I had been trying for several years to get into graduate school. At least to have the option. First I applied to PhD programs in one subject. No luck. Then I tried in another subject. De nada. This didn’t upset me much. I didn’t want to return to academia. I liked being in business. If I could have worked 90 hours a week for a company in which I had an equity stake, I think I would have topped 100 hours every week.

So when things got rough – got quiet – got boring – I applied to programs in business. I slaved over my application. I had such a resume, such references, such a transcript! Such a transcript. I went 0 for 21. The Mets would be proud. I had nowhere to go.

I asked my friends- some of whom are just frighteningly successful entrepreneurs. Their voices were almost in harmony. MBAs are a dime a dozen. And what do they teach you? How to consult? You know how to do that! You’ve been doing it for years! But a law degree – aha. Those are rarer in business. A lawyer could protect himself and his company. And – oh, hey – by being your own attorney you could save so much money as a startup. That’s money you wouldn’t have to raise. Money you wouldn’t have to sell stock to get. Do your own filings, write your own contracts. That would be a skill. Better than an MBA. Beyond all: a skill worth having.

So I applied to law school.

Somehow I got in almost everywhere I applied. Every single school – except the schools in Boston. I could move to Seattle, to Madison, to Portland Oregon, to Brooklyn or the Bronx. But I’d be moving, one way or another.

I looked at a number of schools. And what I saw was that: each school was pretty much the same. The classes looked dry but interesting. It was the same subject matter, the same teaching styles. The primary difference was the geographic location (and I couldnt’ give a fig less where I practiced, especially since I was far from wedding to practicing, even for a day). The secondary difference was price.

In this latter category, one school stood out above all others. The University of Maine, a short walk from my high school in Portland. Between in-state tuition (?) and a hefty scholarship (???), I’d be paying about twelve grand a year to attend. Or about ONE SIXTH the cost of tuition at the other schools.

Also, living expenses in Portland would be from half to a quarter of what they’d be anywhere else.

The real question was: did I want to graduate with 30 grand in student loans, or 300?

Show of hands? Yeah. Anyone who didn’t vote for Maine can stay after class to write “I will not mortgage my future” 270 times on the blackboard.


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