Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Blog Anniversary Celebration: 3 Ways to Get Free Help on Your Law School Personal Statement

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This week we wrap up the Barrister on a Budget Blog Second Anniversary with special guest contributor Peg Cheng the Prelaw Guru.  Take it away Peg!

As a law school admissions consultant, I help people write personal statements, resumes, and other materials for applying to law school. But I know that many prelaw students do not have the money to hire me. That's okay. In fact, that's normal. I work with a tiny percentage of the 50,000+ law school applicant pool. Even if you don't have the means to work with an admissions consultant like me, there are other good ways to get free help on your law school personal statement.

Resource #1: Prelaw Advisers: Almost every college or university employs a prelaw adviser (or two or three) to help students and alumni who are applying to law school. Check with your current school or alma mater. Many prelaw advisers are housed in the school's career center or undergraduate advising center, or in the political science, history, or humanities departments. Once you find the prelaw adviser, set up an appointment to meet with him or her to brainstorm ideas for your personal statement and/or review your draft. There is no charge to meet with the prelaw adviser and you can meet with them throughout your application process.

Resource #2: Prelaw Bloggers: There are some great prelaw bloggers who have written helpful posts about writing the law school personal statement. Read as many posts as you can. Look to see which pieces of advice keep repeating. Also, you can post your questions in the comments box and get free tips from the bloggers. Including the Barrister on a Budget Blog, here are several blogs that I read and find to be helpful:
Resource #3: My FREE Personal Statement Packet: When I was a prelaw adviser at the University of Washington (UW), my prelaw partner in crime, Chanira Reang Sperry, and I created a personal statement packet that included writing tips and sample personal statements from students and alumni we had worked with. This packet has gone on to help thousands of pre-lawyers all across the nation write effective, engaging personal statements. I hope it helps you too. Get your free copy here.

In the end, you don't need to spend money to write a law school personal statement. But you do need to spend the time and energy to make it the best it can be. Get help, write several drafts, and revise, revise, revise!

About Our Guest:  Peg Cheng is the author of The No B.S. Guides for applying to law school and the founder of Prelaw Guru, where you can find law school admissions tips, books, classes and more. For more helpful prelaw tips, follow Peg @prelawguru.

Favorite Barrister Blog Post:  Two of my favorite posts are 5 Ways to Save Money Applying to Law School and 7 Free LSAT Resources to Boost Your Score.

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Until Next Time,
Jenny L. Maxey

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Blog Anniversary Celebration: 5 Ways to Study for the LSAT While in College

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Onward with the 2nd Anniversary festivities!  In this post, Steve Schwartz from LSAT Blog gives 5 tips to help students balance their college courseloads with graduate-level exam prep.

If you have a full college course load and a decent social life, it’s probably hard enough to balance the two. Add studying for the LSAT to the mix, and you may feel overwhelmed. This post gives you 5 ways to balance studying for the LSAT with school and life obligations.

1. Start your LSAT prep early. It’s much easier to do a little bit each week over the course of several weeks than to cram all your studying at once. It’s less stressful, and it won’t detract as much from schoolwork or your social life. Plan ahead and treat the LSAT as if it were another college class (or 3), and study for it over the course of the semester.

2. Fit in studying wherever you can. Doing an LSAT Logic Game or a couple of Logical Reasoning questions between classes can keep you in the LSAT mind-set even if you’re not studying for a few hours each day.

3. Set aside specific days and times each week to study. This will ensure that a few weeks or months don’t go by while your LSAT prep books gather dust in the corner. Create a study schedule and stick to it.

4. Stay off Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail, and close your laptop. I know computers and Internet are ubiquitous on college campuses, especially for socializing. However, you don’t need a computer to study for the LSAT, and having one around will only serve as a distraction. Get rid of these time-suckers and stick to the books.

5. Form a study group. If you can find people on your college campus (or in your neighborhood) who are also preparing for the LSAT, it may help to form a study group. Try to find study partners whose abilities complement your own so that you can help each other. Meeting on a regular basis will take some of the isolation out of test prep, and, like a gym buddy, a study partner will help motivate you to study.

About Our Guest: Steve Schwartz is a professional LSAT tutor in New York City who offers in-person and distance LSAT tutoring. He updates LSAT Blog every week with free LSAT tips and tricks. 

Favorite Barrister Blog Post: The Law School Scholarship Scam is a great and valuable post that informs students about a sketchy law school practice so that they can avoid falling into a costly trap!

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Until Next Time,
Jenny L. Maxey

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Blog Anniversary Celebration: The College Scholarship Hunt

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We’re continuing the 2nd anniversary celebration of Barrister on a Budget Blog with a special scholarship expert Monica Matthews from How to Win College Scholarships.  Take it away Monica!
College scholarship money is a great way to help finance a college education without adding to student debt. Students and their parents who need money for college can increase their chances of winning simply by starting early in the college scholarship process.  In the spring, organizations who have offered scholarships to local students will begin publishing the names of students who have won their scholarships.  This information can often be found in a “Names in the News” section of local newspapers or local online publications. A local scholarship list can be compiled simply by noting the name of the scholarship and the amount of the award.  The next step is to do a little research to find out the scholarship due date, guidelines, and eligibility requirements.  This information can be saved until the student meets these requirements and is ready to apply.
Another way to find scholarships is to check with local banks, hospitals, engineering firms, community organizations, department stores, clubs, and places of worship and ask if they offer scholarship opportunities for local students.  Go to the website of the organization first, and if no scholarship information is found, simply pick up the phone, call, and ask. When contacting these organizations, students need to remember how important first impressions are.  They should state their name and ask if the organization has a scholarship they can apply for and if so, how they can get a copy of the application.  Parents can help do this and save a lot of time for students who are very busy with working part time jobs, after school activities, homework, volunteering, and sports.
High school guidance counselors should also have a list of local scholarships available for their students. Students can check the school website and also the website of other area high schools, as there might be local scholarships listed there that are not included in the list for their school.  As always, eligibility requirements must be carefully read, as it is a waste of time to apply for a scholarship in which a student does not meet all the requirements.

About Our Guest:  Starting early, compiling a list, and exhausting all local scholarship opportunities are huge steps in the right direction when it comes to winning college scholarships.  Learn the techniques that I developed to help applications and essays get noticed and impress college scholarship judges as soon as they first see each application.  My own son won over $100,000 in college scholarships by using these strategies and I share them in my ebook, How to Win College Scholarships, available at and on Amazon here.

Favorite Barrister Blog Post:  My favorite post is “5 Free and Easy Ways to Find Scholarships.” There are many ways to find college scholarships, but this post highlights some methods that students may be unfamiliar with, such as using the Twitter hashtag #Scholarships.  Thinking “outside of the box” when it comes to scholarship searching is a great way to find more, apply for more, and WIN more scholarships!

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Until Next Time,
Jenny L. Maxey

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Blog Anniversary Celebration: Variable vs. Fixed vs. Mixed Interest Rates: What you should know before refinancing your student loans

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To kick off the 2nd anniversary celebration of The Barrister on a Budget Blog, I’m happy to introduce this week’s special guest contributor Matt Zehr from Lendedu.  Take it away Matt!

There are three different options that borrowers have to consider when determining which student loan package suits their needs and current financial situation.

Variable Interest Rate Loans: The first, and most common, is a variable interest rate student loan. These packages offer a student loan with a rate that adjusts on a monthly basis to reflect the most current LIBOR rates. These student loan packages add a premium on the LIBOR rate that is usually adjusted based on the borrower’s credit history. When researching variable interest rate options, it is important to consider:

  • The amount of risk the borrow can handle
  • Term length
  • Monthly payment options
 Those that choose to borrow with a variable interest rate will benefit from a lower interest rate at the time of borrowing. The interest rate is lower because there is less risk to the bank. If interest rates move higher, the bank could move the interest rate higher too to avoid losing out. When choosing between variable and fixed rate student loans the borrower should take into account the possibility of interest rate changes. Students should assess the term length and monthly payment that they can handle, as shorter term lengths yield higher monthly payments but lower total interest paid.

Fixed Interest Rate Loans: Fixed interest rate student loan packages are a popular choice for more conservative buyers who can afford the tradeoff of a higher interest rate for enhanced security. In a fixed interest rate package, the interest rate is determined at the start to the loan and stays the same throughout the entire term length of the loan. These rates are assessed at higher levels than variable rates to account for uncertainty in the future of LIBOR rates. Since fixed interest rates remain the same throughout the entire term, the bank must assess a higher rate to account for risk on their end incase LIBOR rates increase, which reflect the rate that banks can get money at.

Mixed Interest Rate Loans: Mixed interest rates are an interesting combination of variable and fixed interest rates. In these plans, borrowers are assigned a fixed interest rate for the first half of the loan, and the transition to a variable interest rate for the remainder of the balance. These unique options have distinct advantages. The fixed rate for the first part of the loan is lower than that of a traditional fixed rate loan. Also the variable rate at the end of the loan opens the door to capitalize on lower interest rates in the future. With mixed rate loans, there is often a cap placed on the maximum variable rate to protect buyers against significant rate increase.

The Bottom Line: Each of these student loan packages offer unique advantages depending on the situation the borrower is in.

  •  For the more conservative borrower: A fixed interest rate student loan is likely the best option for you. The added security against increasing rates may well compensate for the increased monthly payment resulting from higher interest rates.
  • For the less conservative borrower: Variable interest rates provide a unique opportunity to capitalize on lower rates. If one is planning to pay of a student loan quickly, this may be the best option to minimize total interest paid. 
  • For the rest: Mixed rate student loan packages over a unique hybrid between the two traditional options. These offer enhanced security at the start of the loan – when the total amount owed is the highest, and still leave the door open to capitalize on low rates in the future.
About Our Guest:  Matt Zehr is the Chief Marketing Officer at! LendEDU is a marketplace for student loans and student loan refinance. LendEDU helps borrowers find the best terms and rates available by connecting them with multiple lenders from one application.

Favorite Barrister Blog Post:  One of my favorite blog posts is “Student Loan Series: The Law School Scholarship Scam.” Applying for scholarships and student loans can seem overwhelming at many points along the process. It is pivotal to understand how to avoid false scholarships and the necessity of reading the fine print. No student should ever be caught in a position where they attend their dream school only to find that their scholarship offer was too good to be true, or carries unrealistic expectations for their LSAT or GPA. Keep up the great work Jenny!

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Until Next Time,
Jenny L. Maxey
Author of Barrister on a Budget:  Investing in Law School…without Breaking the Bank