Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

I've been to four undergraduate schools. Will this be a problem?

Hi everyone. I'm finishing up my degree and was wondering if vanillawafer07/01/18
The number of schools will definitely not help your cause. hairypalms07/01/18
Thanks for your reply. I just feel like that's so silly a vanillawafer07/01/18
Sorry, that may be your opinion, but unlikely to be the opin hairypalms07/01/18
Thanks for your reply. I guess I just don't understand it! vanillawafer07/01/18
The vast majority of lay people do not understand the legal hairypalms07/01/18
A law firm could view your transfer back home as an error in hairypalms07/01/18
That is honestly so ridiculous it's hard to even fathom. vanillawafer07/01/18
Sorry to bust your bubble. Law is a young person's professi hairypalms07/01/18
... I don't even want to work for a law firm. I want to work vanillawafer07/01/18
Sorry to bust your bubble again. The vast majority of peopl hairypalms07/01/18
Sigh. That is exactly what I want to do (prosecutor). vanillawafer07/01/18
In this case, you should go to the state flagship law school hairypalms07/01/18
OP, I’m going to split the difference between you and Hair dupednontraditional07/03/18
Hello Vanilla, if your story is verdict, I see nothing wrong ternarydaemon07/01/18
Thanks for the reply. vanillawafer07/01/18
I'll be a bit more direct: what are your grades? Have you t toooldtocare07/01/18
3.875 GPA so far/168 practice tests without serious, serious vanillawafer07/01/18
All this talk about undergrad? Forget it like it almost nev jeffm07/01/18
One more thing. About choice of law school, everyone is try jeffm07/01/18
If OP just wants to be a prosecutor, I don't see the point i hairypalms07/01/18
100 percent correct, Geoff. Not to mention you’ll receive esquirewalletsmatter07/01/18
I honestly suspected this. It seems unfathomable to me that vanillawafer07/02/18
Good grades and strong LSAT will go a long way in addressing shuiz07/02/18
Thank you! I appreciate the response. I am very debt averse, vanillawafer07/02/18
Can't say for all schools, but I suspect they probably all u jeffm07/03/18
Don’t see a problem. Law schools only care about the GPA a pisces21307/02/18
If you just put your undergrad degree on your resume, I'm no thirdtierlaw07/02/18
Agree with/3rd but gotta ask: why do you want to be a prosec toooldtocare07/02/18
I know there isn’t a prayer’s chance you are going to li wearyattorney07/03/18
Putting aside all the reasons not to go to law school, I wil therewillbeblood07/03/18
I transferred more than once. It didn’t matter to the sch ibrslave07/03/18
Wait a minute...you put all your schools on your CV? Why wou therewillbeblood07/03/18
I transferred once as an undergrad. I only put down my degre hairypalms07/03/18
I only put schools on resume that I graduated from. But dur ibrslave07/03/18
For those who are suggesting that age will harm the OP in th pherc07/03/18
I'll chime in as I was a non-traditional law grad who became a8464807/03/18
I worked as a PD. Getting the job was one of the happiest d shuiz07/03/18
just to add, i got an interview at a big4 as a nontraditiona whiteguyinchina07/03/18

vanillawafer (Jul 1, 2018 - 4:44 pm)

Hi everyone. I'm finishing up my degree and was wondering if you could help me with a doubt I'm having.

I've been to four undegraduate schools as follows:

1. State school about an hour away. I moved back home after the first year to avoid costly loans.

2. Commuter school a few blocks from my house. I went here while working a 9-5 and took night classes. Then I moved to Italy for a few years and grew my business.

3 and 4. Reputable state schools which are a brick and mortar institution but also have online courses (they are the same as the brick and mortar courses, and the diploma looks exactly the same. No mention of the B.A. being online). I'm obtaining a joint B.A. at two schools concurrently but am attending online as I am currently out of the country.

Will this hinder my application in any way? I have good grades but have been told that adcomms will basically trash my application because of the online component... but they're still reputable state schools, so I'm not sure who to believe.

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hairypalms (Jul 1, 2018 - 5:43 pm)

The number of schools will definitely not help your cause. Admissions officers may question your ability to stay the course. It might be worthwhile to explain the reasons why (briefly) in your application. Ultimately, your ability to get into a good law school will be based on (i) where you obtained your undergrad, (ii) your grades in undergrad; and (iii) your LSAT score. Keep in mind that when you apply to take the bar, you life is going to be a nightmare tracking down all these grade transcripts from your schools. Also, law firms will want to look at your undergraduate transcripts. Get ready to have the law firms ask you repeatedly about why you attended so many schools. I don't mean to be a downer, but law firms (and the legal profession generally) are trained to spot red flags. Myself, I would have reservations about admitting or hiring someone that attended 4 undergraduate institutions. All this being said, will it prevent you from being accepted to law school? No. There will be a school that accepts you, it's just that the quality of the school may not justify attending. Will Harvard/Yale/Stanford accept you? Probably not, unless you are able to absolutely kill the LSAT and you otherwise fit what the admissions officers are looking for re: diversity, extracurriculars, etc. If you can get into a top 10 law school (or the flagship state law school in the state where you intend to practice), then law school could be a viable option, but otherwise I would not recommend it. There are too many lawyers, not enough paying clients (particularly as the middle class dwindles), and the cost of obtaining your degree (in the absence of a full scholarship) is high relative to expected first year salaries. Generally, only those graduates that can land a big law job - and keep that job for more than say 5 years - can justify the cost of law school in this day of tuition gouging. I always advise people to consider the medical field. Even physician assistants can make $100,000/year. Become some type of medical specialist, like a physical therapist, those people can do well and not have to fight the hoards of lawyers applying to the same job. In the end, you will also have a better quality of life than the vast majority of lawyers.

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vanillawafer (Jul 1, 2018 - 6:12 pm)

Thanks for your reply.

I just feel like that's so silly and not at all indicative of an inability to see something through. I stopped attending the first school because I made the responsible choice--to move back home, work a 9 to 5, go to night school and pay out of pocket. I moved to Italy while attending because I wanted to grow my business, saw an opportunity (I work in a really niche industry) and grabbed it by the horns.

It took a LOT of pluck and determination at 20 to move by myself to another country and grow a business from a little seed into a successful one. I'm still in Italy and obtaining a dual Bachelor of Arts because I want to finish school and I want to make a career change. How in the world could any admissions officer see this as a bad thing? I guess I'm just... perplexed.

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hairypalms (Jul 1, 2018 - 6:56 pm)

Sorry, that may be your opinion, but unlikely to be the opinion of a hiring committee. Then again, I don't make the rules regarding admission to law school or obtaining a law job post-graduation. The law profession is very picky, which in my view is a direct result of there being too many lawyers. Some firms may not extend an offer of employment if you wear the "wrong" tassels on your shoes (half joking). On the other hand, the majority of employers don't seem to care where one went to medical school, again my view being that there are too few physicians relative to the need. Take it for what it's worth, probably not the answer you were looking for, but I am very confident that you would be dinged by some employers for the number of undergraduate schools. Again, I don't make the rules.

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vanillawafer (Jul 1, 2018 - 7:09 pm)

Thanks for your reply. I guess I just don't understand it!

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hairypalms (Jul 1, 2018 - 7:31 pm)

The vast majority of lay people do not understand the legal profession. They think they know what it's like from watching Law & Order. It's only once you spend $200,000+ getting your law degree that you see how the industry really operates and by that time it's too late. Don't just take my word for it; you should talk to other practicing lawyers.

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hairypalms (Jul 1, 2018 - 7:20 pm)

A law firm could view your transfer back home as an error in judgment, claiming that you should have realized that you were overextended financially and you made a poor decision to attend a school that you couldn't afford. As to your move to Italy, a firm could view this negatively since it shows that you weren't committed to your studies, but rather more interested in your business. Possibly it could be interpreted that you have too many outside interests and you may not make a good law student/associate with all the distractions. Some firms could interpret your decision to move to another country as positive, others may view it as a sign of instability. Law firms could question whether you will up and leave them to start some side business, or possibly start your own firm and take their existing client base. Again, there are so many lawyers, firms can be picky. Someone may very well give you a chance, but there are also many others that will not because there are 10 job candidates waiting to be interviewed that have minimal red flags in their record.

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vanillawafer (Jul 1, 2018 - 7:23 pm)

That is honestly so ridiculous it's hard to even fathom.

I literally am at a loss for words. So a law firm wouldn't hire me at 33 (the age I would be should I graduate from law school) because I moved to another country when I was 20 to start a business? Or because at 18 I realized that I didn't want to be like everyone else and graduate with $60,000 in debt? So would a firm want me to have ACTUALLY overextended myself? I mean.. it just doesn't compute. In what world is this rational?

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hairypalms (Jul 1, 2018 - 7:42 pm)

Sorry to bust your bubble. Law is a young person's profession. Unless you obtained your Ph.D. and anticipate practicing patent law, 33 is actually quite old to be getting your first legal job. Again, I'm not saying it can't be done ... or that it hasn't been done. Older people have obtained big law firm jobs, it's just not as common. Law firms want young people to grind them into the dirt and not have them ask management a lot of questions.

To your question, it may not be rational to you, but that's not the firm's problem. They don't care about your unique circumstances. They just care about making money and impressing their clients.

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vanillawafer (Jul 1, 2018 - 7:48 pm)

... I don't even want to work for a law firm. I want to work in local city government. You're coming up with scenarios based on information I haven't even given.

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hairypalms (Jul 1, 2018 - 7:57 pm)

Sorry to bust your bubble again. The vast majority of people MUST start in law firms. Companies and government agencies want experienced people. They "generally" do NOT hire directly from law school. Only after you have obtained 3-5 years will you be considered for in-house jobs or government jobs. Yes, you can get a job as a public defender or prosecutor out of law school, but outside of those options, the likelihood of you getting a job with local government with no prior experience is pretty low.

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vanillawafer (Jul 1, 2018 - 7:58 pm)

Sigh.

That is exactly what I want to do (prosecutor).

You think you're bursting my bubble but you actually just proved my point. ;-) Thanks.

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hairypalms (Jul 1, 2018 - 8:17 pm)

In this case, you should go to the state flagship law school in the state where you want to practice. Try to get a scholarship. Just so you know, there is a lot of competition for PD/prosecutor positions, many people on this forum can tell you horror stories about how they volunteered for YEARS without pay in the "hope" that they would be in queue to obtain a FT paid job. Much of this is the result of legislation that allows attorneys that work in government to have their loans forgiven after 10 years, which created a lot of competition for those jobs. Governments (state and local) are cash strapped and are cutting jobs. It is now much harder to get these legal jobs. Others can certainly give you better advice as I was never a "do gooder" public interest type.

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dupednontraditional (Jul 3, 2018 - 12:36 pm)

OP, I’m going to split the difference between you and HairyPalms. Personally, I’m less concerned about the various undergrads, just get all your transcripts and documents up front now so you are not chasing them later.

That said, HP is right : law is a young person’s game. I went to law school as a non-trad, and it was pointless. I should have stayed in my old career and not taken on the debt - anything that is not “textbook” is inherently regarded as suspicious. If you want to do something challenging, stay the entrepreneur path or something similar.

Now, the law schools will say “oh you’re so interesting, your varied background and work experience is a real plus...”...to them. Actual employers, not so much.

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ternarydaemon (Jul 1, 2018 - 6:45 pm)

Hello Vanilla, if your story is verdict, I see nothing wrong with your choices. You took the responsible decisions in order to avoid costly debt with dubious ROI, grew your business and took online courses that, frankly, provide the same information and knowledge that you would obtain in person on the brick and mortar school.

Still, these choices are precisely what admission officers at law schools, and hiring committees and law firm partners, are trained to avoid: a prudent and responsible person. Law schools want more lemmings that will indebt themselves for decades for an education based on the Socratic method and that lacks almost complete applicability in the real world, even if all objective evidence indicates that they will never make back their investment. In the same regard, law firm partners want people that have taken a straight line since high school, that is, type-a, risk averse overachievers without business initiative that will do the work they are told, no questions asked.

Why would they hire a person that has lived abroad on first world socialist countries, that has taken sensible choices regarding their finances and education? To put that person to work 10 hours days in jobs that teach no useful business skills, while indebted until middle age? It would not be congruent.

Why do you want to be a lawyer in any case? There are many better ways to be successful in life, and to earn more money and with less investment in time and money.

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vanillawafer (Jul 1, 2018 - 7:09 pm)

Thanks for the reply.

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toooldtocare (Jul 1, 2018 - 8:07 pm)

I'll be a bit more direct: what are your grades? Have you taken the LSAT-or at some practice tests. While I agree with the above, start first with the numbers. Don't do any further analysis until you've got an idea of how competitive you are-and the majority of your application will rest on your GPA and LSAT.

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vanillawafer (Jul 1, 2018 - 8:12 pm)

3.875 GPA so far/168 practice tests without serious, serious study

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jeffm (Jul 1, 2018 - 8:18 pm)

All this talk about undergrad? Forget it like it almost never happened. If you do very well in law school, undergrad transcripts and school choices aren't going to make the radar. If you do average in law school, undergrad doesn't matter... you're still average, and a great undergrad isn't going to help.

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jeffm (Jul 1, 2018 - 8:27 pm)

One more thing. About choice of law school, everyone is trying to come up with a formula on where the supposed cut-off is in terms of prestige vs. scholarships/discounts. That debate will go on forever.

However, here's something I've never seen mentioned. If you go to even a crappy law school, if you are one of the top students in the graduating class and are liked by professors/the dean, etc., they often have "pull" or influence to get you your first job with government and/or corporate. Keep in mind that their influence might be local, though.

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hairypalms (Jul 1, 2018 - 8:33 pm)

If OP just wants to be a prosecutor, I don't see the point in going to an elite law school and paying full freight. He/she should just go to the local state law school where he/she anticipates practicing and try to get the best scholarship/discount possible and use those local connections to network and find a job.

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esquirewalletsmatter (Jul 1, 2018 - 10:35 pm)

100 percent correct, Geoff. Not to mention you’ll receive and likely maintain a full boat.

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vanillawafer (Jul 2, 2018 - 12:58 am)

I honestly suspected this. It seems unfathomable to me that any hiring manager in a non BigLaw job would seriously ask about undergraduate transcripts. How are they relevant when someone is a graduate of a law school? I could be wrong, but it just doesn't seem right that someone would ask, especially if I were to end up at a highly ranked law school.

As a follow up, do you feel that if my GPA and LSAT are strong enough my situation would still deter me from getting into a good school? I am really trying to figure out all the scenarios in my head and I feel that a strong addendum can easily explain why I made the choices I have.

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shuiz (Jul 2, 2018 - 1:19 am)

Good grades and strong LSAT will go a long way in addressing your undergraduate issues. But it would still have been better not to have jumped around so much.

I could be wrong, but I doubt anyone cares about your “explanation.” Welcome to the legal field.

The best advice I can give is, no matter where you go to law school, try to keep you debt to a minimum.

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vanillawafer (Jul 2, 2018 - 1:23 am)

Thank you! I appreciate the response. I am very debt averse, so I am not looking to rack up a huge amount of debt. :)

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jeffm (Jul 3, 2018 - 12:30 pm)

Can't say for all schools, but I suspect they probably all use the same type of approach. If a formula which users your GPA and LSAT scores yields some number above a baseline, you are automatically accepted without further review or inquiry. A 3.875 GPA is stellar. I don't know where a 168 LSAT fits. When I went, the LSAT scoring was 1 - 48.

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pisces213 (Jul 2, 2018 - 2:50 pm)

Don’t see a problem. Law schools only care about the GPA and LSAT they can use to boost their rankings, and on your resume, you can just put one of the undergrads that gave you a diploma. Not many law firms will ask for undergrad transcripts, if any.

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 2, 2018 - 3:07 pm)

If you just put your undergrad degree on your resume, I'm not sure why anyone would ever ask for your whole undergrad history. If you want to be a prosecutor, this is even less of an issue. With your GPA and LSAT score you'll be pretty competitive (meaning money) at strong state schools. You do not need an elite degree to be a prosecutor and if you know what region you want to practice in, you may be better off getting a full ride at a school that'll let you not only do your summers at the prosecutors office but allow you to do an internship at the prosecutors office as well.

It may sound like an exaggeration, but I'd be willing to bet that a prosecutors office will take a person with 2-3 years of prosecutorial experience over a recent Yale grad, especially in a busy office, 9/10.

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toooldtocare (Jul 2, 2018 - 7:25 pm)

Agree with/3rd but gotta ask: why do you want to be a prosecutor? You seem to be justifiably proud of your entrepreneurial success, and there's nothing about being a prosecutor which is even similar to that skill.

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wearyattorney (Jul 3, 2018 - 1:01 am)

I know there isn’t a prayer’s chance you are going to listen, but I’ll chime in. Law school was the single worst decision of my adult life. I would do literally anything to turn the clock back and not go. I am not alone. The vast majority of people who go to law school are doing themselves a disservice, with a substantial minority permanently hurting themselves.

I know tons of Prosecutors and tons of PDs. 90 percent regret going to law school, and 90 percent of them don’t like what they do.

This profession, if you can call it that anymore, is over saturated to an absurd degree.

I know what you are thinking: it won’t apply to you, you’ll be different, etc. Thats what everyone thinks and they are almost universally disappointed.

Since you are interested in being a prosecutor, I would recommend law enforcement, but at 33 that might be a bit old.

I wish you the best and I really hope you don’t go. In the event that you do go, I hope you are part of the 1 percent that finds some peace and enjoyment in this absurdly disgusting field.

P.S. This advice only applies if you are not independently wealthy. If the family has money, you can disregard this post. (I doubt that is the case based on what you posted, but you never know).

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therewillbeblood (Jul 3, 2018 - 10:09 am)

Putting aside all the reasons not to go to law school, I will say that I never thought of it, but I transferred several times as an undergrad and I was waitlisted by my so-so state school, despite the fact that the LSAC chances calculator gave me a 98% chance of getting in. Maybe my transfers did sabotage that.

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ibrslave (Jul 3, 2018 - 10:52 am)

I transferred more than once. It didn’t matter to the schools I applied to, but it did matter to employers. I’ve seen quite a few job postings seeking people committed to the area, which doesn’t bode well for multiple transferees. I can also tell you that the law school’s office of career services will throw those transfers in your face as a reason as to why you can’t find an internship or a job.

With your numbers, I don’t think most law schools will bat an eye about your transfers. The t-14 schools will probably be concerned but may overlook it based upon your work experience, world experience, etc.

You will be an old codger in law school. I went in my late 20’s and I was considered old by my classmates. For what it’s worth you will also find that your early 20-something classmates are mostly immature and lack any kind of significant work experience.

Future employers will not want someone in their early 30s with real world experience. As others have said, they will want a cog in the wheel, not someone who knows their worth and is willing to stand up for work-life balance, doing the “right thing,” etc.

Similar to what someone else posted, being a prosecutor is a high stress job that often pays crap. Lots of prosecutors end up burned out and bitter. It is a miserable job for most. But, in many small towns a prosecutor is basically like the mayor. And, you will get sued in frivolous lawsuits by prisoners and perhaps others. Did I mention that politics are rampant in DA offices? It can get nasty, and if a new DA comes in, s/he may fire you just because.

I think most experienced attorney would gladly trade places with someone who has a successful business with no debt.

I don’t think getting into a decent school will be a problem for you. But graduating without significant debt and finding a good job afterward is the much bigger question. Good luck to you!

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therewillbeblood (Jul 3, 2018 - 11:22 am)

Wait a minute...you put all your schools on your CV? Why would you do that? I only put schools I graduated from on mine.

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hairypalms (Jul 3, 2018 - 12:02 pm)

I transferred once as an undergrad. I only put down my degree granting school. The issue as I explained to OP is that employers (particularly law firms) could very well ask for your undergraduate transcripts and so this may cause some head scratching based on OP attending 4 undergraduate schools to date.

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ibrslave (Jul 3, 2018 - 12:54 pm)

I only put schools on resume that I graduated from. But during an interview it would often come up. And, I didn’t hide it. For some employers it is an issue. I think it would be comparable to job hopping every year or two. It just isn’t something legal employers want to see.

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pherc (Jul 3, 2018 - 1:18 pm)

For those who are suggesting that age will harm the OP in the job market, not from what I have seen. People in their 30s arguably outperformed those younger in the years I was in law school.

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a84648 (Jul 3, 2018 - 2:19 pm)

I'll chime in as I was a non-traditional law grad who became a prosecutor. I graduated from my flagship state law school with about 40k in debt at 38. I was involved in start-ups prior to law school and love being a prosecutor.

There is age discrimination in the law and a bit of that in criminal law. No supervisor wants to be over new hires who are a lot older than them. I also believe employers hire those who are like them and resemble them when they were first hired. However, if you age well (and I think 33 is not too old), you will be just fine.

Not to be disagreeable, but I would say that 70% + of public defenders and prosecutors love criminal law, so long as the pay can sustain them. Burnout happens fast and you will know if it is something that you will find fulfillment in.

To OP, keep going forward so long as you get into a reputable law school, come out with little debt and get clinical experience in law school.

Good luck to you and let us know how it goes.

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shuiz (Jul 3, 2018 - 5:53 pm)

I worked as a PD. Getting the job was one of the happiest days of my life. But I would not say I loved working it.

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whiteguyinchina (Jul 3, 2018 - 6:28 pm)

just to add, i got an interview at a big4 as a nontraditional. there was a mid manager who asked me about my education and i said non traditional. she said, huh i have this and this degree and am over 100k in debt. she seemed to resent someone working at the same job which cost her several hundred k and years to get.

i think its rare, but the others are right, conformity is important

your biggest challenge will be age i believe

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