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Author Topic: Making a Decision: Rank over Tuition  (Read 1024 times)

MGpdx

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Making a Decision: Rank over Tuition
« on: February 27, 2012, 04:48:39 PM »
I've been accepted into Gonzaga, Cal Western, St. Mary's, and Roger Williams.  I'm now stuck with the decision of choosing one law school to attend over another. 

The tuition of the schools I've been accepted by ranges from $28K to $41K per year and the cost of living varies as well.  Among the four schools, Gonzaga is ranked highest.  I want to minimize the amount of debt I accumulate but I also want to be able to get a job when I graduate. 

The stress of ending my senior year in undergrad along with deciding on a school is growing!  How can this decision be made easier?  What are the most important factors to consider?

FalconJimmy

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Re: Making a Decision: Rank over Tuition
« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2012, 09:16:03 AM »
None of those schools are earth-shattering.  I'd advise to go where you hope to someday practice.

legend

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Re: Making a Decision: Rank over Tuition
« Reply #2 on: February 29, 2012, 03:08:13 PM »
Do not make your decision on the rankings when dealing with schools of this caliber. U.S. News is a for profit unregulated magazine giving an opinion nothing more, do not make life altering decisions based on what they think. Gonzaga is in a 6 way tie for 121st place. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings/page+5

I am sure Gonzaga does well in Eastern Washington, Cal Western does fine in San Diego, so and so on. As Falcon suggested go to school in the location you want to live in that is where you will end up. I would also certainly consider scholarship money Gonzaga is really no better or worse than any of them so get out as cheaply as possible, but also be wary of the scholarship conditions. They are often very stringent as explained in this New York Times Article. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/business/law-school-grants.html?pagewanted=all. They might say maintain a 3.0 or something along those lines, and you easily got this in undergrad so the same will be true in law school right? No, the majority of schools only allow 35% of the class to have a 3.0 in their first year, this means there is a 65% chance you will lose your scholarship because 99% of students at an ABA school are great students, and often the difference between an A or C can be one or two points. It is also unheard of for law schools to put all scholarship students in one section to compete against eachother, which increases the likelihood of students keeping their scholarship. 

So ask what the conditions are, how many people lose their scholarships or at least what percentile you need to be in to keep it. If I were you I would think location, because Spokane, Rhode Island, Texas, and San Diego are very different places and that is where you will be for a minimum of three years and likely a lot longer. If all those are equal go to the school that offers the least restrictive conditions on their scholarship. Overall please do not take the rankings very seriously when dealing with schools of this caliber nobody cares whether is 121 or 132nd it just doesn't matter.

Good luck to you.

MGpdx

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Re: Making a Decision: Rank over Tuition
« Reply #3 on: February 29, 2012, 05:09:49 PM »
Thank you for your helpful advice.  My dilema is that I want to live and work internationally, thus I intend to study international law.  So, is where I want to live when considering the region the school is in an important factor to consider?

I'm leaning toward Rhode Island because it is so much closer to Washington, D.C.  They've offered me a $7,500/yr dean's award which I will continued to receive if I remain in good standing.  Also, I've also considered attempting to transfer to a D.C. school after completing my first year and I am assuming that being on the East Coast will make that easier, but again that's just an assumption.   

Any thoughts, feelings on that?

legend

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Re: Making a Decision: Rank over Tuition
« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2012, 08:15:19 PM »
What exactly in International Law do you want to do? I imagine if that is what your interested in D.C. or New York would be the best places for that. I still personally don't really know what international law entails so I am not an expert in it. If you want to be a lawyer in another country or something then I would go to law school in the other country. I couldn't imagine there being any kind of international jobs in Spokane, Washington. There are just a few common sense things to think about when choosing location. If you want to do Entertainment law then go to school in New York or L.A. If you want to do IP law then probably San Francisco or D.C. Gaming Law Vegas. So and so on certain parts of the country are known for certain things. I imagine South Dakota has some great Indian Law programs and you would be hard pressed to find anyone in New York that knows the first thing about it. So if International Law is your goal then go to a big city and N.Y. or D.C. would probably be the best for that.

Despite those factors an International Lawyer at least in my limited opinion is one of those things that sounds awesome, but be realistic. I don't know how many lawyer jobs involve jet-setting around the world. However, I don't fully understand what you want out of International Law so I won't comment on that aspect further.

CONDITION:
If all they want is good standing that sounds doable and fair. However, ask what good standing entails, remember law schools are businesses and they aren't scared to take your money. http://www.uchastings.edu/fiscal/docs/Estimated_JD_Tuition_Fee_Schedule_2012.pdf . Perfect example of how messed up law schools when literally taking your money.

TRANSFER:
Don't plan on transferring it just doesn't happen very often. Of course it is possible, but there is a 50% chance you will finish at the bottom half of the class. Not only that you are going to have an apartment, friends, formed during the first year. I can't explain first year other than it is like no other experience I have gone through and you make some good friends through it. Many people that transfer out regret it especially if they did a cross country move or something. You would go to a new school not knowing anyone and 2nd and 3rd year you simply don't meet many new people in school.

Law school can be a great experience, but you can also make some terrible decisions. When choosing your school really consider the location. Schools in third/fourth tier teach you the law and can get you a license to practice, but the job market is competitive right now. They will likely be able to get you a job in the surrounding area, but not outside of it. If you would love Spokane, Washington then go to Gonzaga. If you would love San Diego Cal Western so and so on.

What you absolutley should not do is move across country to a place you have no desire to live to attend a school that U.S. News thinks is 121st best. Many 0L's think this is what you should do, but it is just incorrect. The rankings have some meaning, but in your situation whatever meaning they might have is irrelevant.




MGpdx

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Re: Making a Decision: Rank over Tuition
« Reply #5 on: February 29, 2012, 10:43:42 PM »
I can't say that my plan won't change, but right now I'm especially interested in international immigration/migration, refugees and asylum, and international conflict. 

I'm a non traditional student (read 31 and just getting her B.A.) that is also ex-military.  I've lived everywhere from Alaska to Oklahoma (and a month in Turkey) but although I've never lived on the east coast, I transition easily and acclimate well to my surroundings.  I also make friends fairly quickly.  Therefore, when it comes to issues that concern me in choosing a law school, location and knowledge of it is my least concern. 

I guess my flat-out, number one concern with choosing a school is future employment.  I've slept on many a couch and housesat for months because of the instability of the job market here in Oregon.  What I really want to know is with the school I choose, can I get a job when I graduate? 

legend

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Re: Making a Decision: Rank over Tuition
« Reply #6 on: February 29, 2012, 11:32:20 PM »
So more along the lines of immigration law that is a much more realistic possibility. As for what school guarantees you a job the sad reality is none. The only higher education institution that guarantees you a job is Annapolis, West Point, or the Air Force Academy. Other than that whether you go to Yale Business School, M.I.T. Computer Engineering, and so on no school guarantees you a job.

The legal profession is very difficult to start out in and you have to pay your dues. It doesn't look to be getting any better at the moment either. If you really want to be a lawyer then law school can be a great choice, but if your simply seeking steady employment I might choose a different route. Law school is outrageously expensive and the vast majority of lawyers really struggle their first few years. Many succeed after paying their dues, but it is a profession of patience.

I am not trying to encourage or discourage you from law school btw. However, many graduates complain after they realize U.S. News is a joke, 100k is a lot of money, and being a lawyer is not quite what T.V. makes it out to be. It can be a very rewarding profession if it is what you want. You literally have the ability to really fight the system, which few people can do. If your interest is in immigration law and you sincerely want to do that go to law school. If your looking for a steady 9-5 and law seems like the most common sense way to do it then it might be necessary to rethink it. The student loan numbers are astronomical and they accrue significant interest. 

I am sure you will make the right decision whatever you end up doing. There is no answer to your question though you might get a job or you might not. Right now in your senior year I imagine employers are not lined out the door for a soon to be college graduate. When you get a law degree employers won't be lined out the door either. You are going to have to battle to get started, but it is a battle that can be won. Good luck to you.