Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )

USD or Cal Western?

Cal Western (full ride)
23
26%
USD (maybe some $$)
65
74%
 
Total votes: 88

OrcinusOrcas
Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 12:58 pm

Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby OrcinusOrcas » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:28 pm

Let's pretend you want to move to San Diego and settle. You have a full ride at a Tier 4 (Cal Western) and roughly 1/3 tuition scholarship at a T2 (USD). You're not exactly sure which area of law you want; you'd be happy without big law (but would be happy with it), and have about $10k in debt already, not particularly debt-averse.

Which do you choose?

*edited in USD scholarship amount, received news on it last light in the mail.
Last edited by OrcinusOrcas on Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
OGR3
Posts: 881
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 6:56 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby OGR3 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:30 pm

Definitely go to USD.

An attrition rate of 20% is not a good thing.

User avatar
lawrencecis
Posts: 53
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 3:42 am

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby lawrencecis » Sat Feb 20, 2010 12:02 am

I'm kinda in the same spot. Leaning towards USD for hopefully better job prospects after graduation. But, damn, the full ride and no debt sounds so nice, too....

User avatar
Great Satchmo
Posts: 754
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 2:34 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby Great Satchmo » Sat Feb 20, 2010 4:44 pm

Wow, I'm hoping to be in the exact same spot.

I haven't heard a peep from USD on scholarship though, and my numbers are fairly similar to yours.

If it ends up being Cal Western with full vs. USD with none, I may have to go for the money.

User avatar
Great Satchmo
Posts: 754
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 2:34 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby Great Satchmo » Sat Feb 20, 2010 4:45 pm

By the way, the attrition rate at schools like this probably aren't all that indicative of the solid student that may enter. With low test score cut-offs, it's not like they are getting the most committed or driven people (granted, many are).

BruinsFan
Posts: 220
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:26 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby BruinsFan » Sat Feb 20, 2010 4:49 pm

I like this thread! My scholarship at Cal Western is full tuition 1L and 1/2 tuition 2L and 3L, with some gpa requirements. I just went DR at USD last week and, hopefully, will get some good news in the mail early next week (keeping fingers crossed). Either way I'd probably live at home.

My fear with choosing cal western would be that, for whatever reason, have a bad semester and loose my $$ or, even worse, fall below the 75 cut off gpa req and get kicked out.

BruinsFan
Posts: 220
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:26 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby BruinsFan » Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:41 pm

Anyone else ant to weigh in?

User avatar
socalren
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 4:47 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby socalren » Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:54 pm

I'm in a similar position. Except I'm looking at full ride from Chapman vs $15k/ year at USD. I am super debt adverse... I also can stay living where I am now and go to Chapman... It's a tough call.

User avatar
socalren
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 4:47 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby socalren » Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:09 pm

The way I'm seeing it, more and more, is law school will be what you make of it. Going to a lower ranked school will take more networking and effort, but some greats have come out of T3/T4 schools.

Think about the payments on $30k-$40k vs. $80k-90k. Even if you only make $50k/year out of school (which seems feasible in Cali) you will still be able to swing living costs and payments on the lower loan amount comfortably.

BruinsFan
Posts: 220
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:26 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby BruinsFan » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:28 pm

As I said before, I'm in the same boat with the Cal Western w/ significant $$ and USD with nada. I know a few lawyers in the area and made some calls just to field some general reactions. Essentially, every single one told me that the education you receive at Cal Western is just as good as the education you receive at USD, that Cal Western places locally, and that I was making a tough decision. One even said that if you're in the top 10% at Cal Western you're probably better off than being in he 40% at USD, but I don't want to base my decision on assumed success. I guess I didn't learn anything ground breaking, except that every single one of these established lawyers definitely respects Cal Western. No one had anything bad to say about the school, although none of them went there either.

But that's the thing, they're all established. All the lawyers I know in San Diego are at least 50 + if not pushing 60 and, while they're all successful lawyers and I trust their opinions, their firm doesn't hire new lawyers and they aren't super in touch with recent graduates.

So I marched my little butt down to Cal Western to ask some questions.

1. They couldn't tell me the average GPA for last years class, a statistic that I can easily find for the past 3 years on USD's website, and something they should definitely have given the rigor of their curve. If a big part of the allure of Cal Western is the $$ and I need an 80 to keep it, I damn well want to know what the average is. If the average gpa is a 78, then I know I have to be above average to keep the dough. If it's a 82, then it seems a little more feasible. She did say that if you hit an 87, I have no idea what percentage that is, that you most likely would get more money.

2. She also could not tell me the percentage of students with significant scholarships that lost them going into 2L. She said that it "rarely" happens, but rarely is a a subjective term. It doesn't matter how many you give, if you put them all in the same section some will be lost.

3. The career services center sounds pretty cool. She said they have 6 or 7 (I don't remember the number) lawyers working in there and that they really focus on your interests. I also like the full semester abroad exchange program with New Zealand, all of USD's programs are for 6 weeks over the summer.

Over all... I think I've learned a lot about Cal Western that I like. There's still a lot that makes me nervous and my major qualms about the school (curve/keeping my $$ and job prospects) haven't really been resolved. At the same time, the good things I've heard everyone say about the school make me feel confident that if I did end up there, I could very well end up being successful.

Growing up in San Diego I've always glamorized going to USD's Law School. I always figured if I got in, that I would go- no questions asked. It looks beautiful up there on it's little hill and is by far the best ranked law school in town. Now, for me, the burden of proof stands with USD. If I feel confident that the extra 90K I'd be spending to go there will make a difference, then I'll go. I don't know if I can really define "make a difference".

Ps. I'm really bad at making decisions, I walk into Einstein bagels and it takes me 15 minutes to pick out a flavor. I'll probably change my order 4 times. If I can't pick a bagel, why did I think I could choose a law school?!

User avatar
CmonSD
Posts: 450
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 1:40 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby CmonSD » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:42 pm

I have posted this in other threads...but I work for a firm made up of graduates from Cal Western and USD. The Cal Western grads talk about how much they loved their experience and how I should definitely go there. The USD grads say "eh it was ok....but take the money at Cal Western." (especially if you have a full ride) Read into that as you may but I think it says something. (however, if USD lets me in I am going....) I <3 them.

OrcinusOrcas
Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 12:58 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby OrcinusOrcas » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:53 pm

BruinsFan wrote:As I said before, I'm in the same boat with the Cal Western w/ significant $$ and USD with nada. I know a few lawyers in the area and made some calls just to field some general reactions. Essentially, every single one told me that the education you receive at Cal Western is just as good as the education you receive at USD, that Cal Western places locally, and that I was making a tough decision. One even said that if you're in the top 10% at Cal Western you're probably better off than being in he 40% at USD, but I don't want to base my decision on assumed success. I guess I didn't learn anything ground breaking, except that every single one of these established lawyers definitely respects Cal Western. No one had anything bad to say about the school, although none of them went there either.

But that's the thing, they're all established. All the lawyers I know in San Diego are at least 50 + if not pushing 60 and, while they're all successful lawyers and I trust their opinions, their firm doesn't hire new lawyers and they aren't super in touch with recent graduates.

So I marched my little butt down to Cal Western to ask some questions.

1. They couldn't tell me the average GPA for last years class, a statistic that I can easily find for the past 3 years on USD's website, and something they should definitely have given the rigor of their curve. If a big part of the allure of Cal Western is the $$ and I need an 80 to keep it, I damn well want to know what the average is. If the average gpa is a 78, then I know I have to be above average to keep the dough. If it's a 82, then it seems a little more feasible. She did say that if you hit an 87, I have no idea what percentage that is, that you most likely would get more money.

2. She also could not tell me the percentage of students with significant scholarships that lost them going into 2L. She said that it "rarely" happens, but rarely is a a subjective term. It doesn't matter how many you give, if you put them all in the same section some will be lost.

3. The career services center sounds pretty cool. She said they have 6 or 7 (I don't remember the number) lawyers working in there and that they really focus on your interests. I also like the full semester abroad exchange program with New Zealand, all of USD's programs are for 6 weeks over the summer.

Over all... I think I've learned a lot about Cal Western that I like. There's still a lot that makes me nervous and my major qualms about the school (curve/keeping my $$ and job prospects) haven't really been resolved. At the same time, the good things I've heard everyone say about the school make me feel confident that if I did end up there, I could very well end up being successful.

Growing up in San Diego I've always glamorized going to USD's Law School. I always figured if I got in, that I would go- no questions asked. It looks beautiful up there on it's little hill and is by far the best ranked law school in town. Now, for me, the burden of proof stands with USD. If I feel confident that the extra 90K I'd be spending to go there will make a difference, then I'll go. I don't know if I can really define "make a difference".

Ps. I'm really bad at making decisions, I walk into Einstein bagels and it takes me 15 minutes to pick out a flavor. I'll probably change my order 4 times. If I can't pick a bagel, why did I think I could choose a law school?!


This is an awesome post BruinsFan!! You're clearly doing some great research on this and many thanks for sharing with TLS'ers. Hopefully my PM cleared up my reasons for picking USD. I also grew up in SD and always dreamed of going to the law school on that pretty hill.

I submitted my FAFSA and aid forms a few weeks ago, and I believe we're supposed to hear about need-based aid in a few weeks/early March. I have to admit, though, that if USD does not offer me much in grants I may reconsider Cal Western's offer.

nakedjuice
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:27 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby nakedjuice » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:47 pm

I'm a first year at USD and if I had to weigh my options again, I would have given Cal Western with the full ride MUCH MORE CONSIDERATION. I was in the exact same position you are in now. I say this based on a number of factors:

1) Scholarship and Loans
I'm assuming you received the Cal Western scholarship that is a full tuition scholarship based on maintaing a B'ish average. Assuming that you're not going to be one of those 20% who are cut by the attrition rate, that B average is REALLY easy to maintain based on numbers alone! Even if you don't maintain that average, your scholarship is only reduced by 50% (i.e., 20k) for the 2nd year and you'll have the ability to receive full tuition (40k) for the third year if you pull up your GPA.

At USD, around 49% of the incoming class receive a renewable scholarship dependent on staying in the top 1/3 of the class. Automatically at the very least, 16% of those scholarship recipients will not have a scholarship for their 2nd and 3rd years. There's also no way to get it back either. Also, the minimum of 16% of incoming scholarship recipients losing it is based on the assumption that others who received a scholarship will actually be in the top 1/3. However, the odds are pretty good that you'll have a fair number of people who didn't get a scholarship who will work SUPER hard to get a scholarship for 2nd year and/or to transfer to a T14 school.

2. Job Prospects/OCI
While OCI's are not the end-all factor in determining a law school, it should certainly be a big factor if you're paying a lot more money than other schools (i.e. Cal Western) to have better employment prospects after graduation. At USD this Spring, there were only 6 employers who were hiring. Last year, it was 9. Odds are, those 6 employers are interviewing those who are in the top 15% of the class. I'm not sure how many employers Cal Western had at OCI this year, but I imagine it will be almost the same. Even if it is 1-2, does it really matter that much when looking at how few there are at USD's OCI?

Also, ask yourself what you think about the career services offices at both schools. The reality is that 9 out of 10 people in law school will not graduate in the top 10%. Which career services office will help you out more if you're not in the top 10%?

3. Competition and Law School Environment
The people who attend USD are those who didn't get off a Waitlist from Top 25 schools. Those same people really want to transfer and will fight tooth and nail for that top grade. In short, the environment is super competitive here and I can see why nearly all USD law graduates I've met have said that their experience here was only decent at best. Then again, law school is what you make of it so just take everything with a grain of salt.

In contrast at Cal Western, you have a bunch of people who are just happy to attend law school (look at their incoming class GPA/LSAT), so the academic environment is not as competitive. I have a few friends there and have hung out at their library and campus, and that generally seems to be the vibe as well.

4. Your Future
I'd recommend CA Western and USD only if you want to stay in San Diego after graduation. If you're not certain, I HIGHLY recommend you considering some other similarly ranked school like Pepperdine/Loyola that will open you up to a larger market. The legal market here in San Diego is really small. So small that I would say that 70% of all 1st year students who intern from all the San Diego city law schools work for free in Los Angeles and San Francisco.


I should also mention that I'm not in danger of losing my scholarship and have a great job lined up for the summer. No bias against USD at all. I'll also bet that most people who picked USD over Cal Western have no idea about the San Diego legal market or don't even attend either of these schools.

2 cents from a USD 1L with friends at Cal Western.

User avatar
Great Satchmo
Posts: 754
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 2:34 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby Great Satchmo » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:55 pm

nakedjuice wrote:I'm a first year at USD and if I had to weigh my options again, I would have given Cal Western with the full ride MUCH MORE CONSIDERATION. I was in the exact same position you are in now. I say this based on a number of factors:

1) Scholarship and Loans
I'm assuming you received the Cal Western scholarship that is a full tuition scholarship based on maintaing a B'ish average. Assuming that you're not going to be one of those 20% who are cut by the attrition rate, that B average is REALLY easy to maintain based on numbers alone! Even if you don't maintain that average, your scholarship is only reduced by 50% (i.e., 20k) for the 2nd year and you'll have the ability to receive full tuition (40k) for the third year if you pull up your GPA.

At USD, around 49% of the incoming class receive a renewable scholarship dependent on staying in the top 1/3 of the class. Automatically at the very least, 16% of those scholarship recipients will not have a scholarship for their 2nd and 3rd years. There's also no way to get it back either. Also, the minimum of 16% of incoming scholarship recipients losing it is based on the assumption that others who received a scholarship will actually be in the top 1/3. However, the odds are pretty good that you'll have a fair number of people who didn't get a scholarship who will work SUPER hard to get a scholarship for 2nd year and/or to transfer to a T14 school.

2. Job Prospects/OCI
While OCI's are not the end-all factor in determining a law school, it should certainly be a big factor if you're paying a lot more money than other schools (i.e. Cal Western) to have better employment prospects after graduation. At USD this Spring, there were only 6 employers who were hiring. Last year, it was 9. Odds are, those 6 employers are interviewing those who are in the top 15% of the class. I'm not sure how many employers Cal Western had at OCI this year, but I imagine it will be almost the same. Even if it is 1-2, does it really matter that much when looking at how few there are at USD's OCI?

Also, ask yourself what you think about the career services offices at both schools. The reality is that 9 out of 10 people in law school will not graduate in the top 10%. Which career services office will help you out more if you're not in the top 10%?

3. Competition and Law School Environment
The people who attend USD are those who didn't get off a Waitlist from Top 25 schools. Those same people really want to transfer and will fight tooth and nail for that top grade. In short, the environment is super competitive here and I can see why nearly all USD law graduates I've met have said that their experience here was only decent at best. Then again, law school is what you make of it so just take everything with a grain of salt.

In contrast at Cal Western, you have a bunch of people who are just happy to attend law school (look at their incoming class GPA/LSAT), so the academic environment is not as competitive. I have a few friends there and have hung out at their library and campus, and that generally seems to be the vibe as well.

4. Your Future
I'd recommend CA Western and USD only if you want to stay in San Diego after graduation. If you're not certain, I HIGHLY recommend you considering some other similarly ranked school like Pepperdine/Loyola that will open you up to a larger market. The legal market here in San Diego is really small. So small that I would say that 70% of all 1st year students who intern from all the San Diego city law schools work for free in Los Angeles and San Francisco.


I should also mention that I'm not in danger of losing my scholarship and have a great job lined up for the summer. No bias against USD at all. I'll also bet that most people who picked USD over Cal Western have no idea about the San Diego legal market or don't even attend either of these schools.

2 cents from a USD 1L with friends at Cal Western.


Thanks for the post - great timing too. I have the full scholly at CWSL, and in with nothing at USD; going to the admitted students weekend at the former this weekend.

Question about your impressions of the legal market: does it seem that a large number of students are forced to look into LA/OC for work despite wanting to be in SD? Are there areas of law where this is more pronounced?

nakedjuice
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:27 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby nakedjuice » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:19 pm

Great Satchmo wrote:Thanks for the post - great timing too. I have the full scholly at CWSL, and in with nothing at USD; going to the admitted students weekend at the former this weekend.

Question about your impressions of the legal market: does it seem that a large number of students are forced to look into LA/OC for work despite wanting to be in SD? Are there areas of law where this is more pronounced?


The majority of students who graduate from San Diego law schools will work in LA/OC because there are simply not enough legal jobs here. You also have to realize that the top firms in San Diego are still going to interview the UCLA/Berkeley/USC and T14 schools before USD/CAL Western/TJU.

It's not rocket scientist. :)

If you really think going to USD is going to give you a boost over graduates from top schools without top 10% grades, look at the lawyer rosters at the top San Diego firms. Not many went to the San Diego schools.

In general, grades matter A LOT, especially in this economy. Many firms and governmental agencies have a GPA cutoff because there are so many quality graduates without jobs. With that said, go where you think you'll succeed academically based on your situation (school rank, competition, employment prospects, etc.)

User avatar
Great Satchmo
Posts: 754
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 2:34 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby Great Satchmo » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:33 pm

nakedjuice wrote:
Great Satchmo wrote:Thanks for the post - great timing too. I have the full scholly at CWSL, and in with nothing at USD; going to the admitted students weekend at the former this weekend.

Question about your impressions of the legal market: does it seem that a large number of students are forced to look into LA/OC for work despite wanting to be in SD? Are there areas of law where this is more pronounced?


The majority of students who graduate from San Diego law schools will work in LA/OC because there are simply not enough legal jobs here. You also have to realize that the top firms in San Diego are still going to interview the UCLA/Berkeley/USC and T14 schools before USD/CAL Western/TJU.

It's not rocket scientist. :)

If you really think going to USD is going to give you a boost over graduates from top schools without top 10% grades, look at the lawyer rosters at the top San Diego firms. Not many went to the San Diego schools.

In general, grades matter A LOT, especially in this economy. Many firms and governmental agencies have a GPA cutoff because there are so many quality graduates without jobs. With that said, go where you think you'll succeed academically based on your situation (school rank, competition, employment prospects, etc.)



Well, USD has fallen from my radar due to no money and the realization that they don't seem to do $120k better than CWSL (at least, in San Diego). My one real draw was that it seemed like USD does well in San Diego, in relation to other similarly ranked schools in other areas.

Cal Western would be free and I have family practicing law in SD, so I think it could be a decent option. Otherwise, I think I've taken USD off the table considering some other options I think I'd prefer.

Thanks for the input!

SoCalLover
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 6:32 pm

Re: Cal Western (full ride) v USD (maybe some $$)

Postby SoCalLover » Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:03 pm

--LinkRemoved--




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: TheSpanishMain and 4 guests