mightydinosaur wrote:Take the Darrow! If you've visited both and you like Michigan, why pay $200K just to get the Harvard name on your resume? I know that the name is worth something, but my visit to Michigan convinced me that I can do anything with a U of M degree that I could do with a Harvard degree. Plus I was really happy with all the people I met there--the faculty were so pleasant and involved, and all the students I talked to were smart and friendly.
Personally, I'm choosing between a half scholarship at Michigan and unknown (but probably trivial) aid at Harvard. I'm going to ASW in Cambridge next weekend just to be sure of my decision, but I'm leaning strongly towards Michigan. I grew up near Harvard and I love the school and the area, but if I had a Darrow, I'd have my mind made up and could save my self a plane ticket.
It's genius of them to have a scholarship with a name on it more recognizable than most law schools. I'm pretty sure that has as much to do with peoples' feelings on this as anything. Again though, the big difference is not the "degree" (i.e. not "quality of education" or "number of V20 firms that show up to OCI" or however you want to define "quality"). It's the alumni network. Michigan is a great school, with fantastic and super loyal alumni. Harvard is ... Harvard. Can do anything =/= Will have the chance to do anything.
Don't make the mistake of getting romantic about any law school. When a school wants you to attend, they work hard to make you feel wanted. They want you there because you deliver a direct economic benefit to them, which is far greater than the money that they're "giving" you (in fact, it "costs" the school nothing to give you a named scholarship, because your tuition is 100% replaced by endowment income set aside for that scholarship). What they get from you is also likely much greater than the net benefit of alternatives that you forgo in order to attend. They get paid a shit ton of money to market to the candidates they want, and they're good at it. And obviously the people who hang out with admits are the most friendly and involved, among faculty and students.
I personally think there are, on the whole, a better ratio of decent people to douchebags at Michigan than at most, maybe even all, other law schools, because admissions does seem way to go out of their way to select for human beings here. But in the end, it's still law school, and there is a certain upper bound on how good that's going to get. You should be a lot more selfish and cool about this decision than making it based on which school throws a better 15 minutes of fame for you. The school that doesn't need you is not going to give you that caring glow, and there's a message in that -- people like you are not a scarce commodity there.
Having said all that, if you really have serious personal reasons to prefer Ann Arbor over Cambridge, then I'm not going to call you wrong for choosing one over the other. Or if you attended Harvard as an undergrad and you really want to go somewhere else for law school, then that's your choice too. But if you have not been there, be aware that it's very easy to underestimate the value of those fellow alumni, if you've never had the benefit of them. We'd be as happy to have you as any of the other couple hundred wicked smart and genuinely decent people that they pick every year, and chances are high you would have a great time here. Just make sure it's something more important than warm fuzzies and a few dollars that makes up your mind.