Making a choice

Discuss comparisons of various school choices and the various metrics that inform them, including rankings, student life, location, etc.
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Which one?

Virginia [sticker]
3
9%
Vanderbilt [45% tuition]
16
47%
Emory [65% tuition]
3
9%
Alabama [more than full tuition]
12
35%
Wait out CLS/Michigan/Duke WLs
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 34

throwaway2018
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Making a choice

Post by throwaway2018 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:26 pm

It's getting close to deposit time, and I think that I've made my choice. BUT, I figured as much as I lurked here this cycle I wanted to check in to ensure there's nothing I missed in my analysis. You can see my options in the poll above and how much aid I received at each school that made the shortlist. The list probably betrays the fact that I want to remain in the Southeast, so location is a lock for most of the schools. I don't think I really want biglaw--to be honest I'm hoping to make six figures (or as close as possible, at least) while having a life outside work. So midlaw, I guess? Academia would be nice, but it's not a big enough draw that I want to put on crazy debt. I'm not really set on a specific path right now, as several sound interesting (we'll see what happens when classes start).

So, while Virginia and Vanderbilt seem enticing for their prestige, it's really hard for me to look past Alabama's full tuition and stipend offer. I think that it would give me a lot of options in Tennessee/Georgia/Alabama without burdening me with debt, and versatility post-graduation is a big deal in my view. To make sure I don't have crimson-colored glasses on, I was wondering if there were any contrary opinions.

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Stranger
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Re: Making a choice

Post by Stranger » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:15 pm

Virginia and Vanderbilt have more than just prestige, they have the ability to place you into any state in the South. Going to Alabama likely means settling in Alabama. You might get out to a bordering state, but you should be comfortable landing there if you pick it.

You likely won't find this mythical six figure job with a life straight out of school, but if you're content missing biglaw, Virginia at sticker doesn't make sense. I would be looking hard at Vanderbilt vs. Alabama. If you want more options for location and salary, choose Vandy. If you'd rather get a modest salary without the debt and land in Alabama, choose Alabama. The price of Emory is hard to justify with those other two offers, and the sticker debt at UVA doesn't match your stated goals. I'd personally pick Vandy, but it's not definitive without knowing your comfort level with landing in Alabama for the long haul.

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sev
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Re: Making a choice

Post by sev » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:36 pm

Seconding Stranger's advice, but I'd also throw in my hat for Alabama. Based on the hundreds of these threads that I've read, people usually want to go for prestige over the $$$. If your gut is telling you to take the $$$ over the prestige I'd say go for it.

UVA is too expensive if you don't want biglaw or something that qualifies for LRAP.
Emory doesn't get you anything that Vandy doesn't do way better--IMO Vandy would be worth the extra cash.
CLS/Michigan don't really make sense at sticker for the same reason that UVA doesn't.
Duke might negotiate if you got in, but again there's not really a reason to go there unless you have specific ambitions.

That leaves Alabama and Vandy.

It seems like you'd be okay with a variety of jobs and Alabama will get you that--they have solid employment numbers. Like Stranger said, you may not make $100k+ but I think you'll feel like you'll make more after Alabama than Vandy because you won't be saddled with a large monthly loan payment. I'd
personally take Vandy but that's because of my aversion to Alabama--if you're okay with ending up there I think the choice is clear.

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emkay625
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Re: Making a choice

Post by emkay625 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:34 am

If it were me, I would probably pick not Bama. You aren’t sure yet what you want to do, and it gives you least options of the four/is the most limiting.

throwaway2018
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Re: Making a choice

Post by throwaway2018 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:50 am

Thanks for all of the responses and votes so far. My own line of thinking has been pretty similar to a lot of the advice: it's Alabama versus Vanderbilt and, thus, lack of debt versus expanded career opportunities. I guess its important too that I have no qualms with being in the state of Alabama, and it was always where I would more than likely end up (as much as I love the mountains in Tennessee and the size of the legal market in Atlanta, I have a great deal of family and friends in Alabama). Being debt averse myself, and possibly having an even more debt averse SO, makes it really hard to stomach nearly six figures in loans even knowing that it's not a bad deal for a Vanderbilt JD.

Basically, I'm feeling like both are great offers to have for what I want, but still thinking UA's most aligns with my personal goals.

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UVA2B
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Re: Making a choice

Post by UVA2B » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:03 am

Alabama is the only defensible option for your particular goals and geographic preferences, but just realize how unlikely your particular goal (six figures and a life) are without biglaw, particularly in Alabama, where biglaw only pays $105k starting out and will definitely be a compressed pay scale.

throwaway2018
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Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:15 pm

Re: Making a choice

Post by throwaway2018 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:28 am

Oh yeah, that's totally understandable--that's why I added the "or as close as possible" clause. And to be clear: by being against "biglaw" I moreso meant I wasn't ever going to consider living in a place like NYC/Cali/Chicago to be on the Cravath scale (DC is the only major city I would give a second look at moving to, and even then it would more than likely be for government work). Those jobs just seem soul crushing from everything I've read. I've heard from various sources that even the bigger firms in the South are comparatively more laid back than the biggest markets, so I didn't really consider them the same "biglaw" that it seems like a lot of the t13 students are going for.

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Stranger
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Re: Making a choice

Post by Stranger » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:46 am

Yeah, if Alabama is where you want to be, Alabama for free is the right choice for law school.

throwaway2018
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Re: Making a choice

Post by throwaway2018 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:16 am

I want to say, also, sorry if it seems like I posted just to confirm my previously made choice. I really appreciate having everyone's feedback because it feels like the people in my life only understand scholarship dollars and proximity to home, so it's definitely important to me to hear from others who understand the process and the schools and such. Law school admissions has been a really interesting little community to take part in over the last year, for sure. I think if I was straight out of undergrad that I'd be in Charlottesville in a heartbeat expecting a few years of biglaw afterwards, but some of the unique factors make Bama a better choice (even though sentiment and logic suggests Vandy would work better for most). If nothing else, I appreciate that these posts have strengthened my belief that they're both really competitive offers even if debt is terrifying (my family is solidly in the "you only go into debt for a house" camp, so to them there's literally no better offer possible other than an LSMA that I was never getting).

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pancakes3
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Re: Making a choice

Post by pancakes3 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:15 am

Do you have ties to Alabama? Do you know for sure you want to practice in Alabama? Where in the "South" do you have ties to?

dangurllydogo2hrvrd
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Re: Making a choice

Post by dangurllydogo2hrvrd » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:26 am

If your goal is to do midlaw, make about 93k a year and stay in the southeast, I think Alabama would be a good and comfortable option.

throwaway2018
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Re: Making a choice

Post by throwaway2018 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:54 pm

I'm from Alabama, though I'd like to believe I have ties throughout the South. I have extended family and close, close friends in basically every Southern state except South Carolina, to my knowledge. But Alabama is the place I have the strongest connection to by far and would put me the closest to the largest (and most important) contingent of family.

And midlaw at 93k/year in the Southeast sounds wonderful, honestly.

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