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September 07, 1978 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-09-07

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The Michigan Daily-ThL sday, September 7, 1978-Page 25

Grad School:
I adm


e impossible. dream
ing a toe in pre-med water
Y SELBST olfactory senses constantly plugged up sounded vaguely dirty to me, but what to observe Chanukah with my family
cked in by the lure by the repellent odor of formaldehyde. did I know, being in effect a freshman stayed up all night for nights on end.,


nit it. I was suc

ly. I

of the calculator. I spent three years
here earning a history and English
degree and then I succumbed. I won-
dered what all those feverish freshper-
sons were doing in their rooms late at
night, burning the midnight desk-lamp
bulb, and listening to concerted low
wails during exam weeks. I could not-be
a true University of Michigan student
without at least once having dipped my
toe into the waters of pre-med. So in I
went. Kersplash.I
I worked a year in two psychiatric
hospitals in the Detroit area and con-
ceived the fantastic notion that I wished
to spend the rest of my days with my

ACTUALLY, THE turning point
came for me when I was assigned at the
first hospital to organize a staff
educational seminar on the subject of
toxic psychoses. So I read and read, and
researched and researched, and came
away with a voluminous array of facts
about the effects of various chemicals
on the functioning of the brain. What
did I want to do with my medical
education? Why, pursue this matter
fully, of course.
So I took Chemistry 123. Where I
learned about oxidation and reduction
and alpha and beta emissions (which

'The trend the past few years-and
I assume that it is still the same, is
that clearly about half the students
coming in toy with the idea of being
ia pre-med.'
-Charles Judge,
Counseling Director

again). And I settled in for the long
I also took Biology 112, at least for the
reason that it was required as much as
the fact that biology has something to
do with the brain (which is all I knew
about it before 112). As long as we
didn't have to cut up frogs, I didn't
mind. I loathe amphibians; low, wet
slimy things.
EVERYONE IN MY classes - the
lectures and my biology lab - was
fresh-faced and about seventeen. There
I was, my fifth year hanging around
this city (far too long) and subject to
the innocent and curious stares of these
freshpersons. I offered one a ride home
after lab the first week, and he asked
me what dorm I lived in. I said that.I
hadn't lived in a dorm for a couple of
years. He replied that he thought all fir-
st-year students lived in dorms. I told
him that I was a senior, sort of, and he
looked at me with wide, child's eyes and
asked, "Well, then, what are you doing
here?" A fine question.
One which occurred to me, over and
over, throughout the term. Counting
enzyme reaction rates, calculating
molarities, drawing up little Punnett
squares, listening to Professor Sally
Allen rhapsodize about recombination,
all the while I questioned. And studied.
I never studied so much in my entire
life! I grew crabby and actually snap-
ped at my three apartment-mates. I
became reclusive. As December drew
nearer, I couldn't manage to get away

social activities ceased. Frantically I
studied notes. Drew diagrams (though
not once dissected a revolting frog),
and calculated. I wore out six batteries
in December alone. There I was, bur-
ning the midnight desk-lamp bulb. And
sweating. Chills. Fever.
I STUDIED so much for my Biology
final that I got an A- in the course (after
carrying a flat B average); but I ended
up thereby neglecting Chemistry, in
which my A- average sank to a B+. Win
some, lose some. My average for the
term was a not unpleasing 3.6, and I felt
fulfilled. Why, with a little work, I cold
really knock myself out next term and
get a 3.9! I could really get into it, lie
some I knew. I could sabotage friengs
and cheat on exams! Just think of thie
vistas that were opening to me!
Next term arrived, and the epiphany
came. The teaching assistant in Biology
Lab told us that we would have to ha e
lab kits. "Whatever for?" Iasked.
"Decapitation," he said solemnly.
"OH, OF WHAT?" said I.
He looked at me. "Didn't you read the
lab manual?" he said. "We're going to
cut up frogs."
Now I'm an English major. I'm
graduating in August and I'm going to
be unemployed. Don't sweat anything
anymore. There's good money to be
made on welfare.
Jeff Selbst is a former Daily Arts

Daily Photo by JOHN KNOX
An ardent pre-med carefully examines her experiment results for the trying

Tetrials of pre- law 0

It's hard to think of something fresh
to say about getting into law school. If
'you've read this far, you can probably
recite the gloomy statistics which make
admissions seem impossible and have
heard even more dismal accounts of
post-law school job hunts.
However, I am prepared to offer
evidence into the record proving that
getting into law school need not become
a routine of Saturday nights in the
library and spring vacations resear-
thing history papers.
I DIDN'T plan on going to law school
while I was in college. That's a trifle
disingenuous; let's say it was in the
back of my mind so I hedged my bets
and took the LSAT my senior year,
joining three hundred other sweaty
human beings for a five-hour marathon
that might determine our futures.
The less said about the exam,
perhaps the better. But a word about
preparation. Many people believe that
preparation, either through solo study,
or in organized classes, enhances per-
formance. I wouldn't know.
I bought a fat red, white and blue
preparation book after my junior year
and vowed to spend the summer
studying. I even took the book to
Washington, D.C. with me, which is
'where I worked that summer. It
gathered dust there; I never heard the
soft crack of the spine being bent open
for the first time until the night before
the test in October. At that point, less
than two hours into my review, I an-
nounced to the walls of my room that a
good night's sleep was more important
than familiarity with the material.
A PART OF THE law school ritual is
waiting around expectantly for the
results and stalking the postman daily.
In my case, I hurt my back playing
football the day after the LSAT and
spent the next five weeks more concer-
ned with whether I would run again
than my score.
When my score arrived, I decided to
apply to Harvard and Michigan. My
only moment of genuine anxiety came
when I was put on the waiting list at

Harvard in December and then wasn't
among Michigan's first wave of accep-
tances. I tripped over to the Univer-
sity's law school admissions office to
check on my progress, only to be told
rather icily I would hear in a few mon-
After my chilly reception I spent a
frantic day on the telephone trying to
ascertain which schools accepted late
applications. For about a week I was
nervous that I wouldn't get into school.
AND MY JOB search was
remarkable only for the low degree of
enthusiasm employers were showing
for my resume.
Little did I know that it is the Univer-
sity law school's policy to conser-
vatively assess an applicant's chances,
so as not to falsely inflate hopes. A week
after my depressing visit, my accep-
tance arrived.
I can't say I was surprised; I knew I
was highly likely to get in, based on my
grades and LSAT. But I was still
pleased; I knew if I went to law school
here, chances were good I'd avoid
poverty thereafter. And it was one hell
of an excuse for a celebratory dinner.
LESS THAN three months later,
however, I gladly relinquished my spot
in law school when a reporting position
came my way. I was enthusiastic about
plying the skills I had practiced for four
years at The Daily. And in the spring of
1976, reporting jobs were even more
coveted, and harder to come by, than
places in law school. In the back of my
mind, I knew I didn't want to be in
school in the fall; I wanted a year
without tests or papers.
I was concerned, however, that
having turned down a spot in law school
once, I wouldn't be accepted on reap-
plication. The fear proved groundless.
After a year' of Kansas proved
stultifying, I was quickly reaccepted to
law school the following spring.
The law school liked me even better
as an applicant with a year of work ex-
perience. The law school likes people
who take a year or two off, according to
admissions officer Roger Martindale.
In fact, the year after I applied, it

began a program where applicants
may automatically defer admission for
a year or two if they wish.
ACCEPTED a second time, I decided
I was serious and returned to Ann Ar-
bor one hot evening last August. I
walked into the law school for the first
time as a law student and listened to the
dean make a perfunctory speech. I kept
wondering "Why am I here?"
The first semester quickly put an end
to such speculation. One thing is true
about law school: there's more work to
do than in undergraduate school which
leaves little idle time. And you're ex-
pected to do it. Not every professor is
like John Housman in Paper Chase, but
enough are to make coming to class un-
prepared an unpleasant gamble.
Even if you're prepared, classes
where you are asked to recite can be
unnerving at first: The first two times I
was called on I froze up, even though I
was prepared. I was just nervous.
THE HARDEST thing about law
school for many people is the com-
petition. It's there, especially in the fir-
st year, when everybody is competing
for a place on the law review. Com-
petition is keen because making the law
review opens many significant doors -
chances to clerk for federal judges, jobs
that may pay as much as $30,000 per
year to start, and high academic
The rub is that only the top eight per
cent of each class is invited to join, and
first-year grades are the determining
criteria, except for a few people who
earn the coveted spots by demon-
strating expertise in legal writing and
After the first year is over, however,
most people relax. If you haven't made
the law review, that pressure is over.
And even if you're not number one in
your class, the reality is that jobs do
await nearly all graduates. I never
believed I'd be able to say this, but I'm
actually looking forward to school
Stephen Selbst is a former Daily
city editor.

Daily Photo by JOHN KNOX
The Law Quad-an impressive fortress-is protected against attacks from the unbrilliant by the LSAT.


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