flockavelli wrote:Well there's obviously a survivorship bias - almost defintely the majority of H students could have gone to a solid law school for free, the ones that are there are those that didn't take those offers. If you're wondering what that selects on, it's probably a risk-seeking temperament. Gambling $300,000 for a greater chance of the outcomes that people actually want out of law school. TLS skews the other way, towards risk aversion, so the two groups are going to have differing opinions as to what the right decision is.
The expected value of a CCN degree with no debt is probably higher than H with hundos in debt, but not necessarily the expected utility. Realistically, a lot of students probably have utility curves which place disproportionate emphasis on relatively unlikely outcomes, and are willing to take risks to maximize expected utility while sacrificing expected value. H increases the odds of those disproportionately valuable outcomes over CCN. Those are the people that take H (higher than 50% yield, so not insubstantial). Expected value maximizers follow the money.
Also, I agree with jdbagelboy -- this is hardly unique to Harvard. My sense is that there are probably more folks who are choosing between Columbia at full cost and somewhere like Northwestern with a close-to-full ride than there are folks choosing between H at full cost and Columbia at close-to-full ride.
Also, I do think that the majority of students at top law schools aren't dreaming about biglaw as a 0L (at my HYS virtually nobody at my admitted student weekend talked about wanting biglaw--but people did widely talk about other possible career options like clerkships and PI). This means that even though the majority of students at Harvard will end up in biglaw, that's not necessarily the goal motivating most admitted students' decisionmaking.
Finally, there's almost certainly a good amount of self-selection among the students admitted to Harvard: the majority of folks who get into HYS don't get there by maximizing their value at the cost of utility--these are all students who've done a pretty good job in nailing their credentials (often starting at a fairly young age). There are, of course, a number of Harvard admitted students who chose, say, U-Mass Amherst over Amherst College for undergrad, but the particulars of HYS admissions is such that the vast majority of admitted students made some version of the opposite choice (and likely credit that choice--reasonably or not--for putting them in their present enviable position). Even for those students who chose value for undergrad, most will have made other utility-maximizing choices down the road (accumulating credentials that don't directly contribute to any anticipated job outcomes). Therefore, the students choosing between Harvard and Columbia are already fairly self-selected to be the sort of students who will maximize utility (and choose Harvard) rather than value (and choose Columbia).