Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

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Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Columbia (Hamilton)
66
67%
Harvard
32
33%
 
Total votes: 98

dazed_&_confused

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Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby dazed_&_confused » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:49 pm

I'm currently choosing between Columbia with a Hamilton Fellowship (= full tuition covered) or Harvard at sticker. I'll try to give as much info here as possible.

Family members have offered to chip in ~40-50k per year if I go to Harvard. So for total COA, for Columbia I would be paying around 35k a year (housing, etc.) and for Harvard I would be paying around 45-55k a year. The difference then between the two would be around 10-15k a year. I do have around 50k in the bank from my current job. From a financial perspective, one other thing to keep in mind is that while I am getting money from my family, they do not have limitless resources and I really care that they spend their money on something that is worth it, even if I am not the one who is paying that portion.

My other considerations/thoughts on the schools:
1) I am interested in clerking and eventually would like to have a career in government which seems like a big advantage for Harvard
2) I like Columbia's location (in NY) but no huge draw to either school based on location (i.e. I don't have family/SO in either place)
3) I would like to end up in DC or in California, which again seems like a point for Harvard
4) Based on ASWs, I think I ended up liking Columbia more from a personal perspective by a slight margin

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby beinghuman » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:19 pm

Personally, I would feel bad taking 120-150k from my family when I could go somewhere great for free... because that's a lot of money.
If you liked Columbia better, and you have savings that would help you cover living expenses for a year a half, I'd go with that - your summer jobs should help you cover the rest.
You will probably do very well in law school so you should be able to clerk and get a government job later if you wanted, no one will look down at a Columbia degree.



dazed_&_confused wrote:I'm currently choosing between Columbia with a Hamilton Fellowship (= full tuition covered) or Harvard at sticker. I'll try to give as much info here as possible.

Family members have offered to chip in ~40-50k per year if I go to Harvard. So for total COA, for Columbia I would be paying around 35k a year (housing, etc.) and for Harvard I would be paying around 45-55k a year. The difference then between the two would be around 10-15k a year. I do have around 50k in the bank from my current job. From a financial perspective, one other thing to keep in mind is that while I am getting money from my family, they do not have limitless resources and I really care that they spend their money on something that is worth it, even if I am not the one who is paying that portion.

My other considerations/thoughts on the schools:
1) I am interested in clerking and eventually would like to have a career in government which seems like a big advantage for Harvard
2) I like Columbia's location (in NY) but no huge draw to either school based on location (i.e. I don't have family/SO in either place)
3) I would like to end up in DC or in California, which again seems like a point for Harvard
4) Based on ASWs, I think I ended up liking Columbia more from a personal perspective by a slight margin

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby Indifference » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:30 pm

dazed_&_confused wrote:I'm currently choosing between Columbia with a Hamilton Fellowship (= full tuition covered) or Harvard at sticker. I'll try to give as much info here as possible.

Family members have offered to chip in ~40-50k per year if I go to Harvard. So for total COA, for Columbia I would be paying around 35k a year (housing, etc.) and for Harvard I would be paying around 45-55k a year. The difference then between the two would be around 10-15k a year. I do have around 50k in the bank from my current job. From a financial perspective, one other thing to keep in mind is that while I am getting money from my family, they do not have limitless resources and I really care that they spend their money on something that is worth it, even if I am not the one who is paying that portion.

My other considerations/thoughts on the schools:
1) I am interested in clerking and eventually would like to have a career in government which seems like a big advantage for Harvard
2) I like Columbia's location (in NY) but no huge draw to either school based on location (i.e. I don't have family/SO in either place)
3) I would like to end up in DC or in California, which again seems like a point for Harvard
4) Based on ASWs, I think I ended up liking Columbia more from a personal perspective by a slight margin



Take the money, be happy you didn't bleed your family dry for an H on your diploma.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby danquayle » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:32 pm

Depends on your family's motivations. Some families get incredible personal satisfaction from having a family member attend a prestigious university. From personal experience, my family loves talking up the lawyer in the family. If they're offering because of that - a sense of familial pride - then maybe they'd be disappointed you didn't choose the H.

But if its obligation or any sense that H>C would make a significant difference... nah.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby JHP » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:47 pm

Depending on where you want to clerk, Harvard can boost you a bit. I don't think really either degree will make a difference if you eventually want to go into gov. Harvard has, obviously, a huge network and the name will open a lot of doors. That being said, as others have said, the cost of attending is a huge consideration, and unless you feel like you will always regret not going to Harvard, Columbia and the $$$ seems like a great deal.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby Splurgles23 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:23 pm

This is a decision that will have consequences for the very, very long term. With that perspective in mind, the money seems to matter less in your case, and the Harvard name will get you further if for no other reason than the fact that you can't tell how well you will do in law school (everyone is smart, everyone is trying to get the best grades and the prime clerkships, etc.). With that in mind, the reality is that going to Harvard will provide a greater cushion: more room for error, for the unexpected, for the unfortunate, to still get what you want out of law school and its aftereffects (networking, brand name, experience, flexibility, etc.). Given your financial position, in the long run, HLS seems to be the way to go.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:24 pm

The idea of paying 120-150k so your family can say you went to Harvard is hilarious, and would only make sense maybe if money is no object (your family has a net worth of 20 million+). Columbia is an Ivy League school and personally I am more impressed to hear that someone went to this type of law school for free than hearing that someone went to Harvard.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:45 pm

Columbia is the obvious winner. The Hamilton is a huge honor, and any difference in placement power between the schools is marginal.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby Elbble » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:27 pm

You should know that most of the above responses are expressing a view that is very particular to TLS. I was making a similar decision a couple years ago, and went the non-Hamilton route - when I arrived at H/Y/S I was surprised to meet (quite literally) dozens of people who also turned down the Hamilton (or comparable) to be there. It's a much more common and sensible decision than TLS would have you believe. The difference in opportunities (and, I would argue, intrinsic experience) between H and C is considerable, and don't let TLS tell you otherwise. My advice to you is to find people at H who made that decision - there will be very many - and talk to them about it.

My own suggestion is that in your case, the financial difference doesn't sound determinative, and I would go to H without a second thought.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby ambrajdurbra131313 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:46 pm

To me, this really depends on your family situation. Obviously, only you know exactly what that is, but, based off that initial, somewhat vague post, I’d choose Columbia. Harvard would probably confer a slight, slight advantage but not enough for me to want to burden my family. If I knew it wouldn’t make a difference to them, then I would just choose whatever one I liked best, and, if it was roughly equal, I would choose Harvard. Either way, its probably likely that your career will turn out the same no matter which one you choose. Congrats!

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby dazed_&_confused » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:14 pm

Thanks all for the thoughts, really appreciate it! I'm still thinking it over, but definitely leaning towards Columbia

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby Splurgles23 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:52 pm

Elbble wrote:You should know that most of the above responses are expressing a view that is very particular to TLS. I was making a similar decision a couple years ago, and went the non-Hamilton route - when I arrived at H/Y/S I was surprised to meet (quite literally) dozens of people who also turned down the Hamilton (or comparable) to be there. It's a much more common and sensible decision than TLS would have you believe. The difference in opportunities (and, I would argue, intrinsic experience) between H and C is considerable, and don't let TLS tell you otherwise. My advice to you is to find people at H who made that decision - there will be very many - and talk to them about it.

My own suggestion is that in your case, the financial difference doesn't sound determinative, and I would go to H without a second thought.



I completely agree with this, through both my own experience and on this board. There's an interesting fact about TLS (or, more accurately now, the folks who've now moved over to that snowflake place): there's an aggressive, almost defensive "don't go for the brand-name school just for the brand name" sentiment. In a vacuum, of course, it's true. But it's not a clear-cut decision point, and there are plenty of cases where the brand name does outweigh other factors, even factors such as financial aid. I'm not sure if the sentiment is a projection of an insecurity complex or something like a myopic stubborn streak, but I'm glad a lot of those "wise" commentators have now gone away to their own little echo chamber!

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby Skool » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:53 pm

Elbble wrote:You should know that most of the above responses are expressing a view that is very particular to TLS. I was making a similar decision a couple years ago, and went the non-Hamilton route - when I arrived at H/Y/S I was surprised to meet (quite literally) dozens of people who also turned down the Hamilton (or comparable) to be there. It's a much more common and sensible decision than TLS would have you believe. The difference in opportunities (and, I would argue, intrinsic experience) between H and C is considerable, and don't let TLS tell you otherwise. My advice to you is to find people at H who made that decision - there will be very many - and talk to them about it.

My own suggestion is that in your case, the financial difference doesn't sound determinative, and I would go to H without a second thought.



There is a "difference in opportunities (and, I would argue, intrinsic experience)" between Harvard and Columbia. You will have to elaborate for those of us without the benefit of an HYS experience.

Splurgles23 wrote:I completely agree with this, through both my own experience and on this board. There's an interesting fact about TLS (or, more accurately now, the folks who've now moved over to that snowflake place): there's an aggressive, almost defensive "don't go for the brand-name school just for the brand name" sentiment. In a vacuum, of course, it's true. But it's not a clear-cut decision point, and there are plenty of cases where the brand name does outweigh other factors, even factors such as financial aid. I'm not sure if the sentiment is a projection of an insecurity complex or something like a myopic stubborn streak, but I'm glad a lot of those "wise" commentators have now gone away to their own little echo chamber!
I don't really understand what you're talking about. Columbia is a brand name school, which OP can obtain at a much cheaper price. And what are the "plenty of cases where the brand name does outweigh other factors, even factors such as financial aid?" Wanting to end up in DC, Cal., or the Government?

Notice, OP, all of this comes down to hand wave-y arguments saying, "BUT IT'S HARVARD"

It's great that this board has such wonderful posters like the above still around.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby Splurgles23 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:26 pm

Skool wrote:
Elbble wrote:You should know that most of the above responses are expressing a view that is very particular to TLS. I was making a similar decision a couple years ago, and went the non-Hamilton route - when I arrived at H/Y/S I was surprised to meet (quite literally) dozens of people who also turned down the Hamilton (or comparable) to be there. It's a much more common and sensible decision than TLS would have you believe. The difference in opportunities (and, I would argue, intrinsic experience) between H and C is considerable, and don't let TLS tell you otherwise. My advice to you is to find people at H who made that decision - there will be very many - and talk to them about it.

My own suggestion is that in your case, the financial difference doesn't sound determinative, and I would go to H without a second thought.



There is a "difference in opportunities (and, I would argue, intrinsic experience)" between Harvard and Columbia. You will have to elaborate for those of us without the benefit of an HYS experience.

Splurgles23 wrote:I completely agree with this, through both my own experience and on this board. There's an interesting fact about TLS (or, more accurately now, the folks who've now moved over to that snowflake place): there's an aggressive, almost defensive "don't go for the brand-name school just for the brand name" sentiment. In a vacuum, of course, it's true. But it's not a clear-cut decision point, and there are plenty of cases where the brand name does outweigh other factors, even factors such as financial aid. I'm not sure if the sentiment is a projection of an insecurity complex or something like a myopic stubborn streak, but I'm glad a lot of those "wise" commentators have now gone away to their own little echo chamber!
I don't really understand what you're talking about. Columbia is a brand name school, which OP can obtain at a much cheaper price. And what are the "plenty of cases where the brand name does outweigh other factors, even factors such as financial aid?" Wanting to end up in DC, Cal., or the Government?

Notice, OP, all of this comes down to hand wave-y arguments saying, "BUT IT'S HARVARD"

It's great that this board has such wonderful posters like the above still around.


I don't want to indulge the trolls too much (notice that the response to Elbble confirms my description of that crowd...), but I'll take one more stab: if you're in the position of choosing between places like Columbia and places like HYS, then *of course* you're going to focus on the marginal differences between those groups in a very granular way. Obviously, you have great options either way, whether you're interested in government, Cal., DC, etc. The point is that HYS gives you a greater cushion for performance during law school, because highly selective employers are willing to go deeper into the bench at these schools: they are in the same, mirror-image position as you are right now: making choices between candidates at places like CLS vs. places like HYS. This is not hand-wavy, it just requires you to pay attention to the salient choice-points. All things (roughly) equal, the latter group can carry more of an oomph at the margin, not just in the U.S., but in the world. And sometimes, the stuff at the margin is what matters.

None of this is to say CLS is way worse, or HYS are way better, or that graduates of the latter are better lawyers. You don't have to interpret what I'm saying as being snobby. It's just a reality that once you get beyond these message boards and look at the thought processes behind some highly selective employers, margins matter. Only someone with a chip on their shoulder will interpret what I'm saying in the worst possible way, as a knock on non-HYS schools.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby Elbble » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:10 pm

+1 to Splurges.

Quickly, in response to "You will have to elaborate for those of us without the benefit of an HYS experience,": The main differences for me have to do with clerking, academia, and general atmosphere.

The advantage that HYS give for clerking is huge. Is it possible to get a clerkship out of C? Of course it is. But one look at the statistics will tell you that if that's what you're after, you're in for a serious uphill fight out of C, and an ordinary (but very run-of-the-mill) process out of HYS. Only a very particular mindset - the one rampant on TLS - can allow you look at those numbers and wave them away. Academia is even more extreme. Take a look at the faculties of any top law department, and see where they got their JDs. It's not a serious question.

Finally, the atmospheres are *very* different at HYS v C, which is exactly what you'd expect when you have one student body that's full of people pursuing clerkships, academia, and government positions, and another that is 95% committed to big firm careers. That's not an evaluative statement, just a descriptive one. The differences are very real, so pick the one that's more appealing to you.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby Necho2 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:37 pm

Elbble wrote:+1 to Splurges.

Quickly, in response to "You will have to elaborate for those of us without the benefit of an HYS experience,": The main differences for me have to do with clerking, academia, and general atmosphere.

The advantage that HYS give for clerking is huge. Is it possible to get a clerkship out of C? Of course it is. But one look at the statistics will tell you that if that's what you're after, you're in for a serious uphill fight out of C, and an ordinary (but very run-of-the-mill) process out of HYS. Only a very particular mindset - the one rampant on TLS - can allow you look at those numbers and wave them away. Academia is even more extreme. Take a look at the faculties of any top law department, and see where they got their JDs. It's not a serious question.

Finally, the atmospheres are *very* different at HYS v C, which is exactly what you'd expect when you have one student body that's full of people pursuing clerkships, academia, and government positions, and another that is 95% committed to big firm careers. That's not an evaluative statement, just a descriptive one. The differences are very real, so pick the one that's more appealing to you.


I'd note very quickly that YS really take the cake on the clerking/academia front, probability-wise. I think this year Harvard's clerkship rate (federal at least) is somewhere below Chicago, right? And generally at least academia is more likely out of YS though never at all easy, while obviously exceptional H students also have a pretty decent shot.

Edit: To the underlying question OP- does your family really only pay up if you pick HLS? That's rough, and while obviously saving them money is nice, is this likely to wind up coming out of an inheritance at some point? Or just extremely school-specific munificence?

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby northwood » Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:00 am

jbagelboy wrote:Columbia is the obvious winner. The Hamilton is a huge honor, and any difference in placement power between the schools is marginal.


Plus it will save your family a ton of money they could use on other things.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby tinman » Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:55 am

If I were you, I’d choose Harvard. I turned down the Hamilton. Decided on Y (also got into S and H). At the time, I wanted to be a professor. Now, I’m happy to be at a firm for many years. I’d personally rather spend one extra year at a firm in my life to make up the difference in price. If I went to Columbia I would have felt like I needed to struggle to make law review and stuff. That probably would have been very unpleasant. I’d save your energy for working at a firm.

Another thing to consider: at Harvard you can TA classes or be a RA (what they call “tutors” there living in undergrad dorms). So you can take steps to close the cost difference.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby nixy » Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:02 am

If you’re at a firm, why would you need to go to Harvard over Columbia? Columbia’s big firm placement is amazing.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby jbagelboy » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:44 pm

Elbble wrote:+1 to Splurges.

Quickly, in response to "You will have to elaborate for those of us without the benefit of an HYS experience,": The main differences for me have to do with clerking, academia, and general atmosphere.

The advantage that HYS give for clerking is huge. Is it possible to get a clerkship out of C? Of course it is. But one look at the statistics will tell you that if that's what you're after, you're in for a serious uphill fight out of C, and an ordinary (but very run-of-the-mill) process out of HYS. Only a very particular mindset - the one rampant on TLS - can allow you look at those numbers and wave them away. Academia is even more extreme. Take a look at the faculties of any top law department, and see where they got their JDs. It's not a serious question.

Finally, the atmospheres are *very* different at HYS v C, which is exactly what you'd expect when you have one student body that's full of people pursuing clerkships, academia, and government positions, and another that is 95% committed to big firm careers. That's not an evaluative statement, just a descriptive one. The differences are very real, so pick the one that's more appealing to you.


None of the above commentary about differences in student culture between hls and cls is accurate. There are differences (HLS is larger, CLS more urban), but none of them relate to a perceived difference in opportunities in various fields. Columbia has a very rich government, public interest, and international community, and harvard has a huge number of students (a super majority) going to corporate law firms. Yale has a slightly different environment from HLS/CLS, but that’s not on the table.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby tinman » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:52 pm

I’ve thought about this more today, and I think Harvard is the obvious answer. Your family is willing to chip in. They must think it will make them happy to see you at Harvard. Is it better they spend their money on cars, or boats, or vacation? I’m not sure. Assuming your parents are set for retirement (ie, a few million net worth and/or awesome pension), I say take the generous support. My family contributed zero to my law school education, and I still chose Y over the Hamilton. No one really cares where I went to school now—my value is based on my work. But I’m not sure I would have gotten my firm of choice from Columbia. Could I have gotten a biglaw gig regardless? Certainly. But I think some firms are better places to work than other, and you’ll have more options from Harvard. Here is an a small anecdote: not one personal from my YLS class went to Cravath despite like 20+ people getting offers. From HLS you will have more choice than from CLS—for firms, clerkships, etc. Sure the clerkships and firms may pay the same, but I think having more choice is better. Also, if you decide to switch careers into business and go work internationally or something, the Harvard name will have more weight.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby TheProsecutor » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:36 pm

tinman wrote:I’ve thought about this more today, and I think Harvard is the obvious answer. Your family is willing to chip in. They must think it will make them happy to see you at Harvard. Is it better they spend their money on cars, or boats, or vacation? I’m not sure. Assuming your parents are set for retirement (ie, a few million net worth and/or awesome pension), I say take the generous support. My family contributed zero to my law school education, and I still chose Y over the Hamilton. No one really cares where I went to school now—my value is based on my work. But I’m not sure I would have gotten my firm of choice from Columbia. Could I have gotten a biglaw gig regardless? Certainly. But I think some firms are better places to work than other, and you’ll have more options from Harvard. Here is an a small anecdote: not one personal from my YLS class went to Cravath despite like 20+ people getting offers. From HLS you will have more choice than from CLS—for firms, clerkships, etc. Sure the clerkships and firms may pay the same, but I think having more choice is better. Also, if you decide to switch careers into business and go work internationally or something, the Harvard name will have more weight.


In 2006, I choose to take YLS over the Hamilton. People thought it was the dumbest idea ever. I graduated in 2009. By then, lots of CLS kids couldn't find jobs. Choosing YLS seemed pretty smart by the time the recession hit. You never know what the economy is going to do, but Yale and Harvard are always a sure bet for its graduates to be ok. All the other schools, its a gamble. So, i'd choose Harvard, but for slightly different reasons than the post above.

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby hlsperson1111 » Sat Apr 21, 2018 1:38 pm

It sounds like you want to go to H, but would feel guilty if you made your parents pay for it. It also sounds like your family really would derive some pride/joy out of having you go to H. So ask them: "Hey, this is a tough decision and I want to know what you think I should do. I know you said that you'd be willing to pay for a lot of the cost of going to Harvard, but it's a lot of money for both of us, and I want to make sure that's something you're really OK with before I decide to go there."

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby jbagelboy » Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:27 am

TheProsecutor wrote:
tinman wrote:I’ve thought about this more today, and I think Harvard is the obvious answer. Your family is willing to chip in. They must think it will make them happy to see you at Harvard. Is it better they spend their money on cars, or boats, or vacation? I’m not sure. Assuming your parents are set for retirement (ie, a few million net worth and/or awesome pension), I say take the generous support. My family contributed zero to my law school education, and I still chose Y over the Hamilton. No one really cares where I went to school now—my value is based on my work. But I’m not sure I would have gotten my firm of choice from Columbia. Could I have gotten a biglaw gig regardless? Certainly. But I think some firms are better places to work than other, and you’ll have more options from Harvard. Here is an a small anecdote: not one personal from my YLS class went to Cravath despite like 20+ people getting offers. From HLS you will have more choice than from CLS—for firms, clerkships, etc. Sure the clerkships and firms may pay the same, but I think having more choice is better. Also, if you decide to switch careers into business and go work internationally or something, the Harvard name will have more weight.


In 2006, I choose to take YLS over the Hamilton. People thought it was the dumbest idea ever. I graduated in 2009. By then, lots of CLS kids couldn't find jobs. Choosing YLS seemed pretty smart by the time the recession hit. You never know what the economy is going to do, but Yale and Harvard are always a sure bet for its graduates to be ok. All the other schools, its a gamble. So, i'd choose Harvard, but for slightly different reasons than the post above.


Columbia actually outperformed harvard in 2009 eip because cls moved its recruiting calendar up, and more harvard students wound up without SAs

Know your facts

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Re: Columbia (Hamilton) vs. Harvard

Postby jbagelboy » Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:28 am

hlsperson1111 wrote:It sounds like you want to go to H, but would feel guilty if you made your parents pay for it. It also sounds like your family really would derive some pride/joy out of having you go to H. So ask them: "Hey, this is a tough decision and I want to know what you think I should do. I know you said that you'd be willing to pay for a lot of the cost of going to Harvard, but it's a lot of money for both of us, and I want to make sure that's something you're really OK with before I decide to go there."


This isn’t going to harvard versus not going to law school. This is going to one ivy league law school or another ivy league law school



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