Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

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NU or GW $$$

Northwestern- sticker
60
48%
George Washington- $105,000 scholarship (including 1L housing)
65
52%
 
Total votes: 125

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caleng
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Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby caleng » Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:47 pm

Background:

From California, Engineer in undergrad. I've been planning on going to George Washington with a $105,000 merit scholarship and I was very excited about the idea. I'm pretty sure I want to do IP, or at least as sure as you can be before law school even starts. I've been to DC twice and loved it both times and I've never even been to Chicago. Eventually, I want to make it back to California to practice, but the idea of spending a few extra years in DC was never a problem.

That said, there's something about Northwestern that I've been pretty infatuated with. I don't really know exactly what it is. It is one of the few schools I would even consider going to for sticker.

Am I crazy to give up $105,000 at GW, especially considering their strength and reputation in Intellectual Property?

Edit: For the GW money, I think I have to maintain a 3.0. The average is more like a 3.2, so this seems doable.
Last edited by caleng on Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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animalcrkrs
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby animalcrkrs » Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:54 pm

NU is fantastic.

<<might be a little biased here>>

The money is good but i turned down fully scholly's to pay sticker here and I'm glad I did. While nothing is a sure thing, the places that gave me full scholly $$ last year placed half or less than NU did in their past OCI...

Also, check to see what the requirements are for keeping the scholarship money. If you aren't in the top third or something do they take it away?

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Reedie
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby Reedie » Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:57 pm

My impression is that a Northwestern degree is going to come out west much more easily than a GW degree.

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nealric
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby nealric » Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:59 pm

It's just a question of where you want to gamble: debt or job prospects?

You could graduate form GW with the same job you would have gotten from Northewstern. Or you could graduate jobless from GW and a great job from Northwestern. There's no way to predict that fully in advance.

Personally, I would take Northwestern unless GW wanted to give you a full ride and provided you are OK with biglaw IP (or an IP boutique with similar hours/mentality).

thatsnotmyname
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby thatsnotmyname » Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:02 pm

Will you be taking out the cost of attendance of NW entirely in loans or do you have a way for paying for it? I don't think I could ever take out $200K worth of loans to attend NW... so in that case I vote GW.

You could graduate form GW with the same job you would have gotten from Northewstern. Or you could graduate jobless from GW and a great job from Northwestern.


Or you could end up jobless from both and be even more screwed with $200K worth of debt...

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nealric
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby nealric » Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:10 pm

Or you could end up jobless from both and be even more screwed with $200K worth of debt...


Sure, but you are about as screwed jobless with 100k of debt as 200k of debt. Either way, you are going to need a well-paying career to make those loan payments.

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rayiner
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby rayiner » Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:18 pm

So here is my reasoning.

If you're an engineer, there is a huge opportunity cost for you to attend LS. You'll forgo about $200k in income over three years. Moreover, you have to make biglaw or at least a decent boutique, otherwise you'll be making the same or less as a lawyer as you did as an engineer.

So the cost for NU is more like $400k+, and with the $105k scholarship at GW, the latter is $300k+.

So really your choice is between NU or not going to law school. GW shouldn't even be an option.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:31 pm

I think that Northwestern University School of Law is a bit under-rated & that GWU is a great law school. Northwestern has one of the most attractive & dynamic locations of all law schools. GWU has a great location. Tough choice. Ask NU for some scholarship money. With or without money from Northwestern I would still select Northwestern based on their tremendous placement success over the past decade or so coupled with the more mature & more experienced students. But that is based on my interests & preferences, not yours. With your background and interest in IP combined with GWU's IP course offerings, it would be difficult to pass up $35,000 in scholarship money each year.

olanderp
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby olanderp » Mon Jun 28, 2010 10:31 pm

FYI, a lot of IP firms want at least a master's degree in engineering. Don't know if you're expecting to work for an IP firm/boutique without one, but that's something to think about.

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Stringer Bell
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby Stringer Bell » Mon Jun 28, 2010 10:52 pm

rayiner wrote:So here is my reasoning.

If you're an engineer, there is a huge opportunity cost for you to attend LS. You'll forgo about $200k in income over three years. Moreover, you have to make biglaw or at least a decent boutique, otherwise you'll be making the same or less as a lawyer as you did as an engineer.

So the cost for NU is more like $400k+, and with the $105k scholarship at GW, the latter is $300k+.

So really your choice is between NU or not going to law school. GW shouldn't even be an option.


Very well put. If you are giving up a good job to go to LS and you are making a decision based on cost/benefit, you are already pot committed. Go all in with the pair of Queens vs. betting half your chip stack with a Queen-Seven.

Now if you hate being an engineer, going into law is about finding a career you find more satisfying and your future salary isn't that important to you (doesn't sound like this is the case), then taking the money would seem reasonable.

sbalive
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby sbalive » Mon Jun 28, 2010 10:59 pm

I think you've got to go with NU here, or retake and reapply next year, or don't go to law school at all -- $105K isn't enough to remove the considerations of making such a big investment. And, straight from engineering undergrad, it's not like you can fall back on small-time prosecution work. There is a much more realistic chance at biglaw IP work at Northwestern over GW. Also, GW's edge for IP no longer really count versus what T14 schools offer, though it's definitely still the pick over its peer institutions.

These days quality matters a lot AND paying for it is a huge gamble. There's no free lunch. But at least Northwestern will open up some more doors to pay it off.

djgoldbe
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby djgoldbe » Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:08 am

I don't think you are crazy to give up the money, but I personally would take it. Really depends how much flexibility and stress you want to have on you. If you want to have the option to take a job that pays 60K a year and the reduced stress of far less debt (but the reduced job prospects that come along with that), go with GW. If you're biglaw or bust, go with NU. Personally I know that I would be beyond myself with stress if I had 200k in debt and knew I had to land a biglaw job, so I would go with GW. Really depends on you though.

flcath
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby flcath » Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:28 am

rayiner wrote:So here is my reasoning.

If you're an engineer, there is a huge opportunity cost for you to attend LS. You'll forgo about $200k in income over three years. Moreover, you have to make biglaw or at least a decent boutique, otherwise you'll be making the same or less as a lawyer as you did as an engineer.

So the cost for NU is more like $400k+, and with the $105k scholarship at GW, the latter is $300k+.

So really your choice is between NU or not going to law school. GW shouldn't even be an option.

Not only does this ignore the possibility that (s)he'd just rather do law than engineering (he isn't even set on doing IP, which suggests to me that he considers several careers in law more attractive than a career in engineering), this post seems to assume that there is a dollar-for-dollar equivalency between money lost as opportunity cost and money lost as debt, which is not the case at all. The concept of diminishing returns really starts below the zero mark (e.g., being $150K in debt fucks you a lot more than having $150K in capital helps you), as deep debt removes your freedom to switch careers, take low-paying work, pursue additional education (I know a girl who maxed out her lifetime Stafford/DL limit... aside from just being screwed in general, she now essentially can't get any more non-free education), and generally fail.

You will have a better shot at Biglaw with NU than GWU, and unfortunately real data (vice anecdotal or sometimes just-plain-made-up evidence from TLSers) isn't available yet ITE, and it'll likely never be available for IP folks specifically. I obviously have no vested interest here, but I would personally choose GWU.

Think of it this way: if one assumes a 25% chance of Biglaw at GWU and a 50% chance of Biglaw at NU (http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/nlj/law%20schools_charts_page12.pdf--I actually widened the gap a little), your gamble at NU has a 25% chance of paying off. If you're top quartile, you're safe at either school, but you have $150K in debt (don't put on blinders; this is still a big deal even with Biglaw). If you're bottom 50%, you don't get Biglaw at either school (which means you're really fucked with NU's debt).

Even if you do land in the 25% where your gamble pays off, it's still a payoff tainted by the fact that you're having to pay off $150K in debt (with discipline, you can pay off $35K/yr... seriously, do the math with taxes and CoL), vice making a $50K salary (that will likely top out in around the low six-figure or high five-figure range, though it all depends) without any debt.

Edit: And if you really rigorously apply Rayiner's logic (i.e., consider the probability of *staying* in Biglaw, as well as the probability of landing high-paying engineering jobs), then the choice isn't "NU or no law school at all"; it's just "no law school at all." Maybe med school's an option, though.

DustyfootPhilospher
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby DustyfootPhilospher » Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:41 am

This is a tough one, however I would choose Northwestern personally. NWU actually ranks number one in terms of the percentage of grads that it sends to “Big Law” firms. I don’t know if this is self selection or due to the schools effectiveness in placing its graduates in this space. To put a number on it, NWU places 56% of grads in Big Law as compared to GW at 31% and ranking #21 for big law placement. These are pretty powerful numbers, and it shows that it is possible to graduate even in the bottom 50% and still have a chance at Big Law at NWU. Those are pretty comforting statistics and I would def. weigh that heavily in this economy. Over the long run NWU is obviously a safer and probably a more lucrative investment. I do hear that NWU doesn’t place very well on the west coast however. And Chicago is a pretty cool city. Either way this is a great dilema to have. Good luck.

http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNL ... hbxlogin=1

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BigFatPanda
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby BigFatPanda » Tue Jun 29, 2010 9:35 am

If you weren't an engineer, i would recommend Northwestern. However, the fact that you are an engineer AND GWU gave you full scholarship made GWU a no-brainer for the following reasons:

1. GWU places very well in the IP market and its IP program appears to be recession proof: i have friends who graduated GWU this year and managed to get place into DC IP firms THIS YEAR (Disclaimer, two of them were primary examiners at the USPTO and others had prior patent agent experience in addition to being examiners for two years). Although i should mention one of my collegue (who graduated GWU Class of 2007) recently got lay off and return to the Office.

2. As an engineer, no doubt you are a competent bean counter and it should be clear to you whether the benefit of Northwestern's prestige should outweight GWU's scholarship because Harvard/Yale and TOp 10 et al. are really for people who majored in Political Science and History who are biglaw or bust (so for them, prestiege matters absolutely). For engineers, while its nice to have a Top 10 degree just for the prestiege of it (or hell of it), we have a lot more flexibility because our majors are in way higher demand than theirs and when given an option that makes more financial sense, it is not absolutely necessary for an engineer to attend Top 10 at sticker over GWU at full ride.

In the end, none of us could tell you where you should go and its really up to you to find out where your heart belongs. My best advice would be: apply your best judgment and the common sense you've acquired from years of engineering and make a choice that makes the most sense to you.

Good luck....

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caleng
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby caleng » Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:49 am

To answer a few of your questions and clarify some things...

It's not really about the opportunity cost associated with giving up a lucrative engineering career. I majored in Bioengineering planning on getting my PhD after college. The jobs for people with just a BS in my industry involve spending all day behind a lab bench working on someone else's project and I've done that for years- it's not what I want to do anymore. I'm going into law because it's something I want to pursue.

That said, I realize that to get a job as a patent prosecutor, a Master's in engineering is very helpful. I want to do patent litigation (or possibly another sort of litigation, I'm working at a personal injury litigation firm now and I really enjoy it), and the qualifications for litigation usually aren't as technical as they are for patent prosecution. I am planning on taking the patent bar next summer.

I don't think most people truly know what they want to practice three years before graduation unless they have years of experience in the field already. After all, until a year ago I thought I was going to be and engineer for the rest of my life.

Oh, and thank you everyone for your input. I really appreciate it!

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mec30
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby mec30 » Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:48 pm

Probability weighted outcomes!


viewtopic.php?f=1&t=108528
Using information from 2009, lets assume that 62.7% and 36.1% of people get biglaw/clerkships (and that these lead to desirable 160k starting salaries ) out of NU and GW, respectively. And, let's also assume, that you have an equal chance of falling anywhere in the class.

The COL at NU (per the website) is $73,285 a year and at GW is 70,449; over 3 years is $219,855 and $211,347. If you subtract your scholarship amount from GW’s total, that’s $106,347 worth of financed debt. If you’re on a ten year repayment schedule at 8% compounded continuously that’s a debt payment of $15,483.36 per year at GW and 32,009.40 per year at NU, post graduation.

Assuming that you have a 62.7% chance of making 160k and a 37.3% of making 50k at NU; and for GW a 36.1% and 63.9% chance:

If you could fall anywhere in the class, the expected outcome for each school would be,

NU: 118,970
GW: 89,710

Minus your financing costs would be $86,960.60 at NU and $74,227 at GW.
None of this takes into account pay raises or bonuses you may receive, nor inflation, the quality of an LRAP, quality of life issues, or potential tax exemptions you may or may not qualify for, but I think it’s a good starting place.

09042014
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby 09042014 » Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:59 pm

How low at GW and NU are patent firms hiring?

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Reedie
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby Reedie » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:06 pm

Does Northwestern's business school approach vs. GW's more traditional education make any difference to you?

rejectmaster
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby rejectmaster » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:17 pm

as someone who just laid down a deposit at GW i am shocked that 30% get biglaw/clerkships.. that seems really high.

09042014
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby 09042014 » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:17 pm

rejectmaster wrote:as someone who just laid down a deposit at GW i am shocked that 30% get biglaw/clerkships.. that seems really high.


Not ITE.

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rayiner
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby rayiner » Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:13 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
rejectmaster wrote:as someone who just laid down a deposit at GW i am shocked that 30% get biglaw/clerkships.. that seems really high.


Not ITE.


ITE one would expect lower not higher.

09042014
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby 09042014 » Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:23 pm

rayiner wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:
rejectmaster wrote:as someone who just laid down a deposit at GW i am shocked that 30% get biglaw/clerkships.. that seems really high.


Not ITE.


ITE one would expect lower not higher.


Yea, my post was unclear. I mean 30% is too high ITE.

GermX
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby GermX » Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:52 pm

You want IP, GW is one of the best in the nation (I believe, ranked 3rd) in IP, and you got a $105,000 scholarship, wtf you waiting for? Go there now. Don't put yourself in debt just to be 10 spots higher on the ranked list.

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mec30
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Re: Northwestern vs. GW $105,000

Postby mec30 » Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:13 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
rayiner wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:
rejectmaster wrote:as someone who just laid down a deposit at GW i am shocked that 30% get biglaw/clerkships.. that seems really high.


Not ITE.


ITE one would expect lower not higher.


Yea, my post was unclear. I mean 30% is too high ITE.


You think 2010 will be worse than 2009?




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