T14 vs. Full Ride

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )

Which is the better choice?

7-14 at sticker
38
45%
15-20 with $$
21
25%
20-40 full ride
25
30%
 
Total votes: 84

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Deuce
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T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby Deuce » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:48 pm

What are the pros and cons of each choice? I've been debating this one for a while now...

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Knock
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby Knock » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:51 pm

Ildeuce wrote:What are the pros and cons of each choice? I've been debating this one for a while now...


This topic has been discussed and debated a lot. I don't think a general consensus has been made in either direction. It depends a lot of each individual situation etc.; It falls into the realm of a personal preference decision.

If you want people to give specific advice for your situation, give specific details. Otherwise, this is just a continuation of a much debated topic for which there is no objective, correct answer.

Edit: From the FAQ's here: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=35133
Is it better to take a scholarship at a lower-ranked school or attend a higher-ranked school at the sticker price?

There is absolutely no one "answer" to this question, though it is one of the most frequently asked. However, there are factors which one must take into account in order to properly make this exceedingly difficult choice, factors which I will attempt to delineate below:

A.) How vast is the rankings chasm between the two schools you're considering? If you're asking these boards whether to go to Cooly Law School on a full-ride or Michigan at sticker, the answers will be almost universally in favor of Michigan and you'll likely be written off as a troll - but that's an extreme case and unlikely to really be much of an issue. More commonly, people are forced to choose between a T14 and another well-regarded Tier 1 school, for instance Georgetown at sticker vs. George Washington with a full--scholarship, or between two schools of disparate (but not hugely so) rank, such as UC Davis and Loyola. Other common dilemmas include Columbia or Northwestern with a full-ride vs. Harvard or Yale with no money.

B.) How debt-averse are you? This is a very personal matter. Some people would gladly trade the prestige of going to Cornell for a free JD from Emory, others would be horrified at the mere thought, preferring $100,000 (or whatever) in debt because it offers them greater margin for error vis-a-vis class rank, more potential job offers, greater national portability of the degree, etc. You need to do your own cost-benefit analysis, and when doing so, you need to consider the following:

C.) What type of law do you want to practice? If you're interested in working for a swanky, Vault-type biglaw firm and hell-bent on starting at $160,000/year, then you're likely going to want to go to the highest-ranked school you can swing admission to, and debt be damned. But think about how sure you are that you want biglaw: Sure, the money's great, but the hours are long and the work is hard - do your homework and think a little about what you'd really like to do. If it turns out you're actually interested in Public Interest law, working as a public defender, saving the whales, doing pro-bono defenses for environmental causes, etc., then you need to think seriously about the kind of debt you're going to be in at graduation, because $200,000 in debt can be a real albatross when you're earning $40,000 a year. Two additional points to consider - 1) $100,000 in a scholarship may seem like a huge amount of money now, but realize that this amount is not as large when seen in the context that you could be making $160,000 upon graduation; and 2) you will not be paying taxes on that $100,000 in tuition savings, so it makes it effectively worth $150,000 in after tax dollars. Since the first point directs you towards the better school and the second point towards taking the scholarship, it shows that there is no clear answer on whether to take the scholarship or not.

D.) Where do you wish to live and work? Many people have their entire family in one city, or for whatever other reason they go into law school knowing what city they will eventually make their lives in. This is helpful, because these people have a unique opportunity to pursue scholarships at their regional schools. For instance: University of the Pacific-McGeorge Law School places superbly in the city of Sacramento, but quite poorly on the East Coast. If, however, you were 100% sure you wanted to live and practice in Sacramento, then taking a full-ride at McGeorge over, say, Noter Dame at sticker is almost a no-brainer. Similarly someone who had their heart set on Tampa-St. Pete would be far better off going to Stetson for free than going to Illinois at sticker. Etc. But again, this requires a high degree of certainty about your future location: The rule of thumb on these boards tends to be that if you're even 10-20% sure you might want to live elsewhere, then go to the best school you got into.

E.) How much do you personally value prestige and name recognition? This is hard to quantify, but for many people it is worth a substantial amount of money to be able to say they went to Harvard and they'd just never be as happy saying they went to Duke, or what-have-you. Give this some thought.

As you can see, there is no simple answer to this question, but there does exist a relatively boilerplate set of factors which you'll likely be told to consider should you pose such a question on these boards.
Last edited by Knock on Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Hannibal
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby Hannibal » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:55 pm

In some ways, you're choosing one choice or another.

1. If you go to a school at sticker, you pretty much have to go biglaw unless your school has a great loan repayment program.
2. If you go a lower school with money, the financial situation would give you less stress about the job hunt and job choice, but you'll be more locked into whatever region your school is in.

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Ragged
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby Ragged » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:58 pm

If its a full ride from UT, Vandy, UCLA or something and you know for sure that you want to practice in that certain geographic area and your other alternative is a non-T6 T14 than I would go with the former. If its a T6, I would go with T6, short of some extraordinary circumstance or preference.

But this is just me, a poorly informed 0L.

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romothesavior
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby romothesavior » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:59 pm

Knockglock wrote:If you want people to give specific advice for your situation, give specific details. Otherwise, this is just a continuation of a much debated topic for which there is no objective, correct answer.


+1. In order to give any sort of valuable advice, we need to know the schools in question, and also know your career goals and geographic preferences. There really is no right answer to this, but certain schools will be better for certain goals/preferences. We need more info.

For example, I had this exact situation you are describing. In at a lower T14, in with $$ at WUSTL, and a full ride at a school a bit lower (but still a peer of WUSTL). Due to my desire to practice in STL, my strong preference to get OUT of the cornfields where I grew up, and my lack of interest in NYC, I decided to decline both the full ride and the T14. I had objectively better offers on the table, but my preferences and goals led me to take the middle ground and pick WUSTL.

Also OP, how is this decision even on the table right now? It is late August... Is this just a hypo?

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2ofspades
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby 2ofspades » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:02 pm

Hannibal wrote:In some ways, you're choosing one choice or another.

1. If you go to a school at sticker, you pretty much have to go biglaw unless your school has a great loan repayment program.
2. If you go a lower school with money, the financial situation would give you less stress about the job hunt and job choice, but you'll be more locked into whatever region your school is in.

This is pretty much key for OP's question. Most of 7-14 do have great LRAPs, and now there's also IBR. So if you go to most of those schools, there are very good options out there for managing your debt even if you have a low-paying job. That's generally the worst case scenario. The worst case scenario for 20-40 is that you might not have a job at all, and even if you had a full tuition scholly, you probably took out loans for cost of living over three years.

Beyond this, +1 to what the others said.

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Ragged
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby Ragged » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:04 pm

As you can tell from my previous post if it was full-ride for 15-20, I'd go with that. But the way things are, I'm going with option one. Rep is a big deal to me.

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legalease9
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby legalease9 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:16 pm

I'm gonna vote 20-40 with full ride. Not having that debt is huge, and the schools quality will still be enough to where you can have a successful career.

Disclaimers

1. As said above, its difficult to give any real answer without knowing the specific schools in question and where/what you want to practice.

2. There is a big difference between T7 and T14. I would go full ride over Georgetown in a heartbeat, but I don't think I could give up Penn for anything.

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legalease9
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby legalease9 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:23 pm

In terms of pros and cons...

T14 Pros: National Reach, better salary out the door due to big law possiblilities, less stress (because better employment prospects even with a poor class rank) And LRAP/IBR to save you if your job prospects are shit (which at a T14 they probably won't be).

T14 Cons: Soul crushing debt... Obligation to go into Big Law to pay off said debt (although do remember IBR).

T20-40 Pros: Really low debt, Really good prospects in the school's region (especially in regards to political/public interest work). Less stress over debt. No obligation to go to Big Law b/c of debt. I admit that I really don't like debt!

T20-40 Cons: No national reach (better like practicing where the school is located), more stress (because you could graduate w/o any job prospects if you don't make top of your class. Low big law chance means low chance of model and bottle life style.

I kind of think the T15-T20 is kind of splitting the baby a bit and is the worst of the three options (unless you really like said school). Either take the full ride or go to the highest ranked school you have been accepted to (assuming its T14).

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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby stargazin » Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:31 pm

I think it depends on the specific school. Prelaw magazine recently came out with a list of the top 20 good value law schools at --LinkRemoved--. The factors were: the schools’ respective bar pass rates; the amount of debt a typical student graduates with; if employment rates are above 85% within the nine months after a class’ graduation; and the in-state tuition cost of attending the institution.

If the school's stats like bar pass rate and employment rate are high, I'd take the full ride for sure.

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Knock
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby Knock » Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:33 pm

stargazin wrote:I think it depends on the specific school. Prelaw magazine recently came out with a list of the <a href="http://blog.clearadmit.com/law/2010/08/prelaw-magazine-ranks-law-schools-according-to-value"> top 20 good value law schools </a href>. The factors were: the schools’ respective bar pass rates; the amount of debt a typical student graduates with; if employment rates are above 85% within the nine months after a class’ graduation; and the in-state tuition cost of attending the institution.

If the school's stats like bar pass rate and employment rate are high, I'd take the full ride for sure.


Meh. No one is really disputing the educational quality you get at lower ranked schools. Most people agree you get really similar educations, and that the professors know their stuff. As far as employment rate, well, we are all familiar with the issues surrounding that statistic.

In the end, the thing about the legal profession is they are really prestige/ranking oriented, and use it as a proxy for intelligence. Plus most schools that could be seen as good values are regional, so unless you want that region that list isn't going to do you too much good.
Last edited by Knock on Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby 03121202698008 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:34 pm

7-14 is a huge range... I'd take sticker at MVP. I'd have to think about Cornell/G-town. Realistically, you'd be looking at $ (maybe) at 15-20 not $$ if you were just a straight admit at 7-14. Not sure you'd get a full-ride at 20-40 without getting some money in T14.

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Grizz
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby Grizz » Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:36 pm

stargazin wrote:I think it depends on the specific school. Prelaw magazine recently came out with a list of the <a href="http://blog.clearadmit.com/law/2010/08/prelaw-magazine-ranks-law-schools-according-to-value"> top 20 good value law schools </a href>. The factors were: the schools’ respective bar pass rates; the amount of debt a typical student graduates with; if employment rates are above 85% within the nine months after a class’ graduation; and the in-state tuition cost of attending the institution.

If the school's stats like bar pass rate and employment rate are high, I'd take the full ride for sure.


That list is minimally helpful because the underlying assumptions, 1) that bar passage rates correlates with employment, and 2) that schools self-reported stats are meaningful or helpful are both questionable at best.

stargazin
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby stargazin » Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:50 pm

Employment rates are self reported? Interesting.

In the end, the thing about the legal profession is they are really prestige/ranking oriented, and use it as a proxy for intelligence and so it makes this question not nearly so clear cut, and in the end it is just a personal choice.


While everyone who goes to a top school is obviously very intelligent, I think people who go to lower ranked schools can still prove themselves. Yes, the ranking of the school is very important (especially when trying to get into biglaw), but that's not to say there's NO CHANCE to prove oneself if one didn't go to a top school. So I think it is very much a personal choice based on one's circumstances. In this economy, I think not having debt is a huge thing. Huge.

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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby 03121202698008 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:52 pm

stargazin wrote:Employment rates are self reported? Interesting.

In the end, the thing about the legal profession is they are really prestige/ranking oriented, and use it as a proxy for intelligence and so it makes this question not nearly so clear cut, and in the end it is just a personal choice.


While everyone who goes to a top school is obviously very intelligent, I think people who go to lower ranked schools can still prove themselves. Yes, the ranking of the school is very important (especially when trying to get into biglaw), but that's not to say there's NO CHANCE to prove oneself if one didn't go to a top school. So I think it is very much a personal choice based on one's circumstances. In this economy, I think not having debt is a huge thing. Huge.


Sure you can prove yourself. But if you are shooting for BigLaw/Big money they only hire out of top schools. No matter how good of an attorney you turn out to be. If you want to work in NYC/DC, you will always be competing against people who have been to top schools making getting any job difficult.

stargazin
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby stargazin » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:01 pm

But if you are shooting for BigLaw/Big money they only hire out of top schools


Not necessarily. My sister's BIL graduated from Fordham U and works in NYC for a big law firm. No one's disputing that it's much better to have a degree from a T14. But if you don't, because of debt concerns or whatever, it's not the end of the world either.

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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby 03121202698008 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:04 pm

stargazin wrote:
But if you are shooting for BigLaw/Big money they only hire out of top schools


Not necessarily. My sister's BIL graduated from Fordham U and works in NY for a big law firm.


That is the exception and only from the top of the class. They are still hired at graduation though, not after they've proven themselves. No way to predict that you'll be top 5% either.

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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby stargazin » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:16 pm

You said that biglaw ONLY hires from the top schools, but most big law firms have at least a few associates from most major schools, and that adds up to a lot of non T14 people. And not everyone wants to go into biglaw. So again, it depends on the person's circumstances.

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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby 03121202698008 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:18 pm

stargazin wrote:You said that biglaw ONLY hires from the top schools, but most big law firms have at least a few associates from most major schools, and that adds up to a lot of non T14 people. And not everyone wants to go into biglaw. So again, it depends on the person's circumstances.


I agree it was an over-generalization but it's the only real way you can bet on even having a shot at biglaw. I agree some are served well by going to lower-ranked scores but I read your post as saying "it doesn't matter where you go as long as you prove yourself afterwards you will end up with the same opportunities."

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Postby Hannibal » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:22 pm

blowhard wrote:
stargazin wrote:You said that biglaw ONLY hires from the top schools, but most big law firms have at least a few associates from most major schools, and that adds up to a lot of non T14 people. And not everyone wants to go into biglaw. So again, it depends on the person's circumstances.


I agree it was an over-generalization but it's the only real way you can bet on even having a shot at biglaw. I agree some are served well by going to lower-ranked scores but I read your post as saying "it doesn't matter where you go as long as you prove yourself afterwards you will end up with the same opportunities."


You re-overgeneralize in your first damn sentence. I would much rather take a shot at Biglaw from a ~30 ranked LS while in the Top 10% than from Michigan at median.

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Grizz
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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby Grizz » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:23 pm

stargazin wrote:You said that biglaw ONLY hires from the top schools, but most big law firms have at least a few associates from most major schools, and that adds up to a lot of non T14 people. And not everyone wants to go into biglaw. So again, it depends on the person's circumstances.


Assumption - biglaw hiring of the past, represented by associates you see on firm websites, will be similar to now. This economy has shown us that this will probably not be true.

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Re:

Postby 03121202698008 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:25 pm

Hannibal wrote:
blowhard wrote:
stargazin wrote:You said that biglaw ONLY hires from the top schools, but most big law firms have at least a few associates from most major schools, and that adds up to a lot of non T14 people. And not everyone wants to go into biglaw. So again, it depends on the person's circumstances.


I agree it was an over-generalization but it's the only real way you can bet on even having a shot at biglaw. I agree some are served well by going to lower-ranked scores but I read your post as saying "it doesn't matter where you go as long as you prove yourself afterwards you will end up with the same opportunities."


You re-overgeneralize in your first damn sentence. I would much rather take a shot at Biglaw from a ~30 ranked LS while in the Top 10% than from Michigan at median.


My point is that you can't reasonably predict that you'll be in the top 10%. The rank of your school is the only thing you have any control over.

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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby stargazin » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:38 pm

Well, you can't reasonably predict that you'll be in the median of a T14 either, or that you'll be able to get the biglaw job of your dreams even at a T14. Not everyone from a T14 is able to get a biglaw job because mathematically there just aren't enough openings for the amount of people graduating every year.

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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby 03121202698008 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:42 pm

stargazin wrote:Well, you can't reasonably predict that you'll be in the median of a T14 either, or that you'll be able to get the biglaw job of your dreams even at a T14. Not everyone from a T14 is able to get a biglaw job because mathematically there just aren't enough openings for the amount of people graduating every year.


As you point out, not everyone wants Big Law. I'd take bottom at a T-14 over bottom at a T2-4. Also, median is 50/50 odds...that's more reasonable then top 10%.

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Re: T14 vs. Full Ride

Postby Barbie » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:44 pm

Ildeuce, UF isn't top 40
:(




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