Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Top 10 Food Places to Make Your Ultimate Study Nook

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It’s almost time for finals.  The libraries are teeming with students.  Classrooms have been commandeered.  The student lounge microwave is caked in frozen dinner sauces and reeks of burnt popcorn, and while maybe you could scrounge a meal or two from a vending machine, using one as a weeklong sustenance to life is unappealing.  Working from your home is much more conducive to sleep and Dance Mom marathons than it is for studying.  So, what do you do?  Where can you go?  How can you manage on a tight budget?  If public places don’t cause you much distraction, then I have the list for you!

Below is a list of national chain locations that offer a variety of perks and freebies while providing a great place to study for finals.  Be sure to double-check with your specific location to ensure deals and offers mentioned here apply.

Number 10:  Buffalo Wild Wings – This saucy chain offers free Wi-Fi at most of its locations.  On Tuesdays you can find deals on their bone-in wings and sodas have free refills.  Cons:  Having worked in the restaurant business, I feel guilty holding up tables and preventing servers from maximizing tips.  Also, the abundant amounts of alcohol and television can be a distraction.

Number 9:  Krispy Kreme – The specialty shop known for its glossy, golden rings provides free Wi-Fi at most locations, and if you come in after the morning rush, you’re likely to have a quiet space to work.   Join their Friends of Krispy Kreme program and receive alerts and specials, which they seem to run quite often.  Sadly, the neon “Hot Light” special to snag a free doughnut no longer exists.

Number 8:  Schlotzsky’s – For a healthier option, check out Schlotzsky’s.  They have free Wi-Fi and if you join their Bun & Fun , you can receive promotional deals and coupons via email.

Number 7:  IHOP – This beloved breakfast joint supplies free Wi-Fi and is open for 24 hours at most of its locations.  If you subscribe to the Pancake Revolution before going to the location, you will receive a FREE meal just for signing up.  Again, you have servers at this location; just use it for a short time and “hop” on over to another study location. 

Number 6:  Coffee Shops – This one is a two-for.  Caribou Coffee provides a relaxing environment and free Wi-Fi.  At limited locations, lucky law students can sign up for Caribou Perks to receive a free medium beverage of choice just for signing up.  Starbucks  offers a great study location with its easy going music, comfy chairs, and free Wi-Fi.  If you sign-up for their Rewards program, you can earn free refills and drinks.  As many friends and relatives give law students Starbucks gift cards for presents, I’m sure you’ve got a buck or two saved on a card somewhere!

Number 5:  McDonalds – There’s one everywhere! You can likely find one nearby your home or your school if you need/forgot something.  Many of these franchises have undergone renovations to a bistro-style look, which is much better than the plastic Ronalds and Hamburglers everywhere.  Plus, all of the guilt laden customers – fearful of being caught ordering a Big Mac – now use the drive-thru, causing the sit-down area to be less busy (you know you do it, too).  Other perks include free Wi-Fi, free drink refills, and the dollar menu.

Number 4:  Burger King – Study your way and have it your way!  Just barely nudging out MickyD’s, Burger King offers much of the same:  free Wi-Fi, free drink refills, and a value menu.  But, what pushed it ahead was the offer for a FREE Whopper upon signing up for the BK Alerts program.  However, you may want to sign-up awhile before you plan to go there to study.  I’ve been testing all of the offers and I haven’t received this offer yet.  FYI, BK recently introduced turkey burgers and vegetarian burgers for a healthier option.

Number 3:  Subway – Speaking of healthier options, you can always Eat Fresh (it’s sad that I know all of these slogans).  Besides free Wi-Fi and free fountain drink refills, if you are a rewards member, you can earn many freebies including a FREE foot-long sub.  Just ask for a card from the cashier and register it online.  For the rest of April (2013), you can get a buy one get one free 6”inch sub if you make your purchase before 9AM.

Number 2:  CiCi’s Pizza – Okay, I know this one is going to come off as tacky, but if you don’t care about being tacky, then it is definitely worthy of the Number 2 spot.  CiCi’s Pizza is a giant deal!  Go in for the all-you-can-eat buffet of salad, pasta, pizza and dessert for around $6 (plus the cost of your drink).  Free drink refills and free Wi-Fi makes this place a bargain study place!  You can even sign-up for Pizza Perks to receive additional deals.  I don’t know what will happen if you sit there all day snacking and studying, so try not to loiter – be reasonable.

Number 1:  Panera Bread – Panera was my ultimate study nook when I couldn’t find space at school.  Free Wi-Fi and ample plugs to keep the laptop juiced.  Free soda and coffee refills.  Cozy seating and light music make the atmosphere perfect.  And, not that I partook in this because not enough people wash their hands, but there are free bread samples if you are hankering for a small snack.  Join MyPanera for special surprises and offers.  Panera offers healthy foods, comfort foods, and sweets to cover anyone’s foodie needs.  Just find a good spot and settle in for the day!

Use these tips in combination with those from Barrister on a Budget, and you’ll be on the right track!  If you have a favorite study place that I’ve missed, please add it in the comments section or shoot me an email and I’ll check it out for next finals season!  Good luck on exams!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Eeny Meeny Miny Mo, To Which Law School Do I Go?

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There’s nothing like the rush from discovering multiple fat envelopes avalanching from your mailbox.  The smacking sound as the stacks of enrollment forms land upon your desk.  It is law school admission season!  But, if you’re one of the lucky pre-law or transfer students tasked with the decision to choose between law schools, how will you ever decide?

In today’s economically troubling times, your biggest concern while choosing should be which school will give you the best bang for your buck!  The annual collection of employment statistics are out and are looking grim – with only 56% of the Class of 2012 acquiring full-time, long-term employment, requiring bar passage or a judicial clerkship (oh, you know, only the  jobs that are the entire reason to attend law school!).  Therefore, determining which school is going to give you the best odds of acquiring one of these jobs should be your highest priority.

Although there are lawsuits popping up every other day (so it seems) against law schools for misrepresenting its employment numbers, the American Bar Association has made changes to its policies regarding law schools’ employment reports in order to deter inflated percentages.  Additionally, those law schools accused of misleading students with inaccurate employment statistics are trending as some of the lowest employment percentages for the Class of 2012.  It may be difficult to trust these numbers, but they’re likely better and more accurate than the reports you may have researched in years past.

To help you narrow your choices, I’ve compiled several reports of the best and worst law schools based on the Class of 2012 employment statistics.  Warning:  if one of your acceptance letters is on the “Highest Unemployment List” below, shred your letter and don’t look back.  If you only received acceptance letters from that list, you should consider abandoning the decision to attend law school at all.  Honestly, why spend $150k plus interest to a school that cannot guarantee employment?  Sure, you receive an education, but you only want the education to get the job.  Would you pay money for an entire birthday cake and just shrug your shoulders when the baker only gives you one slice?  Heck no!  Sure, you received cake, but one slice is unlikely to be enough for a party.  Instead, only one person is satisfied and the rest are left disappointed and hungry.  Law schools shouldn’t serve one slice of cake to a portion of graduates and leave the rest disappointed.  Now, all I want to do is eat cake and I digress…here are the lists:

Best Lists

1.      University of Chicago Law School – 94.9%
2.      University of Virginia School of Law – 94.5%
3.      University of Pennsylvania Law School – 94.4%
4.      Columbia Law School – 93.4%
5.      Stanford Law School – 91.2%

1.      Columbia University School of Law – 99%
2.      University of Chicago Law School – 99%
3.      University of California at Berkley School of Law – 96%
4.      Northwestern University School of Law – 93%
5.      New York University School of Law – 96%

1.      College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law – 34.3%
2.      George Washington University Law School – 32.5%
3.      Florida State University College of Law – 30.4%
4.      City University of New York School of Law – 27%
5.      University of South Dakota School of Law – 26.3%

Top 5 Law Schools within the U.S. News Top 25Rank List with the Lowest Underemployment Rates  (underemployment includes unemployed and those with short-term, part-time, or non-professional jobs)
1.      University of Virginia School of Law (ranked #7) – 1.1%
2.      Columbia University School of Law (ranked #4) – 1.9%
3.      New York University School of Law (ranked #6) – 2.7%
4.      University of Pennsylvania Law School (ranked #7) – 3.0%
5.      University of Chicago Law School (ranked #4) – 3.3%

Worst List

1.      Thomas Jefferson School of Law – 31.5%
2.      University of San Francisco School of Law – 30.3%
3.      University of La Verne College of Law – 29.8%
4.      Western State University College of Law – 27.7%
5.      Loyola University New Orleans School of Law – 27%
6.      Chapman University School of Law – 24.2%
7.      Whittier Law School – 23.5%
8.      Villanova University School of Law – 22.7%
9.      Ave Maria School of Law – 22.3%
10.  University of Oregon School of Law – 21.7%

Top 5 Law Schools within the U.S. News Top 25Rank List with the Highest Underemployment Rates  (underemployment includes unemployed and those with short-term, part-time, or non-professional jobs)
1.      University of Southern California Gould School of Law (ranked #18) – 22.6%
2.      Maurer School of Law: Indiana University, Bloomington (ranked #25) – 22.1%
3.      Vanderbilt Law School (ranked #15) – 21.9%
4.      The Notre Dame Law School(ranked #23) – 20.3%
5.      University of California, Las Angeles School of Law (ranked #17) – 20.1%

Affordability is the other factor you should examine closely when choosing your law school.  Are you receiving any scholarships from these schools?  Are they scholarships that you will receive throughout the duration of your legal education or do you have to reapply?  Can you receive financial aid?  Many of the top schools are private schools.  How will this affect your applications for student loans?  Will you only be able to take out loans from private lenders?  If you are planning to go into a public interest career, does the school offer a repayment program to pay part or all of your loans?  Weigh the financial aspects just as heavily as the employment ratings. 

There are other factors to ponder over as well, so look for Barrister on a Budget when it’s released to get additional strategies and tips!  Good luck in choosing your law school!