I posted the message below in the "Choosing a Law School" forum, but I would be really interested in knowing what my fellow URMs would do if they found themselves in my situation.
I really need some advice because the decision-making process is legit causing me to lose sleep
Here's the situation: I'm getting married this summer and my fiance (who also applied to law school) and I don't want to spend the next three years apart. So far we've matched up at Duke, Cornell, Northwestern, and Michigan. We've withdrawn from Northwestern and Michigan because of low scholly amounts and neither one us feels prepared to commit our lives to Ithaca for the next few years so withdrew there too. We're left with following:
I'm in at Penn with a 60K scholly. My fiance got waitlisted last week. As you can imagine this news was heartbreaking.
We're both in at Duke with $67.5K each.
I'm in at Columbia and he's in at NYU. Schollies pending but I'm personally not holding my breath that CLS will come through (though I hope NYU does for him).
Now, before you guys yell "take Duke's money and run!" (as you're won't to do), please consider the following:
My fiance lives right outside Philly right now. Though it would be hard to figure out logistically, I COULD go to Penn; he could sit out the cycle and apply ED next year. Of course then there's the big "what if he still doesn't get Penn" thing. The director and the dean of admissions both knew we'd applied together, I wrote a personal plea to the director, fiance wrote a LOCI-- they still decided to waitlist him this year. So what if they still feel only lukewarm about him next year too? Or the pool of applicants is even stronger?
We both went to a very highly-ranked Ivy for UG and, douchey as it may sound to you, neither one of us wants to dip too far down the rankings for law school, especially me. This is why I'm frankly not as enthused about Duke. You don't have to understand it, but as an African-American woman I've always felt my resume/credentials had to be extra flawless and exceptional in order to compensate for my demographic (fyi fiance is a non-URM). Obvi my stats weren't great enough to get me into HLS (SLS pending and made no sense whatsoever for me to apply to YLS). However, among the schools I've gotten into, CLS is def the most prestigious and who's name could most likely carry me the farthest. This is particularly important to me as I really want to work abroad for part of my career. I aspire to study international human rights law and would love a career in the UN. Columbia's name is quite well known internationally and the opportunity to be in close proximity to the UN in NY is amazing (since my dad works for the UN and could help me land cool externships).
At the same time, the idea of, between the two us, going half a mil in debt scares the crap out of me. I def plan on applying to a bunch of external scholarships throughout this coming summer and 1L to help ease the burden, but it's still really scary. My husband wants to do BigLaw as a career (he's really into it; another reason he's leaning towards NYU), and even though I could see myself doing that for 3 or 4 years, I can't imagine having that sort of job for much longer than that. I could if I had to, but I wouldn't be very happy with it.
I/we just really don't know what to do! Any advice would be muchos appreciated.
(Please don't quote)
Edited to add poll.