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Commuting from Ottawa to Kingston during 2L/3L

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I would like to remain at Queens but live in Ottawa, for two significant reasons: family and a very rewarding (and well-paying) part-time job that I can continue doing while studying. Does anyone have or know of anyone who has experience doing this, or anything comparable to it?

 

Please note I am referring to 2L and 3L only, since I realize this would be nearly impossible to acheive during first year.

 

Of course I have a car and would aim to schedule classes on no more than two days per week.

 

I'd appreciate any thoughts on this.

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That's a helluva commute! I personally wouldn't do it, but then again I whine when it takes me 30 minutes to drive somewhere. Spending 4 hours a day commuting would be unbearable for me. Your class days would be awful too if you were able to squeeze them all into 2 days. 2 hour commute in the morning, full day of class, then 2 hour drive back home. Yikes!

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I would like to remain at Queens but live in Ottawa, for two significant reasons: family and a very rewarding (and well-paying) part-time job that I can continue doing while studying. Does anyone have or know of anyone who has experience doing this, or anything comparable to it?

 

Please note I am referring to 2L and 3L only, since I realize this would be nearly impossible to acheive during first year.

 

Of course I have a car and would aim to schedule classes on no more than two days per week.

 

I'd appreciate any thoughts on this.

 

The school set your time table for 1L

Not sure about 2L or 3L

 

It is doerable, but I doubt you can schedule classes for even 3 days let alone 2 days

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Just anecdotally, I'm at Oz (2L) and I know several people that were able to fit classes into two or three days a week (two is difficult, but possible, three is actually not hard to do, at least with the way our course timetables are set up). I will say two things though:

 

if you already know by 2L what direction you're leaning in career-wise, there may be classes that you do sort of "need" to take (or at least would really like to have before you start a 2L summer job, let's say). I think in 3L, it's not as much of an issue, but you may find it hard to put all of the classes you want with the Professors you prefer into two days.

 

Secondly, that commute would SUCK. It would be impossible in 1L, IMO. I don't live on campus, but I live very close by, and I think that if I had to commute for FOUR hours a day, I would be VERY unhappy. It really depends on you. I used to commute about an hour one-way to school in undergrad, and I think you will find yourself very drained after 2 hours (and having to look forward to the 2 hour ride home). If it's only two days a week, maybe you're cool with that, but I'd say you definitely will not get anything done on those days when you get back from class (as in no course work, and no employment-related work). If you cram it into two days, you'd realistically have about 6-7 hours at school with classes and the time in between the classes, if you're lucky.

 

More importantly, for exams, you'll be totally stressed out and tired, with a 4 hour commute on top of that. Think about having to wake up at 5:30 for a 9 AM exam when you've been up half the night studying. Finally, I think you would find it difficult to get involved in anything extracurricular if you're facing that commute. I'm not super involved, and I'm fine with that, but I think it would suck if you couldn't ever stay to have a drink with your classmates or throw SOME legal or other volunteer work into your schedule.

 

I like law school - but if I had to come up with a few descriptors for it, I'd say exhausting would be number one or two on the list.

 

As I said, it depends on you, but I know that I'd go postal after about three days with that commute.

Edited by cogy

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I knew one student who crammed all of her 3L courses into one day. She lived with her parents in Toronto and studied at Queen. She didnt care which courses she was in, as she already had an articling positions lined up. Granted, she really missed out on the social part of law school that year but she said that the money that she saved made a huge difference. She said the commute wasnt that bad and she mainly took the train or bus and slept the entire way.

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I know a few people who wanted to condense their classes into two or three days, for other reasons, but, ultimately, were unable to do so. The issue was course selection and not being able to get the classes they really wanted/needed to make it work. In my opinion, it would be foolish to allow the desire to commute, or any other similar reason, to determine what coursework you choose for 2L and 3L. Adding a long daily commute, especially in bad weather, to the mix is risky, and a job, too? Yeah, this doesn't sound like the best plan.

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You could consider doing a LOP to Ottawa for 3L. A 2 hour each way commute is extreme.

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I think this is made more difficult by the fact you'd be doing it completely on your own, which removes some of the support network and sharing driving/productivity possibilities. Ottawa is a pretty big city too, if you live in Barrhaven it might be more manageable than if you live in Orleans or even further east.

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You gotta do what you gotta do, but I think your plan sells you short on your law school experience.

 

It's not just what you study that makes the three years so important, it's who you meet and the various ECs you pick up. If you're always rushing off to get back to your "real life" in Ottawa, you're going to miss out. Your classmates won't get to know you, nor you them. You won't be able to do law journal or the legal clinic or a moot. You won't be around for the social events that make the experience enjoyable.

 

Law school will be narrowed down to its barest utility. It sounds like a terrible waste of what would otherwise be a much better time. Can you aim for getting into Ottawa instead?

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Yikes, I have enough problems walking 10 minutes to class, hahaha. My housemates friend did the commute from Toronto to Kingston last year, but she was an undergrad. I agree with Hedgis. If you need to, give it a go this year then maybe try for an LOP next year in 3L?

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People are being kind...I think that's one of the worst ideas I've heard in a while. There's probably someone out there who could pull it off with their sanity intact, but that person would be pretty rare. Are you ready to gamble that it's you?

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My thought: you're f***ing insane. Combining a commute which is crazy enough with a part-time job?! Not to mention reminding me of the character from "Community" mild SPOILER warning re a past season

 

 

who hopes to win the paintball game prize of "priority registration" so that he can schedule all classes on Monday and have a 6-day weekend...

 

 

The people I knew at Queen's law who commuted did so e.g. on Friday evening and returned Sunday evening/Monday morning so they could spend the weekend with their family. That was manageable. And even then there were some weekends where they stayed in town e.g. to focus on studies, work with a study group, use library print materials, etc. Other people had family spend time with them in Kingston at least occasionally (and/or moved to Kingston for 3 years or already lived there).

 

There is a social component, not only for study purposes but networking, that one misses out on by leaving all the time. Not to mention, unless there were extraordinary circumstances (e.g. genuine family financial need, not mere want), I and many others would have had very little sympathy for someone who not only commuted every day but had a job on the side in terms of helping out with notes/study groups/etc.

 

Perhaps more importantly, how focused will you be on studies if you are not only commuting, but are doing so to spend time with family and a part-time job? Are you really going to choose classes for 2L and 3L based solely on where they are in your schedule and not how important they are to you as a lawyer and/or job-seeker and/or for passing the bar? Are you going to give up on doing a moot (i.e. with a team...), any clinical or legal aid program with out-of-class commitments, law journal, etc.? Unless you have amazing marks or your part-time job is seriously impressive to law firms, good luck with zero extracurriculars against the other people with better marks and/or the same marks and a more interesting application package.

 

From your description it's not clear if you're even in law school yet or maybe you're in 1L? Maybe if you get straight A grades with a few course prizes your plan would become more reasonable at least if you take the train rather than drive (so you can use the time to study/sleep). But it still strikes me as ridiculous, and I'm someone who missed a few weeks of classes during third year (granted, it was for a varsity athletics trip to some European competitions so I got some leeway from profs and administration, but it was still after I'd already secured an articling position and knew I would still be able to get high marks in those courses).

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I am a little bit torn. On the one hand, I understand why people are calling you insane. It is a little bit whacky and will be hard to do. On the other hand, far too many people (IMO) decisions in the name of "living the law school social experience" that will harm them in the long run. I'm not sure how much you end up saving as gas would be fucking expensive; however, I would imagine that if you were able to keep your part time job + live with mom and dad you'd end up with a lot less debt that the average law student.

 

Lawyers complain all of the time about being miserable. I am convinced that the main reason why most lawyers are miserable is due to lack of mobility. When you are in a lot of debt and have massive monthly payments to make, there are only a couple of jobs you can do to meet those payments. There are a lot of things that you can do with a lot degree, but not all of them pay near as well as being a lawyer. By decreasing your debt, you are going to have a lot more freedom to leave.

 

I am *not* saying that you are going to necessary hate being a lawyer or that most lawyers are miserable or anything like that. Just pointing out that this would give you a great out if needed.

 

Some tips:

 

1) Do the math! Try to figure out how much more ahead you will actually be by doing this. Once you figure it out, ask yourself if all of that time wasted on the road is worth the real cost. I'm an Ottawa student who maintained some employment in Toronto. During 1 and 2L I would frequently go home on the weekend in order to work a couple of shifts at my old (fairly high paying) job. However, when I tabulated how much I was actually getting when calculating my income in addition to my transportation costs, it didn't make sense to go home just to work. Whenever I go home, I still work. However, I don't go home just to work anymore.

 

2) Invest in a high quality audio recorder. A job + 8-12 hours of commuting per week (at a minimum) is probably going to result in you not doing all of your readings. The ideal is obviously to go to all of your classes and do all of your readings; however, it is imperative that you do what best meets your situation. I would record every single one of my lectures and listen to some of them while I drove to and from Ottawa.

 

3) I would also consider investing in a high quality text to speech software. I forget the name of the one I use, but sometimes when I just don't feel like reading anymore, I put a case or some of my notes through a text-to-speech software, put the mp3 on my iPod and go for a run. Not as good as reading, but at least you are getting some exposure to the subject area.

 

4) As a previous poster said, do your third year on a letter of permission at the University of Ottawa. I understand why someone would not want a uOttawa degree. While I maintained that our school is actually pretty good, our reputation is not exactly the best. Added to that the fact that we have more than double the amount of students Queen's has each year, it is more likely that you will stand out with a Queen's degree than an Ottawa degree. However, doing 1 year at uOttawa will still get you a Queen's degree and save you stress. If you plan on compacting all of your courses into 2 days, you ARE going to miss out on some key classes. Doing a LOP at uOttawa should ensure that you get all of the classes you want.

 

5) Ensure that you have friends who'd be willing to house you for the odd night. I would actually considering setting up a system whereby you pay someone $100.00-150.00 per month to crash on their couch once a week during the semester and maybe 2-3X per week during exams.

 

Anyways, don't let the other posters get you down. Your idea is not one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard. While it may not work, I commend you for thinking about saving as much money as possible and thinking about your long term financial stability. Your years at law school may be worse than mine, but you will probably be in a better position 3 years out than me and, when it comes down to it, we all came to law school to be better in the future.

 

Good luck.

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[portions only quoted]

 

...On the other hand, far too many people (IMO) decisions in the name of "living the law school social experience" that will harm them in the long run. I'm not sure how much you end up saving as gas would be fucking expensive; however, I would imagine that if you were able to keep your part time job + live with mom and dad you'd end up with a lot less debt that the average law student.

 

Some tips:

...

2) Invest in a high quality audio recorder. A job + 8-12 hours of commuting per week (at a minimum) is probably going to result in you not doing all of your readings. The ideal is obviously to go to all of your classes and do all of your readings; however, it is imperative that you do what best meets your situation. I would record every single one of my lectures and listen to some of them while I drove to and from Ottawa.

...

5) Ensure that you have friends who'd be willing to house you for the odd night. I would actually considering setting up a system whereby you pay someone $100.00-150.00 per month to crash on their couch once a week during the semester and maybe 2-3X per week during exams.

...

 

My focus is on, you're paying a lot of money to learn the law and how well or poorly you learn it will affect you in practice. You are assessed in how well you learn the law and your ability to get a job depends in significant part on those assessments (grades). Unless you absolutely had to, why would you do something (commute + part-time job) that interfered with the high-priced learning that you are paying for?

 

For (2), with the exception of accomodations for disabilities, what's the policy/instructor consent/legal issues around recording lectures?

 

For (5), a good night's sleep is one of the most important things (maybe the most important) for law school exams. Is crashing on a couch really the best thing to do before an exam or midterm - or maybe if someone is saving all that money from commuting they could pay for a hotel room...

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FWIW, I drove 90 minutes to UWO in London during first year (I was a part time student then and scheduled my classes onto 3 days) and it was tough. By the time I got home I was to exhausted to do anything. We've since moved and my commute is now 50 minutes and I drive it every day. It's more annoying than anything. I do miss out on the social side of things, but that part of law school isn't a priority for me so its not the end of the world.

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The simple solution, as others mentioned, is the LOP option...No need to make a big deal out of it, just make sure that the courses you take will transfer back as upper-year credits to fulfill the degree requirements for Queens Law:

 

"Full-time students normally take four or five courses in each of the four upper-year terms to satisfy the required upper-year credit requirement of 59 to 68 credits." - Queens Law Website

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Wow, lots of detailed replies and some pretty strong opinions! Thanks, everyone.

 

Let me expand upon my situation. I already completed my first year at Queens, several years ago, but took a leave of absence for valid and approved reasons. While studying there I lived on campus and was footloose and fancy-free. I am now ready to return but since leaving the program my circumstances have changed such that I have a house, a wife and a job in Ottawa! (Yes, even during a leave of absence one must seek shelter, companionship and an income!)

 

I want to finish what I started at Queens but I really can't ditch my wife for the next two years, give up my job, etc. This is why I thought commuting might be a suitable compromise. I do, however, want to get good grades, since I did in my first year and will likely be at a disadvantage in the hiring process due to the interruption in my studies. I'm not even sure if I'll be able to start in January or if I'll have to wait until next September.

 

I suppose I could aim to go part-time, but again, I imagine that would be frowned upon by most prospective employers.

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[portion only quoted]

...

I want to finish what I started at Queens but I really can't ditch my wife for the next two years, give up my job, etc. This is why I thought commuting might be a suitable compromise. I do, however, want to get good grades, since I did in my first year and will likely be at a disadvantage in the hiring process due to the interruption in my studies. ...I suppose I could aim to go part-time, but again, I imagine that would be frowned upon by most prospective employers.

...

 

Having read your circumstances I'm more sympathetic, but still skeptical.

 

Either it's worth it to you and your wife for you to finish law school, with the monetary and time and relationship difficulties, or it's not. If you have a good job you like and it will put stress on your marriage to return to law school maybe you shouldn't. Or maybe you should actually look into whether it's possible to transfer to Ottawa (i.e. you'd get an Ottawa degree with credit for your 1st year at Queen's).

 

As a Queen's grad and for other reasons I think Queen's is better than Ottawa, all other things being equal. But for you all other things are not equal. Just as I knew people who went to Queens law (instead of e.g. Toronto) because they didn't want to leave Kingston, maybe you should go to Ottawa because you don't want to leave Ottawa and the time factor of the commute.

 

Not saying this would be the case, but for the sake of argument say you go to Ottawa and have a B+ average, or you go to Queen's and have a B- average (I mean because of time lost and stress from commute and difficulty working with study groups, I'm not trying to rank difficulties). Subject to correction from someone more recently in the process, significantly higher marks >> "reputation" of school in interview/hiring decisions in most cases.

 

I knew married people, with children, etc. and those who didn't live in Kingston went home on the weekends, what's wrong with that?

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I suppose I could aim to go part-time, but again, I imagine that would be frowned upon by most prospective employers.

 

As a former part time student I'm biased, but I doubt prospective employers will care much. A legit job and family responsibilities seem like good reasons to me. Working at McDonalds and wanting more time to play video games... not so much.

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I knew married people, with children, etc. and those who didn't live in Kingston went home on the weekends, what's wrong with that?

 

Oh, and only a non-married person with no kids would ask this question (or an unhappily married person I suppose).

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