Do I Need Hyper-Expensive Higher-Ed?

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An EPJ reader emails:

I’m thinking of attending St.John’s school of law. But the tuition is a whooping 46,400$ a year. For three years that almost $150,000. Is it a good idea to take on that amount of debt for a law degree? I watched the college conspiracy, and it seems like it’s not such a good idea. Especially, since we have 43,000 law students graduating every year and we have lost 15,000 lawyer jobs since 2008! I don’t know what to do, i want to change the law so that it becomes more libertarian in its practices. I’m Interested in the law and its foundations, i also have a knack for arguing and don’t give up until [the other person] at least understand my view points.

I also don’t know what else to do. Recently i started my own blog, and i think i could be a good writer. Maybe i should just be a waiter, save money and accumulate gold and silver until the dollar crisis comes about. WHAT TO DO!!

I don’t really have enough information about you to give you a specific answer. I will say though that there is no blanket answer. I have seen the writings that say college is a waste of time, and for most it is, but not all.

It really depends upon your passion. It’s not clear from your email, if you really want to be a lawyer. "I don’t know what else to do" is not a good enough answer for going to law school. I know plenty of lawyers that hate being lawyers and only went to law school because of the prestige and the money one generally receives from being a lawyer. But once they are out in the real world of law they hate it, but because of the money they make they think they can’t leave.

I honestly believe that you can make very good money doing almost anything, if you are very passionate about it. If you are passionate about something, I would skip whatever else you are doing and follow your passion, whether it is mountain climbing, scuba diving or collecting butterflies. If you think about it, there’s a way to earn money doing whatever you want to do.

I am passionate about finance and economics, you can’t pull me away from what I do. There’s no procrastination for me in what I do. You have to pull me away from my economics and finance work to do almost anything else. I have given myself a great gift by following what I enjoy. If you are doing anything but your great passion, when you have a great passion, you are making a mistake.

If you dream every day and night about being the next Perry Mason AND have read every Perry Mason novel AND go to the library and read law journals because they are fun AND are amazed that you already know more law than lawyers you have talked to, then law school is probably for you. If you think you are going to go to law school and they will turn you into a lawyer, without ever thinking about law outside of what is assigned in class, forget about it. The same goes for medical school or anything else. You should really want it bad.

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2011 Economic Policy Journal