USC or Columbia????

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mjoach
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USC or Columbia????

Postby mjoach » Fri May 11, 2012 3:23 am

I know there is a big difference in the rankings but I really cannot decide between the two. Any suggestions based on the following information:

-I want to practice in Los Angeles (I currently live there)
-Columbia has its reputation but USC also has its famous Trojan network.
-The difference in debt between the two is about 33k in the 3 year period, with Columbia being pricier
-I am interested in immigration and human rights
-I have not been able to visit Columbia or ever been to New York
-Columbia offers more international opportunities
-I'd prefer a smaller class over a larger class

I have about 5 more days to make my final decision....any advice?

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Bronck
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Re: USC or Columbia????

Postby Bronck » Fri May 11, 2012 3:29 am

Wait... so the TOTAL difference between the two is 33k? If so, take Columbia. The bottom half of USC's class (of 2011) got slaughtered. Columbia, with reasonable grades, would still get you back to LA since you have ties. But it also gives you a far higher probability of getting a biglaw job in general (i.e., a job to pay back the debt, assuming you didn't receive much scholarship money)

mjoach
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Re: USC or Columbia????

Postby mjoach » Fri May 11, 2012 3:37 am

Yes, basically my debt would be 162 (USC) vs 194 (Columbia) plus moving expenses. I had already sacrificed other scholarship offers to attend SC that now getting into near 200 in debt seems like too much, especially since I want to do public interest law

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gossipgirl
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Re: USC or Columbia????

Postby gossipgirl » Fri May 11, 2012 8:12 am

mjoach wrote:Yes, basically my debt would be 162 (USC) vs 194 (Columbia) plus moving expenses. I had already sacrificed other scholarship offers to attend SC that now getting into near 200 in debt seems like too much, especially since I want to do public interest law


Columbia LRAP: http://www.law.columbia.edu/current_stu ... l_aid/LRAP

Go to Columbia. If you end up doing PI, use the LRAP for your loans. If you change your mind and finish median, go BigLaw. You may not have the same options at USC depending on where you finish 1L year.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: USC or Columbia????

Postby Doorkeeper » Fri May 11, 2012 10:38 am

Columbia. Don't look back.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: USC or Columbia????

Postby Tiago Splitter » Fri May 11, 2012 10:41 am

I'd also like to end up in Southern California but would require close to a full ride to turn down Columbia for USC. Ask for a lot more money from USC and if they don't grant it head to Columbia.

CanadianWolf
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Re: USC or Columbia????

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri May 11, 2012 11:07 am

Ask USC for more money based on your acceptance to Columbia. Then, based upon the response, decide.

P.S. Are you willing to share your (GPA & LSAT) numbers ? Seems as if one admitted to Columbia would qualify for a large USC scholarship award.

KG_CalGuy
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Re: USC or Columbia????

Postby KG_CalGuy » Fri May 11, 2012 11:43 am

As someone who attends Columbia, knows students at USC, and will be working in LA, I felt obliged to post on here after nearly a 1 year absence (plus ATL reminded me that this place exists). First of all, if you haven't looked at the ABA placement stats (http://placementsummary.abaquestionnaire.org/) I'd do that. They're not perfect, but they give some insight. I was in a similar situation deciding between UCLA and Columbia, and I chose Columbia, so you know my slant on things. Now, on to your points.

- I want to practice in Los Angeles (I currently live there). There are no barriers to practicing in LA out of Columbia. I was given an offer to spend my 1L summer at the USAO in Los Angeles but chose another district for personal reasons. In terms of EIP, I had no problems getting LA call backs (I had 7 or so and I split among numerous regions).
-Columbia has its reputation but USC also has its famous Trojan network. I wouldn't discount Columbia's network. One of the advantages of a larger class size, is more connections. With significant placement in the major law firms (indeed, a large number of them were founded by Columbia grads) and—unbeknownst to many—established lawyers in many public interest and government positions (you might note that both the AG and the current solicitor general are CLS grads), the CLS network is nothing to scoff at, and is infinitely more "national" in terms of law.
-The difference in debt between the two is about 33k in the 3 year period, with Columbia being pricier. With this price difference, I don't see how you could possible be considering USC.
-I am interested in immigration and human rights. Because of its geography, USC is well positioned for many immigration issues, but NYC is rife with immigration and human rights issues. Columbia personally offers numerous externship and clinical opportunities dealing with immigration and human rights (e.g., the Human Rights clinic, the UN Externship, the Immigration Defense Externship) and being in NYC you have ample opportunity to pursue your own independent course of study for immigration/human rights programs which you can coordinate with CLS. To boot, Columbia's HRIP program places students in human rights organizations all over the world (with GUARANTEED funding [according to my friends at USC you are not GUARANTEED funding]. I personally know individuals who worked at the ICTY, the ICTR, and various organizations in India, London, and elsewhere.
-I have not been able to visit Columbia or ever been to New York. New York's a beast, but easily manageable. Morningside Heights, in particular, is easy to adjust to, and is quite livable with three open parks, more affordable food, and quiet streets during the weekends. Lest anyone throw in a "white harlem"/ghetto remark, it's extremely gentrified and relatively safe. It's definitely nicer than where USC is.[/i]
-Columbia offers more international opportunities. [i]They do, but that's not really super relevant unless you actually want to work in international human rights, government, or international transactional work. You—like many other 1Ls—will soon discovery that international law does not really "exist" in the sense you think it does.

-I'd prefer a smaller class over a larger class. A valid point, and the only one that really pushes toward USC. Many "core" lectures (including most of your first year classes) will have close to 100 students. You'll get a few small classes your first year, and you can take seminars and different classes your 2L/3L years, but it will be much more intimate at USC. But, if you're like me and get annoyed with fellow law students quite easily, it's nice to be able to avoid some people.

I have about 5 more days to make my final decision....any advice? CLS, hands down.

A final thing. I know this sounds snobby, and I personally hate rankings and will be the first to tell you that CLS will not give you a better education than USC, but in the career we're entering, brand management matter. Since costs are negligible here, you need to ask yourself what "brand" you want stamped on you at the end of the day. Career wise, Columbia will get you a look that USC will not. Even in California, CLS has significant pull. USC is, after all, common in Southern California, so a CLS stamp on your resume will get you a look others might not (especially if you aren't top of your class at USC). I feel filthy for saying that, but it's true.

mjoach
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Re: USC or Columbia????

Postby mjoach » Sat May 12, 2012 12:47 am

Thank you all for the feedback. I think I will be putting the
Doorkeeper wrote:Columbia. Don't look back.
comment to practice.

As far as asking USC for more money, I tried that previously when I had other offers that were significantly better but they did not increase my award. As far as my numbers, my gpa was about average though my lsat was lower than the average. It was a decent scholarship from USC but the cost overall is pricey.

[b]KG_CalGuy[/b],
I really appreciate your advice. I had not looked at the ABA placement stats so thank you for the link. You certainly confirmed my belief that Columbia would allow me to come back to LA which was one of my concerns. I have to admit, I had given less credit to the Columbia network before reading your response. It also helped to get a student's perception of Morningside Heights, especially because I did not know anything about the area.

As far as the ranking, I have heard numerous times that the name of the college matters. That's actually the only piece of advice that I remember from the admitted student day at Davis.

Right now I'm leaning more toward Columbia, so thank you again all for tips and the reassurance.

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Liquox
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Re: USC or Columbia????

Postby Liquox » Sat May 12, 2012 12:53 am

somewhere in nyc, an admissions officer is offended by this thread.




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