Cliff Gardner

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Finding my way

In the fall of 2005 I applied to 18 law schools. 18! Of those, I was accepted by exactly three of them, and received virtually no financial aid from any of those schools...I can't say I blame them since based on my LSAT score(s), I was as smart as Corky from Life Goes On. Still, going from the financial aid offers I got, even the schools that let me in weren't exactly eager to have me on board, presumably because they thought I would start a fire or something.

My point, though, is that had I gone to law school three years ago, I would be graduating next month with, at best, $50,000-$75,000 of additional student loans (on top of my 25K of undergrad debt) and struggling to find a job in one of the worst economic climates for lawyers in history. Side note--as a Peace Corps Volunteer, my student loan debt actually went down 30%. Somewhere up there, JFK is smiling and nodding happily, possibly while hammered.

ANYWAY, flash forward to the fall of 2008, when I applied to six different Communications graduate programs. While in Ukraine, I really missed speech and debate and teaching public speaking, and I realized that I was over-thinking things--I'm happy teaching and coaching, so why not keep doing that? It seemed simple enough--my rationale was/is, there's no reason to reinvent the wheel--if I'm happy doing something, then I should keep doing it. Thankfully those suspicions were confirmed when, based on a pretty good GRE score, solid recommendations from awesome folks, and loads of teaching/coaching experience, I got in to all six of the schools I applied to, receiving great financial aid offers.

In the Fall, I'll be getting my Master's Degree in Communications from California State University-Long Beach (for a shocking little amount of money), and coaching/teaching as a graduate assistant. I'll also be living with an awesome collection of people (my great friends David, Kristen and Megan will hopefully be living in a giant house with Jessica and I). In short, I'll be doing what I love, surrounded by the people I love, and I couldn't be happier. Personally, Professionally, Economically, every measurable way, not going to law school was the best thing that ever happened to me.


  • Thank you for this post, Cliff. I am currently waiting to leave for training in Romania next month. I applied to law school just recently as well and had a somewhat similar experience. I had pretty low LSAT scores, but was really good in everything else. I didn't get into any of the schools I applied for, though, and had to rethink my priorities in life.

    I've heard that law school admissions skyrocket in bad economies and considering what we are in at the moment, the law field seems completely saturated. I have friends that are in huge debt and have only been able to land medicore jobs at best.

    I don't know where I will be once I Peace Corps stint is over; I'm not thinking in those terms too much at the moment. Your post serves as a kind of inspiration that we can still find a purpose, if it's not what we thought it would have been originally. Thank you!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:49 PM  

  • Seconding the thanks. As a really old person (31 soon!), there are a number of plans I have made that haven't worked out, but still, life is good--and full of surprises. Stopping and thinking about how well it has gone helps me ease up a bit on myself with the "what next" questions.

    Also, it's awesome the way things are working out for you. You are absolutely deserving. :-)

    By Anonymous Christine, at 1:10 PM  

  • Way to kill it fella. Sounds like your rocking can not be stopped

    By Blogger Moses, at 3:37 PM  

  • YEA!! Good for you!

    I hope you'll end up in a job you love at the end of the process!!!

    By Blogger Inside the Philosophy Factory, at 6:34 PM  

  • I'm excited for you and us! Having just graduated doing something I love, after also waiting for two years, I can say it was TOTALLY worth it!

    By Blogger KBT, at 1:14 PM  

  • Thomas - I'm so happy for you. It makes me feel good to know you're happy and in such a wonderful place. I wish I could visit and hope to find a way to do so. I will be in Portland May 30/31, though, so hopefully we can see each other then! And catch up! And share in all this wonderfulness :)

    Sending lots of love your way!

    By Anonymous Amy Sample Ward, at 4:50 AM  

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