lunixer wrote:Hi. I'm a 0L and just got accepted at Harvard. Getting cold feet. A few questions if you don't mind answering:
Disclaimer: Just a 1L.
1) Are you happy you chose to attend Harvard, given the other offers you had for various schools, your then-current job/job offers, etc?
I chose H over cheaper options because I thought that it would benefit me most in terms of flexibility and connections over the arc of my whole career. Therefore, I don't think I will be able to answer this question for another decade or two. However, I can at least say that I've never had occasion to question my decision thus far; I'd make the same one if I could go back.
2) I consider myself to be a pretty smart guy, but not a genius. I have a pretty meh undergrad GPA (~3.7 very good state school, difficult major), and got in mostly on the basis of my LSAT, my sounds-impressive work experience, and my grad degree. But given that I'm not THAT smart (and certainly not as smart as people who get a 173+ LSAT on their first try) will my classmates totally outclass me? I am very dedicated to work and have a whole lot of stick-to-it-iveness.
I don't think high first-try LSAT scores are strong indications of brilliancy. I had a 3.9x uGPA and 178 first-try LSAT, and I got very mediocre grades my first semester at H. My point is not that the people here are geniuses, but that undergrad grades and test scores aren't really that good at measuring ability (I would posit that law school grades aren't either, but that's another discussion). Anyone who is accepted to H has the ability to succeed. Further, when I think about the most successful students I've met here, many of them strike me as being the hardest workers, not necessarily the most brilliant. I wouldn't second-guess your ability to do well.
3) Are the stories about Harvard being a cutthroat institution true? I know that they have tried to soften their image, but should I still expect students to be stealing books from the library or stuff like that? Will I be laughed out of the room if I'm cold-called and don't know the answer?
Not in any way. Maybe this used to be true back in the Paper Chase days, but not so now. No one likes gunners (admittedly there are a few), and everyone screws up cold calls sometimes. Your sectionmates will loan you notes, encourage you on your bad days, etc., because it doesn't feel like you're competing with your classmates. We're all in it together, and there are good jobs available for anyone who puts in the work.
4) My impression is that the higher-ranked the school the "easier" it is, at least relative to law school in general. If I am choosing between, for example, Harvard and NYU, knowing that this is not by any means an exclusive or even important criteria for my decision, which school should I expect to be easier?
I dunno how any H student would be able to answer this one unless they transferred from another school.
5) As you apply for jobs, do you find that the Harvard name is valuable? Compared to, say, Columbia/NYU/etc? How valuable?
Haven't applied for SA spots yet, but it definitely was/is a big deal to 1L summer employers. I was a little worried since my grades were mediocre, but it ended up not being a problem at all; I got some great offers and I attribute this to H (especially given my weak, straight-outta-undergrad resume). Again, however, I'm not qualified to say how valuable Columbia or NYU would be comparatively.
6) I'm visiting the campus on ASW April 1-2. Any advice on what I should check out while I'm there? Secret things that my sway my decision one way or another?
I recommend checking out student groups if you can; the semester can get pretty hectic pretty quickly, so it's great to have an idea beforehand what orgs you might be interested in joining. There are a lot, and the sooner you can get involved, the easier it will be to get a leadership position later.