Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

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utb
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Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby utb » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:21 am

I'm struggling right now with this one...

* I live in Dallas and plan on practicing in Dallas
* SMU has offered 25k/year...but yearly tuition/fees/books = $42,000 (on the hook for $17k each year)
* Alabama has offered 27k/year...and yearly tuition/fees/books is $28,000 (on the hook for $1k each year)

If SMU does not increase my scholarship amount - would I be better off attending the higher-ranked Alabama (at virtually no cost) and returning to Dallas post-graduation or should I sacrifice the $16k/year difference and remain in Dallas for networking/logistical purposes? Will attending Alabama hinder my ability to land a good job in Dallas?

Thanks a ton for the feedback!

utb
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby utb » Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:58 am

Anyone have any thoughts? Is it better to get a free-ride to a higher ranked school outside of my core geographic area or would I benefit from staying local - even if that means leaving school with an extra $50k of debt?

pantherfan
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby pantherfan » Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:02 am

Well keep in mind that if you went to Bama and wanted to work in Dallas, you need to come back in the summers, so you're have gonna have to pay extra money in rent, so I'd subtract a bit from your total.

The utility of staying in Dallas, networking, and working part time through years 2 and 3 is very hard to give up. If you truly want to stay in Dallas, I think SMU might be a better bet, but the money is very enticing. Good luck.

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merichard87
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby merichard87 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:04 am

Do you want to do Biglaw? If so I would go to SMU.

But honestly I would probably go to SMU anyway but I am from Texas as well and have a slight bias.

nol607
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby nol607 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:04 am

I would choose SMU without any hesitation. That is a sizeable scholarship, and I really doubt that an Alabama degree would serve you as well as an SMU degree in Texas, in spite of the disparity in ranking.

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deadpanic
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby deadpanic » Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:40 am

nol607 wrote:I would choose SMU without any hesitation. That is a sizeable scholarship, and I really doubt that an Alabama degree would serve you as well as an SMU degree in Texas, in spite of the disparity in ranking.


TITCR

Choose SMU if you want Dallas. Bama's ranking is inflated due to them playing the rankings game. Alabama is a fine school, but don't be fooled by their ranking; if you go there, most of your job offers will be in Alabama (possibly Nashville or ATL if you do well, but don't count on it).

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ggocat
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby ggocat » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:13 pm

utb wrote:Anyone have any thoughts? Is it better to get a free-ride to a higher ranked school outside of my core geographic area or would I benefit from staying local - even if that means leaving school with an extra $50k of debt?

I think it's better to take the free ride. Although SMU will likely offer you better initial employment opportunities in Dallas, I would prefer to save the extra $45,000 plus interest (decreased from $50,000 because, as one poster pointed out, you will likely incur extra costs for travel and housing in Texas over the summer).

What is the renewal requirement for your scholarship at Alabama? That is an important detail. I knew a prospective student who had a particularly stringent renewal requirement at Alabama (I think top 25% or 33%), but after she asked that it be lowered, the school did so.

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fathergoose
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby fathergoose » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:22 pm

If you want to do big law I would check the NLJ class of 2009 placement numbers and see which school did better.

Assuming 16k each year for COL you'll be looking at 51k of debt at Alabama and 100k of debt at SMU.

50k is a big difference but it's not like Bama is free

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thickfreakness
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby thickfreakness » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:25 pm

fathergoose wrote:If you want to do big law I would check the NLJ class of 2009 placement numbers and see which school did better.

Assuming 16k each year for COL you'll be looking at 51k of debt at Alabama and 100k of debt at SMU.
50k is a big difference but it's not like Bama is free



That's a faulty assumption because the COLs are worlds apart in Tuscaloosa and Dallas.

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fathergoose
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby fathergoose » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:52 pm

How do you figure that? I think both there cost of living indexes are under the national average and Dallas (95ish) may be lower than Tuscaloosa (96ish)

keg411
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby keg411 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:24 pm

Are there scholarship stipulations at either school? That makes a difference.

rando
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby rando » Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:30 pm

You are having trouble making a decision about going to a higher ranked school that gave you more money. Why did you apply to Bama if you had no intention of going there?

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fathergoose
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby fathergoose » Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:33 pm

rando wrote:You are having trouble making a decision about going to a higher ranked school that gave you more money. Why did you apply to Bama if you had no intention of going there?


probably the same reason I did --> no application fee

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darknightbegins
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby darknightbegins » Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:37 pm

If you want to work in Dallas than go to SMU. Bama is a good school but it isn't good enough to compensate for the advantages in Dallas SMU provides.

utb
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby utb » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:17 pm

Thanks to everyone for the advice and recommendations. To answer a few of the questions asked above:

I am interested in Alabama; however, I am more interested in SMU. As to why I applied to Alabama - had SMU not provided me with any scholarship or a very small one, accepting at Alabama would be a no-brainer.

Regarding the scholarship terms: Alabama's offer requires that I remain in the top 50% (and if not - the amount drops from $27k to $12k) while SMU's scholarship dictates no specific terms other than "remaining in good standing." Having said that, I have a feeling that Bama would remove that element of the offer if pressed to do so.

I am not sure that I want to enter big law - but I do know that I would prefer to practice in Dallas.

utb
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby utb » Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:46 pm

I am still struggling with this. I know that Bama gets a bad wrap on TLS for playing the ranking game...but they are improving the quality of their student body.

Bama updated my offer to include books throughout my 3 years and removed all restrictions affiliated with the scholly. To update the situation:

* I live in Dallas and plan on practicing in Dallas long-term
* SMU has offered 25k/year...but yearly tuition/fees/books = $42,000 (on the hook for $17k each year + COL difference)
* Alabama has offered 27.5k/year in addition to the cost of books...and yearly tuition/fees is $26,560 (+ $1000)

Overall, I would be looking at $54,000 in additional debt by attending SMU (not including the COL disparity).

If Bama continues to improve its rank, they could be near the top 20 by 2012. While rank obviously isn't everything, Bama at ~22 vs. SMU at 49 (assuming that Bama continues improving while SMU ends its free-fall) seems like a significant enough gap to at least make Bama comparable to SMU in Dallas.

Am I totally off-base?

keg411
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby keg411 » Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:55 pm

Good on 'Bama for removing the scholarship restrictions :). I give them huge props for doing that.

However, I dunno if a ranking change is going to change the minds of attorneys in Dallas. Since 'Bama seems to be pulling out all of the stops, why not ask them to put you in touch with some alumni in TX? Or at least find out if/how they could get you back to Dallas; because otherwise you'll have to do the legwork all on your own and OCI for Alabama seems close to nonexistent.

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MoS
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby MoS » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:01 pm

You are placing too much weight in raw rankings. The most important thing to look at is which school's graduates are getting the jobs you would like. It would be my guess it is SMU graduates if you want to be in Dallas. Really outside of the T-14 and UT there aren't any schools better than SMU for a job in the Dallas area. 50k is a big difference, but if its that big and you are from Dallas, why not live at home during school. Also who cares about the quality of the student body, you should be looking at the quality of the education. SMU has similar if not better number than Bama. And to assume a trend will continue in rankings is not the best logic. Because if that is true Indian will be ranking 1 in 2012 if trends continue, and that will not be happening in my lifetime. But in fairness its your money. I chose a full ride over SMU's 25k/yr scholarship, but it was in a market I like equally as well as the Dallas market.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:02 pm

The Texas contacts & opportunities of attending SMU School of Law far outweigh the benefits of a full tuition scholarship at The Univ. of Alabama School of Law for one intending to practice in Dallas, Texas. Furthermore, as written in an above post, employment opportunities for Alabama graduates are overwhelmingly in the state of Alabama. Also, as posted above, travel costs to Dallas, whether for personal visits or job hunting, will greatly decrease the net financial benefits of the Alabama scholarship.
Are you willing to share your LSAT & GPA stats?

utb
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby utb » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:10 pm

Regarding employment in Dallas - Alabama told me that they create specific marketing packets for each student interested in working out-of-state highlighting Alabama alumni compared to local graduates. They have a list of firms in each market that they connect with and they will send the same packet to any additional firms at your request.

Good idea on speaking with Alumni here - thanks.

I continue to hear that Alabama's employment opportunities are somewhat limited to the Alabama market - but what evidence is there suggesting as much? If 75% of Alabama students are from Alabama, doesn't it stand to reason that 75% of graduates would remain in Alabama?

Couldn't it simply be a correlation?

CanadianWolf
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:13 pm

Okay, go to Alabama (since that's the answer that you want to read apparently).

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kalvano
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby kalvano » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:17 pm

Go to SMU. If you want to work in Dallas, it's your best bet. You'll be very hard-pressed to crack the Dallas market with a degree from Alabama. Rankings won't mean jack, it'll all be about the connections.

utb
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby utb » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:19 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Okay, go to Alabama (since that's the answer that you want to read apparently).


Thank you for that.

Apparently throwing $60k+ away isn't a big deal to you - but it is to me and my family. I'm trying to learn why most believe that a Bama degree wouldn't hold much value in Dallas. You said, "employment opportunities for Alabama graduates are overwhelmingly in the state of Alabama."

I'm just trying to determine how you arrived at this conclusion.

utb
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby utb » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:21 pm

kalvano wrote:Go to SMU. If you want to work in Dallas, it's your best bet. You'll be very hard-pressed to crack the Dallas market with a degree from Alabama. Rankings won't mean jack, it'll all be about the connections.


That's the way that I'm leaning - but man it's hard to leave a free ride on the table. Thanks for all of the suggestions.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Full Ride at Alabama vs 25k at SMU?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:34 pm

Are you willing to post your stats that earned a full tuition scholarship to Alabama?




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