Every time I think about how much I’m paying to go to law school, my head starts to hurt, my stomach gets queasy,and I’m not sure if I’m going to throw up or pass out. Last semester, I paid over $9,800 in tuition and fees and I expected the full value for my money. This fall, the cost just for tuition alone is $10,630 ($4,255 for graduate school tuition + $6,375 for law school tuition). With the cost of law school tuition on the rise nationwide, every time the institutional powers that be raise my tuition, I in turn raise my expectations. I had to do the math to see how much I’m paying for this semester’s experience.
This semester I am taking 16 credits of class – 5 regular classes and a 2-credit externship. I am paying $664.375 per credit. Here’s the break down for each of my classes.
Criminal Procedure, Copyright Law, and Cyberspace Law are 3 credits each. They all meet twice a week for 85 minutes. Each course is valued at $1993.125, $76.66 per class, or $0.90187 per minute. The cost to attend one of these classes is more than the price to see Kathy Griffin live.
Trademark Law is a 3-credit class, but we only meet once a week for 175 minutes. This class is valued at $1993.125 for the course, $142.37 per class, or $0.81352 per minute. Going to this class once is more expensive than buying a lower level ticket on the 50-yard line at an Arizona Cardinals game.
Privacy is a 2-credit seminar class that meets once a week for 115 minutes. Its value is $1328.75 for the course, $110.73 per class, or $0.9629 per minute. Going to class is about what I pay for a pair of running shoes. I have a friend who recently paid about this much to see Lady GaGa in concert and sit in the nosebleed section.
My externship is basically a class where I pay to work for a judge or agency. To earn 2 credits, I have to work for 120 hours. I’m paying $1328.75 for this experience or $11.06 per hour. Working for them for an hour is more expensive than going to a movie. This is my least expensive class from an hourly perspective, and it’s still a lot of ramen.
If I am paying this much to sit in a classroom, I expect the value of the experience to be equal to what I could be spending my money on instead of tuition. Last semester, I wanted the academic equivalent of glitter, fanfare, and dancing girls. This semester with the increase in tuition, I expect an even higher value. I still want glitter, fanfare, and dancing girls, but this semester I want the academic equivalent of skydiving too. I want to be so entertained and engaged by my professor’s stories and explanations that I forget that I’m in school, overworked, exhausted, and stressed.
Last semester I didn’t get the value of my tuition and I unsuccessfully demanded my money back. As students, it’s frustrating that we don’t have much power over the classroom experience besides dropping a course when the professor or the class doesn’t meet our needs. For the most part, I have been happy with my law school experience, but I will ask for my money back if I feel like I’m being ripped off. When I demanded my money back from the law school, I was told that I had to seek compensation from the university. I wonder how the president of the university would react if he received a demand letter.
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