Law School Discussion

T4 to T1


T4 to T1
« on: August 09, 2008, 07:44:39 PM »
I am giving up top 5% rank, free tuition, and Moot Court at Texas Southern University to transfer to the University of Houston Law Center. I may be able to make Moot Court this year, but will have to re-earn my rank and scholarships. Is it really worth transferring? Texas Souther is a T4 and UH is T1 - #55.

Re: T4 to T1
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2008, 03:05:21 PM »
Wow, your post really gave me pause.

The top tier is generally considered schools ranked 1-50, but you're right, according to U.S. News & World Report, all schools in the top 100 are in the top tier.  I knew they were changing to a ranking the top 100 and then having tier 3 and tier 4, but I hadn't realized that this made the second tier schools top tier schools.  So, umm... it seems that I'm transferring from a T1 school to another T1 school.  Woo-hoo!!!!

That said, yours is a tough decision to make -- I would really focus on job prospects and not on the ranking alone.  Are you more likely to get a job at the top of your T4 school than you are in the middle to bottom of U of H? (I'm not assuming that you will end up at the middle or bottom of U of H, it's just that a lot of 2L recruitment takes place before you have a GPA at your new school, so quite often you will be considered as being in the middle of the heap, or since you are losing your GPA/class rank, you are risking ending up at the bottom of the heap.  You never know what will happen in those next two years.)

Also, beyond that -- I would probably take the whole "tier one" status thing with a grain of salt.  A lot of people will still consider anything outside of the top 50 a tier two school (even though tier two technically does not exist).  (Not that 55 isn't pretty darn close to 50.)

Re: T4 to T1
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2008, 11:55:54 PM »
That's a really questionable decision, I hope you did the research on it.

Re: T4 to T1
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2008, 01:36:32 AM »
Not to be a male private part, but just because USNWR decided to arbitrarily get rid of "tier 2" does not make schools 50-100 top tier programs.  There can't be 100 top tier programs when there's only like 160 or 180 schools out there to begin with. Frankly, I think the whole tier thing is pretty worthless and unrecognized in the real world, especially when it comes to jobs.  There's the top 3, the top 14 (national), the top 30 (expansive regional), and then regional schools.  Going to school #48 outside of the city where you want to work is not going to serve you any better than going to school #88 in the city where you want to work. School #48 may be a "tier 1" school, but that doesn't guarantee anything over what used to be the "tier 2" schools.     

Re: T4 to T1
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2008, 11:41:50 AM »

The responses you've received so far sum things up pretty well.  It sounds like you've got a chance to go from a T4 to a highly ranked T2. Granted, you would indeed be moving into a different galaxy, but it's still roughly the same universe. 

It sounds like you plan on staying in TX.  Were you weighing a transfer to the University of Texas (or certainly a T14, and perhaps even a top 25 school that places well in TX), I think the choice would be clear: transfer. 

Not knowing anything about the TX market or U of H, I can't offer much in particular. But assuming you were to transfer to U of H, bear in mind that:

1) Though you'd be viewed in a much better light by firms, those firms would be looking at your 1L ranking, based on what that ranking means at your 1L school.  As a transfer, 2L fall recruiting is sort of a hybrid experience; after 2L, your 1L school is not a factor (and, to the extent you care, it can become a bit of a closely guarded secret). 

2) I've met some transfers who received money at their new school, but it's rare.  As such, assume you won't be getting any financial help, i.e., you'll be paying full freight for two years.  If you're o.k. with that far larger debt burden, go for it.

3) Don't plan on being in the top 5% at your new school.  You're obviously a capable and driven student, so perhaps assume you'll be in the top third at U of H.  Do students in the top third at U of H have the sorts of employment opportunities you desire?  If yes, go for it.

Please excuse the trite platitude, but ultimately, it really does come down to resolving a very real dilema: On the one hand, you'll have this degree for ever, the extra debt amortized over your career is no big deal, and the legal profession (to a great extent) cares about rankings and status.  On the other hand, getting out of school with relatively little debt and with job prospects that aren't much worse (i.e., between being a top student at a T4 versus a decent student at a top 50+ school) is mighty attractive. 

I transferred from a T4 to a T1.  I'm glad I did, even with the extra $75k in debt.  But I do often wonder how nice it would feel to have student loan payments that seem like car payments, rather than mortgage payments.  The latter isn't so bad, but having the former would open up a lot of options.

Good luck.