Summer a Great Time to Start Law School08.01.2011 | Students
The University of Dayton School of Law's flexible schedule, which allows students to begin their legal education in the summer, attracts students for a variety of reasons. Some want to begin their education a few months early. Others are interested in the smaller classes the summer program offers.
And many others are interested taking advantage of the School of Law's accelerated J.D. program, which allows students to graduate in two years while taking the same rigorous course load offered in the traditional three-year program. The accelerated program also saves students a third academic year's worth of loans for living expenses. In these tough financial times, this is a very attractive option for those focusing on saving money.
Members of this year's class of summer-starters were attracted to UDSL for all these reasons, and more.
Several students, for instance, said that they started in during the summer session to begin their legal education as soon as possible.
For Kevin Conner, the summer-start option made UDSL more appealing because he was anxious to begin his legal education right away. After taking the LSAT and going through the application and acceptance process, he said, he didn't want to wait six more months to begin taking classes. "I was ready to go! Plus, being able to theoretically finish in two years was a bonus," said Conner, who received a BA in business management from Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio.
The summer-start option also allowed another student Molly Flurry, to get in an extra semester while her husband, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, is deployed in Afghanistan, and finish school in two or two-and-a-half years.
Sutton Smith, who received a BA in religious studies from the University of Dayton, selected the accelerated two-year option so he could graduate and begin his legal career sooner. "The fact that school started in the summer was a bonus, Smith said, adding that starting law school in May allowed him to leave his job managing a Skyline Chili restaurant three months earlier.
The students also have found that taking classes during the summer has made smoother the transition from their previous work lives to that of a law student.
For instance, Flurry said that since she had been out of college for several years she thought that "starting with a small group in the summer would be more comfortable and a less overwhelming transition." Before enrolling in UDSL, Flurry was the design editor at The Goldsboro News-Argus, a daily newspaper in Eastern North Carolina.
Since there are fewer students in Keller Hall during the summer, it's easier for classmates to get to know one another and establish friendships. The size of the summer-start class has helped them develop camaraderie as well.
"I feel that I know each of my classmates," Conner said. "I have found a group that meshes with my study habits, and that's been very beneficial. In a bigger group, that may have been harder to find as quickly as I did."
Flurry said it has been a challenge to become accustomed to the education style of law school. "It has been a luxury for us summer starters to be in a small group because we know each other and everyone got called on within the first week or two of class," she said.
"We are with the same group of individuals day-in-and-day-out." Flurry added, "So it has fostered a much more collaborative and optimistically competitive experience, rather than the intimidating cut-throat nature I have heard others describe law school as."
The students have also found that their professors, who don't have as many courses to teach in the summer than they will during the traditional academic year, are very accessible.
Flurry described her access to her professors as "unprecedented," and that the one-on-one dialog and greater level of feedback she has received "makes a substantial difference."
Smith said he visited a professor recently to ask just one question. "I think he was let down," Smith said, "when I didn't stay to talk more."