You're right. Even worse everyone, including on these boards, seems to constantly allude to this "other" - some school where the kids will kill your firstborn to distract you and then rip up/delete your outlines.
Or even better. "the kids are competitive with themselves, not each other"
OMG yes. What are these mysterious other schools?! Cooley?
I went to all of those 3 ASWs, too. I think the student body was probably collegial at all of them. I think it's a total myth that the general student body is cut-throat anywhere (although I'm sure there are a few asshairs no matter where you go).
But I think TITCR.
Far more important is how accessible and student-oriented they all told us their faculties are. At Duke, a bunch of professors were around all day, a couple even at the late night social events. We actually got to talk to tons of faculty at the reception and ask them questions about their research, law school, etc. and even just shoot the shit. I believe them completely. At Penn, however, I didn't see any faculty at all - not once. At UVA, I saw faculty only during their program information sessions, and they split as quickly as possible (one guy tried to leave early and didn't know he had to do 2 info sessions). I'd think if the faculty cared, they'd come meet their future students and research assistants. No sale at UVA and Penn, even if it may be true.
Yeah, I talked to a kid who mentioned how at Michigan faculty were really shoved down their throats. I didn't really think about it, but now that you mention it faculty were lacking. They did have the one lunch with faculty though, don't know if you were able to attend that.
Penn's financial aid office also spent an hour telling us how flexible they were. I asked about my scholarship offer's deadline, I was told that even though it isn't technically binding, it is "in the spirit" of the offer that I commit to Penn. I said I'd love to honor that and asked for a 1-2 week extension (since it expires in only 2 weeks or so) to come back to Philly and actually look at housing since that's a huge factor in my decision. I was told "it's a bad year for extensions."
I agree with this as well. Penn's financial aid seems iffy, especially the TOLLRAP. The dude's answers were so vague! "We will take your spouse's income into account... but never use it against you." And totally avoided the question on what happens if you're doing PI, your spouse is making biglaw pay and both have loans to pay off... Total BS.