As pilots, we often fly into airports surrounded by fog. In those situations, we make the decision to start our descent from 35,000 feet even though we don’t yet know if we’ll be able to land. The decision to land doesn’t come until 200 feet from the ground. Between 35,000 and 200 feet, even if we can’t see more than a foot in front of our face, we’ll continue the approach as long as our instrumentation tells us we’re still on track. If we stay on track all the way down to 200 feet, we then begin to look for visual cues. If those visual cues are in sight, we land. If not, we abort the approach and “go around.” Attempting to land while either off course or lacking the proper visual cues is the recipe for disaster.

How does this relate to S2S’s ability to help you through the law school application process?

1)   When did you make the decision to attend law school? At 35,000 ft or 200 ft?

The beginning-to-end process of applying to law school is very time consuming. I remember when I first registered for an account on LSAC thinking, “This is it. I’m actually doing it. I’m going to law school as the next chapter in my life.” The thing is, I was still at 35,000 feet in the process and was just starting to begin my descent. There is nothing wrong with the decision to begin the descent into law school, but it can be dangerous to make the full commitment to land when you still have a lot of unknown variables ahead of you that should be taken into account when deciding to attend law school

When I first contacted S2S, I approached them with a flawed mindset of needing to show a 100% commitment to the prospect of going to law school no matter what. Instead what they showed me was the importance of being committed to flying the proper approach (i.e., the application process), but that I didn’t need to make the decision to land (i.e., go to law school) until later. This input came from the standpoint of a fellow veteran who had been in my shoes and knew what it was like to make the decision to transition out of the military and being on a limited timeline in the desire to do so.

With that new mindset, I was able focus on the proper priority: developing the best application possible.

2)    How do you know if you’re flying “on track” to your intended law school(s)?

Pilots have aviation equipment that tells us if we’re on course or how to get back to course if we’re off. Does something similar exist in the law school application process? How do you know if your LSAT study methods are appropriate? Is the intended topic for your personal statement worthwhile? Who have you asked for personal statements?

Sure, you can buy books that provide excellent advice to set you along the right path, but you’ll get the same (and better) advice from S2S’s JD Guide. The real value of S2S during the application process is how your ambassador works with you 1-on-1 to ensure the advice in the S2S JD Application guide is applied to your application. That “live” feedback is what keeps you course.

When I first contacted S2S, my resume and personal statement were complete. At least that’s what I told myself. Looking back at the original resume compared to the one I eventually submitted…well, let’s just say it would have been embarrassing if I submitted the original. The amount of time my ambassador spent reviewing multiple version of my resume truly demonstrates the dedication you’ll find in S2S. The end product was a resume that accurately presented my Air Force career in a concise, logical manner that maximized the value of my experiences.

3)   Even after you’ve determined which law school is right for you, how will you know what visual cues to look for and determine if it’s time to land?

The answer depends on what visual cues you are looking for.  How did you determine which law schools to apply? Was it based solely on USNWR? What happened when you get multiple offers of acceptance? Do you have the ability to visit every single school? What information are you using to determine which school you will ultimately attend?

An advantage of S2S is the ability to put you in contact with fellow vets currently attending your desired schools. Within a week of telling my ambassador of my preferred schools, he was able to put me in contact with other vets. The unfiltered input I gathered during those conversations was priceless. They provided me the details I needed to determine which schools were right for me and which were not. It was candid information that you won’t find on forums or on the school’s website.

Bottom line: Service to School helped me reach my full potential. Even though I had already began my descent by the time I contacted S2S, they helped get me back on course and kept me there through the landing. They gave me the confidence to recognize that getting accepted into law school isn’t difficult. Getting into the right law school that allows me to attain my goals is where I needed to calibrate my focus. It wasn’t a question of if I could get into a law school, it was a matter of getting into the right law school.

Matthew “Ocho” Wilcoxen – After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 2002 with a degree in Astronautical Engineering, Matthew completed undergraduate pilot training with the Navy and Air Force. Having served as both a T-6 instructor pilot at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida, and a KC-10 combat schoolhouse instructor pilot at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, he has amassed 3,100 flight hours on worldwide missions. Matthew has completed five combat deployments while flying over 900 combat hours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa. He is pursuing law school at Washington University in St. Louis.