Chicago vs. Harvard

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msmongolian
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Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby msmongolian » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:16 am

Thanks to everyone for your help! I'm trying to decide between Chicago and Harvard.

Chicago
  • $25,000 per year scholarship
  • Small school (more interaction with professors?)

Harvard
  • Full price
  • Huge alumni network

They're both cold and in expensive cities (compared to where I live now). Are the Harvard name and connections worth $75,000?

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vanwinkle
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby vanwinkle » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:48 am

For Harvard you forgot "unparalleled name prestige among both lawyers and laypersons". Lawyers know Chicago is a great school, but not quite as great as Harvard. HLS also has massive lay prestige (as well as a loyal alumni network in several non-legal fields), making it one of the few truly valuable law degrees if you want to do something other than law. Outside of the law, graduate professionals, and Illinoians, most people think the "University of Chicago" sounds like some state school.

msmongolian wrote:Are the Harvard name and connections worth $75,000?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: What do you want to do? If you want to practice in Chicago, being there could help. If you want BigLaw generally or elsewhere, you may do better at HLS because of the additional prestige and alumni resources. You also have to consider your exit strategies, just in case you get BigLaw and it doesn't work out for you. HLS' strong alumni network in PI and government positions, as well as in non-law fields, would be valuable then.

Also consider the financials. If BigLaw works out then you've paid an extra $75K for that safety net, and at long-term BigLaw salaries, you can afford it. If BigLaw doesn't work out, or you decide you want to do something else, Harvard's LIPP will pay off your loans if you end up with a job in any public-sector job, or any private legal-sector job, that falls within the income threshold. You can start in BigLaw and move to a qualifying job and be LIPP-eligible then, and LIPP applies until your loans are fully paid. Oh, and it will also cover up to $30K in undergrad loans if you have them.

Looking at Chicago's LRAP program briefly, it looks like you're only eligible for it for the first seven years after graduation, it caps out at $10,000 per year, and it sounds like you may have to go directly into PI after you graduate/clerk to be eligible. That's far less of a safety net. Your maximum benefit is $70,000 (up to $10K a year for 7 years after you graduate/clerk) and even with UC being $75K cheaper, you're still going to have a six-figure debt with a ten-year (or longer) repayment plan.

So, in conclusion and considering various factors: Probably, yes.

(Full disclosure: I attend HLS, in case you think that matters.)

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Calla Lily
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby Calla Lily » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:55 am

VW, would you still feel the same way if it were a decision between Chicago full-tuition scholarship and HLS at sticker?

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Sentry
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby Sentry » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:55 am

I'll add to VW's post that Chicago is redoing it's LRAP and they hope to unveil it sometime in early April.

If I were you I'd go with Harvard...and this is coming from somebody who is going to and LOVES UChicago.

msmongolian
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby msmongolian » Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:44 pm

vanwinkle wrote:Also consider the financials. If BigLaw works out then you've paid an extra $75K for that safety net, and at long-term BigLaw salaries, you can afford it. If BigLaw doesn't work out, or you decide you want to do something else, Harvard's LIPP will pay off your loans if you end up with a job in any public-sector job, or any private legal-sector job, that falls within the income threshold. You can start in BigLaw and move to a qualifying job and be LIPP-eligible then, and LIPP applies until your loans are fully paid. Oh, and it will also cover up to $30K in undergrad loans if you have them.

Thanks for the great advice! I do have a follow up question about LIPP. I haven't been considering any of these programs because my fiance has a very well-paying job. In terms of need-based financial aid, my chances are blown due to his income. I was under the impression that any loan repayment programs would operate similarly, i.e. his income would lower my aid eligibility. So I was thinking that money in hand now is superior to the possibility of money later. Thoughts?

That said, you definitely answered my question about prestige. I'm just getting acquainted with the legal world so I wasn't sure if there is a big difference between the top 3 and the top 6. Sounds like it matters a lot more now than it did for undergrad. I chose a small school with a big scholarship instead of an expensive elite school, and though I don't regret it, it sounds like a change in strategy is in order for grad school. Thanks again!

CanadianWolf
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:05 pm

Visit both & see if that helps your decision. The environments are quite different, in my opinion. In the legal world & in academia, both law schools are held in high esteem. Chicago finished at the top of the Nat'l Law Journal's Go-To-Law-Schools list ranking placement into the nation's largest 250 law firms. Harvard, however, is arguably the most prestigious name in education worldwide.

sarahh
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby sarahh » Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:21 pm

msmongolian wrote:Thanks for the great advice! I do have a follow up question about LIPP. I haven't been considering any of these programs because my fiance has a very well-paying job. In terms of need-based financial aid, my chances are blown due to his income. I was under the impression that any loan repayment programs would operate similarly, i.e. his income would lower my aid eligibility. So I was thinking that money in hand now is superior to the possibility of money later. Thoughts?

Yeah, if you are married and your spouse makes more than you, they take one half of your combined income. (I guess they are assuming that your spouse's income is available to you to repay the loans.) Here is more info about Harvard's LIPP http://www.law.harvard.edu/current/sfs/lipp/index.html

Also, I don't think it hurts to apply for need-based financial aid at Harvard. You never know.

concurrent fork
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby concurrent fork » Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:23 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Chicago finished at the top of the Nat'l Law Journal's Go-To-Law-Schools list ranking placement into the nation's largest 250 law firms.

Sure - but to clarify that does not make Chi a better choice for biglaw.

msmongolian wrote:They're both cold and in expensive cities (compared to where I live now).

FWIW Chicago is way cheaper than Cambridge.

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fltanglab
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby fltanglab » Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:48 pm

Something the tour guide at Chicago said to me (could just be a tour guide thing, but it made sense) was that it depends on how competitive you plan on being with your class. Basically with a smaller class size and quotas for each school in top law firms, it's easier to compete with less of your classmates (comparing 200 people in a class to 600). However, I don't know if I buy it completely. I would venture that if I were to ask Harvard to counter the argument they could do so.

msmongolian
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby msmongolian » Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:53 pm

Sentry wrote:If I were you I'd go with Harvard...and this is coming from somebody who is going to and LOVES UChicago.


Wow, that's a bold statement. Can I hear more? I think your insights will be very helpful!

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Sentry
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby Sentry » Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:36 pm

msmongolian wrote:
Sentry wrote:If I were you I'd go with Harvard...and this is coming from somebody who is going to and LOVES UChicago.


Wow, that's a bold statement. Can I hear more? I think your insights will be very helpful!

Well when you look at the COA for Chicago, the total debt would be around 200k if you take away the 75k in scholarship you're still looking at 125k in debt. At that point it either becomes about getting a BigLaw job or finding something that qualifies for LRAP. Harvard is superior to Chicago on both of those fronts. Also, Harvard is Harvard.

Top14Hope
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby Top14Hope » Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:05 pm

You should go to Harvard if they charge you $200,000 more than Chicago, and make you get a tattoo of your mom fucking Obama doggy style. Harvard's name will carry you forever. Most people have no idea Chicago is a good law school, everyone in the world knows what the fuck is up with Harvard. I told over 10 people about applying ED at Chicago, and not a single person knew how far I was reaching, or anything about the school. This should be easy, GO TO HARVARD!

yohan
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby yohan » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:58 pm

Go to Chicago.

Speaking as a current HLS student, this is a terrible, soul-sucking, hope-crushing excuse for a law school. The class sizes are so large, you can forget about having any meaningful interaction with your professors. Contrast with Chicago, which has the same caliber of academics as HLS but with a much better student-professor ratio. Any surprise that it's easier to make a dent in academia at Chicago?

As for name recognition, do you really think a few shining stars out of a huge entry class of 500+ students is a good representation of where most students end up? Besides the President of the United States and a few oddball media stars, most HLS alum are spending 90 hour weeks working at a Big Law job they hate to pay for an oversized New York apartment they don't need so they can retire early and regret having wasted their lives working for corporate fat cats.

Take it from me: HLS can be a lonely, sad experience if you don't have a strong support base and clear idea of what you want out of the Harvard experience before you come here. Don't expect HLS to mold you into a superstar - superstars are what make HLS what it is, but it doesn't work the other way.

Top14Hope
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby Top14Hope » Sat Mar 05, 2011 1:02 am

yohan wrote:Go to Chicago.

Speaking as a current HLS student, this is a terrible, soul-sucking, hope-crushing excuse for a law school. The class sizes are so large, you can forget about having any meaningful interaction with your professors. Contrast with Chicago, which has the same caliber of academics as HLS but with a much better student-professor ratio. Any surprise that it's easier to make a dent in academia at Chicago?

As for name recognition, do you really think a few shining stars out of a huge entry class of 500+ students is a good representation of where most students end up? Besides the President of the United States and a few oddball media stars, most HLS alum are spending 90 hour weeks working at a Big Law job they hate to pay for an oversized New York apartment they don't need so they can retire early and regret having wasted their lives working for corporate fat cats.

Take it from me: HLS can be a lonely, sad experience if you don't have a strong support base and clear idea of what you want out of the Harvard experience before you come here. Don't expect HLS to mold you into a superstar - superstars are what make HLS what it is, but it doesn't work the other way.


Coming from my perspective, (I want to own my own 5-60 person firm) going to a school with name recognition + my hard work = whatever the hell I want it to. If the OP wants this, or basically anything else, going to Harvard will actually give him/her a leg up in which ever area, simply by name recognition alone. Chicago's lower student faculty ratio is not going to matter to 99.9% of the people that come in to your office, or in any other circumstance. What will matter is how people respond when you tell them you went to Harvard Law. Call me crazy, but I think the name alone will actually allow you to do basically anything, and you can make a great living without working for the fat cats. The potential for truly great heights is greater with Harvard than with Chicago, period. And I don't really know what "superstar" means, but you're clearly already a superstar, and with the better name recognition, you, your ideas, and your bank account, would be better served. Student faculty ratios mean little in the bigger picture.

Harvard = Win

ImpatientlyWaiting
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby ImpatientlyWaiting » Sat Mar 05, 2011 1:13 am

yohan wrote:Go to Chicago.

Speaking as a current HLS student, this is a terrible, soul-sucking, hope-crushing excuse for a law school. The class sizes are so large, you can forget about having any meaningful interaction with your professors. Contrast with Chicago, which has the same caliber of academics as HLS but with a much better student-professor ratio. Any surprise that it's easier to make a dent in academia at Chicago?

As for name recognition, do you really think a few shining stars out of a huge entry class of 500+ students is a good representation of where most students end up? Besides the President of the United States and a few oddball media stars, most HLS alum are spending 90 hour weeks working at a Big Law job they hate to pay for an oversized New York apartment they don't need so they can retire early and regret having wasted their lives working for corporate fat cats.

Take it from me: HLS can be a lonely, sad experience if you don't have a strong support base and clear idea of what you want out of the Harvard experience before you come here. Don't expect HLS to mold you into a superstar - superstars are what make HLS what it is, but it doesn't work the other way.



Sorry to hear that this person isn't enjoying it, but I wouldn't make too much of one unhappy student's opinion. Most Harvard students who post on this site seem to be pretty happy with the school, and the consensus seems to be that professors will make themselves available if you put in the effort. I'm in a similar position as the OP ($66,000 from Chicago), and I'm leaning heavily toward Harvard.

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drylo
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby drylo » Sat Mar 05, 2011 1:40 am

yohan wrote:Go to Chicago.

Speaking as a current HLS student, this is a terrible, soul-sucking, hope-crushing excuse for a law school. The class sizes are so large, you can forget about having any meaningful interaction with your professors. Contrast with Chicago, which has the same caliber of academics as HLS but with a much better student-professor ratio. Any surprise that it's easier to make a dent in academia at Chicago?

As for name recognition, do you really think a few shining stars out of a huge entry class of 500+ students is a good representation of where most students end up? Besides the President of the United States and a few oddball media stars, most HLS alum are spending 90 hour weeks working at a Big Law job they hate to pay for an oversized New York apartment they don't need so they can retire early and regret having wasted their lives working for corporate fat cats.

Take it from me: HLS can be a lonely, sad experience if you don't have a strong support base and clear idea of what you want out of the Harvard experience before you come here. Don't expect HLS to mold you into a superstar - superstars are what make HLS what it is, but it doesn't work the other way.


I'm not saying definitely go to Chicago, but I think this post has some validity to it (especially the bolded). Plus, vanwinkle and others ignore the significant difference that the $75,000 actually makes. That is $75k of additional principal, for a total of who knows how much. With interest, that $75k is going to be a lot more than $75k coming out of your pocket (unless you are going to pay cash up front). Not to mention the fact that some lawyers (no, I'm not just making this up) respect Chicago more than Harvard.

The bottom line is, do what you want to do. You should be able to have a great career no matter which school you go to. But I think the HLS love is sometimes overblown on TLS (of course, TLS is notoriously elitist anyway), especially by people who have not been accepted there (it's the luster of the unattainable). Yes, HLS will put you in a great position to have a successful career, but remember that the vast majority of students at both schools will be doing the same exact thing after they graduate (or have the same options). And yes, the Harvard name can be a crutch to help you compensate your ego for whatever other shortcomings you may have.

In the end, I am not sure what I would do in your situation--there is a good chance I would choose HLS. (In my own cycle two years ago, I was choosing HLS over Chicago with just slightly less scholarship than you are getting.) But for the person asking about the full ride at Chicago--are you crazy?

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tgir
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby tgir » Sat Mar 05, 2011 2:01 am

Visit both schools if possible. If you find that you really love Chicago's environment/vibe, you should go to Chicago and never regret it. Otherwise, however, the difference in cost just isn't substantial enough to justify turning down Harvard.

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BrianGriffintheDog
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby BrianGriffintheDog » Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:22 am

yohan wrote:Go to Chicago.

Speaking as a current HLS student, this is a terrible, soul-sucking, hope-crushing excuse for a law school. The class sizes are so large, you can forget about having any meaningful interaction with your professors. Contrast with Chicago, which has the same caliber of academics as HLS but with a much better student-professor ratio. Any surprise that it's easier to make a dent in academia at Chicago?

As for name recognition, do you really think a few shining stars out of a huge entry class of 500+ students is a good representation of where most students end up? Besides the President of the United States and a few oddball media stars, most HLS alum are spending 90 hour weeks working at a Big Law job they hate to pay for an oversized New York apartment they don't need so they can retire early and regret having wasted their lives working for corporate fat cats.

Take it from me: HLS can be a lonely, sad experience if you don't have a strong support base and clear idea of what you want out of the Harvard experience before you come here. Don't expect HLS to mold you into a superstar - superstars are what make HLS what it is, but it doesn't work the other way.


Wow someone's an xcore downer.

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Knock
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby Knock » Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:24 am

Tag.

09042014
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby 09042014 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:38 am

LOL I would have never thought I'd see someone saying go to Chicago for the school culture!

I'd probably take the 75K. It's worth the 10-15% drop in big law placement IMO.

adude
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby adude » Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:59 am

msmongolian wrote:I do have a follow up question about LIPP. I haven't been considering any of these programs because my fiance has a very well-paying job. In terms of need-based financial aid, my chances are blown due to his income. I was under the impression that any loan repayment programs would operate similarly, i.e. his income would lower my aid eligibility. So I was thinking that money in hand now is superior to the possibility of money later. Thoughts?


Isn't the most important factor where your fiance works or could find a job? I'm assuming you don't want to do 3 years long distance.

msmongolian
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby msmongolian » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:20 am

adude wrote:
msmongolian wrote:I do have a follow up question about LIPP. I haven't been considering any of these programs because my fiance has a very well-paying job. In terms of need-based financial aid, my chances are blown due to his income. I was under the impression that any loan repayment programs would operate similarly, i.e. his income would lower my aid eligibility. So I was thinking that money in hand now is superior to the possibility of money later. Thoughts?


Isn't the most important factor where your fiance works or could find a job? I'm assuming you don't want to do 3 years long distance.

Wow, good catch. Normally that'd be a factor, but my situation is unusual in that his current job allows him to live anywhere. So that's not an issue for now.

msmongolian
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby msmongolian » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:24 am

Desert Fox wrote:LOL I would have never thought I'd see someone saying go to Chicago for the school culture!

What's the school culture like? I've heard that it's very serious and academic but don't know much more than that.

Thanks to everyone who suggested visiting the two schools! I will be doing that in the next month or so.

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TTH
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby TTH » Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:52 am

The definitive post on Harvard vs. Chicago

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3308682/tlsarchive/chicago.htm

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drylo
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Re: Chicago vs. Harvard

Postby drylo » Sat Mar 05, 2011 1:36 pm

TTH wrote:The definitive post on Harvard vs. Chicago

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3308682/tlsarchive/chicago.htm


Alternatively, you go to HLS, end up working at some NYC firm alongside your buddy who went to Chicago because he was "too dumb" to get into HLS, realize that you could be in exactly the same position you are in but without the $2k debt payments every month if you had gone to Chicago... so you go on TLS and write "the definitive post on Harvard vs. Chicago" to validate your decision.




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