Hamilton VS Harvard

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
EDCBA
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2015 10:37 am

Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby EDCBA » Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:18 am

I've been actively reading past posts on the forum re: choosing between Hamilton and H/Y/S, but decided that it would be better to explain my interests and ask for advice.

I'm currently trying to decide between Columbia's Hamilton and HLS. I have yet to hear back from Yale or Stanford.

I have several years of experience in public interest, and a couple of years of experience in corporate. I'm interested in both corporate and public interest law after graduation - more specifically, I am thinking of doing 5 to 10 years of corporate (whether this is law firm and/or in-house) and then transitioning to public interest afterwards. To clarify, I'm not interested in government work (I won't qualify anyways as an international), and am more interested in transitioning out to NGO/ international agency.

As I will be financing for law school myself, the full tuition at CLS is very, very attractive. I've confirmed that Hamilton is not contingent on maintaining certain GPA, so I will likely be keeping the full ride for all three years. My parents will be retiring soon and my significant other does not earn much $$$, so I'm on my own for paying for law school. At the same time, however, I will likely qualify for quite a bit of financial aid at HLS. At either CLS or HLS, I'm planning to work term-time as a research assistant or some other position for some time during my 2L and 3L years to reduce my loans.

For corporate law, I've heard that both CLS and HLS are great, and for public interest, I've heard that it's HLS >> CLS in terms of resources and alumni. On the other hand, choosing Hamilton would mean I could save $$$ while working in corporate law for when I transition out to public interest law.

While I hate to admit this, I am taking prestige into consideration. I've been told that CLS & Hamilton on the resume could or is more prestigious/helpful than HLS without a fellowship when it comes to law firm recruiting due to the small number of Hamilton recipients. I'm also wondering what overall prestige for either is like in the U.S. - would Hamilton on the resume also help when I apply for public interest positions? Outside the U.S., I've found that Harvard name carries much more weight, whether it is within the legal industry or not.

While I have friends in both cities, I have never lived in NYC before, whereas I went to undergrad in Boston and am familiar with the city. I'm close to knowing no one at CLS, while I have a few friends at HLS who are very welcoming and willing to help me out throughout my 1L year. I'm also wondering how much more competitive/stressful CLS would be during the 1L year as it is fully graded, as opposed to HLS' grading system. I'm also curious to know what student life is like CLS overall - during 1/2/3L years, and what housing is like.

I am currently not sure if I can make it to the CLS ASW, which is why I'm hoping to get as much input as possible before I make my decision.

User avatar
Tiago Splitter
Posts: 15508
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:28 am

It sounds like you're going to end up on the biglaw path, at least to begin with, which is why I'd go with Columbia unless Harvard offers a pretty enormous need-based package.

I don't think Hamilton Fellow on the resume provides more prestige than Harvard. The Harvard name will go a long way I just can't believe it's worth 150k or more, especially given your plans.

As for CLS' grading, we have A/A-/B+/B, while Harvard has DS/H/P. At both schools professors can give, but aren't required to give, discretionary grades lower than those listed for truly poor performance. It's ultimately not much different. There really isn't a sense of competition during 1L as for better or worse everyone thinks they're going to land a great job.

User avatar
TheodoreKGB
Posts: 497
Joined: Sat Jul 13, 2013 3:46 pm

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby TheodoreKGB » Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:29 am

.
Last edited by TheodoreKGB on Mon Mar 16, 2015 12:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Hand
Posts: 3522
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 11:33 am

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby Hand » Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:37 am

TheodoreKGB wrote:Don't be silly. Columbia is Columbia. It is free tuition. You are broke. Don't be silly.


OP, are you seriously considering paying a quarter million dollars for having some weird grading system instead of letter grades?

User avatar
Rigo
Posts: 11952
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:19 pm

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby Rigo » Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:15 pm

Take the Hamilton if these are your choices at the end of the day.
If you get Yale, then come back to us, but there's definitely ample reason to take the money and run.

User avatar
RZ5646
Posts: 2391
Joined: Fri May 30, 2014 1:31 pm

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby RZ5646 » Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:21 pm

Not another one of these threads.

User avatar
moonman157
Posts: 1039
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:26 pm

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby moonman157 » Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:41 pm

You will hate yourself for the rest of your life if you pick Harvard over Columbia for free.

NonTradLawHopeful
Posts: 194
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:52 am

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby NonTradLawHopeful » Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:44 pm

Free at Columbia would be insane to pass up to pay sticker anywhere else, IMO. When will you know how much aid you receive from Harvard?

kaiser
Posts: 2940
Joined: Mon May 09, 2011 11:34 pm

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby kaiser » Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:45 pm

I would have picked the Hamilton yesterday. Enjoy CLS and don't look back.

User avatar
mt2165
Posts: 508
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:58 pm

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby mt2165 » Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:47 pm

For the love of God take the Hamilton. These are honestly the worst kinds of questions.

User avatar
Ohiobumpkin
Posts: 465
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:50 am

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:25 pm

Hamilton all the way. Going to Columbia for free when you and your significant other doesn't have a ton of $$$ is a great thing. Also, if you want PI out of Columbia, you can get it if you plan ahead. I think as to biglaw out of Columbia with Hamilton versus HLS, the difference is negligible. Congratulations on such great options OP!

User avatar
gnomgnomuch
Posts: 539
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:34 pm

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby gnomgnomuch » Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:47 pm

Given the goals you've outlined plus the fact that you're financing your education by loans you take the Hamilton.

The difference between Harvard and Columbia, for big-law hiring is relatively negligible, and definitely not worth 250k.

Consider this situation: You end up taking out roughly 50-70k for Columbia (COL is roughly 15-25k a year in NY, depending on where you live and how.) Get a big law job and aggressively pay off your debt. In 2-3 years you should be debt-free, or close to it. If you absolutely HATE big-law, you can leave without much worry and take a lower paying job. If you take the Harvard route, you'll have roughly 250k, you won't be able to do that, because only big-law will pay enough to service that debt.

Columbia gives you financial and career flexibility, Harvard provides a certain prestige over Columbia, but basically pigeonholes you into big-law for a minimum of 5 years of frugal living. Plus, you have a S.O, what happens if you guys want kids, or a bigger place, or a vacation or whatever.

This changes if you get a really nice financial aid package from Harvard, but it has to be REALLY nice... I'd say going to Harvard in your case would make sense when you're not going to take out more than say 120k (including COL).

good luck in your decision =)

User avatar
MistakenGenius
Posts: 825
Joined: Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:18 pm

Post removed.

Postby MistakenGenius » Sat Feb 14, 2015 3:28 pm

Post removed.
Last edited by MistakenGenius on Sun Dec 13, 2015 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
malleus discentium
Posts: 878
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 2:30 am

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby malleus discentium » Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:09 pm

EDCBA wrote:
As I will be financing for law school myself, the full tuition at CLS is very, very attractive. I've confirmed that Hamilton is not contingent on maintaining certain GPA, so I will likely be keeping the full ride for all three years. My parents will be retiring soon and my significant other does not earn much $$$, so I'm on my own for paying for law school. At the same time, however, I will likely qualify for quite a bit of financial aid at HLS. At either CLS or HLS, I'm planning to work term-time as a research assistant or some other position for some time during my 2L and 3L years to reduce my loans.

1. Max aid at H is pretty substantial, but remember that it's recalculated every year so you will lose close to $16K from your 2L SA. $16K is not a lot in the scheme of a JD, but it's something to remember. I would also be more wary than you are about getting a lot of aid at H. Their formula is not attuned to reality.
2. Working enough hours to make an actual dent in your loans is a categorically bad idea. Ignore that option entirely when making this decision.
3. H is amazing.
4. Take the Hamilton.

User avatar
jbagelboy
Posts: 9647
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:57 pm

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby jbagelboy » Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:15 pm

Hamilton is a very easy choice here IMO unless of course Harvard forks over a substantial need based grant. There isn't much difference between the schools themselves and you'll love New York. It's a great city (I would say better than Boston), and cambridge isn't even Boston. You're also incorrect about the grading system as Tiaggo pointed out. CLS doesn't do full grades -- we have a four grade scale for seven (7) classes, and ungraded legal writing; HLS has a 3-4 grade scale for ten (10) classes.

The Hamilton recipients I've met here have done very, very well. Clerkships if they want it, elite firms, international opportunities, ect. I had less of a scholarship than a Hamilton and I'm happy with my choice. PM me for any questions!

Also p.s. MistakenGenius' comments about Columbia are really off base; I'm not sure where he's getting that from.
Last edited by jbagelboy on Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
jbagelboy
Posts: 9647
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:57 pm

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby jbagelboy » Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:17 pm

MistakenGenius wrote:If you want obscure DC litigation (appellate), clerkships, governmental honors, or academia, then the Big 3 will do much better for you than a Hamilton. If you don't get into HYS and have the aforementioned goals, then you should consider Chicago (or if you do get into Harvard but get a Ruby).


this quote in particular illustrates how stylized and erroneous the 1L view of legal hiring continues to be

User avatar
Mack.Hambleton
Posts: 5417
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:09 am

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby Mack.Hambleton » Sat Feb 14, 2015 7:06 pm

I thought internationals didn't get need based aid

El Principe
Posts: 551
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:10 am

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby El Principe » Sat Feb 14, 2015 8:48 pm

Unless you want to be president, do academia, or something similarly unlikely, I honest to God do not know why people even contemplate this decision.

Just take the #4 school in the nation for free.

EDCBA
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2015 10:37 am

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby EDCBA » Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:39 am

gnomgnomuch wrote:Given the goals you've outlined plus the fact that you're financing your education by loans you take the Hamilton.

The difference between Harvard and Columbia, for big-law hiring is relatively negligible, and definitely not worth 250k.

Consider this situation: You end up taking out roughly 50-70k for Columbia (COL is roughly 15-25k a year in NY, depending on where you live and how.) Get a big law job and aggressively pay off your debt. In 2-3 years you should be debt-free, or close to it. If you absolutely HATE big-law, you can leave without much worry and take a lower paying job. If you take the Harvard route, you'll have roughly 250k, you won't be able to do that, because only big-law will pay enough to service that debt.

Columbia gives you financial and career flexibility, Harvard provides a certain prestige over Columbia, but basically pigeonholes you into big-law for a minimum of 5 years of frugal living. Plus, you have a S.O, what happens if you guys want kids, or a bigger place, or a vacation or whatever.

This changes if you get a really nice financial aid package from Harvard, but it has to be REALLY nice... I'd say going to Harvard in your case would make sense when you're not going to take out more than say 120k (including COL).

good luck in your decision =)


So if I receive the maximum amount of financial aid from Harvard, which is about 30k/year, then the difference would most likely be 75k debt (or more likely 60-70k as I will have some income from 2L summer) from CLS at graduation, compared to 150k debt from HLS at graduation. So the difference in debt would be 75-90k, which would equal 2-3 years of work paying that amount off.

igo2northwestern
Posts: 255
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:07 am

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby igo2northwestern » Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:17 am

jbagelboy wrote:Also p.s. MistakenGenius' comments about Columbia are really off base; I'm not sure where he's getting that from.


Looks like for once we agree.

OP, let us know what your Harvard fin. package is when you get it. With the information we have, it's a pretty clear decision for Columbia IMO. Congrats on having great options.

EDCBA
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2015 10:37 am

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby EDCBA » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:36 am

jbagelboy wrote:Hamilton is a very easy choice here IMO unless of course Harvard forks over a substantial need based grant. There isn't much difference between the schools themselves and you'll love New York. It's a great city (I would say better than Boston), and cambridge isn't even Boston.


I should have been clearer in my original post - I went to Harvard for undergrad and am familiar with Cambridge itself. It's partly another reason why it's a difficult decision for me - I want to return there for law school, while I also think going to a different school for law school would be great in other ways.

User avatar
jbagelboy
Posts: 9647
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:57 pm

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby jbagelboy » Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:49 am

EDCBA wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:Hamilton is a very easy choice here IMO unless of course Harvard forks over a substantial need based grant. There isn't much difference between the schools themselves and you'll love New York. It's a great city (I would say better than Boston), and cambridge isn't even Boston.


I should have been clearer in my original post - I went to Harvard for undergrad and am familiar with Cambridge itself. It's partly another reason why it's a difficult decision for me - I want to return there for law school, while I also think going to a different school for law school would be great in other ways.


I understand, that makes more sense. Didn't mean to diss cambridge it's beautiful, it's just not new york.

For me this would make the decision even easier based on the facts you listed. You don't have to worry about any added "prestige" attached to the Harvard name because you already have it. Employers aren't going to forget you went to Harvard for undergrad. There are loads of Harvard undergrads at Columbia; CLS broadens your alumni network. If you feel a commitment to alma mater, I'd have to ask whether it's worth 6-7 years of additional debt servicing and the substantial quality of life sacrifices that accompany it. I'm not saying people don't turn down money but they almost always have significant family resources supporting them.

User avatar
eriedoctrine
Posts: 306
Joined: Tue May 13, 2014 1:00 am

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby eriedoctrine » Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:07 pm

Columbia.

User avatar
Ron Don Volante
Posts: 899
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:26 pm

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby Ron Don Volante » Sun Feb 15, 2015 1:21 pm

eriedoctrine wrote:Columbia.

kartelite
Posts: 288
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:44 pm

Re: Hamilton VS Harvard

Postby kartelite » Sun Feb 15, 2015 1:40 pm

People talk a lot about the non-portability of non-HYS degrees. I'll throw some California data out, and you can draw your own conclusions.

School/# of grads working BigLaw in CA/% of grads nationally working in CA

Yale/267/15.0%
Harvard/868/14.4%
Columbia/421/11.4%
Chicago/278/13.4%
NYU/355/9.7%
Penn/197/8.3%

It's sort of an arbitrary metric, but I wouldn't say it's THAT MUCH harder to move across the country from CCN than HY. (Disclaimer, chose non-Hamilton at CLS over HLS).

EDIT: Decided to also look at Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA grads working in New York City. Note that even though they end up being around the same, it doesn't really make sense to compare the percentages to those above, only within the two groups.

Stanford/200/13.7%
Berkeley/136/6.9%
UCLA/93/5.1%




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests