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Is it necessary and beneficial to romanticise the poverty that I were experiencing in order to reach my goals?

Aspiring lawyer but skip first year of college. The way how big my dream is the small my chance of attaining it. #lawyer

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David’s Answer

I would advise you to think about this differently. While the term "romanticise" could perhaps be interpreted in different ways, it is always essential to keep your personal story accurate. What you absolutely can and should do is create your personal narrative that shows that despite living in poverty and being less privileged, you find ways to overcome this and that you do not let it limit you. You can turn this into a powerful personal statement based on facts. It is important not to inadvertently come across as a victim, but rather focus on how you have faced it and found ways to create breakthroughs and that it does not limit your ambition. Most importantly, your dream is absolutely attainable. I note that you are not in the US and I am not familiar with what may be available to you locally, but I expect your financial situation may require you to take more time to achieve it and you will have to put in significant effort to identify resources. Don't give up and keep an open mind. Along your journey you may find a different path and a different career that might be meaningful and interesting to you.

Thank you. Oh my God. Never heard of such advice before. Your words are so precise and exactly what I want to hear. Even though there's lot of people who believe that I can do it, I think I must also learn how to believe in myself first. Thank you so much for your advice. Ison V.

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Desiree’s Answer

David's answer is very helpful and I agree with what he says. I'm not sure how/where you seek to "romanticise" your poverty - do you mean in admission essays for law school or on job applications? If so, then I think David's advice will be helpful to you.

In both the Philippines and US, you need (1) a bachelor’s degree, (2) a post-graduate law degree and (3) to successfully pass the bar examination to become a lawyer. There is nothing at all "romantic" about the cost of all that education - you need to be pragmatic about the expenses (tuition, books, fees, living expenses like food & housing whilst your studying, etc); the realities of scholarships, loans (including the salary your likely to make as a lawyer - which is greatly effected on your grades and the reputation of your law school - as it impacts your ability to repay any loan); and/or working while undertaking an aggressive academic program.

I advise: do NOT romanticize the cost of these credentials. You need to work from cold facts and brutal honesty about your ability to pay for all this education. It is necessary and beneficial to address the financial costs required to reach your goals. For instance, in the US, you do not need to go directly from your bachelor's degree to law school - you can take a few years in between to save money to help pay for law school. Also in the US, there are scholarships and grants available for well qualified law students who do not otherwise have the financial means for law school -- many of which you have to apply for and provide evidence that you are in poverty (e.g., income tax records). It is certainly not "romantic" but necessary if you are to meet the criteria for the scholarships/grants. Lastly, law school requires a lot of time for reading and studying - so working while attending law school can be challenging and you should be realistic about your ability to do both.

Of course, many bright, dedicated students from low-income backgrounds have gone on to become successful lawyers and accomplish great things. I do not want to discourage you from pursuing your goals and dreams. I do want to ensure that you have the information you need to be prepared, make a plan and make a budget to get you there!

Desiree recommends the following next steps:

Research cost of legal credentials (undergraduate degree, law degree, bar exam)
Research possible scholarship, loan or work options

Oh my goodness. Thank you so much. That's very helpful. What I mean with 'romanticising' is the fact that I've grown in a less fortunate family that barely afford to send me to college and as what you said, it will costs a lot. No matter what, it didn't and will never limit me in achieving my goals. I'm planning ahead is to find job first, save money and embark to it. Or be a working-student which seems more difficult. Ison V.

Getting a job and saving money is a good idea. (If you can get a job as a paralegal or in the field of law that is interest to you, even better! You can get a preview into the realities of being a lawyer.) Being a working student is difficult, but possible. I would encourage you to go to the best/highest tier law school you can afford and get the best grades possible, as these are both huge factors - at least in the US - for getting a well paid job when you graduate. Best wishes!!! Desiree Giler Mann