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The Moment of Truth: How do I decide which offer to accept?

This may sound ridiculous, but it just so happens that I can be ridiculously indecisive. I know that it's important to consider employment stats, scholarships, national ranking, location, course offerings, specializations, etc. in making the decision, but I find it somewhat frustrating that there is no "logic games approach" for deciding on a school.

If you're reading this and you've made your decision or are in the process of making it, could you share how you went about it?

Did you go with a gut feeling? Do a chart? Do a chart with a weird point system that ultimately made the decision for you?
Did you talk to academic advisors, professors, friends, and/or family to get input on anything?
If you've decided, were you absolutely sure or more 80% sure or maybe even less?

These are the kinds of questions I've been dying to ask other people. What's your story?


  • _oshun1__oshun1_ Alum Member
    edited February 2018 3652 karma

    For me, the most important factors are

    1) bar passage rates
    2) employment stats
    3) salary stats
    4) is it a regional school and do I want to work in that region or can this J.D. essentially get me a career anywhere
    2a/3a/4a) how debt averse are you? lower employment stats may not be worth a low scholarship, but higher employment stats may be worth a low scholarship.
    5) if you're deadset on a particular field of law, how strong is that program
    6) what's the student life like? what clubs and clinics are offered? are the students super compettive or more collaborative?

    Some people might encompass this all with "rankings," but deciding between like school ranked #5 and school ranked #7 should be more about your personal goals/needs, and once you're outside of the t12, it's mostly about how that school fares in the region it's in.

    The most important factor for me is do I feel comfortable living there. I'm not gonna be a brat and say it must be near the beach so I can surf and there must be a good yoga studio nearby or I refuse to live somewhere that doesn't have mild California weather, but if there is a lot of violence and shootings in the area and I cannot go like one street down past the campus then I would not go there regardless of how high the ranking is.

    I am not taking advice from anyone (not from friends, family, or undergrad professors). I am speaking to current students to get some info on the schools.

    Ultimately I am retaking the LSAT and reapplying next year bc I have not been happy with most of these factors re the schools I have been accepted to thus far.

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    First of all there are the rankings. A big gap in the rankings is going to be tied to almost everything else that is good (employment, bar passage, big law placement, clerkships, ect.).

    Region also matters a lot. Especially, outside the Top 14 it is questionable to go to a school where you don't want to work since it will be easiest to get a job near your school.

    Aside from these differences you want to look at cost of attendance. Usually, a lower ranked school should somehow be giving you a lower cost of attendance than a higher ranked one (whether through a scholarship, lower tuition, a more affordable location, or some combination of these). At that point it becomes a weighing contest between how debt adverse you are and how much you want the opportunities more available out of the higher ranked school. Your goals can also factor in here. For example, I do not want big law. Knowing that makes it easier for me to accept a scholarship to a lower ranked school so that I don't have to go into big law to pay off my debt and miss out mostly on the increased big law opportunities of the better school. Of course, I still don't like giving up clerking or federal government placement options which are also heavilly correlated with rank, but my goals still matter to my debt adverseness.

  • Paul CaintPaul Caint Alum Member
    edited February 2018 3521 karma

    Honestly my biggest factor now is quality of life. I think people should pay more attention to this.

    Having worked my butt off in undergrad, I sacrificed a lot of things I'm not willing to sacrifice anymore. Since I'm predominantly deciding between schools in the T-10, job placement, bar passage, etc. are not factors that really concern me. I'll be able to get a job regardless of where I go within this rank bracket.

    What is my quality of life going to be at this law school? Am I getting enough financial aid where I can get a decent apartment? Or will I be living in a closet for three years? Are people happy there? Or is the environment cutthroat?

    Not having a car, is the college town/city's public transit good? Is the city walkable? How close would my apartment be to the nearest grocery store? To classes?

    These are all things I'm considering, and will probably determine where I choose to go.

  • lsatplaylistlsatplaylist Member
    5249 karma

    Security for the future is up there with my major factors.

  • westcoastbestcoastwestcoastbestcoast Alum Member
    edited February 2018 3788 karma

    Gut feeling is not a good way to decide. Ultimately, quality of life and employment outcomes. To be honest, I'm personally more concerned with the latter. I realize that law isnt always a glamourous field. Law is inherently contentious and its almost better in my opinion to face the rigors of biglaw, or a big trial head on rather than seeking to be comfortable. For the most part, we are in 20s and 30s, and I believe this is truely the age where we should push ourselves to the bleeding edge so that we can enjoy the fruits of our labor when we are older. Life is both longer and shorter than we think and there are many paths to achieve a level of success that we can be proud of.

  • Leah M BLeah M B Alum Member
    8392 karma

    I haven’t chosen yet, but plan to make my choice on several factors. Firstly, employment and bar passage rates. Because, if this all isn’t for getting a job, then what is it for? Secondly, I want it to be in an area that I want to live in. Or at least T14, if not toward the middle or upper T14 (for portability).

    But weighed against all this is also cost. I have made a hard line that I refuse to take out 6 figures in loans. So for a lot of schools, that means full tuition scholarship or close to it. I might budge some on that for T14, but that is a personal line I have drawn.

    Also, quality of life is important to me. I don’t have a desire to go to one of the more cutthroat schools, I’d much rather be in an environment that is collaborative. Yes, law is competitive. So is everything, really. I’d rather be surrounded by people with kind and helpful attitudes, at least as much as I can. I also want to be in an urban or close to urban environment. I don’t mind a college town, but rural is not appealing to me. I also personally have some health issues that mean I need access to decent medical insurance and specialists. That’s also part of the reason I prefer urban or having a major city within driving distance - more options for health care.

    If everything is equal between all of these, I’d go with my gut and where I feel I want to live after graduation. But the more likely scenario is that the price tag will not be equal, so I will likely go with the best school at the best price tag.

    I’m also dreading having to make this eventual decision though - it was tough picking undergrad too. It feels like so much of your life shapes up because of decisions like these. But I’m also a firm believer that there’s no 1 right path, and things work out the way they need to, whatever choice you make. I’m sure my life would have turned out differently if I’d chosen a different undergrad school, but I have no regrets. I might have enjoyed some things more and would have also missed out on some amazing experiences I’ve had. So, I think there’s always multiple “right” choices. Don’t stress yourself out too much over it!

  • SerenityFalconSerenityFalcon Alum Member
    edited February 2018 86 karma

    I love this question and this thread! I'm in the midst of hemming and hawing myself. I've got 4 local offers of admission (2 with half-tuition scholarship), 1 far away offer with 80% scholarship. That's a relief, but I'm aiming higher! While waiting to hear from 2 higher ranked local schools and 2 solid far away schools, and waiting for February LSAT scores, I foresee myself obsessing on this topic!

    Bar passage & employment outcomes have guided my search on where to apply, but unlike others here, they may not figure in my final decision of where to enroll. Why not?
    I'm in my 30's, married, and have a mortgage-- my house is already where I want to live, between two major cities (and 9 local law schools) with a big personal network, so at this point I'm disregarding job outcomes because my existing legal network will surely employ me. Between us, my husband and I already have six figures in student loans, so I'm not willing to double that just for my extra degree (though that could change if his income went up by a lot).

    My major factors in deciding where to enroll:
    Economics is my #1. Location is #2.
    The only thing that would make me accept a far away offer and convince my husband to move away with me (and rent out our house) is a 100% scholarship. The cost of the entire degree would have to be less than studying locally. I do plan to use the 80% scholarship as leverage with the good local schools to negotiate a better discount.

    But what's the tie breaking factor, if I need one?
    I get anxious just imagining a situation where I have to choose between 2 schools with equally low costs, and I have to pick based on some other factor... I will come back to this post and let you know if that happens!
    I do know this: I am seeking the advice of the female attorney-employers I know locally when it comes to deciding among the local schools. I won't enroll anywhere without first visiting and speaking with professors and current JD students (I've done this for 3 schools already). I'll attend the Open Houses (on my calendar) and attend Dinner with the Dean (need to RSVP to that).

    Others here may say "don't go with your gut." I disagree. I need to have a good feeling about the place where I'm going to spend 3+ years, my gut is super important. (but: only after considering all of the above.)

    (If I get offers from either of my top-rated dream schools, they will have to BUY ME (unlikely). Honestly, I the reason I even applied to 2 top schools was just for the chance to have bragging rights about being accepted, which isn't even yet a certainty. If they throw $ at me, I'll let you know!)

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