Columbia vs Berkeley

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jlwx
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Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby jlwx » Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:36 pm

-The schools you are considering
I'm looking at Columbia and Berkeley
-The total Cost of Attendance (COA) of each. COA = cost of tuition + fees + books + cost of living (COL) + accumulated interest - scholarships. Here is a helpful calculator.
Columbia=(257,265-110,000) $147,265
Berkeley= (239,425.5-135,000) $104,425
-How you will be financing your COA, i.e. loans, family, or savings
Loans!
-Where you are from and where you want to work, and other places where you have significant ties (if any)
I'm from Southeast, Michigan, and have ties there, but I'd like to get out. I really want to be in the Bay Area or Washington D.C, but I'm pretty open. Texas cost of living appears attractive...
-Your general career goals
Ideally, I'd clerk, work biglaw, and then move out to a nonprofit or a public sector job (preferably federal)
-Your LSAT/GPA numbers
URM 170/3.3x
-How many times you have taken the LSAT
2

I have full rides at Virginia and Michigan. Virginia doesn't seem like it'd be a good fit for me. If I'm going to school for free, I'd rather go to Michigan. That being said, I'm not interested in attending Michigan because I've been in SE Michigan for all of my life and Ann Arbor for 6 years. I want to get out. I've been to both Berkeley and Columbia and really liked both of them. It just seems to me that the prudent decision (if I'm deciding to take out substantial loans) would be to go to Columbia. The employment numbers are great and guaranteed summer funding for public interest work in the US and for human rights work abroad sound amazing. Plus large network and prestige. Is all of that worth the additional 40k in loans that I would have to take? If it's not, then is Berkeley even worth 100k in loans? Are there other things that I'm not thinking about that I should be?

Your guidance is greatly appreciated.

jlwx

The King
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby The King » Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:42 pm

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BigZuck
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby BigZuck » Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:51 pm

In a perfect world, where would you live and work long term?

Eta: I'm asking for your tippy top choice, not "I'm open"

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:54 pm

Did Columbia really give you 110k or is there an outside scholarship you're including?

jlwx
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby jlwx » Sat Mar 21, 2015 7:07 pm

In a perfect world, I live in the Bay Area.

Yes, Columbia has offered me 110k.

Sure, UVA does do well in DC, but living in Charlottesville is just not something I'm interested in doing. Especially given what's happened as of late. Obviously, 3 years, in the grand scheme of things, is not that long, but I don't want to regret my decision and I think if I went there, regardless of whether or not the feelings would be justified, I'd regret my decision. Especially because DC is my second-ranked end goal.

BigZuck
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby BigZuck » Sat Mar 21, 2015 7:10 pm

Go to Berkeley

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sat Mar 21, 2015 7:13 pm

Yeah if the goal is Bay Area Berkeley is the answer. Especially without pre-existing ties.

Benefit of Columbia is more safety if you get poor grades but to take advantage of that you'd need to start in NYC.
Last edited by Tiago Splitter on Sat Mar 21, 2015 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jbagelboy
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby jbagelboy » Sat Mar 21, 2015 7:15 pm

I'd take Columbia here unless you're serious about the Bay Area, then Berkeley. That's a very fair price at both schools and my guess is you'll graduate with quite a bit less than $145K debt. My CoA for Berkeley was about that much lower than CLS a few years ago and I took CLS knowing that I probably wanted to return to CA. But Bay area is a tough nut to crack and if it's really important to you Berkeley is probably better.

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chuckbass
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby chuckbass » Sat Mar 21, 2015 7:16 pm

BigZuck wrote:Go to Berkeley

Also with your numbers and URM, is Stanford still a possibility?

BigZuck
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby BigZuck » Sat Mar 21, 2015 7:19 pm

jbagelboy wrote:I'd take Columbia here unless you're serious about the Bay Area, then Berkeley. That's a very fair price at both schools and my guess is you'll graduate with quite a bit less than $145K debt. My CoA for Berkeley was about that much lower than CLS a few years ago and I took CLS knowing that I probably wanted to return to CA.

The OP doesn't have a California to "return" to which makes Berkeley even more of a slam dunk no brainer IMO

jlwx
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby jlwx » Sat Mar 21, 2015 7:51 pm

Thank you all so much for the responses! I have some follow-up questions though.


Could someone explain the importance of 'ties' and exactly what you mean when you use the term? Or point me to a thread that discusses that topic?

It still isn't really clear to me why Berkeley> Columbia in this situation. Surely there must be more to it than Berkeley's location. Do firms in the Bay Area really prefer Berkeley grads over Columbia grads? If so then why? Isn't the point of going to a school like Columbia to overcome that very issue?

Also, although the end goal is the Bay Area, I'm a 0L and don't know what my exact interests will be or where they will lead me after my time in law school. I'm worried that while Berkeley would set me up well for California, it wouldn't really help me if my interests led me to the East Coast. I'm also worried that, generally speaking, Berkeley would not be able to open the doors that Columbia would be able to open.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:00 pm

Firms in most locations will be a little skeptical of your intention to stay in the area (and thus at their firm) if you have never lived there before. Going to Berkeley shows a lot of commitment to Northern California and will keep employers from doubting you when you say in interviews that you plan to stay there forever. If you've grown up in Michigan and are attending a school in New York, they might not be so forgiving. It's not absolute; I'll be working in the Bay Area despite not having been there once in my life prior to the job interview, but you will need to provide a convincing answer to the "why here" question.

If you'd be happy with New York should other areas not work out, then go to Columbia. The employment prospects are flat out better. But as a Columbia student I think you'll have a tougher time getting SF biglaw from here compared to Berk assuming equivalent grades.

BigZuck
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby BigZuck » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:01 pm

jlwx wrote:Thank you all so much for the responses! I have some follow-up questions though.


Could someone explain the importance of 'ties' and exactly what you mean when you use the term? Or point me to a thread that discusses that topic?

It still isn't really clear to me why Berkeley> Columbia in this situation. Surely there must be more to it than Berkeley's location. Do firms in the Bay Area really prefer Berkeley grads over Columbia grads? If so then why? Isn't the point of going to a school like Columbia to overcome that very issue?

Also, although the end goal is the Bay Area, I'm a 0L and don't know what my exact interests will be or where they will lead me after my time in law school. I'm worried that while Berkeley would set me up well for California, it wouldn't really help me if my interests led me to the East Coast. I'm also worried that, generally speaking, Berkeley would not be able to open the doors that Columbia would be able to open.

Anecdotal, but from personal experience and from what I have heard generally, Bay Area employers love people from northern CA. They care about ties- where you grew up, went to college, etc. Its not a particularly big market, they can afford to be choosy and they typically choose people from the area. You don't have ties. Your best bet to manufacture ties is by going to Berkeley. If you go to school in NYC, and are from the Midwest, your chances aren't all that great to get a job in the Bay Area because they can just choose a kid from your school who has ties to the bay (or they can pick a Berkeley/Stanford kid).

I'll defer to Bags/Tiago when it comes to Columbia's CA placement vs Berkeley's.

If you want NYC big law then hands down Columbia is a better choice IMO

People put a lot of stock in US News Rankings and while on some levels it's a decent approximation of placement power, it ignores whatever (perhaps little) nuance there is in legal hiring. An employer isn't neccessarily going to just automatically go "Oh, he went to 4 instead of 7? HIRED!!!!" It's not always as easy as that.

BigZuck
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby BigZuck » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:09 pm

Don't know if this thread is any good but forum search came up with this:
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=180330

The King
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby The King » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:13 pm

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UofCforme
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby UofCforme » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:37 pm

I'd go Columbia, but I don't think there is a "wrong" choice here. Congrats.

I vote Columbia because you mentioned that you are primarily interested in either CA or DC. My guess is that CLS gives you a chance at both of these markets while Berkeley probably only gives you a realistic shot at CA.


Texas is pretty tough for non-Texans and even more so for non-Southerners. If you are actually serious about Texas then maybe give UVA another look. They do alright there.

Edit: Sorry just read your post again and realized that you currently have no ties to California. Go to Berkeley if that's where you want to end up.

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BruceWayne
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby BruceWayne » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:58 pm

If you want to work in SF then Boalt is basically the only option. Especially with their excellent low risk grading system. That being said, turning down UVA and Michigan for free is borderline insane if HYS aren't on the table. That approach is one thing for undergrad but that's not the right approach for professional school. Especially law and specially for someone who wants to clerk and then do biglaw.

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jbagelboy
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby jbagelboy » Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:02 pm

BruceWayne wrote:If you want to work in SF then Boalt is basically the only option. Especially with their excellent low risk grading system. That being said, turning down UVA and Michigan for free is borderline insane if HYS aren't on the table. That approach is one thing for undergrad but that's not the right approach for professional school. Especially law and specially for someone who wants to clerk and then do biglaw.


The grading system at boalt is not "especially low risk"

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rpupkin
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby rpupkin » Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:10 pm

jbagelboy wrote:
BruceWayne wrote:If you want to work in SF then Boalt is basically the only option. Especially with their excellent low risk grading system. That being said, turning down UVA and Michigan for free is borderline insane if HYS aren't on the table. That approach is one thing for undergrad but that's not the right approach for professional school. Especially law and specially for someone who wants to clerk and then do biglaw.

The grading system at boalt is not "especially low risk"

True. I've seen enough Berkeley transcripts to know that Boalt definitely has grades. They've got an A+ (awards for top two students in a class), A ("HH"), and A- ("H"). The difference between Berkeley and the other T14s is that Boalt takes everything between a B+ and a B- and lumps it into a "P". That helps some students and hurts others.

I think Berkeley is a reasonable choice for the OP. But it's not because of the grading system.

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BiglawAssociate
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby BiglawAssociate » Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:12 pm

BruceWayne wrote:If you want to work in SF then Boalt is basically the only option. Especially with their excellent low risk grading system. That being said, turning down UVA and Michigan for free is borderline insane if HYS aren't on the table. That approach is one thing for undergrad but that's not the right approach for professional school. Especially law and specially for someone who wants to clerk and then do biglaw.


I don't know about "only" option, but it is the stronger option.

That said I think OP is stupid as sh*t about money and idealizes biglaw. It f*cking blows. Take the full ride and skip biglaw altogether.

If you even take out 100k in loans you will have to probably spend 2-3 years minimum in biglaw paying it off. I mean are you f*cking stupid? Have you ever managed your own money before?

And yes, my friends got federal governments/in house straight out of law school and they are both >>>>> biglaw. Public interest, even though the pay is crap, is >>>> biglaw. Why the f*ck would you do biglaw if you don't have to? Do you want to work to death and get yelled at for stupid sh*t all the time? Most people do biglaw because they need to pay off loans. If you don't have any, why the f*ck would you do it in the first place.

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jbagelboy
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby jbagelboy » Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:13 pm

BiglawAssociate wrote:
BruceWayne wrote:If you want to work in SF then Boalt is basically the only option. Especially with their excellent low risk grading system. That being said, turning down UVA and Michigan for free is borderline insane if HYS aren't on the table. That approach is one thing for undergrad but that's not the right approach for professional school. Especially law and specially for someone who wants to clerk and then do biglaw.


I don't know about "only" option, but it is the stronger option.

That said I think OP is stupid as sh*t about money and idealizes biglaw. It f*cking blows. Take the full ride and skip biglaw altogether.

If you even take out 100k in loans you will have to probably spend 2-3 years minimum in biglaw paying it off. I mean are you f*cking stupid? Have you ever managed your own money before?

And yes, my friends got federal governments/in house straight out of law school and they are both >>>>> biglaw. Public interest, even though the pay is crap, is >>>> biglaw. Why the f*ck would you do biglaw if you don't have to? Do you want to work to death and get yelled at for stupid sh*t all the time? Most people do biglaw because they need to pay off loans. If you don't have any, why the f*ck would you do it in the first place.


Been waiting for this post

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Mack.Hambleton
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby Mack.Hambleton » Sun Mar 22, 2015 2:28 am

UVA. Also how did you get 110k at Columbia, that's above a butler so what is that

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby XxSpyKEx » Sun Mar 22, 2015 2:39 am

BiglawAssociate wrote:
BruceWayne wrote:If you want to work in SF then Boalt is basically the only option. Especially with their excellent low risk grading system. That being said, turning down UVA and Michigan for free is borderline insane if HYS aren't on the table. That approach is one thing for undergrad but that's not the right approach for professional school. Especially law and specially for someone who wants to clerk and then do biglaw.


I don't know about "only" option, but it is the stronger option.

That said I think OP is stupid as sh*t about money and idealizes biglaw. It f*cking blows. Take the full ride and skip biglaw altogether.

If you even take out 100k in loans you will have to probably spend 2-3 years minimum in biglaw paying it off. I mean are you f*cking stupid? Have you ever managed your own money before?

And yes, my friends got federal governments/in house straight out of law school and they are both >>>>> biglaw. Public interest, even though the pay is crap, is >>>> biglaw. Why the f*ck would you do biglaw if you don't have to? Do you want to work to death and get yelled at for stupid sh*t all the time? Most people do biglaw because they need to pay off loans. If you don't have any, why the f*ck would you do it in the first place.


You realize that this forum doesn't filter swear words, right? I think the only thing that gets filtered is the N word.


To everyone who says Berkley--I think that's a really dumb decision in OP's situation. He has no ties whatsoever to SF, but says he wants to be there (how can he even know that he wants to live there without ever having spent any appreciable amount of time there?). SF firms def care about ties. Attending law school there alone isn't enough. If OP has really great grades, firms will be more willing to overlook his lack of ties. But if he falls below median (which there's exactly a 49.9% chance of), he's in a bad situation, especially given that he could have gone to law school for FREE. OP you're an idiot if you take Berkley in this situation. If you're die hard biglaw, then go to Columbia and become okay with the idea of living in NYC. Otherwise, go to UVA or Michigan for free. Honestly, NYC is probably your best bet if you want to get out of Michigan but don't have ties anywhere else (NYC firms don't care about ties at all). DC is possible as well, but you need a convincing reason for why you want to be there (firms will ask you why you want to be in DC). Cali is possible, but far from a sure thing even with attending school in Cali. A ton of people are attracted to Cali who haven't been there (b/c of weather, they think they'll like it, etc.), but a lot of them also leave, and firms know this, so they prefer to hire people who are less of a flight risk.

I'm with BiglawAssociate on this one. I don't think this is even a close question here. UVA or Michigan are the best options a long shot, since they're free. You can pretty much go do whatever you want if you go to school for free, since you won't be strapped repaying student loans. Good luck repaying $105k without biglaw, if you go to Berkley, bid on SF without ties, and strike out at OCI... Not to mention if you're long-term goal is to work at a nonprofit or fed govt, why not just go to UVA or Michigan and skip biglaw altogether? Biglaw is pretty miserable.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sun Mar 22, 2015 9:51 am

XxSpyKEx wrote:I don't think this is even a close question here. UVA or Michigan are the best options a long shot, since they're free. You can pretty much go do whatever you want if you go to school for free, since you won't be strapped repaying student loans. Good luck repaying $105k without biglaw, if you go to Berkley, bid on SF without ties, and strike out at OCI... Not to mention if you're long-term goal is to work at a nonprofit or fed govt, why not just go to UVA or Michigan and skip biglaw altogether? Biglaw is pretty miserable.

He'll be paying back like 50-70k in cost of living loans if he goes to Michigan or UVA.

Overall good post though. OP needs to seriously ask why he cares so much about living near SF. 40k in tuition is a lot to pay for a tie to a city, especially when it's far from a guarantee you'll even end up there.

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downbeat14
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Re: Columbia vs Berkeley

Postby downbeat14 » Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:18 am

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