Which is better?

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
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emkay625
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Which is better?

Postby emkay625 » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:32 am

Gods of TLS, I have a question. Which one is better:

Being at the top of your class (let's say top 5%) at a school like U. Houston or SMU

vs.

Being in the top 1/3 at a school like WUSTL

vs.

Praying for median but no guarantees at a school like Northwestern or Virginia

Thoughts appreciated. I want Big Law. (Yes I know I can't assume what my grades will be at any of these schools, I'm just trying to get a handle on how I should choose a school win the time comes).

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drays917
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Re: Which is better?

Postby drays917 » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:42 am

I know you specifically included the "can't assume what your grades will be" disclaimer, but even more than that: don't think that just because a school is ranked lower that your class rank will be higher. I think people commonly but incorrectly think that if a school is higher in the rankings, then it will be more difficult to do well. Or conversely, if I go to my safety school then I'll probably do better. While it might have the slightest of impacts on the margins, there is no reason to think that the 3 situations you laid out are equally likely.

But I know that's not a particularly satisfying answer, so - from a strictly hypothetical stance - I would imagine that it depends on the region you're applying to, the competition from other regional schools, and the overall legal market there. I know that's probably not satisfying either, but IMO it's impossible to generalize.

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rayiner
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Re: Which is better?

Postby rayiner » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:43 am

Median at NU or UVA.

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glewz
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Re: Which is better?

Postby glewz » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:54 am

Kind of a combination of rayiner & drays' views:

In general, if you don't have a target market in mind, median @ NU or UVa is preferable.

But lets say that you are certain that you will be in Houston post LS. If you are a candidate who has acceptances to T14, you would likely also have significant scholarships @ U Houston & SMU. In this hypothetical, I'd advise taking either of the Texas schools, especially since Texas employment seems like it's doing well and UH & SMU are great for that region.

Edit: Yes, I shafted WUSTL. But not unintentionally. I was thinking that since you posted splitter friendly T14 schools, WUSTL would also likely give you $$$, hence a comparable decision-making process to the above hypo.
Last edited by glewz on Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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iamnooneelse
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Re: Which is better?

Postby iamnooneelse » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:55 am

emkay625 wrote:Gods of TLS, I have a question. Which one is better:

Being at Praying for the top of your class (let's say top 5%) at a school like U. Houston or SMU but no guarantees

vs.

Being in Praying for the top 1/3 at a school like WUSTL but no guarantees

vs.

Praying for median but no guarantees at a school like Northwestern or Virginia

Thoughts appreciated. I want Big Law. (Yes I know I can't assume what my grades will be at any of these schools, I'm just trying to get a handle on how I should choose a school win the time comes).


Fixed.

You say you know you can't assume your grades, but the language of your post indicated a strong belief that it would be easier to rank higher at the lower ranked schools. So you're telling us that you know you can't assume something, but then you're assuming it as the basis of your question.

As you claim to know, you can't really generalize like that, and there is no guarantee of ranking higher at one school than another. So that hope of high class rank shouldn't factor into your decision the way you are planning it.

But deep down in your post there is a realistic question, which I think you already know the answer to. All predictions aside, would a person who ranks higher at a lower school be better off than a person who ranks lower at a higher school? The answer really depends. As a general idea, Big Law will be willing to dip further into the class at the higher ranked schools, and to even get the time of day coming from a lower ranked school, you might have to place very close to or at the top of the class.

But then you factor in the personal details like connections and the markets of the respective schools, and your whole prediction is out the window. You could potentially be near median at a T14 with great connections and be further in the door than a top 5% from somewhere else. Or you could be a disengaged median student at a T14 like UVA and have less to offer than someone in the top 1/3 at WUSTL who has an extensive, reliable network, a great resume, and a market that loves WUSTL.

A better evaluation would take into consideration the debt load to be taken on vs. the overall likelihood/type of employment, factoring for the unpredictable nature of class rank.

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emkay625
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Re: Which is better?

Postby emkay625 » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:08 am

iamnooneelse wrote:
emkay625 wrote:Gods of TLS, I have a question. Which one is better:

Being at Praying for the top of your class (let's say top 5%) at a school like U. Houston or SMU but no guarantees

vs.

Being in Praying for the top 1/3 at a school like WUSTL but no guarantees

vs.

Praying for median but no guarantees at a school like Northwestern or Virginia

Thoughts appreciated. I want Big Law. (Yes I know I can't assume what my grades will be at any of these schools, I'm just trying to get a handle on how I should choose a school win the time comes).


Fixed.

You say you know you can't assume your grades, but the language of your post indicated a strong belief that it would be easier to rank higher at the lower ranked schools. So you're telling us that you know you can't assume something, but then you're assuming it as the basis of your question.

As you claim to know, you can't really generalize like that, and there is no guarantee of ranking higher at one school than another. So that hope of high class rank shouldn't factor into your decision the way you are planning it.

But deep down in your post there is a realistic question, which I think you already know the answer to. All predictions aside, would a person who ranks higher at a lower school be better off than a person who ranks lower at a higher school? The answer really depends. As a general idea, Big Law will be willing to dip further into the class at the higher ranked schools, and to even get the time of day coming from a lower ranked school, you might have to place very close to or at the top of the class.

But then you factor in the personal details like connections and the markets of the respective schools, and your whole prediction is out the window. You could potentially be near median at a T14 with great connections and be further in the door than a top 5% from somewhere else. Or you could be a disengaged median student at a T14 like UVA and have less to offer than someone in the top 1/3 at WUSTL who has an extensive, reliable network, a great resume, and a market that loves WUSTL.

A better evaluation would take into consideration the debt load to be taken on vs. the overall likelihood/type of employment, factoring for the unpredictable nature of class rank.


You are correct, and I very much realize the "lottery-ness" of grades. I'm trying to reconcile conflicting advice I recently received from 3 different people. (1 2L and 2 3Ls). One advised going to the highest ranked school possible, 1 advised going to a lower-ranked regional school under the assumption I'd do better (which is of course a crap shoot but this girl is crazy smart which is where her perspective comes from) and 1 advised going somewhere in the middle. They all are at schools that correspond to their option, of course. I do eventually want to move back to Texas, but would be okay spending time elsewhere first. I have no family connections, but 7 friends (friends, not acquaintances) who either recently graduated or will by the time I'm a 2L. But my guess is everyone has those, so no, no connections to speak of. I'm also married and would like to not have a crazy-amount of soul crushing debt, but am not completely debt averse given the right school. I am considering writing an equation in order to create a numerical value for schools using many factors: rank, location, cost of living, NLJ rank of the school, cost of attending, etc. Has anyone done this?

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glewz
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Re: Which is better?

Postby glewz » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:17 am

emkay625 wrote:You are correct, and I very much realize the "lottery-ness" of grades. I'm trying to reconcile conflicting advice I recently received from 3 different people. (1 2L and 2 3Ls). One advised going to the highest ranked school possible, 1 advised going to a lower-ranked regional school under the assumption I'd do better (which is of course a crap shoot but this girl is crazy smart which is where her perspective comes from) and 1 advised going somewhere in the middle. They all are at schools that correspond to their option, of course. I do eventually want to move back to Texas, but would be okay spending time elsewhere first. I have no family connections, but 7 friends (friends, not acquaintances) who either recently graduated or will by the time I'm a 2L. But my guess is everyone has those, so no, no connections to speak of. I'm also married and would like to not have a crazy-amount of soul crushing debt, but am not completely debt averse given the right school. I am considering writing an equation in order to create a numerical value for schools using many factors: rank, location, cost of living, NLJ rank of the school, cost of attending, etc. Has anyone done this?


Wait no...I did not advise you attend somewhere in between UH/SMU and T14 (i.e. WUSTL).

Read again - if you have a target market in mind, then minimize debt while attending a school that does decently well. Alternatively, if you don't have a target market, I'd recommend T14.

So if you had a full scholly to UH, half @ WUSTL, and a strong intent to practice in Houston, go for UH. Same scenario but with a strong interest in St. Louis biglaw --> WUSTL. There's a certain threshold in which a person would or would not be willing to compromise rank for $ (and you'd need to decide that for yourself), but this is just a general illustration of my previous point.


Keep in mind that your initial post (with all the grade hypos) kinda framed this discussion within the subject of job prospects, so you're getting really career-focused answers.

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zanda
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Re: Which is better?

Postby zanda » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:31 am

option 3

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Bless
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Re: Which is better?

Postby Bless » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:50 am

Option 3, because in the end, those are the ideal schools to graduate from.


If you are considering transferring, top 5% at SMU could land you in the T20, and maybe even T14. We've seen it happen to TLS members before.


Regardless, I think it's silly to assume those grade distributions based on ranking of the school. Best of luck.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Which is better?

Postby JamMasterJ » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:54 am

Go to the best school you can, especially if BigLaw is the goal

flexityflex86
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Re: Which is better?

Postby flexityflex86 » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:57 am

is option3 really the best here?

obviously you can't predict grades, but with this being the case it seems much less stressful at a top 10 school as being median can lead to gainful employment while you'll need to truly excel at other places.

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bk1
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Re: Which is better?

Postby bk1 » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:59 am

emkay625 wrote:You are correct, and I very much realize the "lottery-ness" of grades. I'm trying to reconcile conflicting advice I recently received from 3 different people. (1 2L and 2 3Ls). One advised going to the highest ranked school possible, 1 advised going to a lower-ranked regional school under the assumption I'd do better (which is of course a crap shoot but this girl is crazy smart which is where her perspective comes from) and 1 advised going somewhere in the middle. They all are at schools that correspond to their option, of course. I do eventually want to move back to Texas, but would be okay spending time elsewhere first. I have no family connections, but 7 friends (friends, not acquaintances) who either recently graduated or will by the time I'm a 2L. But my guess is everyone has those, so no, no connections to speak of. I'm also married and would like to not have a crazy-amount of soul crushing debt, but am not completely debt averse given the right school. I am considering writing an equation in order to create a numerical value for schools using many factors: rank, location, cost of living, NLJ rank of the school, cost of attending, etc. Has anyone done this?


Realize that LSAT and GPA only account for 20% or so of 1L grades and don't pin hopes that being slightly better than your classmates on these metrics will give you a significant advantage over them.

Decide between schools based on cost, employment prospects, and location.




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