Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pez Dispenser of Despair...and Irony

I like to say that law school occasionally doles out little pellets of encouragement, but it is generally a Pez dispenser of despair.  Today provided a prime illustration of this point.

First, I got an e-mail about getting a Best Paper in Prof. Hair Club's Administrative Law class.  Hooray, another irrelevant item to put on my resume!  This was the encouragement pellet for today.

I needed to move up exactly 6 spots in the rankings to move across one of those "cutoff" points in the class.  Of course, most students' GPAs increase after the first year because not all the classes are graded on a strict curve.  I was a sucker and took a couple of the big curved classes, the combined effect of which was to lower my GPA very slightly.  However, my overall GPA went up enough to make me confident that I could move into this other bracket.

When I got my ranking, I couldn't help but laugh.  I moved up precisely 6 spots!  However, our class somehow managed to lose 12 students despite gaining at least that many transfers.  Therefore, my current rank leaves me a grand total of 3 spots outside this cutoff.  As was the case last spring, my last reported grade was a lot lower than expected, and it probably bumped me far enough to keep me out.  I knew the material and the exam was easy, so I expected an A.  However, the registrar initially pressured the professor to lower his grades because there were too many A's, which means my B was probably an A but for forgetting to mention one or two tiny points in a 25 page document.  I won't know until exam review period.

Anyone who has read this blog much (I think there are roughly 5 of us) knows that I don't think grades mean much about any particular individual.  I don't think anything different about myself or anyone else based on grades.  Unfortunately, employers don't seem to feel the same way.  The practical reality is that good grades can be an enormous help in the job search, and some (bastard) employers round-file resumes based on class rank cutoffs.  

I don't think it's even the employment aspect of things that is disappointing.  I think it's that same disappointment that every law student who is close to one of these big cutoffs (and probably most other law students) must feel.  It's the disappointment of genuinely busting your ass to get somewhere, doing well enough to get there, and finding out that circumstances have changed and you can no longer get the satisfaction you sought after a semester of holy hell.  My reaction at this point is genuine laughter.  I should probably just file this away under the "Ironies of Law School" heading and forget about it because thinking about it will not accomplish anything.  At least I can laugh about it right now.

1 comment:

jammin06 said...

Hang in there man. As you said, it's only a few elements of a paper that kept you out this time, but chances are that the breaks will fall for you ,if not now, then further down the road.

To pretentiously tout my superficial knowledge of non-medical crap, it seems that professional school (at least med school) is one series of tests whihc are the epitomy of diminishing return. Yes, I could spend a few extra hours reviewing the littlest detail, but then I couldn't do x,y,and z that keep me sane.

As I'm sure you know, it's always about finding the balance of scores and rank vs. sanity, but down the road, the hard work that we put in on a day to day basis will pay off and people will realize that life (and the value of that life) is not measured by scores and rank.