Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

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tangential886
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Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby tangential886 » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:06 am

I'm deciding between Virginia and Michigan and would like some input on the student body and culture at each school, especially from current students. I think that both schools have great programs in what I'm interested in doing and both would land me similar job opportunites. So that means I get to be picky about more minor quality of life factors.

About me: I want to do public interest (especially something to do with international human rights). I am from the south, but I don't fit the typical southern stereotype and my closest friends have rarely been from the south. I have lived and worked abroad and have been out of undergrad for a bit and am not really looking to repeat the college experience. I am socially and politically liberal and know that I do best in an academic environment that leans left and is racially diverse. In fact, I went to a small college in a small town my freshmen year that is frequently described as a "country club college" and I hated it so much that I transferred to a bigger, more liberal school which ended up being a better fit. My top choice for law school would've been Berkeley, but that didn't so much work out...

My concerns about UVA: From what I've read on this board, the school is often described as being conservative and "fratty." When I visited for admitted students event, I saw nothing to dispel these stereotypes. What I saw in fact, was a bunch of white kids in collared shirts at a keg-on-the-quad event. I know that I shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, by I was forcibly reminded of my freshmen year experience. I was also really disturbed by the lack of diversity on campus. So I guess my question is, how conservative is UVA? Is it really as "bro-tastic" as it's usually descibred on these boards? I'm really not trying to stereotype or criticize, I'm just worried about this being a good fit for me.

Michigan: There definitely seemed to be more diversity and just generally a more liberal feel to the school when I visited, but I also didn't get that strong of a feel for any type of distinctive culture there (which really may be a good thing). I'm a little concerned that it seems too much like undergrad, especially with the Lawyers Club being so dorm-like. My only other real hang up is that I hate the cold and have no idea how to live in the snow.

And ultimately, how much does the culture of a school and student body really effect the law school experience anyway? I know it influences the type of student organizations and maybe class discussion, but does it really have that much of an impact? Any input would be greatly appreciate. Thanks!

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holydonkey
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby holydonkey » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:08 am

Buy a coat, get an apartment off the quad, and then go to Michigan.

singingvontrapp
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby singingvontrapp » Thu Apr 08, 2010 12:03 pm

In terms of cultural differences,

UVA is like right here and <-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------> Berkeley's like right here.

I don't know where Michgan would be, but you gotta figure it's somewhere in the middle.

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Tanicius
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby Tanicius » Thu Apr 08, 2010 12:06 pm

singingvontrapp wrote:In terms of cultural differences,

UVA is like right here and <-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------> Berkeley's like right here.

I don't know where Michgan would be, but you gotta figure it's somewhere in the middle.


Huh? What does that scale even refer to?

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SAE
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby SAE » Thu Apr 08, 2010 12:09 pm

Tanicius wrote:
singingvontrapp wrote:In terms of cultural differences,

UVA is like right here and <-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------> Berkeley's like right here.

I don't know where Michgan would be, but you gotta figure it's somewhere in the middle.


Huh? What does that scale even refer to?

Location on the map if you look at it upside down.

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jeeptiger09
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby jeeptiger09 » Thu Apr 08, 2010 12:09 pm

Agreed with above. Can't speak personally to UVA, but I grew up in Ann Arbor. If you lean to the left, and want to thrive in a liberal environment, there is no better place than AA. Sure, the cold will take some adjusting, but you'll learn to tolerate it.

UM may not have given you the feel of having a distinct culture, but there definitely is a unique atmosphere. It's so racially and economically diverse that there isn't one predominant culture over others. Also, AA might feel very undergrad, but it's really not--Michigan has absolutely exceptional graduate schools, including Law, Business, Medicine, and most other social sciences. Everyone just kind of blends in there, especially because it's a great college and young professionals town.

And the food is great! They also bring in tons of stuff, like the Art Fair in July, and different festivals, etc. PM me if you have more questions about the town itself.

showNprove
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby showNprove » Thu Apr 08, 2010 4:16 pm

I'm a current U.Va. student. You should go to Michigan. The stereotypes of U.Va. overstate how "fratty" the culture is here, but there is a reason that stereotype exists. Just based off your interests and concerns, I think Michigan is a better fit for you.

hooty86
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby hooty86 » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:30 pm

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Last edited by hooty86 on Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:47 am, edited 4 times in total.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby vanwinkle » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:35 pm

showNprove wrote:I'm a current U.Va. student. You should go to Michigan. The stereotypes of U.Va. overstate how "fratty" the culture is here, but there is a reason that stereotype exists. Just based off your interests and concerns, I think Michigan is a better fit for you.

As a fellow U.Va. student, TITCR.

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tangential886
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby tangential886 » Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:32 pm

Thanks. This has definitely given me a lot to think about. Does anyone care to weigh in on how much the student body and culture of the school actually impacts academic experience?

akira2185
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby akira2185 » Fri Apr 09, 2010 1:54 am

I cannot speak to Michigan, but I can speak to U.Va... sort of.

I arrived at the ASW and was thrown off -- the event they threw looked like a frat party, at least at first glance. Then I looked around more and the fratty people were admitted students. I brought it up in the group of admits I was talking to and they were all like "well, we heard it was fratty so we dressed the part."

[I'm about to use the word normal a lot. What do I mean by normal? Well, I could go on and on, but basically I mean "not fratty" or !fratty. ... anybody? anybody?]

The actual students I met were wearing t-shirts, shorts, kinda nerdy, and just normal people. Most of my friends that were 1, 2 and 3ls seemed pretty darn normal. The students you would meet while walking around were just normal folks.

This kind of reflects my experience at the school as an undergrad (graduated '08) -- there was a facade of frat-tastic stuff, and then the normal people that did normal things. I totally bought into the fratty thing as a first year because that was my impression of what one should do at the school -- then quickly disassociated myself and found out about the wealth of stuff the rest of the school is really about.

As far as whether the school is conservative: the undergrad experience felt comfortably liberal. I'm liberal/moderate and honestly felt disappointed -- as though everyone agreed with me. Except for one guy. He's a 2L right now. His middle name is Yancy, and there is a IV at the end of his name. With a name like that I don't think he can help it.

I honestly feel like people talk about the academics being liberal because 1) the school is in the "red state" VA, 2) Scalia taught there, and 3) a small handful of commonly read articles from the VA Law Review are fairly conservative. Some things to remember though: 1) Charlottesville is usually very "blue" within VA, usually only second in "blueness" to Northern VA, 2) Ted and Robert Kennedy each attended the school, and 3) plenty more articles from the VA Law Review are liberal.

Even if I'm wrong and the school is a bastion of neo-Cons fresh out of fellowships with the American Enterprise Institute and 1Ls who just finished their summer interning with "Teabaggers", I will be liberal with you at UVa! Oooh, and we can wear collarless shirts in non-pastel colors too.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:03 am

Of the two schools, Michigan is the better fit for you. Are there any other choices?

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D Brooks
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby D Brooks » Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:04 am

akira2185 wrote:Oooh, and we can wear collarless shirts in non-pastel colors too.


Unspeakable!

nascent
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby nascent » Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:05 am

uva also worships Thomas Jefferson.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby vanwinkle » Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:10 am

nascent wrote:uva also worships Thomas Jefferson.

Only because he was the greatest president EVER. :roll:

/UVa

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maximus32
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby maximus32 » Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:31 am

singingvontrapp wrote:In terms of cultural differences,

UVA is like right here and <-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------> Berkeley's like right here.

I don't know where Michgan would be, but you gotta figure it's somewhere in the middle.



Could also be positions on the ideological scale if you look at it upside down.

akira2185
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby akira2185 » Fri Apr 09, 2010 12:45 pm

Just out of curiosity, how many people on here actually have first-hand knowledge of UVA? Or Michigan for that matter? I think my greatest frustration with the TLS forums is that they seem to mainly perpetuate ill-informed stereotypes.

Do UVA students worship Jefferson? I sure didn't, and most people I knew thought he was a little crazy.

As to the original post... I think people break down as follows: 1/3 will be happy wherever they go to school, 1/3 will be happy at a handful of schools, 1/3 will be unhappy and grumble about whatever school they go to. Which one are you? If you're in that middle third, there's still a chance that both Michigan and UVa would make you happy. I think the reality of the schools is very different from the perception. Therefore, I think the question you might have to ask yourself is would you mind being associated with a school that has a reputation (deserved or not) for being fratty? If it doesn't matter, then I think your choice is best left up to a coin flip. If it does though -- I think you've answered your question simply by asking it.

fortissimo
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby fortissimo » Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:06 pm

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Last edited by fortissimo on Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

akira2185
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby akira2185 » Sat Apr 10, 2010 1:47 am

fortissimo wrote:
akira2185 wrote:I cannot speak to Michigan, but I can speak to U.Va... sort of.

I arrived at the ASW and was thrown off -- the event they threw looked like a frat party, at least at first glance. Then I looked around more and the fratty people were admitted students. I brought it up in the group of admits I was talking to and they were all like "well, we heard it was fratty so we dressed the part."

[I'm about to use the word normal a lot. What do I mean by normal? Well, I could go on and on, but basically I mean "not fratty" or !fratty. ... anybody? anybody?]

The actual students I met were wearing t-shirts, shorts, kinda nerdy, and just normal people. Most of my friends that were 1, 2 and 3ls seemed pretty darn normal. The students you would meet while walking around were just normal folks.

This kind of reflects my experience at the school as an undergrad (graduated '08) -- there was a facade of frat-tastic stuff, and then the normal people that did normal things. I totally bought into the fratty thing as a first year because that was my impression of what one should do at the school -- then quickly disassociated myself and found out about the wealth of stuff the rest of the school is really about.

As far as whether the school is conservative: the undergrad experience felt comfortably liberal. I'm liberal/moderate and honestly felt disappointed -- as though everyone agreed with me. Except for one guy. He's a 2L right now. His middle name is Yancy, and there is a IV at the end of his name. With a name like that I don't think he can help it.

I honestly feel like people talk about the academics being liberal because 1) the school is in the "red state" VA, 2) Scalia taught there, and 3) a small handful of commonly read articles from the VA Law Review are fairly conservative. Some things to remember though: 1) Charlottesville is usually very "blue" within VA, usually only second in "blueness" to Northern VA, 2) Ted and Robert Kennedy each attended the school, and 3) plenty more articles from the VA Law Review are liberal.

Even if I'm wrong and the school is a bastion of neo-Cons fresh out of fellowships with the American Enterprise Institute and 1Ls who just finished their summer interning with "Teabaggers", I will be liberal with you at UVa! Oooh, and we can wear collarless shirts in non-pastel colors too.


Fwiw, at least 50% of UVA-ers are from the South. I've heard of a very distinct "Southern" student body there.

80% of Michigan students are from more liberal areas like the East Coast (a lot of New Yorkers), West Coast (fair number of Californians), and places in the Midwest outside of Michigan.


Well... That's because an absurd number of UVA-ers are from VA. But the majority of us from VA are from Northern Virginia which is not southern at all. Most of us from Northern Virginia would consider ourselves East Coasters and probably shudder at the thought of being considered southerners...

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rockchalk86
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby rockchalk86 » Sat Apr 10, 2010 7:17 am

akira2185 wrote:
fortissimo wrote:
akira2185 wrote:I cannot speak to Michigan, but I can speak to U.Va... sort of.

I arrived at the ASW and was thrown off -- the event they threw looked like a frat party, at least at first glance. Then I looked around more and the fratty people were admitted students. I brought it up in the group of admits I was talking to and they were all like "well, we heard it was fratty so we dressed the part."

[I'm about to use the word normal a lot. What do I mean by normal? Well, I could go on and on, but basically I mean "not fratty" or !fratty. ... anybody? anybody?]

The actual students I met were wearing t-shirts, shorts, kinda nerdy, and just normal people. Most of my friends that were 1, 2 and 3ls seemed pretty darn normal. The students you would meet while walking around were just normal folks.

This kind of reflects my experience at the school as an undergrad (graduated '08) -- there was a facade of frat-tastic stuff, and then the normal people that did normal things. I totally bought into the fratty thing as a first year because that was my impression of what one should do at the school -- then quickly disassociated myself and found out about the wealth of stuff the rest of the school is really about.

As far as whether the school is conservative: the undergrad experience felt comfortably liberal. I'm liberal/moderate and honestly felt disappointed -- as though everyone agreed with me. Except for one guy. He's a 2L right now. His middle name is Yancy, and there is a IV at the end of his name. With a name like that I don't think he can help it.

I honestly feel like people talk about the academics being liberal because 1) the school is in the "red state" VA, 2) Scalia taught there, and 3) a small handful of commonly read articles from the VA Law Review are fairly conservative. Some things to remember though: 1) Charlottesville is usually very "blue" within VA, usually only second in "blueness" to Northern VA, 2) Ted and Robert Kennedy each attended the school, and 3) plenty more articles from the VA Law Review are liberal.

Even if I'm wrong and the school is a bastion of neo-Cons fresh out of fellowships with the American Enterprise Institute and 1Ls who just finished their summer interning with "Teabaggers", I will be liberal with you at UVa! Oooh, and we can wear collarless shirts in non-pastel colors too.


Fwiw, at least 50% of UVA-ers are from the South. I've heard of a very distinct "Southern" student body there.

80% of Michigan students are from more liberal areas like the East Coast (a lot of New Yorkers), West Coast (fair number of Californians), and places in the Midwest outside of Michigan.


Well... That's because an absurd number of UVA-ers are from VA. But the majority of us from VA are from Northern Virginia which is not southern at all. Most of us from Northern Virginia would consider ourselves East Coasters and probably shudder at the thought of being considered southerners...


I never knew Northern Virginians were part of the union and opposed to slavery... And all these years I thought all of Virginia was considered the South :mrgreen:

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Cavalier
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby Cavalier » Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:15 am

Which President of the United States founded the University of Michigan? Oh, that's right. I would post more, but I've got to apply more starch to my collar so that it will stay popped.

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laweli
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby laweli » Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:36 am

How does the culture of Michigan differ from the culture at Penn?
Last edited by laweli on Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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holydonkey
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby holydonkey » Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:52 am

laweli wrote:Slightly off topic, but the VA v. Michigan discussion seems to have its course...

So, how does the culture of Michigan differ from the culture at Penn?
Where everyone wants to have Jefferson's baby at UVA, there is an equally unhealthy love of Mr. Franklin at Penn. Franklin obviously wins in this fight as he is on the $100 bill.

Michigan does not have a figure to represent them on US currency, so thankfully has managed to dodge retarded arguments over ancestor worship.

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tangential886
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby tangential886 » Sat Apr 10, 2010 3:36 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Of the two schools, Michigan is the better fit for you. Are there any other choices?


I also went to visit Vanderbilt this week and expected it to be a lot like UVA but surprised to see a lot more diversity there. Any thoughts on this? I also have yet to withdraw from GULC but am fairly intimidated by the size and the potential competition for public interest resources.

I definitely agree with everyone that Michigan is a better fit culturally for me, but if I want to come back to the south (only large cities like Atlanta, New Orleans, or Houston) or go to the west coast, will going up north for 3 years really give me that much of an advantage?

showNprove
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Re: Virginia vs. Michigan: school culture

Postby showNprove » Sat Apr 10, 2010 3:42 pm

tangential886 wrote:
CanadianWolf wrote:Of the two schools, Michigan is the better fit for you. Are there any other choices?


I also went to visit Vanderbilt this week and expected it to be a lot like UVA but surprised to see a lot more diversity there. Any thoughts on this? I also have yet to withdraw from GULC but am fairly intimidated by the size and the potential competition for public interest resources.

I definitely agree with everyone that Michigan is a better fit culturally for me, but if I want to come back to the south (only large cities like Atlanta, New Orleans, or Houston) or go to the west coast, will going up north for 3 years really give me that much of an advantage?

UVa will definitely do better than Michigan in ATL, NO, and Houston. You'll need to weigh the importance of culture vs. placement.




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