So I went to the ASD today and here are some of my thoughts...
I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the facilities at UF. It was very clean and the classrooms were very nice. Comparing UF and FSU's law school buildings, I must say that I was much more impressed with what UF has to offer. Their library is very spacious and has lots of windows/lighting. The reading room is also law-students-only which is great seeing as the rest of the library is open to the undergraduate student body at UF. There also seems to be a lot of parking around the campus, a lot more than FSU. Also, I think that Gainesville is much cleaner than Tallahassee overall (and Gainesville has TWO Chipotles whereas Tallahassee doesn't even have one..).
The dean and the guy that puts together the curriculum were very boring and seemed a little fake at times when answering questions. The alumni panel which included a judge, someone who worked in the state attorney's office, and someone in private practice was very informative. Each of the three alumni gave us a little back story on how they got to their current occupations and it was nice to have stories from both the public and private sector. The student presentations which included 1Ls 2Ls and 3Ls were also interesting. They answered questions for us and seemed pretty genuine in their answers. It was pretty obvious by their responses, coupled with those of the alumni that UF's "national" reach doesn't extend beyond Florida unless you're at the tipidy-top of your class and have some awesome connections.
They also had three professors talk to us about the quality of the faculty at the law school. They ensured us that all the faculty at UF is very approachable and of course they're super, super awesome (everyone tries to sell their school to us). They also touched on some of the clinics, certificate programs and study aboard opportunities at UF. Nothing here really struck me as extraordinary as it seems most law schools offer similar programs. They sort of exaggerated the national reach of UF though again they made it pretty obvious that UF is the king of Florida and that's where most UF grads go.
Carol Huber gave us a presentation about the whole financial aid deal. Apparently about 50/300 students receive merit scholarships and the median grant is about $4,000 (ranging from something like 2k-15k). Carol told us that UF current has more offers out there than they actually have to distribute for merit aid, so I guess they assume some of these people will withdraw. I personally asked her during the presentation if there was a certain date that we should essentially throw in the towel and conclude that we're not going to get any sort of merit aid. Her response was that scholarships are distributed until the end of March but sometimes they get money freed up from students withdrawing and could potentially give out merit aid up to the first week before classes.
Second what Lawduder said about the facilities. I visited FSU the day before the UF ASD and found UF's facilities glitter by comparison. Also second impressions about Gainesville vs. Tallahassee. My wife came along on my trip and mentioned that Tallahassee looked rundown and sketchy in comparison to G'ville. Funny, I also got the impression that the parking around UF was more than adequate as compared to FSU. FSU seems crammed into downtown Tallahassee.
Selling of the school got a little old, but I guess that's to be expected. Presenters let a little air out the UF balloon by harping on how hard 1L life is. I overheard several people saying stuff like, "do they really want us to go here?"
Lots of talk about making sure that you have study/life balance. I asked several students if they had been admitted to UF and FSU, most had. When asked why they chose UF, almost all attributed their choice to the network and to the fact that "every attorney I asked said that I should go to UF." When I went to FSU to check out the school, I got the impression (based on conversations with a professor and an admissions department guy) that people who are inclined to go into gov't may self-select to FSU as there's plenty of that in Tallahassee.
On a personal note, good luck to the 3/16 DLIT Crew. A few red flags in the mix would definitely help lead to a diverse student body.