Degree Advice

I am a newbie on the board and am in a bit of a predicament. I am a Junior Political Science major at the University of Delaware. Throughout my life I either wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer, and decided to take the lawyer route. The only area of law that I have interest in is Business/Corporate Law. With the way the economy is going, I am beginning to wonder if I continue to pursue a law degree, will I ever get a job. Now for the predicament. I took some classes at Penn State a year ago, and spoke to them recently about possibly transferring from Delaware to Penn State to pursue a pre-med degree. Since I am so far along with Political Science, they are recommending that I pursue a bachelors in Letters, Arts, and Sciences (basically a general studies degree). If I choose this option, I would have to attend 2 years and complete all of my science requirements. If I was to choose this route at Delaware, I would have to attend approximately 3 years, and would end up with the same Political Science degree, but I would have taken the pre-med science requirements. The other option Penn State offered me was to go to Delaware for my last year, graduate, then attend Penn State for 2 years for a pre-med post bachelors certificate, where I would take the same classes that I would take if I started this fall. Any advice that can be provided about which route to take would be greatly appreciated!

My advice - finish your poly sci degree and go on a dual path towards law school/med school until you really decide what you want. You didn’t give a lot of detail about why you love corporate law or why you always wanted to be a doctor, but the two don’t really go together. (“Well, I really enjoy reading through piles of contracts and negotiating M&A’s, but I find medicine fascinating and spend my free time practicing stitches on orange peels and listening to NEJM podcasts.”) I am concerned that you are worried about the economy and medicine seems safe. It’s a valid point, but you would finish law school in 2013, not 2009. We should actually be ramping up towards another economic peak by then. I do think a lot of people will go to law school now, instead of working, so you may have more competition when you graduate. I still am not sure that’s a good reason to switch career paths.

I would recommend testing the waters of both paths before deciding. Maybe you could find a summer internship in corporate legal (unpaid or paid). You could spend your evenings or weekends volunteering at an ER, or for something else medically-related. You could try to squeeze in a chem 1 or bio 1 course with your poly sci. Maybe you love science, maybe you don’t. You have to find out.

Once you can really prove to yourself that you like medicine (or law), then worry about the school you need to attend, etc. Your path for medicine is at least 9 years long, and it’s not worth it if you don’t love it. Also. . .the economy could go up and then be back in the tank in those 9 years, and there’s no telling what will happen with the health care system that will screw up the medical profession. You can’t bury your head in the sand and ignore the economy’s impact on different professions, but you can’t let it dictate your career either. (FWIW, I am an engineer, and every few years the news reports that there is an engineer shortage. . .people in engineering school think they will have it made, but by the time they graduate, industry has cycled back down and they can’t find any work. You can’t trust the forecasts.)

Good luck!

I, too, was confused on how medicine seems to be a more “secure” profession. Health care insurance rules our world, and treatments as well as the pay. It would seem more reasonable to just go ahead and finish the law degree. There is nothing wrong to having two career possibilities. I work with a pilot that (a few years ago) said he now makes the same amount of money as a pilot, as he did as a doctor once he paid his malpractice insurance. I don’t know how true that statement is…point being, to have a career as a commercial pilot takes years to obtain as well as his M.D. you can always change once you complete. In the end, you must go where your heart and motivation takes you.

I always wanted to be a doctor and got interested in law by way of forensics through the science aspect…everyone got interested in forensics, I wanted to go into pathology when I was younger (like way younger, elementary school/middle school age) then it was more toward a forensic anthropology type standpoint, but I’ve always been science oriented, but then when shows like C.S.I came out (which I love those shows but they aren’t realistic of what the field is like, I’ve shadowed !!!) alot of people gravitated to that field and then when I got to college age, I sort of got “pushed” by relatives and well meaning advisors to get a “realistic” degree which was paralegal because it would be something that was “useful” because I had a baby and I needed to be able to support myself, plus I was good at it and it was in demand and then I could work and keep going to school and then when I saw that I had a knack for legal stuff. Mostly because I could grasp the evidence part then I thought I’d become an attorney because that seemed like the logical route…and I completely veered off my original path!!!

Then after much determining that I wouldn’t want to hear those horrendous stories of child abuse and murder all day I decided that I didn’t want to work in criminal law and got this boring (gag!) job in the corporate law world and decided that I’d be a corporate lawyer and NO NO NO! It’s piles of paper work…mounds of it. * looks around desk* I’m practically buried beneath it. And I’m not even the attorney. I’m their assistant. you should see the 2 attorneys that I assist. Their offices are worse!!! Piles of papers. Literally. It’s horrid. I can see the rainforests just being slaughtered so we can print more and more!

Rhonda - I like your story how you got into law. I read all the books like “Body Farm” when I was in jr. high. . .I totally was going to be a forensic scientist. (I actually did “almost” join the FBI about 6 years go. . .I applied and took the test, and got called for an interview. I canceled the interview, so I’ll never know. . .)

Also, if the OP had said he/she wanted to go into criminal law or family law OR medicine, I might understand that. But corporate law? Thank you for illustrating the piles and piles of paper involved!

Thanks AliJ! My goals were definitely FBI as well. I just love the science, even now I love the science, and I don’t know that I totally look down on the research aspect of medicine. I can definitely see myself doing some clinical trials and such.

It’s all helping people in some way or another for me and through science.

I’m completely not joking about the paper!!! It’s really that bad! I actually have managed to put some of it away. But it’s still everywhere. And more copies to be made. We just got 3 bankers boxes full of more copies of papers for another case!