My sister is a truly special person. She is 7 years younger than me and the baby of our family. From a very young age, she has marched to a different drummer - and that drummer is keeping a very difficult beat to keep up with! She is an accomplished equestrian, animal lover, tennis player, and human rights activist. I say the last as she became infected with a desire to pull up the socially and economically dejected after a life-altering visit to a museum when she was 9.
She is very bright and was accepted to a prestigious science and technical high school run by the Marines where she left her friends behind to pursue her education. She recently did a study-abroad in Southern China which further motivated her interest in human rights. Around that time, she decided she wanted to go to law school to pursue Public Interest Law.
She assures us all that Public Interest Lawyers are not the slimy, ambulance chasers we normally associate with lawyers. They protect the rights of the public and help write laws in accordance with the Constitution.
This past summer, she taught English to African refugees and that confirmed her belief that Public Interest Law was the right path for her. So, she began the process of applying to law schools. By the way, she is graduating from her undergraduate school a year early, with honors.
Here is something else you should know about my sister - she is very hard on herself. To a ridiculous degree. Let me give you an example. When she was 15, she was in the midst of this very difficult high school program, was taking horseback riding lessons 5X a week and playing tennis for her Varsity high school team. My parents noticed she seemed exhausted and was literally falling asleep at dinner, when they drove her to these events, and going to bed at 8PM (at 15 years old!). They kept bugging her about whether she was taking on too much, but she insisted she wasn't.
Finally, she came out to visit me in Chicago for a "girls weekend", but she fell asleep during the movie we went to and on our way to dinner...and she declined a spa day to go to bed early. I called my mom and told her something was definitely wrong. They went to the doctor and they found out my sister had Mononucleosis. Rather, she HAD mono and now it was Einsteins-Barr.
My parents are hippie, free spirit professionals - my dad is a psychologist and my mother is a public school teacher - they never would push us beyond our limits. My sister -- they had to literally force her to relax.
If she got a "B" on a test, she was in tears. If she missed a jump in a dressage competition, she was angry with herself for days! This kid has a natural fire under her butt that keeps her hopping!
We are always telling her "RELAX!!".
So, in recent weeks, she has been giving herself an ulcer about getting into law school. Specifically, there was one school in LA that she really wanted to get into as they have the field of law she wants to be in (and it is a rare field since Public Interest lawyers don't make the big bucks so there is not a lot of demand).
A week ago, she got her acceptance letter! Hooray! You'd think she would be over the moon happy, right?
Well, she called me in tears two days ago to say that she didn't receive a scholarship to the school like she was hoping for and that the school is very expensive and she is afraid of having so much student loan debt when she graduates...especially in this economy.
She wanted my advice.
Should she go to that school? Should she go to a less expensive school that doesn't have her specific field of interest?
What would you tell her?
Here is a poem my sister wrote when she was 9, right after visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC:
I hold in my hands a key to peace
and a key to hate.
You cannot choose the key for me...
you can only influence my choice.
How do you influence me?