Columbia (1/2 free) vs Michigan (free)

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Re: Columbia (27k/yr) vs Michigan (free)

Postby dingbat » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:05 am

Everyone wants to push you towards Columbia, but, here's a simple question:
If you were unable to borrow the money and had to save up for a few years first, would you be willing to pay $75k to live in NY?

I think Columbia is a great school and New York a wonderful place to live, but, your other options are both really good. Debt is a big deal.
It is true that for the majority of Columbia students, going the biglaw route and paying down debt is an attainable goal. However, paying it off in 3-4 years is not as easy as you think.

Having lived in NYC for years while earning good money, I can tell you the place is a money-suck.
It's easy to say, oh, I'll live off $20-30k/year, just like when I was a student.
However, even if you really want to do that, you'll be spending a few thousand on clothes (can't show up to biglaw wearing jeans and a t-shirt)
Next, you'll be spending more money on food - working biglaw type hours, you won't be in any mood to cook, you'll be eating out for lunch and dinner most nights
Then, how often will your co-workers/boss want to go out and hit the bars? You'll at least need to put in face time, and bar tabs in NYC can climb very quickly.
Beyond that, you'll want to actuallyexperience NY - Broadway, a sports game, something like that. You work hard, you deserve it. Butl, that's not cheap either (I used to blow $500 in a night, taking my wife to dinner and the theater or the opera, maybe once a month)

I'd recommend Michigan over Columbia, as I don't think Columbia is worth $100k more.

You've stated a preferene for living in a major city; Northwestern is not that much worse than Michigan and if you have a major preference for city living, it'd be worth the difference between those two (slightly less fantastic school, slightly more cost)
However, I don't think it'd be that bad an idea to pick Columbia over Northwestern, if it cost $65k more.

Practically, I think paying an extra $65k/$105k is not the smartest option, but you have valid reasons for going to CLS and, to be honest, I'd do it (not thinking these kind of things through to their logical conclusions but just going with my gut and hoping for the best has worked out for me more often than not - moving to NY should have been a really dumb thing for me to do, but ended up working out well)

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Re: Columbia (27k/yr) vs Michigan (free)

Postby Vronsky » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:44 am

Kring345 wrote:Bronck - What is a 2L SA salary, normally? 2-3000 for NYC biglaw?

For market-paying firms (almost all the big law firms), it's the first year salary pro-rated to weekly for 10-12 weeks depending on the firm, at $3077 per week. So factor that into your budget. Should help you cover some of the debt for 3L, and if you can get a 1L SA (very difficult but it's also pretty difficult to get COL stipends and you've got that covered), it can add another 30k to your bank account to cover the expense.

Go to Columbia.


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Re: Columbia (27k/yr) vs Michigan (free)

Postby brownpride » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:08 pm

Columbia, 100%

The Columbia name, prestige, network, and connections will stick with you for the rest of your life, whereas the debt will be gone within 5 years if you're diligent. Columbia grads will be more spaced out across the country and even the world than Michigan grads so you'll have some great connections, and the Ivy reputation behind your name will benefit you for the next 50 years.

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Re: Columbia (27k/yr) vs Michigan (free)

Postby Veyron » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:49 pm

Since it sounds like you want to be in NYC anyway, CLS for sure. Definitely going to have better NYC job prospects if you go there. Plus, you can sign year-long leases.

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Re: Columbia (27k/yr) vs Michigan (free)

Postby Kring345 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:14 pm

Thanks for the advice everyone. Im going to roll it around. Maybe I'll luck out and get a good aid package.


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Re: Columbia (27k/yr) vs Michigan (free)

Postby kaiser » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:36 pm

Kring345 wrote:
kaiser wrote:I go to NYU and will have about the same debt load, and I can tell you that the vast majority of students would love to be in my (what could also be your) debt position. 75K debt with NYC biglaw job is a cakewalk compared to 200K debt, which is of course doable, but much more difficult. I plan to have that 70K or so paid off in 3 or 4 years, and never have to worry about it again, and it seems like that is an entirely realistic plan. If Columbia would leave you with around the same debt load, I say go for it.

3-4 years, eh? Seems reasonable. But are you factoring in the high taxes, etc in NYC?

I have sort of a unique debt situation in that there will be very little interest on that 70K. I'm living at home this summer, so it will be 60K or less by the time I graduate (since I have the finances worked out that I can take 10K of the 2L SA $$ and put it directly to loans). Forgot to include the "very little interest" fact, so that probably cuts a bit of time off the repayment period. And yeah, I was just using a rough estimate for taxes and assumed I would have something like 110K left out of 160K. Perhaps that is too optimistic, but idk. I would never live in Manhattan, so its not like I'll be burning 3K on rent or anything.

So, aside from the NYU/Columbia difference (which is very slight, and I would make this same argument if OP were choosing between Michigan and NYU), my situation and OP's would be very similar if he comes to NY. And I can say I'm very happy with the situation I'm in right now, and I would totally recommend it to OP.


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Re: Columbia (27k/yr) vs Michigan (free)

Postby r6_philly » Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:47 am

Kring345 wrote:Bronck - What is a 2L SA salary, normally? 2-3000 for NYC biglaw?

Around $3000-3100/week. 10-12 weeks. You might land a 1L SA too, which will make Columbia pretty much close to free.

I vote Columbia anyway, it's hedging your risks.

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