Yale vs. Harvard for a career in government

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crescentstars

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Re: Yale vs. Harvard for a career in government

Postby crescentstars » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:54 pm

Congrats on your options! 1L at Harvard here. Kind of cool that I can actually give some perspective in these threads now lol. I'm not going for HKS stuff, so I won't really comment on that (though I've heard anecdotally that almost everyone who applies for HKS as a 1L gets in). But as a PI person at HLS, I will say that the school is pretty firm-centric. It's not unbearable, but a lot of us who came here knowing that we don't want big law (and who actually intend to stick to that decision) do have our gripes with that aspect of the school. That said, I have been able to find a pretty solid community of PI folks who have (collectively and individually) been pushing back on the overall firm culture. Below I'll give my 2 cents about some of the HLS concerns you expressed:

I was also concerned with the large class/school size before coming here, but it really isn't much of a problem. Yes, it can be frustrating to be in a section of 80 people who all want to get to know the same professor (personally, I find open office hours to be a bit of a trap lol). But professors have been surprisingly open to meeting with students one on one -- you just need to make the effort to reach out to them first. I'm not generally the type who likes to speak up in class/reach out and stuff, but even I was able to get to know a few of my fall-semester profs (the ones I actually wanted to get to know). Otherwise, you'd be surprised how quickly you get to know your section and/or find community outside of it. I like my section overall, and I've made some great friends in it. That said, I've made a pretty big network across other sections and class years that has been really valuable. This is especially great during finals/stressful times when you might not want to be around 79 other people stressing out over the same test. Another downside, of course, is that some opportunities (student group, SPOs, clinics, etc.) get more applications/interest than they have spots. But there are a ton of things you can do at the school/ways to do similar things, so I've never felt like I couldn't find anything I wanted to do/valued doing. IMO, the size of the school hasn't posed many issues.

The vibe here really isn't that competitive either. I've heard from friends in other sections that they'll share outlines, notes, responses to questions that students have asked professors, etc. And that has happened in at least 2 or 3 sections. In my own section, no one is particularly cutthroat (because those people are quickly shunned), and I've honestly been surprised with how much people support one another. If someone is going through a tough time, people are quick to reach out and help by sharing notes, giving emotional support, etc. That said, I think many of us would've been less stressed if we didn't have grades last semester lol. I don't know how competitive it is at YLS (I've heard stories from a friend there that during first semester people competed only for their professors' attention lol), but the competition at HLS has been less intense than I anticipated.

Also QPOC. If you have questions about what that experience has been for me, feel free to ask via PM. Either way, you've got awesome options and can't make an objectively "bad" choice! Best of luck, OP!

lawlorbust

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Re: Yale vs. Harvard for a career in government

Postby lawlorbust » Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:20 am

crescentstars wrote:The vibe here really isn't that competitive either. I've heard from friends in other sections that they'll share outlines, notes, responses to questions that students have asked professors, etc. And that has happened in at least 2 or 3 sections. In my own section, no one is particularly cutthroat (because those people are quickly shunned), and I've honestly been surprised with how much people support one another. If someone is going through a tough time, people are quick to reach out and help by sharing notes, giving emotional support, etc. That said, I think many of us would've been less stressed if we didn't have grades last semester lol. I don't know how competitive it is at YLS (I've heard stories from a friend there that during first semester people competed only for their professors' attention lol), but the competition at HLS has been less intense than I anticipated.


HLS poster here. This is sort of beside the point: it doesn't really matter how "chill" you might think the environment is. At the end of the day, there are 46 law review slots of a first-year student body of 560, as opposed to half that ratio at HLS and SLS, and at the end of the game a more transparent 10%/25% honors system makes it harder for you to hide mediocre grades.

But, idk. Most government, as other posters have mentioned, is grade insensitive at the HYS level. (Compared to, say academia, or even some other field where an appellate clerkship somehow makes a difference, then by all means pick Yale.) But unless he's focused on some super-prestigiousy Jake Sullivan-esque policy track, I don't see how the different class sizes / environments / competitiveness is going to affect the OP's outcomes. And to be on that path, he'll end up having to crush either HLS or YLS anyway.

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crescentstars

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Re: Yale vs. Harvard for a career in government

Postby crescentstars » Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:27 am

lawlorbust wrote:
crescentstars wrote:


But, idk. Most government, as other posters have mentioned, is grade insensitive at the HYS level.(Compared to, say academia, or even some other field where an appellate clerkship somehow makes a difference, then by all means pick Yale.) But unless he's focused on some super-prestigiousy Jake Sullivan-esque policy track, I don't see how the different class sizes / environments / competitiveness is going to affect the OP's outcomes. And to be on that path, he'll end up having to crush either HLS or YLS anyway.


My response was geared more OP's feelings mentioned in the first post re: coziness and class size/competition. But sure, I agree with all of this.



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