Mahogany wrote:First, let me say that I realize how fortunate I am to be in this situation. I'm struggling to come up with a framework with which to choose either the Hamilton, Vanderbilt, or the Darrow, and I'd like the help of the community here in making a decision. The finances for each option look something like this:
Columbia (CoA less tuition): ~$23,313/year ($69,939 total)
NYU (CoA less tuition): ~$26,420/year ($79,260 total)
Michigan (CoA less tuition & stipend): ~$9,010/year ($27,030 total)
Regardless of which school I attend, I expect to be able to graduate debt free. My goal after graduating is a competitive clerkship and to spend a few years at a firm before leaving for either a government or in-house position. My pipe dream is academia but I am aware that is exceedingly unlikely.
Attending Michigan looks like it would save me at least $50,000. Although I won't take out loans for any of my options, that's still real money. However, I'm not opposed to spending it, especially since it's over a three year period. Are the comparatively better employment prospects at the pricey New York schools worth it, especially with respect to my goals (which I admit are kind of vague)?
Then there's the eternal Columbia vs. NYU debate. Hamilton fellows get to be paired with a faculty mentor and Vanderbilt scholars get to affiliate with one of NYU's many centers, but I'm having a hard time telling if these things actually mean anything or if they're just recruitment tools. I'd appreciate clarification on this point from anyone with direct knowledge. I also can't tell if either of these schools offers better clerkship or academia opportunities than the other. Feel free to make the finest of distinctions since they basically cost the same.
Thanks to anyone who can address one of the points I brought up or anything else that's relevant. I appreciate the help.
Congrats on your killer options. Late to this but I don't see why Michigan is in the picture at all. The school has objectively and significantly poorer employment outcomes than CLS and NYU, and the lower cost of living doesn't make up for that, especially since you say you're expecting to graduate debt free. CLS vs. NYU is somewhat of a tossup, but considering Columbia is $10k cheaper per your numbers I don't see how that's not enough to take the Hamilton. The two schools have very different feels and cultures, though, so it's worth going to admitted students at both to see what you think.
I should add that I chose Hamilton over Vanderbilt (and Harvard) with similar career goals and think I absolutely made the right call, so feel free to PM also.