Friday, April 10, 2009

Law School Visits: The Drama Continues!

This is one of those rare occasions where I'm actually writing a timely post. Hooray! There is important information towards the bottom of the post, so if you don't feel like reading my ramblings, but live in NYC feel free to skip down to the bottom.

There's much news, and I've got a lot to say because today we visited Vanderbilt.

Since we live only an hour north of Nashville, we just drove down for today's admitted student's day, meaning we had to get up early in the morning to head down. There were some weather reports of severe weather (heavy thunderstorms and possible tornados)... we gave the reports extra credence because earlier in the morning (or late in the night...) we were actually woken up by a huge crash of thunder. It woke Cadie up and left her hugging mama as she fell back to sleep.

But, I decided to put our lives at risk and press on!

We saw our good omen for the day, although it wasn't as fun as the one we saw on our last trip

The tan car is blocking it, but the rest of the license plate says "ce".

Oh, and Cadence woke up and was very happy to eat some of mama's breakfast.

And then we were in Nashville. Wow that was much faster than going to North Carolina.

Soon, we were at the law school and mingling. I even met someone who I'd met at the Duke ASW - she even remembered Cadence (how could she not?) And Cadence explored the environs with her partner for the day, whose name has yet to be fully ascertained but may involve the name "Paul".

We partook of a continental breakfast,

which Cadence actually enjoyed, despite the face. Cadence found a railing in the lecture room which she had a great deal of fun with. She would reach up, grab it and start swinging like a little monkey - except monkeys don't say "fwing! fwing! fwing! fun! Baba fwing! Baba. you. fwing!" It may have been the highlight of the school for her. Unfortunately the people started talking, the dean gave a speech and there was a faculty panel on the different concentrations you could take... All a bit tiresome for our little girl, and she and Mama went out to play. That's when she found her second favorite part of the building: stairs! [I was under the impression that Kate was taking Cadence out, when she started getting more talkative, but I was incorrect. It bears noting that when she needed to be quiet, she would sign that to Kate that she needed something, or wanted to leave. Our girl is a very smart, polite, and versatile lady.]

Meanwhile, back in the lecture room, I was doing my best to nod off as discretely as possible. I tried very hard to stay awake, but I am finding that I'm actually rather bad at it. It's a skill that I'm going to try to work on before I start school.

After that, the three of us reconvened, caught up on what we'd been up to, and Cadence flirted and was shy with a bunch of people. I gave in and got a cup of coffee, and then back in for some really interesting talks on their clinics, career services office, and getting clerkships. I don't know if it was the speakers or the caffeine but I was wide awake.

I attended a really great mock class on contracts, in which I managed to answer a question correctly, as opposed to when I was at Duke and got a question only half-right. And I learned about the hair hand.

I think this was followed by lunch, in which we chatted with a bunch of very nice, friendly people about law school and trying to figure out what to do. We went on a tour of the law school - but couldn't do the campus tour because there was a downpour. On the bright side, I learned a lot from our tour guide, Nathan, about the school, and I feel fairly confident that I can get a lot of work done without having to spend hours at the library. As long as I can successfully create a positive work environment for myself at home, I won't have to go without seeing my family all night. And if that's possible, then this really could work.

We sat in on a real class, on property law, in which the professor seemed pretty engaging, but was difficult to focus on, because he punctuated every 3rd or 4th word (on average) with an uh or an um. My coffee had also worn off, and I tried my best not to nod off throughout the class until about 10 minutes after class was over, someone woke me up. Oops. >_<
This was followed by an enlightening student panel, and more food. Then, we were off to see my aunt and uncle for dinner.

Cadence rather liked the dessert.

She made sure to feed some to her "baby" (feeding not pictured here). She was very happy to meet more relatives, and we all enjoyed getting together very much.

Well, shucks James, that sounds like an awfully nice trip, huh? Where's the drama???

I'll tell you what's the drama. The drama is I really liked Vanderbilt. Granted, not "this is my dream school, I must go nowhere but here" liked, but Vanderbilt has become a much more serious contender than I had originally anticipated.

So what did I like? I liked the small class size (as I did with Duke). At the same time, things felt more laid back than Duke - ironically, I think Duke's huge number of journals and student organizations despite the class size, played a little bit into my hesitancy to go there. Vanderbilt only has three journals, and appears to have a lot fewer (though plentiful) student organizations, and they didn't seem quite as... peppy.

The campus (or what I could see of it) was beautiful... but not trying as hard as I felt Duke seemed to be. The school itself was not actually as nice as Duke's law school - it was smaller, fewer big open spaces, fewer windows - but it kind of felt more comfortable to me at the same time.

As I mentioned before, the students struck me as being more laid back. From speaking with some current students, I felt as though I'd be able to maintain a fair degree of balance between work and family, and, as long as I manage my time well, maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I also was impressed with their career services office, who buoyed my belief that, when looking at the top schools in the rankings (with the possible exception of Harvard, Yale and Stanford), there's not as much that separating them in terms of getting students jobs as you might think. As long as you do well in these schools, you stand a fair chance of getting a job. I was also impressed by the number of graduates going to work outside of the TN area, especially in New York, DC and California.

In short, I could see myself going to Vandy, and being very happy there. They are offering me the best scholarship of any school who has offered me one yet, and the school clicks for me in a way Duke couldn't.

Oh and Vandy and Nashville as a whole, felt very kid friendly. I didn't get any sense that Kate and Cadence weren't welcome, and anecdotes I heard from students lead me to believe that the student body and faculty will react favorably to the fact that I'm a parent who feels that family is important.

Uh-oh, Kai-lan... we've got a big problem

The thing is, this shift of heart means that I need to evaluate NYU much more closely than I had anticipated. The atmosphere of the school - especially with respect to children and having children hanging around - is going to be important. Even more than what any student or administrator or faculty member can say, there's a certain amount of gut feeling that Kate and I both want to get. And, at this point, it's too important a decision to make without all the facts we can get.

In other words... ah poop. we need to visit New York. Next week. And, oh... tickets are expensive, and I'm going to have to miss work.

So, does anyone want to give our little family a place to stay for a few days? We'll be in the city from Wednesday afternoon through Saturday afternoon... we don't take up (too) much space, and we're personable and will thank you profusely. We'll even give hugs.

Oh, and this little person will grace you with her presence. And, if you spend more than 20 minutes with her, she'll probably start talking in full(ish) sentences to you.