« on: April 02, 2008, 08:31:22 PM »
I am also choosing between Penn and Berkeley and have visited both, so I think I have some insight here. Both Penn and Berkeley have students that mainly live off campus, and they SHOULD match each others financial. I have to say, other than those factors, they really do seem like opposites to me. Penn is very east coasty -- lots of pressure to go into firms, lots of commuting to New York, lots of kids from places only a train ride away. That being said, it seems like the admin loves the kids, the facilities are top notch, and if you want a certificate from wharton they pretty much hand them out. As for Berkeley, they're exactly what you expect -- laid back, seems like less pressure (the HH, H, and P thing helps a lot), liberal. If you want to go into public service, a much higher percentage of the class goes, so you will feel less corporate pressure (and their LRAP is better than Penn, it isn't capped at 120,000). Also, though I'm not a cali student (as my username may suggest), the in state tuition is pretty much like a 25,000 scholarship for me. Negatively, I thought that the non-competition was a double edged sword -- I am pretty competitive, and don't want to feel like a gunner for all of law school. Also the facilities aren't as nice in general, though they are building some new things in the next few years.
ALl and all, I agree with the "visit and see" sentiment -- for what it's worth, I did, and as much as I loved Penn (their ASW was amazing) I will probably be at Boalt in the fall. I also think that that decisions is incredibly personal, and has a lot to do with my personal preferences and goals. Regardless, you can't go wrong -- they're both great places to be a law student.
And as a sidenote, relating to the Harvard thing -- people do not get in without a toby stock phone call -- they do however get waitlisted without one, and get off the waitlist (with a call from daen stock) very soon after the may deadline. visit Harvard as well, on your own time. Berkeley (and Penn to a lesser degree) are very different from Harvard. again, visit and see how you feel. Hope this all helps! Fell free to PM me if you have questions.