Monday, April 13, 2009

A happy problem -- we need your input, please...

This year Hubby applied to two law schools.

He got into his 'safety' school with a full-tuition scholarship. This school is fairly new but accredited/certified or whatever. It's also not a first-tier lawschool. He was excited, felt flattered that they wanted him etc... He paid the $250 deposit, bought a laptop that would work for them and thought things were settled...

Until recently, he hadn't had any news from the other school. The other school is a state school and top-tier. It has lots of credibility in his field of interest and has a tendency to place people in law school teaching positions, which Hubby would love.

Last week he found out he'd been accepted -- they called him... which I thought was kind of odd.

Today we got their official, written offer -- with about a 2/3 scholarship. Over three years we'll pay about $24,000 in tuition.

The question is -- how important is the rating? It seems like Hubby's personality fits better with the safety school, but the other school has a much longer track-record of getting students jobs etc...

So -- those of you who know these things, what do you think?


Zach said...

As someone who is headed off to law school this fall, I've been told that ratings are really, really important, *unless* you want to practice law in a specific geographic location. In that case, a well-respected regional school with good networks in the area can top a slightly higher ranked school in another area.

It also depends how important the finances are to what he wants to do. I was offered a full ride if I do public service for three years after graduation at School A, but School B's loan forgiveness program will forgive about 60-70% of my debt after 10 years. School B is in a small, poor city with a low cost of living. School A is in a huge city and it is very expensive there, but tuition would be free. School B is ranked higher than School A.

I chose School B for various reasons (smaller school, a better reputation for students who might want to go into academia, no grades first semester...), but it was a tough call.

Seeking Solace said...

As someone who went to a non tier 1 law school, I don't think it makes a difference unless you want to work in NYC or some large metro area. I got a great education at my State Law School and honestly, I have jest as much knowledge as anyone who attended a tire 1 school. Honestly, I don't think it means much except for those who want it to.

Financially speaking, I guess it depends on how much school loan debt you already have. I got an assistantship which paid for my last two years of law school. That kept my costs low. But, assistantships are hard to find, and you are prohibited from working more than 20 hours a week during your first year. Is there a possibility of additional financial aid for the remaining tuition and fees?

Congrats though, because this is a good problem to have. :)

Allmycke said...

I should probably not even comment on this - being a 55+ teacher in another country...
I still have to ask:

Where is his heart at?

What are his reasons for wanting to get into law?

I know the Hollywood rendition of reality is far from the truth, but I keep thinking about the movie "The Firm" and it's not a pretty picture.
I think some soul-searching is in place...

BTW - could you please mail me at trudie_pathotmaildotcom

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

His intellecutal interests are in international law -- and the state school has a good program that way.

I think he would have been very happy with the one offer and not getting into the other school or having a really low offer... but, the state school is just so much better, which will get him into jobs he'll love.

This is especially tricky because he'd really love to teach law -- he's a natural teacher and has enjoyed his time teaching in Red State.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

ps -- the one way I thought your e-mail worked bounced... feel free to send me a message at my gmail account. It's patty dot steck --


timna said...

what a great problem!
since both are local, he could go to see more and get more of a feel for it. but it really sounds like the state school leads him where he wants to go.
after spending the day probing all there is to know about student loan debt, it seems to be up to the individual(s). some are ok with it, some are not. some see it as really worth the long-term repayment, some think no debt is the way to go.
I'm somewhere in the middle -- having grown accustomed to my debt. it's like a little mortgage. wouldn't trade not doing the phd for no debt.

Andrea said...

IF your personal finances can handle the additional loans, then State School, State School, State School. It matters immensely. The legal job market will be difficult for years, in every single conceivable field. (Academia is wonderful and I think he would be great at it, but it is not something to count on breaking into - you kind of have to wait and see if his grades look great AND he can start getting something published.)

Job placement matters, and graduates of lower-tier schools are going to struggle whether it is fair or not because there are SO many law grads on the market. This is not about me being a prestige whore - it's about not wanting to see a really smart person feel pushed into a badly-paid insurance defense job he doesn't like (or it's equivalent).

If, however, it would be a financially bad move to take on more debt, go to the private school, and commit to doing what it takes to be in the top of the class and networking locally. He is resourceful and will be fine, although realistically his very first job might not be his dream one. Good luck.

Seeking Solace said...

I love teaching law too. It's a little intimidating seeing other law professors with degrees from Tier 1 schools and my law degree is not. But, if he is as pasionate about teaching law as I am, it will show through.

NewKidontheHallway said...

If he's interested in teaching law on the tenure track, I would say he should definitely go to the state school. People *do* come out of that program and get teaching jobs. That is *way* significantly less the case for the other program - in fact, I'd say it wouldn't happen. (I've seen a lot of people on the web say that if you want to teach, you have to go to a top 5 program. A lot of people I've met in person have said this is not true, but statistically, people going into teaching on the tenure-track out of law school come from a group of top 20-ish schools. The situation is probably different if you practice for ages and become the acknowledged expert in your field and write on that field as well, but that may not be what Hubby wants.)

But I'd go to state school even without the teaching prospect. Now, I'll admit I'm rankings whore, but there are also a lot of people out there who really care about law school rankings. A woman I know (also a Ph.D.!) got a full ride at one of the lower-ranked (though still good) schools in her metro area, and went there rather than to the top-ranked school in the metro (which accepted her but without money). When she was looking for jobs, she did find that some people were snobby enough that she was shut out of some positions. (Granted, she has a job she mostly likes, so it wasn't a tragic choice, but thought I'd throw it out there.)

The state school is really national in a way that the other one isn't, which can open a lot of doors.

Myself, I think that $24K in debt over three years would be completely worth it. That's such a small amount of debt (compared to the usual law school debt) that it wouldn't hinder a lot of his choices once he finished. That state school is really excellent.

That said, if he visits/has visited the state school and feels uncomfortable there or unhappy compared to the other school.... well, that's a tough one. I don't think it does much good to go somewhere that actively turns you off.

But if not, I would so definitely go to the state school.

(though obviously it is his choice and it is a happy problem to have!)

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Financially, the extra student loan debt won't kill us... The nice thing about both offers is that it isn't loan forgiveness, rather they're outright scholarships. At the private school he'll only pay fees and books. At the state school his tuition should be about $7,000/year plus significantly higher fees -- that include a laptop and health insurance, plus books.

The concern about a glut of job applicants is a significant one -- especially since he's going to law school because the political science academic job market is so bad...

JustLilia said...

I think Andrea did a great job covering the legal market right now. I would pick State School for sure.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Y'all are wonderful -- Thanks for the input!!

Right now Hubby's leaning toward State School. I'd bet that he'll go there... like I bet that he'd get in when he didn't think he would -- now he owes me breakfast in bed for a week.

For the record, no - Hubby, I'm not going double or nothing... no way!!

hubby said...

Too late. You already lost the double or nothing.

Because its a lake.