school registration is surprisingly easy, especially for first year
students, as class sessions are organized in advance for us. We simply had to fill out and sign a small bundle of necessary forms, buy books, and pay the tuition fee. Before I knew it, I was finished. And then as a surprise the school officials gave me a scholarship of $5,000 a year. My employer was already paying my tuition, so it did not matter, but it was a pleasant surprise nevertheless.
Wednesday, August 10th, was the first day of orientation. The lecture room was filled with first year evening students, about 120 of us, along with some of our family members. Hey, wait a minute, I didn't know we could bring family along. That's downright sentimental. The Dean of the law school was a white-haired lady in her sixties who looked like the grandmotherly matron of a private school. She smiled, made jokes in her welcome speech, and then introduced us to the first year law faculties. Compared to the non-existent welcome ceremony of my engineering school, this was a lot warmer.
Not quite convinced by the softer, gentler law school orientation, I was desperate to find something sinister. So I proceeded to "mingle" in the next two days. There were school and student-sponsored BBQ's, with tons of free food and drinks. Professors all came and chatted with the students. One
professor, after finding out that I was a native of China, pointed me
to the Dean and said that she likes to speak to anyone who knows
So I was given a personal introduction to the Dean, who did speak a few Chinese phrases. On the whole all the professors were very patient and well-mannered. Considering
that we are each paying about $20,000 per year for law school, perhaps
they felt we deserved a little gentleness in the beginning. Surely the drama will come later.
But perhaps not. The motive may be more than monetary or competitive. Maybe we, as students, are seen more as future colleagues in this profession of law. Law is tough enough, so daunting that the mere mention of it probably drove some timid ones from it. Perhaps
the law professors know how hard it is for young people of good ethics
and conscience to stay in a profession dogged by bad reputations. It
is possible after all that others may have been repelled by law just as
I was by management. I was then apprehensive of the people of low
character who might actually do well in management.
experience suggested to me that perhaps that may be their reasoning as
well, that they feared that if they pushed their students too hard,
appeared too aloof or demeaning, that the truly good characters will be
turned away from the profession.
And indeed, the difficulties will come, the professors and the deans cautiously warned us. The homework, the essays, the tests will all be difficult, especially for the evening students, many of whom have day jobs.
The student demographics surprised me a little. I was expecting older students in the evening program, people who are perhaps like me. But I found a great many twenty-something students fresh out of undergrad programs. After talking to them, knowing what I know, I felt a little sorry for them, and many of the day students in law school.
Mature age actually served me well in this respect, because I have more life experiences than many of my fellow students. Looking at them, I saw my younger self, back when lack of experience found me wanting for my future. "Future", the word often lingered in my younger mind, because I was not yet established in life. When I was in engineering school, I had nothing but my school, my books, my tests. The "future" was one great uncertainty, both promising and dreadful. It too was like death, but only time could resolve it. And I had to go on doing what I did in school, knowing that I could not hurry time. Now, having worked full time for ten years, I have established myself. So I no longer fear the lack of experience. I had gone through the "future", at least the near future, and known what it is, and learned who I truly am in life.
many of my fellow students continued on the journey of school, with
nothing to establish their knowledge or identity from life experiences. Their stress is far greater than mine. Whereas I was not afraid of failure, for many of them, failure is not an option.
In mingling, I prattled along with exaggerated stories of my fantastic life and experiences. How I learned to keep two hives of bees, and harvested sixty pounds of honey each year. How I wrote and published a book on management theories and political theories. How I met and married a girl from my hometown in China and then brought her to the States. Many of these stories are true, but I know I must have come across as a braggart. One girl lamented to me that she doesn't feel as if she has done anything interesting.
With much sympathy I said to her that she was still young. I envied her for that, because youth is something that has already passed over me. Though I was uncertain in my youthful days, with the knowledge I have now, I truly missed those days. But, I pondered, I would not want to relive those days.
For me, a lesson learned cannot be relearned.