Harvard or Cornell (or maybe UT)

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Malist
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Harvard or Cornell (or maybe UT)

Postby Malist » Sat Apr 04, 2015 5:30 pm

The schools you are considering and anticipated debt
Harvard - $150k or $200k/10 years (Won’t have an aid offer until the deadline which is why I’m going ahead and posting, but I’m anticipating it will be near max; parents are at retirement age and lower middle class)
Cornell - $65k or $91k/10 years
University of Texas - $30k or $41k/10 years

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)
Minor ties to the South. No strong geographic preference.

Your general career goals
PI (BigLaw short-term only if absolutely necessary to help make a dent in the debt)

Your LSAT/GPA numbers
172/4.1

How many times you have taken the LSAT
Once (studied for months while working and 172 is right where my PTs suggested I would score, so a retake is unlikely to change my score much)

Additional

I know Harvard for that price is supposed to be a good deal, but I’m extremely debt averse and have never actually had to take out a loan (I tend to live below my means) so the prospect of $150,000 plus interest is a bit terrifying. While I could pay it off in 4 or 5 years of BigLaw, I know the burnout rate there is pretty high so gambling on my ability to tough it out seems unwise; even if I could tough it out, that’s 5 years of my life I’d never get back, so BigLaw definitely isn’t my goal. Harvard would, however, open up a lot of PI doors and give me flexibility in terms of what kind of jobs I could get. I’m just not really sure what it feels like to pay an arm and a leg every month for ten years and that worries me.

Cornell offers a decent shot at PI but less long-term career flexibility/mobility than Harvard (I think?), albeit for a much smaller price tag. While I’d still have a chunk of debt, I’m sure I could pay it off in well under 10 years even in a PI job. I’ve not negotiated with Cornell yet, so they may be willing to offer me a bit more money. My only concern with Cornell is the long-run advantage a Harvard degree might offer in Fed PI/Academia.

If I went to Texas, however, I’d probably have a decent shot at being part of the 25-30% who get BigLaw and I’d be able do that for a year and build up a strong safety net which would in turn give me flexibility to pursue whatever type of Texas PI I wanted and likely live pretty comfortably due to the lack of debt. Not sure I want to spend the rest of my life in Texas though, and I’ve heard UT placement outside of TX isn’t exactly stellar.

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.

kfh37
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Re: Harvard or Cornell (or maybe UT)

Postby kfh37 » Sat Apr 04, 2015 5:43 pm

I'd look carefully at Harvard's loan forgiveness program. You'll have more opportunities for great PI jobs out of Harvard, and you could end up paying very little of the loans out of your own pocket.

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zombie mcavoy
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Re: Harvard or Cornell (or maybe UT)

Postby zombie mcavoy » Sat Apr 04, 2015 7:07 pm

are you from Texas? As with any regional school, I wouldn't suggest attending if you didn't have serious ties in Texas or a compelling reason and desire to be in Texas.

UT can offer you non-prestigious PI if you hustle like crazy. You're never going to have money, any way, if you are PI person; Harvard pretty much negates the debt, makes prestigious PI (which pretty much every 0L here wants when they mean PI) a much greater possibility, and doesn't limit you as much w/r/t geography. I would push for Harvard here but if you are seriously risk averse and are from Texas and want to be in Texas, I guess UT is fine (I go to UT fwiw).

Also, you have absolutely no reason to think you'll be top 25 percent at UT. You answered three more questions correctly on a three hour test than the average UT student and your GPA doesn't mean much of anything, unless that was on a hard curve at an elite school in a serious major (i.e. biology @ Princeton). Assume you'll be an average law student and go from there.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Harvard or Cornell (or maybe UT)

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sat Apr 04, 2015 7:08 pm

You don't sound very committed to PI but if you are then Harvard easily. What kind of PI are you thinking and what kind of experience in it do you have?

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Mack.Hambleton
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Re: Harvard or Cornell (or maybe UT)

Postby Mack.Hambleton » Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:16 pm

Malist wrote:

If I went to Texas, however, I’d probably have a decent shot at being part of the 25-30% who get BigLaw


Why do u think this

kartelite
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Re: Harvard or Cornell (or maybe UT)

Postby kartelite » Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:21 pm

zombie mcavoy wrote:hard curve at an elite school in a serious major (i.e. biology @ Princeton). Assume you'll be an average law student and go from there.


Is Princeton known for a hard curve (not contesting elite school/serious major)? I remember Princeton being singled out for its rampant grade inflation when I was applying to colleges - not sure the source, but may even have been US News, I recall vividly a 3.42 being cited as the average GPA there.

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BizBro
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Re: Harvard or Cornell (or maybe UT)

Postby BizBro » Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:27 pm

Bro, I'll give you one solid piece of advice. Don't think you can predict your place on the class curve.

That being said, IDK, i probably wouldn't go to cornell or UT. Do you not have any other options with $ at T6?

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zombie mcavoy
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Re: Harvard or Cornell (or maybe UT)

Postby zombie mcavoy » Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:23 am

kartelite wrote:
zombie mcavoy wrote:hard curve at an elite school in a serious major (i.e. biology @ Princeton). Assume you'll be an average law student and go from there.


Is Princeton known for a hard curve (not contesting elite school/serious major)? I remember Princeton being singled out for its rampant grade inflation when I was applying to colleges - not sure the source, but may even have been US News, I recall vividly a 3.42 being cited as the average GPA there.

maybe but I thought princeton was the poster child for fighting grade inflation though. I was more in the community college market as a 17 year old though.

either way the point was that it would be extremely silly to make your law school choice by factoring in something like "strength of competition." LSAT/GPA combo is not a proxy for intelligence, and intelligence is not a proxy for LS grades.* I would assume your performance at Harvard will be about the same as your performance at UT, OP.

Again, as a UT dude, go to harvard

*certainly it is at some level, but the difference in the student bodies between a place like Harvard and UT is going to be relatively negligible. Harvard isn't Yale or Stanford; so long as you get the right numbers you're in, and if you were planning for it from the beginning, you don't really have to be terribly smart or talented to get the numbers.

Malist
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Re: Harvard or Cornell (or maybe UT)

Postby Malist » Sun Apr 05, 2015 3:29 am

Mack.Hambleton wrote:
Malist wrote:

If I went to Texas, however, I’d probably have a decent shot at being part of the 25-30% who get BigLaw


Why do u think this

I guess I don't actually have any objective reason to assume that. UT told me that Townes-Rice scholars tend to end up some of their best students, and my knee-jerk assumption was that a higher GPA/LSAT compared to peers would suggest a tendency to perform relatively well academically by comparison.

That being said, I don't have ties to Texas so it's sounding like Cornell/Harvard are wiser options in the long run.

BizBro wrote:Bro, I'll give you one solid piece of advice. Don't think you can predict your place on the class curve.

That being said, IDK, i probably wouldn't go to cornell or UT. Do you not have any other options with $ at T6?

Unfortunately, no. Didn't end up applying to Columbia due to an issue getting an international transcript in time (plus my numbers wouldn't get me much $ there anyway). WL at Chicago and UVA, almost nothing from NYU, and COA for Duke is ~130k. So Cornell/Harvard are basically my only reasonable options.




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