wsag826 wrote:I'm only now joining in on this so don't chide me in case I repeat someone else's argument. I know I am going to be chided for this endlessly but it's really how I feel so here goes...
You're in your twenties, you're either coming directly out of UG or you've had an OK (but not optimal) job for the last two years. Your parents are not college graduates and do well enough to lock you out of serious need financial aid but are constantly trying to make ends meet. Nobody in your family has gone to college. Maybe one of your uncles has but you don't really know him so it's irrelevant, but nobody else in your family has gone to college. Certainly nobody has gone to law school. You've gone to undergrad and you have excelled, but you've noticed that your classmates frequently have an advantage because of familial connections and institutional knowledge (AKA their parents went to the school or similar schools or are in similar fields so they can inform their kids what's necessary to get a good job).
You get into Harvard at sticker or with something like $10-15K of aid. You get into NU or Cornell with $70K of aid. And then you choose Harvard. Pretty much the rest of the world is debt averse and chides you for your decision, but you ultimately don't care, because it's Harvard--something nobody in your world has ever even come close to touching before--and you make your loan payments grudgingly until the age of 45. You don't end up a millionaire and you end up in the upper middle class as your career progresses. You have an excellent job. Perhaps you could've taken more trips or made less sacrifices if you didn't incur so much debt, but at least you're in a much better place and in a much more financially secure place than your parents were, given that they didn't go to college, had good jobs but poured most of their salaries into mortgages or other things, etc. Is this really a bad thing? In the grand scheme of things...
Sometimes I think TLSers are overly debt averse. I strongly doubt that the vast, vast majority of people who go to HLS--at sticker--are seeing their wages garnished because they're having a hard time paying off their loans. Yes, they may have to make sacrifices, but they're no greater than the sacrifices their parents have had to make. So they pay the $ and get on with their lives. It is worth the risk for them. Is it REALLY that bad???
This is an okay POV from someone who hasn't practiced law.
Here's the more likely scenario: Person grew up poor/uneducated around other poor/uneducated people. Gets into Harvard for near sticker and thinks it's a great idea because he is naive and has no guidance from educated/rich people. Thinks that getting a degree is the "key to success" (another Boomer-spread lie). Takes out what ends up being 300k loans to go to Harvard. Feels good about himself. Maybe even does a clerkship. Then goes to a firm like most people from Harvard do and realizes it sucks. Wants to quit the practice of law, except wait he still has 300k loans. Starts to reevaluate life and thinks "life is too short to practice at a firm or maybe even practice law." When he's working 60+ hour weeks, constantly thinking about what to do next and thinking he made a huge mistake paying 300k for a law degree. Starts looking at other jobs by second year but then realizes he isn't qualified to do anything or has to take a severe paycut (to under 100k, maybe 60k in a big city) to work 50+ hours a week (because even public interest attorneys work longer than 40 hour weeks). Decides to suck it up and stay in biglaw. By the end of year 5 or 6 finally pays off loans. Now wants to leave the practice of law but realizes he is too old or has a family to start over. Leaves for inhouse making only 200k in NYC so he can't even afford to buy a condo. Rents for life, living a mediocre life working 50-55+ hours a week, with little spare income given his family. And inhouse in flyover makes less, but forces him to do stressful, boring work 50+ hours a week anyway to support a mediocre living with his stay at home wife and 2 kids.
So yes he might be "better off" than his poor/uneducated parents, but not better off than he would have been with no debt. Then he could have moved out of biglaw earlier and maybe even the practice of law to do a career that doesn't require 80% of your time and oftentimes sucks the soul out of you. Because if you work in law you better be prepared to sacrifice almost everything of your life.