Law School Discussion

USD vs. Pepperdine

USD vs. Pepperdine
« on: July 31, 2014, 01:00:58 PM »
hey guys, I'm new here and need some help.
So, I was initially set on going to pepperdine.

Pepperdine: Tuition = $48,970.00 (FLAT FEE); Housing = $15,000.00; Scholarship = $25,000.00, renewable each year provided top 50%
USD: Tuition = $47,140.00 (PLUS FEES); Housing = $10,000.00; Scholarship = $32,000.00 year 1, $27,000.00 last two years, GUARANTEED

Any advice people?

Re: USD vs. Pepperdine
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2014, 03:30:22 PM »
Quick answer - from my gut - USD. They are comparable in employment stats and USD will end up being far cheaper.

You have to assume the worst case scenario when it comes to law school. Of course, work you butt off to get the best case scenario, but PLAN for the worst case. If you assume you will lose that pepperdine scholarship come your second and third year, and you take into account tuition increases, and you take into account interest on your loans (as they will not be subsidized during school), and assuming you don't incur any additional costs (which you will), and assuming you won't have any other sources of aid ..... then, by the time you graduate, your debt will look sorta like...

Pepperdine: $200k

USD: $100k

If the costs were the same, sure, I would say go for Pepperdine, but they are by no means the same. Pepperdine is not a Harvard, these two schools offer comparable employment and prestige. If it were me, I would go for USD in a heartbeat.

Re: USD vs. Pepperdine
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2014, 05:14:00 PM »
Congrats on your acceptances and scholarship offers. Choosing a law school is a life-altering and difficult decision and remember I along with anyone else on this board is nothing more than an anonymous internet poster so take advice you receive with a grain of salt.

With that said I believe any incoming 0L should consider the following five factors when choosing a law school. (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal feelings about the school; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education; (5) Last and least U.S. News Ranking. I will apply each of these factors to your situation below.

1) Location:
It looks like you have narrowed it down to Southern California, which is good. Many people myself included as a clueless 0L apply to law schools all over the country expecting that they can just pick up and move after graduation anywhere they want, which is not the case.

With that said your options are San Diego or Malibu pretty solid choices, but I am from L.A. and know there are some minor cultural differences between San Diego and Malibu, which are worth considering wherever you attend law school will be three years of your life and if you go to school at Pepperdine odds are you will end up in L.A. if you attend law school in San Diego you will end up in San Diego.

2) Cost
It also looks like you have put thought into this, but one thing I strongly consider that you do with both schools is negotiate for more scholarship money and better conditions. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by asking for more money and better conditions. You are a qualified student and so qualified in fact that they are willing to take you on at a discounted rate. As a 0L you have all the bargaining power, but as 0L you are often not smart enough to realize that I know I wasn't, but once your enrolled that bargaining power is gone. Kind of a catch 22.

I guess I am not 100% clear on the actual numbers presented.

From my understanding Pepperdine housing/tuition = 63,000 per year minus 25,000 scholarship = 38,000. x 3 years = $114,000.

Univeristy of San Diego housing/tuition= 57,000 per year - 32,000 year= 25,000 year 1 then 30,000 year 2 & 3 when the scholarship reduces to 27,000 therefore totaling= 85,000 per year.

Therefore it is 85,000 per year USD v $114,00 per year at Pepperdine. Pepperdine however, imposes the stipulation of finishing in the top half of the class, which means there is a 50% chance you will lose the scholarship years two and three making the total cost of attendance $164,000.

I strongly recommend you negotiate with both schools to get a better deal for yourself and then evaluate the costs. Certainly USD wins out on the cost end.

3) Personal Feelings about the School:
This is a very important consideration as you will spend three years of the prime of your life at the school you attend. Each school has a culture to it and whether that culture fits you or not is something only you can know. I have been to a number of law schools both as a OL and for mock trial competitions and there were some schools that really rubbed me the wrong way and others I loved, but that was my personal opinion you very well loved the schools I didn't like and hated the ones I did.

In this instance I have been two both campuses and USD is nice, but Pepperdine is probably one of the most gorgeous campuses in America and this is one of the schools that I just loved. My mom worked there when I was a kid and I went to a lot of camps at Pepperdine and I just love everything about that school.

With that said I strongly encourage you to visit both schools talk to professors, students, admins, walk around the campus, the surrounding neighborhood, and see what school feels right. One of the schools will give you a gut feeling, but this gut feeling is highly personal I would choose Pepperdine in this regard in a minute and even pay more to attend, but I am not you. This is a three year, $100,000, career altering choice so take the time to personally visit these campuses and make the decision for yourself.

4) Understanding the reality of legal education:

It is important to understand that any ABA law school you will receive a quality education and for all intents and purposes learn the same thing.

Your first year will consist of Torts; Contracts; Property; Civil Procedure etc and you will read supreme court cases and whether you do that at USD or Pepperdine you will learn the same exact thing from quality professors.

5) U.S. News Ranking:
I honestly have no idea what either school is ranked and whatever the ranks are for these two schools will change significantly for better or worse by the time you graduate.

With that remember U.S. News is nothing more than a for-profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion so do not use it as anything more than a tie-breaker when making the life altering decision of choosing where to attend law school.


Nobody can tell you the right choice and no matter what you choose you will always wonder what if I went to the other school, but tough decisions are what you will be faced with in your legal career and exercise good judgment and make the hard decisions and you will succeed in law school and your legal career.

I would choose Pepperdine only because I love the campus so much, but again I am not you this is your life, your money, and your career so visit the schools and negotiate for as much money as possible.

Good luck in your pursuit of a legal career.

Re: USD vs. Pepperdine
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2014, 09:23:59 AM »
The above advice is solid, I would only add that you need to really consider location. Pepperdine and USD are both fine schools, but neither is so elite that you'll be able to rely on your pedigree to open doors. Connections and the ability to tap into the local market will be of great importance.

Simply put, Pepperdine will have better LA connections, and USD will have better SD connections. However, unless you graduate top of class you'll have to hustle to get a job graduating from either school. 

The cost of attendance at USD, however, looks considerably less. This is a HUGE factor. Personally, I'd go for the cheapest degree and then focus on making connections and getting a foot in the door of the local market. Longterm, that lack of debt will be important and will allow flexibility in the job search.

Another option: reapply and try to get a full scholarship to another school.

Re: USD vs. Pepperdine
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2014, 06:32:53 PM »
I would give USD the slight edge because it is the best law school in the city, if you're interested in practicing in San Diego. Going to law school locally can count in both the public and private sectors. In LA, Pepperdine is up against Loyola, SW, USC and UCLA.

Re: USD vs. Pepperdine
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2014, 07:42:11 AM »
Groundhog makes a good point L.A. is a much more competitive city than San Diego. However, L.A. does have more opportunities, but with that comes stiffer competition.

Both are good solid options and you should be proud of your acceptances getting into any ABA school is very difficult. I think after you visit both schools you will have your answer one of them will give you a gut feeling and that is what you should listen to. You can look at endless stats, internet posts, etc, but they are all b.s. at the end of the day what matters is your educational experience and you are the only that knows what will work best for you so listen to your gut and visit the schools.