3+3 Students Turn Undergraduate Senior Year into Year 1 of Law School
Rachel Schmitt ’19, Marina Chu ’19, and Daniel Lei ’18
Rachel Schmitt ’19, Marina Chu ’19, and Daniel Lei ’18 are all part of Albany Law School’s 3+3 program with the University at Albany, which allows students to combine their bachelor’s degree and law degree, saving them a year of time and money on their education.
UAlbany 3+3 students spend their fourth year of undergrad at Albany Law School. Once the students complete their first year of law school, they receive their bachelor’s degree from UAlbany and attend graduation with their peers as they normally would. They then have the remaining two years of law school to complete. The program cuts a year of time and tuition off of school for the students.
For Lei, he knew he wanted to pursue law before entering college, so this program was an easy choice. “Once you sign on, it takes off a lot of pressure about attending law school,” he said. “At the same time, you still have a choice when the time comes.” Lei considered staying at UAlbany his senior year and applying to other law schools, but in the end, he decided Albany Law was the better move for him.
“For starters, we were guaranteed a $17,000 scholarship every year,” he noted, referring to the SUNY Fellowship Albany Law School offers all UAlbany undergraduate students.
“[A] lot of the pressure was taken off because I knew I had a spot at Albany Law when I graduated.”
Schmitt knew that she wanted to pursue a law degree since the Romney-Obama election of 2012. At that time she realized she enjoyed the analytical thinking associated with constructing arguments, which she used to debate with her classmates on social issues brought up during the election. Schmitt entered Albany Law School at age 19. The 3+3 program turned into a 2+3 program due to her unexpected early graduation from UAlbany, where she majored in philosophy and minored in English.
Although Schmitt still has an interest in philosophy, she found her calling in Biomedical Ethics, inspired by the UAlbany class “Moral Problems in Medicine.”
“I want to take part in a landmark case, similar to that of Roe v. Wade, to grant rights to a group of people who do not currently have them.” This desire motivates her to earn the grades needed to enter Clarkson University’s dual degree program with Albany Law School. She plans to earn her J.D. and M.S. in Bioethics by the time she is 22 years old.
Schmitt and Chu are both 20 years old, making them two of the youngest members of their class.
Chu originally entered UAlbany to be a history teacher. “As I got older and learned how the legal process worked, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. Once I knew I had the required GPA and LSAT scores, a lot of the pressure was taken off because I knew I had a spot at Albany Law when I graduated. That’s one of the best parts of the 3+3 program,” said Chu.
Chu makes time to go back to UAlbany to visit her friends who are finishing up undergrad. While at UAlbany she plays violin for a quartet she has been a part of since her freshman year. Having her friends and the quartet close by provides Chu a relaxing break from studying.
“Our law class is broken into six sections of about 30 people,” said Chu. “I have every class with this group so we all go through the same experiences together. We freak out about getting our memos in on time and are relieved together once we finish a big assignment. I remember running up five flights of stairs to hand in an assignment at the last minute and seeing other people from my section doing the same thing. It helps to know other people are going through the same things.”