way that they are with non-military folks.</p>

<p>I also harken back to my old college days and I think about some of the most successful students there. Two in particular (twin sisters), come to mind, who graduated at the top of their class, despite, to be honest, not being particularly innately intelligent. They would often times not understand what everybody else thought were quite basic concepts, and because they were immigrants, had very little understanding of basic American concepts. The point is, they had very little useful book knowledge, and seemed to have very little truly innate brilliance. What they did have were tremendously strong personal traits, and in particular, an unbelievable work ethic. Simply put - they never stopped studying. When everybody else was out on parties, they were studying. When people were out watching sports and generally on their leisure time, they were studying. They graduated at the top of their class because they simply outworked everybody else. </p>

<p>The point of all this is that while book smarts and book knowledge matter, so do your simple personal characteristics, like self-discipline and work ethic. Success in law school or anything else in life is not just about who knows more, or who has greater affinity with the material, but also simply about who's willing to work harder. The reality is that many liberal arts students, even those who get grades that are good enough to get into top law schools, are not willing to work as hard as even the average engineering student is willing to work. Now, don't get me wrong - some of those liberal arts students are willing to work extremely hard. But a lot are not. Combine their verifiably superior book knowledge about law-school topics with an (on average) inferior work ethic, and I think it's not clear in the least as to whether they really would be better in law school than the engineers are.</p>

<p>I'm double majoring in government and economics, and possibly minoring in Spanish! I suppose if you are really interested in a particular area, go for it.</p>