Boalt or Vandy ($)

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Berkeley or Vandy ($)

Berkeley
96
84%
Vanderbilt
18
16%
 
Total votes: 114

general100
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Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby general100 » Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:22 pm

So I worried long ago that I'd be in this position. I'm in at Boalt with no financial aid and have an unconditional merit/need scholarship combo of $15k/year at Vanderbilt. I'm interested in biglaw in LA, NY, DC, or Atlanta and possibly academia further down the road. Need a pleasant law school experience, as much geographic flexibility as possible after graduation, great chances for a clerkship, and above all, want to maximize the odds that I get a great job upon graduation (don't we all...).

From my calculations, the difference between Vandy and Berkeley will be between $50k and $60k over three years, depending on the rate of Vandy's tuition increase, etc. (Berkeley has projected out total cost through 2013...).

Is this enough money to sway a decision?

general100
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby general100 » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:29 pm

made it a poll...

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jonas
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby jonas » Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:41 am

With the goals you've described, choosing Vanderbilt would be a mistake.

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D. H2Oman
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby D. H2Oman » Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:47 am

jonas wrote:With the goals you've described, choosing Vanderbilt would be a mistake.



This, I hope you like hemp.

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General Tso
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby General Tso » Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:59 am

Berkeley and it's not even close

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Dignan
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby Dignan » Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:26 am

Biglaw in LA? Berkeley by a mile.

Biglaw in NY? Berkeley.

Biglaw in DC? Berkeley.

Biglaw in Atlanta? Vandy.

Academia down the road? Berkeley by a mile.

If you were completely set on a big law job in Atlanta, then Vandy w/15K would be a solid choice. But given that you want "geographic flexibility," "to maximize the odds that [you] get a great job," and the possibility of academia, this is not a close question.

general100
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby general100 » Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:55 am

So, update: After taking a hard look at the numbers, it's more like $$ than $. Berkeley's astronomical fee increases mean that tuition will be something on the order of $52,000 next year. (Projected increases through 2013 also wipe out the advantage of becoming a CA resident after the first year -- it will just keep tuition at around $52-53k for the three years). Vanderbilt will be $46,000, plus I have an unconditional $15k/year scholarship. After accounting for the expected 4-5% annual increase at Vandy, that's about a $60,000 difference over three years -- a shitload of money.

Does this change anything? I'm mostly interested in NY and DC. I'm worried that Boalt, despite being a T14, may not be worth more than $200k in debt.

If I can squeeze more out of Vanderbilt, would it make a difference? How much would be a decider for you, if any?

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stratocophic
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby stratocophic » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:15 am

general100 wrote:So, update: After taking a hard look at the numbers, it's more like $$ than $. Berkeley's astronomical fee increases mean that tuition will be something on the order of $52,000 next year. (Projected increases through 2013 also wipe out the advantage of becoming a CA resident after the first year -- it will just keep tuition at around $52-53k for the three years). Vanderbilt will be $46,000, plus I have an unconditional $15k/year scholarship. After accounting for the expected 4-5% annual increase at Vandy, that's about a $60,000 difference over three years -- a shitload of money.

Does this change anything? I'm mostly interested in NY and DC. I'm worried that Boalt, despite being a T14, may not be worth more than $200k in debt.

If I can squeeze more out of Vanderbilt, would it make a difference? How much would be a decider for you, if any?
Dunno how true it is, but I've heard speculation on TLS that Cali's financial straits could cause Berkeley and/or other California schools to make the resident bar higher, which would cause a pretty substantial increase in the debt you'll accrue at Boalt. Given your goals, I'd probably still take Berkeley... but then again, I'm turning down Vandy for a lower-ranked school that offered me more money, so maybe my head would say differently if it was my decision.

woeisme
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby woeisme » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:21 am

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Last edited by woeisme on Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Dignan
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby Dignan » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:31 am

stratocophic wrote:
Dunno how true it is, but I've heard speculation on TLS that Cali's financial straits could cause Berkeley and/or other California schools to make the resident bar higher, which would cause a pretty substantial increase in the debt you'll accrue at Boalt.

This speculation has already materialized. The University of California did dramatically increase the tuition for in-state residents, and they've set the increased tuition schedule through 2012-13. I think that's what the OP is reacting to.

OP: 200K in debt with a Berkeley law degree is scary. But 140K in debt with a Vandy law degree is also scary. I think that Berkeley gives you a better chance at your goal of landing a job in DC or NYC. Is that advantage worth 60K to you? It would be worth 60K to me, but you'll have to answer the question yourself.

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stratocophic
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby stratocophic » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:51 am

Dignan wrote:
stratocophic wrote:
Dunno how true it is, but I've heard speculation on TLS that Cali's financial straits could cause Berkeley and/or other California schools to make the resident bar higher, which would cause a pretty substantial increase in the debt you'll accrue at Boalt.

This speculation has already materialized. The University of California did dramatically increase the tuition for in-state residents, and they've set the increased tuition schedule through 2012-13. I think that's what the OP is reacting to.

OP: 200K in debt with a Berkeley law degree is scary. But 140K in debt with a Vandy law degree is also scary. I think that Berkeley gives you a better chance at your goal of landing a job in DC or NYC. Is that advantage worth 60K to you? It would be worth 60K to me, but you'll have to answer the question yourself.
Nah, I wasn't sufficiently clear. Others have opined that the California schools could make it more difficult to actually acquire the in-state status at all. Again, this is speculation, and while it would have large financial implications if true, should not be taken as something to prepare for or expect.

60k as a minimum is a huge sum to swallow, but the advantage, as Dignan said, is probably large enough to warrant it. The interest in academia (while unlikely to matter, given the miniscule chance of anyone outside of Yale landing academia) supports it, at least in your case.

Wooster33
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby Wooster33 » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:58 am

Boalt but mostly because you want academia options.

I don't think the employment prospects are going to vary all that much honestly, and whatever gap there is will probably shrink iTE (many people have good things to say about Vandy's placement and it has a smaller class).

A lot of people don't like Berkeley the city (and a lot of people do). I would check it out before you make a decision. However, the academia angle makes Berkeley the choice for you, IMO.

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Rock Chalk
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby Rock Chalk » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:59 am

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Last edited by Rock Chalk on Wed May 16, 2012 2:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby quickquestionthanks » Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:05 am

Wooster33 wrote:A lot of people don't like Berkeley the city (and a lot of people do). I would check it out before you make a decision. However, the academia angle makes Berkeley the choice for you, IMO.



Agreed. I visited Berkeley for UG and decided not to apply. Went and saw some friends who live there (6 years later) and hated even more than the first time I went.

Still I voted for Berkeley because it's a much better regarded school (and attaining you goals is based on reputation) and 60k isn't that much money when you're already going into 6 figure debt.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:08 am

Wooster33 wrote:Boalt but mostly because you want academia options.

general100
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby general100 » Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:18 am

I now wonder if the academia option -- something that I really haven't invested tons of time thinking about -- should cost $60,000?

I'm going to try to negotiate with Vanderbilt before the deposit deadline this Thursday. (I'd love to negotiate with Berkeley, but I believe that that turnip is dry...). Out of curiosity, at what amount of money might you change your mind? If they even increased the scholarship by some relatively modest amount -- 5000/year -- the difference would become $75,000-$80,000 (this is just tuition), and at that point, I'd probably be able to go to Vanderbilt twice for the price of Berkeley.

I recognize that Berkeley is a better school. It clearly has a better reputation. The students are probably more accomplished. But at what point are the additional opportunities afforded by a school like Boalt mitigated by the fact that I'll be paying this shit off until I'm 50!? I want freedom to have a great, high paying job, but I also want the freedom to leave it at some point!

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Dignan
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby Dignan » Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:46 am

general100 wrote:I'm going to try to negotiate with Vanderbilt before the deposit deadline this Thursday. (I'd love to negotiate with Berkeley, but I believe that that turnip is dry...). Out of curiosity, at what amount of money might you change your mind? If they even increased the scholarship by some relatively modest amount -- 5000/year -- the difference would become $75,000-$80,000 (this is just tuition), and at that point, I'd probably be able to go to Vanderbilt twice for the price of Berkeley.

I recognize that Berkeley is a better school. It clearly has a better reputation. The students are probably more accomplished. But at what point are the additional opportunities afforded by a school like Boalt mitigated by the fact that I'll be paying this shit off until I'm 50!? I want freedom to have a great, high paying job, but I also want the freedom to leave it at some point!

At the risk of sounding obvious, I'll just say that this is a personal decision. You have to decide what factors are important. There are people who have turned down Yale for Vanderbilt. And there are people who have turned down substantial scholarships at Vandy for GW at sticker. Those people weighed what was important to them and made a decision. You've got to do the same.

If it were me, I would--without hesitation--choose Berkeley at sticker over Vanderbilt with a full scholarship. But I like California and I know that I don't want to work in the South. Yes, a few Vanderbilt grads get out of the region, but the overwhelming majority of them end up in Southern markets. Frankly, I would not want to run the risk of being stuck there. That's me, though. It's your preferences that matter.
Last edited by Dignan on Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby quickquestionthanks » Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:58 am

OP, you said you are interested in biglaw in the top markets in the country. Go to Boalt. You will do much better.

Wooster33
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby Wooster33 » Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:41 pm

I recognize that Berkeley is a better school. It clearly has a better reputation. The students are probably more accomplished. But at what point are the additional opportunities afforded by a school like Boalt mitigated by the fact that I'll be paying this shit off until I'm 50!? I want freedom to have a great, high paying job, but I also want the freedom to leave it at some point!


Berkeley is clearly the rankings winner, but not that long ago it was regularly outside of the top 10. Clearly it is the better choice if you want to practice in California or if you want to have stronger chances at an academic position later in life.

I am not convinced you would be better off securing firm employment by attending Berkeley. Vanderbilt has a class size about half as large and has traditionally done pretty well (for its rank) in Big Law placement. California is particularly hard hit economically and something like 60-70% of Berkeley graduates secure employment there (the admissions office will tell you this is student choice rather than employment options, but it's at least partly driven by employment options). In contrast, only about 40% of Vanderbilt graduates pratice in the entire South (and that includes states like Florida which aren't very "Southern" anymore).

You seem really torn. Have you visited both schools? Personally I would much rather spend 3 years in Nashville than Berkeley, but there are a lot of people who would disagree. As I mentioned before, a lot of people really aren't into Berkeley the city (some Berkeley students I have talked to commented that the place grew on them, though).

Berkeley's quirky grading system is also something to consider. It lumps a lot of the class together. Going from memory, I think something like 60% of the class receives a Pass. Thus, if you are a median kid in most classes you will ahve straight passes, making it impossible to distinguqish between somebody who consistently scores median and somebody who consistently scores at the bottom of the pass range. Thus, if you want to slack off, Berkeley helps you. However, if you think you will do well but not consistently top thirdish, then Berkeley's grading system would probably hurt you.
Last edited by Wooster33 on Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby jenesaislaw » Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:44 pm

OP, I think this is a much closer call than many are willing to give credit. $60,000 is a substantial amount of money, especially when you consider interest and that it is $60,000 on top of another $140,000. You're right to have this weigh so hard on you.

Just to be transparent, I am a 2L at Vanderbilt. I love it here and am very happy with the decision I made (I chose Vandy over an equal scholarship at both Texas and Cornell). As far as the career prospects go, I do not think Berkeley places that much better than Vandy. Just looking at the NLJ 250 numbers - a good metric for Biglaw, though not an end-all because it is not more than a basic metric for prestige and salary - Vanderbilt and Berkeley placed about the same number of grads in NLJ 250 firms for the Class of 2009 (47.1% and 50% respectively). In 2008, on the other hand, Berkeley outplaced Vandy by 18%. So for what it's worth, when the market retracted pretty sharply, Vandy still went up %wise while Berkeley went down significantly. What this means is an open question, however. On the one hand, it appears Vandy handled the market decline much better. On the other, it also appears Berkeley has higher ceiling for placement. The open question is what's the market going to look like for the Class of 2013 and how will placement continue to shift.

Digman made the point that if you don't want to work in the south, you shouldn't go to Vanderbilt. First, he is dead wrong that "the overwhelming majority of [Vanderbilt graduates] end up in the Southern markets." Depending on how far you want to expand what it means to be a "Southern market" - i.e. do you include Texas? D.C.? Virginia? - you end up with either a bit below 50% or a bit above 50% for the Class of 2009. Either way, it is not an overwhelming majority.

The risk of "being stuck [here]" he talks about is also confusing given how protective many of the southern markets are of local graduates. That is, your default is not working for a firm in Nashville or Birmingham because law firms in these two cities require strong ties to the city in almost all cases, except where your grades are exceptional.

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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby Rawlsian » Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:52 pm

Dignan wrote:
general100 wrote:I'm going to try to negotiate with Vanderbilt before the deposit deadline this Thursday. (I'd love to negotiate with Berkeley, but I believe that that turnip is dry...). Out of curiosity, at what amount of money might you change your mind? If they even increased the scholarship by some relatively modest amount -- 5000/year -- the difference would become $75,000-$80,000 (this is just tuition), and at that point, I'd probably be able to go to Vanderbilt twice for the price of Berkeley.

I recognize that Berkeley is a better school. It clearly has a better reputation. The students are probably more accomplished. But at what point are the additional opportunities afforded by a school like Boalt mitigated by the fact that I'll be paying this shit off until I'm 50!? I want freedom to have a great, high paying job, but I also want the freedom to leave it at some point!

At the risk of sounding obvious, I'll just say that this is a personal decision. You have to decide what factors are important. There are people who have turned down Yale for Vanderbilt. And there are people who have turned down substantial scholarships at Vandy for GW at sticker. Those people weighed what was important to them and made a decision. You've got to do the same.

If it were me, I would--without hesitation--choose Berkeley at sticker over Vanderbilt with a full scholarship. But I like California and I know that I don't want to work in the South. Yes, a few Vanderbilt grads get out of the region, but the overwhelming majority of them end up in Southern markets. Frankly, I would not want to run the risk of being stuck there. That's me, though. It's your preferences that matter.


Just clarifying: the majority of Vandy grads leave the South. During the last 5 years 43% have stayed in the South. While this is significantly more than any other single region, the majority nonetheless go to other parts of the county.

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Dignan
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby Dignan » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:20 pm

Some people ITT have (correctly) called me out for the way I characterized Vandy, and I want to clarify a couple of things.

As I tried to make abundantly clear in my post, I would be concerned about being stuck in the South. I don't think that anyone else necessarily needs to be. But unless you go to Yale or Harvard, the region in which you go to law school is going to have an affect on your employment prospects. This is even true of T6 schools; it's certainly true of Vandy.

Having said that, I should not have said that an overwhelming majority of Vandy graduates end up in Southern markets. I have no reason to disbelieve the posters who claim that roughly half of Vandy grads leave the South. The reason I wrote what I did are links like this one:

http://www.calvin.edu/admin/csr/student ... w/data.htm

It appears to me that Vandy grads are really focused in Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston. (Part of the problem here might be definitional: I think of Texas as being part of the South, while others may not.) Also, the firms listed are relatively elite firms. It might be that Vandy grads gravitate to other markets but work in less prestigious firms. In any event, I shouldn't have been so categorical, and I apologize.
Last edited by Dignan on Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

savagecheater
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby savagecheater » Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:03 pm

California's dying, NY's market is saturated, DC is clogged with GULCs, and Yale has the lock on academia, and Boalt's expensive.

Yes, it's a difficult choice, but Vandy with reasonable $$$ and a lock on its market would be more attractive to me.

Then again, Boalt is the bigger name, so I think that ultimately wins.

hooty86
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby hooty86 » Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:13 pm

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Grizz
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Re: Boalt or Vandy ($)

Postby Grizz » Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:42 pm

general100 wrote:So I worried long ago that I'd be in this position. I'm in at Boalt with no financial aid and have an unconditional merit/need scholarship combo of $15k/year at Vanderbilt. I'm interested in biglaw in LA, NY, DC, or Atlanta and possibly academia further down the road. Need a pleasant law school experience, as much geographic flexibility as possible after graduation, great chances for a clerkship, and above all, want to maximize the odds that I get a great job upon graduation (don't we all...).

From my calculations, the difference between Vandy and Berkeley will be between $50k and $60k over three years, depending on the rate of Vandy's tuition increase, etc. (Berkeley has projected out total cost through 2013...).

Is this enough money to sway a decision?


Berk because you want LA, NY, DC biglaw and academia options. If you had $50k-$70k at Vandy, then it would be a harder choice.




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