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Please help me decide!!!

zas
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I have narrowed down my decision to choose between Duke and UT. Duke offered me a $75,000 total scholarship and UT offered me a Non-Resident Tuition Waiver and a scholarship for $20,000/year. Duke's tuition is about $63,000/year and UT's in-state tuition is about $36,000/year. I am not sure exactly what I want to do once I graduate or where I want to work. Which school do you think will be the best option for me?

Also is attending UT or Duke worth turning down a full ride at Ohio State or $45,000/year at Wash U? The tuition at WashU is about $53,000/year.
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Staff
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Hi Zas,

Thanks for the question! First, I'm going to direct you to the article and especially the comments at: Scholarship vs. Prestige: When to Take the Money and Run? I've answered dozens of questions about school choices, and within those discussions I've talked about the main considerations and a variety of tools to use to help make the best decision :-D

Second, while you've focused on tuition/scholarhips, I would encourage you to look at the total debt that will result from attending any school, which includes 12 months of cost of living, tuition, etc. Having the "real" number in front of you makes the options clearer, and allows you to avoid a surprise later on.

Next, the big thing for me is, once you have the actual costs, what do you get for the extra debt? What you are paying for is improved job outcomes, and so you need to compare. Here's a start: https://www.lstreports.com/compare/duke/texas/. You can see here that Duke provides job outcomes that undeniably better than UT (and that's not a knock on UT, which is a great school; Duke just does quite well in hiring). You can add in the other schools and compare as well, but the key is: what do you get for what you pay? And if you do pay, is it worth it? The one benefit Duke has here is that it has a national reputation, which gives you more options. But, if you decide you don't want to go into biglaw or a clerkship, maybe you'd be better off in choosing a different school and taking on significantly less debt. You can see that what you want will have a huge impact on the decision, so think on this for a while!

Last, I prefer the ATL rankings to USNews, since they focus on jobs. You might note that duke does pretty well here, but so do your other schools: https://abovethelaw.com/law-school-rank ... w-schools/.

So, start with the real debt you would accrue—putting it in black and white can really help!
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Test Preparation
Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DaveKilloran
My LSAT Articles: http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/author/dave-killoran
Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
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I'll add a personal note here, and that is to check out Duke's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security. If that interests you from a career perspective, that might sway you towards beautiful Durham, NC. If you get the chance to take a class with Professor Silliman, you won't regret it! Also, two very different types of barbeque should be weighed.
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
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zas
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Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:07 pm
Points: 2

Hi Dave,

Thank you so much for your reply! I ended up emailing Duke and asking for additional funding and they increased my scholarship to $81,000. Although the extra $6,000 doesn't really change much in terms of the debt that I will end up with, its kind of awesome to see how much money sending one email can save you! I took your advice and considered all of the extra costs aside from tuition. The cost of living is higher in Austin than Durham and travel expenses throughout the three years will also cost me more. A plane ticket from Austin to visit my parents will cost me around $600 whereas Durham will only be a few hours away driving. Since I currently don't have any student loans and I am not sure what I want to do exactly or where I want to end up geographically, I decided that the improved job outcomes that Duke will provide are worth the extra $60,000 that I will pay in tuition. I really hope I am making the right decision.
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Staff
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Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:18 pm
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Hi Zas,

That's great news about Duke increasing the money! I think it's a solid choice and worth the extra dollars. Now, you need to go there and focus on getting the best grades possible—that will make all the difference to the options you have coming out of school.

Enjoy and good luck!
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Test Preparation
Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DaveKilloran
My LSAT Articles: http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/author/dave-killoran