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Author Topic: Baylor (free) or Fordham (debt up to my neck)?  (Read 780 times)

Aerst2

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Baylor (free) or Fordham (debt up to my neck)?
« on: January 19, 2006, 08:38:17 PM »
Hiya.

I applied to several schools in the Northeast - Pitt, Temple, Notre Dame, and Fordham. As a 'dry run' before I submitted my applications, I applied to Baylor, which had offered me a fee waiver.

I ended up getting in to all but Notre Dame (which I have not heard back from yet.) Unexpectedly, I recieved a full scholarship to Baylor, and little money from Temple or Pitt (none from Fordham.) I really like Fordham, and I would love to live in NYC, etc...but I will obviously end up in some serious debt. Up to this point I really haven't viewed law as a set-in-stone career choice - I have been thinking of it like a greuling, challenging adventure to test my abilities and build my confidence. I already have a budding career in computers and business, and financially I am relatively secure. I have about $20k saved up for law school (a drop in the bucket, I know) and I have kind of become used to living without debt. I also know that, at least for the time being, I would much prefer to end up working in the northeast than the Texas area, and I don't know how difficult that would really be with a Baylor degree.

So my question: How risky of a proposition would Fordham be over Baylor? Would the increased potential earnings offset the (way) higher cost? I already know that I would rather go there, but I am just having trouble justifying the cost. Is it worth it?
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cannotpick

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Re: Baylor (free) or Fordham (debt up to my neck)?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2006, 09:32:05 PM »
Hiya.

I applied to several schools in the Northeast - Pitt, Temple, Notre Dame, and Fordham. As a 'dry run' before I submitted my applications, I applied to Baylor, which had offered me a fee waiver.

I ended up getting in to all but Notre Dame (which I have not heard back from yet.) Unexpectedly, I recieved a full scholarship to Baylor, and little money from Temple or Pitt (none from Fordham.) I really like Fordham, and I would love to live in NYC, etc...but I will obviously end up in some serious debt. Up to this point I really haven't viewed law as a set-in-stone career choice - I have been thinking of it like a greuling, challenging adventure to test my abilities and build my confidence. I already have a budding career in computers and business, and financially I am relatively secure. I have about $20k saved up for law school (a drop in the bucket, I know) and I have kind of become used to living without debt. I also know that, at least for the time being, I would much prefer to end up working in the northeast than the Texas area, and I don't know how difficult that would really be with a Baylor degree.

So my question: How risky of a proposition would Fordham be over Baylor? Would the increased potential earnings offset the (way) higher cost? I already know that I would rather go there, but I am just having trouble justifying the cost. Is it worth it?

1st off, Notre Dame isn't a northeast school, but I'm sure that was just a typo...

Otherwise, you're asking a question that doesn't really have a hard & fast answer. I personally turned down Fordham & went with the debt minimization plan, but (as many of my criticizers on this board will certainly tell you) that plan isn't for everyone. Here's the basics that I can tell you:
- It's great to want to challenge yourself, but I wouldn't go to law school and suffer through the incredible workload and stress just for the 'thrill of it all.' This is especially the case if you choose Fordham. You will come out deep in debt and deciding not to practice law simply isn't a feasible option. However, Fordham also gives you a good opportunity to pay off those debts quickly. They have excellent placement in big law, but you still need to be   1. somewhere towards the top 1/4 of your class  2. willing to put in those long hours. The money is there to be made, but they certainly aren't giving handouts.
- Both Fordham & Baylor degrees don't travel well. You will likely need to work (at least temporarily) in the region in which you go to school. So, you should think long and hard about if you can stand to live in Texas before you accept admission at Baylor.

The long & short of it is that I don't have too much info to give you. This is a very personal choice that depends upon your career plans, need to avoid debt, preferred area to live, etc. There is no 'right' answer and that's why it is a tough choice. Baylor didn't offer you a scholarship just to be nice. They did it b/c they know that's what they have to do to compete w/ the likes of Fordham & actually make it a difficult choice for you. The 1 thing I would advise is this: don't jump into it without weighing all of these factors... Even if that means postponing going to law school, it is better than doing something that you will later regret.
'08 graduate of Brooklyn Law

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kruddler

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Re: Baylor (free) or Fordham (debt up to my neck)?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2006, 09:45:11 PM »
Baylor won't take you beyond Dallas or Houston.
GPA: Ha! LSAT: Meh
Attending Texas Tech fall '06

Aerst2

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Re: Baylor (free) or Fordham (debt up to my neck)?
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2006, 10:09:28 PM »
-It's great to want to challenge yourself, but I wouldn't go to law school and suffer through the incredible workload and stress just for the 'thrill of it all.' This is especially the case if you choose Fordham. You will come out deep in debt and deciding not to practice law simply isn't a feasible option. However, Fordham also gives you a good opportunity to pay off those debts quickly. They have excellent placement in big law, but you still need to be   1. somewhere towards the top 1/4 of your class  2. willing to put in those long hours. The money is there to be made, but they certainly aren't giving handouts.

I believe that I can stay in the top quarter of a school like Fordham, and I would love to succeed in law as a career. Still, though, it seems like the potential for failure is there, which is why the Baylor offer looks so attractive.

I personally turned down Fordham & went with the debt minimization plan

How did you go about it?

Baylor didn't offer you a scholarship just to be nice. They did it b/c they know that's what they have to do to compete w/ the likes of Fordham & actually make it a difficult choice for you.

Yea, this is what worries me. It sets of my scam sensor.

Baylor won't take you beyond Dallas or Houston.

How can you be so certain about this?

Let say I went to Baylor, did well enough to keep the scholarship (which seems likely with a 2.6 GPA requirement), and graduated mid-ranked in my class (which I understand is likely due to the very difficult curve.) I get employed with a firm in a Texas city for two or three years, and get some experience under my belt while paying off the small amount of debt that I have. Would there be no opportunities in the northeast for someone with that experience?

On the other hand, I could go to Fordham. I believe I could maintain good grades, which may result in a high-paying job afterward. I imagine it will take a minimum of four years to pay off the debt, probably ten or more, but at the end I will by sitting pretty in the area that I would like to work. The big risk here, though, is what might happen if I don't get a good job (which could happen for any number of reasons.) There is obviously a huge difference between a good job and a mediocre job as far as paying off debt is concerned, and I could be saddled with debt for a very long time. Like indefinitely.

So the way I see it, I could go Baylor and have difficulty finding a job in the NE but with little overall risk (I could always fall back on some variant of my current employment,) or I could go Fordham, which I believe I would enjoy more but for which the risks are much greater.

I guess my problem is understanding the reality of the risks with Fordham.   
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PeonAtTexas

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Re: Baylor (free) or Fordham (debt up to my neck)?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2006, 10:30:57 PM »
I was in a similar situation.  I went with the money.  It's a huge risk, and although it's paid off for me so far (i'm roughly top 1/3), I can't reccommend it.  1L is so ridiculously  stressful, the knowledge that you HAVE to do well or you'll have screwed yourself out of the best possible job just adds another layer of stress.  If you have any serious interest in a) the east coast or b) a big or medium firm job, go to fordham.  If you are interested in Texas, public interest, or a government job, go to Baylor.

In Texas, Baylor is considered the #3 school.  You would really need to do better than top 1/4 to get out of the Texas area.  Look at NALPDIRECTORY.COM.  At Baylor, there are only 7-8 firms doing OCI from outside Texas, and they're small offices of Texas firms.

shae

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Re: Baylor (free) or Fordham (debt up to my neck)?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2006, 10:47:22 PM »
-It's great to want to challenge yourself, but I wouldn't go to law school and suffer through the incredible workload and stress just for the 'thrill of it all.' This is especially the case if you choose Fordham. You will come out deep in debt and deciding not to practice law simply isn't a feasible option. However, Fordham also gives you a good opportunity to pay off those debts quickly. They have excellent placement in big law, but you still need to be   1. somewhere towards the top 1/4 of your class  2. willing to put in those long hours. The money is there to be made, but they certainly aren't giving handouts.

I believe that I can stay in the top quarter of a school like Fordham, and I would love to succeed in law as a career. Still, though, it seems like the potential for failure is there, which is why the Baylor offer looks so attractive.

I personally turned down Fordham & went with the debt minimization plan

How did you go about it?

Baylor didn't offer you a scholarship just to be nice. They did it b/c they know that's what they have to do to compete w/ the likes of Fordham & actually make it a difficult choice for you.

Yea, this is what worries me. It sets of my scam sensor.

Baylor won't take you beyond Dallas or Houston.

How can you be so certain about this?

Let say I went to Baylor, did well enough to keep the scholarship (which seems likely with a 2.6 GPA requirement), and graduated mid-ranked in my class (which I understand is likely due to the very difficult curve.) I get employed with a firm in a Texas city for two or three years, and get some experience under my belt while paying off the small amount of debt that I have. Would there be no opportunities in the northeast for someone with that experience?

On the other hand, I could go to Fordham. I believe I could maintain good grades, which may result in a high-paying job afterward. I imagine it will take a minimum of four years to pay off the debt, probably ten or more, but at the end I will by sitting pretty in the area that I would like to work. The big risk here, though, is what might happen if I don't get a good job (which could happen for any number of reasons.) There is obviously a huge difference between a good job and a mediocre job as far as paying off debt is concerned, and I could be saddled with debt for a very long time. Like indefinitely.

So the way I see it, I could go Baylor and have difficulty finding a job in the NE but with little overall risk (I could always fall back on some variant of my current employment,) or I could go Fordham, which I believe I would enjoy more but for which the risks are much greater.

I guess my problem is understanding the reality of the risks with Fordham.   

Baylor has a harsh curve, one of the harshest of any law school in the nation- a 2.6 may not be as easy as you think it is.  What if you didnt get to keep your scholarship and you end up at Baylor with debt?

cannotpick

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Re: Baylor (free) or Fordham (debt up to my neck)?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2006, 10:54:15 PM »
In terms of how I went about it, I decided to take a scholarship at Brooklyn for a little over 1/2 tuition rather than going w/ Fordham (no scholarship). My reasons were both personal (Fordham treated me rudely, I liked the area where Brooklyn Law is located better, I liked the apt that Brooklyn offered me, etc) & professional (I'm not sure what kind of law I want to practice, so I decided to minimize my debt rather than dig myself deep into debt).

Although schools offer scholarships for a reason, I certainly wouldn't characterize it as a 'scam.' I'm sure that Baylor's employment statistics & whatnot are readily available if you check out their career center. But, it is a very explicit way of saying "We want you... and we're willing to pay." Fordham doesn't do that for you since they don't have to.. but they do it for students that are also admitted to Top 14 schools. It isn't a scam, just a way to get you to weigh costs vs. benefits.

While it is good to be ambitious, I wouldn't just assume that you can stay in the top 1/4. It's impossible to understand how hard/ competitive law school is until you get here. Also, it is different from undergrad in that you can't always do better by simply doing more work. The exams are all hypotheticals and it is all about being able to apply info really well. The guy that has the fewest lists & doctrines memorized can still do well on a law school exam if he knows how to apply the info well. Critical reading, creativity, analytic ability, etc are all huge skills in law school. That, of course, is why schools place so much emphasis on LSAT scores. So, while there's no doubt that it is possible to stay in the top 1/4, I'd be hesitant of just assuming that you can finish towards the top of your class & get a job in big law. All I'm saying is be sure to have a backup plan.

In terms of going to Baylor & then moving from Texas to NY, it is certainly possible.. You'd need to work for a company with branches(or at least major connections) on the east coast. However, the fact remains that you will have to pay your dues by working in Texas for an undefined period of time.

Let me know if you have more questions. I'm by no means an expert, but I've already been through the same type of situation. Good luck.
'08 graduate of Brooklyn Law

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Aerst2

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Re: Baylor (free) or Fordham (debt up to my neck)?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2006, 11:23:41 PM »

Baylor has a harsh curve, one of the harshest of any law school in the nation- a 2.6 may not be as easy as you think it is.  What if you didnt get to keep your scholarship and you end up at Baylor with debt?
[/quote]

I probably haven't given that possibility the consideration that I should. It just doesn't seem very likely - in the past, I have excelled at work and school, and I remain driven. But it is a possibility. I might just not have an aptitude for that type of school.

If it came to that, it is really hard to say. At that point I would have 1) 1ost money 2) 1ost the ability to get a favorable job to pay back the money. I can accept being in Texas for some time, but I can't accept having no job and debt. Losing the money would be a complete failure. It would most likely be in the first year, which I understand to be the most critical year as far as job prospects go, so there would likely not be much of a point in continuing. I would have no job prospects and little confidence in my ability to excel in this field. However, I would come out close to debt-free.

My guess is that I would have a better chance at succeeding at Fordham. However, failure is still a possibility. If I choose Fordham, I will have a tough decision after the first year. If I can't see succeeding at that point, I could cut my losses and come out OK debt-wise (roughly 30k net, which I can accept.) However, failing after 1Y would be a true disaster.

So, even considering the possibility of losing the money at Baylor, risk-wise I would still come out on top there compared to Fordham.

What is the difference in difficulty between the two? Is a person more likely to maintian a top-quarter spot at Fordham or a >2.6 GPA at Baylor? It seems to me that the top-quarter spot would be much harder to attain...but I don't really know.

---

Cannotpick - thank you for the reply :). It's amazing how quickly this forum has provided me with useful information and help.

My backup-backup plan is to fall back on my current career, which would certainly be livable. However, I would much rather pursue law. It seems like the general opinion on this forum is that big law is the way to go to pay back the debt. How true is that really? The stats I have list Fordham's average starting salary to be $100k/year. How quickly does that fall as your GPA falls, and as you get in to mid-size or small firms? 

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queencruella

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Re: Baylor (free) or Fordham (debt up to my neck)?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2006, 11:37:16 PM »
You have a hard decision ahead of you.  $100K is a great starting salary, but assuming that people at Fordham stay in NYC, it's not really all that impressive. However, if you want to go to the Northeast, Baylor is probably your worst option. Why aren't you really considering Temple or Pitt if you want to work in the Northeast?

Aerst2

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Re: Baylor (free) or Fordham (debt up to my neck)?
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2006, 11:56:23 PM »
You have a hard decision ahead of you.  $100K is a great starting salary, but assuming that people at Fordham stay in NYC, it's not really all that impressive. However, if you want to go to the Northeast, Baylor is probably your worst option. Why aren't you really considering Temple or Pitt if you want to work in the Northeast?

Well, right now I live in sight of the Pitt campus. I had kind of a bad experience trying to transfer there as an undergrad, though, and I applied thinking of it as a last resort. Temple is interesting, and much cheaper than Fordham, but Fordham seems like a better school, with a better range of opportunities afterward (and I would love to try living in NYC.)
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