Columbia undergrad aiming for Columbia Law?

General admissions strategy questions, what are my chances, discussion of specific application materials like financial aid and scholarships.
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toisondor
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Columbia undergrad aiming for Columbia Law?

Post by toisondor » Tue Apr 07, 2020 8:51 pm

Hi all! Wanted to ask advice as a recent Columbia grad (class of 2019) aiming to apply ED to Columbia Law in the fall. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude with a 3.9 GPA. Been working at a major broadcast company since graduation. Haven't taken LSAT yet but planning to do so late summer/early fall (depending on when social distancing is over...)

Is there anyone here who knows how CLS views Columbia undergrads? I've heard rumors from friends that as long as I get a decent LSAT score I should be in, but I don't know how true that is and don't want to overestimate my chances. I'd like to stay in the city for law school, ideally.

Would appreciate any insight, especially if you know anyone who's taken this path.

Thanks everyone!

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UVA2B
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Re: Columbia undergrad aiming for Columbia Law?

Post by UVA2B » Tue Apr 07, 2020 9:30 pm

1. It is true that with a good LSAT, you’ll likely be in at CLS. Think 170-172 range to be safe, but a bit lower may suffice since you have a good gpa from a good UG. Columbia may have some affinity for their own UGs, but that’s at best a tie breaker, and even then, I wouldn’t rely on it being a tiebreaker because it’s likely a correlation rather than a causation that CLS might have a larger number of Columbia UGs.

2. Don’t focus on CLS, because it’s a misstep from the start. Assuming you have the numbers to get into CLS, you’ll benefit GREATLY from having other school acceptances that can compete with CLS. Even if money is otherwise unimportant to you personally, isn’t it better to get the job outcome you want at half the cost? If you apply broadly to the entire T13, you could definitely have better options than CLS at full cost (which you should assume since you’re talking applying ED). Don’t tie yourself down to $300k COA without any power to negotiate. Keep as many chips as you can that you can give up later if you need them.

toisondor
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Re: Columbia undergrad aiming for Columbia Law?

Post by toisondor » Wed Apr 08, 2020 10:30 am

UVA2B wrote:
Tue Apr 07, 2020 9:30 pm
1. It is true that with a good LSAT, you’ll likely be in at CLS. Think 170-172 range to be safe, but a bit lower may suffice since you have a good gpa from a good UG. Columbia may have some affinity for their own UGs, but that’s at best a tie breaker, and even then, I wouldn’t rely on it being a tiebreaker because it’s likely a correlation rather than a causation that CLS might have a larger number of Columbia UGs.

2. Don’t focus on CLS, because it’s a misstep from the start. Assuming you have the numbers to get into CLS, you’ll benefit GREATLY from having other school acceptances that can compete with CLS. Even if money is otherwise unimportant to you personally, isn’t it better to get the job outcome you want at half the cost? If you apply broadly to the entire T13, you could definitely have better options than CLS at full cost (which you should assume since you’re talking applying ED). Don’t tie yourself down to $300k COA without any power to negotiate. Keep as many chips as you can that you can give up later if you need them.
Hey thanks for your reply! I'll admit I'm a little ignorant about the law school funding process - what is Columbia's reputation like in that regard? Also does applying ED boost my chances of getting in, or is that just an undergrad thing?

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UVA2B
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Re: Columbia undergrad aiming for Columbia Law?

Post by UVA2B » Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:00 am

It will provide a marginal boost to your chances of getting in, but that's because you come at no risk of attending elsewhere if they accept you, and they are disincentivized from offering you any merit-based aid. I'll explain the rationale as best I can.

Law school funding exists in two tiers: merit-based and need-based aid. Every school outside of Harvard, Yale, and Stanford offer merit-based aid, and it's typically used as a mechanism to maintain or improve their median LSAT and GPA. If you have desirable numbers in both of those categories, you're more likely to receive significant tuition discounts. The schools also know where they exist in the proverbial pecking order, so they're also using it as a tool to steal desirable candidates from one another. Conversely, they may decide to save their tuition discounts for those likely to accept them, so if a candidate has numbers and profile for Yale, they may not even admit that person (it's called yield protection, or protecting the percentage of students they accept who ultimately attend). Schools do this to a varying degree, but it's definitely a thing.

Need-based aid is just that: need based. If you're from a lower socioeconomic status, you may be eligible for tuition discounts based on that status. HYS use this exclusively (because they don't need merit-based aid to maintain their position in the pecking order). Other schools nominally do this, but nowhere near as generously as HYS, because they also have merit-based aid to help defray the cost of attendance.

Columbia is near the top of the merit-based aid pile, so they are generally less generous than, say, Duke or Northwestern. You may full price for Columbia while getting $30-50k/year tuition discount from Northwestern. It's also important to understand that any of the schools have national placement power for jobs, so that $90-150k difference could be huge considering both options functionally can get you to a similar outcome. That's why it's important to apply broadly and get as many cards in your hand. Then you can use those offers to either 1) pay less for law school; or 2) negotiate with Columbia to lessen the cost of attendance there. You're in a much stronger negotiating position.

toisondor
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Re: Columbia undergrad aiming for Columbia Law?

Post by toisondor » Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:14 am

UVA2B wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:00 am
It will provide a marginal boost to your chances of getting in, but that's because you come at no risk of attending elsewhere if they accept you, and they are disincentivized from offering you any merit-based aid. I'll explain the rationale as best I can.

Law school funding exists in two tiers: merit-based and need-based aid. Every school outside of Harvard, Yale, and Stanford offer merit-based aid, and it's typically used as a mechanism to maintain or improve their median LSAT and GPA. If you have desirable numbers in both of those categories, you're more likely to receive significant tuition discounts. The schools also know where they exist in the proverbial pecking order, so they're also using it as a tool to steal desirable candidates from one another. Conversely, they may decide to save their tuition discounts for those likely to accept them, so if a candidate has numbers and profile for Yale, they may not even admit that person (it's called yield protection, or protecting the percentage of students they accept who ultimately attend). Schools do this to a varying degree, but it's definitely a thing.

Need-based aid is just that: need based. If you're from a lower socioeconomic status, you may be eligible for tuition discounts based on that status. HYS use this exclusively (because they don't need merit-based aid to maintain their position in the pecking order). Other schools nominally do this, but nowhere near as generously as HYS, because they also have merit-based aid to help defray the cost of attendance.

Columbia is near the top of the merit-based aid pile, so they are generally less generous than, say, Duke or Northwestern. You may full price for Columbia while getting $30-50k/year tuition discount from Northwestern. It's also important to understand that any of the schools have national placement power for jobs, so that $90-150k difference could be huge considering both options functionally can get you to a similar outcome. That's why it's important to apply broadly and get as many cards in your hand. Then you can use those offers to either 1) pay less for law school; or 2) negotiate with Columbia to lessen the cost of attendance there. You're in a much stronger negotiating position.
This is really really helpful - thank you. Seems I'll need to change my strategy a bit in terms of applying. I was an undergrad ED so never really dealt with having to apply to multiple schools and just assumed I'd do the same here.

When you say Columbia is near the top for merit-based, do you mean that they generally give a good amount of aid? Also, for need-based aid, do they only ask for my financial info or is it like undergrad where they evaluate your parents?

Thank you again!

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UVA2B
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Re: Columbia undergrad aiming for Columbia Law?

Post by UVA2B » Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:22 am

When I say they're near the top, I mean that, generally speaking, Columbia can rely on reputation and ranking to attract students, so they tend to be less generous as compared to the schools ranked below it. That doesn't mean they won't be your best offer when it all shakes out, but at least initially, unless they're trying to take you from HYS, they have little other incentive to be generous with merit aid. If you end up with a 3.9 and 173-176, you're competitive for a full ride at Columbia. But if you're a 3.9 and 170, they are less likely to give you as much because they know that you're unlikely to get into HYS.

Need-based aid will consider both you and your parents up until you're 29 at most schools. I'm not sure where Columbia specifically lands on that.

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Slytherpuff
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Re: Columbia undergrad aiming for Columbia Law?

Post by Slytherpuff » Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:17 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with UVA - I would not apply ED to Columbia. Obviously you should still apply there, but make sure you're keeping your options open for financial aid purposes. See what your LSAT score looks like and then consider applying to all or at least most of the T14. Best case scenario, you get into CLS and then are able to use a nice scholarship from another top school to negotiate up your aid package there.

Other than that, general advice is just to study as much as you can for the LSAT, don't be afraid to take another year off if it means getting a higher score, and then try to apply early in the application cycle once you have an LSAT score you're happy with.

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BlendedUnicorn
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Re: Columbia undergrad aiming for Columbia Law?

Post by BlendedUnicorn » Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:36 pm

with a GPA like yours do not apply early anywhere under any circumstances.

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