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Author Topic: Deciding between a full tuition scholarship(T3) and a partial scholarship(T1)  (Read 4457 times)

G o Matic

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Thanks so much for the stories and comments; I will take it seriously.  Though I like to consider myself self-reliant in the Ralph Waldo Emerson sense of the term, I have gotten into too many T1 schools (top 50 right?) to just ignore it and ignore this advice.  Interestingly, the two lawyers I have spoken with (T1 educations) really poo-poo'd the rankings and judge lawyers by their track record and ostensible character.  I am aware by looking a faculty bios that the T1 schools offer more accomplished faculty (especially faculty with commercial and regulatory backgrounds); at the same time,  I know the T3 where I live would qualify me for jobs in a twenty mile radius. 

I hate to say this too, but I am an older student and not going to school to learn 24hours per day; I already have done that, and am looking for a solid grounding in the law, and an externship and clinical heavy experience so I can move forward.  I don't want to get caught up in academia at this stage.  More comments welcome.  Side note:  I am reading "Team of Rivals" right now and it is sweeping, multidimensional, vivid history that gets to the core of the American experience.


vap

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Good article on deciding between a lower ranked school and a higher ranked, but not national, school.

http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1207904889498

jbakguy

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I was in a similar situation last year and thought I might give some advice based on my experience.

Last year I, a 2 years out of school Highish LSAT, low GPA splitter, turned down 2 partial scholarships at high T2's and took the conditional full scholarship/paid fellowship at a T3 in the Twin Cities.

Here is some of what I have learned:

#1. People lose their scholarships.  While my school does not pull any of the 'honor section' garbage, < top 50% = expect to lose aid. My scholarship is pegged to 2.9 and although my school told me that there is "no standard curve" when I asked repeatedly during admissions season, the reality is that every professor first semester graded on a B- (2.75) curve. Thus, any grade that does not beat median is dragging you "below the yellow line" to steal a term from The Biggest Loser. I just did a little math and, 2B-'s + 2B's (read: pretty decent grades) = 2.875 = No scholarship. (Caveat, this doesn't account for LRW grade.)  While St. Thomas likely grades differently, I think the example illustrates the point that at any T3 you will need to be consistently ahead of the curve.

#2. T3's give C's. Again this is something that may be different at St. Thomas, but roughly 1/3 of the students in each of my 1st semester courses received C+'s (2.5) or lower. I have managed grades (3.2) that place me in top 1/4 of my class, but if I have a bad day (or 2) in April, bye bye scholarship.   

#3. You will not automatically be the smartest person at the lower ranked school. My LSAT score was 5 points above my schools 75% percentile. Doesn't count for anything the day that school starts.  While I believe that I am at a bit of an intellectual advantage compared to many of my colleagues, there are enough scholarship kids and people willing to bust their butts 7 days a week that my 10hr/day 6day/week best effort didn't get me a single A in a core course.

#4 Small fish, big pond. Both Minneapolis and Chicago have better school than your choice, which will put you at a disadvantage come hiring time.  The U is a top 20(ish) school and the Chicago, Northwestern, U of I trifecta place any student from the 'other' Chicagoland schools at a disadvantage. That being said, the St. Thomas mentoring program is getting a lot of good press and there are rumors that it will rise quickly to become the 2nd school in Minneapolis.

#5 Welcome to thunder dome. I have a great section, full of smart, fun people that all help each other out, but there are a limited number of opportunities and you will have to be willing to compete with your friends for them (but I bet that is true anywhere)

#6 Is there really a difference?  I read an article last year which can't find right not that displayed the hiring data from every school in the country.  To briefly paraphrase, there is a 3% chance of V200 at my T3 and as of last yr a 7% chance of V200 at the the school ranked in the 70's which was my other choice. Basically, the article showed that outside of T20 nearly all schools are regional and only the cream of the crop get the offers and make the big bucks. So you should take into consideration more then just the Higher rank = More $ calculus. Think about where you want to live, where you want to work, the chances of keeping your scholarship and the name which you want more on your J.D.

Ultimately there are pros and cons to each choice and you will have to decide which pros are more important to you. I guess the thrust of my advice is to avoid making two assumptions when you make your decision. 1. Don't assume the higher ranked school is going to automatically give you job opportunities which are that much better (either way you are going to have to live the Guerrilla Guide) and 2. Don't assume that you will keep your scholarship (ask yourself if you would stay if you lost your scholarship).

Taking the T3 scholarship route has worked for me (thusfar), but it is not for everyone

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vap

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#6 Is there really a difference?  I read an article last year which can't find right not that displayed the hiring data from every school in the country.  To briefly paraphrase, there is a 3% chance of V200 at my T3 and as of last yr a 7% chance of V200 at the the school ranked in the 70's which was my other choice. Basically, the article showed that outside of T20 nearly all schools are regional and only the cream of the crop get the offers and make the big bucks. So you should take into consideration more then just the Higher rank = More $ calculus. Think about where you want to live, where you want to work, the chances of keeping your scholarship and the name which you want more on your J.D.

The article you're thinking of might be the one I posted earlier (or at least this one is similar).  It includes placement stats for NLJ 250 firms.  About 3% for DePaul and 1% for St. Thomas.

General point of the article is that when you are not going to a national school, you should consider other important aspects: cost, location, practical skills training.


jbakguy

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Yes, that was the article. By clicking on the Regional Breakdown link 3/4 of the way down, you get the nifty graphs. Thanks Vap.
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Naked Promise

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For the OP: go to the T1. If I had to choose between St. Thomas (a school I think is perceived as a bit of a bottom feeder T3) and a 1st tier (I'm assuming you mean top 50 school, but the new USNEWS designations are screwing up the newbies) and it was full vs. half scholarship, I would choose the T1 any day of the week. Job prospects are abysmal at these bottom schools. Heck, I'm at a top 25 school and I feel bad for people in the bottom half of my class. They'll get jobs, but they aren't going to pay very well. If my grades stay the same for next semester I will no doubt be transferring to the nearest T10 school.

In short: Go with the T50 school, but be sure to do your HW on scholarship requirements, etc., etc.

Obama2

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I am in the same boat as you and struggling with making that decision. I am leaning towards taking the scholarship. My advice to you is to consider where you want to practice, then compare the two schools in relative to the region you wish to practice in. The regional chart (someone posted it on here in the previous post) should give you a better indication on comparing those two schools. I do want to note that I am leaning towards the scholarship not just because of the money, the school I am considering is competitive in the region I wish to practice in and I am okay with recieving a degree from the school even if i lose the scholarship. You want to be sure just in case worst case scenerio you end up having to lose your scholarship/or finish on top of your class and not be able to place well in your region.

I know you are sitting there reading everything you can get your hands on, asking advice from everyone you think that can help you decide lol, but dont worry april is just around the corner you soon will make your decision and just go with it. Dont look back and torture yourself with the "what if" thoughts lol

Good luck to you man, I feel your pain lol
Feeling like Detriot Red cleaned up!!

OhioUTOD

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I'm no math geek, but you'll see most T3/T4 scholarships have statistical odds stacked against them.  Schools just can't hand out that free money to that many people. 

Best of luck in your decisions.



Concur. I received full tuition to Akron--with a 3.3 GPA requirement (pegged at top 10%). In the face of that, I will take the half-tuition to Notre Dame (which I retain as long as I stay off probation) any day.

As others have said, it's an investment. Although the idea of attending a law school for free is very tempting, I can almost guarantee that you will be less than satisfied with the end result. I could have ended up paying as much at Akron as I will be paying at Notre Dame for my 2L/3L years. (Of course, if you already have employment secured for post-graduation and are simply going to law school to get the degree, all bets are off.)

SEC_2L

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Just for depth...I personally know someone #1 at my TTT (actually low end TT in new rankings) who is starting at full market salary in Dallas (my school is not in TX)...not to mention a slew of others who will be making a lot of money at good firms for being in the top 20-30% of the class...

I'm sure you guys considered this... but I'll tell you a story.  I had a full ride to a T4 and acceptances from a T1 and some T2s.  I had savings, no debt, and loved the idea of not borrowing.  I have since transferred and am paying full tuition at a T2.

1.  Having experienced OCI, networking, career services, and local job markets at 2 law schools.  I can tell you a few things... It is true the average lawyer could care less (outside of the T-10) where you graduated from.  The problem is the average lawyer isn't out recruiting or hiring in their market.  Also, hiring partners often have resumes screened, it is not unusual for lower ranked schools resumes to never make it to his/her desk after they are picked through.  Finally, initial job prospects, employers that recruit on campus...overall opportunity is far lower at the lower ranked schools, the experience is vastly different.

2.  People lose scholarships at these lower ranked schools all the time.  My school's were randomly pegged at 2.9 or 3.0 gpa.  The school awarded scholarships to half the entering class and then artificially deflated the curve by sections.  Essentially the curve was kept at a 2.7 and all of the students with at least half scholarships are put in an "honors" section.... competing against each other.  End result 60% of those scholarship recipients were full paying tuition students for their final 2 years.  My gpa was 2.96, guess what my scholarship was pegged to?  ***I know what the obvious rebuttal is..".won't happen to me, I have never gotten grades lower than B's etc.  Stuff happens though, like getting a 95% in Legal Writing and finding out after grades are given that a last minute change to the section curve makes it a B+.  Instead of a 3.03, you have a 2.96.

 I'm no math geek, but you'll see most T3/T4 scholarships have statistical odds stacked against them.  Schools just can't hand out that free money to that many people. 

Best of luck in your decisions.




I think you're spot on. Although many lawyers will say that it doesn't matter where you get your JD, the fact is that for those that actually do the hiring, it does. A quick glance at NALP will confirm this.

I personally know of one student, very likeable, who finished number 1 at a ttt and could not find employment. And I stress that there was nothing socially awkward about him that would have prevented him from getting hired. 

vap

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Concur. I received full tuition to Akron--with a 3.3 GPA requirement (pegged at top 10%). In the face of that, I will take the half-tuition to Notre Dame (which I retain as long as I stay off probation) any day.

As others have said, it's an investment. Although the idea of attending a law school for free is very tempting, I can almost guarantee that you will be less than satisfied with the end result.

To be fair, most scholarship renewals are not as bad as Akron---a school well-known for requiring incredibly high grades.  Most schools require top 1/2 or good standing (like Notre Dame).

FWIW, I passed on a top 25 school and am attending a TTT school with substantial scholarship.  I am very glad that I will graduate with no debt, especially in this economy. 

Best of luck.