Changing Unis: Surviving a Course Transfer
When I first applied for the Juris Doctor, it was a little known degree and there were few course options available. So when I was accepted into a law degree, I simply enrolled.
Eighteen months, four subjects and a deferred semester later, I found myself applying all over again. By this time I had learned much more about the application process and different law schools’ offerings. The universities, now interstate from where I finished school and studied for my undergrad degree, had different entry requirements; some had LSATs, others had different names for their degrees and varied compulsory subjects. I was amazed that in the same country, the same degree could mean so many different things.
The differences affected me were on the point of classification. I applied for and was accepted into a JD program at a different law school, where my previous subjects were not transferrable as they had been undertaken at and assessed on an undergraduate level. These seemingly small discrepancies meant that those four subjects I had already passed would have to be repeated. It didn't matter that the subjects were exactly the same – right down to the prescribed textbooks.
Because this new course was the only correspondence option available in Australia, I decided to go through with the transfer. You're probably wondering what kind of person would repeat subjects that they had already successfully finished, but I can assure you that I’m not the only one to have done it. After some hard work, I've managed to get myself to the same stage of my degree I would have been in if I had stayed at my original law school.
“That's nice”, you say, “but why do I care?”
Well, hopefully my tortuous experience might save you some pain. If you’re thinking of transferring to a different law school, these are some things that I wish I’d known earlier…
If you're committed to completing a law degree but not necessarily to where you live or where you study, make sure that if you choose to transfer, that you will be able to pick up where you leave off.
Ensure that you read the fine print (this is probably good general advice for buddying lawyers). I simply failed to consider that a law degree at one university would be so significantly different to a course with the same name offered at a university just a little way down the coast.
Finally, have faith in yourself. I decided that I could no longer continue studying at my first law school, but was stubborn in my intention to finish my degree, and was determined that this decision would not put me back, even if it resulted in a full time study load on top of full time work. If you choose to become an advocate, you will need to argue your point, even when you feel you are swimming against the tide – so stubbornness can be a useful skill!
Good luck with your course transfer!
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