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Author Topic: How much should scholarships matter?  (Read 2215 times)

mizzou2blues

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How much should scholarships matter?
« on: September 20, 2010, 06:29:21 PM »
I just joined this discussion board because I am having a very hard time choosing a law school. I have a GPA of 3.5 and got a 159 on the LSAT...not great but decent...do I go to a Top100 law school and take out a bunch of loans...or do I go to a smaller school that is not as "well known" and receive almost a full ride? Any suggestions or comments would be great!

smartandunique

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Re: How much should scholarships matter?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2010, 06:38:32 PM »
Depends on ur career goals and if ur willing to live in a certain area for a few yrs after u earn ur JD. Good luck

bigs5068

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Re: How much should scholarships matter?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2010, 07:39:34 PM »
TAKE THE MONEY! Honestly, a tier 2 school will not open any more doors than a tier 4 and honestly except for the elite schools they are all regional. Go to a school in a region you want to live of course, but I have known so many people that ended up transferring from my tier 4 school to Santa Clara, USF, or Hastings and gave up exorbitant scholarship money to end up working with the same people they transferred to get away from and incurred 90k more in debt. U.S. News Ranking is literally a scam outside of the top 25 or so schools.  This is no joke the formula 60% of it is based on surveys sent to people across the country who fill in very good, good, average, or marginal. So a judge in Nebraska checks a box about Gonzaga a school he/she has probably never interacted with. Then they do use 2% on bar passage, which I always figured was kind of important, but not to U.S. News. Then of course employment makes up 20% of ranking, but employment can be working at McDonald's at graduation and there is no looking into it any further. The rankings are not approved by the ABA or any regulatory agency it is a for-profit magazine's subjective and basically unfounded opinion. Harvard is a good school we knew that, but there really is no difference between Gonzaga and Florida International. Gonzaga can help you get a job in Washington and Florida International can help you get a job in Miami.

Bottom line is do not take the rankings very seriously with your numbers you are not going to get into an ELITE SCHOOL i.e. Harvard, Yale, Georgetown etc. You can get a huge scholarship at a tier 3/4 school and basically be in the same spot as someone that goes to a tier 2 or even low tier 1, but you will just have 90K or so less in loans that have interest to worry about. The most important thing to consider above all else is location, as I said almost all schools are regional except for the Elite Schools and people in San Francisco are much more likely to hire someone from USF than Florida State even though Florida State is higher ranked. Not to mention the pure expense of getting out for an interview etc.

Your decision on picking a school should be in this order. Location, cost, and then ranking. I might be wrong, but after seeing people go to tier 1-2's that are not ELITE and not pass the bar or get a job I would say that education is what you make of it. Except of course the ELITE SCHOOLS, but again most people can't get into those, but you can still have a successful legal career from any ABA school. That was kind of a rant, but good luck to you.

quakeroats

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Re: How much should scholarships matter?
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2010, 07:56:51 PM »
I'm two years out of law school, licensed practicing attorney, started at T4 and transferred to T1, and I completely agree.

bigs5068

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Re: How much should scholarships matter?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2010, 09:34:55 PM »
Yea I was just with two of my friend's this weekend that transferred tier 4 to tier 1 one has yet to find a job and the other is working with two people he went to GGU with. Hastings is slightly cheaper GGU I think by 6,000 a year, but so if they didn't offer him a scholarship he probably would have made the right choice, but he passed up two years of 25,000 scholarships, which were pretty much guaranteed because you just need to maintain a 3.0 to renew and he had a 3.6 at the end of the first year. These rankings and the complete misguidance they give to people is baffling to me. I am going to throw in another basketball analogy coming out of high school a lot of low D 1's offered we walk on spots or miniscule scholarships Sacramento State, San Jose State, but my DII offered to pay for everything. Honestly, I was not going to the NBA from the low D 1 schools or the DII and even if I went to Duke I probably still wouldn't have heard my name called on draft day. These rankings give the perception that BigLaw etc will be easier to get from a tier 2,3,4 which yea you have about a 5% chance from a tier 1 school of getting big law or a 2% chance at a tier 4. 90% I think (pure guess basically as through an investigation as U.S. News Rankings) of lawyers don't work in Big-Law or become judges. These tier 1's might get a few people into it, but the majority don't and they got to rack up another 80k in debt for that extra 3% chance of getting into Big Law.

Cicero

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Re: How much should scholarships matter?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2010, 02:19:35 AM »
I don't think it's quite as easy as "take the money." You have a number of variables to think about. The scholarship money would definitely be a big factor. Realize that T-4 scholarships come with a gamble--gamble being that you may have as low as a 1/5 or 1/10 chance of keeping it. Make sure you find out what GPA you must maintain to keep it and what that translates into in terms of class rank. (FCSL, for example, used to require a 3.0 to keep it, which meant top 20%.) So, you need to think about whether you would still want to go to the school if you lose the scholarship, which is pretty common at T4s. If you wouldn't still want to go there, then that pretty much answers your question. Also note, that if you lose your scholarship you won't be in a position to transfer (except maybe to another T4 if top 30-40%), so you would be stuck there for all 3 years. You also want to consider your desired type of employment after graduation since that can be important to the decision. If you want to do big law, then you need to go to a top school. Anyway, think about the things that are important to you. Money is a huge factor, but you need to consider other factors as well.

louiebstef

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Re: How much should scholarships matter?
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2010, 08:37:49 AM »
TAKE THE MONEY!

I respectfully disagree with Cicero, surprisingly.  I have agreed with many of his posts.

His logic is a bit faulty here.  So, let me get this right.  The student goes to say, Stetson (a decent T3), has his 35K scholly, and loses it by earning a whopping 2.7 for 1L.  Our intrepid student either: (a) is not quite as brilliant as he'd like to think, or (b) simply had adjustment trauma and in all likelihood will be successful in 2L/3L.   

EITHER WAY...he incurred minimal debt for 1/3 of his J.D.  Why would one think he would necessarily sail smoother academic waters in a low T1? This is especially true considering that he would be facing a potential $150K debt load upon completion.  If he stayed at Stetson he would be looking at half or less of that debt.  Reality check:  I do not believe those that say graduating deep in the middle of the pack of a T2/low T1 is a great advantage.  I just hear "BIG DEBT."

Cicero and I both know that MY logic is weaker when you throw a top VALUE school like Florida or Florida State into the mix.   I am personally probably looking at either Stetson getting $$$ or paying freight to UF or FSU.  Now THAT is a tough choice.
"Why be a lawyer? I'm already an ass.  Might as well go professional!"

Cicero

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Re: How much should scholarships matter?
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2010, 10:53:00 AM »
A scholarship that large at Stetson is unlikely. If we are looking at FL, for example, because that is the area I know the most about. Say you go to Nova, FCSL, or one of the other T4s, the average scholarship is only around $7-10K, leaving you with the other $35-45K/yr (cost of living and tuition), so yeah, you could save a little, but then if you lose it, you aren't really saving anything, especially in comparison to lost job prospects. Ok, so then, what if you some how manage a full ride from one of these schools (highly unlikely), and then you lose it because you were top 25% rather than top 20%,  you are still out almost $100K. Now, I know FL is kind of different from some other states in that we have 2 decent schools that are cheaper than state law schools in other areas, but in FL, I don't see where it's a good gamble if you get into UF or FSU. You are looking at $15K/yr + cost of living at UF or FSU without scholarship compared to a possible $100K+ gamble at any T4/T3 in FL. Let's face it, it's impossible for everyone to be in the top 10-20%, and it doesn't mean you aren't smart if you don't make it into that group. In FL, I just don't see how it's worth it in terms of the gamble or the lost job opportunities. Now, if we are talking big scholarship at a T4 v. Stetson (expensive T3), I think it would be worth it, or maybe even verses Miami (expensive T2), but definitely not against FSU or UF.

You have the same situation in NC--where UNC is pretty cheap at $16K/yr. (Though you could go to NCCU, a T4, for $4-8K/yr, but UNC  would still be the obvious choice if it is an option). SD/ND also have cheap state schools that place well regionally or in their state, as do a number of other states.

Another issue to consider, is location. If you go to one of these smaller schools, you are going to be pretty limited at first. Say you go to FCSL or Nova, you are going to be limited to jobs in those areas. You may be completely shut out from other parts of the state. You're also going to potentially have a lot of trouble finding a job in general. So, if you want to work in NY, for example, you're basically SOL.

Another factor could be earning potential. Ok, so you say, well I'll go for the gamble of a full ride at FCSL versus pay $45K to UF/FSU. Well another consideration is earning potential, and this can theoretically counteract some of the short term "cheaper is better" line of thinking. Just starting out as an attorney, if you can get a job, you are looking at 45k-50k (middle) from FCSL versus $80-85K from UF (middle).

Next is jobs (flowing off of the previous factor). Jobs are a lot harder to get these days. The school you go to can open or shut doors. Your school is a brand name, and the employer may or may not like it, and yes, they do care what your brand is. You will have a lot more doors completely closed to you from T4s, especially if they have a bunch of T1 grads vying for those spots that they wouldn't have glanced at 2 years ago. If you want to do big law or medium law, or maybe anything actually having to do with law when you graduate, you need to think about what brand you are buying into. Look into the school's reputation in that area.

Do you like the school and the city?  You've got to live there for 3 years. Those are still going to be 3 hard years if you like the school, but if it sucks whether it is the administration or the students, those 3 years will be a lot harder to handle. Along with this line of reasoning is stress. T4 schools have high attrition rates compared to T1/T2 schools. I know people like to talk about it not being that bad, but as someone who started out at a T4, I can tell you it does really suck and it adds a lot of stress. I know quite a few people who didn't make it the 1st year, and they were very intelligent people who worked hard, but the school must cut about 10-15%  of the people. My class was nearly halved between people being academically dismissed, quitting, or transferring. The environment just isn't very positive. Almost everyone wants to leave after the 1st year, but most are stuck. Now, I'm at a T1 where like 1 out of 400 flunks out, and there is an entirely different student culture. We are able to just focus on learning the law without the fear of failing out.

I'm sure there are other factors I've missed that may pertain specifically to you. It might also help if we knew what state you were looking into or where you wanted to end up. (For example, if you are in CA, it sounds like things are very different there from many other areas of the country) Saying "just take the money" is short sighted and could be a huge gamble that you may lose. Remember, your higher LSAT at a T4 doesn't mean you will be at the top. My comments aren't meant to say the money is important, just that it isn't the only consideration. Law school is a huge investment of your time and effort, so make the decision wisely. Good luck!

bigs5068

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Re: How much should scholarships matter?
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2010, 12:03:48 PM »
Are you sure they HAD to cut 15% of the class? If they do then I would say that is something to worry about, but I really don't think any school has a mandatory cut. Why would they you are paying them money, but they need to make sure the individual is capable of passing the bar or else they can lose accreditation if pass rates get to low. If a student screws up two semesters in a row on finals that cover only one topic at a time they will probably get killed on the bar. I don't know where this attrition rumor started that tier 4's have to cut the bottom 25%, but it is not true. Maybe somewhere it is, but go to the school's student handbook and you can see the curve. If every student performs well on the exams and appears capable of passing the bar the school will continue to take your money, there is no point in cutting students.

Money is very important, but if you can get into a school with in-state tuition in a state you want to live in that is the best bet. That way you can't lose the scholarship money and you should definitely look at the conditions attached if you accept a scholarship. However, as the other poster said even if you lose the scholarship after your first year you will still save a ton of money. Rankings matter if the school is the national top 25 or the best in it's state. If you want to live in Florida then I would say go to Florida or Florida State although they are not in the top 25 they are top in Florida and I would think Florida employers would like Florida people. Those schools also have in-state tuition and are best in the state so it would be almost idiotic to take a scholarship at other Florida schools if you have the option to go to to the highest ranked school in the area you want to live in that has in-state tuition.

However, if you went to Florida and wanted to move out I don't think Florida is all that well known outside of Florida again almost all school's are regional except for the top 25 or so schools so the most important thing to do is go to a school in the location you wan to live in. Accept of course if you can get into a TOP TOP school, but with your numbers that seems unlikely and I don't think you or anyone else that graduated college needs anyone to tell them that Harvard and Yale will open some doors for you.

In all honesty the rankings make no sense as I have tried to say a million times the formula does not measure anything of substance, it is filled in by some random people in Nebraska or any number of states whose in depth analysis of the school requires them to check a box that says a school is very good, good, average, or marginal about 200 schools most they have never interacted with. So a judge  in L.A.will check a box saying Stetson is good now they jump all the way to 82 in the rankings I have no idea where they are. Next year that same judge will probably not even remember what he checked for Stetson and might be in a bad mood that day so he says it is average. The school then fall to tier 3, literally look at how drastically the schools outside of the top 25-flucuate. I use University of San Francisco because over 3 years they went from 72 to tier 3, now 92 I have no idea what changed at the school the professors, faculty, everything is the same, but some judge in North Dakota checked good instead of very good. It is so badly done it blows my mind and that is why the ABA, AALS, any legitimate regulatory organization explicitly says do not take them seriously it is a for profit magazine's subjective opinion. The rankings are just atrociously done, but there is this tool of common sense that you can use, and using it you can conclude that Harvard is a good school. If it is school you know off the top of your head like Harvard, Yale, UCLA, Georgetown then go to those schools they will open up some doors. However, no matter what school you go to there is no guarantee of a job, education in any field and at any school is kind of a scam because the burden will be on you to find a job. That is the whole reason you are going to school, but no school from Harvard to Cooley will say we guarantee you a job at graduation, because they can't. So you are going to kind of get screwed, but if you want to be a lawyer or get any type of education you might as well get out with as little debt as possible. If you can accomplish getting a degree while incurring minimal debt through scholarships or in-state tuition or a combination then do it.  Just know these rankings are bulls**t I continue to interact with people who transferred and gave up significant money who say it was a stupid decision. They are in the same spot they would have been had they stayed, but they just incurred more debt.

Cicero

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Re: How much should scholarships matter?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2010, 07:37:12 PM »
[EDIT: talking about FCSL since that is the paragraph Bigs commented on in my post] As to whether they "HAD" to cut people. They may not explicitly say they have to cut people, but they plan to cut a certain number of people. The reasoning behind my saying that is (1) forced attrition through a mandatory curve requiring 15-25% of students fall below the 2.0 that is required to remain in good standing and (2) they want to weed out those they are less certain will pass the bar because they need their bar passage stats to stay high. Supposedly the academic attrition rate has been as low as 6%, but it is generally more in the 10-15% range. You can say all you want that they don't have to kick people out, but that is the effect of the mandatory curve. As to your comment that "if every student does well on exams...", it is impossible for every student to do well on the exams because of the curve. If you had 100 students and they all would have made grades ranging from 95-100 before the curve, you still have to fit in the mandatory curve, so the 100s will be your As and 95s will be you Fs (maybe Ds if the prof can get the curve to work that way). That is the result of the curve. It is impossible for everyone to do well and graduate. And at some schools like FCSL, you can be cut after the 1st year. FCSL does not give an academic grace semester after your 3rd semester, so if you get grades back semester 5 that put you at 2.98, you are out and lose 2.5 years. I'm not really sure what you mean by attrition rumor. Attrition is a fact at T4 schools.

The issue you are really trying to get at is that people lump academic and general attrition together into 1 heading and freak out about it. The ABA splits them so you can see the difference, and yes, some schools do have high academic attrition, and those schools tend to have high general attrition as well from transfers and dropouts. So schools like Cooley that are closer to 40% attrition (also FCSL as of this year) have a high academic attrition rate compared most school + a high dropout/transfer rate. While people may freak out more than they need to about attrition rates, it affects the law school's student culture and the general attrition can tell you a lot about the school--namely that a lot of students don't want to be there (high transfer & drop out rates).

As to why people would pay them money knowing about the attrition...well, you are planning to pay them money for the next 3 years without any guarantee that anything will come out of it. People pay a lot of money just to have the chance to be a lawyer. A lot of people also don't know anything about the curve before they start law school.

I agree that most schools are regional, but there is a ranking within each region that is important. In FL (in order): UF, FSU, UM, Stetson, T4s (total of 11 ABA approved law schools). UF/FSU can also do well in the bordering states and SE generally. The regional rankings do not change as often as the T2 rankings in USNWR. It is important to know where your school stands because employers to care. (I don't necessarily agree that it should be a big factor because I agree that people at T1s & T4s have both the potential to be great attorneys and the potential to be terrible attorneys, but unfortunately school reputation carries a lot of weight.)