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Messages - SouthSide

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11
Southside, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you believe that Y was way overrated and H was decent but not spectacular initially? I seem to remember you leaning toward Columbia because you liked the institution itself more than H and Y and the Hamilton was just the icing on the cake. I can't remember exactly though.

I wouldn't use those terms. My sense of Yale is that it offers a very different product than either Harvard or Columbia. Y is quite small and has a correspondingly smaller number of faculty, most of whom have never practiced law. What's more, Yale is located in a small city and doesn't formally grade students except on a pass/fail basis. The result of this is a much heavier focus on the theory of law with less emphasis on practice. This didn't appeal to me as much as it appeals to a lot of people, and it's why I don't think that you can say that Yale is "better" than the other schools, given how different it is.

Note also that these differences, especially the smaller size, create a statistical wrinkle that gives Yale a huge advantage in the methods US News uses to calculate rankings. Thus, it is over-rated in the sense that it's an incoherent statement to say that Yale is better than Harvard, much like it would be to say that among colleges, Swarthmore is better than Stanford.

Also, I think Harvard is spectacular. I just think that Columbia is spectacular as well, and that the differences between the two aren't enough, in my opinion, to justify turning down a scholarship at one to go to the other. The bottom line, as I've said several times on this thread, is that all of these options are really great.

(I would say that I don't really see a great argument for going to Harvard over Columbia with the Hamilton or the Sharp. I would have to have strong idiosyncratic reasons for wanting to be in the Boston area to do that.)

12
Um, yeah. I don't know who CLSSIPP is, but he seems unrepresentative of the CLS student body.

I don't think it's foolish to turn down a full ride at Columbia to go another school, nor is it foolish to do the opposite. As someone who took Columbia over H/Y, I am very happy with my decision.

I wanted to go back to another point made earlier, though. If your parents are willing to pay your tuition, then why not just ask them to make out the check to you instead of to Yale? I would still rather have the money than not, so I don't understand this point at all.

 

13
Spaulding points out that he felt the quality of life and other personal considerations made Cambridge a better fit for him. Similar concerns made New York a better fit for me, to the extent that I would have seriously considered Columbia whether or not I had gotten the scholarship.

I think it does go back to what Galt says, go with what your heart says.  Scholarships shouldn't be something that works against that. If anything, it should make it easier for you to do what you actually want to do rather than what you feel like you have to do based on school rankings, etc.

And Spaulding is probably a better fit at HLS.  Galt, YLS.

You know, I appreciate this comment.  I'm filing it away.

There is a lot to be said for this. If only Stanley were this perceptive in class. ;)

14
You put the rabbit in the hat when you decide what is meaningful (difference between Columbia and Michigan/Georgetown) and what is not meaningful (difference between Columbia/NYU and Harvard/Yale).  The translation of a quantitative difference into a qualitative difference is the critical point here and it seems nontrivial to me.

I'm just less convinced that there is much meaningful difference between H and C. I'm quite convinced that there is no difference between the two for 80 to 90 percent of students. Even for the remaining 10 to 20 percent of students at either end of the curve, it's not so clear to me that there is a serious difference.

To take the most obvious example, the median student at C and the median student at H have identical job prospects if you look at the hiring data. This is emphatically not true of the median student at G*town.

(Is there such a thing as a median student at Yale? Perhaps all of them are the median, but some are more median than others ...)


15
And for the record, the worst prestige whoring in this discussion is that which elevates Columbia and NYU above Michigan and Georgetown.  Nobody ever mentions this, but people in this situation are also likely to turn down the Darrow or the Dean's scholarship.  Where is the extnded and vibrant discussion that asks Georgetown full ride vs H/Y?

I disagree. I think there is a meaningful difference between the opportunities offered by Georgetown and those offered by Columbia and Harvard. The data do point to the fact that selective employers do not go as deeply into the class at G*town, and to a lesser extent this is true of Michigan as well. So you are giving up more tangible opportunities if you choose to go to one of those schools. The job data for Columbia and Harvard are virtually identical in most respects (academia being the notable exception), so it's more interesting to discuss how people make this decision.

It's probably true that very few people regret either way. Most people who have this decision do take the option seriously and consider the pros and cons of both sides for them. I went the other way from Spaulding and Galt, and chose to go to Columbia. I also haven't regretted my decision at any point. (Ask all of us in five years, though. That will be interesting.)

Spaulding points out that he felt the quality of life and other personal considerations made Cambridge a better fit for him. Similar concerns made New York a better fit for me, to the extent that I would have seriously considered Columbia whether or not I had gotten the scholarship. You can't underestimate the importance of where you want to spend three years. (I doubt many people are picking Yale based on location, no matter how many good things you can try to say about New Haven)

Another point is that Harvard and Columbia are much more similar in their model of the law school education than either one is to Yale. Some people are drawn to the Yale model, while others (like myself) are not as attracted to it.


16
The T6 is surprisingly fungible and I would venture that for 80% of students, the differences between the schools will be smaller than the difference an individual will get at one school from random factors such as what faculty members they get, who they meet, etc.  Some of the Hamilton's will be in that 20% where it makes a difference, or will have partners, families, etc that factor in.  Otherwise, they'll take the money.

Until then, individuals who think that a single conversation about some amorphous notion of public interest are pressing, well, don't bother.

This is a very good point. The professors you end up with are a huge component of your law school experience, and that's something you don't have almost any control over as a 1L. Also, this decision is going to be hugely affected by personal factors, such as how much you like New York, where your partner wants/needs to be, etc. That's why there is no answer to this question that's right for everyone.

Keep in mind also that you really don't know what you are going to want to do when you graduate from law school. Many more people say they want to do public interest work or academic work when they enter law school than when they exit. A lot of people who would never have thought they would want to do a clerkship decide that they are really interested in it. And so forth. No matter how convinced you are that you want to do something, it's more likely than not that you will re-consider in the next three years. Given this, you should place a high priority on being able to set your own agenda when you graduate.

Given this, I think the case for taking the money is very strong. While it is far from clear there are any advantages in the opportunities you have coming out of Harvard/Yale than coming out of Columbia, it is 100% certain that you will have a lot more freedom to pursue what you want to do if you are coming out of law school with a very low debt burden than if you have 6 figures in loans to pay off. An amazing number of people spend two to five years feeling miserable as an associate at a big law firm until they get their loans paid off and then they pursue what they really wanted to do. For those people, a full scholarship at Columbia is the equivalent of somebody handing you a couple extra years of life. No small benefit.

17
Also, FWIW most people faced with this decision choose HLS.

Not true. All but one of the people offered the Sharp last year took it. I'm not sure about the Hamilton, but I've been led to believe that a high percentage take that as well. (This board seems to attract more people who take the prestige over the money, which gives a skewed perspective.)

I think the decision is very individual, but I think that in most cases, Columbia w/money is better than Harvard. I think you could make a good case for Yale especially if you want to do academic work, but the case for Harvard isn't as strong, IMHO.



My statement was in reference just to the Hamilton

and isn't the sharp only offered to 2 ppl anyway?

It was offered to 6 last year. It varies from year to year based on the foundation's endowment.

18
Law School Applications / Re: CLS admit thread
« on: January 27, 2007, 12:27:47 PM »

It made me wish I had had more debate experience.  It might be good for you though.


I don't know if my debate experience will help.  I probably talk too fast.

Yeah, that is my problem too. From what I've seen of oral arguments, it's a much slower pace than debate. I think if you can make the right adaptations, debate experience helps though.

19
I had this decision last year and chose Columbia. These were my thoughts.  Let's start with something. The "Harvard is Harvard" argument isn't a good one. At all. If that's the best you can come up with, it means you haven't thought of any real issues and are just defaulting to prestige obsession. 

That said, Steve was pretty much on point. If you want to work at a firm, Columbia places as well as Harvard does, even for median and below-median students. If you want to go into academia or politics, Harvard has a definite advantage. How much of the academic boost is due to self-selection and how much of it is a positive feedback loop, with Harvard JD professors looking out for their own and encouraging new students to follow their paths, is unknown. But the advantage is there. 

Keep in mind this though, nearly all the people I met at Columbia and friends from other schools who intended to do academia have changed their minds. A lot of the professors are pedantic and self-righteous, and many students don't want to be in this environment their whole lives.

Now, as to the public interest. I don't think there is a substantial advantage to placement from Harvard. Plus, I investigated the loan repayment programs and they're not all they're cracked up to be. If you get married, you lose a lot of the benefits, and they also get phased out at a certain income level that is not that high. You also can't buy a house in many instances. Don't base your decision on this. 

Now to the cost of living. My rent is cheap as hell but I live with roommates. I don't think the difference in cost of living is that significant, if at all.

After considering everything, I chose Columbia, but I only ever wanted to work at a firm. I'm working at one this summer in fact. Feel free to ask me any other questions.

I second all of this, with one additional thought about the loan repayment programs. The one thing they really don't give you is freedom. That is the single best reason to take the full scholarship at Columbia. You get an education that will give you the same opportunities, plus you can make career decisions on your own terms when you graduate, without worrying about making sure that any job you are considering either pays you enough to cover your loan burdens or fits into the various LRAP criteria. I can't express enough just what a difference that makes in your mindset. Removing the sense of debt burden that almost every other law school student feels is worth a lot more to me than the higher prestige of Harvard.


20
Also, FWIW most people faced with this decision choose HLS.

Not true. All but one of the people offered the Sharp last year took it. I'm not sure about the Hamilton, but I've been led to believe that a high percentage take that as well. (This board seems to attract more people who take the prestige over the money, which gives a skewed perspective.)

I think the decision is very individual, but I think that in most cases, Columbia w/money is better than Harvard. I think you could make a good case for Yale especially if you want to do academic work, but the case for Harvard isn't as strong, IMHO.


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