Prestige or Cost? HELP

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Prestige or Cost? HELP

Postby Regina217 » Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:42 pm

Two of CCN at sticker. I've received a half tuition scholarship at one of MVP and I've received money from Texas that would make it the most affordable option and I'd like to negotiate for more. I love all of the schools that have accepted me.

-I want to practice civil rights/public interest law (ideally ACLU-type organizations or perhaps government). I expect to make very little money doing this, so I am somewhat debt averse because I know I will not be making the kind of salary that could help me pay back loans quickly.
-I would really, really like to clerk for a federal appellate judge; in my dreams, I would love a Bristow Fellowship too. I plan to work my ass off in law school but I recognize how difficult these particular goals are to achieve.
-I'm from Texas and I adore Austin. If I went to Texas I would be close to family and friends and I know I'd be happy and my life might be a bit simpler.
-I would love to practice in Texas, but I do not want to be restricted to Texas- I think DC is eventually where I want to be.

I feel lost and torn - I have never dealt with debt because I am very young and it's hard for me to fathom how burdensome debt could be on my life. I also want to make the decisions that will best serve my career goals and I know the reputation of one's law school really has an impact. I think choosing a more prestigious school may open more doors for me.

What do you think? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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Re: Prestige or Cost? HELP

Postby dingbat » Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:50 pm

Regina217 wrote: I expect to make very little money doing this, so I am somewhat debt averse because I know I will not be making the kind of salary that could help me pay back loans quickly

This should be the over-riding factor, considering that every school you listed is very good.
Check the LRAP, but, honestly, keeping your costs low should be the most important (but not the only) factor when considering where you will go. (note: this is based on the fact that you're only considering schools in the T14 & Texas. The difference between them is not that big)

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Re: Prestige or Cost? HELP

Postby alisonmonahan » Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:31 pm

Drill down into the details of each school's LRAP program (and talk to people who use it, because what they have to say is often really different from the way the school presents it). If the school has a good LRAP, and you're sure you're going to do qualifying work, and you can figure out how the rest of your life is going to play out (are/will you be married? does your spouse's income count for LRAP? will you be able to get a mortgage with your debt? and so on), taking the "more prestigious" school and the debt might not be a terrible option.

However, also give serious thought to how supportive a school really is of public interest work. Again, talk to students, and ignore what the schools tell you.

I went to Columbia, for example, which claims to have lots of support for public interest, but that couldn't be further from the truth, in my experience. Someone who's serious about public interest work would be way better off at NYU.

Basically, take anything the schools tell you with a grain of salt, and try to find people at each place who'll give you the inside scoop. Your trajectory will be determined, in the end, but how well your goals mesh with what the school can offer you. Just looking at relative prestige is shortsighted. Drill down and figure out what your experience will be like, to the extent you can.

Best of luck!

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