What's the deal with Harvard students?

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:15 pm

Fordham is twice as likely to put you into biglaw as Cardozo. What are we paying for Fordham these days?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:16 pm

Desert Fox wrote:I guess the real question is how much would you pay, at graduation, for a clerkship, assuming 7% interest? I'd maybe pay 25k. 50k for fed cir. What would you guys pay?

Now discount that by 90% because Harvard only gives you a 10% better chance.

I don't know, but I agree if you're talking strictly cash value it's not always a good deal. I made more as a clerk than I'd ever made in my life, and I make only a few thousand more now, so for me that was a wash (and assuming PSLF sticks around I'm not paying back my debt anyway). I also wouldn't have the job I'm in without clerking, and this is the job I hope to stay in, so exit options, pfffft.

But then, not biglaw or anywhere even close.

I'm sure there are people who clerk only because it's shiny and they're convinced they have to collect all the shiny things, but I wouldn't call it a scam.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby jbagelboy » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:17 pm

abl wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I guess the real question is how much would you pay, at graduation, for a clerkship, assuming 7% interest? I'd maybe pay 25k. 50k for fed cir. What would you guys pay?

Now discount that by 90% because Harvard only gives you a 10% better chance.


7%->17% = 243% better chance. Not a 10% better chance. Put in other words, you're over twice as likely to clerk from Harvard than you are from Columbia.


Saying twice as many Harvard students clerk 9mo out is not really the same as saying a specific individual debating Hamilton or HLS is twice as likely to clerk choosing HLS. That's not how clerkship recruitment works :/

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:20 pm

jbagelboy wrote:
abl wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I guess the real question is how much would you pay, at graduation, for a clerkship, assuming 7% interest? I'd maybe pay 25k. 50k for fed cir. What would you guys pay?

Now discount that by 90% because Harvard only gives you a 10% better chance.


7%->17% = 243% better chance. Not a 10% better chance. Put in other words, you're over twice as likely to clerk from Harvard than you are from Columbia.


Saying twice as many Harvard students clerk 9mo out is not really the same as saying a specific individual debating Hamilton or HLS is twice as likely to clerk choosing HLS. That's not how clerkship recruitment works :/


I'm not sure I follow.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Desert Fox » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:21 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I guess the real question is how much would you pay, at graduation, for a clerkship, assuming 7% interest? I'd maybe pay 25k. 50k for fed cir. What would you guys pay?

Now discount that by 90% because Harvard only gives you a 10% better chance.

I don't know, but I agree if you're talking strictly cash value it's not always a good deal. I made more as a clerk than I'd ever made in my life, and I make only a few thousand more now, so for me that was a wash (and assuming PSLF sticks around I'm not paying back my debt anyway). I also wouldn't have the job I'm in without clerking, and this is the job I hope to stay in, so exit options, pfffft.

But then, not biglaw or anywhere even close.

I'm sure there are people who clerk only because it's shiny and they're convinced they have to collect all the shiny things, but I wouldn't call it a scam.


I'm not really talking about clerkship v. biglaw for a year. I'm talking about valuing even having the option and paying for it with student loans. Basically how much is an option to clerk worth?

If you are talking 180k tuition difference between CLS and HLS for a 10%! It is an objectively stupid choice.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Instinctive » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:22 pm

Desert Fox wrote:I guess the real question is how much would you pay, at graduation, for a clerkship, assuming 7% interest? I'd maybe pay 25k. 50k for fed cir. What would you guys pay?

Now discount that by 90% because Harvard only gives you a 10% better chance.


I wonder if this is true if you account for self-selection out of clerkships.

Wish there was some data on "clerkship desired vs. clerkship achieved" and "clerkship desired vs. didn't get one" based only on those who applied from a school. As opposed to what we have, which is simply the placement rate.

Meaning, I'll probably hurt SLS's clerkship percentage, but I'm also not planning to apply for any clerkships. I want to screen out others like that from the data.

I wonder if we'd find that it made any difference.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Desert Fox » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:24 pm

Instinctive wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I guess the real question is how much would you pay, at graduation, for a clerkship, assuming 7% interest? I'd maybe pay 25k. 50k for fed cir. What would you guys pay?

Now discount that by 90% because Harvard only gives you a 10% better chance.


I wonder if this is true if you account for self-selection out of clerkships.

Wish there was some data on "clerkship desired vs. clerkship achieved" and "clerkship desired vs. didn't get one" based only on those who applied from a school. As opposed to what we have, which is simply the placement rate.

Meaning, I'll probably hurt SLS's clerkship percentage, but I'm also not planning to apply for any clerkships. I want to screen out others like that from the data.

I wonder if we'd find that it made any difference.


Yea I'm sure it's not even 10%.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:33 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
abl wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I guess the real question is how much would you pay, at graduation, for a clerkship, assuming 7% interest? I'd maybe pay 25k. 50k for fed cir. What would you guys pay?

Now discount that by 90% because Harvard only gives you a 10% better chance.


7%->17% = 243% better chance. Not a 10% better chance. Put in other words, you're over twice as likely to clerk from Harvard than you are from Columbia.


It's still an absolute 10% difference and that is what you should when calculating expected value.


Actually, the % that is relevant for calculating expected value is what % of Harvard students who want to clerk actually do (as compared with Columbia students). In other words, 7 and 17 are the numerators, but 100 is not the denominator. But it's also inaccurate to talk about Harvard only increasing clerkship chances by 10%--it more than doubles your clerkship chances.

But this is all somewhat of a detour, because increased clerkships are just one of the many advantages of Harvard. Looking at any one of Harvard's "pluses" in isolation might lead you to the conclusion that it's not worth much more than Columbia--especially if you cherry pick points that you don't care much about. Some here have stated that they only place a $10,000 or $50,000 value on clerkships. (I assume none of those saying as much have actually clerked, although I am sure that's not an entirely extraordinary value to place on clerkships.) I value my clerkship(s) very highly--highly enough that even if that 10-20% increased probability was the only benefit that Harvard conveyed, that would likely justify a several-hundred thousand dollar difference in loans. I fully expect clerking to be one of the highlights of my professional life, and it has already added hundreds of thousands of dollars in value to my career. I'm sure that my valuation is on the high side, but I do not think it's unreasonably so.

The question, though, is not whether an increased chance of clerking is worth $100k or $200k in loans. The question is whether an increased chance of clerking combined with Harvard's other benefits is worth $100k or $200k in loans.
Last edited by abl on Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Desert Fox » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:38 pm

abl wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:
abl wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I guess the real question is how much would you pay, at graduation, for a clerkship, assuming 7% interest? I'd maybe pay 25k. 50k for fed cir. What would you guys pay?

Now discount that by 90% because Harvard only gives you a 10% better chance.


7%->17% = 243% better chance. Not a 10% better chance. Put in other words, you're over twice as likely to clerk from Harvard than you are from Columbia.


It's still an absolute 10% difference and that is what you should when calculating expected value.


Actually, the % that is relevant for calculating expected value is what % of Harvard students who want to clerk actually do (as compared with Columbia students). In other words, 7 and 17 are the numerators, but 100 is not the denominator.

Depending on how many people at these schools genuinely do not want to clerk (and it's pretty impossible to determine this, as a huge part of "wanting to clerk" will be based on being at all competitive to clerk--I'd imagine that the % of 2Ls at Cornell who say they want to clerk is far smaller than the % of 2Ls at Yale, and it's not because of self-selection), this could have a significant impact.

But this is all somewhat of a detour, because increased clerkships are just one of the many advantages of Harvard. I think for a student who legitimately did not care about any other of the many differences between the schools, but wanted to clerk, you're right that it might be hard to justify several hundred thousand dollars in debt for a 15% or 20% or so increase in clerkship chances. But basically nobody is making such a decision.

As I've said previously, I think clerkship numbers are helpful not because clerkship placement alone justifies paying hundreds of thousands more for Harvard -- although they may for some -- but because they give an indication of the sort of difference Harvard makes for the elite jobs that most people choosing between Harvard and Columbia should probably want.


Translation: the math works because prefstige.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Varooom » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:44 pm

jbagelboy wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:
Varooom wrote:I’m fascinated by the groupthink here with regard to prestige as a fabricated idea without much value. Quite simply, the best schools in the country (undergrad, law, business, etc.) open doors that other schools do not. This is why a lot of people are willing to pay the higher cost. Now, of course, everyone must determine their own value – and, risk tolerance – for those said doors.

The focus here on comparing 1L hiring is misguided. As someone else said above, not all firms are equal. And, more importantly, a prospective career arc must be considered in full. Bigger spoils are more reachable from a better school. And, yes, this comes at a greater risk, particularly for a person that is an all-star on paper, but not quite in person.

In the end, the best schools are best for a reason. As bad a societal truth as it may be, and as much as people want to devalue it, there is much intangible – or, perhaps, deferred – value in attending the best schools. Unlocking that value depends on an alumnus’ abilities (i.e., positioning) and luck. But, to trivialize its value is, well, a bit foolish.

We're talking Harvard vs Columbia, not Harvard vs fucking Florida A&M. And we're talking about 180k plus interest.


Right, no one's disputing its important to go to a good school, all of this is comparing between the best schools - its incredibly incremental, not binary - a gloss that's sometimes lost on 0Ls
Last edited by Varooom on Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Desert Fox » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:46 pm

Varooom wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:
Varooom wrote:I’m fascinated by the groupthink here with regard to prestige as a fabricated idea without much value. Quite simply, the best schools in the country (undergrad, law, business, etc.) open doors that other schools do not. This is why a lot of people are willing to pay the higher cost. Now, of course, everyone must determine their own value – and, risk tolerance – for those said doors.

The focus here on comparing 1L hiring is misguided. As someone else said above, not all firms are equal. And, more importantly, a prospective career arc must be considered in full. Bigger spoils are more reachable from a better school. And, yes, this comes at a greater risk, particularly for a person that is an all-star on paper, but not quite in person.

In the end, the best schools are best for a reason. As bad a societal truth as it may be, and as much as people want to devalue it, there is much intangible – or, perhaps, deferred – value in attending the best schools. Unlocking that value depends on an alumnus’ abilities (i.e., positioning) and luck. But, to trivialize its value is, well, a bit foolish.

We're talking Harvard vs Columbia, not Harvard vs fucking Florida A&M. And we're talking about 180k plus interest.


Right, no one's disputing its important to go to a good school, all of this is comparing between the best schools - its incredibly incremental, not binary - a gloss that's sometimes lost on 0Ls



Incremental, yes, but a difference still exists. To some (hiring partners and executives), a very real one.


A very real, very minor one.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Varooom » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:53 pm

.
Last edited by Varooom on Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:10 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:56 pm

Varooom wrote:I've been fortunate to have decent visibility into hiring and promotion decisions at some top firms, and, from what I've seen, it matters.

I'm sure plenty of people reading this thread would love to hear your secrets

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Desert Fox » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:57 pm

This is the law student version of "my uncle is in the army as says we are nuking N Korea next week."

Even if there are some firms that highly value HLS over CLS, there is still an incremental change because the CLS students still get tons of offer from elite firms. For example, even if Cravath hated CLS, they'd just go to DPW instead. No real loss.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Varooom » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:57 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
Varooom wrote:I've been fortunate to have decent visibility into hiring and promotion decisions at some top firms, and, from what I've seen, it matters.

I'm sure plenty of people reading this thread would love to hear your secrets

They aren't secrets. Just situations I've been privy too. I don't mind if you disagree. Just want to share my thoughts.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby jbagelboy » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:00 pm

abl wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:
abl wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I guess the real question is how much would you pay, at graduation, for a clerkship, assuming 7% interest? I'd maybe pay 25k. 50k for fed cir. What would you guys pay?

Now discount that by 90% because Harvard only gives you a 10% better chance.


7%->17% = 243% better chance. Not a 10% better chance. Put in other words, you're over twice as likely to clerk from Harvard than you are from Columbia.


Saying twice as many Harvard students clerk 9mo out is not really the same as saying a specific individual debating Hamilton or HLS is twice as likely to clerk choosing HLS. That's not how clerkship recruitment works :/


I'm not sure I follow.


I'll preface by saying I am not in the camp who mock or decry the value of an art III clerkship; that would be somewhat self-inculpatory.

My thoughts on this are twofold. First, clerkship hiring is much more about individual motivation, planning and preparation than OCI, which at this level follows a sort of "if you build it they will come" philosophy to jobs. Not so, in post-Plan hiring. Actually applying and engaging in the obsequious gunnerdom that comprises an honest effort - securing strong recommendations/calls from faculty, research and publication, journal, taking certain obnoxious classes -- is half the battle, and matters more name of your school within this range. This stuff takes a serious toll on those of us who aren't naturally obsessed with school. But once you've committed to it, you can do it from either school -- yes you need decent grades, but its not like top third from CLS and bottom quartile from HLS, more like top third from one and top half or top 2/5 at the other.

Second and relatedly, if you're that type of person, you're more likely to make it work at either school. It's so individualized that it matters who the specific person is for what we can label as their "chances." A student debating between a Hamilton and HLS is already better qualified than most hls or ccn students. They will overperform relative to their peers in many of the metrics considered by a judge or current clerks involved in the hiring process. You don't change who you are by making that choice between schools.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby jbagelboy » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:01 pm

Varooom wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:
Varooom wrote:I've been fortunate to have decent visibility into hiring and promotion decisions at some top firms, and, from what I've seen, it matters.

I'm sure plenty of people reading this thread would love to hear your secrets

They aren't secrets. Just situations I've been privy too. I don't mind if you disagree. Just want to share my thoughts.


have you come to pay the toll, troll?

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby MistakenGenius » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:03 pm

Uggh, worst thread ever. I didn't think it was possible for DesertFox to bore me more than he already does, but he always finds a way to exceed my expectations.

Why is this discussion even happening? It's pretty easy. Bagelboy's right that the Hamilton makes more sense for the vast majority of students, especially if they want NYC biglaw. If you want NYC biglaw, it is stupid to take anything over a Hamilton. I'd argue the Hamilton wins against HYS and the Ruby. However, I'd say Harvard is almost certainly better if you receive need-aid and want academia/DC appellate work/Government. Done. Now go home everyone.

Also, Varoom, you gotta pay the troll toll, if you want to get into that boysoul, you gotta pay the troll toll to get in.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:05 pm

Varooom wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:
Varooom wrote:I've been fortunate to have decent visibility into hiring and promotion decisions at some top firms, and, from what I've seen, it matters.

I'm sure plenty of people reading this thread would love to hear your secrets

They aren't secrets. Just situations I've been privy too. I don't mind if you disagree. Just want to share my thoughts.

So share your thoughts

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby LetsGoMets » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:06 pm

For what it's worth, I asked an administrator at Columbia and a student at Harvard with two post grad clerkships lined up what percentage of students they thought were interested in clerking. The Columbia administrator said she thought about 20% per class, Harvard student said 40%. If those numbers are at all close to accurate, that essentially negates the difference in placement.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:08 pm

I come from a somewhat different generation than most others on this board. I was lucky enough to get my first job out of college before the economy crashed, and I attended one of the few recession-proof law schools. As a consequence, I don't find debt all that scary. (I'm also lucky enough to have a strong enough debt-to-income ratio that I've never been a position where I've been at risk of not paying off my debt.) I've seen from my experience that the way I live when I have a lot of debt is very similar to the way I live when I am debt free -- I find surprising ways to fritter away my excess cash when I'm not paying off my loans that ultimately brings me reasonably little additional enjoyment. The extra meals out, larger wardrobes, nicer apartments, nicer cars, more drinks purchased at bars, etc. end up impacting my life in a fairly minimal way. On the other hand, I've found that my enjoyment of my job has had an enormous, basically controlling, impact on my happiness. My loans effectively cost me $15,000 per year in net salary, and will for another 5+ years (after taxes and whatnot come into play). When I think about how little that ~$1,500/month actually impacts my happiness as compared with how much my job satisfaction does, and when I realize that the $1,500/month goes away in the next 5 or so years (whereas my career path is going to extend over decades), it's incredibly easy for me to justify substantial debt for even just a chance at a better career.

Now, I obviously understand that other people value money differently. My sense is that some of the younger folks in our generation are exceedingly debt averse, and associate significant negative utility with debt. I also have friends who substantially enjoy material wealth--for them the extra couple thousand dollars a month they spend towards meals out, fancier clothes, and nicer apartments makes a big impact on their happiness. I also know tons of folks who legitimately don't care much if their work is a drudge. For people like that, the idea of giving up these luxuries for a mere chance at a better job seems foolish. For me, it is the idea that you wouldn't that seems foolish. But I also recognize that the added pleasure that a lunch out vs a boxed lunch or a $2,200/m vs $1,200/m Chicago apartment brings me (for example) is probably less than average.

For anyone actually making these sorts of decisions, I suggest these are all questions worth asking yourself.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:10 pm

LetsGoMets wrote:For what it's worth, I asked an administrator at Columbia and a student at Harvard with two post grad clerkships lined up what percentage of students they thought were interested in clerking. The Columbia administrator said she thought about 20% per class, Harvard student said 40%. If those numbers are at all close to accurate, that essentially negates the difference in placement.



Once again, the % of students interested in clerking will be partially a function of the % of students who could actually clerk if they wanted to. I would wager that most people in the top quarter of T6 schools will say they're interested in clerking and that most people in the bottom quarter of these schools will say that they're not.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:14 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I guess the real question is how much would you pay, at graduation, for a clerkship, assuming 7% interest? I'd maybe pay 25k. 50k for fed cir. What would you guys pay?

Now discount that by 90% because Harvard only gives you a 10% better chance.

I don't know, but I agree if you're talking strictly cash value it's not always a good deal. I made more as a clerk than I'd ever made in my life, and I make only a few thousand more now, so for me that was a wash (and assuming PSLF sticks around I'm not paying back my debt anyway). I also wouldn't have the job I'm in without clerking, and this is the job I hope to stay in, so exit options, pfffft.

But then, not biglaw or anywhere even close.

I'm sure there are people who clerk only because it's shiny and they're convinced they have to collect all the shiny things, but I wouldn't call it a scam.


I'm not really talking about clerkship v. biglaw for a year. I'm talking about valuing even having the option and paying for it with student loans. Basically how much is an option to clerk worth?

If you are talking 180k tuition difference between CLS and HLS for a 10%! It is an objectively stupid choice.

No argument from me. I mean, even peons like me can get a clerkship, I certainly wouldn't pay the extra for Harvard.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby bklynlady » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:21 pm

abl wrote:I come from a somewhat different generation than most others on this board. I was lucky enough to get my first job out of college before the economy crashed, and I attended one of the few recession-proof law schools. As a consequence, I don't find debt all that scary. (I'm also lucky enough to have a strong enough debt-to-income ratio that I've never been a position where I've been at risk of not paying off my debt.) I've seen from my experience that the way I live when I have a lot of debt is very similar to the way I live when I am debt free -- I find surprising ways to fritter away my excess cash when I'm not paying off my loans that ultimately brings me reasonably little additional enjoyment. The extra meals out, larger wardrobes, nicer apartments, nicer cars, more drinks purchased at bars, etc. end up impacting my life in a fairly minimal way. On the other hand, I've found that my enjoyment of my job has had an enormous, basically controlling, impact on my happiness. My loans effectively cost me $15,000 per year in net salary, and will for another 5+ years (after taxes and whatnot come into play). When I think about how little that ~$1,500/month actually impacts my happiness as compared with how much my job satisfaction does, and when I realize that the $1,500/month goes away in the next 5 or so years (whereas my career path is going to extend over decades), it's incredibly easy for me to justify substantial debt for even just a chance at a better career.

Now, I obviously understand that other people value money differently. My sense is that some of the younger folks in our generation are exceedingly debt averse, and associate significant negative utility with debt. I also have friends who substantially enjoy material wealth--for them the extra couple thousand dollars a month they spend towards meals out, fancier clothes, and nicer apartments makes a big impact on their happiness. I also know tons of folks who legitimately don't care much if their work is a drudge. For people like that, the idea of giving up these luxuries for a mere chance at a better job seems foolish. For me, it is the idea that you wouldn't that seems foolish. But I also recognize that the added pleasure that a lunch out vs a boxed lunch or a $2,200/m vs $1,200/m Chicago apartment brings me (for example) is probably less than average.

For anyone actually making these sorts of decisions, I suggest these are all questions worth asking yourself.

Some people also have other financial obligations, especially those associated with starting a family, childcare/tuition, etc. that make debt difficult even with the spartan existence you describe. I live in NYC and its not possible to find any normal housing for either 1200 or 2220 per month! So geographics also plays a role in the amount of debt one can sustain.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:21 pm

LetsGoMets wrote:For what it's worth, I asked an administrator at Columbia and a student at Harvard with two post grad clerkships lined up what percentage of students they thought were interested in clerking. The Columbia administrator said she thought about 20% per class, Harvard student said 40%. If those numbers are at all close to accurate, that essentially negates the difference in placement.

First, these two anecdotes are meaningless. But even if they weren't, the percentage of students interested in clerking at a school is not independent of the percentage of students who have a realistic shot at clerking.

If my friend tells me that that only 5% of the students at Hofstra are interested in an article III clerkship, that doesn't mean that only 5% of Hofstra students would be interested in clerking if they could get a clerkship.




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