The American Interest: “Spring is here, which means that it’s acceptance letter season around many American kitchen tables this time of year. And because many graduate as well as undergrad schools send out acceptances around this time of year, both high school and college students will be checking the mail to see whether the school of their choice has sent fat or thin envelopes.
More than ever in these tough times, those letters will pose some hard choices in many families. To attend a more expensive liberal arts college or go for the scholarship at the bigger but less expensive state school? Does it really make sense to take out all of that debt for that graduate degree?
Many millions of students nationwide are now beginning to think about their local junior colleges, trade schools, or even start-ups as sensible post-secondary options. At the graduate level, if trends hold, close to 50,000 students, most of them probably liberal arts graduates without any real idea of what they want to do with themselves, will sign up for law school.
It’s all quite exciting for students and their families. It’s also expensive – often more so than young people realize. For those considering law school, Professor Paul Campos analyzes the picture at his blog. Close to half of all of law school graduates, he emphasizes, end up working not in big law firms, but in “small law” (firms of two to ten lawyers), or opening up their own solo practice. Given the relatively low salaries in small law firms and the high overhead costs of founding a new law firm (conference rooms, legal databases, bar fees), most young lawyers can look forward to no more than a median salary of $50,000, with those in the 75th percentile looking forward to … $62,500.”