Well that's telling, now isn't it?!?!
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It is difficult to let go of the idea of becoming a member of this profession because it has essentially been my goal for at least five years. I refer to my previous example: it is similar to the religious person having difficulty coming to terms with the reality of a godless world. They still want to believe but the evidence shows no reason for belief. This is where I am at.
The reason why I believe science is different from the law (hence more interesting) is because it deals with fundemental concepts of existence, while law deals with arbitrary ideas, fleeting moments within fleeting nations. Therefore the grunt work of science would be for some greater purpose (at least a greater purpose than law). A greater purpose in the sense that I believe it is more important to understand the universe than understand one nations arbitrary rules of legality.
I suppose, really, I do simply have to make a choice. That is the only realistic conclusion.
I am in the EXTREME minority, and will be undoubtedly flamed up and down this board, but I turned down a T-14 spot for a T3 full ride. However, I had some unique factors in that I am a bit older, had a wife that could not easily move and I would be fine ending up in the small state that my school is in. Also, my school has a strong specialty program that I was also very interested in. Now that 1-L is over, I am at the very top of my class and am beginning to start my job search. I found the single largest factor in doing well on 1-L exams was writing ability. The best writers in my class are all at the top of the class. It may not be fair, but when a prof sits down and starts reading a well-written exam, there is a strong bias toward that student - small mistakes are overlooked and positive assumptions made. There is also a very strong correlation at my school between LSAT and class rank. I don't know if this is common at other schools, but it is a clear delineating line here.
It will be interesting to see how my job prospects shake out, but I am not overly concerned. I have little debt and will have a lot of flexibility as a result. I am very happy with my choice and urge everyone to take into account all the various factors that should go into a serious decision such as school choice.
For many students, "take the top ranked" is the answer, but that is largely a function of the relatively homogenous pool of this forum. If you are young, dead-set on BigLaw with few obligations and willingness to follow the money wherever it may lead, that advice is often solid. But for those of us who don't fit the mold, the decision is more nuanced.
so i haven't read all these posts, but I want to put my 2 cents in
going to a higher ranked school over money is, in my opinion, ONLY worth it if the higher ranked school is in the top 30. if you are choosing between a school ranked 75 and a school ranked, say, 50 and the 75 one gave you money i would say take the $$. schools are done by ranges and outside of the top 25 or so the odds of you getting "big law" are quite low unless you place high in the class. even in a top 25 you still need to do top 1/3 at least. its only once you get to T14 that you can relax a little. Consequently, I really do believe you are screwing yourself if you choose a T2 with money over a tier one. b/c this is your JOB. sure you will have debt, but you will have much much more opportunity. and yeah, its just a first job. but its a pretty huge first job. you can start your first year with 160,000 in your pocket and prestige and the ability to do wonderful things. not having that firm job (and wanting it- this doesn't go for public interest) means you will have to work ever so harder to achieve it. this is your career. this is your life, money and education. i'd say what job you get is pretty damn important..