OhBoyOhBortles wrote:Defer. Enjoy your next year. Then enjoy UVA.
It pains me to disagree, but from a financial standpoint I think Duke is the move. The extra year of earnings is, I think, more significant than the scholarship difference.
That said, if you genuinely prefer UVA, go there. Take the year, save some money, enjoy the reduced debt load. Also, can you negotiate with UVA (e.g. "The year of lost income is too significant, but at $135k I'm in because I love UVA so much.")?
So I, in large part, wrote out the below to sort out my own thoughts, but in case anyone wants to follow along with me:
The problem with UVA, from my perspective, is that I don't want to defer for a full year. I would have to be making money during that time (I need to be fully supporting myself), so it is not like I can just be traveling for 8 months. Instead I will need to find a job -- most likely in New York City, where I live now, or my hometown. I suppose I could take out loans, but then what was the point in saving money in the first place.
Further, I actually really want to attend law school, which I am excited for after having worked for two years as a legal assistant and attending ASWs. I am already going to be 27 when I graduate from law school if I attend this year, and would prefer not to be any older. Personally, if I do BigLaw, I want to get in and get out before really starting a family, so my age does actually matter a bit to me.
Lastly, I am going to be traveling for a month in South America this summer regardless, so it is not like I won't be doing anything fun or exciting.
So really, it is down to Columbia and Duke, I think. In Duke's favor, Columbia will likely cost $30,000 more in the end (Duke has a lot of costs you might not normally consider that help balance out COA, like, e.g., a car, car insurance, flights to and from my hometown, moving expenses, etc.), I don't love NYC (though I am not sure I have really done it right), I like the idea of being on a full blown college campus again, and attending Duke will make it less likely I end up in NYC BigLaw. However, Columbia is more prestigious (and yes, that matters at least somewhat to me), has better job prospects, might make it easier to obtain some of my more lofty career goals, is closer to my family and friends, was more impressive when I visited, and will provide me with a wealth of externship and clinic opportunities that Duke can't compete with.