DarkwingDick wrote:I can't quite bring myself to submit.
Can students that submitted walk me through your reasoning?
Here's mine up to this point:
I know there are incredible opportunities at Irvine. First off the scholarship, second the incredible amount of individualized attention and care we’ll receive both in the classroom and in professional endeavors, third the chance to be part of creating a new law school ethos and fourth, but relatively inconsequential, a much more pleasant three years than law school will probably be anywhere else.
I guess what I perceive to be the biggest risk is mediocrity. I don’t want to go to a school with mediocre students and graduate with a degree from a mediocre institution. My friend and I were discussing this, and everytime I’m about to submit, I hear him saying, “Your law school will be on your resume FOREVER.” And he’s right. Regardless of how promising a start the school gets, or even our class is (but I have some doubts about that, too), it will be harder and harder each subsequent year to attract quality candidates, as the money, the press and the novelty fade. After graduation though, your school is often shorthand for your quality. There are exceptions, but I don’t know if I’m willing to take that risk in this market. Further, even a quick glance through this cycle's accepted dots at UCI on LSN shows that most of the upper third of admits will not be attending.
Concerning US News, this year's class will be the first to feel the effects. The school cannot be ranked until it has employment statistics, and those will come out right before we potentially graduate. There's been a lot of talk about how UCI's numbers are on par with top 20, but I'd honestly be surprised if those numbers even managed to stay at that level, much less rise, considering that scholarships are only half this year, a drastic drop in applications despite still being free to apply, and a larger projected class. Furthermore, the numbers that will have a much more significant impact on the rankings and job prospects are the assessment ranking from peers and from lawyers & judges. From my personal experience, speaking with recent graduates from T14 schools, these numbers will not be kind to Irvine.
I actually agonized over whether to respond to your post because of the tone you took with it. I can't say I am certain I want to convince you to attend UCI. On the other hand, tone in writing can be misinterpreted. I am wondering if you attended ASD. If you attended ASD and still feel the way you do, then I think maybe you should follow your gut and maybe UCI isn't right for you. And if you've been accepted into a very prestigious school and if others knowing that is important to you then I think maybe UCI isn't the right place for you either. There is some risk. But when evaluating the risk I think the potential for it to payoff is greater than the chance it won't.
But anyway here are my thoughts:
The 1Ls I met and the 0Ls I met at ASD did not strike me as mediocre at all. I was very impressed by what they were doing, what they had accomplished, and by their energy and intelligence. The 1Ls were doing things I've only heard students from Yale getting to do as a 1L. There may be other schools where 1Ls get to be so involved in real case, but I am not aware of that aspect of those schools. For example, two students are helping an Iraqi man who will probably be killed if deported back to Iraq get asylum. They have done interviews, written memos and briefs and have in general done a lot of substantial work on the case. If the students were not competent, they would not have been able to do so much on this case. Personally, I am offended to be called mediocre as well. And I don't consider myself to be superior to those I've met either. So I certainly don't feel like I will be surrounded by mediocrity. I believe I will be surrounded by people I will be happy to have as colleagues and as resources to draw from in the future, as well as to have as friends. And it's more than just numbers. I didn't ask those I met about their LSAT or their GPA. I don't really care. As far as I can see they were smart and articulate and capable. And that's really what matters in the end.
Regarding your resume, after your first few years on the job, where you went to school matter a lot less unless you have you are pursuing academia, high level federal judiciary positions, or perhaps partnerships at the top firms in the country. What will matter is your performance on the job. Employers in OC seem very anxious to hire Irvine grads, and some of these firms do have a national presence.
Lastly, regarding rankings - these things tend to feed on themselves. I saw the quality of students that were admitted last year, and when deciding where to apply, felt the caliber of students, as well as of the faculty, were definitely high enough for me. If this class is equally or more accomplished, then the applicant pool will continue to get stronger. If UCI has a high ranking off the top (even breaking top 50 for a new school is pretty amazing, forget top 20 or 25) then the buzz will be there and again, strong applicants will apply. If the employment numbers remain high, then also, strong candidates will continue to apply.
And of course, there are all the good things you mentioned.
Now is there risk - yes. But there is always risk. If you prefer the security of an established school, that is understandable. If you like having organizations and traditions in place, then maybe UCI isn't the right school for you. But if you like the energy of an entrepreneurial experience and see the opportunities they potentially create, and want to help create a successful law school, then please come to UCI and join us next year.
Good luck with your decision process.