$90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

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

What to do?

Poll ended at Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:05 am

Chicago ($90k)
47
66%
Northwestern ($120k)
18
25%
Duke ($123k)
6
8%
Columbia (Scholarship unknown)
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 71

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StrictlyBusiness
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$90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby StrictlyBusiness » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:05 am

This is an absolute first world problem and I know it, sorry in advance for being such a brat.

I've read all these comparison threads and I think I'm a special snowflake enough to create my own. These are the schools I'm seriously considering for pretty various reasons, but I'd like to get some objective opinions that compensate for my personal biases.

I have to start off by explaining that debt isn't quite as bad for me as most. My parents are footing exactly half of my expenses over the next three years, and fronting the money on the other 50%. This means I'll pay 1/2 total cost of attendance after the scholarship. Almost more importantly, the money I do owe will be paid back interest-free to my parents, and they promised not to break my kneecaps if I'm short once or twice.

Also, K-JD, I wanna do LargeLaw, possibly litigation. Not a big preference on working city, but 99% sure it'll be Chi/NYC.

Chicago ($90k scholarship, "Morality" Stipulation)
Obviously the best rank/$ choice here, but I found myself only somewhat impressed when I visited. I love Chicago as a city but I'm really torn on here and NU at $30k less COA. This is much more of a case of me Loving NU than it is not liking U Chi, but still makes me hesitate. "Morality" thing means I sign something that say I'll donate my scholarship back within 10 years if I have that kinda money, and it is something I would definitely like to honor. Somewhat of an insurance policy for biglaw in my mind.

Northwestern ($120k scholarship)
Honestly just felt like I fit in the most here, my type of people, etc. Deep down I know a year or two of slightly more enjoyment doesn't compensate for the increased prospects at U Chi, but this doesn't make it easier to turn down. Can't stress enough how much I just felt at home here, and all the research/asking around I've done about Northwestern almost makes me feel like it's just as good as Chicago.

Duke w/ LLM ($105k for tuition, rest fully covers LLM)
Gonna be the toughest for me to turn down, but I think I need to. Their office has been awesome to me with help and providing late money, but obviously I can't exactly justify a decision on this alone. I was really excited about their LLM situation too, but I'm pretty sure the consensus is going to tell me this is a subpar choice for my long-term goals.

Columbia (Just admitted, who knows)
2nd Favorite to Northwestern in terms of "feel", just trying to determine what a reasonable amount of money to go here would be. Definitely my "money is not an option" top choice, but turns out money is an option. I know they're stingy too. For the purposes of this exercise pretend they gave me no money and tell me don't even think about it.

Deposit due Monday, NYU gave me zero dollars, thanks for your help and "ED UVAs" in advance.

Update: Chicago wins. Nothing surprising I suppose, I just needed people to reassure me that was the way to go.

Only schools I haven't withdrawn from are Columbia and Harvard, but I'm fully committed to Chicago unless the offers change (Columbia needs some $, the Harvard offer needs to exist) in the next ~month.
Last edited by StrictlyBusiness on Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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cjcregg
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby cjcregg » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:56 am

If I was in your position, I'd go w/ Chicago. Actually, I am in a position where I have the deferred 150k, 60k from Chicago, and I still want to go w/ Chicago. A key part of my calculus is that Chicago is a MUCH better insurance policy in case things don't work out so well in terms of grades. I am sure Chicago firms and NY firms are willing to look deeper in Chicago's class than Northwestern's. Beyond that, Chicago has extraordinary national placement so if you can't find work in Chicago or New York, you can run the show in Dallas, Atlanta, St. Louis, Miami.

I'm attribute Northwestern's incredible biglaw placement in Chicago to the fact that 95% of the class has work experience. A good number of them have worked in firms. I don't know what your work experience is. But NW students have something other than grades to sell when looking for summer jobs. I don't know if this attribution is accurate, but intuitively it sounds right.

I'm not sure if I understand your deal correctly, but it seems that your total debt burden coming out of Chicago is 60k and out of Northwestern its 45k (assuming a 20k CoL at both). I really don't think 15k is a compelling enough financial reason to sacrifice the prestige and job security, at least it wouldn't be for me.

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Elston Gunn
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby Elston Gunn » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:26 am

I agree with the above (though the "morality" clause in your scholarship is super weird--is that normal at UC? If I were you, and I wanted to give my money away, I'm sure I could find more "moral" undertakings than giving it to a rich law school that pumps out corporate lawyers), but if you really like Duke, it wouldn't be crazy, especially with your debt situation. Also, I doubt the never do an LLM advice applies when it's free.

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StrictlyBusiness
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby StrictlyBusiness » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:29 am

The $150k deferred and $60k at Chicago was exactly what I had a few weeks ago before a little negotiation, and I guess my line of thought is almost the same in terms of Chicago's hiring bump.

As for work experience, I'm finishing up undergrad, and essentially have none. My internships and such were good enough for NU to accept me without the deferral apparently, but I'm sure they wouldn't be any help when it comes to OCI.

As for money, I've basically figured my total debt out at the schools to be the following.

Chicago
~$80k tuition/fees after I account for increases, $25k cost of living per year (so $75k)
That's $155k split with parents, so $78k + my ungrad debt to parents ($32k) = $110k
With the expectation that I will donate $90k to Chicago within 10 years, that is $200k, but I believe that if I make enough in 10-13 years that I need to donate (i.e. get BigLaw and do it for 3+ years), I'll be happy to do so.

Northwestern
Basically same calculation minus $30k = $95k

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StrictlyBusiness
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby StrictlyBusiness » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:30 am

Elston Gunn wrote:I agree with the above (though the "morality" clause in your scholarship is super weird--is that normal at UC? If I were you, and I wanted to give my money away, I'm sure I could find more "moral" undertakings than giving it to a rich law school that pumps out corporate lawyers), but if you really like Duke, it wouldn't be crazy, especially with your debt situation. Also, I doubt the never do an LLM advice applies when it's free.


Hah. Chicago has done a few things that have rubbed me the wrong way, but surprisingly this wasn't one of them. It basically just says rich people gave you this money to help you attend a T6 school, if you get rich because of it, pay it forward.

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cjcregg
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby cjcregg » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:43 am

Where do you find the morality clause? It wasn't in my scholarship letter from Chicago.

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Dany
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby Dany » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:44 am

Well your best choice was the $150k deferred at NU, but with your parents paying half of COA, you're looking at having to pay back about $56k at NU v. $61k at UChicago. I would go to UChicago with a difference that slight.

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StrictlyBusiness
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby StrictlyBusiness » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:51 am

cjcregg wrote:Where do you find the morality clause? It wasn't in my scholarship letter from Chicago.


PM'd you, but basically I believe my increased scholarship came from a specific fund.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby Doorkeeper » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:53 am

Chicago, unless you absolutely cannot imagine yourself going there for 3 years. Then Columbia if they give you some money. Get your financial aid information in asap and send the Chicago scholarship.

EdgarWinter
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby EdgarWinter » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:54 am

.
Last edited by EdgarWinter on Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Law Sauce
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby Law Sauce » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:02 am

Chicago, gotta do it, not close

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IAFG
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby IAFG » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:08 am

cjcregg wrote:I'm attribute Northwestern's incredible biglaw placement in Chicago to the fact that 95% of the class has work experience. A good number of them have worked in firms. I don't know what your work experience is. But NW students have something other than grades to sell when looking for summer jobs. I don't know if this attribution is accurate, but intuitively it sounds right.

That's about right.

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IAFG
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby IAFG » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:18 am

I think that, in the "new normal" legal hiring, substantially similar proportions of NU and UChi's classes are getting jobs, pretty close to fungible. "Prestigious" firms, however, seem to go deeper into UChi's class. Having essentially no debt is a beautiful thing, but you may regret your choice if you're working at a second rate firm as a result. Still, I think it's more a question of which firm you'll get than if you'll get a firm, assuming you'll perform similarly on exams at both schools.

Which actually may not be a justified assumption. My impression that the exam style at UChi and NU are fairly different, but there's really not a good way to know in advance which style will better play to your strengths.

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StrictlyBusiness
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby StrictlyBusiness » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:31 am

EdgarWinter wrote:There's no way OP is going to get $90k quality money out of Columbia at this point. I dunno why (aside from misplaced rankings obsession) one would suggest Columbia as a realistic possibility at the moment.

OP you have nice options and it's hard to say you'll screw up if you pick any one of them (except Columbia, that would be a screwup lol). But you might consider that you could be a bit disadvantaged going into Northwestern's OCI if you have no WE and nearly everyone else does. Personally I didn't apply to Northwestern because, as another K-JD, I figured I didn't want to go to school with a bunch of 29 year-old married people with whom I would have little in common and whose experience sets would all be vastly different (and employers might say better) than mine. (Not that there's anything wrong with old married people). Also NU's deferment crap is pretty annoying imo. It's nice that they let you out of it for only $30k I guess.


Unfortunately I've come to the conclusion that you're absolutely right about Columbia, but if I can manage to get something out of them that's somewhat close I could find myself justifying it. Wishful thinking.

As for Northwestern, I acknowledge that no WE would be a little bit of a con there, but I generally interview well and I wouldn't be too worried about it. The age thing was a concern as well, but when I visited I didn't get a bad vibe or feel too young in any way.

CanadianWolf
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:33 am

Northwestern because it's your preference, offers great placement, lower cost than Chicago in a spectacular & safe setting. The school cultures of Chicago & NU are different. Although both are intense compared to most law schools, your original post in this thread suggests that a better location, less debt & a more suitable environment is most appealing to you.

On the hand, if your primary concern was job placement, then Chicago is the better option, but how many biglaw jobs do you really need ? Northwestern should get you "largelaw".

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Dany
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby Dany » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:35 am

CanadianWolf wrote:Northwestern because it's your preference, offers great placement, lower cost than Chicago in a spectacular & safe setting. The school cultures of Chicago & NU are different. Although both are intense compared to most law schools, your original post in this thread suggests that a better location, less debt & a more suitable environment is most appealing to you.

On the hand, if your primary concern was job placement, then Chicago is the better option, but how many biglaw jobs do you really need ? Northwestern should get you "largelaw".

What on earth are you talking about?

CanadianWolf
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:38 am

Try reading the original post.

CanadianWolf
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:04 pm

Dany wrote:Well your best choice was the $150k deferred at NU, but with your parents paying half of COA, you're looking at having to pay back about $56k at NU v. $61k at UChicago. I would go to UChicago with a difference that slight.



What on earth are you talking about ? :lol: The difference in cost is $30,000 plus a committment to repay Chicago's grant, thereby making the cost difference $120,000. How on earth did you arrive at a difference of only $5,000 ?

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Dany
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby Dany » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:38 pm

The difference in cost isn't $30k because NU's COA is higher than Chicago's. I didn't include the weird repayment thing because I don't know the details and it's really impossible to say what OP's financial situation will be in 10 years.

Anyway, her math with tuition increases is obviously better than my rough math, I was just too lazy to edit.

Regardless, I'm unsure of how you know what the culture is like at either school.

Finally, OP, if you really love NU it's not a bad decision at all. I would make sure to ask current NU students how those without WE fare, though.

CanadianWolf
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:39 pm

Major concession from a Chicago troll ! Impressive. :D

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Dany
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby Dany » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:42 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Major concession from a Chicago troll ! Impressive. :D

I don't troll for Chicago. I would have taken a deferred full-ride at NU over Chicago myself.

kaveman
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby kaveman » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:42 pm

I think it's funny that Chicago gave you a 90k loan and somehow convinced you that it was a scholarship.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby Tiago Splitter » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:44 pm

kaveman wrote:I think it's funny that Chicago gave you a 90k loan and somehow convinced you that it was a scholarship.


What else do you call a loan that doesn't need to be paid back?

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IAFG
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby IAFG » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:54 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
kaveman wrote:I think it's funny that Chicago gave you a 90k loan and somehow convinced you that it was a scholarship.


What else do you call a loan that doesn't need to be paid back?

I prefer my scholarships not come with guilt trips.

Not that it should push OP's decision in either direction.

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StrictlyBusiness
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Re: $90k Chicago, $120k Northwestern, $123k Duke, ? Columbia

Postby StrictlyBusiness » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:11 pm

kaveman wrote:I think it's funny that Chicago gave you a 90k loan and somehow convinced you that it was a scholarship.


Trust me my original thought was "wait this is just a loan", but after reviewing the wording on the offer it really isn't. Guilt trip perhaps, but it says in multiple places that it is in no way legally binding, and if I have to put myself into any sort of financial hardship to pay it I wouldn't have to.




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