Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )

Which school should I choose?

Harvard (sticker, around 180k in debt overall)
56
45%
Columbia (sticker, pending fin. aid)
0
No votes
Chicago (90k scholly, around 90k in debt overall)
33
27%
NYU (sticker, pending fin. aid)
1
1%
Berkeley (sticker, pending matching scholarship to UVA)
2
2%
UVA (105k scholly, around 70k in debt overall)
4
3%
Northwestern (150k scholly, 40k in total debt)
23
19%
UCLA (150k scholly, 20k in total debt)
1
1%
Minnesota (full tuition scholly, 10k in total debt)
4
3%
 
Total votes: 124

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Lily Pad
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Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Lily Pad » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:53 am

I'm trying to figure out what school is going to be best for me next year, I was hoping to get some thoughts from you all as to what you would do in the same situation.

Originally from Minnesota, went to UG in Southern California, and live in DC now, so pretty strong ties to all three markets and would be happy living in any of those regions. The SO has a great job in DC that he wouldn't be able to get anywhere else, so he will be staying put while I go to law school and being able to see him with a decent amount of frequency (at least once a month while in school) is very important to me.

My goal is to work for biglaw and eventually move to corporate in-house work. We're hoping to end up in either DC or SF, but would be happy to live in Boston, Chicago, or LA also, and our ultimate goal is to end up back in Minnesota in about 10 years. Geographic flexibility is pretty important to me, because the SO will be starting a grad program (likely a PhD) when I am done with school. I would prefer a school that has a strong PI community, and a less-cutthroat environment.

I don't have any debt from UG and have a small amount of savings to help (parents won't be chipping in a dime). I am terrified of the idea of taking on 150k plus in debt and not being able to get a job in biglaw, since I am giving up a career that I am pretty happy with to go to law school.

Right now the major options are:
Harvard (sticker, around 180k in debt overall)
Chicago (90k scholly, around 90k in debt overall)
Berkeley (sticker for now, pending matching scholarship to UVA)
UVA (105k scholly, around 70k in debt overall)
Northwestern (150k scholly, around 40k in debt overall)

I also have full tuition to UCLA and Minnesota, and am in at Columbia and NYU with fin. aid info pending, but none of those really seems like a great option at this point, especially since I don't have much of an interest in NYC.

Any thoughts on this situation would be much appreciated!

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Philipsssssss
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Philipsssssss » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:14 pm

What are your numbers (UG GPA and LSAT) if you don't mind sharing.

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Lily Pad
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Lily Pad » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:19 pm

3.9/171 with 3 years of WE

bdubs
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby bdubs » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:24 pm

Lily Pad wrote:My goal is to work for biglaw and eventually move to corporate in-house work. ... I would prefer a school that has a strong PI community, and a less-cutthroat environment.


Huh?

Harvard will offer the most geographic flexibility. As far as balance of debt/opportunities I think Chicago is your best option.

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Lily Pad
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Lily Pad » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:26 pm

I have a PI background from my WE before law school, and don't really want to take that option off the table at this point.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Doorkeeper » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:27 pm

Right off the bat, I would think Berkeley is out because of SO in DC. You do not want to spend over 10 hours in an airplane at least once a month to visit your SO. In terms of travel, UVA is going to be the easiest, but Harvard and Chicago/Northwestern is definitely doable. If the debt difference between Chicago and UVA is only going to be around 20k, then UVA is probably out too unless you really, really want to be within driving distance from your SO.

The next question you have to answer is debt aversion vs. biglaw secure. Although never a guarantee, Harvard and Chicago obviously give you the best chances at biglaw. Both degrees are also very geographically flexible within the US. Then the question is whether Harvard is worth the extra 90k in debt for you. Considering that both Boston and Chicago is a 1-2 hour plane ride away and you seem worried about debt, I would go Chicago here. That being said, you could totally do Harvard without needing to justify it to anyone.

Also, you should try to get Columbia to match Chicago. I think 75-90k from Columbia, plus it's easy access to DC, makes it the best for all concerns in your situation.
Last edited by Doorkeeper on Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bdubs
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby bdubs » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:28 pm

Lily Pad wrote:I have a PI background from my WE before law school, and don't really want to take that option off the table at this point.


No school will take it off the table. Chicago's new LRAP is awesome for PI. The school doesn't attract a lot of PI minded people and isn't that large to begin with. However, that doesn't mean that you can't get a PI job from Chicago, especially if you can demonstrate interest through your background.

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moneybagsphd
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby moneybagsphd » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:34 pm

bdubs wrote:
Lily Pad wrote:I have a PI background from my WE before law school, and don't really want to take that option off the table at this point.


No school will take it off the table. Chicago's new LRAP is awesome for PI. The school doesn't attract a lot of PI minded people and isn't that large to begin with. However, that doesn't mean that you can't get a PI job from Chicago, especially if you can demonstrate interest through your background.

Don't pick Chicago over Harvard unless you have a more compelling reason than 90k.

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Nelson
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Nelson » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:30 pm

Considering how unsure you are of what location you want to be in and what you want to do, I think this is between Harvard and the full ride at Northwestern. Harvard gives you maximum flexibility in terms of legal employment. Having very little debt coming out of Northwestern would mean that you could walk away from law entirely fairly easily.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Doorkeeper » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:32 pm

Nelson wrote:Considering how unsure you are of what location you want to be in and what you want to do, I think this is between Harvard and the full ride at Northwestern. Harvard gives you maximum flexibility in terms of legal employment. Having very little debt coming out of Northwestern would mean that you could walk away from law entirely fairly easily.

I really don't understand the flexibility argument when it comes to Harvard vs. Columbia or Chicago. All three of the schools are going to be well known and respected in the legal profession, and to my knowledge all three have national reach.

[Obviously with no money Columbia is a no go at this point]

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Nelson
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Nelson » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:35 pm

Doorkeeper wrote:
Nelson wrote:Considering how unsure you are of what location you want to be in and what you want to do, I think this is between Harvard and the full ride at Northwestern. Harvard gives you maximum flexibility in terms of legal employment. Having very little debt coming out of Northwestern would mean that you could walk away from law entirely fairly easily.

I really don't understand the flexibility argument when it comes to Harvard vs. Columbia or Chicago. All three of the schools are going to be well known and respected in the legal profession, and to my knowledge all three have national reach.

[Obviously with no money Columbia is a no go at this point]

Flexibility as in access to clerkships and academia as alternative career paths. For OCI, it's probably closer but I don't think that's the same as saying that Columbia and Chicago are peers of Harvard.
Last edited by Nelson on Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Dany
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Dany » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:36 pm

I'm not sure what I'd pick, but I'd absolutely negotiate with Chicago. See if you can get that $90k bumped up and then reevaluate all your options.

If I were in your position, I'd be deciding between Harvard, Chicago, and NU, but that's because I very much favor Chicago as a city, so my considerations may be different than yours. I do think Berkeley is out because of SO's location.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Doorkeeper » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:37 pm

Nelson wrote:
Doorkeeper wrote:
Nelson wrote:Considering how unsure you are of what location you want to be in and what you want to do, I think this is between Harvard and the full ride at Northwestern. Harvard gives you maximum flexibility in terms of legal employment. Having very little debt coming out of Northwestern would mean that you could walk away from law entirely fairly easily.

I really don't understand the flexibility argument when it comes to Harvard vs. Columbia or Chicago. All three of the schools are going to be well known and respected in the legal profession, and to my knowledge all three have national reach.

[Obviously with no money Columbia is a no go at this point]

Flexibility as in access to clerkships and academia as alternative career paths. For OCI, it's probably closer but I don't think that's the same as saying that Columbia and Chicago are peers of Harvard.

Ah, I understand. Although I agree with the point, the OP made no mention of being interested in either path, so I didn't really count that consideration too much.

TLSwag
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby TLSwag » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:40 pm

Nelson wrote:Considering how unsure you are of what location you want to be in and what you want to do, I think this is between Harvard and the full ride at Northwestern. Harvard gives you maximum flexibility in terms of legal employment. Having very little debt coming out of Northwestern would mean that you could walk away from law entirely fairly easily.


this is bad advice. as suggested by others, it's between harvard/chicago, unless CLS matches your chicago offer which was a great idea above

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Nelson
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Nelson » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:45 pm

TLSwag wrote:
Nelson wrote:Considering how unsure you are of what location you want to be in and what you want to do, I think this is between Harvard and the full ride at Northwestern. Harvard gives you maximum flexibility in terms of legal employment. Having very little debt coming out of Northwestern would mean that you could walk away from law entirely fairly easily.


this is bad advice. as suggested by others, it's between harvard/chicago, unless CLS matches your chicago offer which was a great idea above

Sorry, but what is the justification of Chicago here? If OP cares mostly about just getting a biglaw job, than why not take Northwestern? Still really good placement with almost no debt at all. If OP really cares about DC placement, than the answer is Harvard. If OP wants PI, than they should go to the best school available since debt is irrelevant with LRAP.

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Samara
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Samara » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:46 pm

Nelson wrote:
TLSwag wrote:
Nelson wrote:Considering how unsure you are of what location you want to be in and what you want to do, I think this is between Harvard and the full ride at Northwestern. Harvard gives you maximum flexibility in terms of legal employment. Having very little debt coming out of Northwestern would mean that you could walk away from law entirely fairly easily.


this is bad advice. as suggested by others, it's between harvard/chicago, unless CLS matches your chicago offer which was a great idea above

Sorry, but what is the justification of Chicago here? If OP cares mostly about just getting a biglaw job, than why not take Northwestern? Still really good placement with almost no debt at all. If OP really cares about DC placement, than the answer is Harvard. If OP wants PI, than they should go to the best school available since debt is irrelevant with LRAP.

There would still be $40k in debt from NU, compared to $90k from Chicago. I agree, it should be between Harvard and Chicago.

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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby joemoviebuff » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:51 pm

Of all these options I'd really consider UVA. It will help keep your debt down while offering great job prospects for whatever you want to do, and assuming you're as close with your SO as you come off, weekend trips to DC would be easy and affordable.

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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby JasonR » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:02 pm

This is a tough one to answer, based on everything you wrote. I would pick Harvard for myself (as would most, I imagine), but my requirements and preferences were definitely not the same as yours. Harvard will win this poll, but I'm not sure that Harvard is the best option for you, looking at all you've stated.

Let's start by saying that Berkeley is out because of your SO. That's too much travel time. Chicago, NYC, and Boston (and Charlottesville, obviously) to DC are all much easier. Columbia is out unless you can negotiate good money.

You stated that you are "terrified" of taking on more than 150K in debt, and that's entirely reasonable. There's no question that the difference in servicing 90K in debt vs. 180K is tremendous. For 90K, you'll make monthly payments of ~$1,100 for 10 years ($13,200 per year) and ultimately pay around 130K, including interest. For 180K, you'll make monthly payments of ~$2,200 for 10 years ($26,400 per year) and ultimately pay around 260K, including interest.

Harvard and Chicago are at the top for BigLaw aspirations, and both place nationally. Chicago doesn't have a huge PI community, but there are plenty of opportunities for PI, and their LRAP is excellent. All of these schools are going to have a bit of a competitive feel, given the caliber of students. Maybe UVA would have less of it than most, given its generous curve, lack of class rank, and more social culture, but that's just speculation. UVA would obviously put you close to your SO, but I just couldn't see turning down Chicago for such a small scholarship difference. The scholarship situation at NU is extremely appealing, but opportunities and geographic flexibility, while excellent, will lag behind Harvard and Chicago.

Nothing's a perfect fit, but I think Chicago is the best overall match, as things stand now. It preserves every professional opportunity you might want, it requires substantially less indebtedness, and travel time to DC is reasonable.

That being said, you should try to negotiate more money. See if you can use NU's offer to get Chicago to increase its offer a little bit, and then see if you can get Columbia to match or come close to Chicago (long shot). You may not want NYC for the long term, but Columbia has national reach in BigLaw as well, has a small but visible PI community, and is even closer to DC. You could also see if UVA would bump its offer up in light of Chicago's offer.

TLSwag
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby TLSwag » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:40 pm

Samara wrote:
Nelson wrote:
TLSwag wrote:
Nelson wrote:Considering how unsure you are of what location you want to be in and what you want to do, I think this is between Harvard and the full ride at Northwestern. Harvard gives you maximum flexibility in terms of legal employment. Having very little debt coming out of Northwestern would mean that you could walk away from law entirely fairly easily.


this is bad advice. as suggested by others, it's between harvard/chicago, unless CLS matches your chicago offer which was a great idea above

Sorry, but what is the justification of Chicago here? If OP cares mostly about just getting a biglaw job, than why not take Northwestern? Still really good placement with almost no debt at all. If OP really cares about DC placement, than the answer is Harvard. If OP wants PI, than they should go to the best school available since debt is irrelevant with LRAP.

There would still be $40k in debt from NU, compared to $90k from Chicago. I agree, it should be between Harvard and Chicago.


nailed it

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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:51 pm

Unusual thread in that not even one poster called for a retake. :D

TLSwag
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby TLSwag » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:32 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Unusual thread in that not even one poster called for a retake. :D


hahahaha while most TLSers are pretty crazy not to retake, I think retaking a Harvard acceptance would approach insanity.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby Doorkeeper » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:37 pm

TLSwag wrote:
CanadianWolf wrote:Unusual thread in that not even one poster called for a retake. :D


hahahaha while most TLSers are pretty crazy not to retake, I think retaking a Harvard acceptance would approach insanity.

Yale or retake.

HeavenWood
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby HeavenWood » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:05 pm

I'd say this comes down to Harvard v. Northwestern. Maybe Chicago if they throw you some more $. I'd lean more Harvard if you have a strong interest in clerking or academic, and more Northwestern/Chicago if you're strictly biglaw-oriented.

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20130312
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby 20130312 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:08 pm

1) Go to Harvard.
2) Brag to all of your friends/family who have never heard of a "Northwestern" or "UChi".
3) biglawl$$$

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NinerFan
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Re: Harvard vs. Chi(90k) vs. UVA(105k) vs. Northwestern(150k)

Postby NinerFan » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:18 pm

Out of curiosity, why are you giving up on a career you're pretty happy with for law school? $$?




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