DaRascal wrote:Villanova. I'll put it this way- If someone gave me $1,000 to bet on you, I'd put it on your being Top 25% at Villanova based on your excellent GPA and solid LSAT score over your being able to go from a 161 to 169, because I think if you work as hard as possible at Nova, it'll be hard for your peers to outperform you whereas you might work extremely hard on the LSAT and end up with only a 166, short of what you need to get huge scholarship money to make up for the year you'll be taking off.
I mean, I think those who want him to go to Penn right now are of the opinion that he outperformed his numbers and he either might not get in again or he'll get in with just about the same offer he has right now, especially if he only increases his LSAT by a couple of points. Just because you can sneak into an elite school doesn't mean it's your best option.
It's known that the take home for biglaw is ~90k/year and he'll have 250k in loans not even considering the interest. Out of the 90k he makes, a good portion of that will have to go to living expenses, and who knows what kind of lifestyle he'll live outside of work. Either his girlfriend has to pitch in to help him pay off the loans, or else he has to drop ~70k per year on the loans and hope he can stick around in biglaw for 5 years to break even. Will he be a mentally stable and functioning lawyer at that point or will he be a burned out, broken man who wishes he'd never joined the profession? By all accounts on here biglaw is terrible and he might want to leave five months in, but won't be able to because he has to stay five years. The long-term benefits of this degree aren't worth the hell he's going to go through for the next decade.
If he goes to Villanova, he might be shutout of a lot of jobs he would have gotten with a much lower class rank at Penn, but without the debt he can now take even a $40k/year job and he'll have a happier life with his family than if he goes to Penn and gets hired in biglaw and then can't leave it and can't save up any of the money he makes because he has to dump it all on his loans knowing he doesn't have long-term job security.
That's why I would absolutely say "screw the prestige" and go to Villanova unless I knew for sure that under timed conditions I'm consistently in the low 170's on my practice tests so that a reasonable test day drop puts me in the high 160's at worst because the only way he can go to Penn is if it costs him less than $100k, so that he buys himself two years to last in biglaw to make it all happen. He'll have no pressure to excel at Villanova without the loans and he'll be competing for grades against a weaker field of students.