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Author Topic: Question: A dilemma? Stimulating environment vs. high class rank?  (Read 1798 times)

denk

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I'm researching law schools, and it looks like there's a dilemma that most applicants face:

* You can look for a challenging academic atmosphere; a student body with people who are also on your level (and maybe for once in your life!), where there are discussions that will be thought-provoking, etc.  But in this case, you're probably at the median of the student body.  Possibly your class rank will be median as well. (?)

Or,

* You can go to a school where you're well above the median (for example, LSAT-wise), where you'll be more assured of a good class-ranking, and where you'll probably be given more money for attending.  This will help ensure a more solid financial future (maybe), but it might also mean a less stimulating environment, and fewer peers.

So I ask you, law school students - is this a false dilemma?  Or did you face it?  What decision did you make?  And finally, looking back, are you happy with your decision?

Thanks!

rapunzel

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Re: Question: A dilemma? Stimulating environment vs. high class rank?
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2006, 09:34:59 PM »
I don't really know exactly how my stats measured up compared to my class- so obviously I didn't really ponder the question you are asking before I chose a law school.  But I was on scholarship, so I have to figure I had good numbers.  My school is a third tier regional school.  I have to say I really enjoyed the majority of my classmates.  Generally, people were stimulating and intelligent and I made some extremely good friends who are some of the smartest people I have ever met.  Theorectically, maybe there are a greater percentage of more intelligent, thought provoking people at "better" schools.  But I don't think you will be adrift in a sea of mediocre.  The people who go to law school tend to be bright and motivated overall.  Yes, there will be idiots, but that happens anywhere.

That being said, don't just assume that you can predict the atomosphere.  Visit the schools you are thinking about, talk to the current students.  Collegiality is important, and I'd imagine it can be found in schools of all different rankings.  I also imagine that there are places that are extremely cut-throat.  You might find the peers you are seeking at these schools, but they might not what to hang out and chat.

Also, class rank is really a pot shot, wherever you go.  I did well, but I'm pretty sure that there was some luck involved beyond the work I did.  And I think that is true anywhere.  So I'd say going to a lower tiered school just in hopes of ranking in the top is a little risky.

Pick a school that is geograghically situated where you'd like to live, so the contacts you make will aid your job search.  Pick a school with building facilities you like, you will spend a ton of time there.  Pick a city you like, with rent you can afford.  These things are just as important as anything else.   

lalala

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Re: Question: A dilemma? Stimulating environment vs. high class rank?
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2006, 11:05:19 PM »
I would have to echo that opinion -- I don't think it's necessarily a choice between stimulating environment and class rank.  in undergrad and law school, I went to schools that gave me scholarships.  but it wasn't just for the money -- it was because i liked the atmosphere of each school.

i came into law school with stats that were high compared to the rest of the class.  I've done just fine.  but some of the most brilliant people in my section, who will finish within the top 10% this semester without a doubt, came in with stats that were average (and one is far below average) for the class.  LSAT scores are one predictor of first-year performance, but they're not a very good predictor.  Going to a lower-ranked school in the hopes of getting a better GPA is a pretty dumb idea, because you can never predict what will happen with grades and class rank.

Just because you have stats that are above average for the entering class doesn't mean that the law school atmosphere will be any less stimulating.  My classmates are some of the most intelligent people I've ever met, and I've found my law school very intellectually stimulating and challenging.

sine qua non

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Re: Question: A dilemma? Stimulating environment vs. high class rank?
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2006, 11:23:39 PM »
ok, how can you possibly know that the higher-ranked school will be more thought-provoking, stimulating, yada yada yada... these rankings are arbitrary and the only way you can determine where you will be most successful is to visit the school, talk to some students, get a feel for it. don't put your faith in meaningless numbers. I'm at a T1 (top 30) and I personally think the professors are lazy, overpaid, underworked, inexperienced; they do not facilitate stimulating discussion, and it would be no surprise to me if the Tier 3 school an hour away was more thought-provoking and offered an infinitely better legal education.

by the way, your class rank will be arbitrary as well, so don't assume you will automatically do better at the lower-ranked school.

denk

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Re: Question: A dilemma? Stimulating environment vs. high class rank?
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2006, 02:45:12 AM »
Yes, you've all definitely caught on that I probably give a little too much importance to the LSAT.  My logic was totally not backed up by any real-world experience... pretty much drawing assumptions about where my LSAT score places me.  For example, that there'd be some difference I'd notice between a place where my score is higher than the 75%-tile, vs. a place where my score was the median.  (These are the choices I'm looking at.)

There are definitely a lot of soft factors and culture that will come into play, I'm sure.

by the way, your class rank will be arbitrary as well, so don't assume you will automatically do better at the lower-ranked school.

I'm catching on to this as well.  And trying to learn what I can about what is required to succeed.

brewha

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Re: Question: A dilemma? Stimulating environment vs. high class rank?
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2006, 03:18:45 AM »
Some of the people with the highest LSAT/UGPA scores came into 1L at my school with the same snotty and elitist attitude that you seem to possess and finished at the bottom of the class.  My advice... consider yourself "peers" with everyone and on the same level playing field as everyone as well.  None of your final exam questions will be "Please tell me how well you did on the LSAT," so you better forget your score the moment you begin school and focus on working hard. 

I attend a T2 school and vividly remember those students who began the schoolyear with the attitude that their sh&$ didn't stink because they were "smarter" than the rest of the class.  These students were conceited and isolated themselves from us "average" students.  Not only did a majority of those students fail to maintain the GPA required to keep their scholarships, which incidentally ruined their expected transfer possiblities, but they also were labeled as "that pompous ass" by the majority of the class. 

The moral of the story: You have no idea how well you will do in law school, so choose the school that best suits your situation right now.  If you choose a school simply because you believe your LSAT score makes you a legal hero, you may find yourself in the same situation as those students I described above.
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denk

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Re: Question: A dilemma? Stimulating environment vs. high class rank?
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2006, 03:29:00 AM »
snotty and elitist attitude... ...conceited...

I attend a T2 school... expected transfer possiblities...

I think you've really misread what I've wrote.  And, you've projected a lot of your frustration and anger in the process.

1.  I don't think that I have some amazing LSAT.  I just took the June LSAT which, if you look at the discussion, has kicked everyone's butt.

2.  I think that each one of us has this dilemma, no matter what our actual LSAT score.  No matter where you're at -- 155, 165, 170, whatever... you'll have that choice to factor in: where do you fall in the 25/75 reported LSAT numbers? Did you choose a college where you're at the lower end, or the higher end?  Did it make a difference?  That was my question - is my dilemma a false one?  Does it make a difference?

3.  I hadn't even considered attending a school just for the purpose of transferring out.  You completely misread my message.

jacy85

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Re: Question: A dilemma? Stimulating environment vs. high class rank?
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2006, 08:24:46 AM »

2.  I think that each one of us has this dilemma, no matter what our actual LSAT score.  No matter where you're at -- 155, 165, 170, whatever... you'll have that choice to factor in: where do you fall in the 25/75 reported LSAT numbers? Did you choose a college where you're at the lower end, or the higher end?  Did it make a difference?  That was my question - is my dilemma a false one?  Does it make a difference?


Speak for yourself.  I didn't have this dilemma, because I did enough research before applying to know that my lsat score had no bearing on life past the admissions office door.  I also knew that almost every person I was going to school with was intelligent, and that law school, no matter where I went, was going to be challenging and would require lots of hard work.

I suggest you get over your "dilemma" and find some other basis to pick what school you go to.

lalala

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Re: Question: A dilemma? Stimulating environment vs. high class rank?
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2006, 08:55:39 AM »

2.  I think that each one of us has this dilemma, no matter what our actual LSAT score.  No matter where you're at -- 155, 165, 170, whatever... you'll have that choice to factor in: where do you fall in the 25/75 reported LSAT numbers? Did you choose a college where you're at the lower end, or the higher end?  Did it make a difference?  That was my question - is my dilemma a false one?  Does it make a difference?


I didn't have this dilemma either.  For undergrad, I chose a college where I was on the higher end of test results.  It didn't make a difference at all.

I ended up at a law school where I'm at the higher end.  But I didn't choose my school because of that -- I chose it because I like the atmosphere.  This school hadn't even been high on my radar until I got my acceptance letter.  After being accepted, I visited the school and liked it so much that I decided to attend.  I knew I could spend three years there relatively happily.  (And indeed, I've been happy with it so far.)  My classmates are brilliant, our section got along marvelously and I've made great friends, and the professors are great.

The fact that I have statistics on the higher end of the class has made no difference at all.

Your dilemma is a false one.

jimmyjohn

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Re: Question: A dilemma? Stimulating environment vs. high class rank?
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2006, 10:39:17 AM »
Take this *&^% back to the prelaw board where it belongs.  I'm sure you'll find plenty of uninformed posters who are willing to engage in projections of 1L GPA based on the correlation between LSAT score and rank of law school attended.  Isn't that what you all do to pass time over there?