LSAT and Law School Admissions Forum

Get expert LSAT preparation and law school admissions advice from PowerScore Test Preparation.

General questions relating to law school or law school admissions.
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 8258
  • Joined: Feb 02, 2011
Below is a conversation between PowerScore CEO Dave Killoran and a student, regarding the student's law school admissions decision.

Anonymous: "Hi Dave,

My options are currently narrowed down to Michigan and Harvard, and maybe NYU if I get RTK or Furman. A little bit more about my interests:

I’ve taken 4 years off and have mainly worked in policy (both in local government and at advocacy organizations). I want to continue pursuing PI work in law school. I have a pretty strong aversion to the hours of big law work, but not totally writing it off, especially because I know some PI pathways value a little bit of big law experience. I love my current job at an advocacy org, which has incredible work life balance, and have the general end goal of living a comfortable life doing interesting work (which for me means I don’t necessarily need to be ~rich~ but I also am not interested in making $50,000 as a public defender). Alas, my current job does not have a legal department that I could return to. As of right now, my ideal role would be as policy counsel at an advocacy org. I have strong interests, and work experience, in reproductive justice and education policy, but also would like to use law school as a chance to explore other pet interests in voting rights, housing, or (kind of randomly if I can) food law. I’m also fairly certain I’d like to clerk for at least a year after graduating.

I imagine for my interests, I’d probably have to spend at least a couple of years in D.C., but I’d like to ultimately end up back in the Midwest (ideally Chicago), maybe working at an advocacy org or in a local government agency.

Harvard COA: I have $45,910 in need based aid. Assuming I get around that same amount for 2L and 3L, I’ve estimated my total cost (plus living expenses, books, etc) to be $137000.

Reasons to Attend Harvard: I do not have a strong interest in becoming a professor, but I don’t have a strong interest ~not~ to become a professor. I like having access to Harvard Kennedy School, as someone interest in the intersection of law and policy. And I like that Harvard has a dedicated class or clinic for all of my interests, even food! Plus I love the idea of no grades. But as someone blessed with no undergrad debt, 6-figures is hard for me to swallow, yes even with LIPP.

UMich COA: I got full tuition at Columbia. I have no interest in attending Columbia. I didn’t like the feel of the school and would like to get out of NYC after being here for 8 years (counting undergrad). I leveraged the full tuition with UMich. I’m still waiting to hear back, but assuming Michigan matches, COA could be anywhere from debt free to around $24000.

Reasons to Attend Michigan: I am from Ann Arbor and could live at home to save costs. Plus, I miss being around my family. I’d like to settle in Chicago. I like that Michigan has a reputation for being nice. They have decent offerings in voting and education/children issues. I haven’t explored their housing offerings, but I imagine with Detroit right there, there’d be interesting things to do. No Food Law offerings, but I don’t have a strong enough interest for this to be the sole basis of my decision. I’m also very debt adverse and love the idea of being debt free or at least able to manage debt payments without LRAP assistance. If UMich doesn’t give me full tuition, I’d probably knock it out of consideration due to better LRAPs at HLS and NYU.

NYU COA: ~$80-90K assuming RTK or full-tuition Furman (haven’t crunched the hard numbers yet)

Reasons to Attend NYU: I’d only consider going if I got full tuition. I really want to leave NYC. But I’m attracted to NYU’s clinical offerings and the dedicated supports that come from the Furman in pursuing my interest in law + policy (a semester in D.C., externship placement at a government agency, etc).

I know some of the above factors are to be determined, but I think that I’m pretty clear that given the above scenario it’s a toss up. Given less than full tuition at UMich vs. RTK/Furman at NYU or HLS, then Michigan is out, but would HLS be worth $40K more than NYU? 
What should I do?

Thanks for parsing through my different scenarios!"

Anonymous: "Just following up to confirm that I have officially been offered full tuition at Michigan, which would mean a debt total debt of $23,000 or under. Eagerly awaiting your thoughts!"

Dave Killoran: "Hi Anon,

Thanks for the message! Well, the good news is that you have a wealth of quality choices, so congrats to you on a very successful cycle so far :)

As it stands, the situation is:

Harvard COA: $137000.

UMich COA: Under $24000.

NYU COA: ~$80-90K.

And while these are all schools we know well, just for due diligence purposes it’s good to check the numbers: ... rvard/nyu/. Not all that dissimilar, although NYU tends to send more people to big firms (which makes sense) and less so to clerkships. So, assuming nothing changes, this is how I view it:

NYU: this is the first school off the list for me since you want out of NYU. If you were really biglaw focused that might change things, as would a change in the financials, but it sounds like you are over NYC, so given the debt I personally would remove it.

Now it’s Harvard vs Michigan, and since I personally tend to be debt averse I would have to really have a good reason to choose Harvard here. Yes, it’s a fab school and everyone knows it and the Kennedy school is there, but is it worth $113,000+ simply to get those benefits when the alternative is very similar? Not to me. So unless you suddenly decide that being a prof is where it’s at, I would tend towards Michigan.

All that said, these are all great choices and no “bad” ones :) So, congrats again on that!"

Anonymous: "Dave,

Thanks for the input! I feel pretty solid about taking the money and running, but it’s nice to have that confirmed by an informed outsider who has considered my thought process. Thank you!"

Dave Killoran: "No problem, and let me know if anything changes. Thanks!"

Get the most out of your LSAT Prep Plus subscription.

Analyze and track your performance with our Testing and Analytics Package.