Is Columbia worth it?

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Hattori Hanzo
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Is Columbia worth it?

Postby Hattori Hanzo » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:21 am

I finally got my financial aid award letter from Columbia and I would be graduating with $130K in debt. I am not interested in BigLaw or NYC and will most likely come back to CA to pursue PI or hopefully academia. My number two option is Berkeley that has so far only offered me $18K/yr in need-based (Columbia offered only $5k/year) pending my request to match the Columbia scholarship. IF Berkeley matches Columbia's merit scholarship, I could graduate with $70-80K in debt. Under those circumstances would Berkeley be a better option? How much more is Columbia worth?

Unfortunately I don't know much about the job market now and I am afraid that $130K in debt could force me into BigLaw where I know I will be miserable.

Edit: Cal= Berkeley
Last edited by Hattori Hanzo on Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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legalease9
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby legalease9 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:25 am

Hattori Hanzo wrote:I finally got my financial aid award letter from Columbia and I would be graduating with $130K in debt. I am not interested in BigLaw or NYC and will most likely come back to CA to pursue PI or hopefully academia. My number two option is Cal that has so far only offered me $18K/yr in need-based (Columbia offered only $5k/year) pending my request to match the Columbia scholarship. IF Cal matches Columbia's merit scholarship, I could graduate with $70-80K in debt. Under those circumstances would Cal be a better option? How much more is Columbia worth?

Unfortunately I don't know much about the job market now and I am afraid that $130K in debt could force me into BigLaw where I know I will be miserable.


Forgive my ignorance, what is Cal?

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tadams86
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby tadams86 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:27 am

legalease9 wrote:
Hattori Hanzo wrote:I finally got my financial aid award letter from Columbia and I would be graduating with $130K in debt. I am not interested in BigLaw or NYC and will most likely come back to CA to pursue PI or hopefully academia. My number two option is Cal that has so far only offered me $18K/yr in need-based (Columbia offered only $5k/year) pending my request to match the Columbia scholarship. IF Cal matches Columbia's merit scholarship, I could graduate with $70-80K in debt. Under those circumstances would Cal be a better option? How much more is Columbia worth?

Unfortunately I don't know much about the job market now and I am afraid that $130K in debt could force me into BigLaw where I know I will be miserable.


Forgive my ignorance, what is Cal?


Cal = Berkeley

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Hattori Hanzo
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby Hattori Hanzo » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:30 am

legalease9 wrote:
Hattori Hanzo wrote:I finally got my financial aid award letter from Columbia and I would be graduating with $130K in debt. I am not interested in BigLaw or NYC and will most likely come back to CA to pursue PI or hopefully academia. My number two option is Cal that has so far only offered me $18K/yr in need-based (Columbia offered only $5k/year) pending my request to match the Columbia scholarship. IF Cal matches Columbia's merit scholarship, I could graduate with $70-80K in debt. Under those circumstances would Cal be a better option? How much more is Columbia worth?

Unfortunately I don't know much about the job market now and I am afraid that $130K in debt could force me into BigLaw where I know I will be miserable.


Forgive my ignorance, what is Cal?


Edited :)

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby quickquestionthanks » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:38 am

Isn't there a LRAP that could help you out? If I recall correctly, Columbia's is quite generous in their forgiveness.

Also, have you visited Berkeley? I personally detest the town and I know there are many with the same sentiment. Not sure who doesn't like Manhattan. Hate to be a rankings junkie, but Columbia is solidly in the fourth position after HYS, while Berkeley's status seems to fluctuate greatly.

But if you prefer Boalt, go to Boalt.

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Dignan
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby Dignan » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:49 am

HH,

Is Columbia worth it? For most people, the answer to your question would be "yes."

But you don't want big law, you don't want to work in NYC, and you want to pursue PI/academia in California. If there was ever a person who should pick Berkeley over CLS, it's you.

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legalease9
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby legalease9 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:52 am

Berkeley. Do it. The difference in debt is more than worth the drop in prestige, especially since you don't want to do big law, which is Columbia's big (HUGE) strength.

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Cara
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby Cara » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:55 am

Dignan wrote:HH,

Is Columbia worth it? For most people, the answer to your question would be "yes."

But you don't want big law, you don't want to work in NYC, and you want to pursue PI/academia in California. If there was ever a person who should pick Berkeley over CLS, it's you.


I'm a big CLS troll but in this case I entirely agree

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Dignan
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby Dignan » Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:03 am

quickquestionthanks wrote:
Also, have you visited Berkeley? I personally detest the town and I know there are many with the same sentiment. Not sure who doesn't like Manhattan. Hate to be a rankings junkie, but Columbia is solidly in the fourth position after HYS, while Berkeley's status seems to fluctuate greatly.

Over the past two weeks, I've talked to several lawyers and law professors, of different ages and backgrounds, about CLS and Berkeley. Everyone referred to Berkeley as a "solid top-10 school." I don't think that anyone who matters (i.e., people who make legal hiring decisions) cares if a top school fluctuates in a magazine's ranking system.

About half the people I talked to--and this surprised me--said that they considered CLS and Berkeley to be equivalent law schools in terms of reputation and quality. Interestingly, each of these people had graduated from either HLS or YLS. (It made me wonder if Harvard and Yale grads look down at Columbia a bit and thus tend to underrate it.) The other half said something along the lines of: "CLS is a slightly better law school, but I'd go to Berkeley if you want to work in California."
Last edited by Dignan on Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby quickquestionthanks » Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:06 am

LOL

I'm sure they're saying "after Harvard/Yale, it's all the same to me"


But to this point...
Everyone referred to Berkeley as a "solid top-10 school."


I would say that strengthens my point that Columbia is squarely better reputation-wise, which matters for academia and clerkships. No one would say that about Columbia. In fact, they wouldn't even say it's a "solid top-5 school." To me, that above phrase seems a little derogatory.

Well OP, I would suggest that maybe I gave you some bad advice since you want to return to California (although I still think the Columbia name makes you a rarity in CA), but at least I bumped the thread 8)

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Dignan
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby Dignan » Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:17 am

quickquestionthanks wrote:LOL

I'm sure they're saying "after Harvard/Yale, it's all the same to me"


But to this point...
Everyone referred to Berkeley as a "solid top-10 school."


I would say that strengthens my point that Columbia is squarely better reputation-wise, which matters for academia and clerkships. No one would say that about Columbia. In fact, they wouldn't even say it's a "solid top-5 school." To me, that above phrase seems a little derogatory.

I think that's because you're more focused on the rankings than actual lawyers are. One lawyer I talked to--a senior partner at a V15 firm--had no idea if Berkeley was ranked 5th or 15th by USNWR. And he had no idea if CLS was in the top 5, and he didn't care.

shmoo597
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby shmoo597 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:18 am

I have nothing to add to this thread except to say say that berkeley/the bay area in general is really a great place to live. Going there for undergrad I was initially turned off by the gritty urbaness of the place, but there's really so much more...incredible and accessible natural beauty, great campus, good weather, a VERY interesting town (crazy people, restaurants (omg I salivate thinking about all the good eating in berkeley), general state of mind), and proximity to the san francisco, oakland, east bay, etc. Of course manhattan is manhattan, but berkeley is a really cool place in it's own right.

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legalease9
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby legalease9 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:19 am

quickquestionthanks wrote:LOL

I'm sure they're saying "after Harvard/Yale, it's all the same to me"


But to this point...
Everyone referred to Berkeley as a "solid top-10 school."


I would say that strengthens my point that Columbia is squarely better reputation-wise, which matters for academia and clerkships. No one would say that about Berkeley. In fact, they wouldn't even say it's a "solid top-5 school." To me, that above phrase seems a little derogatory.

Well OP, I would suggest that maybe I gave you some bad advice since you want to return to California (although I still think the Columbia name makes you a rarity in CA), but at least I bumped the thread 8)


ftfy

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby quickquestionthanks » Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:49 pm

legalease9 wrote:
quickquestionthanks wrote:LOL

I'm sure they're saying "after Harvard/Yale, it's all the same to me"


But to this point...
Everyone referred to Berkeley as a "solid top-10 school."


I would say that strengthens my point that Columbia is squarely better reputation-wise, which matters for academia and clerkships. No one would say that about Berkeley. In fact, they wouldn't even say it's a "solid top-5 school." To me, that above phrase seems a little derogatory.

Well OP, I would suggest that maybe I gave you some bad advice since you want to return to California (although I still think the Columbia name makes you a rarity in CA), but at least I bumped the thread 8)


ftfy


I don't get it.

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DerrickRose
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby DerrickRose » Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:54 pm

Berkeley suits your needs better and its cheaper. What else is there?

Going to Columbia would be nothing but prestige whoring. Its a great school, but you have a better choice for you.

And PS, why can't Berkeley just call their sports teams Berkeley? "Cal" could mean 50,000 different things, but everyone knows what Berkeley is.

Wooster33
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby Wooster33 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:22 pm

Columbia without question.

Do it!

And congratz.

Wooster33
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby Wooster33 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:24 pm

proximity to the san francisco, oakland, east bay, etc.


Proximity to Oakland is a plus? Alrighty then!

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby quickquestionthanks » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:39 pm

Wooster33 wrote:
proximity to the san francisco, oakland, east bay, etc.


Proximity to Oakland is a plus? Alrighty then!


Lol

FWIW I hear they have the best pizzeria in the Bay Area.

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chris0805
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby chris0805 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:57 pm

I think Berkeley might be a better option for you in this instance because you want to be in California for PI. Public Interest jobs sometimes require more networking, more relationship building, etc. COMPARED to biglaw. You can definitely get a public interest position anywhere in the country coming out of CLS (or Berkeley), but it's not like non-profits just show up at OCI from all over the country the way they do for big law.

In terms of money, I think Columbia could end up being a better deal because Boalt's new LRAP makes you take advantage of IBR, which means you basically HAVE to make a ten year committment. Also, CLS just unveiled their IBR option, which is more generous than the Boalt option, but still allows you to do just the traditional LRAP if you aren't comfortable planning ten years into the future.


Basically, Boalt's probably better than you think at getting the jobs you want, but CLS is also probably better than you think at saving you money.

fortissimo
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby fortissimo » Fri Apr 23, 2010 5:41 pm

I agree with others, but one word of warning. Friend's need-based aid was turned down 2L year at Boalt, so this person only got need-based aid (10k) for 1L year. Don't expect that you'll get 18k/year, especially if you get their fellowship money (something like 4k) for the 1L summer job. (If you look carefully at your need-based aid offer, it says that Boalt reevaluates your circumstances for need-based aid "every year..." so the 18k is definitely not guaranteed.)
Last edited by fortissimo on Fri Apr 23, 2010 5:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.

fortissimo
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby fortissimo » Fri Apr 23, 2010 5:47 pm

quickquestionthanks wrote:
Wooster33 wrote:
proximity to the san francisco, oakland, east bay, etc.


Proximity to Oakland is a plus? Alrighty then!


Lol

FWIW I hear they have the best pizzeria in the Bay Area.


Are you talking about Zachary's Chicago Pizza? It's alright, it's a chain though, and they have locations elsewhere in the Bay besides the one in Cokeland. It doesn't compensate for being in Cokeland, and there's a lot more food options in NYC because it's NYC.

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Hattori Hanzo
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby Hattori Hanzo » Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:36 pm

That's pretty sleazy on Berkeley's part to cut someone's aid! Their financial aid office has been less than spectacular for sure. I still haven't heard a word about my matching scholarship request (along with everyone else it seems) and we're a week away from the deadline at most schools. It seems that IF they match Boalt can be the better option so it will depend on their final offer! Thanks for all the input :)

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby quickquestionthanks » Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:37 pm

fortissimo wrote:
quickquestionthanks wrote:
Wooster33 wrote:
proximity to the san francisco, oakland, east bay, etc.


Proximity to Oakland is a plus? Alrighty then!


Lol

FWIW I hear they have the best pizzeria in the Bay Area.


Are you talking about Zachary's Chicago Pizza? It's alright, it's a chain though, and they have locations elsewhere in the Bay besides the one in Cokeland. It doesn't compensate for being in Cokeland, and there's a lot more food options in NYC because it's NYC.



No. If only I could remember the name...I think it's in/near Claremont? that's a neighborhood right?

The two pizza places I hear raved about are in Oakland and then one in Berkeley actually. I think San Fran pizza is terrible in general, so it's good that they have some edible stuff in the east bay.

Tofu
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby Tofu » Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:44 pm

quickquestionthanks wrote:
fortissimo wrote:Are you talking about Zachary's Chicago Pizza? It's alright, it's a chain though, and they have locations elsewhere in the Bay besides the one in Cokeland. It doesn't compensate for being in Cokeland, and there's a lot more food options in NYC because it's NYC.


No. If only I could remember the name...I think it's in/near Claremont? that's a neighborhood right?

The two pizza places I hear raved about are in Oakland and then one in Berkeley actually. I think San Fran pizza is terrible in general, so it's good that they have some edible stuff in the east bay.


there's a claremont in norcal?

and
Wooster33 wrote:Proximity to Oakland is a plus? Alrighty then!

was funny ahaha

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MahaloMontana
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Re: Is Columbia worth it?

Postby MahaloMontana » Fri Apr 23, 2010 7:00 pm

yeah, i had a bad feeling about this when I met with the Financial Aid officer at Berkeley's Admit Weekend a few weeks ago.

I asked her if I would receive a bigger need-based grant next year since I will be unemployed. She told me that not only was it unlikely that I would get more money in my 2L year, she didn't think that they'd have the funding next year to match what I had been offered for my 1L year. In fact, she kind of implied that I'd be lucky to get anything my 2L year. But that was just my impression. Poster's situation may be different.

I believe this is only for need-based grants btw; scholarship money should be guaranteed over the three years.

fortissimo wrote:I agree with others, but one word of warning. Friend's need-based aid was turned down 2L year at Boalt, so this person only got need-based aid (10k) for 1L year. Don't expect that you'll get 18k/year, especially if you get their fellowship money (something like 4k) for the 1L summer job. (If you look carefully at your need-based aid offer, it says that Boalt reevaluates your circumstances for need-based aid "every year..." so the 18k is definitely not guaranteed.)




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