big fish in small pond mentality?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
Sean Bateman
Posts: 136
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 7:45 pm

big fish in small pond mentality?

Postby Sean Bateman » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:34 am

I was having a discussion with a friend earlier tonight, also a Fall 2010 1L.

I told him because of my numbers I can really only choose between two types of schools.

1) A lower ranked school with an okay reputation in a big city (Northeastern, Drexel, Cardozo to name some examples). In all of these cities, competition is fierce because I would be amongst higher ranked schools. There are also more jobs available as we are talking about the biggest legal markets in the country. Not to mention Drexel and Northeastern should have pretty good placement just from the co-op programs alone.

or

2) A school that is best in the state (or damn close) in a more rural state (University of Kentucky, U. Of Tennessee-Knoxville, FSU (I'm from Florida, believe me North Florida may as well be a different state from the rest of it, Wake Forest (Yes yes, i know UNC), Tulane, or something along those lines). A place like this, i'll be a graduate of the top school in the state. I should be able to secure a job with a good mid sized firm in a mid sized city (Lexington, Knoxville, Tallahassee). In a place like Tallahassee, I'm right in the capital and can possibly work my way into state politics say with a state senator or a lobbying firm which would be interesting work to me.

My friend referred to this second choice as the "big fish in a small pond" mentality, and said although he understood it, it wasn't for him. He is going to BC in the fall, and at the end of the day he said, it really comes down to where you see yourself working in three years. Where you would be the most comfortable.

Problem is, I see myself as a pretty adaptable person. I feel like I'd be happy in either of these scenarios. Obviously, at the end of the day it all comes down to personal preference. I need to visit, and make my own informed choice. Having said that, I thought it makes an interesting topic for discussion anyway. Any opinions on these two very different paths?

Spare your self's the "take the highest ranked school" or the "Drexel is not a safe bet" comments. I mean, it's your opinion but I'm looking for more, dare I say, informed debate.

.

Sean Bateman
Posts: 136
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 7:45 pm

Re: big fish in small pond mentality?

Postby Sean Bateman » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:39 am

It's worth mentioning, although I have various generous scholly offers that Drexel so far is the only one to offer full tuition. it's so hard to turn that down if you ask me

User avatar
MURPH
Posts: 854
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 12:20 am

Re: big fish in small pond mentality?

Postby MURPH » Fri Feb 19, 2010 4:58 am

Whoa! Hey guys Drexel only has one graduating class. Please don't make the mistake of assuming that they have any kind of placement record at all. I am not dissing the school or it's students just making sure you know what you are getting into here. They are a new school with lots of enthusiasm and no record of success. Temple and Villenovoa are fine schools with decent reputations if your can't get into Penn.

jerzgrl630
Posts: 178
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:51 pm

Re: big fish in small pond mentality?

Postby jerzgrl630 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:29 am

It's sort of a risk to try being a big fish in a small pond. I have one friend who took a full ride to New England Law, is at the top of his class and made law review, starting working for a mid-sized firm in Boston, and is well on his way to a fairly successful career. And all without debt!

At the same time, those results are not typical. You can't go to a school and count on being the top person. You can certainly set that as a goal, but it's no guarantee. The whole school might be filled with people of this mentality.

And in terms of Drexel, I'm pretty sure the Philly market isn't too great these days. You might want to consider shooting for Temple or Villanova, just because they are better established. I sort of think the second approach is more viable, though I think UNC is better with in-state placement than Wake.

eudaimondaimon
Posts: 90
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:57 pm

Re: big fish in small pond mentality?

Postby eudaimondaimon » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:37 am

You're "big fish in a small pond" analogy makes it sound like you really don't want to try.

Better to be a little fish in a big pond then eat all the other fish.

J-tow10
Posts: 284
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:24 pm

Re: big fish in small pond mentality?

Postby J-tow10 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:40 am

I too am curious as to what the TLS community has to say about this. I will likely be faced with the same dilemma (unless by some act of God I make it into my reaches). I love the idea of being able to work in a large market like Boston or LA, but understand the competition will be quite fierce in those markets. On the other hand, though a regional powerhouse might be a safer bet, I just don't know if I could see myself as happy living and working there.

User avatar
GeePee
Posts: 1273
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:35 pm

Re: big fish in small pond mentality?

Postby GeePee » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:48 am

Some of the advice above me seems pretty off target. If you would be happy in a smaller market in a school that places very well into that market, then you should definitely attend over a school like Cardozo or Drexel that is very low on the pecking order in its market. Obviously, there's still no guarantee, but your odds of success are significantly greater at UK or Tennessee.

Marisa5252
Posts: 91
Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:14 am

Re: big fish in small pond mentality?

Postby Marisa5252 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:04 pm

MURPH wrote:Whoa! Hey guys Drexel only has one graduating class. Please don't make the mistake of assuming that they have any kind of placement record at all. I am not dissing the school or it's students just making sure you know what you are getting into here. They are a new school with lots of enthusiasm and no record of success. Temple and Villenovoa are fine schools with decent reputations if your can't get into Penn.



TITCR Temple/Villanova >>>>>>>>>>>>>> Drexel

Maybe in 10 years when Drexel is more established it could be a better option. But as of right now it's only provisionally accredited (I understand that this provides graduates with all the benefits that full accreditation does - I'm just using it to show how NEW this school is).

User avatar
ggocat
Posts: 1663
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 1:51 pm

Re: big fish in small pond mentality?

Postby ggocat » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:06 pm

Usually, when someone refers to "big fish small pond" in the law school scenario, I think of someone going to a lower ranked school (with a scholarship) where the student's LSAT/GPA are in the top quartile. Despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary, LSAT/GPA correlate relatively well with 1L grades. Thus, you are a "big fish in a small pond" if you have a higher LSAT/GPA than your classmates.

User avatar
Aeroplane
Posts: 473
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: big fish in small pond mentality?

Postby Aeroplane » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:19 pm

ggocat wrote:Usually, when someone refers to "big fish small pond" in the law school scenario, I think of someone going to a lower ranked school (with a scholarship) where the student's LSAT/GPA are in the top quartile. Despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary, LSAT/GPA correlate relatively well with 1L grades. Thus, you are a "big fish in a small pond" if you have a higher LSAT/GPA than your classmates.
The correlation varies a lot by school and I believe is practically nil at some schools. I don't think it's near enough to be in the "top quartile" of LSAT/GPA, especially if the school's 25/75 are pretty close together as some schools' are. To even consider pursuing such a strategy (which can make sense if you have a high risk tolerance & can live with winding up on the losing side), I'd want to have an LSAT quite far above the 75%ile, like at least 5 or 6 points. I wouldn't care where my GPA fell.

User avatar
ggocat
Posts: 1663
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 1:51 pm

Re: big fish in small pond mentality?

Postby ggocat » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:44 pm

Aeroplane wrote:
ggocat wrote:Usually, when someone refers to "big fish small pond" in the law school scenario, I think of someone going to a lower ranked school (with a scholarship) where the student's LSAT/GPA are in the top quartile. Despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary, LSAT/GPA correlate relatively well with 1L grades. Thus, you are a "big fish in a small pond" if you have a higher LSAT/GPA than your classmates.
The correlation varies a lot by school and I believe is practically nil at some schools. I don't think it's near enough to be in the "top quartile" of LSAT/GPA, especially if the school's 25/75 are pretty close together as some schools' are. To even consider pursuing such a strategy (which can make sense if you have a high risk tolerance & can live with winding up on the losing side), I'd want to have an LSAT quite far above the 75%ile, like at least 5 or 6 points. I wouldn't care where my GPA fell.

Yes, I probably should have said "well above" the top quartile. I said "top quartile" because it's impossible to guess your exact percentile after you exceed the top quartile.

But I think the needed tolerance for risk depends on the particular decision you're making and cannot be generalized to all high/low rank decisions. Certainly, a graduate risks more by going to a top 30 over top 14. But a student choosing among lower ranked schools like the OP (about anything outside top 25-30 with some exceptions) risks a lot less by going to a lower-ranked school. This is true because employment prospects sharply drop once you get outside the top 20 or so schools, and differences among lower ranked schools are relatively small. See William D. Henderson & Andrew P. Morriss, What Rankings Don't Say About Costly Choices, The National Law Journal, Apr. 14, 2008, available at http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNL ... bxlogin=1; see also William D. Henderson & Andrew P. Morriss, Student Quality as Measured by LSAT Scores: Migration Patterns in the U.S. News Rankings Era, 81 Ind. L.J. 163 (2006).

User avatar
Aeroplane
Posts: 473
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: big fish in small pond mentality?

Postby Aeroplane » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:17 pm

ggocat wrote:
Aeroplane wrote:
ggocat wrote:Usually, when someone refers to "big fish small pond" in the law school scenario, I think of someone going to a lower ranked school (with a scholarship) where the student's LSAT/GPA are in the top quartile. Despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary, LSAT/GPA correlate relatively well with 1L grades. Thus, you are a "big fish in a small pond" if you have a higher LSAT/GPA than your classmates.
The correlation varies a lot by school and I believe is practically nil at some schools. I don't think it's near enough to be in the "top quartile" of LSAT/GPA, especially if the school's 25/75 are pretty close together as some schools' are. To even consider pursuing such a strategy (which can make sense if you have a high risk tolerance & can live with winding up on the losing side), I'd want to have an LSAT quite far above the 75%ile, like at least 5 or 6 points. I wouldn't care where my GPA fell.

Yes, I probably should have said "well above" the top quartile. I said "top quartile" because it's impossible to guess your exact percentile after you exceed the top quartile.

But I think the needed tolerance for risk depends on the particular decision you're making and cannot be generalized to all high/low rank decisions. Certainly, a graduate risks more by going to a top 30 over top 14. But a student choosing among lower ranked schools like the OP (about anything outside top 25-30 with some exceptions) risks a lot less by going to a lower-ranked school. This is true because employment prospects sharply drop once you get outside the top 20 or so schools, and differences among lower ranked schools are relatively small. See William D. Henderson & Andrew P. Morriss, What Rankings Don't Say About Costly Choices, The National Law Journal, Apr. 14, 2008, available at http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNL ... bxlogin=1; see also William D. Henderson & Andrew P. Morriss, Student Quality as Measured by LSAT Scores: Migration Patterns in the U.S. News Rankings Era, 81 Ind. L.J. 163 (2006).
I agree. TBH I think a lot of local schools offer better employment prospects even for their "regular size" fish when compared to schools like Cardozo that compete in markets filled w/grads of higher ranked schools.




Return to “Law School Admissions Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: ashrice13, ashterlily, Baidu [Spider], Bing [Bot], bleakchimera2, carlos_danger, Christinabruin, criminaltheory, Leliana, Lordcarnus123, MZaf and 14 guests