Annual Root-Tilden-Kern vs. Harvard thread

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Annual Root-Tilden-Kern vs. Harvard thread

Postby bogm2012 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:08 am

So I know this has been brought up before, and about 75% of responses go something like this:

RTK > Harvard >>> NYU under any other circumstances. But these people never really offer any reasons for this except for the old "You cannot possibly imagine how much debt you will have or how little you will get paid."

I acknowledge both of these things, but the RTK has a 10 year PI obligation that doesn't really differentiate it from most LRAP programs (or LIPP). In fact, both RTK alumni I know told me it's basically a nice accolade and a networking tool that essentially functions as an LRAP program.

I know it's presumptuous to make this thread without having the RTK offer on the table, but given that you have to accept or turn down the RTK within 4 days of its offer, I want to have this figured out just in case.

Am I missing something? Can anyone who says it's a no brainer to take the RTK over HLS explain to me what is missing from the above, or what I may be misinterpreting?

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Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:11 pm

Re: Annual Root-Tilden-Kern vs. Harvard thread

Postby bogm2012 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:45 am

So I found some info on other message boards, but would still appreciate feedback if anyone has it:

Maybe I'm being cynical, but isn't RTK just a glorified, super-competitive LRAP?

No, because it's a full-tuition scholarship. Thus, you don't have to assume the loans in the first place. RTK scholars can still get LRAP for the loans they take out for living expenses, etc.

And in addition, RTK has two other distinguishing factors. First, there is a moral, not a legal obligation to pay it back if you don't work in public service. For me, I'm planning on doing PS anyways, but if someone wasnt and they werent exactly scrupulous, they could probably get by. Secondly, it considers LOTS of things to be public service - work w/nonprofits, government, clerkships, and even working in a firm that deals primarily with underserved people. So you could work for the gov or for a NP, make 100k a year, and meet the terms of the scholarship, which would be worth about 125,000 to you. With LRAP, if you make 100k, you're not getting anything back.

I do not think I would be able to just skip out on the moral obligation, but the idea of making $80k (remote, I know) and owing nothing, vs. having to pay quite a bit of that through LIPP is something to consider.

Anecdotally and from what I've seen on LSN it seems like few people take the RTK. Many of NYU's less binding scholarships seem to draw them away from H and even Y, but it seems like maybe 60-70% of Harvard and RTK people choose Harvard. Who's to know if they're right.

Anyone on the board been in this situation and regret or stand by their decision, whichever it was?

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Re: Annual Root-Tilden-Kern vs. Harvard thread

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:03 am

The RTK is truly for people who are devoted to a public interest career. If you're one of them then I would certainly take it over Harvard. It's not just the financial advantage, but you also get lots of networking help, mentoring, and so on. You will be in a great position for all the competitive prestigious fellowships. If you go to Harvard, you'll be starting from square one and may or may not get the grades, make the connections, and so on, which would make you a good candidate for those jobs. Plus even with LRAP programs, there is just no replacement for a free education. (My understanding is that the RTK "moral" commitment to do public service doesn't run for 10 years—I don't think it's that formal. So you could do it for 2-3 years and then change careers and be free and clear of any obligation. Don't quote me on this though.)

If you even might want to work in a firm, though, all bets are off. Harvard is the better move there. Like I said, the RTK isn't a traditional "full ride," it is really a special program for future public interest attorneys. It's probably one of the best things you can do if that describes your career track, but it's not a substitute for something like the Hamilton at Columbia.

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