Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

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

Which school should I pick?

Harvard (sticker)
Columbia (half-tuition)
Penn (full tuition first year, 2/3 for 2L and 3L)
Total votes: 97


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Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

Postby pleasepickme » Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:16 pm

Hey Everyone, so this is what my options are like at this point.

I got into Harvard, which is great. The degree will put you anywhere you want to go with amazing colleagues and brilliant professors. It is, however, huge, COMPETITIVE, and it can be hard to form meaningful relationships with your professors.

Columbia has a clinic doing exactly what I want to do, they've offered me money, and they have a number of faculty actively working on issues that I want to pursue. They were, however, a bit cold, and I didn't find the students that engaging overall.

Penn has offered me LOTS of money, and they have by far the best atmosphere of any school that I visited. Their professors and students have great relationships, and the competitiveness that I typically associate with law schools was virtually non-existent. The students g-chat each other answers in class!! I could also do a dual degree in three years with no extra cost. However, their clerkship placement rates aren't great, and they clearly don't have the name that the other two schools do.

I want to do PI work on the west coast after I do a couple of clerkships. I would REALLY like to try to clerk for the Supreme Court, which is obviously incredibly hard. Berkeley would be a contender if they ever offered me money, but I can't justify paying sticker there with Harvard on the table.

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Re: Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

Postby jonas » Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:31 pm

First, have you checked to see if Berkeley will match the Columbia or Penn offers?

If that doesn't work, I'd say go to Harvard—particularly because of your interest in clerking and PI.

What kind of PI work are you interested in?

Good luck!
Last edited by jonas on Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

Postby meddlingkid » Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:31 pm

I voted for Columbia because it seems like a compromise between Harvard and Penn (some drawbacks that you listed but overall a good fit for you academically + good name recognition). Also speaking as a west coaster, Columbia has great "lay prestige" out here and those students I know that graduated from Columbia have put good use to the portability of their degrees.


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Re: Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

Postby pleasepickme » Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:14 am

Decision needed soon. Bump.

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Re: Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

Postby dingbat » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:27 pm

Edit: Necro
Last edited by dingbat on Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:32 pm

Penn because of the scholarship money/low cost & you liked it the best after visiting. Plus, if you select Penn, you get to tell others that you turned down Harvard. :D

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Re: Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

Postby Nelson » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:34 pm

If you're sure you want to work in CA, Harvard is TCR. It will make getting a job out there much easier than Columbia or Penn.

If you think you'll just end up doing OCI into NYC, then take the money at Penn.

Don't read too much into the "cultures" of these schools. They're all going to be essentially the same.

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Re: Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

Postby cjcregg » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:41 pm

I'd throw out Penn. Grades are too arbitrary in law school. You'll have to be at the top of your class at Penn to have a shot at appellate clerkships. I'm not sure if people go from district to scotus but i'd say it's unlikely. If you were doing biglaw i'd say to take the money in a heartbeat...but it seems like you're really committed to PI and clerkships. I don't know if the money at Penn is a compelling enough reason to pick it b/c of Columbia's LRAP. Does that cover clerkships as well? Harvard though prob gives you the best shot at appellate clerkships and PI.

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Re: Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

Postby 1800calturk » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:02 pm

Columbia is a fine place to be. I dunno, if I had gotten Harvard I think I would've gone, honestly... I agree with the culture thing. The more I see, the more I think it's all the same. some school are less gunnery than others. Ours is kind of gunnery. But if you want to be in CA I know one other person besides myself who will be returning there EVERYONE else is going to NY.


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Re: Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

Postby chasgoose » Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:25 pm

I think this should come down to Harvard v. Penn. The $75-80k CLS is offering is good, but Harvard is going to take a lot of pressure off for most career choices that would still exist at Columbia. Also, Columbia is not worth $75k more than Penn. Maybe $40-50k, but not $70.

Full tuition at Penn is probably a better choice than sticker at Harvard. HLS definitely is superior and you put yourself at a lot more risk at Penn, but worst case scenario there is you graduate with a free JD and lose the COL plus the opportunity cost of not earning money for 3 years. Also, there is probably a support network in place at Penn to help named scholars that might mitigate the risk of striking out at OCI/whatever else you want to do after law school. That said, it wouldn't be completely crazy to choose Harvard over Penn.

As far as atmosphere goes, the competitiveness of Harvard is vastly overrated. Yes there is a ton of competition at the top for the best clerkships/firms/law review, etc. But unless you kill it 1L year, those won't even be on your radar and the middle is a pretty comfortable place there.


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Re: Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:44 pm

Full tuition at Harvard will be a lot of loans hanging over you for 10 years if you do public interest. If you end up in a firm for a few years, you could have gotten that from Penn or Columbia and pocketed way more money. Keep these things in mind. Why do you want to clerk? To do multiple clerkships? To clerk for SCOTUS? What are you aiming for other than prestige?


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Re: Harvard v. Columbia $$ v. Penn $$$$

Postby bdole2 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:47 pm

dingbat wrote:Edit: Necro

And for those curious, OP ended up at Stanford.

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