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Author Topic: Dear Current Students who took Money over Prestige...Please Help!  (Read 1978 times)

premieraw

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Hey all,

I'm trying to decide between a couple different schools, and instead of asking your opinion about each one, i'm more interested in hearing from current students who took a scholarship from a lower ranked school only to pass up an offer of admission from a T-1. (say the very low end of the first tier to be specific)

Did you end up doing well within your class? Can anything really be said about being in the top 90th percentile of the entering class? I assume there is somewhat of a correlation, i'm just curious if anyone has an experience that would enhance or detract from that logic. Finally, are you happy with your choice?

Note: I'm just looking for generalizations here and personal narrative, i realize the location and name of the schools im considering plays a large factor, but i'm more interested in hearing from people from any school that have turned down a more prestigous school only to enter in the top 80-90th percentile with a scholarship at a lesser ranked school. Thanks a lot!
1L...wait, really?

StevePirates

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Re: Dear Current Students who took Money over Presitge...Please Help!
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2008, 04:47:10 PM »
Hey all,

I'm trying to decide between a couple different schools, and instead of asking your opinion about each one, i'm more interested in hearing from current students who took a scholarship from a lower ranked school only to pass up an offer of admission from a T-1. (say the very low end of the first tier to be specific)

Did you end up doing well within your class? Can anything really be said about being in the top 90th percentile of the entering class? I assume there is somewhat of a correlation, i'm just curious if anyone has an experience that would enhance or detract from that logic. Finally, are you happy with your choice?

Note: I'm just looking for generalizations here and personal narrative, i realize the location and name of the schools im considering plays a large factor, but i'm more interested in hearing from people from any school that have turned down a more prestigous school only to enter in the top 80-90th percentile with a scholarship at a lesser ranked school. Thanks a lot!

When you say top 90th percentile, you're probably referring to being in the top 10%.  As in, out of a class of 100 you're somewhere around 10 from the top right?  Just making sure we're all using the same vocabulary here.

I passed up T1 to take a full ride at a T4 in San Diego.  After the first year I ranked 33/294, barely missing out on the Top 10%.  During the year I won two oral advocacy awards, had the chance to network with a lot of the trustees and deans of the school, and have been able to attend special events my school holds for scholarship students.

The problem is, generalizations don't work well with law school.  T3 and T4 schools vary wildly depending on which school and which market, and you've acknowledge that.  But generally, I feel good about my decision.  Just make sure that you know what you're actually getting from the lower school.  Pin down their placement numbers, get the scholarship terms.  Find out whether there are any extra "perks" or if it's just money.

Passing up a T1 school for money at a T3/T4 can be a great decision, BUT if you don't do your homework you can wind up putting yourself in a really bad spot.

vap

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Re: Dear Current Students who took Money over Presitge...Please Help!
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2008, 05:46:25 PM »
i'm more interested in hearing from current students who took a scholarship from a lower ranked school only to pass up an offer of admission from a T-1. (say the very low end of the first tier to be specific)

I took a scholarship at a low T2 over no money at Iowa (top 25 last time I checked) and partial scholarship at Arizona (was in the 40's last I checked).

Did you end up doing well within your class? Can anything really be said about being in the top 90th percentile of the entering class? I assume there is somewhat of a correlation, i'm just curious if anyone has an experience that would enhance or detract from that logic.

There is a documented correlation between the UGPA/LSAT combination and 1L grades.  That being said, I don't think having an LSAT score 5 points above the median makes you a shoe-in for anything.  Everyone at your school will be smart, and whether you are in the upper range of entering applicants or not, most of you are on a similar playing field when school starts.

EDIT:  I finished 1L top 12%.

Finally, are you happy with your choice?

Yes, I am happy with my choice.  If I had just finished my 1L year at Iowa with grades near the 25% mark, I would probably be a lot more stressed knowing that I owed 45K and would owe $90K more, plus interest.  Law school and the pressure to succeed is stressful enough.  Adding $150K worth of debt to the mix must only make things worse.

The best piece of advice I got when choosing between the scholarship school and higher ranked school was this: choose the school you would rather graduate from with median grades, including the debt or lack thereof which would accompany your choice.  All other things being equal, I think it is usually the better bet to choose the T2/T3 over T1 if the T1's employment prospects would not provide a person with median grades a good chance of landing a high paying job to easily pay off the debt.

premieraw

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Re: Dear Current Students who took Money over Presitge...Please Help!
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2008, 06:02:36 PM »
All great guys, thanks a lot..it really helps to put things in perspective for me.
1L...wait, really?

jammer

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Re: Dear Current Students who took Money over Prestige...Please Help!
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2008, 06:15:37 PM »
Tag for interest. I'll be starting at law school in a similar situation as OP. I chose the money and the city I want to practice in, rather than going to a higher schools further away that didn't place as well in my region. I'm pretty sure I won't regret it, but ask me in three years when I'm looking for employment!

premieraw

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Re: Dear Current Students who took Money over Prestige...Please Help!
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2008, 11:42:32 PM »
tagg...come on people i know there's more than two of you out there. (at least i hope!)
1L...wait, really?

lawyer999

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Re: Dear Current Students who took Money over Prestige...Please Help!
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2008, 08:29:10 AM »
I'll try...and make note...I'm not trying to be insulting but as honest as possible. THe previous posters are completely right that taking on 150K in debt at a T1 (really any where from about 25/30-100) does not make a whole lot of sense...However, taking on any debt and even going to a T3/4 doesnt really make much sense. You MUST be in top 10% if you really want to do anything and some schools are so overshadowed in their region you need top 5%.  There are movements (as high as the US Congress) to make law school report accurate job placments and close some of the schools that offer you the chance to be a "lawyer" without a real probability of getting a good job in law....many T3/4 students end up doing hourly work and taking on jobs they could have gotten without any degree (but now they have much more debt).

I would recommend you to reconsider all options...LSAT...law school...other career prospects...Because, realistically you could teach in Chicago for all those years of law school and make more as a teacher than say the average Johh Marshall Law School graduate.

StevePirates

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Re: Dear Current Students who took Money over Prestige...Please Help!
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2008, 01:03:43 PM »
lawyer999 makes a good point about job prospects, but I take a different view.

Coming out of a T3/T4 the odds are really really high that you're not going to get a job at Cooley, or Cravath.  I mean maybe if you're #10, not top 10%, actual #10, then you've got a shot.... maybe.  But yeah, even though I am very happy with my choice and where I finished (outside that magic top 10%) after 1L, I am very realistic about what it means.

I will not be an attractive candidate for any BigLaw SA positions, and probably not that attractive for most MidLaw SA positions.  There are quite a few BigLaw and MidLaw that come to my school, but they are selective here.

And that's fine be me.  I like family law.  I've worked as a family law paralegal for years.  I have never been particularly interested in a BigLaw environment.  A "good job" for me is one that I enjoy, that pays the bills, and that lets me have the freedom to live life outside of an office.  If you know that you want a very prestigious or high paying job, then you're better off going to the prestige school.  If you don't have any idea what you want to do, you should give serious consideration to going the prestige school so that you don't foreclose any opportunities.

But, if you know what area of law you're interested in, if you do your homework and find out what the placement rate for your "free school" is in the area of law and area of country you want to practice... well then, take the money and run.  I did, and it's working for me so far.  T3/T4 scholarships can be a great choice, you just need to know what you're actually getting into. 

For the record, I feel the same way about going to a generic T1 without scholarship money.  Once you get into the T14 then, from what I've noticed from watching hiring at a law firm, it's easy peasy lemon squeezy.  But if you're coming out of a school ranked #85 with $200K debt, I don't think you're any better off than a T3/4 with $60K debt (scholarships probably won't pay your cost of living).

MrDiggler

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Re: Dear Current Students who took Money over Prestige...Please Help!
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2008, 02:57:42 PM »
OP, your question relies entirely upon what you want to do with your JD, which I did not notice in your post.

If you want biglaw, not only do you need T1, you will most likely need the best T1 you can pull. The logic being that debt today will be more than compensated for with future earnings.

If you want public interest, it fares little where you go, or even if you do particularly well. If that is your goal (to do PI), go to the T3/T4 and be debt-free.

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premieraw

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Re: Dear Current Students who took Money over Prestige...Please Help!
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2008, 04:52:48 PM »
OP, your question relies entirely upon what you want to do with your JD, which I did not notice in your post.

If you want biglaw, not only do you need T1, you will most likely need the best T1 you can pull. The logic being that debt today will be more than compensated for with future earnings.

If you want public interest, it fares little where you go, or even if you do particularly well. If that is your goal (to do PI), go to the T3/T4 and be debt-free.



Thanks and i would agree however i'm really just looking for personal narration here.I'd rather not limit the responses i get and just open it up to anyone who has "taken the money". If you really want to speculate, let's assume i don't want to PI.
1L...wait, really?