Thoughts on H vs. S?

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mono172000
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Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby mono172000 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:56 pm

I don't post much on this site, but I value a lot of the opinions of those who do. I'm lucky enough to have the choice between Harvard and Stanford and was hoping folks here could shed some light the schools' relative strengths and weaknesses.

What I want to do: Not entirely sure, but am most interested in litigation. DOJ and USAO at some point sound really appealing as does a clerkship. Government and political work in general interest me a lot, but I'm certainly not above biglaw for a while to make that happen.
Where I want to work: All of my ties are on the east coast, although I have absolutely no interest in working in the northeast. DC or the South would be ideal for me. I've never been to the west coast and am honestly not sure I have any interest in working there after law school. But who knows?
Other factors: Looking for a happy/ welcoming environment above everything. I'm AA, so thats a factor as well, since I've heard Harvard has a great BLSA, although I'm not sure how much that matters to me. At first blush, I'm definitely attracted to the wealth of opportunities at Harvard (classes, professors, clinics, clubs, etc.), but am really drawn by Stanford's positive, low(ish) stress, high-comfort atmosphere. Haven't gotten any financial aid info yet, although I imagine they'll be relatively similar and generous based on the fact that my folks dont make much money at all.

Any opinions are appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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twenty
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby twenty » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:01 pm

They're close enough to where you could honestly go with one over the other based on personal preference. Personally, I don't buy the "S is better for quality of life" thing -- at the point where the ABA waives the maximum number of credit requirements, any advantage you get by only having H/P/F classes your first year probably doesn't mean too much. I also don't buy the "H is better for career opportunities" thing; I appreciate that H kids have some slight advantage based on the alumni network, but a larger percent S kids go into A3 clerkships.

Visit both campuses, see who gives you more money.

tiltedwindmill
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby tiltedwindmill » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:17 pm

twenty wrote:They're close enough to where you could honestly go with one over the other based on personal preference. Personally, I don't buy the "S is better for quality of life" thing -- at the point where the ABA waives the maximum number of credit requirements, any advantage you get by only having H/P/F classes your first year probably doesn't mean too much. I also don't buy the "H is better for career opportunities" thing; I appreciate that H kids have some slight advantage based on the alumni network, but a larger percent S kids go into A3 clerkships.

Visit both campuses, see who gives you more money.

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jselson
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby jselson » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:02 pm

Given your background, goals, and ties, Harvard seems like the winner at roughly equal cost, tho if clerking is the most important thing to you immediately coming out, then Stanford's probably better.

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ph14
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby ph14 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:07 pm

At S you are much more of a special snowflake, which can be beneficial. S has quarters, which isn't too fun. HLS is on semesters (with a J Term class, but that's only 1 class). HLS has something for everyone: there's probably some scholar here for your niche. HLS has a larger alumni network. HLS has more lay prestige.

In the end, I don't think that either one is objectively better in terms of outcomes. It's a big decision that you should pick based on which school you like better and where you would rather live. Both probably have slightly more cache in their respective home geographic areas. How did you pick your undergraduate school? Many people picked on which one they think they would enjoy their time at, rather than based on job placements. I would try and think of the decision from that viewpoint.
Last edited by ph14 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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brotherdarkness
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby brotherdarkness » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:10 pm

.
Last edited by brotherdarkness on Mon Jun 30, 2014 1:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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ph14
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby ph14 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:11 pm

brotherdarkness wrote:
ph14 wrote:At S you are much more of a rare creature, which can be beneficial. S has quarters, which isn't too fun. HLS is on semesters (with a J Term class, but that's only 1 class). HLS has something for everyone: there's probably some scholar here for your niche. HLS has a larger alumni network. HLS has more lay prestige.

In the end, I don't think that either one is objectively better in terms of outcomes. It's a big decision that you should pick based on which school you like better and where you would rather live. Both probably have slightly more cache in their respective home geographic areas. How did you pick your undergraduate school? Many people picked on which one they think they would enjoy their time at, rather than based on job placements. I would try and think of the decision from that viewpoint.


OP, you're in the rare and enviable position to allow me to feel comfortable agreeing with this suggestion.

I'll shill for California and say that the ability to enjoy our weather for three years should factor into your consideration.


I agree. I'm talking specifically between H and S here.

legends159
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby legends159 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:18 pm

Financial aid should be very different and likely the deciding factor here. SLS typically gives much more money since there's fewer kids they need to give to. I think law school is more enjoyable at SLS, especially 2L and 3L year when you're less stressed and can enjoy the nice weather and beautiful campus more. I ended up going back to east coast but like the idea that I can always do west coast without worrying about ties. However, I have heard that the BLSA at HLS is unbeatable in terms of alumni connection whereas SLS's is smaller by nature - I would visit both schools and talk to the respective BLSA reps if that's important to you.

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ph14
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby ph14 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:24 pm

legends159 wrote:Financial aid should be very different and likely the deciding factor here. SLS typically gives much more money since there's fewer kids they need to give to.


They also have a smaller endowment, IIRC. HLS may also match. I agree though that if there is a significant difference in financial aid that you should just pick the school that gives you more financial aid.

legends159 wrote:I think law school is more enjoyable at SLS, especially 2L and 3L year when you're less stressed and can enjoy the nice weather and beautiful campus more.


I have some SLS friends and I agree that SLS has nice weather and a beautiful campus. But SLS also have the quarter system. In my opinion, finals are the worst part about law school. Having to do 33% more finals seems at least 33% more stressful to me. Granted, you presumably cover less material in each course, but I doubt this makes up for having to go through an entire additional finals period.

HLS does have the "J-Term" which is a 3 week semester in between fall and winter semester, but it's 1 class. You can also write a paper, take a class like negotiations workshop which is pass/fail, cross register, or study abroad.

Some might disagree, but if there was 1 piece of advice I would give to people trying to figure out law school would be to avoid the quarter system. I realize that some schools try and sell that as "you get the opportunity to take more classes," but that's really unpersuasive to me. I'm happy to elaborate at another time.

legends159 wrote:I ended up going back to east coast but like the idea that I can always do west coast without worrying about ties. However, I have heard that the BLSA at HLS is unbeatable in terms of alumni connection whereas SLS's is smaller by nature - I would visit both schools and talk to the respective BLSA reps if that's important to you.


I'm not saying that you necessarily should pick HLS over SLS, but I also don't think it's quite so clear in SLS's favor.

Disclosure: HLS 3L.

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patogordo
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby patogordo » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:28 pm

harvard graduates 500 kids a year, how prestigious can it be. also, it's 5 degrees outside. pick stanford.

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ph14
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby ph14 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:30 pm

patogordo wrote:harvard graduates 500 kids a year, how prestigious can it be. also, it's 5 degrees outside. pick stanford.


It's 17 degrees outside. Pretty much beach weather.

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patogordo
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby patogordo » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:31 pm

ph14 wrote:
patogordo wrote:harvard graduates 500 kids a year, how prestigious can it be. also, it's 5 degrees outside. pick stanford.


It's 17 degrees outside. Pretty much beach weather.

i use a binary temperature scale. it's either 5 degrees or "nice"

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ph14
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby ph14 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:32 pm

patogordo wrote:
ph14 wrote:
patogordo wrote:harvard graduates 500 kids a year, how prestigious can it be. also, it's 5 degrees outside. pick stanford.


It's 17 degrees outside. Pretty much beach weather.

i use a binary temperature scale. it's either 5 degrees or "nice"


And it's not even currently snowing. That's definitely in the nice category.

mono172000
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby mono172000 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:45 pm

ph14 wrote:At S you are much more of a special snowflake, which can be beneficial. S has quarters, which isn't too fun. HLS is on semesters (with a J Term class, but that's only 1 class). HLS has something for everyone: there's probably some scholar here for your niche. HLS has a larger alumni network. HLS has more lay prestige.

In the end, I don't think that either one is objectively better in terms of outcomes. It's a big decision that you should pick based on which school you like better and where you would rather live. Both probably have slightly more cache in their respective home geographic areas. How did you pick your undergraduate school? Many people picked on which one they think they would enjoy their time at, rather than based on job placements. I would try and think of the decision from that viewpoint.


Thats probably part of the problem: I always knew where I wanted to go for undergrad, got in, and never applied anywhere else. Would love to bring that same certainty to the law school decision, but thats just not the case.

Either way, the opinions in this thread have been really helpful, especially your thoughts on the quarter system which I honestly hadn't considered. Visiting and applying for aid are the obvious next steps. Hopefully that will add some clarity.

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thewaves
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby thewaves » Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:17 am

From anecdotal sources (TLS), SLS tends to give better financial aid. Good point about the quarter system, I hadn't considered that.

BalanceCare
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby BalanceCare » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:10 am

I have some SLS friends and I agree that SLS has nice weather and a beautiful campus. But SLS also have the quarter system. In my opinion, finals are the worst part about law school. Having to do 33% more finals seems at least 33% more stressful to me. Granted, you presumably cover less material in each course, but I doubt this makes up for having to go through an entire additional finals period.


Speaking up for the quarter system, as it's a big part of why I came here. It's a feature, not a bug. If you're into clinics, it's the reason that Stanford's clinics are FULL TIME during the quarter you take them. I like the idea of being able to devote all of my attention to [briefing Edie Windsor's case before SCOTUS] / [defending my client from criminal charges] / [advising a company on deals] without having to worry about other classes at the same time.

Also, from a practical perspective: quarter system = more chances to take classes & get grades on your transcript before OCI or whatever you're trying to do. Yes, H/P system takes the pressure off, but some people take a while to get their footing with exams, and if you're tryna get your gun on, it's nice to have the extra latitude.

That being said I won't even start going into the various qualities (real or imagined) of these schools b/c none of it matters until 1) you've visited the schools and, for most people, 2) received your financial aid package. Visiting the schools totally changed the direction of my thinking.

I really hope you'll come out to ASW for both schools (as well as for any other great schools you've gotten into or will get into), and then choose the one that feels right to you. Congratulations!

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052220151
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby 052220151 » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:52 pm

Go to Stanford cause the weather is better and California girls are smokin' hot.

legends159
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby legends159 » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:40 pm

ph14 wrote:I have some SLS friends and I agree that SLS has nice weather and a beautiful campus. But SLS also have the quarter system. In my opinion, finals are the worst part about law school. Having to do 33% more finals seems at least 33% more stressful to me. Granted, you presumably cover less material in each course, but I doubt this makes up for having to go through an entire additional finals period.

HLS does have the "J-Term" which is a 3 week semester in between fall and winter semester, but it's 1 class. You can also write a paper, take a class like negotiations workshop which is pass/fail, cross register, or study abroad.

Some might disagree, but if there was 1 piece of advice I would give to people trying to figure out law school would be to avoid the quarter system. I realize that some schools try and sell that as "you get the opportunity to take more classes," but that's really unpersuasive to me. I'm happy to elaborate at another time.


I agree that taking more exams suck but the flipside is that you can take more classes you want and earlier (i.e., 1L year you can take up to 6 electives) and also take classes outside the law school which give you JD credit. I felt that more classes also helped with grades because it gave you more bites at the apple. The consensus when I was there years ago but still ITE was that you want to get at least 1 H to feel comfortable going into OCI - when you can take up to 14 classes your 1L year that gives you 14 chances to get that one H. Straight P's first quarter? work harder 2nd quarter. Still haven't figured out law exams - well here's a third quarter where you're mostly taking classes with checked out 2L/3Ls rather than gun hard 1Ls for you to get that one H. I had the feeling there that the system was set up to help the majority of students have varying transcripts since you can take whatever you want your third quarter including non-law classes - this makes it harder to compare student to student.

and maybe it was just me since i didn't care about clerking but 2L/3L year i just coasted and was happy with P's so more exams didn't really matter. i actually liked having a shorter quarter because i didn't have to catch up on as much material the month before finals. But i can see how someone who is gunning for the perfect transcript so they can get the feeder clerkship would be stressed about more exams.

mono172000
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby mono172000 » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:29 pm

Will Stanford place just as well as Harvard below the Mason/Dixon? DC, ATL, FL? Seems like Harvard just has a lot more representation in these places than Stanford does. Is that a funciton of size? Self-selection?

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worldtraveler
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:02 pm

I have met fewer douchebags from Stanford than from Harvard. That leads me to think you should pick Stanford, unless you are a douchebag.

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ph14
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby ph14 » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:04 pm

worldtraveler wrote:I have met fewer douchebags from Stanford than from Harvard. That leads me to think you should pick Stanford, unless you are a douchebag.


:roll:

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patogordo
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby patogordo » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:14 pm

ph14 wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:I have met fewer douchebags from Stanford than from Harvard. That leads me to think you should pick Stanford, unless you are a douchebag.


:roll:

i know, she didn't even account for the difference in class size.

kartelite
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby kartelite » Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:25 am

deputydog wrote:Go to Stanford cause the weather is better and California girls are smokin' hot.


Stanford is in the Bay Area, not SoCal...just sayin' :roll:

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Puffin
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby Puffin » Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:22 pm

patogordo wrote:
ph14 wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:I have met fewer douchebags from Stanford than from Harvard. That leads me to think you should pick Stanford, unless you are a douchebag.


:roll:

i know, she didn't even account for the difference in class size.

:lol: that class size though.

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052220151
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Re: Thoughts on H vs. S?

Postby 052220151 » Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:33 pm

kartelite wrote:
deputydog wrote:Go to Stanford cause the weather is better and California girls are smokin' hot.


Stanford is in the Bay Area, not SoCal...just sayin' :roll:


Lol, now you're gonna give turd advice ITT too? Palo Alto has perfect weather, and the bay area has smokin' hot babes everywhere. Have you ever been there dude?




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