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May 27, 2005

Request: Loyola or Southwestern?

A pre-law student in the midst of deciding where to go to school writes:

I am a prospective student that has been admitted to both Loyola (second tier) and to Southwestern Law School(third tier) in Los Angeles. Southwestern has offered me a full tuition scholarship while I would have to finance most, if not all, of Loyola's tuition. I noticed that Loyola and Southwestern have the same bar passage rate (61 %)for first time test takers and the average starting salary for graduates is actually $10,000 higher at Southwestern. The schools seem very similar and I cannot understand why Loyola is ranked higher. Wouldn't it be better to choose Southwestern? Is rank really that important? Any thoughts?

If you have any thoughts on either of these schools or making school choices in general, please share it in the comments. Thanks!

Posted by mowabb at May 27, 2005 05:57 AM

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Blawg Wisdom has been updated with a new request for advice about choosing between Loyola and Southwestern law schools. Please head on over and offer any tips you can think of, either about those schools specifically, or making the choice more general... [Read More]

Tracked on May 27, 2005 06:52 AM

Comments

Take. The. Money.

There are too many issues with the ranking system to go into them here, but if you excel (like top 5% of your class) at a lower ranked school, make law review, etc. you will do just fine in the job market. And because you don't have the debt, you will have *much* greater flexibility. The rankings are a *very poor* metric to use when making a choice; and if one school is offering you a free ride--take it!!

Posted by: Dave! at May 27, 2005 10:32 AM

Agreed. Don't give too much weight to the rankings, and especially things like average starting salary which can be easily manipulated. I went to an accepted students program at Loyola last year and was impressed with their faculty. I also think their buildings are newer than Southwestern. My suggestion would be to visit both campuses if you haven't already, and look around at the library, the classrooms, talk to anyone who is hanging around for the summer. Make sure you can picture yourself being there, since that's where you'll be spending a large chunk of your life. The money thing does give some weight to Southwestern, but ultimately go where you think you'd be happiest. Either way, make sure you put in the extra effort to get the experiences you want from law school- internships, clerkships, etc.

Posted by: at May 28, 2005 12:00 PM

if you're an idiot you're gonna suck in life even if you went to harvard. if you're a champion you're gonna be rich even if you drop out of high school. my guess is you are somewhere in the middle and the decision between the schools isn't really as big as you think it is. hello, free tuition?

Posted by: dwayne at May 28, 2005 01:42 PM

Southwestern has a fairly strong reputation in LA. Probably even better than Loyola within LA. I'd probably say it's because of the alumni situation in LA. The free tuition and if you were going to stay in LA, I'd probably say take the money. I'd probably second Dave's thoughts. Especially if you were going to stay in the LA area and knew it. The way Loyola might help you out is if you were going to leave California or the LA area. But you also may want to look at the firms that do on campus interviews at both schools. That may give you a look at the current state of their reputations in the legal field.

Posted by: Reckless Murder at May 30, 2005 10:27 AM

i went with the money. (though it was not a full ride like you congrats!)then i had a baby and was glad i went with the money. if you find you have trouble getting a job you can always go to a higher tier LLM program. THAT WAY you can get the sweatshirt from UCLA without the pricetag. do well.

Posted by: buckey at May 30, 2005 12:36 PM

i just finished my second year at southwestern. southwestern is very competitive, and some of the professors are borderline questionable in their competency which doesn't help. it has a reputation for being a very rigorous school -- no grade inflation here like at USC and UCLA. in all fairness, i think the school is getting better. new professors are coming in, and we have a new dean which allows for some hope for positive change.

if you want to work at a large firm don't even consider going to southwestern. i know a lot of people on law review that don't have jobs. i am not on law review, and my grades aren't even that great. i was lucky and found a job at a large IP firm in LA, but i was more of the exception than the norm.

southwestern gave me a small scholarship, so i went with the money. knowing what i know now, i probably would have picked another school to attend.

good luck, and maybe i'll see you on campus next year. feel free to email me with any questions. i can help you out with professors and maybe get you some outlines. oh, also make sure and sign up for the mentor program -- it can be a lifesaver.

Posted by: 3l_swlaw at June 1, 2005 06:17 PM

i just finished my second year at southwestern. southwestern is very competitive, and some of the professors are borderline questionable in their competency which doesn't help. it has a reputation for being a very rigorous school -- no grade inflation here like at USC and UCLA. in all fairness, i think the school is getting better. new professors are coming in, and we have a new dean which allows for some hope for positive change.

if you want to work at a large firm don't even consider going to southwestern. i know a lot of people on law review that don't have jobs. i am not on law review, and my grades aren't even that great. i was lucky and found a job at a large IP firm in LA, but i was more of the exception than the norm.

southwestern gave me a small scholarship, so i went with the money. knowing what i know now, i probably would have picked another school to attend.

good luck, and maybe i'll see you on campus next year. feel free to email me with any questions. i can help you out with professors and maybe get you some outlines. oh, also make sure and sign up for the mentor program -- it can be a lifesaver.

Posted by: 3L_swlaw at June 1, 2005 06:19 PM

i just finished my second year at southwestern. southwestern is very competitive, and some of the professors are borderline questionable in their competency which doesn't help. it has a reputation for being a very rigorous school -- no grade inflation here like at USC and UCLA. in all fairness, i think the school is getting better. new professors are coming in, and we have a new dean which allows for some hope for positive change.

if you want to work at a large firm don't even consider going to southwestern. i know a lot of people on law review that don't have jobs. i am not on law review, and my grades aren't even that great. i was lucky and found a job at a large IP firm in LA, but i was more of the exception than the norm.

southwestern gave me a small scholarship, so i went with the money. knowing what i know now, i probably would have picked another school to attend.

good luck, and maybe i'll see you on campus next year. feel free to email me with any questions. i can help you out with professors and maybe get you some outlines. oh, also make sure and sign up for the mentor program -- it can be a lifesaver.

Posted by: at June 1, 2005 06:24 PM

This is a really silly question. I struggled with a very similar one last year. But it depends on what you want out of your life, your career, and your education. I was worried about money myself--not so much making it, but not being in debt forever. So I did an extensive analysis of my school options, taking into account tuition, tuition increases, scholarships, accrued interest on loans (both federal and private), average starting salaries from each school, expected income growth, and alternate investment opportunities. I did not account for the correlation between increased income and increased consumption (which would disfavor higher ranked schools).

From a purely financial perspective, if you need to borrow for most of your education (like me) you are better off going to a Tier III school (and doing well) and working for $55k/year than you are going to Harvard and starting at $125k/year. While many law students--who in general have a great dislike for numbers--will vacuously debate this, the financials don't lie. So long as you're not stupid with your money, you'll be ahead even 15-20 years out.

Then again, it determines what you value. If you want to be able to say you went to someplace like Hahvahd the social edification, go for it. But there are real costs.

Posted by: at June 11, 2005 01:51 AM

I had the same dilemma. I got a full scholarship to Southwestern but didn't take it. I ended up going to USD and completely paid my own way via loans. What a mistake. After grad I got pregnant and haven't been working. So I have no income (but thank god for my hubby)and yet have student loan payments.

I never got into Loyola though. I guess they didn't want me. Anyway...so take the money.

good luck.

Posted by: BeenInYourShoes at June 17, 2005 07:24 PM