im deciding between USC ($0) Hastings (20K) and Loyola (full)
im reasoning that if i can do well at the top 2 schools i can get top 10% at loyola with little debt and have the same opportunities afforded to me
im scared tho that if i dont get top 10% at loyola my life is pretty much, for all intent and purposes, finished
what's the decision?
this is the problem here, to think that lack of direct and immediate success out of law school means your life is over. God, I wish more people would realize that your career is a way to make money consistently to pay for what you want, not what you want
That's not the problem. The bolded is the problem. OP, of all the law school assumptions never to make, this might be Number 1. This is why most people tell you to go to the best school you get into; it's inordinately hard--if not outright impossible--to predict how you'll do in law school, no matter the rank of the school. Also: scholarship maintenance requirements? Are there any?
OP -- this is a tough decision and I was faced with sort of the same thing. I would strongly urge you to read the following article -- I found it very helpful in my own decision-making:http://www.law.com/jsp/law/careercenter/lawArticleCareerCenter.jsp?id=1208256428026
and the main chart that goes along with their story:http://www.law.com/pdf/nlj/20080414employment_trends.pdf
I agree that you can not assume that you will finish higher at Loyola simply because of the lower ranking. BUT, I also think that this article lays out the case as to why "always going to the best school" might not be the best advice either, especially when that school is outside the T14. As you can see from the chart, less than 20 percent of USC grads made NLJ250 firms. And looking up their cost on LSAC reveals that they are $40K a year alone in tuition. I imagine you can easily spend $180K over three years if you add together tuition and cost of living. Is it worth that gamble?
The only rational way to answer that question is to look at a lot of different factors -- how obsessed are you with making BIGLAW? What do the majority of Loyola grads do? Would you be happy with only making say $60K or maybe even less coming out of law school? Does that outweigh the risk of taking out $180K in loans? Do you have prior connections that might come in handy come job search time? How far above Loyola's 75 percent range are your GPA and LSAT score? Do you have undergrad debt? What type of salary do the non-BIGLAW people at USC make? Could you stomach having $180K in loans and maybe only making $50 or $60K? Have you run those numbers to see what your loan repayments would be?
These are all variables that I think you have to consider. Different answers to those questions should determine the answer to this question. What I think is the wrong strategy however is just blindly using USNWR or blindly taking a scholarship offer. You have to realize that there are very complicated tradeoffs in this equation. Simply going to the higher ranked school however is NOT a guarantee of getting a better job -- it statistically increases your chances but even that increase might be very small and not worth the additional debt.