Berkeley $$$ vs. Michigan $$$

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black celebration
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Berkeley $$$ vs. Michigan $$$

Postby black celebration » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:23 pm

I know that there have been tons of threads like this, so thanks in advance to anyone willing to take a gander. I'm not going to make a poll because I'd rather hear from people who feel like weighing in with thoughts.

I have scholarships to both schools (over half tuition at each). After everything is said and done, and cost of living is factored in, Berkeley will cost me about $70k and Michigan will cost me about $45k. This price difference will be slightly offset by the fact that I already live in the Bay Area and I wouldn't have to spend so much money moving. But in general, the money is not a huge deciding factor.

I have an open mind about what I want to do -- and where I want to live -- after law school. The only thing I feel pretty sure about is getting a clerkship (obviously, Federal Court of Appeals would be amazing but not an easy goal). Beyond that, I might be interested in working for a big firm, but only for a few years. I'm much more interested in policy/government work and getting involved in NGO initiatives; also would be very interested in working abroad. But in general, I am keeping an open mind and would like to have a wide range of options and mobility. I've spent my post-college years as an entrepreneur and anticipate spending the rest of my life working in different fields on different projects -- both within and outside of the legal field.

I love the SF Bay Area and very well may want to live/work here after school, but I am not sure of this fact. Michigan champions the fact that its placement is spread all across the country, while Boalt places heavily in California. Obviously, self-selection is a factor here. So while Michigan gets a (+1) for the more widely dispersed alumni network, am I really supposed to believe that it will be markedly more challenging to get a job in, say, Seattle or Atlanta or Providence as a Berkeley grad (vs. being a Michigan grad)?

I know there's not a wrong choice between the two schools, but I would love to hear some thoughts. I know Michigan places better in clerkships (right?), but is the difference so distinct that it's worth being a major decision factor? At this point, I'm generally having trouble weighing the value of each school's relative strengths/weaknesses. In some ways, I've convinced myself that while I greatly prefer the Bay Area, Michigan might be a better school for me. Or am I just splitting hairs and over-magnifying the differences between two essentially "peer" schools?
Last edited by black celebration on Sat Apr 24, 2010 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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black celebration
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Re: ...another [BERKELEY vs. MICHIGAN] thread...

Postby black celebration » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:28 pm

Also, I should have mentioned this -- I did not love Ann Arbor when I visited. Not a fan of cold weather. I would do just fine there for three years, but I am also quite happy living in the Bay Area; I haven't been here for long and it would be really nice to not uproot myself for the umpteenth time in my life. That said, I am willing to do so.

ppa840
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Re: ...another [BERKELEY vs. MICHIGAN] thread...

Postby ppa840 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:34 pm

Both are great schools, but the fact that you don't like Ann Arbor makes me want to say go to Boalt. I know this is only one dimension of your preferences, but I think quality of life means a lot.

Amelie
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Re: ...another [BERKELEY vs. MICHIGAN] thread...

Postby Amelie » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:36 pm

I think Berkeley is the right choice for you. It sounds like you'll be happier there, and your opportunities from both schools are going to be very similar. I don't think placement should be a huge concern because Boalt's CA placement is largely self selection, and I don't think it will be a problem if you want to go someplace different. Plus, if you do want to end up in the Bay Area, coming from Berkeley will be a big advantage.

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rolark
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Re: ...another [BERKELEY vs. MICHIGAN] thread...

Postby rolark » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:44 pm

You sound like you've had fascinating experience, and I'd love to have you in my class at Michigan. I won't throw too much into this because of my clear bias, but I do think you should think of the differing LRAP programs since you mentioned PI/government work in terms of flexibility.

Berkeley has a great LRAP, if you stick it out in qualifying employment until the 10 year mark where your loans are forgiven. While not as financially lucrative, Michigan's is a bit more flexible, being based entirely on income. No matter what job you have, you only pay 35% or so of any earnings over $36k. (I spoke with some PI people at Mich who say they've at least initiated talks about upgrading this.) While Berkeley's may allow you to pay less if you stick out the 10 years, if you plan on making more payments early on or being flexible with your employment, Michigan's program is something to check out.

Know you'd be welcome at Michigan, but good luck with your choice regardless!

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glowhard
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Re: ...another [BERKELEY vs. MICHIGAN] thread...

Postby glowhard » Fri Apr 23, 2010 5:12 pm

black celebration wrote: I am also quite happy living in the Bay Area; I haven't been here for long and it would be really nice to not uproot myself for the umpteenth time in my life. That said, I am willing to do so.



I was in a similar situation/mindset, but in New York. I've lived here for about a year after having been rather transient during my adult life, and a big part of me wasn't ready to pick up and move again. I was also totally willing to do it if money/match dictated, but the chips fell in such a way that staying in NYC was the best choice, and I am SO HAPPY about it. The major relief I felt when I realized I could maintain the friendships and connections I've built here, I didn't have to move, and I didn't have to start from scratch in terms of a social circle next year... it was great, and totally an unexpected feeling.

I also might want to stay in NY indefinitely (or, I may move), so at this point in my life, starting to put down some roots (or at least not uprooting) feels really good.

Of course, everyone's different. Just thought I'd share.

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black celebration
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Re: ...another [BERKELEY vs. MICHIGAN] thread...

Postby black celebration » Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:19 pm

Thanks for the thoughts and advice and kind words, everyone. I really appreciate it.

I will indeed do a thorough evaluation of the schools' LRAP programs. I was under the impression that Boalt's was much stronger; even if I don't work ten straight years of PI, I thought that it was possible to dip in and out of the program at varying points in ones' career. Also, if I'm not mistaken, I think the school will pay a graduate's loans in full for each year that they work a job making less than $68,000. However, it's quite nice that Michigan's LRAP doesn't even take employment type into account.

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existenz
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Re: ...another [BERKELEY vs. MICHIGAN] thread...

Postby existenz » Sat Apr 24, 2010 12:40 pm

...
Last edited by existenz on Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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tintin
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Re: ...another [BERKELEY vs. MICHIGAN] thread...

Postby tintin » Sat Apr 24, 2010 1:19 pm

berkeley unless you want to get out of CA for a while, then i think michigan would be a great choice since it seems to place well in CA

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black celebration
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Re: ...another [BERKELEY vs. MICHIGAN] thread...

Postby black celebration » Sat Apr 24, 2010 1:56 pm

tintin wrote:berkeley unless you want to get out of CA for a while, then i think michigan would be a great choice since it seems to place well in CA


Yes, if I had been in California my whole life, I'd want to get out and see something new. But if I move to Michigan, it will be the 10th state I've lived in. I just got out to Cali in the fall and really like it here...I feel "at home" for the first time in a long while.

I think my main concerns are whether or not the Michigan degree will truly be more portable in the long-run, because I see myself doing lots of things and possibly living in lots of places. I like Northern California, but for all I know, I could want to get the hell out of here in 5 years.

Thanks so much for the advice, everyone.

malcolminthemiddle
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Re: Berkeley $$$ vs. Michigan $$$

Postby malcolminthemiddle » Sat Apr 24, 2010 6:09 pm

As someone from the bay area attending mich now, I can tell you I didn't regret my decision to get out of the bay area for a few years.

The biggest factor for me, ex post facto, is the difference in cost of living. In AA, I live like a king for dirt cheap. I have my own place, very close walk to campus and that makes a huge difference. You want to be comfortable for the next three years so that you can be mentally at ease while going to school. Don't live like a bum, its not good for your soul.

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Tangerine Gleam
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Re: Berkeley $$$ vs. Michigan $$$

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:26 pm

malcolminthemiddle wrote:The biggest factor for me, ex post facto, is the difference in cost of living. In AA, I live like a king for dirt cheap. I have my own place, very close walk to campus and that makes a huge difference. You want to be comfortable for the next three years so that you can be mentally at ease while going to school. Don't live like a bum, its not good for your soul.


While I don't deny that Ann Arbor is definitely cheaper than the East Bay, I have been surprised at the prices of some of the A2 apartments. I live in SF now, and for me, moving to a cool neighborhood in Oakland wouldn't cost much more than Ann Arbor...at least not for the "quality of life" I'd like to have in law school (i.e. a place that's safe, quiet, nice).

Also, as far as being "mentally at ease while going to law school", I'd certainly say that mild weather and no letter grades would help as well. :)

eth3n
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Re: Berkeley $$$ vs. Michigan $$$

Postby eth3n » Sun Apr 25, 2010 8:02 pm

malcolminthemiddle wrote:As someone from the bay area attending mich now, I can tell you I didn't regret my decision to get out of the bay area for a few years.

The biggest factor for me, ex post facto, is the difference in cost of living. In AA, I live like a king for dirt cheap. I have my own place, very close walk to campus and that makes a huge difference. You want to be comfortable for the next three years so that you can be mentally at ease while going to school. Don't live like a bum, its not good for your soul.


Id rather take CA weather for the rest of my life, even if it cost me 3 years of a crappy apartment during law school.




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