Columbia vs. Harvard

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Gantor
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Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby Gantor » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:44 pm

Hey, everyone, long time reader first time poster here. As the subject suggests, I've been accepted to both CLS and HLS. Any help in choosing between them would be greatly appreciated! Here's the relevant info about me and my interests:

(1) I plan on going into Big Law so I'm not particularly interested in either school's clerkship or public interest potential.

(2) Impressing the "man on the street" is great and all, but I'm much more concerned with career prospects than being able to namedrop "Harvard Law School" at dinner parties. (That's not to denigrate HLS in any way, but just to say that I don't find "It's the brand name law school!" to be a particularly convincing reason to choose HLS over CLS)

(3) I have a few compelling--but not overwhelming--personal reasons to remain in NYC (I'm currently at NYU for undergrad). First, my girlfriend of ~6 years will still be in the NYC next year (and possibly longer depending on where she goes to grad school). She'll be happy for me no matter where I decide to go, but the long-ish distance thing is never fun and, with a law student's schedule, the ~180 miles from Cambridge to NYC would be a pain. Second, I'd like to work in NYC after law school so staying in the city seems like it could provide networking opportunities I wouldn't have otherwise. Third, and most trivially, I just enjoy living in NYC. Sure, the whole city smells like piss and exhaust fumes, but it's grown on me nonetheless.

(4) I haven't received financial aid info from either school yet, but that should be coming soon.

(5) I haven't done an admitted students event at either school yet, but I'll be attending CLS's next week and HLS's soon after.

I'm happy having people weigh in from whatever angle they'd like: analysis of Big Law placement records, experiences of students at either school, which school you'd pick if you were in my shoes (and how much money it'd take for you to pick the other), and so on.

Thanks in advance for your input!

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby Tiago Splitter » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:49 pm

Gantor wrote:I just enjoy living in NYC. Sure, the whole city smells like piss and exhaust fumes, but it's grown on me nonetheless.


I like this guy.

People turn down full rides at Columbia for Harvard. If you had at least a half-ride this would be a tough choice, but at the same money few would turn down Harvard.

abacus
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby abacus » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:58 pm

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Last edited by abacus on Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

noggo10
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby noggo10 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:01 pm

First of all congrats! I'm a tad bit jealous haha, having been accepted at CLS and having been held at HLS. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to join you in making this decision in a month or so, but I'm planning on headed to Columbia which has always been my dream school. Here are my thoughts and what I've gathered from doing research on these matters myself. Either way, you have great options.

1). As far as Big Law goes, particularly in NYC, you should be in pretty good shape coming from both as long as you do reasonably well. I've never talked to a hiring partner or anything, but it does see that there would be a few advantages of HLS. There are no real grades, although I have heard that employers can still roughly figure out where you are ranked based on this system. Also, as fantastic as Columbia is, it does seem that Harvard is on a higher level and that your chances of Big Law from H would be a little bit better than C. The roughly comparable NLJ250 numbers don't seem to take into account clerkships, self-selection into academia, etc. Either way, you have a good chance and it seems that most students at either school who want Big Law can probably get it.

2). Good point.

3). Call me a hopeless romantic, but I think this is your most compelling reason to go to CLS. If you really love this girl and think she's the one, then stay. 6 years is definitely a big deal and if this is the girl you want to be with for the rest of your life I am sure you will be able to get to Big Law from either. A long distance relationship could definitely be tough, but it also sounds like she is very understanding about this matter.

4). If you didn't receive a Butler or Hamilton invite in your initial acceptance you probably won't get a ton of merit-based aid from Columbia. I'm waiting back to hear from Columbia about need-based, so that might be what you are waiting on as well. Harvard is all need-based, though, so I figure you would get a comparable amount from either school so I'd bet that the financial aid question won't determine this for you, although I could be wrong.

As far as me, if I get into Harvard, I'd definitely go there but I'm single so I don't have that to worry about. It's a tough call, but either way you will be in pretty good shape career-wise. Good luck and I hope visiting the two schools helps you to get a better sense. That's always a good idea!

imbored25
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby imbored25 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:08 pm

harvard bro

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby Doorkeeper » Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:14 pm

If you have Harvard K-JD numbers, you stand a very good chance of getting a Butler or a Hamilton.

If you do end up getting a named scholarship at Columbia, I definitely think you have good enough reasons to go there.

jd5
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby jd5 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:30 pm

I have a Hamilton, and even for me it's not an easy decision (though I'm definitely leaning towards CLS). If the money is about the same at both places, then HLS is the easy answer, unless you're really in love with this girl and think distance won't work.

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Bronck
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby Bronck » Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:31 pm

Doorkeeper wrote:If you have Harvard K-JD numbers, you stand a very good chance of getting a Butler or a Hamilton.

If you do end up getting a named scholarship at Columbia, I definitely think you have good enough reasons to go there.


Lol no. The named scholarships come with the VCE.

Pick Harvard.

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quiver
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby quiver » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:06 pm

Tough call in the abstract without knowing $$$. If you come back with financial aid info you'll get more informed responses.

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Chucky21
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby Chucky21 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:10 pm

I'd say that it would be tough to turn down Harvard here no matter what. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity you have. You applied to Harvard for a reason right? And you have it. NYC will still be there when you get out, and so will your girlfriend seeing as you've been together for so long. Nothing against CLS, but this is Harvard.

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hung jury
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby hung jury » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:13 pm

Before you make your decision make sure to negotiate with Columbia, whatever their first offer. Given you have Harvard numbers and a Harvard offer in hand they should give you tuition relief to attend.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby Doorkeeper » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:53 pm

Bronck wrote:
Doorkeeper wrote:If you have Harvard K-JD numbers, you stand a very good chance of getting a Butler or a Hamilton.

If you do end up getting a named scholarship at Columbia, I definitely think you have good enough reasons to go there.


Lol no. The named scholarships come with the VCE.

Pick Harvard.

My statement wasn't factually incorrect. Many CLS/HLS cross admits get a Butler/Hamilton.

Further, OP didn't state whether he was in via VCE or email, as later admits have been notified via email first.

Finally, whatever happens, try to negotiate with Columbia for more $$.

flightcontrol
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby flightcontrol » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:34 pm

Congratulations on your happy choice. I would make this decision by considering two things: first, personal happiness; and second, professional opportunities. (Money also matters, of course, but since you have financial aid figures at neither school, it is premature to consider.)

I think it is clear that your personal happiness is better served by staying at Columbia, for the many reasons you have listed. I would add only that three years is a long time, and law school only makes it seem longer. Three years of happiness is worth a great deal in its own right.

It can also impact your professional opportunities. The greatest predictor of your immediate post-graduate opportunities is not whether you go to HLS or CLS, but your relative standing at each school. It is true that opportunities will diverge dramatically at the very top end. But if you have little interest in clerkships or academia, this hardly matters. (And even if you were interested, the small likelihood of winding up in the margin is a poor basis for decisionmaking.) While most of your grades will be based on some combination of raw ability and work, I suspect your happiness will also play a role. A small difference in grades--winding up in the top third of Columbia vs. the vast murky middle at Harvard--will do more for your professional opportunities than the brand ever will.

The decision is a very personal one, but if I were in your shoes, I would at least give more serious consideration to Columbia than the other posters do. Both are great brands, and I think the impression on this board that HYS has this mysterious halo that forever lifts your life is misguided, if not outright wrong. Take it from someone in the know (I have a couple of HY degrees). And on the few occasions that I have chosen between "prestige" and "happiness"--including law schools--I have not regretted going for the latter.

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quiver
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby quiver » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:14 pm

flightcontrol wrote:Congratulations on your happy choice. I would make this decision by considering two things: first, personal happiness; and second, professional opportunities. (Money also matters, of course, but since you have financial aid figures at neither school, it is premature to consider.)

I think it is clear that your personal happiness is better served by staying at Columbia, for the many reasons you have listed. I would add only that three years is a long time, and law school only makes it seem longer. Three years of happiness is worth a great deal in its own right.

It can also impact your professional opportunities. The greatest predictor of your immediate post-graduate opportunities is not whether you go to HLS or CLS, but your relative standing at each school. It is true that opportunities will diverge dramatically at the very top end. But if you have little interest in clerkships or academia, this hardly matters. (And even if you were interested, the small likelihood of winding up in the margin is a poor basis for decisionmaking.) While most of your grades will be based on some combination of raw ability and work, I suspect your happiness will also play a role. A small difference in grades--winding up in the top third of Columbia vs. the vast murky middle at Harvard--will do more for your professional opportunities than the brand ever will.

The decision is a very personal one, but if I were in your shoes, I would at least give more serious consideration to Columbia than the other posters do. Both are great brands, and I think the impression on this board that HYS has this mysterious halo that forever lifts your life is misguided, if not outright wrong.
Interesting thoughts. This hinges on the type of relationship you have though. Some would be happier and therefore perform better when they're with their girlfriend while others may get distracted and actually perform relatively poorly. Which leads this back to being a very personal decision; only OP could knows which situation he is in.

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Chucky21
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby Chucky21 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:27 pm

Just imagine yourself matriculating at CLS. Would you ever consider what it would've been like at Harvard... Obviously I don't know the answer to this question. But I think you should seriously consider Harvard before turning it down.

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hung jury
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby hung jury » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:01 am

flightcontrol wrote:Congratulations on your happy choice. I would make this decision by considering two things: first, personal happiness; and second, professional opportunities. (Money also matters, of course, but since you have financial aid figures at neither school, it is premature to consider.)

I think it is clear that your personal happiness is better served by staying at Columbia, for the many reasons you have listed. I would add only that three years is a long time, and law school only makes it seem longer. Three years of happiness is worth a great deal in its own right.

It can also impact your professional opportunities. The greatest predictor of your immediate post-graduate opportunities is not whether you go to HLS or CLS, but your relative standing at each school. It is true that opportunities will diverge dramatically at the very top end. But if you have little interest in clerkships or academia, this hardly matters. (And even if you were interested, the small likelihood of winding up in the margin is a poor basis for decisionmaking.) While most of your grades will be based on some combination of raw ability and work, I suspect your happiness will also play a role. A small difference in grades--winding up in the top third of Columbia vs. the vast murky middle at Harvard--will do more for your professional opportunities than the brand ever will.

The decision is a very personal one, but if I were in your shoes, I would at least give more serious consideration to Columbia than the other posters do. Both are great brands, and I think the impression on this board that HYS has this mysterious halo that forever lifts your life is misguided, if not outright wrong. Take it from someone in the know (I have a couple of HY degrees). And on the few occasions that I have chosen between "prestige" and "happiness"--including law schools--I have not regretted going for the latter.


I agree with this completely. Columbia is great for NYC biglaw and that is what you want. Stay at home and be happy and you'll have a better career because of it. Law school can be draining enough, no sense leaving the place you want to be to make it harder.

But use the H acceptance to try and get some funds from Columbia.

Gantor
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby Gantor » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:30 am

First off, thanks to everyone for the congratulations and great advice so far! I just thought I'd add another potentially relevant piece of info that came to light this evening. I don't know whether or how much this might change anything, but here it is anyway:

(6) I happen to have a friend who's currently a 2L at CLS. She wants to provide me with all of her notes, help introduce me to professors, and will almost certainly be willing to give any other assistance as needed. While this isn't an overwhelming concern--after all, I don't need someone to hold my hand through law school--the assistance of a successful 2L (soon to be 3L) has the potential to be really useful.

So far, several people have suggested I use the HLS acceptance as a bargaining tool with CLS and I quite like that idea. Does anyone (especially someone who has done something similar) have any advice on how to broach the subject tactfully with CLS?

Next, especially for all those strongly advocating for Harvard, does anyone have any solid stats on NYC Big Law placement rates for CLS and HLS? While the general sentiment--here and elsewhere--is that Harvard is somehow substantially better, most of the data I've seen has shown the two to be near equal and some ratings even give CLS a slight edge (at least when we're talking about NYC Big Law in particular). Of course, if that's just nonsense, I'm more than happy to hear it.

Finally, since it's come up quite a few times, here's a little clarification on the girlfriend situation. We're definitely serious (but I guess that's not too surprising given that we've been together for the amount of time we have). We probably could survive the distance issue; the real issue is how emotionally trying it might be. My freshman year at NYU, she was still back in Oregon (it's tough to get much longer distance than that within the continental US) and while we made it work, it was rough for both of us. I'm not sure whether that clarifies or settles anything of great importance, but hey, there ya go. Regarding the potential for distractions to arise from being closer to her, I'm fairly certain that wouldn't be too much of a problem. After all, we've been together throughout my time at NYU undergrad and my academic performance doesn't seem to have suffered (at least not enough to stop me from getting into CLS and HLS so I definitely can't complain). Sure, law school may be a different beast, but given how amazingly supportive she is, I'm sure her presence could only help.

I apologize for the somewhat long and rambling post--I suppose my organization skills falter a little at 2am--but once again, thanks a ton for all the help and advice, everyone!

JasonR
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby JasonR » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:10 am

Gantor wrote:So far, several people have suggested I use the HLS acceptance as a bargaining tool with CLS and I quite like that idea. Does anyone (especially someone who has done something similar) have any advice on how to broach the subject tactfully with CLS?


No need to beat around the bush. Just tell the folks at CLS tactfully--but directly--that you've been accepted to HLS, but that if a significant scholarship were made available, you would happily commit to CLS on the spot. They'll either tell you that they can or can't accommodate you.

Next, especially for all those strongly advocating for Harvard, does anyone have any solid stats on NYC Big Law placement rates for CLS and HLS? While the general sentiment--here and elsewhere--is that Harvard is somehow substantially better, most of the data I've seen has shown the two to be near equal and some ratings even give CLS a slight edge (at least when we're talking about NYC Big Law in particular). Of course, if that's just nonsense, I'm more than happy to hear it.


HLS is better for most things, but it's a wash for NYC BigLaw. If that's your firm goal, a Butler at CLS beats HLS, imo.

flightcontrol
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby flightcontrol » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:25 am

Gantor wrote:(6) I happen to have a friend who's currently a 2L at CLS. She wants to provide me with all of her notes, help introduce me to professors, and will almost certainly be willing to give any other assistance as needed. While this isn't an overwhelming concern--after all, I don't need someone to hold my hand through law school--the assistance of a successful 2L (soon to be 3L) has the potential to be really useful.


This is irrelevant. By and large, you have to figure out law school on your own. Having knowledgeable upperclassmen in your corner can help with a few things (e.g. introducing you to certain professors) but they will not be able to substantially improve your grades. I have taken a 1Ls students under my wing and I can say with 95% accuracy that they would have done just as well (or not) without my outlines and study tips. I didn't know any upperclassmen as a 1L and I did more than fine. It's not rocket science. Do readings, make outlines, take practice exams, take real exams.

Gantor wrote:does anyone have any solid stats on NYC Big Law placement rates for CLS and HLS? While the general sentiment--here and elsewhere--is that Harvard is somehow substantially better, most of the data I've seen has shown the two to be near equal and some ratings even give CLS a slight edge (at least when we're talking about NYC Big Law in particular). Of course, if that's just nonsense, I'm more than happy to hear it.


No solid stats, but my V5 has substantially more CN summers/grads than Harvard. From my conversations with hiring folks, I get the impression that they want more Harvard kids and are willing to reach further into the class. This may be in part because no one really knows what to make of the grades yet. But again, any hiring advantage to the brand is far outweighed by your performance in your class. I reiterate that your personal happiness may be relevant to that.

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quiver
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby quiver » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:44 am

flightcontrol wrote:
Gantor wrote:(6) I happen to have a friend who's currently a 2L at CLS. She wants to provide me with all of her notes, help introduce me to professors, and will almost certainly be willing to give any other assistance as needed. While this isn't an overwhelming concern--after all, I don't need someone to hold my hand through law school--the assistance of a successful 2L (soon to be 3L) has the potential to be really useful.


This is irrelevant. By and large, you have to figure out law school on your own. Having knowledgeable upperclassmen in your corner can help with a few things (e.g. introducing you to certain professors) but they will not be able to substantially improve your grades. I have taken a 1Ls students under my wing and I can say with 95% accuracy that they would have done just as well (or not) without my outlines and study tips. I didn't know any upperclassmen as a 1L and I did more than fine. It's not rocket science. Do readings, make outlines, take practice exams, take real exams.

Gantor wrote:does anyone have any solid stats on NYC Big Law placement rates for CLS and HLS? While the general sentiment--here and elsewhere--is that Harvard is somehow substantially better, most of the data I've seen has shown the two to be near equal and some ratings even give CLS a slight edge (at least when we're talking about NYC Big Law in particular). Of course, if that's just nonsense, I'm more than happy to hear it.


No solid stats, but my V5 has substantially more CN summers/grads than Harvard. From my conversations with hiring folks, I get the impression that they want more Harvard kids and are willing to reach further into the class. This may be in part because no one really knows what to make of the grades yet. But again, any hiring advantage to the brand is far outweighed by your performance in your class. I reiterate that your personal happiness may be relevant to that.
I completely agree with all of this. Given the type of relationship you have and your goal being NYC biglaw, my vote is to get as much money out of CLS as you can and go there.

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R2-D2
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby R2-D2 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:06 am

Both schools are awesome, and I'd usually say to pick Harvard in most cases, but Columbia is very connected with many NYC BigLaw Firms, so if you want to work in NYC, a CLS degree might be more advantageous.

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Chucky21
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby Chucky21 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:10 pm

TBH, discussing job prospects from both of these schools is just irrelevant to some extent. Harvard will get you nyc biglaw just like Columbia will. If you do want to nitpick though, Harvard has the edge simply because it is Harvard.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Columbia vs. Harvard

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:19 pm

OP: The last two sentences of your paragraph #3 says it all. If you try searching for those aromatic pleasures in Cambridge, you're likely to be disappointed or arrested. It's Columbia for you.




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