I have the very amazing but difficult choice between Harvard at sticker and Penn with the Levy Scholarship, which is given to 10-15 students per year for full tuition 1L and 2/3 tuition 2L & 3L. I am going into public interest law but not certain of my area of focus-I might like to go for a high-prestige clerkship and then ultimately work for the DOJ or for a high-profile social change nonprofit. I'm currently in NYC and could see myself ultimately practicing here or in D.C.
I wasn't even seriously considering Penn until I got the Levy and spoke to one of my college professors (and LOR writers) who is a Penn grad. He has seriously advised me to take the Levy and seems to think that the opportunities given to me as a Levy scholar will far outweigh opportunities for just any student at Harvard. He also seems to think Penn is better for public interest students, and mentioned that it is also better for clerkships, especially students who may want to clerk for the Supreme Court. He is focused on constitutional law and impact litigation, which are areas that I'm interested in but I'm not 100% certain I plan to pursue the same path.
So far from what I've heard/learned, other factors include:
- Amazing public interest opportunities (classes, journals, internships, study abroad)
- well-connected office of public interest advising
- Prestige associated with name/rank (this is a big deal to me if it will open doors that Penn won't)
- Fantastic loan repayment program (LIPP) that will cover much of my debt
- Toll public interest center (also seems well established with many opportunities)
- Interdisciplinary approach (need to learn more about this, but seems like an interesting emphasis)
- Prestige of being a Levy scholar (10-15 students out of 240 per class vs. just being one of Harvard's many 650)
- Levy scholar opportunities (mentoring, etc. - need to learn more about this as well)
- $$ upfront vs. debt (Though I'm not debt averse and feel comfortable taking out loans since I know Harvard's LIPP will cover much of this anyway)
I guess ultimately I need to figure out if Harvard's overall prestige/opportunities outweigh the more personalized prestige/opportunities of having the Levy. This, and not the $$, is the most important factor in my decision. HELP!
(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
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I think you should go with Penn IMO. Getting the Levy is extremely helpful (tuition wise) and the extra advantage you'll get with the "harvard" name should not make a huge difference. I say this noting that I am a Penn grad at a V5 firm in NYC. I clerked for a feeder judge on the D.C. Circuit and about 55 of my classmates (in the year I graduated) got great clerkships. However, I will say that your teacher's point that Penn somehow does better with regard to SCOTUS clerkships is a bit incorrect. The truth is, regardless of where you are, SCOTUS clerkships are extremely difficult to get, and in some sense, require a little bit of good luck. In any case, I think the $$ should be the determinate factor. My central point: don't let the *minor* differences in prestige change your decision. At least at my firm, the we hire from the two schools fairly equally.
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