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Author Topic: What's more important - school prestige or a big scholarship?  (Read 1832 times)

LSATGuru

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Re: What's more important - school prestige or a big scholarship?
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2004, 10:39:04 AM »
I recently filled out the application to Washington University in STL.  They require, as part of the app, for you to disclose all of your undergraduate debt, your current assets & liabilities, and other  financial information. 

At the bottom they itemize the tuition, fees, books, rent, utilities, and then ask you to enter the costs for insurance, transportation, entertainment, food, and anything else you might need.  When you enter in all those numbers and then add them up (mine was $51,150 per year) it really opens your eyes to how MUCH this is going to cost.

My numbers are fairly similar to yours (163/3.98 --Indexed it's very close)  and I have already gotten a full ride to a top 50 school (Baylor), so it's definitely not out of the question for you.

I've sat in on classes at four different law schools, ranging for Tier 4 schools to Notre Dame and U of Illinois, and the differences aren't enough to justify paying $30,000 more per year to attend one over the other. 

The biggest differences lie in the quality of the students, it seems.  At "top" schools, the students all seem much more serious about being there, smarter (and therefore nerdier, at the Tier 4 schools the girls were all hot and the guys arrogant frat-boy types where at Notre Dame and Illinois most of the people were acne-covered nerds, foreigners, and overzealous overachievers who eventually get very annoying). Another difference is that at the Tier 4 schools, there were typically only 4 or 5 people (out of 60 or 70) answering questions voluntarily, whereas at Illinois & ND many different members of the classes (same size) were giving opinions and being called upon.   

As far as the Faculty, at the Tier 4 schools, they seemed to be less "in charge" of the class, and let the students express their (usually stupid) opinions.  At Illinois & ND the professors came off so intellectually superior (though still friendly) that the people were careful about racing to voice some dumb opinion they have.  Both Tiers' faculty seemed accessible and "knowledgable enough."

All in all, if the only full-rides you get are from Tier 4 (or even some Tier 3) schools, I would recommend going to a highly ranked in-state school (depending on what state you're in) or biting the bullet and paying out to go to a Tier 1 private or public that has reasonably low tuition ($23,000 versus $32,000).  If you get a full ride from a Tier 1 or near Tier 1, as I did, I'd recommend putting it in your top 5 choices, visit, and consider it very seriously. 

When it all comes down to it, there are really five factors to consider in what you want in a law school: 1) Geography: Is this a place I could live for a minimum for 3 years, and realistically 6 to 7 years?  2) Specialized Programs: Does this school offer a concentration that I'm attracted to, or does it cater to mostly, i.e., corporate law, when, i.e., I want to go into Public Service? 3) Cost: Can I afford this school's tuition, given the area of law I want to practice and the debt I have already taken on?  How much does it cost to live in the area around the school (this can vary by as much as $10,000 per year from school to school) 4) Gut Reaction: When I visited, did it just "feel" right?  --Consistently going with your gut feeling is a talent well valued when put into action, and finally, 5) Job Prospects: Does this school host on-campus interviews?  Does the admissions office seem to have a lot of JD's from their own school working there, suggesting that these people couldn't find jobs and for USNEWS & WORLD REPORT sake they hired them to list a higher percentage of the most recent class as having jobs?  There are some Tier 3 schools that do a better job finding their students jobs than some top 25 schools--the best thing to do is ask students or very recent graduates about this (go on martindale.com and look up recent graduates from the law school in question).

HTH

LSATGuru

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Re: What's more important - school prestige or a big scholarship?
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2004, 10:53:31 AM »
You're completely wrong in saying that if you make less than $37k per year the schools will "pay off" your loans.  This is the case at a VERY small number of schools, and it's typically a small portion of your loans, NOT, as you suggested, all of your loans.

When I visited Notre Dame the Dean clearly stated that people who go into Public Service positions (and commit to work in them for more than 7 years) can have a portion, of approximately $15,000, of their loans "forgiven."

If you think I'm wrong, I'd like to know where you're getting your data.

BenGibson

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Re: What's more important - school prestige or a big scholarship?
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2004, 01:33:49 PM »
I think I could get a sizeable scholarship at some schools ranked around 40-60, but I have a decent chance of admission at schools in the 20-range. So, for example, I could go into debt at Minnesota or I could not go into debt at Loyola (CA). I don't plan to go into big law. I'm interested in human rights, civil liberties, immigration and labor. What do I need to know to make a good decision on this? >>

I had a really long and well-written response to this, after breaking down and registering.  However, I managed to somehow lose the connection and I can't bring myself to redo it all.

The basic idea was this--Krueger and Dale have done some research into earnings of prestigious grad school graduates with more typical program graduates and what they found was that it asn't necessarily going to an Ivy league school that determined earnings as much as it was being the type of candidate who could gain admission there.  Students from state schools with the type of credentials to get in anywhere were no different.

To be fair, I'm a lowly doctoral student who has contemplated law school after I finish my phd in psychology, but I think the app process is very similar.  I applied to Stanford and Harvard along with Austin, UNC and Texas A&M.  I was rejected by the first two and accepted by the last three.  My rejections came from having low-impact undergrad and grad degrees (distance undergrad, small state school for masters) but otherwise I was an ideal candidate, good GRE and GPA, five years in psych, four years as a bilingual teacher, et cetera.  I was offered reseach assistantships and reduced tuition at A&M and Chapel Hill, and I chose the former.

Now, in restrospect, even if I had gained admission to H or S, I would have chosen one of the two that offered me serious aid.  At Harvard I would have been just another student, while here I'm working on a  report for the state senate during my first semester.  I will also graduate with less than 10K total debt for all three degrees, so it's hard to compete with that.

So, I think that certain things muddy the issue of "better school."  I was warned in the South that Harvard would close as many doors as it opens, and I suspect that was correct.  Also, you have to make A LOT more money to compensate for 50-80k in loans, essentially locking you into a career you might end up not liking nearly as much as you think.  Last, distinguishing yourself gets harder the more competitive you get.  In schools, class rank tends to slip for every raise in average SAT and I assume it's the same for law school.  Everyone thinks they'll be in the top ten persent, but obviously, some very smart individuals have to comprise the bottom ten percent at Yale.

Whatever you choose, good luck,

Ben

A_guy

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Re: What's more important - school prestige or a big scholarship?
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2004, 02:18:20 PM »


The biggest differences lie in the quality of the students, it seems.  At "top" schools, the students all seem much more serious about being there, smarter (and therefore nerdier, at the Tier 4 schools the girls were all hot and the guys arrogant frat-boy types where at Notre Dame and Illinois most of the people were acne-covered nerds, foreigners, and overzealous overachievers who eventually get very annoying). Another difference is that at the Tier 4 schools, there were typically only 4 or 5 people (out of 60 or 70) answering questions voluntarily, whereas at Illinois & ND many different members of the classes (same size) were giving opinions and being called upon.   

As far as the Faculty, at the Tier 4 schools, they seemed to be less "in charge" of the class, and let the students express their (usually stupid) opinions.  At Illinois & ND the professors came off so intellectually superior (though still friendly) that the people were careful about racing to voice some dumb opinion they have.  Both Tiers' faculty seemed accessible and "knowledgable enough."

All in all, if the only full-rides you get are from Tier 4 (or even some Tier 3) schools, I would recommend going to a highly ranked in-state school (depending on what state you're in) or biting the bullet and paying out to go to a Tier 1 private or public that has reasonably low tuition ($23,000 versus $32,000).  If you get a full ride from a Tier 1 or near Tier 1, as I did, I'd recommend putting it in your top 5 choices, visit, and consider it very seriously. 

When it all comes down to it, there are really five factors to consider in what you want in a law school: 1) Geography: Is this a place I could live for a minimum for 3 years, and realistically 6 to 7 years?  2) Specialized Programs: Does this school offer a concentration that I'm attracted to, or does it cater to mostly, i.e., corporate law, when, i.e., I want to go into Public Service? 3) Cost: Can I afford this school's tuition, given the area of law I want to practice and the debt I have already taken on?  How much does it cost to live in the area around the school (this can vary by as much as $10,000 per year from school to school) 4) Gut Reaction: When I visited, did it just "feel" right?  --Consistently going with your gut feeling is a talent well valued when put into action, and finally, 5) Job Prospects: Does this school host on-campus interviews?  Does the admissions office seem to have a lot of JD's from their own school working there, suggesting that these people couldn't find jobs and for USNEWS & WORLD REPORT sake they hired them to list a higher percentage of the most recent class as having jobs?  There are some Tier 3 schools that do a better job finding their students jobs than some top 25 schools--the best thing to do is ask students or very recent graduates about this (go on martindale.com and look up recent graduates from the law school in question).

HTH

i have issues with this post simply b/c of the generalizations based on visiting 4 schools.  i don't think people at tier 2, 3, 4 schools wanna be there any less than people at tier 1 schools.  i have meet many people in all of these tiers and to be honest its the ones in the lower tiers that are more passionate about their schools and work the hardest.  they don't have a name to fall back on so the have to be the best.  i am not saying the tier 1 students aren't the best, i am just saying don't assume something about a group b/c they aren't in tier1 schools.  u have lasy people at all levels as well as hardworking intelligent ones.

go back to ur post and it seems interesting that at the higher ranked schools u praise the many students giving opinions but at the lower ranked schools the opinions are stupid b/c so many people give them.  can u explain why its a plus to give opinions at ND but a negative to give them at a tier 4?  and what makes the tier 4 opinion dumb and the ND opinion worthy of being listed as a benefit?

as far as professors go, u only visted 4 schools and i am sure u did not sit it on every class. so generalizing on ur limited information is a big mistake.  also maybe u learn better by having teacher lecture and felt uncomfortable in an evnironment that not only lectured but was condusive to the opinion expression of opinions on certain topic.  learning styles and teaching styles differ from person to person.  maybe what u saw as a lack of control was actually the professor encouraged people to express their opinions and then showing them the true meaning of a law.  also, it also depends on the class u sat in on.  seriously if it wa a legal ethics class then hummmm... i would think u would get a lot of opinions. 

now to the question at hand:  i would take the full-ride.  in the end u will come out with a law degree which is th epoint of going to law school.  true a "top" school will open doors, i bleieve the same doors can be opened with a degree from a lower teir school.  u might just have to push a little harder.  if u r willing to put in the time, effort, and hardwork, u will not be limited by the name on ur dipolma.  i degree might get u in, but ur ability is the only thing that will keep u there.  also, many "top" schools teach theory while lower schools teach u how to practice.  but in the end it all depends on whats best for u.  do whats right for u no matter what we say.

LSATGuru

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Re: What's more important - school prestige or a big scholarship?
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2004, 02:34:46 PM »
Generally at the top schools students comments were intelligent and insightful, and led to meaningful discussion.

At the bottom schools they were obvious points that a mildly retarded orangutang could hypothesize. 

A_guy

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Re: What's more important - school prestige or a big scholarship?
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2004, 02:48:03 PM »
again this is ur opinion based on sitting in on 4 classes and not all at the same school.  for all u know the class right after the one u sat in on at ND could have had the same off the wall opinions as the tier 4 had.  it is clear u are bias and favor "top" schools which is fine.  my problem is when u post ur opinions based on inaccurate and incomplete data and make make comments that a "mildly retarded orangutang could hypothesize."  how about trying to be objective when people post real questions seeking advice? 


Munkeysgrrl

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Re: What's more important - school prestige or a big scholarship?
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2004, 03:33:52 PM »
If you are not interested in Big Law and you ARE interested in location, I would seriously take that into consideration.  The debt is huge and is a big factor in terms of satisfaction when you graduate.  I figured out I would be paying around $1500 a month for 10 years to pay off my loans!  I chose the scholarship.  I am set on sunny SoCal.  Plus, Loyola has been doing very well over the years.    ;D
Loyola LA Here I Come!!

A_guy

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Re: What's more important - school prestige or a big scholarship?
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2004, 03:47:43 PM »
It is clear that you're biased towards Cooley because it's your only option.  Quit following up my posts--it adds visual clutter while people are trying to read meaningful posts.

P.S. Here's a glean of insight: I don't really care about whether these people take my posts seriously, and everytime you drone on for six paragraphs about why you don't like them, I'm laughing my ass off knowing that you're never going to get that 15 minutes back.  Way to go.




i am sorry if i offended u b/c that was not my intention.  however, the persoanl attacks are not necessary.  it doesn't really matter to me if someone goes to tier 1, 2, 3, 4 as long as they are happy with their choice.  thats the most important thing guy.  a person has to do what is best for him or her.  as far as cooley, i didn't apply there.  however, i did apply to howard, depaul, and NIU because those were right for me based on factors beyond my scores.

once again, good luck with law school.  (not being sarcastic)

Nalgene

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Re: What's more important - school prestige or a big scholarship?
« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2004, 06:49:53 PM »
I have basically the same question. I have been accepted at Georgetown and Michigan, and feel good about my chances at UCLA, Vandy, USC and GW. But I know that I could get a large scholarship from other places I applied to like Pepperdine, ASU, or even UNLV. I am from Las Vegas and would eventually like to end up here as a law professor or judge after some years in practice, although for now I want to get out of this town. Do I take the prestige and the accompanyting debt load, or go debt free with a lesser paying job? The small firm I work for right now already offered me a position after school, so I am confused. Please help with your wise comments.

vagrant

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Re: What's more important - school prestige or a big scholarship?
« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2004, 08:59:36 PM »
I have basically the same question. I have been accepted at Georgetown and Michigan, and feel good about my chances at UCLA, Vandy, USC and GW. But I know that I could get a large scholarship from other places I applied to like Pepperdine, ASU, or even UNLV. I am from Las Vegas and would eventually like to end up here as a law professor or judge after some years in practice, although for now I want to get out of this town. Do I take the prestige and the accompanyting debt load, or go debt free with a lesser paying job? The small firm I work for right now already offered me a position after school, so I am confused. Please help with your wise comments.

If you really want to be a professor, go to Michigan.  After H,Y,S, only Columbia, Chicago, NYU, and UMich turn out significant numbers of profs.  (These numbers are readily available online.  I think it might be the rankings from the guy at Texas that have a listing of the schools turning out the most profs.)