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March 31, 2003

Dog Is My Co-Pilot*

We have travelled, and we have returned. I have not yet made a decision, but you, kind readers, have given me a lot of great advice to add to the mix. I guess the trick to getting a good conversation going here at ai is simply to throw out a plea and leave for a week and let all of you do your stuff. Thanks for all the comments and suggestions and links. I'm still trying to absorb it all and to integrate it with what I learned during my visits. I had hoped that one school would stand out among the others to make my choice simple, and I guess that happened. However, the choice is still not simple, primarily because (a) I still don't know financial aid numbers from all schools (GW offered $11k for the first year, which is a great start), and (b) the school that seemed to stand out the most—American—is also the lowest-ranked school, which throws everything right back on that tricky little question: How important is rank, anyway? Everyone seems to agree it's important, but just how important seems to depend utterly on where you're talking about and what you want to do with your degree.

Then there are the the many other variables: money (how much it costs and how much they offer in grants), location, clinical programs, funding for public interest work in the summer, quality of LRAP, (and just how would I evaluate that, anyway?), curriculum/faculty, gut feeling, and on and on. (And of course there's my secret litmus test for a good school: How many students bring their iBooks and Powerbooks to class? The more macs, the better the school, obviously!) And as I flip through this rolodex of variables in my head, I wonder at a meta-level: How important is this decision, anyway? Am I making too much of this? Should I just choose a damn school and get on with things? Liable's advice seems to answer this question; she says:

How about this -- if you're willing to work diligently at any school you go to, pick the one you want to attend. They're all winners.

Very true. So... Eeenie, meenie, miney...

Of course, it doesn't have to be that random. Ditzy Genius has developed a great little spreadsheet with dozens of criteria by which to judge different schools you might be considering. She kindly sent me a copy (along w/some great tips) and I'm currently adapting her criteria to suit my own search and will report on the results of this little face-off as soon as I crunch the numbers (or something like that).

(DG does not seem to have permalinks, but check the entry for 3/28 for more on this. Any other random post will also tell you that DG can write. For example, check yesterday's encounter w/a NJ State Trooper to learn a new trick for ticket-free highway speeding—honesty!?! Witty, honest, entertaining, and full of good tips and information—what more could you want in a blog?)

* Post title comes from a bumper sticker seen while traveling through Connecticut.

Posted March 31, 2003 06:48 AM | law school

I saw a great bumpersticker yesterday: I break for the hell of it. Anyways, good luck in deciding!

Posted by: alice at March 31, 2003 08:40 AM

I saw a pretty good bumper sticker yesterday too (post pull-over): Horn Broken. Watch for Finger.

Thanks for the kind words and good luck with the spreadsheet! I'll be interested in hearing your results and what criteria you added. Also, I didn't even notice that my permalinks weren't working, so I fixed that :) Thanks!


Posted by: Ditzy at March 31, 2003 10:39 AM

Were it my decision, I'd narrow the choice to BC and GW, and probably decide based on who offered the best financial aid package. Both are excellent schools with national presences; their graduates can go just about anywhere they want. American isn't bad by any means, but a degree from American doesn't carry the same weight as one from BC or GW. As for George Mason, stay away unless you feel like undergoing a three-year conservative indoctrination.

Depending on what you want to do, school reputation really can make a difference, even among the schools at the high end. I graduated first in my class at Penn (one of the 15 schools in the top ten). I had plenty of clerkship opportunities, including a couple of interviews at the Supreme Court, and ultimately I landed a teaching job. So obviously I can't complain. But someone in the top third of the class at Harvard or Yale probably could have done as well, and someone in the 70th percentile at Penn probably couldn't.

Posted by: Jeff Cooper at March 31, 2003 05:41 PM

No good bumper stickers to report, and I have no law school advice (except to say it sounds like you should run far and fast from George Mason), but I do have to say, all that travelin', and no stop in Indy? Someone feels unloved... ;)

Glad the trip went well in all, though.

Posted by: Rachel at April 3, 2003 10:43 PM

Wow. This is the blog I was looking for...

Posted by: zip code map at October 12, 2003 07:48 AM

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