Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

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Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Poll ended at Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:16 pm

Cornell
15
63%
BU
9
38%
 
Total votes: 24

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09nlm
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Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby 09nlm » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:16 pm

Another Cornell waitlist admit deciding between it and BU. Unless I can negotiate with BU, I would be paying sticker at both institutions.

Quick facts:
- I'm 90% sure I want to work in Boston after law school
- I went to undergrad in Mass. and have lived in Boston for the past two years, but am from the Midwest and have no addtional ties to the region
- My primary interests lie in health law and IP (but I am fully aware this might change during law school)
- I have a very solid network of friends in Boston and am fairly certain I would be less happy socially in Ithaca
- That said, I am most concerned with employment prospects, as I am going to be taking on an enormous amount of debt with either option... specifically employment prospects in BOSTON.

Is Cornell worth the isolation and additional cost?

alumniguy
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby alumniguy » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:32 pm

I think Cornell is the clear winner in this comparison - i.e., sticker at both schools. You'll have an easier time getting a job coming out of Cornell and at this point of your law school/legal career, I think an actual job should outweigh any desired location.

If you can't land Boston biglaw coming from Cornell and do manage to get a NYC gig, you can always try to lateral after a few years of practicing law. Likewise, you'll probably be much more competitive for a clerkship at Cornell and this could get you your foot in Boston as well.

I am also a big proponent in going to well regarded schools not located in the immediate area of the city you want to practice because firms generally like to have diversity in their summer associates. Cornell is a great school and is likely a school that many Boston firms would like to have in their summer class. I imagine that there isn't a huge contingent of Cornell students that actively seek Boston as their first market, which means that you may get a bump.

BU is a great school, but in my opinion doesn't compare to Cornell without any scholarships.

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bk1
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby bk1 » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:35 pm

alumniguy wrote:If you can't land Boston biglaw coming from Cornell and do manage to get a NYC gig, you can always try to lateral after a few years of practicing law.


I think this is the crux of it all. Either school is going to require biglaw to realistically pay off that kind of debt. I would hazard that Cornell is better than BU in Boston, but it could very well be that BU has a slight edge. That being said, I think the important thing here is that, for you because of your debt, Boston biglaw > NYC biglaw > Boston anylaw. While BU may give you an absolute better shot at any law job in Boston, Cornell is going to give you a much better shot at paying off sticker price debt and that is why I think you should take Cornell.

mrwarre85
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby mrwarre85 » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:44 pm

First off, I'm on the wait list at Cornell and would go there no matter what.

However, I have to disagree with some parts of what the poster above is saying. If I wanted to work in Boston, I would definitely go to BU. It seems to me that more often than not those on this site are those with top grades and less than steller networking skills. As such, I think people underestimate how important networking/local ties/interpersonal skills are.

I would say if you want Boston and have some half decent networking skills, definitely go to BU.

In all other scenarios you should go to Cornell.

You may change your mind (ten percent chance, perhaps) and not want to stay in Boston. Think about it..

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:53 pm

The crux of the matter is your desire for Boston. If Boston is your place, use Cornell to get some $$$ from BU and go to BU.
For all other locations and if the difference in price was just 40k, I would take Cornell even if I knew I would be less happy living in Ithaca for three years.

alumniguy
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby alumniguy » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:56 pm

Advice has nothing to do with top grades and/or lack of networking skills. I will agree that if OP wants Boston above all, then he should go to BU. However, if OP can't get biglaw, I shudder to think of paying back $180k in loans on less than a biglaw salary. To expand on my earlier post, when going to school at sticker (assuming that one takes out loans to pay for school), you pretty much have to get biglaw unless you want to live for years upon years in debt. Generally, I don't think law school is worth sticker, but at the best schools you can rationalize that it is worth it providing that one is willing to work in biglaw in order to quickly repay a good chunk of the debt.

My advice is that if OP attends either school at sticker and has to acquire significant debt to do so, that Cornell is the economic winner. Now if OP really wants to stay in Boston, then I'd suggest really thinking long and hard about paying $180k for a BU degree. It is a gamble. Everything may work just fine, but there is a very real possibility that it won't, too.

Regarding networking, very few students land biglaw by networking. I would agree that for small/mid-law, networking is a bigger factor, but for bigalw it just isn't the way that summer associates get hired.

kaiser
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby kaiser » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:57 pm

If you have your heart dead set on Boston, then BU. But anything else, and I'd lean a bit more toward Cornell. Boston REALLY values ties and connection to the city. I can't imagine Cornell being objectively better for Boston than BU because the majority of Cornell kids applying to Boston will just be viewed as outsiders despite their impressive pedigree.
Last edited by kaiser on Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bk1
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby bk1 » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:58 pm

mrwarre85 wrote:As such, I think people underestimate how important networking/local ties/interpersonal skills are.


The impression I get from posters on this board is that for biglaw (and they are more than welcome to tell me I'm wrong and I will shut it), you're not going to network your way in when you don't have the grades/school to make it. Because Cornell makes it easier to get biglaw and because OP is looking at sticker price from both of these schools, I think this means Cornell is the right answer even if it requires spending a few years working in NYC prior to going back to Boston. At least, that is how I would look. If being in Boston is worth a higher chance of taking much longer to pay back debt to OP then I think a case could be made for BU.

I think if BU can drop some scholarship money (ideally at least 20k/year) then I think this becomes pretty easy for BU, but since it is already June I'm not so sure OP can finagle scholarship money out of BU.

FutureInLaw
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby FutureInLaw » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:07 pm

As someone who is probably going to choose BU with roughly $75k of debt vs. Cornell at $300k-$350k of debt, I'd choose Cornell in your case.

Suck it up for 3 years, and you'll reap the benefits afterward. Sorry for the blunt advice!

alumniguy
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby alumniguy » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:09 pm

kaiser wrote:If you have your heart dead set on Boston, then BU. But anything else, and I'd lean a bit more toward Cornell. Boston REALLY values ties and connection to the city. I can't imagine Cornell being objectively better for Boston than BU because the majority of Cornell kids applying to Boston will just be viewed as outsiders despite their impressive pedigree.


I think the 4 years of undergrad and 2 years post-undergrad, presumably with a job that will be listed on a resume is enough to provide ties to the area. Especially when OP will be attending a T14 school. Employers will know that he could have gotten into BU/BC and chose to attend the better law school.

The issue I see is that if you are not in the top 1/3 at BU, you aren't likely getting Boston biglaw and you're going to need to work hard just to find a decent job in Boston (via networking). Moreover, you're likely not getting a NYC biglaw job either and will need to work even harder to find a decent job. At Cornell, this number drops to top 50% to be competitive for biglaw, including Boston biglaw I would imagine. For $40k (which I would venture to guess is a tad high) extra in debt, Cornell is a better choice.

Given the uncertainly in entry level legal hiring, I think EVERYONE should be focused on obtaining the best job possible, even if that means moving to a market that is not their first choice.

crit_racer
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby crit_racer » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:09 pm

Negotiate some $$ from BU or go Cornell. Any $$ from schools in the 15-30 range you can use to bait them?

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09nlm
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby 09nlm » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:18 pm

Thanks for all of the speedy responses, everyone!

crit_racer wrote:Negotiate some $$ from BU or go Cornell. Any $$ from schools in the 15-30 range you can use to bait them?


Substantial $$ from Minnesota. BU's financial aid contact is out of the office until Wednesday, which isn't making this process any easier.

This is more tangential given it will have little to no impact on biglaw hiring, but is the fact that I want end up in health law/IP and BU's health law program is extremely well respected of any consequence? My gut tells me it's a nice crutch and sounds delightful, but it comes down to rankings and raw 1L grades for the most part.

Slevin Kelevra 2011
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby Slevin Kelevra 2011 » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:34 pm

T14 is worth the extra cost. Check out the biglaw placement difference.

For the class of 2010:
BU was ranked 17th and placed 30% of its grads into biglaw.
Cornell was ranked 2nd and placed 58.33% of its grads into biglaw.


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

Note: Do not take specialy rankings/certificate programs into consideration. They don't mean anything.

mrwarre85
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby mrwarre85 » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:55 pm

Slevin Kelevra 2011 wrote:T14 is worth the extra cost. Check out the biglaw placement difference.

For the class of 2010:
BU was ranked 17th and placed 30% of its grads into biglaw.
Cornell was ranked 2nd and placed 58.33% of its grads into biglaw.


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

Note: Do not take specialy rankings/certificate programs into consideration. They don't mean anything.


Specialty rankings do mean something, they just don't mean you are going to make more money when you graduate because of them.

And those figures are from the class of 2009 I think. I think the difference in 2010 is going to be about 10% (basing that off what Cornell and BU students are saying on TLS).

fingersxd
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby fingersxd » Mon Jun 13, 2011 5:07 pm

This is correct. Anecdotally Cornell's #'s have not been great this time around and BU has improved. In all fairness, however, we should also recognize that the % placement into NLJ250 fails to take into account the quality of that placement. That is to say that if prestige is a big factor for you, Cornell's placement in the more elite firms ( say V100, Am100 and onwards) becomes progressively more and more impressive as you work your way "up" in prestige.

All that aside, you should be able to use Cornell to leverage at least some $ out of BU. If both remain at sticker, i would say take Cornell here. Ithaca isn't that bad and Cornell simply opens up many more doors for you, both nationwide and and even in Boston. As alumniguy noted, at the very least, firms do want some diversity of schools, how many BU/BC people do they really need? Also, I think 40k just seems off. Ithaca is SO much cheaper to live in than Boton that even though tuition is higher, I just can't see Cornell costing you ~13k/yr more to attend.

alumniguy
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby alumniguy » Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:18 pm

Not sure I agree that specialty rankings mean much of anything. At most, they are areas where a particular law school has *invested* in terms of faculty and course offerings. There may be some benefit to accessing professors in these areas, provided that those professors have professional contacts and routinely go to bat for students that are looking for jobs. Otherwise, I don't see much of anything in specialty rankings. Biglaw firms certainly aren't looking at them when they recruit since most firms look only at 1L grades and most 1Ls take a fairly standard set of courses.

I should also note that in my knowledge of firms, very few biglaw firms do health law. Plainly put, there isn't much money in it. Likewise, IP (non-engineer type) is not a huge field either. The number of entry level positions in these two areas is just not that high compared with more traditional practices, i.e., litigation, M&A, finance, capital markets, bankruptcy, real estate, etc.

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Blindmelon
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Re: Cornell (220k debt) vs. BU (180k debt)

Postby Blindmelon » Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:41 pm

09nlm wrote:Thanks for all of the speedy responses, everyone!

crit_racer wrote:Negotiate some $$ from BU or go Cornell. Any $$ from schools in the 15-30 range you can use to bait them?


Substantial $$ from Minnesota. BU's financial aid contact is out of the office until Wednesday, which isn't making this process any easier.

This is more tangential given it will have little to no impact on biglaw hiring, but is the fact that I want end up in health law/IP and BU's health law program is extremely well respected of any consequence? My gut tells me it's a nice crutch and sounds delightful, but it comes down to rankings and raw 1L grades for the most part.


While specialty rankings are largely BS, BU's health law program is pretty serious. You *should not* make your decision based on it, but between peer schools its a definite tie breaker. Cornell and Boston aren't peer schools. If you must have Boston, then BU. If you're ok with maybe having to work in NYC a little before coming up, then BU.

Without more $, I would do Cornell. If you can get more money (which you should be able to), come back with the amount.




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