OK, here goes!
Let me start by saying that this ASW has taught me the dangers of posting on a forum like this without trying overly hard to remain anonymous. I am the type of guy who much prefers to be behind the scenes, so this idea that my reputation preceded me was a bit disconcerting and made me quite nervous.
With each person I met that knew I was Objection (there were quite a few, including ones I didn’t plan to meet), I thought to myself, “Damn, this person has an opinion of me already.” This naturally led to: Is my reputation with them bad? If so, am I confirming that reputation? Are they even giving me an honest chance to disprove that reputation? When I leave, are they saying, “Yep, that Objection guy is the total weirdo/asshole/jackass/douchebag/<insert bad adjective here> I expected.” I didn’t think I was, but the fact that so many people had preconceived opinions of me made me a little bit paranoid, particularly because reputation is everything in this field, and law school can be quite gossipy.
There were quite a few times where someone outted me randomly. For example, I was walking with a group of people and a girl (who turned out to be Eri) calls out from the back, “Are you Objection?!”
Moments like that were kind of cool, but at the same time made me feel a bit exposed.
I hope I wasn't too bad. Haha General
I came into HLS with relatively low expectations. The campus looked bleak and depressing in pictures. Coming from a state school, I expected ivy leaguers to be weird, awkward, arrogant, and lame. As a Steelers fan (and, to a much lesser extent, a Yankees fan), I had a built in dislike of Boston. I was a bit worried about the size of the school. To be honest, the only argument I could make for HLS as I went into it was “Well, it’s Harvard.”
Thankfully, every concern of mine seems to have been addressed, and the idea of graduating with over $200,000 in debt seems much more palatable now.The people
Universally intelligent and accomplished. I feel bad for zab, because I only ran into a couple of bad eggs. I didn’t let them ruin my time, because there were so many other amazing and friendly people that there was no reason to interact with the jackasses. I think the social situation was what you made of it. If you let the rare bad egg bring you down and caused you to generalize everyone else, you really missed out. I also feel that you missed a lot of the experience because you had a circle of friends outside of HLS that probably kept you in a comfort zone. If I’ve learned anything from going 21 hours away for undergrad and then heading up to the ASW alone it’s that the best way to meet people is to be forced to meet people. When you travel with friends, you don’t need to move out of your comfort zone, and thus are more likely to write everyone else off on the basis of a few bad eggs. I don’t mean to rag on you, zab, but the few people I met who didn’t seem to like it were people who had come with friends and just hung out with them most of the time.
Anyway, to put my feelings on the people in context: I’m from Jersey. I’m a Yankee. I judge people in the first 2 seconds of a conversation. I can’t help it. I will dislike someone because they have too much grease in their hair, or their sunglasses are obnoxiously large. Yet, when thinking back on the weekend, there is not a single person that I spent time getting to know that I disliked.
Of course, there were some people who I probably would have disliked if I had talked to them. The two gunners in the “random drawing” group were annoying, but seriously, that’s only 2 people out of how many?
Oh, and I met a couple of Steelers fans. Made me happy. The Faculty
Wow. Elizabeth Warren was phenomenal. The guy who gave the Supreme Court talk was phenomenal. Carol Steiker (the woman I ate lunch with…criminal law) was phenomenal. There isn’t much to be said here, except I’d like to respond to CCWs complaint about Dean Jackson…
From my understanding, he is coming over from the business school. He has a lot on his plate. The questions weren’t planned, so it seems completely understandable to me that he might not be able to rattle off facts and figures as well as a pure law school faculty member or, say, Dean Kagan would have. He’s also an interim. He wont be the actual dean. HLS is going through a minor transition period right now, so I gave Dean Jackson a bit of a pass on any evasiveness.The Campus/Area
I actually really liked it. Obviously, it’s not up to the standard of Yale or Michigan or Stanford, but it was a lot better than I had expected. The library is phenomenal. I was awestruck.
I also absolutely loved how right in the middle of everything HLS was, while still retaining a quiet campus feel within the campus. It was a perfect balance. I fell in love with the city and the area.Size
I find this discussion of “getting lost” or “not getting the full experience” to be a bit odd. Perhaps it is because my high school was approximately the size of HLS, or perhaps it’s that my undergrad has 40,000 people, but I don’t see how the size of HLS is a minus. The fact of the matter is, if there is something you want to experience, you can experience it. Even at my undergrad with 40,000 people, if you want to do an activity or get involved with a group, you can! 1,500 people is really not that big. HLS student:faculty ratio is 10:1. Yale’s is 7:1 (off the top of my head; correct if I’m wrong). Is 3 extra people per faculty member really something to base such a major decision on? In my opinion, it isn’t.
Faculty members may seem like they would be less accessible, but when you factor in the idea of section leaders, reading groups, and the fact that 200 of the 280 upper level classes have less than 25 people, are they really less accessible? If you want to interact with a faculty member, you will be able to. Reading groups, office hours, small classes, etc.
I also think there is something to be said for having 550 unique personalities vs 180, but that’s a personal choice, I guess.
Harvard certainly does have a lot of opportunities, but since when is having options a bad thing? It was reiterated several times that the people who really want to do something will be able to do it.
There is so much at the school and it’s true – you won’t be able to see it all. But you will be able to do what you want to do if you know what you want to do, or do enough to find out what you want to do if you don’t. vs Yale
In the interest of full disclosure, I have not yet heard from Yale.
With that out of the way, I take issue with several points made about the comparison:
1. KP brought up the Harvard name not having much impact in itself. 1Ls still struggling for jobs. Etc. If Harvard students are struggling to get jobs, Yale students are struggling to get jobs
. Name doesn’t matter. The fates of HY grads are mirror images of each other. I don’t know if KP meant to imply that the Harvard name has taken a hit while Yale’s remains unblemished, but if so, I find that to be absolutely without merit. Both are affected equally by the job market. Furthermore, KP said “why compete with more students when I don’t have to?” But if you want to clerk or do academia, won’t you be competing with more students at YLS than you would at HLS? Furthermore, since neither school ranks, how exactly are you competing? You will have the same options at the top of your class at Yale as you would at the top of your class at HLS; you will have the same options at the bottom of your class at Yale as you would at the bottom of your class at HLS.
2. This was brought up by the Dean and I think it was a very, very valid point. Yale is a fantastic school, and better than Harvard in some areas to be sure. If you definitely want academia or clerkships, go Yale (although I believe a lot of the success Yale has with placing grads in academia and clerkships has to do with self-selection and a bit of a cycle because of reputation…I don’t believe Yale necessarily does anything to prepare their students better in this regard…but that’s for another post). If you absolutely know what you want, know you will not be swayed, and know Yale specializes in it, go Yale. For everyone else, I think Harvard is the way to go.
If this were the Olympics, Yale has a few 10s and a bunch of 7s and 8s. Harvard has 9s across the board. Take the international law program, for example. Harvard absolutely demolishes Yale in this respect. It’s disgustingly lopsided. So what happens if you go to Yale undecided and realize that your real desire is to do international law? You would be much better served at Harvard. What if you decide on sports law? You would be much better served at Harvard. But even if you get to Harvard and decide you want to do academia or get a clerkship, you won’t be at that much of a disadvantage relative to Yale.
Yale is better at its specialties than Harvard is in those areas, but not to the same extent that Harvard is better in the other areas. Going back to international law…the difference between H and Y in international law is exponentially greater than the difference between H and Y when it comes to academia.
So if you are unswayably sure about what you want to do and Yale excels in that area, go Yale. Otherwise, go Harvard.
The way I see it, Harvard will never be the wrong answer. It is excellent in every single area. Yale, on the other hand, is unmatched in a few areas but simply good in the others.
I just feel that at Harvard you have more options. If you want
to do something at Harvard, you can. The same can’t always be said at Yale, and that to me is the biggest advantage Harvard has.
All that said, you really can’t go wrong with either choice. I do not mean to belittle Yale, but I feel as if people talk about Yale as if it’s clearly better than Harvard, when, all things considered, this is not the case.Miscellaneous
I got bored of separating everything into different categories, so I just plan to ramble now. I just really loved it. The people I met were amazing. The activities were fun. The faculty members were intimidatingly accomplished. The surrounding area was fantastic. The opportunities were limitless. I don’t know. Am I forgetting anything?
Now, for my TLS-member review:
treple – the guy is awesome. Clicked the most with him and I feel like I’ve known him for much longer. My future roommate if I attend HLS (I’m trying to go into Michigan with an open mind, although the amazingness of the weekend made that task more difficult). He needs to stop trying to steal the girls I flirt with though. I even played wingman for him once but no, that wasn’t good enough!
Iagolives – Another great guy. Extremely intelligent and down to earth. I wish I had gotten to hang out with him more, but we kept ending up just missing each other.
sluggo (and his gf) – truly two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Humble, intelligent, approachable, funny. I hope to see much more of them in the future.
Ccw – One of my biggest regrets about the ASW is that I didn’t get to talk with her more. From my brief interaction with her at breakfast, she was funny, charming, and obviously intelligent and accomplished. Hopefully, we’ll cross paths again. I plan to spend the next month and a half trying to convince her to come, just to make up for the lost opportunity.
krswmact – She attends a rival SEC school, so she had a lot to overcome in my mind! Yet she did. The little social butterfly, haha. Because of her, my experience was much smoother. She set up a group dinner prior to the start of ASW, which gave me a solid foundation of familiarity from the start. In fact, all of the (ridiculous number of) people from her school were fantastic.
FrenchiePatootie – Another one I wish I had been able to interact with more. Much like ccw, she came across extraordinarily intelligent and friendly.
Eri – Absolutely sweet, funny, and down to Earth. She was one of the people with whom I had quite a bit of interaction, and it was great.
I’m probably forgetting someone, but if I am, there wasn’t any TLSer I met that I didn’t like, so don’t worry.
I’m kind of writing this as I go and I’m in the airport, so I will almost certainly edit and add quite a few times when I get back to the hotel.