Okay, so I have a few questions for Berkeley peeps.
1. Where do most 1L students live? Off/on campus? And how are those cool-looking grad student apartments Boalt has? Anyone live in any of these?
2. How tight-knit are students within their modules? Are these usually the people that you are going to become good friends with?
3. How hard is it to get on a journal during 1L?
4. How easy is it to get into big law these days from Berkeley? Top 50%?
5. How is it even affordable? Are you scared you will not be able to pay back those massive loans? The one thing drawing me away from Berkeley is the price tag. I can't afford it.. and I don't want to be 300k in debt either.
1. I think the majority of people live off-campus but there's a good contingent of people who live in university housing, too. I prefer to live off-campus because of the benefits as I perceive them: more space, fewer restrictions, fully-equipped kitchens, etc. I don't think it's difficult to find off-campus housing in a location you prefer. I studied in Manville with people during finals, and those are nice too: the location is pretty good, and there's definitely something to be said for figuring out your housing stuff early. There also seems to be a pretty close community feel between the residents, if that's something you're interested in.
2. I'm definitely close with people in my mod, but I'd say supermods are really the basis for your immediate friendships, interactions, etc. (Supermods are the groupings of 3 mods, with two lectures together in the first/second semester.) Most of my closer friends are in my supermod, but not all. That's certainly not to say that you're closed off from the other mods/supermods who you don't have any classes with -- friendships form in mods/supermods out of convenience, but I know and am friends with lots of people who I never see in class. The nice thing about Berkeley is that the class size is so small (~275 people) that you quickly learn everyone's face, if not their names, and there's plenty of extracurricular opportunity to make friendships across mods.
Sorry if that's not the clearest answer to your question ... I'm not feeling very articulate this morning.
3. So easy. You can even join two journals if you want; it's just more work for you. A lot of journal work your first year is pretty dull -- cite-checking, bluebooking, etc. but my journal allowed 1Ls to have a role in article editing, too, so it's just a matter of doing your research before you join to make sure you'll have a role that you'll enjoy.
4. No idea ... sorry. For what it's worth, I'm friends with several 2Ls and I believe they all have summer positions at big firms. A lot of the people I know were choosing between SA offers. And not all of them got these offers from OCI -- one of my friends mass-mailed and received a couple of offers from that. My friends aren't a representative sample of the class as a whole, but I think it's encouraging information anyway. And we've all got our fingers crossed that 2010 will be better.
5. yes, Berkeley is expensive. But it's really not any more so than its peer schools -- I think it's crucial to remember that the fee hikes bring Berkeley up to market level, as opposed to disproportionately above it. You go to Michigan, Harvard, Columbia, NYU ... you're going to be paying as much as you would at Berkeley. And Berkeley has the best LRAP in the country right now, and a dean who I believe is wholeheartedly committed to maintaining programs like the Edley grant and the LRAP. The money from the fee hikes is expressly designated for three purposes: maintaining our fantastic LRAP, funding six new faculty positions, and increasing our financial aid pool. I'm okay with all of those uses, and I'm okay with paying tuition on par with the national average to fund those, to enable Berkeley to stay at its place in the rankings (even if you think the rankings shouldn't matter, the fact is that they do), and to preserve the value of my degree over my lifetime.
Law school is expensive; it's not just Berkeley. If you're afraid of paying back loans from Berkeley, you should be afraid of paying back loans from anywhere. Your question makes it seem like Berkeley charges twice what other schools do, and that's just not so. 300K in debt is an unrealistic figure, unless you're coming in with undergrad debt.
Tangerine Gleam wrote:
6. I'm having trouble finding employment statistics (I'm sure I'm just not looking in the right place). How many Boalt grads typically go into public interest?
7. How portable is a Boalt degree outside of CA? I'd be happy to stay out here, but I'm also interested in D.C., and possibly one day returning to my hometown of Atlanta. If those were my real preferences, I'd choose UVA -- but they aren't. SF Bay is my likely #1 living choice.
8. How many hours a day do you typically study during a normal semester week? During exam period?
6 & 7. I'm not sure. Anecdotally, my friends as mentioned above are all working elsewhere this summer -- D.C. and New York off the top of my head. But I'll have to look into this more to give you a true answer.
8. Early- and mid-semester, I'd say about... oh man, this is just a rough estimate. But maybe 3-4 hrs outside of class time? During exams, I studied from noon to about 3 a.m. (I'm a night owl), with several short breaks, so it probably amounted to about 12hrs/day. This was after class had ended ... from early November on, I'd say my study hours got bumped to 6-7 a day? It's hard to look back and give an estimate with any degree of confidence just because it's all kind of a blur.
But this was just my own personal schedule, and I plan on tweaking it next semester. You'll get a feel pretty quickly for what works and what doesn't for you, and it's so important that you do that, as opposed to trying to match anyone else's study habits. Study as much as you feel like you need to and dno't let anyone else set your pace. You could slash my hours in half and still do great; you could double them and do equally as well. It all depends.