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Madison: "Hello Dave!
I am desperately in need of some advice, as I am torn between the classic scholarship vs. prestige decision. I was admitted it UCI with a 90k scholarship over 3 years. It is contingent on maintaining a 2.5 GPA. My other option is Pepperdine, currently ranked 47 and they have offered me the Dean’s Merit Scholarship of 165k over the 3 years, again contingent that I maintain a 2.8 GPA. Pepperdine is currently ranked 47th and UCI is ranked 27th. I’m on the waitlist at UCLA, so where I am now these are my top contenders and my best options COA is about the same at these two schools, so by my estimates, I would have about 120,000 in debt from UCI but only 42,000 from Pepperdine. Biglaw was not necessarily a goal of mine when embarking on the law school journey, but I am not averse to entering Biglaw for a few years to pay off my debt if I took the UCI route.
I guess my question is what most people have been asking on this thread! Is the prestige of UCI valuable enough to warrant the extra 78,000 in debt?
Thank you Dave! "
Dave Killoran: "Hi Madison,
Thanks for the message! This is a good question, and it’s nice to be able to perfectly quantify the difference between these two schools: $78K. UCI is a relatively new school, and a fast riser at that, so determining the “prestige” aspect here can be more challenging than at a more “established” school. So, let’s turn to the numbers and see what we get: https://www.lstreports.com/compare/irvine/pepperdine.
Just on the surface, you begin to see that UCI has better “prestige” stats than Pepperdine:
Fed Clerkships: 2.8% vs 1.7%
All Clerkships: 7.1% vs 6.2%
National Firms: 24.1% vs 6.7%
The National firms placement is probably the most important there because the difference is fairly stark: 1 out of every 4 UCI grads go into big firms; at Pepperdine it’s 1 out of 15. 1 out of 4 is no lock but it’s far better than 1 out of 15, and that’s what your money is buying you here.
My lean here would be UCI since you’ll have greater portability in coming years adn better options out of the gate, but I’m cognizant that $78K is a significant additional debt sum. So, now you have to weigh that cost vs the extra benefit.