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Best Hardest Acceptance Decision (Yale v. T10 with full ride)

edited April 2019 in Law School Admissions 10 karma

Hi all!

It's been about a year and a half since I began my journey of studying for the LSAT and applying to law school, and (in no small part due to help from 7Sage) I now have the best, but hardest decision to make.

I have about two weeks to decide whether to accept a T10 school's top scholarship, which would allow me to leave law school debt-free, or to accept my admission to Yale (at full cost). Basically, Yale would cost about $225,000 more than the other T10 school (and more once interest on loans is considered). The T10 scholarship covers full tuition/fees and includes a sizable yearly stipend. Both are great options, and if the cost differential weren't so great I'd probably go to Yale, but, well... That's a huge amount of money to pay considering the alternative that's available to me.

After law school I'm hoping to clerk, work for a large firm for a while, and probably eventually move to the public sector. Those goals are quite attainable (obviously) from both schools, though Yale holds a special place in the minds of many employers (and attorneys).

So I'm hoping ya'll can share your thoughts on a question and vote in the attached poll. The question for the comments is, how much more would you be willing to pay to attend Y/H/S vs. another T10 law school?

Many thanks to those who respond! I'm really fretting about this decision.

Yale vs T10 (with full ride)
  1. Which would you choose?193 votes
    1. Yale
      37.31%
    2. T10 with full tuition/fees and a significant yearly stipend
      62.69%

Comments

  • MochiosisMochiosis Legacy Member
    27 karma

    Any inclination to disclose which T10 school it is?

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    edited April 2019 27316 karma

    In absolute economic terms, there's little question to me that the T10 is correct. The difference in value between T10 and Yale is unlikely to be worth a quarter million dollars. But you're not operating on absolute economic terms. So how much extra value is Yale offering you? If you want to clerk, they're hard to beat. The other thing to consider is fit. Does Yale really offer you what you want? It's a tiny program and that actually sets some limits on it that larger schools deal with better. I met a student at Yale who really wants to do space law. Yale is way too tiny, though, to have anything near so niche. Here's an article in the LA Times I read recently by a Yale professor which discusses rankings and the weight they carry in these decisions. It's an excellent read right about now:

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-amar-law-school-rankings-20190319-story.html

    If you only want Yale because it's Yale, that seems like a lot of cash for what ultimately may just be branding. By all means, the brand carries a lot of weight, I just doubt it's $225,000 worth of weight. I think a good starting point would be to find that balance: How much would you pay if the brand prestige were the only factor? $10,000? $50,000? $100,000? $200,000? Where's the line? Find it, then take the Yale brand and its corresponding value off the appropriate sides of the scale. The Yale brand is now neutralized and you shouldn't consider it further. From there, weigh in everything else and see which way the scales tip. If it's close, I say follow your heart. Whichever way you go though, relax. There's no wrong decision here. You have a choice between two amazingly correct options. Unless your T10 is one I'm waiting to hear back from/negotiating with. Then you should definitely go to Yale!

  • Leah M BLeah M B Alum Member
    8392 karma

    It would help a bit to know which T10 you are thinking about. However, in basically every single case, I would say 100% to take the T10 offer. There is very little that Yale will bring you that is worth $225k more than another extremely good school. Further, your goals that you listed above are not "unicorn." What you want is very achievable from any T10. If you were debating Yale vs WUSTL or UCLA, that is another story. But Yale vs another of the best 10 schools in the country? T10 hands down. No comparison. Now if your goals were say, become a supreme court justice or the highest echelons of academia, that is something that possibly only Yale can provide a shot at. Or if your choices were Yale for $225k in debt vs T10 for $190k in debt... well, I'd probably say Yale for the boost and very little difference in debt. But IMO, no law school is worth $225k above another school in the T10. Take the $$$ and don't look back. When you're in public service, you will love the freedom that being debt free affords.

    Congrats on having to choose between 2 excellent options. You're going to have an amazing career, whatever you decide.

  • Leah M BLeah M B Alum Member
    8392 karma

    I will say, if by chance the offer that you are contemplating is the Rubenstein at Chicago, it is largely regarded as one of the best possible outcomes. They have something like a 75% rate of federal clerks coming out of that. From what I hear, it's not only the money but the institutional support is second to none. If you have a Ruby in hand, TAKE IT. :)

  • MIT_2017MIT_2017 Alum Member
    edited April 2019 470 karma

    I am often an advocate of taking on debt for the chance to go to a substantially better school. Since you used "T10", I'm assuming it's outside of the HYS/CCN echelon, and therefore would be a school ranked 7-10. So, in many cases, I'd say shoot for Yale. BUT, it's not always the case that we're comparing a FULL ride to no scholarship whatsoever. Going solely off the info you've provided, I'd have to recommend the T10 over Yale.


    I think the quote below cannot be emphasized enough....

    @JohnsHopkins44 said:
    Basically, Yale would cost about $225,000 more than the other T10 school (and more once interest on loans is considered). The T10 scholarship covers full tuition/fees and includes a sizable yearly stipend.

    I think there should be only three conditions which would make you take [what will end up being] nearly $300K in debt:
    1- You are set on working in the private sector for a while to enable yourself to pay down this debt at a reasonable rate
    2- You are set on pursuing a path which would be made significantly more possible by going to Yale, and you are passionate enough about that path that you are comfortable with making a serious lifestyle adjustment in order to achieve it
    3- You have thoroughly researched Loan Assistance Repayment Programs at Yale and think you will be comfortable with dedicating yourself for X years to a service-type legal role which would allow your debts to be forgiven.


    All in all, congratulations. You are, after all, choosing between two great opportunities.

  • CantStopWontStopCantStopWontStop Alum Member
    1270 karma

    Yale. If you plan to go to a big firm for a bit and want to clerk, you will make that back pretty fast. Law is very prestige oriented and Yale is tops. I would worry and debate on a different set of schools, but it’s Yale. Enjoy!

  • Michael.CincoMichael.Cinco Alum Member Sage
    2106 karma

    Congratulations!

    One thing I would consider about the Scholarship is how hard is it to maintain? Not that it would be an issue because getting those types of offers means you are quite gifted academically but if the scholarship was hard to maintain then the calculus of Yale Vs 225K is altered a bit.

  • eRetakereRetaker Member
    2038 karma

    To be quite honest, I don't think you'll regret either decision. However, as others alluded to, your outcome from both schools are going to be the same, especially since you're not going for clerkships. If this is the Ruby, then 100% take it but otherwise I think you'll be happy at either Yale or the T10.

  • StudyingStudying Legacy Member
    54 karma

    Yale Yale Yale Yale Yale Yale Yale Yale Yale Yale Yale Yale Yale Yale Yale Yale.

  • 1000001910000019 Alum Member
    3279 karma

    If you're set on clerking and PI, the answer is clearly Yale. If you're set on PI, you'll be taking advantage of PSLF. You won't pay back anywhere close to what you'll be borrowing. Yale's clerkship numbers are absurd.

  • jkjohnson1991jkjohnson1991 Alum Member
    760 karma

    Congrats on having 2 amazing options. Yale would be EXTREMELY hard for me to pass up, even with the other option at hand. I don't think you can go wrong with either, but I voted Yale.

  • UnicornFartsUnicornFarts Alum Member
    222 karma

    Umm, I'd go with Yale. It would open doors for you that other law schools won't be able to. But hey, that's just my opinion. I didn't even apply to Yale.

  • PrincessPrincess Alum Member
    821 karma

    I voted Top 10, especially if you have such an amazing scholarship offer. I feel like that would just save so much stress in the future that could happen trying to repay those loans. It's like choosing between prestige or your peace. I would definitely choose the higher scholarship!

  • Chipster StudyChipster Study Yearly Member
    893 karma

    Yale.

  • shrutisrivshrutisriv Alum Member
    47 karma

    Depends on your objectives- if you want to go for a federal clerkship / career in politics/ I'd even venture to say BigLaw then I suppose Yale is a better bet, hands down. If its just to get to say I've graduated from Yale, then probably not. Also, since you've said you want to eventually end up in the public sector, I'm guessing T-10 should be good. Also, I don't know which T-10 you've gotten into but one of the main things to consider for law school is: location, location, location! So a T-10 giving you a full ride, maybe located in DC / NYC / some other area where there's a big legal market would be much better than being stuck in New Haven for 3 years tbh. With your career goals, I fee like DC / NYC is the place for you to be. If your T-10 is located in either of those cities and is offering you a full scholarship, please go for it without thinking another second.

  • lsatplaylistlsatplaylist Alum Member
    5244 karma

    Joining the Yale voters, but please think for a long time about what you'll do and do what you want, not what anyone else does because it's your education, and remember transferring is something that some students find helpful.

  • hawaiihihawaiihi Member
    edited April 2019 973 karma

    I've heard from Yale alumns now doing AMAZING work in the public sector---literally many who took the exact path you describe of clerking, private, then public. It really seems like the opportunities at Yale are vast, especially for a few key reasons.
    1) You don't have to fight for the top grades to compete or worry about rankings, which allows you to focus and spend your time building your resume doing the work you really care about, whether that's classes, clinics, research, etc (and remember that even if you're brilliant, law school curves mean that you are by no means guaranteed top grades)
    2) The name gets you into doors that you otherwise would have to struggle for access to. You can, by many metrics, do almost anything with the opportunities and network and access that Yale offers.

    (Also, don't know if you're eligible for Yale's COAP loan forgiveness program down the line, but even if you aren't----for other folks, Yale's program is really far and beyond what any other school offers, and it really has almost no restrictions on the type of work you can do---it covers public, private, academia, government work and it's really generous and cohesive.)

    Ultimately, I think it really depends on your goals. You've described your career path, and I guess for me it isn't clear if you want a "unicorn" outcome or not. By public, do you mean ACLU or Human Rights Watch? Do you mean federal prosecutor or judge? By private, do you mean absolute certainty you'll be able to land a cushy Manhattan BigLaw firm? In that case, Yale.

    But if you're looking to do public interest work at a less statistically unlikely level, and you want to do good, meaningful work at a less stratospheric level, I think T10 absolutely makes sense . It will be harder (more competitive) to get a clerkship, perhaps, but definitely within the realm of reasonable possibility, and you've made it this far. And money is freedom as well.

    Good luck! You've got two amazing choices. Congratulations!

  • nstublernstubler Member
    11 karma

    i think Yale is pretty gross...
    i'd go full ride

    but more than anything, i think it depends on where you think would be a better cultural fit, where you think your peers and professors will help you be the person you want to be.

  • jameswspraguejameswsprague Alum Member
    9 karma

    If you're hellbent on clerking, go to Yale. 50% of Yale grads get a federal clerkship. If you want to work in academia, go to Yale.

    If your ultimate goal is to work for Big Law for a time and then work in the public sector, choose the T10. Clerking is a great experience, but it is not a prerequisite for Big Law (although clerks receive a snazzy $80,000 signing bonus when they join a Big Law firm).

    If you are confident in your ability to perform in law school, go to the T10. Among T14s, class rank will limit your options more that your school's name.

    If you perform well (top 10% of your class), take the appropriate classes your 2L year, and earn a position on Law Review, you will be competitive for a clerkship regardless of which T14 you attend.

    Note: Law school is hard and fiercely competitive. By design (forced curves), 90% of the class will not be competitive for a clerkship due to class rank (except at Yale and Harvard where the top 50% and top 20-30% will be competitive, respectively). If you're confident that you can perform better on law school exams than 90% of the students in your T10 class, then pick that option without a second thought! But consider that nearly every law student wants to be the top of his or her class and your classes at either school will not be filled with slackers. The battle to the top is hard fought.

    Finally, debt sucks. And it accrues interest. And it certainly limits your choices. Many believe that Big Law will allow you to quickly pay off your debt, but this is not the case. It will still take the better part of a decade (if not longer) to pay off your debt unless you go full miser. And most Big Law attorneys leave after 2-3 years because the work-life balance is truly horrible. On the bright side, though, there are tons and tons of Big Law job openings each and every year because the turnover is so high.

    Food for thought. I voted for T10 plus money.

  • TuakuHijTuakuHij Alum Member
    39 karma

    Honestly, go with the school that gives you more money. I cannot stress that enough! I currently work for a prestigious law firm and I know so many successful attorneys who went to T10 schools (who also had great experiences clerking). Do you really want to limit your options after law school due to debt? Graduating debt free will give you the freedom to decide which area of law you would like to practice (BigLaw or Public Interest). Maybe even gain several cool clerkship. Plus, a lot top law firms hire the cream of crop, so if you decide to go to Yale, you will have to work extremely hard to be in the top 10% of your class. All the best on you law school journey! The 7sage community is proud of you!

  • Better every dayBetter every day Legacy Member
    246 karma

    @JohnsHopkins44 said:
    Hi all!

    It's been about a year and a half since I began my journey of studying for the LSAT and applying to law school, and (in no small part due to help from 7Sage) I now have the best, but hardest decision to make.

    I have about two weeks to decide whether to accept a T10 school's top scholarship, which would allow me to leave law school debt-free, or to accept my admission to Yale (at full cost). Basically, Yale would cost about $225,000 more than the other T10 school (and more once interest on loans is considered). The T10 scholarship covers full tuition/fees and includes a sizable yearly stipend. Both are great options, and if the cost differential weren't so great I'd probably go to Yale, but, well... That's a huge amount of money to pay considering the alternative that's available to me.

    After law school I'm hoping to clerk, work for a large firm for a while, and probably eventually move to the public sector. Those goals are quite attainable (obviously) from both schools, though Yale holds a special place in the minds of many employers (and attorneys).

    So I'm hoping ya'll can share your thoughts on a question and vote in the attached poll. The question for the comments is, how much more would you be willing to pay to attend Y/H/S vs. another T10 law school?

    Many thanks to those who respond! I'm really fretting about this decision.

    Congrats on the great options. I have similar ambitions and would personally pay sticker for Yale unless the scholarship you are referring to is the Levy at Penn, the Karsh-Dillard at Virginia, or the Ruby at Chicago. It appears that these types of prestigious named scholarships provide ample opportunity to form close relationships with successful professors and alumni. If you can establish a true relationship with a professor through these scholarships, that will be incredibly valuable for you when you are seeking letters of recommendation for clerkships. I think it also depends a little on the confidence you have in yourself to succeed. If you are top 5% at Penn or Virginia, there aren't really any doors closed to you. Now on the flipside, if you go to Yale and complete a federal clerkship, you will essentially be a lock for almost every biglaw firm and you will have a legitimate shot at some of the litigation boutiques. Not sure exactly what your public interests goals are, but if you are shooting for AUSA, or any type of high level litigation role, the path I would personally pursue is Yale > Clerkship > Clerkship > Lit Boutique > Desired PI Job.

  • 10 karma

    Thanks everyone -for your responses -- it was great to process all of your views/opinions as I made my decision. For those who re-visit this thread or find it in the future, I decided to take the full ride! Basically, for me, it came down to the T10 school having a better "fit" / vibe during my visits, and the knowledge that (as a debt-averse person) I will be much more happy over the next 6-7 years without the looming shadow of 6-figure debt hanging over me. I'm also confident that the T10 will open enough doors for me -- provided I put in the work over the next 3 years -- and that, in any case, I'll find a path that is rewarding both vocationally and financially.

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