Law School Discussion

Columbia or U. Texas (w/ full-ride)?

Columbia or U. Texas (w/ full-ride)?
« on: March 21, 2008, 06:06:41 AM »
I'm very glad that I have this quality problem.  However, it's a hard decision nevertheless...

Should I take CLS (still waiting for Fin. aid, don't know how much I"ll get) or should I take full scholarship and stipend to attend U. Texas?

Facts about myself:

1. I attended UT undergrad
2. Combined family income for this year is pretty low (what's CLS gonna give me?)
2. Aspire to work in BigLaw
3. Likes the idea of living in new york, but cost of living there turns me off
4. Likes the idea of cheap living in TX
5. Ideally, I'd want work in a Chinese branch of an US big firm, as I want to work in China.

UT deadline is Apr 15, so I gotta make this decision quickly!  Iím thinking about asking UT for an extension on my deposit deadline, do you think this is feasible?

Please have some inputs for me, as this would help me greatly.  Thank you!

on a side note: I'm still waiting for Harvard (if accepted, I'd give up both UT and CLS)


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Re: Columbia or U. Texas (w/ full-ride)?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2008, 07:04:27 AM »

For these two things I will say go to Columbia.  It's a more international name than UT if you want to work abroad, and you're pretty much guaranteed BigLaw.

Co-signed.  My instinct is that it would be tough to go international with a degree from UT.  With CLS, you should have no problem.

Re: Columbia or U. Texas (w/ full-ride)?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2008, 11:19:21 AM »

But if I was to stay in the US, would UT be a better deal?

btw, does columbia grade on a P/F basis?

Re: Columbia or U. Texas (w/ full-ride)?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2008, 03:08:05 PM »
I would go to Columbia.  If you want BIGLAW, you will EASILY get it from Columbia.  With a biglaw salary, I don't think it would be that difficult to pay back a big chunk of your loans relatively quickly.

Also, if you ever want to go into academia or consulting/banking it is much easier to switch into those fields from Columbia.

Re: Columbia or U. Texas (w/ full-ride)?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2008, 03:47:44 PM »
in my completely unbiased opinion, the gap between CLS and UT is significant enough that CLS would be the "better" option even compared to UT with full ride, unless you were certain you wanted to practice law in texas in which case UT full-ride would probably win hands down. 

(my phrasing is a little silly since it leaves no in-between, but you get the idea.)

the CLS degree will be significantly more portable.


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Re: Columbia or U. Texas (w/ full-ride)?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2008, 05:26:43 PM »
Let's see:

1. You want BigLAW.

2. You possibly want to work in China.

This is an easy decision. Go to Columbia. BigLAW is by no means guaranteed at UT (top 38-50% can get BigLAW), but from Columbia it practically is (top 75%+ can get BigLAW). If you're just not cut out for the study of law, then you'll likely do poorly at both schools, but doing poorly at Columbia and doing poorly at UT will yield significantly different returns.

Aside from the obvious BigLAW advantage, Columbia is much more portable for your aspirations. Columbia has global prestige that will carry internationally. UT? Not nearly as much.

Yes, Columbia will cost more, and depending on the circumstances I like to recommend the cheaper options for minor rankings differences for those that care little about BigLAW, but we're talking about a pretty significant difference in the rankings with your primary motivations putting Columbia at a distinct advantage.

Re: Columbia or U. Texas (w/ full-ride)?
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2008, 07:56:35 AM »
Columbia. Case closed.

Re: Columbia or U. Texas (w/ full-ride)?
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2008, 08:28:37 AM »
I'd say CLS hands down. Ivy top 6 vs. a top-20?

Re: Columbia or U. Texas (w/ full-ride)?
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2008, 11:50:17 PM »
I like to play the devil's advocate so I'm going to make a pitch for UT.

1) Free-ride plus stipend is great. You will not have to worry about money during school, you won't have to worry about paying back loans (meaning you'll get to pocket something like an extra 1,500/month if you go the firm route), and you'll have early career flexability that your debt-laden brethern wont.

2) UT also would be an easy transition for you. You won't have to worry about getting adjusted to a new place and (a big one) won't have to worry about building a whole new support network.

3) The fact that UT is ponying up so much is a good indicator that you have what it takes to make top 5% which, if you do, means that you would have many of the same opportunities open to the better Columbia students (where it would be MUCH more difficult to do as well).

4) I'm a UT 1L and will be working abroad this summer with an american law firm. So it can be done. Do you have chinese experience? Do you speak mandarin/cantonese? Do you have a good story for why you want to go? Those factors will be just as important as where you went to school.


Re: Columbia or U. Texas (w/ full-ride)?
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2008, 12:12:30 AM »
Yeah, you should totally turn down a free education from an incredible school, which could easily be a top15, while having your living expenses covered.

Name brand is everything!  Listen to the kids here, most of whom have never worked more than a summer associate gig.

You are just a statistic.  Look at the small differences in placement numbers.  That's all that matters.

Yup.  You should take the 180K in school debt, plus extra 50K is living expenses.  I mean, what's 230K anyway?  With your "big law" job, it will only take like ten years to pay off.  But all the USNews kool-aid drinkers will kiss your ring. And you can't put a price on that.

I have many friends from top (very top) grad schools who are sunk in debt, and wish they had taken a different path.  In spite of their "elite" degree and salaries, their lives are less than ideal, since such a large portion of their livelihood is siphoned away.  They feel imprisoned.

Once you find out how disappointing "big law" is, you will look back and laugh at this decision.

If you turn down the UT offer, I really mourn for you.  If you finish in the top 50% and have a personality better than shredded wheat, you will be fine.