Law School Discussion

Rankings whores.

Re: Rankings whores.
« Reply #40 on: March 20, 2006, 12:44:06 PM »
Of course personal preferences go a lot into the decision process.  For me, I'd pick living in Birmingham over living in New York any day of the week.  Others may not see it that way, and I understand that.  The problem is that some seem to see rankings as the be-all, end-all, which I do not.

My point was that this isn't a "problem," it's just different. For some reason though, people seem to resent others who align their personal preferences with the rankings, as if those preferences are any less personal. I don't understand that, or why following the rankings is actually a problem if that's what somebody honestly wants to do. If you're confident in what you're doing, why do you care what other people do?

It's a two-way street; some evidently resent me for NOT aligning my personal preferences with the rankings.  But you're right; aligning your personal preferences with the rankings is certainly a personal thing, and if the rankings are really important to you, that's your own business.

I'm also probably bitter that a 3.55/171 got me into exactly zero of the t14's that I applied to.

JamesD

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Re: Rankings whores.
« Reply #41 on: March 20, 2006, 01:02:26 PM »
To each his own.  I have no problem with people who believe that it is in their best interest to attend the highest ranked school to which they gain admission.  In many instances, such a principle really does hold true.  Over the past few days, I've had so many people tell me that I'd be crazy not to go to UVA or Duke over Tulane... and I simply wanted to post my thoughts on the whole decision process... and why it sometimes - imo - makes sense to choose 'lower' over 'higher'. 

I'm not bashing anyone for going solely by the rankings.  I'm basically responding to the fact that so many people have questioned my intelligence/sanity/etc because I - like TCS - do not align my personal preferences with the rankings. 

Re: Rankings whores.
« Reply #42 on: March 20, 2006, 01:14:01 PM »
BTW, to anyone who doesn't believe that people get bashed for picking against the rankings, take a look at the most recent comment on my LSN.  JD, at least in your case Tulane is private and most people know about it pretty well.  Most people who aren't from the South consider Alabama some backwater and their view of Alabama's legal system is based almost entirely on My Cousin Vinny.

Re: Rankings whores.
« Reply #43 on: March 20, 2006, 01:58:53 PM »
I'm gonna swim against the current here.

I think there's a lot to be said for valuing rankings, escpecially when it comes to the T14 divide.  By attending a T14 rather than a T40, you're assuring yourself good opportunities in any field of law and the ability to recruit more or less nationally. I think that most students, like myself, don't know exactly what sort of law they want to do, or exactly where they want to practice. For us, it just makes sense to keep our options open.

I'm curious:  How should we make our decisions if we don't use rankings, or the factors like faculty and reputation that go into compiling rankings?  It seems like financing and geographical preference are the major alternatives cited. But I don't think either one is a good enough reason to choose, for example, BU over NYU.  And I'm skeptical of "gut feelings."

JD: Why did you choose Tulane over UVA and Duke?

Re: Rankings whores.
« Reply #44 on: March 20, 2006, 02:11:09 PM »
I'm gonna swim against the current here.

I think there's a lot to be said for valuing rankings, escpecially when it comes to the T14 divide.  By attending a T14 rather than a T40, you're assuring yourself good opportunities in any field of law and the ability to recruit more or less nationally. I think that most students, like myself, don't know exactly what sort of law they want to do, or exactly where they want to practice. For us, it just makes sense to keep our options open.

I'm curious:  How should we make our decisions if we don't use rankings, or the factors like faculty and reputation that go into compiling rankings?  It seems like financing and geographical preference are the major alternatives cited. But I don't think either one is a good enough reason to choose, for example, BU over NYU.  And I'm skeptical of "gut feelings."

JD: Why did you choose Tulane over UVA and Duke?

"Gut feelings" refer to the feeling that you have when you visit the campus, etc.  It basically means that when you visit, you feel like that's the right place for you to go.  Maybe you get that feeling when you visit a t14, maybe you get it when you visit Kansas, I don't know.  I didn't get into a t14, and yet people are questioning my decision to attend Alabama over not-quite-t14 Vanderbilt.  I chose Alabama primarily because of financing (which I believe is a legitimate reason to choose a school; after all, that debt's not going to pay itself off) but also because I visited and felt like it was a place where I certainly would fit in.

The problem with rankings is that they're based on quantitative factors, which can only say so much.  Does a greater number of faculty citations mean that the faculty at one school are better than those at another?  Certainly, they don't mean that one school's faculty are better TEACHERS than another's.  How can you quantify that?

Erapitt

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Re: Rankings whores.
« Reply #45 on: March 20, 2006, 02:12:46 PM »
The thing is, most faculty you talk to tell you flat out that they don't teach you the law, you do that yourself.  They simply provide you with the questions to help you get there.  A lower ranked school means less competitive students.  In a world where you are graded on an absolute curve that can make a major difference in the quality of ones' education.

shae

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Re: Rankings whores.
« Reply #46 on: March 20, 2006, 02:16:17 PM »
without reading all of the thread, here is my input.

The rankings DO matter because of what goes into them.

Then doesn't it make more sense to focus on what goes into them?

Remember, there's a solid argument to be made that USNWR is rigged (how many fields does Harvard trump Yale in?), and consequently, that it's weighting system doesn't make sense for most students. 

Just something to think about.

you didnt quote my whole post so I think you lost some of the meaning in it.

its a great idea to look at what goes into the rankings- but the rankings are a good way to summarize everything.  IMO, there is no difference between HYSC besides some prestige; but career prospects and the education are essentially the same.

is there a difference between GULC and UT.  Maybe?, but I wouldnt make my decision based on UT being #15 and GULC being t14.



Re: Rankings whores.
« Reply #47 on: March 20, 2006, 02:18:25 PM »
Agreed, lily.

But I think your take on all this is a bit different from that of JD and tcs.  It seems like they really are discounting these major factors to an unusual degree. And that's what I'm curious about.

The USNWR formula is weird for sure, and the difference between #40 and #50 is probably small.  But USNWR isn't going to rank BU ahead of NYU in the forseeable future, or Tulane ahead of Duke, precisely because of faculty, reputation, and placement. When the gap is that big, I just don't think it's smart to pick the lower-ranked school unless you have a very good reason.

In regards to gut feelings, I think I may be immune. When I was applying to colleges, I spent weeks waiting for the feeling to hit me, but instead all the schools seemed pretty much the same. And honestly, even if I did get that feeling, I'd hesitate to trust it.  Too many variables involved - the weather, the students I happened to bump into, the class I happened to see, etc. I mean, I'm still visiting my top choices, but I think giving your gut too much weight is a risky strategy.

Re: Rankings whores.
« Reply #48 on: March 20, 2006, 02:27:51 PM »
Hey, if I was burned like that, I'd definitely want someplace I felt comfortable, too.

I think my experience is atypical because the colleges I visited really were very similar, and I would have been happy at any. I'm gonna take this over to the "gut feeling" thread and let the rankings whores get back to business.

Good luck with your decision!

Re: Rankings whores.
« Reply #49 on: March 20, 2006, 02:36:43 PM »
Agreed, lily.

But I think your take on all this is a bit different from that of JD and tcs.  It seems like they really are discounting these major factors to an unusual degree. And that's what I'm curious about.

The USNWR formula is weird for sure, and the difference between #40 and #50 is probably small.  But USNWR isn't going to rank BU ahead of NYU in the forseeable future, or Tulane ahead of Duke, precisely because of faculty, reputation, and placement. When the gap is that big, I just don't think it's smart to pick the lower-ranked school unless you have a very good reason.

In regards to gut feelings, I think I may be immune. When I was applying to colleges, I spent weeks waiting for the feeling to hit me, but instead all the schools seemed pretty much the same. And honestly, even if I did get that feeling, I'd hesitate to trust it.  Too many variables involved - the weather, the students I happened to bump into, the class I happened to see, etc. I mean, I'm still visiting my top choices, but I think giving your gut too much weight is a risky strategy.

"Discounting these major factors" is not what I am doing.  Alabama is ranked #41 in the USNWR rankings (I don't know what they'll be ranked in the new ones) so it's not as though I'm choosing a t3 over Vanderbilt.  Law school is a very personal decision, and ultimately the person making the decision is the one who has to live with it.  Would I be happy at Alabama?  I definitely think so, and what's more, I'll graduate from there with very little debt, compared to somewhere in the neighborhood of $100k in debt at Vanderbilt.

Based on the opinions of lawyers I've spoken with, the prestige of your law degree only really matters for the first couple of years or so out of law school.  After that, you'll be judged based on how good you are at what you do, not on the prestige of the institution from which you graduated.