Have you seen that commercial for the Volkswagen Passat? A guy gets a call from someone claiming to be his Future Self. The Future Self gives the guy advice: don't take job X and stay away from woman Y. Oh, and buy the Passat. "Trust me, it's the one decision you'll always be happy you made," Future Self says. Recently I've wished for just such a call from my Future Self. I've wished I would call myself from 3-5 years in the future and tell myself which law school I should attend. But after waiting to nearly the last minute for such supernatural serendipity (this blog isn't called ambivalent imbroglio for nothing), I finally made the choice.
For the last couple of weeks I've been mentally preparing myself to go to GW. At least that's what I told everyone I know. But as decision-time neared, I was increasingly nagged by a little voice saying, "but, but, American is such a cool place!" That voice reminded me that I've never cared about rankings before, that the class I attended at American was so much better than the classes I sat through at the other schools, that American's facilities and clinical programs are superb, and that the public interest orientation I sensed at American was exactly what I've been looking for in a law school. "You'll be so much more comfortable there," the nagging voice said. Plus, I still hadn't heard about financial aid from American; I hoped that would make the decision for me.
It didn't. American basically matched the financial deal GW offered, which didn't really help. By all accounts, GW is a much stronger school than American, so it seemed I'd need a much better financial deal from American to make it more attractive. Still, I couldn't decide. So I started comparing stats:
- How long would it take to get from our apt. in Silver Spring to school? Time on train to Farragut North metro station is 25 minutes, plus a 5-10 min. walk to GW. Time on train to Tenleytown-AU metro station is 30 minutes, plus 5-10 shuttle ride to WCL (plus possible wait time for shuttle, which supposedly runs every 30 minutes). Advantage: GW.
- Student/Faculty ratio: GW = 17.9; AU = 16.7 Advantage: AU.
- Employment at graduation/after 9 mos.: GW = 96.3/98.6; AU = 82.0/94.6. Advantage GW.
- Bar Passage rate: GW = 89.9 NY; AU = 69.6 MD. Advantage: GW.
- USNWR Specialty ranks: GW = #9 Environmental, #2 IP, #6 International; AU = #3 Clinical, #7 International. Advantage: Depends. I'm more interested in clinical-related things than IP or International (I think).
- Lietner Specialty rankings: GW = 15th in Administrative and Environmental, 17th in Constitutional, 10th in International and Comparative, ; AU = 15th in Critical Theories, 14th in International and Comparative. Advantage: GW, but barely.
- Especially appealing extras: GW = Legal Activism class; AU = Marshall Brennan Fellowship program. Advantage Even.
- Employment in Govt/PI/Clerks/Academia: GW = 9.5/3.9/10.7/0.5; AU = 18.7, 5.1, 9.8, 1.2. Advantage AU.
I compared many more variables, of course, but no matter what, the decision seemed to boil down to this:
A) I could play it safe, following the nearly unanimous advice I've received and read (advice influenced in no small part by rankings, of course), and go to GW; or,
B) I could throw caution to the wind, following my "gut" and the romantic siren song of a school that seems to think like I do, and go to American. I'm definitely a romantic at heart, and I've made many big decisions in life by standing on principal and ideals (e.g., graduate school in English). Sometimes it works, but often I've ended up feeling like I'm just beating my head against a wall as I realize that no matter how much I wish the world were different or how strongly I believe in something, the world won't change just for me, and to a large extent it doesn't give a damn about what I believe (e.g., graduate school in English).
I chose "A." My seat deposit is currently making its way to GW through the U.S. Mail. I hope my Future Self will someday tell me this was the right decision. Meanwhile, if you're going to GW, see you there.