Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

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delusional
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Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby delusional » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:02 pm

Here's what I know: I got into both Penn and Columbia. I did not get a named scholarship, so I'm not banking on major aid from either. I was blown away by Columbia's ASW and in a perfect world would be my first choice, but I know that Penn is also a pretty great school.

Here's the deal - I can commute to Penn from where I am, I can't commute to Manhattan.

In order to go to Columbia, my best option would be to rent an empty room with relatives nearer Manhattan - either Brooklyn, Newark, or Rockland County. Getting into the city under those circumstances would cost about $15-25 a day, and then I'd go home on weekends - it's about two hours away. The downside is that I'd only see my wife and kids on weekends; the unanticipated COL stuff is going to be more expensive in Manhattan; and I'll be largely dependent on public transit, which is alright, but a pain sometimes. The upside is that it's Columbia; I'll have less distraction from family, I won't be expected home at a particular time, etc.

In order to go to Penn, everything is straightforward. I will drive in, and drive out every day. There are a few people in my town who are students there, so we may be able to share some of the driving. The downside is that I will be expected home at a certain time; I will have the general distraction of family, and the commuting will be driving rather than PT, when I could theoretically study.

Please put in input, please

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bk1
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby bk1 » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:04 pm

How far would your commute to Penn be?

I don't think you can overestimate how valuable it would be to be with your wife/kids throughout the entire week.

delusional
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby delusional » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:09 pm

bk1 wrote:How far would your commute to Penn be?

I don't think you can overestimate how valuable it would be to be with your wife/kids throughout the entire week.

Penn would be about 1:15.

Also, I'm not sure if family would be a plus. like I wrote in the OP, i'm worried that it may be more of a distraction.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:28 pm

delusional wrote:In order to go to Columbia, my best option would be to rent an empty room with relatives nearer Manhattan - either Brooklyn, Newark, or Rockland County. Getting into the city under those circumstances would cost about $15-25 a day, and then I'd go home on weekends - it's about two hours away.


This doesn't sound realistic. Rockland County to Columbia on public transportation, seriously? You might as well live at home. Brooklyn is the best bet out of those and you're still probably looking at an hour commute each way if not more.

The logistics are bad enough, but your family situation seals the deal. I'm single and childless, but my dad did a commute for several years that only let him come home on weekends. It sucked. I don't think Columbia is better by enough to make all of this even close to worth it. YMMV.

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bk1
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby bk1 » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:31 pm

delusional wrote:Penn would be about 1:15.

Also, I'm not sure if family would be a plus. like I wrote in the OP, i'm worried that it may be more of a distraction.


Maybe I'm an ignorant guy who has never been married or had kids, but I just don't see how one could ever classify a wife/kids as a distraction. It seems like a good idea to learn how to balance family with school. If you've had a full time job, I'm told that law school isn't any more taxing than that. While a 1+ hour commute is crappy, if the other person is correct then you aren't even saving any time commuting to CLS.

I really think that Penn is definitely the right call here.

BlackSwan85
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby BlackSwan85 » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:35 pm

Only you can appropriately assess costs/benefits of having the requisite amount of family time per week. Doesn't sound like a decision a law school message board can assist you with.

delusional
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby delusional » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:49 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:
delusional wrote:In order to go to Columbia, my best option would be to rent an empty room with relatives nearer Manhattan - either Brooklyn, Newark, or Rockland County. Getting into the city under those circumstances would cost about $15-25 a day, and then I'd go home on weekends - it's about two hours away.


This doesn't sound realistic. Rockland County to Columbia on public transportation, seriously? You might as well live at home. Brooklyn is the best bet out of those and you're still probably looking at an hour commute each way if not more.

The logistics are bad enough, but your family situation seals the deal. I'm single and childless, but my dad did a commute for several years that only let him come home on weekends. It sucked. I don't think Columbia is better by enough to make all of this even close to worth it. YMMV.

According to Mapquest, it's 51 minutes from my parents' house (Rockland) to Columbia. There's a bus that stops on their corner, and makes a few stops in town, then goes directly to the city. From Newark, the PATH train is 15 minutes, plus a subway ride from Midtown or Penn station (15 - 25 minutes). Brooklyn can be an hour subway ride.

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Lem37
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby Lem37 » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:55 pm

Have you looked into CLS's Family Housing options, by the way? I know of a few students here who live in subsidized housing near campus with their families.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:05 pm

At least do yourself a favor and try those commutes yourself before committing. I think you are vastly underestimating how long it will take.

delusional
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby delusional » Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:13 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:At least do yourself a favor and try those commutes yourself before committing. I think you are vastly underestimating how long it will take.

I've tried the commute from Newark. I don't think the one from upstate is really 51 minutes - nothing is when you're driving around the city. But an hour and a half on a coach bus is not the end of the world.

ma456
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby ma456 » Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:57 pm

I for one will be commuting to Columbia from Brooklyn. I've tried it out a few times and it's about a 50 min commute for me. While its kind of a pain, you will really get into a routine and can use that time to do other things (read, relax). I would much prefer a commute on the bus/subway/PATH to physically having to drive there and back every day. It might be a similar time commitment to commute if you go to Columbia vs. Penn but you will at least be able to do something during that time. While I can't say anything about the family thing from personal experience, I don't think there's anything wrong with admitting that family is a distraction. You'll want to be able to focus and do your best in school and if that means you have to be away from your family a few days a week, so be it. I would imagine it would be worthwhile to set yourself up for success by minimizing distractions.

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thecilent
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby thecilent » Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:42 pm

Sounds like you hate your wife and kids. Maybe divorce, go to cls, $$, profit?

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Veyron
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby Veyron » Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:18 pm

Seriously?

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BaiAilian2013
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:28 pm

I would probably do Penn in your situation, b/c I agree the value of being with your family can't be overstated, but I also wouldn't have as high of a distraction concern.

FWIW...
-most law students end up studying at least part of the weekend, especially close to finals. So with CLS, you have to ask things like, will you be focused enough to study SO MUCH during the week that you don't have to study on the weekend? Will the weekend bus/train trip home allow study time, or will it make you exhausted and less likely to study? Will you not want to study once you're home with your family? etc.
-make sure to try the CLS commute at rush hour. I almost never study on my commute because I can't get a seat for long enough.
- IMO, being "expected" home from Penn at a certain time is not reasonable, particularly when the only reason you can be home that day at all is because you gave up a better school in order not to do long-distance. Sounds like it's time to manage client wife expectations. (yes I am married.)

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bjsesq
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby bjsesq » Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:28 pm

delusional wrote:
bk1 wrote:How far would your commute to Penn be?

I don't think you can overestimate how valuable it would be to be with your wife/kids throughout the entire week.

Penn would be about 1:15.

Also, I'm not sure if family would be a plus. like I wrote in the OP, i'm worried that it may be more of a distraction.

I wonder what your kids need? Seriously, I'm a parent separated from my kids while attending law school and it's not fun. For any of us. Especially for them. You need to be a good law student, but it's just as important to be a good dad/mom.

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dresden doll
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby dresden doll » Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:38 pm

OP sounds a weeny bit selfish.

sarahlawg
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby sarahlawg » Sat Apr 02, 2011 12:33 pm

you may find being away from the family is just as much of a distraction as with the family. I also agree that you may feel pressured to not doing anything LS related on the weekend because you're away all week, which won't work in the end. Good luck, this sounds like a tough decision. I would personally do Penn, but if you feel like you need to get away...

mgregory3203
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby mgregory3203 » Sat Apr 02, 2011 8:07 pm

I'm in a somewhat similar spot in the sense that I'm married with a kid and was considering Columbia, but ended up ruling it out for family reasons. For me a school like Michigan or Virginia makes more sense because of the cost of living, since I'd rather be able to be close to my family and have them stay connected to my experience since they'll be in a new city away from our support network we have now. Obviously you know your personal situation best, but if it was me I'd be careful splitting the family up, even if you'll only see them on weekends. Any additional opportunities at Columbia or freedom to spend more time at the library might be outweighed by the long term risk of damaging your home life. Obviously you know your own situation better than anything else, but I'd recommend prioritizing being a successful husband and dad over being a successful law student. It might be something you and your wife are able to handle, I know for us it's not a sacrifice we'd be willing to make. You've got great choices no matter what, so good luck with it!

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Veyron
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby Veyron » Sat Apr 02, 2011 8:11 pm

Here is the real question: Where do you see yourself working?

If NYC, why wait to move the family?

If not NYC, there isn't much of a placement difference between the schools, so why worry about it?

delusional
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Re: Penn Vs. Columbia - the lifestyle thread

Postby delusional » Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:50 am

Veyron wrote:Here is the real question: Where do you see yourself working?

If NYC, why wait to move the family?

If not NYC, there isn't much of a placement difference between the schools, so why worry about it?

I want to work in the White House, preferably as the HNIC.




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