Q: My high school sophomore is very interested in political science as a possible college major. All the assessment work that he has done with his guidance counselor points to law, as a future career choice. What undergraduate schools (hopefully in the New England area) are best for a student who will probably continue and pay a lot of money for law school? He is a strong student but not in the top 10% of his class but probably the top 25%.
A: How exciting that your son is able to identify a future career path. It sounds like he is a strong student too.
To better answer your question, I consulted an expert in college admissions, Vinay Bhaskara, Co-Founder of CollegeVine in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bhaskara’s advice: “The single most important factor in law school admissions is undergraduate GPA (a student with a 3.3 GPA at Harvard is actually worse off than a student with a 3.8 or 3.9 at the University of New Hampshire). As a result, any of the flagship public universities in the region (UMass Amherst, University of Vermont, University of Rhode Island) would be a solid choice. If your son needs an environment with smaller class sizes, then given his academic profile, Holy Cross would be a good choice. On the east coast, but outside of New England, he might want to consider American University, Villanova or Bucknell. These schools stand out as top 100 political science programs. Your son may might conceivably qualify for (at least some) merit aid at one of these colleges.”
A political science degree is a common undergraduate degree for many attorneys. During your son’s undergraduate career, it might be helpful for him to consider internships, summer jobs or part-time roles within this field. Perhaps he could intern in a state representative’s office or a town hall. Or he may be fortunate enough to land a role in a law firm or the state house. Any of these experiences will help him better fine tune his interests, as well as expanding his professional network of contacts. His guidance office as his school may have posted job opportunities. Additionally, there are job boards that could be helpful, including GlassDoor, Experience.com, WayUp and Internships.com. Job boards can be helpful but building a professional network is still an essential tool in any professional’s toolkit. Your son may want to start building a profile on Linkedin and adding new contacts as he expands his network of contacts.
Finally, there is some helpful information available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Visit https://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm to better understand the expected job outlook as well as compensation information for attorneys.
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.