Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Increasingly Impossible Financial Mathematics of Education

Non-trads, if you are looking at law school, you are likely looking at it through the lens of positive results from your prior undergrad education and/or graduate education.  The one that wasn't too expensive on balance, that yielded good returns in the final analysis. 

OK, well, that dream has been dying in the interim:

"What does the above chart imply? Nothing more than that for the vast majority of people, college degrees are the modern-day equivalent of very, very expensive snake oil.

Yes: colleges are sold to you as the critical stepping stone on the path to wealth and prosperity, but sadly the empirical evidence demonstrates that when it comes to an actual, demonstrable income effect, only the wealthiest people actually benefit from a degree! The lowest fifth of household by income see their change in income decline by 10%, while the middle fifth sees an incremental 2.1% drop. Where do incomes rise? When you are already wealthy and belong to the highest fifth of households by income: there, going to college boosts your income by an additional 15.1%...

...And that's just it: if you are affluent, if you had opportunities, you will still and always be successful, and college will merely emphasize this. For everyone else, degrees are rapidly converting into an almost instantly amortizing piece of paper paid for with tens of thousands of student debt which, incidentally, is non-dischargeable.

Unfortunately, and just like with "gun-control", the fundamental issue at hand is not education, not even the pursuit of the American Dream (or lack thereof), but the gradual realization that the myth of American exceptionalism is just that. And in a world as globalized and interconnected as ours, breaking from the middle (or, heaven-forbid) lower classes, into the upper strata of society is becoming virtually impossible. [emphasis in original]"

Replace "tens of thousands of student debt" with "$150k+" and you have law school.  The (Boomer) Deans are on the loose, writing article after article as to how law school is the perfect snake oil for all your ailments, while applications drop and average LSAT scores for admission slide.  Again, for the well-connected, it is a winning proposition - this blog and many others have repeated this message that for a select few, the income gains far outpace the debt (if there ever was any debt at all).

For the rest of us, there's MasterCard.  No amount of chasing degrees, so-called hot fields, and STEM-is-the-answer-to-everything gets around the fact that economic class matters, period.  And for law school in particular, they need to keep the seats filled as the ratio of the unwashed masses to "your betters" is huge, and there are only so many million-dollar donations to go around.  No amount of sugar-plum-fairy, rosy-predictions and "defending liberty, pursuing justice" pep-talks removes the very real financial risk that law schools so blithely try to talk the majority into taking, as if it is no big thang.

For them, it probably wasn't.

Law is undergoing structural changes.  Full stop.  So is higher education in general, and the results and impacts are yet to be determined.

Non-connected non-trads, don't do this to yourself.  The outrageous cost of law school is not worth spinning the roulette wheel.  That is all.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reverse "Entitlement" and why Law School is Allegedly Worth It

Well, the pressure is clearly on, which can only be a good thing.  Yet another resounding defense of the legal education industry, and boy, does the lady doth protest too much, lemme tell ya:

Counterarguments to these assertions abound within the scam-blog community, and they have been discussed here and in many other places.  One of my long-standing favorite half-truths is the assertion that average salaries for law grads are $125k.  While that can be technically true, the average tells you nothing about the standard deviation or distrubution of salaries.  What confidence interval are we talking about?  One sigma?  One-quarter sigma?  We all know about the bi-modal distrubution of legal salaries (see, for example, here).  Looking at that chart, the average could indeed be around $125k, but damn few people actually make that (2% according to NALP in 2008, and boy, oh boy, did the economy only improve from there).  Oh looky, 50% of grads make under $72k (the median), and a select chunk of well-connected people make $170k.  That's about an average of $125k!  See?!?

Who said lawyers were bad at math?  All technically true, precise...and heavily misleading.  Thanks, you bastions (bastards?) of ethics.  $50k salaries could be ok, but for the total cost of law school.  To turn a phrase, the tuition is too damn high, let alone the additional incidental costs to attend.  It's pretty easy to run up a $150k bill after three years.

Anyway, the defenders of the law school cartel always like to go on about how entitled grads are, how they have to think long-term, that education is an investment, that grads should be pursuing justice and liberty as opposed to filthy lucre, etc. etc. etc. One thing I've never seen a clear answer to:  why are (Boomer) Deans, Law Professors, and other Administrators "entitled" to handsome six-figure salaries?  Why are lol skools "entitled" to be revenue-drivers for the rest of the University?  They all acknowledge that student debt is a problem, and student tuition is directly proportional to salaries and "special projects".  But funny, ever-increasing tuition at rates several times that of inflation is as sacrosanct as Norquist's no-tax-increase pledge.  It is a given, and is never to be questioned.

The real question is: "Law School is Worth It" - but for whom, exactly?

One thing is clear.  Fish gotta swim.  Birds gotta fly.  Shills gotta shill.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

That Sound You Heard Was The Student Loan Bubble Popping

Well, because a law degree is one of the most expensive degrees out there as has been clearly demonstrated, apparently the cost-to-value proposition is not doin' too well.  While these charts are for all student loan debt, we also know that 45,000 law grads a year, at ever-increasing tutition, have been pumped out into the marketplace at a rate of 2 to 1 for available law positions for some time now.  No matter what hand-waving takes place about how great and versatile JDs are, the simple fact is that thousands of law grads live in these increasing default rates.  Many more struggle to stay ahead of the jaws of the default monster.  To say nothing of the circumstances of other degree holders.

Well, never mind the fact that tutition has grown at several times the rate of inflation due to sweet, sweet, Federal loan money.  As such, what was much easier to pay off in 1970 is a tad bit harder now.  Our Boomer forebears tend to conveniently forget this whole inflation-adjusted-money-expanding-cost-of-living proposition when myopically dismissing later generations for being "lazy" and "entitled."  Outside of elite circles, $500, $800, $1200-plus monthly student loan payments are tough to manage, to say the least. 

But, the lol skools got theirs, so who cares?  Whatevs.  Law grads just need to "network" more and take some personal responsibility.  Tuition coupled with diminishing prospects has nothing to do with it, and how dare anyone suggest otherwise.  This is a monster solely of the student's own making.

As the Once-ler once said, "Business is Business and Business must grow, regardless of crummies in tummies, you know..."


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Trustworthy Data v. Fraudulent Stats and the "Personal Responsibility Brigade"

Well, we all knew, down deep, that it was happening - after having been through the law school wringer and confronting the realities of the marketplace.  The difficult-to-find jobs, the low wages compared to student loan burdens, the non-versatility of the JD.  The complete opposite of what the law schools proclaimed. 

It was difficult to prove, but the circumstantial evidence was there with the anecdotes, the BLS statistics, the skyrocketing legal tuition, the insane faculty and administrative salaries.  However, it was dismissed out of hand, relegated to the trash heap, written off as the complainings of bitter, entitled losers - mostly by those who profit from student loans and their apologists. 

But, as seen on LST and other sites, the strongest evidence yet that (allegedly) fraudulent employment stats were published by TJSL, and that "everyone was doing it":

And, Professor Campos relates the tale about increasing the rolls of a LLM program for fun and profit, with the uncomfortable question of "is this in the best interest of the students?" being left deliberately unresolved.

As for the plight of students and professionals who have to live with the consequences?  Cue the "personal responsiblity brigade," ("PRB") who will swoop in and say "well, those damn kids should have done their 'research'.  Why would any thinking person believe these people anyway?  Of course the schools were self-interested.  Whiners.  Losers."

Ah, yes, the much ballyhooed "research" canard, the sword upon which many a troubled graduate has fallen upon as the simple answer to complex woes.

Leaving behind the question of "are you really going to blame victims of fraud in the first place?  Rly?  That's OK with you?" for the moment, the bigger question is "how does one determine quality data?"  Purchasing higher education is not exactly the same thing as buying a refrigerator - in the latter case, there are Consumer Reports, Underwriters Laboratories, user reviews, and a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to turn to, to name a few.  Also, a bad refigerator purchase is easy to recover from, while a "bad education" is not - especially in 2012 dollars.  It is life-changing.

From whence does the research data come from, then, in the case of Law Schools?  Why, the schools themselves.  NALP merely parrots the data.  USN&WR merely parrots the data.  The ABA looks the other way, doing whatever the accreditation committee does all day.  There is no independent review of the data.  No uninterested parties.  One would think that these non-profit bastions of ethics and future-lawyer-character-formation would feel some sense of fiduciary duty, but you would be wrong -  at least to hear the courts tell it.  The students "should have known better and suspected the data was fraudulent." 

How about the experiences of other lawyers?  Well, that data is anecdotal, and difficult to quantify with any real sense of trend analysis or confidence.  "Successful" lawyers will tell you that it is the best thing they ever did, and so should you.  "Unsuccessful" lawyers are (wait for it!) bitter, whining losers who should not be trusted.

Again, what "data" is the prospective student to rely upon with confidence, such that the PRB would be rightly justified in holding the student to task for their poor choice, as they so seem to relish in their self-righteous zeal?

None, as far as I can see.  The PRB's de facto recommendation, then, in essence?  "Don't get an education, as no institution of higher learning can be trusted."  For that matter, don't do anything, then, that would expose someone to risk of any kind, as the victim will be blamed in full, with no fault lying with the perpatrator.

I would draw the comparison between Wall Street banks bundling sub-prime mortgage CDOs with Moody's and Standard & Poor's rubber-stamping the quality of the CDOs, and the need for effective regulation.  But we already know how the PRB feels about homeowners who struggle to pay their underwater mortgages, or investors who looked at the data and invested in CDOs that were set up to fail.  Why should students be treated any differently?

All I can say is:  it must be great to have the omniscient vantage point of the PRB.  I wonder what it's like to be perfect in every way.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Here is what you're getting into...

This poster sums it up beautifully, in a comment at DailyKos regarding the business of "for-profit" education.  Which is increasingly becoming the mentality of "non-profit" education (cough cough Indiana Tech School of Law cough cough)...

No-win for those on the downward (56+ / 0-)
spiral slide.
Can't get a job/a job that pays the bills? If you weren't lazy, you'd go back to college and get the skills you need to be in demand.

Got another degree and now up to your eyes in student loans? Oh, so rather than bit the bullet like everyone else, you went for the luxury life of a grad student and now you'll pay for it.

Still can't get a job? Why didn't you get a degree in something in demand? Your bad choice, idiot.

Took out even more student loans to do the extra time to switch fields entirely for your graduate degree and now struggling? You're an irresponsible spender who thinks you deserve to get degrees in two subjects and be a professional student forever; no wonder you're up to your eyeballs in debt—you can't manage your life.

Didn't want to go into debt so you studied part-time while you worked, only to find that because your degree took so long, your skills are out of date the moment you graduate? You're afraid to take risks and take responsibility for your actions; you should have taken student loans like everybody else so that you
could get your degree in a timely fashion rather than slacking off.

Basically: It's always your fault. College has little to do with it. Poor? YOU SUCK, THAT'S WHAT.

Welcome to America.
-9.63, 0.00
I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

Good luck non-trads, and watch out.  As you look at the glossy brochures and the doctored placement statistics, remember that it's always ON YOU.  Period.  Think twice, or better three times, before you double-down on that oh-so-glamourous legal future. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Non-Versatile JD, part 7 or 8 or so...I've lost count

I was running through this problem in the back of my mind recently, and DJM beat me to the punch.  Potential non-trads, take a read:

This is it in a nutshell - if you don't land pure legal employment for the various reasons mentioned here and on other blogs, the legally-related jobs that seem to be a great fit for JDs do not require a JD AT ALL.

Think about this for a minute - the whole premise is that legal knowledge and understanding is valuable.  And I would argue that it is.  So many times, problems arise due to someone not doing what they are supposed to do via contract.  They either do not comply with statutes and governmental regulations, or they default "wrongfully" due to a dispute with another party, or they don't make a good businees decision when looking at the costs of complying with a requirement vs. costs of litigation, or they don't preserve claims on appeal re: a governmental contracting body. 

So, in theory, a JD should be a perfect fit.  But no one appears to want a JD candidate, seemingly if for no other reason than the cost to employ a JD is just too high, or that the breadth of the education is not necessary relative to the specific job skills required.  In other words, the necessary skills can be learned on the job, so why pay more?

Lord knows I've tried, myself.  I finally landed a JD-preferred job years ago, and it wasn't for lack of trying.  I have and continue to look at better jobs and opportunities to leverage my JD (becuase I'm stuck with it, like it or not), but convincing the other party that it's worth it is a huge challenge.  A lot of employers can't connect the dots or otherwise see the value of a JD, as evidenced by DJM and the job descriptions that can be easily found. 

Lol skool tuition has essentially shut the doors on a whole generation of graduates who could have gone into non-traditional career paths, but for the salary level they need to survive and service loans.  Again, it isn't the 1970s anymore, costs have gone up, competition is even more fierce.

If your aren't shut out due to predictive coding, funding, or pedigree, then you're shut out due to debt.  If you have to go back to school, go for something (1) targeted to the business world job you are seeking, and (2) cheaper.  Avoid the non-versatile JD at all costs.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of Law School Tuition

To follow up on a prior post.

Apparently, you can have precise knowledge about tuition and know nothing about the quality of the education, or you can have precise knowledge about the quality of the education and know nothing about the tuition.  You just can't know about tuition and quality with high accuracy at the same time, "in reality."

So, best to just charge high tuition, then, and know that factor with exceedingly high certainty.  Affordability, quality, outcomes, etc. all become murky then, but, hey, whatever.  Versatile-JD blah-blah-blah.

It's un-frickin'-believable what people will say for a buck.   

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ten years ago...

It just dawned on me today that I began my law school misadventure ten years ago, right about now.

Yep. My wife and I had packed up and moved. My “old” career behind, going forward in a new direction. New changes, new towns, new opportunities…

…that didn’t really pan out at all. But I did get a large side helping of new debt, though, that’s for sure. “I went to law school, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt,” as they say. I’m half-way through my private loans, but I still have a long way to go on my debt overall.

I never was able to work as an attorney in private practice. Full stop. But, I’m not exactly crying in my beer over that one, either. For some that is a sore subject and a disappointing result, and I hate that people who really wanted to have that experience didn’t have it work out of them, or it became something they didn’t want after all in the long term. Shattered dreams are no fun.

For my part, the “versatile JD” result I was looking for didn’t turn out either, so I can sympathize with my fellow lawyer wanna-bees, at least in the disappointment department. While I can say I am “proud” of my technical achievement as a licensed attorney, in retrospect it was NOT worth the time, the effort, the debt, and the lost opportunity costs. While I have been (gratefully) employed, I wish I could say it was my stellar JD that made “all the difference.” Economically, I would have been better off at my old career, debt-free, no doubt about it.

My office is full of ex-private practice attorneys, as well as a few like me who "never got a start" in the first place. They are people who were forced out, people who were sick of it and looking for something else to pay the bills, a little bit of everything.

So I soldier on and try to make the best of it. While I bear some responsibility for my decision, the lol skools had their part to play in their misrepresentations, no matter how they try to deny it and foist the blame on “sophisticated consumers.”

In the “don’t take it from me, take it from him” department, Crux of Law is back blogging about his experience. Apparently, there is at least one other person besides my crazy self who would say lol skool is not for non-trads, despite the tone-deaf trumpeting of deans, administrators, and career services offices about “versatile JDs”:

Nando is three years strong and continuing on, skewering lol skools for our benfit! Just like L4L, Tom the Temp, and others inspired Nando and his message, TTR has helped me realize I wasn’t crazy either and inspired me to speak my peace, FWIW.

SubprimeJD is back, too, with a nice little piece about staying positive and moving on, one step at a time.

So, Gawd bless, everybody. Hopefully, if you are a non-trad (or, heck, regular) student and you’ve turned your back on law school, chances are extremely good that you made the best decision possible, absent money and sweet legal connections. If you took the plunge and/or are out on the other side of the whole experience, live and learn, I guess. Just don’t blame yourself – that is exactly what “they” want you to do to keep you down and out, rather than placing the accountability exactly where it belongs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chemerinsky vs. Tamanaha on Tutition Costs

I was reading the latest defense of the Law School Cartel, and had to take a break from student woes for a minute.  I remember having to bludgeon my way through Mr. Chemerinsky's con law text book for two semesters way back when, and not surprisingly, I find his defenses equally obtuse now.  Ladies and Gentlemen, "You Get What You Pay For":

Some of my favorite parts:

“Tamanaha is correct that law professors are paid significantly more than university faculty in disciplines like English, philosophy and history. Imagine that a law school tried to pay at that level, say roughly half of current faculty salaries at top law schools. Who would come and teach at a school where they got paid half what other law schools would pay them, and who would stay there when other opportunities arose?”

Imagine!  Who, indeed, would deign to teach for such six-figure paltry scraps by slumming it with the Philosophy department?  By the way, Erwin, the problem you’re talking about is called “price-fixing”.  UC Irvine could take the moral high road and “lead the way,” or something. 

About half of our budget is faculty salaries and benefits, but even slicing these in half wouldn't save nearly enough for a tuition decrease like the one Tamanaha argues for. The only way to accomplish that would also be to cut the size of the faculty at least in half. Increasing the teaching load from an average of three to four courses won't help much, since I and many on our faculty are already teaching four or more courses every year.”

Indeed!  A crushing burden!  You might have to actually forego a conference or something, and some people might have to (gasp) look for and compete for a job!  Someone, stop the madness!

“Cutting a law faculty in half would require relying far more on relatively low-cost adjunct faculty. Tamanaha's assumption is that relying on practitioners rather than professors to teach more classes won't compromise the quality of the education students receive. Here I think he is just wrong. There are certainly some spectacular adjunct professors at every law school, and they play a vital role. But as I see each year when I read the student evaluations at my school, overall the evaluations for the full-time faculty are substantially better than they are for the adjuncts. It is easy to understand why. Teaching is a skill, and most people get better the more they do it. Moreover, full-time faculty generally have more time to prepare than adjunct professors who usually have busy practices.”

The legal logic here is indeed mighty – “Here I think he is just wrong.”  Stand back, everybody!  Bask in the glory of those high-dollar “thinking-like-a-lawyer” skills everybody touts so much!

Ah well - the long slide towards the reverse-democratization of (legal) education continues.  Let's get down to Brass Tacks:  Law School (and most of higher education) is about the feedback loop of educating the well-to-do, so that they in turn support the school.  If it were actually about making, say, legal education affordable and/or accessable to the masses, then the "presteige quotient" collapses and well-to-do will not be showing up because they don't really care how much tuition is in the first place.  Defending liberty and pursuing justice will always take a back seat to "keeping things in the family," per se.

A little honesty would go a long way, and would allow non-trads and regular students both to make more informed decisions.  But, somebody's gotta get bilked, you know - how else would the economy function?      

Monday, July 9, 2012

This Blog Starts to Write Itself

The anecdotes keep piling up.  Call it hearsay if you want, although I can't see what the motivation to lie would be...

Last night, I had dinner with a college buddy who went to law school 12 years after we graduated from college. He went to a T50 on a partial scholarship. Prior to going to law school, he was making $120K as a biochemist. So he decided that he peaked at his former job and decided to become a non-trad law student at the age of 33. Fast forward to today. He is 40 years old, owes $105K in student loans and earns $60K a year in NYC. He went from making $120K 8 years ago with no debt to cutting his salary by 50% and carrying $105K in student loans. He is a smart guy, realizes he will never own a house, get married, have kids or have a bank account (to avoid Sallie Mae's bank levies). I suspect he works using a Tax ID Number instead of his social security number so that Sallie Mae doesn't garnish his wages. I don't consider this guy to be a typical lemming. He had a 2.8 GPA but a 176LSAT score. Today, he probably could have attended Rutgers, sorry, Rowan Law School, for free. But alas, he went to law school during the model and bottles day. Kids, Nando makes no money from this site. He is telling you the cold hard and brutal truth. Do not listen to the law school deans or law professors who are only going to paint a rosy picture to sucker you in and keep the gravy train locomotive running full steam ahead.

One thing is for sure - the lol skools have every reason to keep on lying.  Thou$and$ of rea$on$ multiplied by hundreds of students.  Caveat Emptor.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Prestige and "Following the Script"

Wow.  As followers of this blog will know, this story is eerily familiar and hits WAY too close to home.  Comment #15, from "Non-Trad Student", per the following post:

"15.  Non-Trad Student

Jun 28, 2012 5:00 PM CDT

I wish I had known how much of a permanent caste system law is when i chose what school to attend.

In law, the choice of school is one that factors in at every step of an attorney’s career, for decades.  E.g.  people who dared attend a non-Ivy law school decades earlier won’t even be considered to be a Supreme Court Justice; while in some of your lifetimes, one didn’t even have to be a judge to be nominated.

I began my working career in another industry that had much more of a “what have you done lately?” approach.  My undergrad STEM credentials got me my first job, but I had to keep proving myself, and as time went by, my undergrad degree became less of a factor.  Where in law,  the choice of law school becomes a permanent asset or anchor, regardless of what an attorney can demonstrate once in practice.

When it came time to go to law school, I let geographic proximity control my choice rather than uproot myself to go to the higher-ranked school that my LSAT enabled.  I regret that decision every day because I will be perpetually perceived as lesser and inadequate by the very people who would have been my classmates—all because they ASSUME that everyone going to a lower-ranked school couldn’t get accepted anywhere else.  Especially for non-traditional students, factors other than USN≀ are used in our decision-making process.  My highly-ranked STEM undergrad, high LSAT score, and high bar exam score mean nothing because of my mistake in choosing the law school that was least disruptive to my life at the time.

Given that reality, it is even more absurd that the lower-ranked law schools charge what they do for tuition.  I think #8 is mostly accurate that the education is comparable.  But, clearly, the degree that is granted is not as valuable. "

Non-Trad Student, good luck to you; I feel your pain.  As for other Non-Trads considering lol skool, if you take nothing from this blog, heed this individual's experience.  The study of law is increasingly moving back to "traditional" students with family connections, backing, and/or scholarship potential, if it ever really was open to non-trads in the first place.  As I stated in some of my earliest posts, most non-trad students are already at a stage of life that make it even more difficult to succeed and thrive in the gauntlet, let alone find employment worth the opportunity costs.     

Again, if you have the right backing, Godspeed to you.  Everyone else, run away as fast as possible.  And I would say that to most traditional students, as well.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"You Can Do Anything With a Law Degree..."

...until you find out you can't, of course.  One data point does not make a trend, but darn it all if data points keep piling up and graphing out to the same conclusion - a JD does not help you outside of the practice of law. 

"Prior to attending law school, she worked at investment firms, so she was hoping to land a job at a securities law firm or another related field that could use her experience. Instead, says Tokarska, the only position she was offered after graduating was a $10 per hour part-time clerkship. Knee deep in debt and unable to find a decent job, she opened her own law office in San Diego in 2008. "I thought if I got a higher degree, I'd have a better chance to get a job, but that's not what happened," she says."

We can all debate why this is the case - the article suggests oversaturation of JDs, others would say that lawyering skills are not all that transferable to other jobs, what have you.  In any event, it turns out that neither law firms nor various "related fields" were interested.  This is not to impugn Tokarska, who by all accounts was a nontrad using her JD to make her more valuable in the marketplace and lead to some new advancement opportunity.  Just like the Office of Career Services said the JD would deliver, no doubt.

Sadly, its just not the 1970s anymore, no matter how hard the Law School cartel refuses to face facts.  Some would list her graduation date of 2005 as "the beginning of the end," although there appear to be legions who would claim there never was a "Golden Age" of Law regardless.  Either way, Law firms were starting to cut back, but the ABA Journal and other publications kept touting the "difficult" stories of law grads faced with too many choices for employment, not too few.  And the Law School Deans, Admins, Career Services offices and the like were all too happy to chime in, until 2008-2010 or so when "no comment" became the standard answer to employment statistics.

Nontrads, here it is again - do not go to Law School for any other reason other than to be a lawyer.  Period.  And if you must go, make sure (1) you know and understand the business of law, and (2) are capitalized well enough to hang out a shingle after bar passage, after the costs of three years of tuition, prior to ever darkening the door of a Law School.

Otherwise, that JD will be a $150k (and counting) albatross around your neck. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Too old, too young, too qualified, too non-traditional...,0,2627227.story?page=1

The hypocrisy runs high. Ten years ago, I guarantee that this individual would have been a highly competitive hire due to his law degree, military experience, and the maturity that goes along with these accomplishements.

Oh, how the winds change. Now, 25 is apparently too young, yet 29 is too old - explain that one to me. Law degree, military's too "non-traditional." Too different. What was interesting and multi-disciplinary is now strange, exotic, and untrustworthy. While this article focuses more on the civilian arena not appreciating the veteran experience and its (imagined) potential shortcomings, it does raise the question: where or what is this mythical, perfect-fit candidate-for-hire, legal or otherwise?

One would be lead to believe that there is a person who has run this fickle gauntlet: someone from the right familiy, who went to school at the right time, at the right age, with the right experiences, at the right circumstances of the job market, with the right connections, with the right backing. Who is this individual (besides Mitt Romney)?

Answer: A theoretical person who does not actually exist. It's a mistake to believe that any person can bootstrap their way through this gauntlet, yet higher education, the work world and even the military will try to entice you that it's possible and is the only way. Don't believe it, as they will all pull the rug out simultaneously as they did for Mr. Pizzo, yet blame him for not being a "sophisticated consumer" prior to good-faith effort and service.

Non-traditionals, don't believe what they say - do what you need to do, education or otherwise, but make your own path. Immediately distrust any advertised results. Just like the stock market, bank on the fact that past results do not guarantee future returns, and look critically at everything - the establishment is looking out for themselves, not for you.

In short, in whatever you do, assume they are lying to you.