Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dropout v. Failure

Does dropping out of law school equate to failure?

Sometimes people assume dropping out is the same as flunking out of law school. The terms, however, are not equivalent. A dropout is simply someone who originally intended to finish the degree, but did not continue. A person who failed actually received "F"s due to inadequate academic performance.

I chose to call my book "Tales of a Law School Dropout" because the word "dropout" has zing to it. After all, who would want to read a novel titled "Tales of a Law School Withdrawal"? The term "dropout" carries a negative connotation, but I don't think it's too harsh to call myself a law school dropout. I carry the title with pride! Not many people have the courage and integrity to discontinue an ill-fitting career path. Dropping out of law school was one of the best decisions of my life. I don't call it failure. I don't even call it changing my mind. I call it reclaiming my life.

As a college Registrar, I process paperwork of students who drop out of school. The drop paperwork comes across my desk, and I give students the withdrawal grades indicated on the form. The student receives a "W" for "withdrawal", "WS" for "withdrawal satisfactory", or "WU" for "withdrawal unsatisfactory". Each school has distinct policies for withdrawal students. At the school I work for, "W" grades do not impact the GPA, nor do "WS" grades. "WU" grades count the same as "F"s.

The law school I attended, Boyd, has a more stringent grade scale. Students who drop out at the end of the semester automatically receive "F"s. Although I performed exceptionally well academically during the semester, and received "A"s in everything I completed, because I chose to persevere till the end of my first year, I took a hit to my transcript. My law school transcript shows four "F"s and one "A" (I finished Lawyering Process, but didn't take finals in Torts, Property, Criminal Law, or Civil Procedure).

One of my friends begged me to reconsider my choice to withdraw before attempting my finals. She argued that because I was likely to continue my academic pursuits at another school, the failing grades on my law school transcript might hinder my chances of gaining admission to graduate school. I told her I didn't care. I could explain the reason for my failing grades in an addendum, if necessary. The personal cost to me to continue law school was too great. A wise doctor once told me that no honor nor degree is worth sacrificing your health and happiness. 

My law school transcript did not prevent me from going to grad school and furthering my academic aspirations. Today, I am proud to say I am a grad student at the University of Nevada, Reno. I am pursuing a Masters in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Educational Administration. Best of all, I am pursing a career path that fits me completely.

I have learned much more from failure in law school than I ever could have from success. I am grateful for my law school experience and the lessons I learned, both personally and professionally. I face my future without regret, and to this day, I never would have played it any other way.

No comments:

Post a Comment