« on: July 03, 2010, 10:20:47 AM »
I just visited University of Miami with my son,who has an interest in it. I really wanted to like it since my son has relatives here and because it has a good ranking. In addition, it is supposedly strong in estate planning and tax, which interested my son the most.
At first glance, UM seems quite good. It has very decent rankings. It has a lot of offerings. In fact, it even has a course in "online gaming." and I am not kidding about that. It also has a great college environment. Moreover, most faculty graduated from top schools. The facilities such as gyms, cafeterias etc. were also great as were the nearby surroundings in Coral Gables. They also have a supposedly good reputation in south Florida. Moreover, you can probably get admitted with a 3.2+ GPA and about 157 on the LSAT, which isn't bad for a top 60 school. However, everyone on our tour was a bit discouraged from what we saw and from what the tour guide said. Why?
First, UM is fairly expensive at $37,000 in tuition alone. Moreover, they are a bit cheap in scholarships giving out 22 merit scholarships out of 400 students.
Secondly,I really didn't get the feeling that the school was very student centered. For example, we went into several classrooms that had over 125 seats. The tour guide frankly admitted that UM tries to get as many students into a class as the room holds! In fact, each seat was numbered! Miami definitely had that "diploma mill" feeling.
Third, our tour guide noted that career services was fairly awful at the school. She was a JD and still was giving tours,which should tell you something. In addition, their passing rate on the bar was just above average for the state.
Finally, although UM is known for its graduate tax and estate planning graduate programs, most of these courses are not available to undergrads without professional permission. Oddly, the undergrad concentrations that UM boasts about have nothing to do with either estate planning or tax. They emphasize programs like international law, business and financial law,and immigration law . Whoever does their marketing and concentration planning should be fired.
In addition, most law school buildings looked like they had been there for 30 years. Most were old and needed some renovation. I didn't get the classy feel that I got at Stetson.
Personally, we also did check out Florida and Stetson. Frlorida really impressed us with much lower tuition and very high quality offerings. They even seem to have smaller class sizes. We didn't thoroughly investigate Florida since I didn't think my son would get admitted there.
Stetson seemed a lot better than we expected with a top notch advocacy program and elder law program and being very student- centric. In fact, a law school professor told me to check out Stetson because it was known to be very student friendly. Sadly, Stetson is almost as expensive as Miami, although it is cheaper by about $7000 per year,and doesn't have the overall ranking that either Miami and Florida have. I really did get a "southern school" feel from Stetson. Everyone was very nice and helpful. We even got to meet with the Deans of the programs that interested my son. Stetson requires a bit less than Miami for admission. you could get in with the same 3.2 and a 155 on the LSAT.
In addition, Stetson has some remarkably designed buildings both inside and outside since they took over the property from a prior upper class, luxury, resort hotel. Although I also got a resort feel from Stetson but more of a lower key feel than that of Miami.
Alhtough I loved the beach area located near Stetson, there certainly isn't as much to do as in Miami unless water sports is your priority. I also got the feel that Gulfport, where Stetson is located, is a bit "hickish."
Bottom line: Miami does have a good rankings and nice environment and so does Florida. However, I would personally recommend Stetson or Florida over Miami from what I saw .
Your take may be different than mine.