"Which school?" decision metric

c5367

"Which school?" decision metric
« on: March 04, 2006, 09:14:06 AM »
First of all, Congrats to all that have done so on getting in. And Good Luck to those still waiting!

Here is my rather common situation: I've been accepted at a number of schools, with a few scholarship offers. This of course leads to a difficult decision process. I came up with an objective approach, based on quantitative cost/benefit calculation. Fortunately, MS Excel did all the math for me I thought I'd share it with y'all. Hopefully someone may find it helpful.

Essentially what I did was to create a spreadsheet that factored in (tuition+fees+books+plus COLA in the area)-scholarship offers=cost. I used the cnn money websites COLA calculator and assumed 22k Chicago dollars in living expenses over the year, and adjusted that to each region.

For benefit, I just used the average graduate salary of the respective school times 3 years. I did this to get a 1-1 comparision, since the expentiture side is 3 years. Then, to determine the return, I simply divided cost/benefit. The results are somewhat surprising. Tulane, at the moment, is in the lead with an expected return of 179% The shocker was my safety school, UNLV (assuming in-state tuition 2-3L) would return 178% UCDavis, because of it high cost and very high COLA, would yield a miserable 4%

If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to share the spreadsheet, which you can obviously use as a starting point for your own particular situation. I also welcome any criticism or potential enhancements for this metric. I realize it doesn't take into account the subjective aspects, but I think it is valuable because it helps quantify them in way. for example, it becomes easier to weigh "nice weather" or "good professor," because you can ask "is good weather worth 20%?"

Lurking Third Year

• 135
Re: "Which school?" decision metric
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2006, 09:43:39 AM »
Interesting approach.  Are you factoring in where you want to work after law school?

c5367

Re: "Which school?" decision metric
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2006, 09:49:31 AM »
I haven't really factored the location in because I don't have a preference, other than a warm clime. Having good track facilities nearby is a plus, because my first passion is motorcycles.  Most of the schools I applied to are southern.

Cbone, I realize that the numbers are not audited,  but the assumption is either schools are honest in their reports, or that they lie equally. IN either case, the metric is still useful.

Keep in mind, I'm not using this as the end-all, be-all of decision process. It's just a way to objectively quantify part of it, instead of making educated guesses about the \$ cost benefit.

c5367

Re: "Which school?" decision metric
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2006, 09:51:49 AM »

Tulane certainly gave you a lot of \$ (congrats).  I think you took a pretty straightfoward approach but would advise to weigh the subjective aspects as heavily as the objective numbers.  Numbers can be deceivingly - must look deeper.  Make sure you consider things like % of students reporting private sector salaries, % of students employed 9 mos after graduation, etc. etc.  Also consider that the data you are looking at is unaudited!

Thats a very good point about % private sector and employment rates. I think that would be good to factor in. The question is, what is the most appropriate and meaningful way of doing it, mathematically?

Lurking Third Year

• 135
Re: "Which school?" decision metric
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2006, 09:56:58 AM »
I haven't really factored the location in because I don't have a preference, other than a warm clime. Having good track facilities nearby is a plus, because my first passion is motorcycles.  Most of the schools I applied to are southern.

Cbone, I realize that the numbers are not audited,  but the assumption is either schools are honest in their reports, or that they lie equally. IN either case, the metric is still useful.

Keep in mind, I'm not using this as the end-all, be-all of decision process. It's just a way to objectively quantify part of it, instead of making educated guesses about the \$ cost benefit.

Fair enough.  Just keep in mind that law is a very provincal market, and when you're considering schools outside the top 14, I think it generally makes the most sense to attend a school in the region in which you hope to practice.

snikrep

Re: "Which school?" decision metric
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2006, 09:59:23 AM »
Are there any online calculators that do something like this?

Personally I'd like to compare the 10 year return of going to law school vs. getting a regular job (obviously making certain assumptions regarding salaries).  I suppose I could make up an Excel thing to do this, but I hate Excel.

john83

Re: "Which school?" decision metric
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2006, 11:32:23 AM »
Are there any online calculators that do something like this?

Personally I'd like to compare the 10 year return of going to law school vs. getting a regular job (obviously making certain assumptions regarding salaries).  I suppose I could make up an Excel thing to do this, but I hate Excel.

you hate excel? i love excel.

i may just spend an afternoon making the best darn law school decision maker there is. screw my paper.

Stephon Devante

• 1046
Re: "Which school?" decision metric
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2006, 04:05:48 PM »
http://www.geocities.com/peepruns/lsdroi.xls

This should do what some of you are wanting, I believe.