UVA for academia?

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mrorange242

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UVA for academia?

Postby mrorange242 » Sat Jan 06, 2018 2:42 pm

Hi all,

I've been fortunate enough to be offered a Dillard scholarship at UVA. My first instinct is to gleefully accept, but I really would love to pursue a career in academia. Supposing I get into one of HYS (haven't heard back yet, because I only submitted apps at the end of 2017 -- but I think my stats do give me a good shot), is it really worth it to pay sticker for the putative academic edge? I'm wondering how much of that "edge" is (a) hype (b) self-selection of academic types into HYS and (c) real.

For what it's worth, I wouldn't be asking this if it was anything but academia. I would take UVA's offer in a heartbeat. But I'm wondering if academia is a relevantly different case.

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thesealocust

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby thesealocust » Sat Jan 06, 2018 2:53 pm

I went to UVA and was #1 in the class my first year. My impression from talking to professors and researching it at the time is that academia would have been a real possibility if I'd wanted to grind it out, and there was little to be gained (and maybe something to be lost) in transferring to HYS. As it turned out, I wrote one publishable paper and despised the process, so that was the end of that chapter.

You'll probably have more wiggle room at HYS than you would at a school like UVA, but with a large difference in sticker price, I'm not sure that would be worth it.

Look up professor profiles at schools up and down the 'rankings.' You'll find an overwhelmingly huge number went to Yale, many went to Harvard or Stanford, and relatively few went to any other school. Yale might actually be a different beast than H/S. There's a lot that goes into it: school prestige matters, professors at prestigious schools have connections with journals and judges that can help potential academics build their resumes, etc. At the end of the day, academic hiring is all about publications and publication potential. To the extent you have narrow and specific academic interests, you'll be in better shape to asses your goal, but that can be hard before you've set foot in law school...

Hutz_and_Goodman

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Sat Jan 06, 2018 2:58 pm

There are threads on this but academia is such a long shot that it really doesn’t make sense to choose a law school based upon it. Even being a SCOTUS clerk is no guarantee of getting a tenure-track job at a T100 law school. When you look at professor profiles you need to take them with a grain of salt because it has become much harder to become a law professor is the last 20-30 years. Several law professors told me they would not even have a chance for a screener interview now because of the credentials of the candidates.

If I were in your shoes I would take the Dillard in a heartbeat. If you end up top 5% you may have a chance at academia and no matter what you will have minimal debt from a great school.

cavalier1138

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:10 pm

Yeah, just take the Dillard. Academia is almost never something you're going to have as an option right out of the gates (unless you already have a doctorate, and even then, probably not).

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby curry1 » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:27 pm

mrorange242 wrote:Hi all,

I've been fortunate enough to be offered a Dillard scholarship at UVA. My first instinct is to gleefully accept, but I really would love to pursue a career in academia. Supposing I get into one of HYS (haven't heard back yet, because I only submitted apps at the end of 2017 -- but I think my stats do give me a good shot), is it really worth it to pay sticker for the putative academic edge? I'm wondering how much of that "edge" is (a) hype (b) self-selection of academic types into HYS and (c) real.

For what it's worth, I wouldn't be asking this if it was anything but academia. I would take UVA's offer in a heartbeat. But I'm wondering if academia is a relevantly different case.


If you want to get a sense of just how competitive legal academia is, check out http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblaw ... ng-report/. Only 62 people got hired into tenure-track positions nation-wide last year. To reiterate what others have said, don't decide where to go to law school based on an illusory prospect of academia (with the possible exception of YLS). The only school that consistently places a sizable portion of its class into legal academia is Yale, but due to the scarcity of positions even YLS people struggle to find academic positions. See: https://law.yale.edu/system/files/area/ ... public.pdf

Paul Campos

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby Paul Campos » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:48 pm

If you want to be an academic, go get a Ph.D.

Go to law school to be a lawyer.

Paying sticker at HYS rather than taking a full ride at UVA because you think you might want to be a law professor one day is insane, unless you're so rich that $250,000 means nothing to you.

Hutz_and_Goodman

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:56 pm

Paul Campos wrote:If you want to be an academic, go get a Ph.D.

Go to law school to be a lawyer.

Paying sticker at HYS rather than taking a full ride at UVA because you think you might want to be a law professor one day is insane, unless you're so rich that $250,000 means nothing to you.


Even getting a Ph.D. you are still less than a 50% chance of getting a tenure-track professor position. Otherwise, I agree with the above.

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby Necho2 » Sat Jan 06, 2018 8:36 pm

Don't accept yet- have you applied to Chicago and NYU? The Rubenstein and the Furman (I think that's what it's called) might give you no-debt + a better chance at potential academia. I know the Furman's sort of designed around that, and there's definitely a heavy dose of faculty mentorship that goes along with the Rubinstein. All of that is contingent on rocking out grades-wise, but I'm pretty sure even at YLS, getting an academic gig means doing that, right?
Last edited by Necho2 on Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

mrorange242

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby mrorange242 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:15 pm

Thanks everybody, I appreciate the input. Lots to think about, but I think y'all have persuaded me not to bet on academia and not to choose a school based on that consideration. I'll keep my options open for sure, in part because a Furman (I did apply) or a Rubenstein would of course be awesome.

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby jbagelboy » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:58 pm

One consistently underrated consideration: the Dillard (or any other full tuition fellowship) is better for academia than HS, largely because applying to fellowships and taking time to produce viable scholRship is basically impossible with heavy student loan debt. The difference in financial flexibility vastly outpaces the school name (when the schools are this similar).

mrorange242

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby mrorange242 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:02 pm

jbagelboy wrote:One consistently underrated consideration: the Dillard (or any other full tuition fellowship) is better for academia than HS, largely because applying to fellowships and taking time to produce viable scholRship is basically impossible with heavy student loan debt. The difference in financial flexibility vastly outpaces the school name (when the schools are this similar).


I seriously can't believe I never thought of this. Brilliant. Thank you.

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quiver

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby quiver » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:13 pm

mrorange242 wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:One consistently underrated consideration: the Dillard (or any other full tuition fellowship) is better for academia than HS, largely because applying to fellowships and taking time to produce viable scholRship is basically impossible with heavy student loan debt. The difference in financial flexibility vastly outpaces the school name (when the schools are this similar).


I seriously can't believe I never thought of this. Brilliant. Thank you.
Why would this be the case? Are you assuming that "heavy student loan debt" = biglaw = less time for "applying to fellowships" and "producing viable scholarship"? I don't really see it. First, "heavy student loan debt" does not necessarily mean someone must do biglaw. Assuming some form of IBR (+ PSLF) still exists when OP graduates, loan payments are capped, so OP could take a PI/Gov job with better hours and produce scholarship in his/her free time. Second, aspiring academics may have time to produce scholarship both in law school and--since clerkships are nearly required for academia at this point--possibly during clerkships. Third, actually "applying to fellowships" is not really time intensive at all. Check out the application requirements for Climenko and Bigelow fellows; they're pretty much just the usual application materials for any job. Fourth, even assuming OP does biglaw, it's still possible to produce scholarship in his/her spare time; a normal 2000 billable-hour year leaves enough time for writing if that's a top priority.

None of that is to say that OP should definitely take H/S over a T14 full-tuition scholarship, or that OP should make this decision based on a minuscule shot at academia. The scholarship would certainly provide a lot of advantages, not the least of which is financial flexibility. But if OP has Dillard vs substantial need-based aid at YHS and has a long-shot goal of academia, I don't think the Dillard is a slam dunk.

OP, do you have any sense of what your need-based aid would be at YHS? You seem to assume sticker in your OP, but a lot of need-based aid may change the calculus here.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:23 pm

I don’t know know that producing valuable scholarship is going to be as easy during law school, clerkships, or biglaw as you suggest. Part of the whole reason people do those fellowships is to produce scholarship.

I also don’t think you’re going to get a Climenko or Bigelow by submitting your standard biglaw application.

Also there’s the psychological flexibility of not worrying about 6-figures of debt.

You may be right that no debt isn’t that much more of an advantage for academia than any other legal field, but it’s still a good thing.

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quiver

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby quiver » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:45 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I don’t know know that producing valuable scholarship is going to be as easy during law school, clerkships, or biglaw as you suggest. Part of the whole reason people do those fellowships is to produce scholarship.
It's not really easy any time, but it's certainly possible. I know people, including myself, who have published articles while in law school, clerkships, and biglaw. And yeah, based on jbagel's post, I was somewhat assuming that OP would be applying to fellowships/VAPs in addition to clerkships and whatever other jobs s/he gets.

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I also don’t think you’re going to get a Climenko or Bigelow by submitting your standard biglaw application.
I guess it depends what you mean by "standard". I see six current Climenko fellows that did stints in biglaw. The focus is obviously on publishing in a specific and demonstrated area of interest (ideally with work experience to back that up), but something like clerkship-->clerkship-->biglaw-->PI/Gov-->Fellowship seems within the realm of possibility if you're publishing along the way. If by "standard", you mean law school-->biglaw, then yeah, the fellowship is probably not going to happen.

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Also there’s the psychological flexibility of not worrying about 6-figures of debt.
100% agree.

A. Nony Mouse wrote:You may be right that no debt isn’t that much more of an advantage for academia than any other legal field, but it’s still a good thing.
Yeah, this was pretty much my only point. IMO, this really only starts to become a question if OP is getting a lot of financial aid from YHS.

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:10 pm

quiver wrote:
mrorange242 wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:One consistently underrated consideration: the Dillard (or any other full tuition fellowship) is better for academia than HS, largely because applying to fellowships and taking time to produce viable scholRship is basically impossible with heavy student loan debt. The difference in financial flexibility vastly outpaces the school name (when the schools are this similar).


I seriously can't believe I never thought of this. Brilliant. Thank you.
Why would this be the case? Are you assuming that "heavy student loan debt" = biglaw = less time for "applying to fellowships" and "producing viable scholarship"? I don't really see it. First, "heavy student loan debt" does not necessarily mean someone must do biglaw. Assuming some form of IBR (+ PSLF) still exists when OP graduates, loan payments are capped, so OP could take a PI/Gov job with better hours and produce scholarship in his/her free time. Second, aspiring academics may have time to produce scholarship both in law school and--since clerkships are nearly required for academia at this point--possibly during clerkships. Third, actually "applying to fellowships" is not really time intensive at all. Check out the application requirements for Climenko and Bigelow fellows; they're pretty much just the usual application materials for any job. Fourth, even assuming OP does biglaw, it's still possible to produce scholarship in his/her spare time; a normal 2000 billable-hour year leaves enough time for writing if that's a top priority.

None of that is to say that OP should definitely take H/S over a T14 full-tuition scholarship, or that OP should make this decision based on a minuscule shot at academia. The scholarship would certainly provide a lot of advantages, not the least of which is financial flexibility. But if OP has Dillard vs substantial need-based aid at YHS and has a long-shot goal of academia, I don't think the Dillard is a slam dunk.

OP, do you have any sense of what your need-based aid would be at YHS? You seem to assume sticker in your OP, but a lot of need-based aid may change the calculus here.


Working in government, either as a clerk or DOJ or other department, limits the range of scholarly options for publication in many arenas. Serious legal scholarship is not compatible with biglaw life, both in terms of the raw hours commitment (its an extraordinary ask to develop a few serious pieces in a 2000-hour year, and thats a light year), and the nature of the writing in biglaw (academic writing is very different stylistically from brief writing and it poses an immense challenge to switch between the two).

Second, take your risk with IBR and PLSF, both in terms of obtaining an enviable qualifying position and hoping that the programs remain intact under our toxic DOE.

Third, sure, it doesn't take a long time to literally apply to fellowships. But come on: you know that's now what I was talking about. Applying to hyper-competitive fellowships with an actual shot at obtaining one is a huge lift that demands concentration on a research agenda and networking with faculty support. Its not the boxes you check on the webpage.

And most importantly, switching from the private sector with loans to a low-paying fellowship or junior faculty position does lasting economic damage to a household. If you haven't paid your loan balance, or brought it to a very manageable level, you simply aren't going to have the option--especially with a family. And if you pay e.g. sticker at a top law school, it would take more years to reach that manageable level on a biglaw salary than time you remain competitive as an e.g. Bigelow applicant--after a year or two of clerking, you'll pass your sweet spot after maybe two or three years more of practice.

This is not a world of easy choices. Financial flexibility plays an outsized role for professionals and aspiring academics in their late 20s and early 30s, and you're setting yourself up to take advantage of all sorts of opportunities on a full tuition fellowship to a top school versus loaning out 200-300k at high interest.

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby quiver » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:51 pm

jbagelboy wrote:
quiver wrote:
mrorange242 wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:One consistently underrated consideration: the Dillard (or any other full tuition fellowship) is better for academia than HS, largely because applying to fellowships and taking time to produce viable scholRship is basically impossible with heavy student loan debt. The difference in financial flexibility vastly outpaces the school name (when the schools are this similar).


I seriously can't believe I never thought of this. Brilliant. Thank you.
Why would this be the case? Are you assuming that "heavy student loan debt" = biglaw = less time for "applying to fellowships" and "producing viable scholarship"? I don't really see it. First, "heavy student loan debt" does not necessarily mean someone must do biglaw. Assuming some form of IBR (+ PSLF) still exists when OP graduates, loan payments are capped, so OP could take a PI/Gov job with better hours and produce scholarship in his/her free time. Second, aspiring academics may have time to produce scholarship both in law school and--since clerkships are nearly required for academia at this point--possibly during clerkships. Third, actually "applying to fellowships" is not really time intensive at all. Check out the application requirements for Climenko and Bigelow fellows; they're pretty much just the usual application materials for any job. Fourth, even assuming OP does biglaw, it's still possible to produce scholarship in his/her spare time; a normal 2000 billable-hour year leaves enough time for writing if that's a top priority.

None of that is to say that OP should definitely take H/S over a T14 full-tuition scholarship, or that OP should make this decision based on a minuscule shot at academia. The scholarship would certainly provide a lot of advantages, not the least of which is financial flexibility. But if OP has Dillard vs substantial need-based aid at YHS and has a long-shot goal of academia, I don't think the Dillard is a slam dunk.

OP, do you have any sense of what your need-based aid would be at YHS? You seem to assume sticker in your OP, but a lot of need-based aid may change the calculus here.


Working in government, either as a clerk or DOJ or other department, limits the range of scholarly options for publication in many arenas. Serious legal scholarship is not compatible with biglaw life, both in terms of the raw hours commitment (its an extraordinary ask to develop a few serious pieces in a 2000-hour year, and thats a light year), and the nature of the writing in biglaw (academic writing is very different stylistically from brief writing and it poses an immense challenge to switch between the two).

Second, take your risk with IBR and PLSF, both in terms of obtaining an enviable qualifying position and hoping that the programs remain intact under our toxic DOE.

Third, sure, it doesn't take a long time to literally apply to fellowships. But come on: you know that's now what I was talking about. Applying to hyper-competitive fellowships with an actual shot at obtaining one is a huge lift that demands concentration on a research agenda and networking with faculty support. Its not the boxes you check on the webpage.

And most importantly, switching from the private sector with loans to a low-paying fellowship or junior faculty position does lasting economic damage to a household. If you haven't paid your loan balance, or brought it to a very manageable level, you simply aren't going to have the option--especially with a family. And if you pay e.g. sticker at a top law school, it would take more years to reach that manageable level on a biglaw salary than time you remain competitive as an e.g. Bigelow applicant--after a year or two of clerking, you'll pass your sweet spot after maybe two or three years more of practice.

This is not a world of easy choices. Financial flexibility plays an outsized role for professionals and aspiring academics in their late 20s and early 30s, and you're setting yourself up to take advantage of all sorts of opportunities on a full tuition fellowship to a top school versus loaning out 200-300k at high interest.
I think my response to Nony covers most of your points. My main point is that no debt is always going to be a great outcome. I just don't think the advantage of no debt is any more significant in the context of academia than other areas of the legal profession. That's why nobody ITT (including me) is advocating YHS at sticker over Dillard. Like I said, unless OP comes back with significant financial aid from YHS, I think this is a pretty clear choice.

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jan 09, 2018 6:06 pm

quiver wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:I also don’t think you’re going to get a Climenko or Bigelow by submitting your standard biglaw application.
I guess it depends what you mean by "standard". I see six current Climenko fellows that did stints in biglaw. The focus is obviously on publishing in a specific and demonstrated area of interest (ideally with work experience to back that up), but something like clerkship-->clerkship-->biglaw-->PI/Gov-->Fellowship seems within the realm of possibility if you're publishing along the way. If by "standard", you mean law school-->biglaw, then yeah, the fellowship is probably not going to happen.

Oh, I just meant literally the application. I don’t think a biglaw cover letter is going to get you an academic job. Academic cover letters are their own kind of thing and generally take quite a while to work up, and the scholarly writing sample is another thing that will take quite a bit of time for some people. I also agree with bagel about what else you have to do to make that application competitive.

And it’s great that you were able to publish while clerking and biglawing - obviously people manage it, but it’s going to depend on your judge and how successful you are at keeping your biglaw work to the “normal” 2000 hours. (And it is true that there are restrictions on what you can publish as a clerk/fedgov lawyer.)

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby quiver » Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:43 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
quiver wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:I also don’t think you’re going to get a Climenko or Bigelow by submitting your standard biglaw application.
I guess it depends what you mean by "standard". I see six current Climenko fellows that did stints in biglaw. The focus is obviously on publishing in a specific and demonstrated area of interest (ideally with work experience to back that up), but something like clerkship-->clerkship-->biglaw-->PI/Gov-->Fellowship seems within the realm of possibility if you're publishing along the way. If by "standard", you mean law school-->biglaw, then yeah, the fellowship is probably not going to happen.

Oh, I just meant literally the application. I don’t think a biglaw cover letter is going to get you an academic job. Academic cover letters are their own kind of thing and generally take quite a while to work up, and the scholarly writing sample is another thing that will take quite a bit of time for some people. I also agree with bagel about what else you have to do to make that application competitive.

And it’s great that you were able to publish while clerking and biglawing - obviously people manage it, but it’s going to depend on your judge and how successful you are at keeping your biglaw work to the “normal” 2000 hours. (And it is true that there are restrictions on what you can publish as a clerk/fedgov lawyer.)

All true. There may even be restrictions on what you can publish while in biglaw. But what led us on this tangent was jbagel saying:
jbagelboy wrote:applying to fellowships and taking time to produce viable scholRship is basically impossible with heavy student loan debt.
That's just not the case. All of this stuff we're discussing goes to how difficult it is to get into academia and it is all equally true whether the OP has 300k in debt + PI/gov + IBR, or 0k in debt + PI/gov, or 300k in debt + biglaw, or 0k in debt + biglaw. OP needs to publish, establish a research agenda, work faculty connections, apply for fellowships/VAPs, etc., etc. Could IBR/PSLF be eliminated? Sure, and that would obviously change things. Is it better to do PI/gov with no debt than with minimal capped payments on 300k debt? Of course. My point was simply that, as things stand now, "applying to fellowships and taking time to produce viable scholarship" is not "basically impossible with heavy student loan debt". But, again, nobody ITT is saying to pay sticker instead of taking the Dillard anyway.

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Re: UVA for academia?

Postby mrorange242 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:04 pm

quiver wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
quiver wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:I also don’t think you’re going to get a Climenko or Bigelow by submitting your standard biglaw application.
I guess it depends what you mean by "standard". I see six current Climenko fellows that did stints in biglaw. The focus is obviously on publishing in a specific and demonstrated area of interest (ideally with work experience to back that up), but something like clerkship-->clerkship-->biglaw-->PI/Gov-->Fellowship seems within the realm of possibility if you're publishing along the way. If by "standard", you mean law school-->biglaw, then yeah, the fellowship is probably not going to happen.

Oh, I just meant literally the application. I don’t think a biglaw cover letter is going to get you an academic job. Academic cover letters are their own kind of thing and generally take quite a while to work up, and the scholarly writing sample is another thing that will take quite a bit of time for some people. I also agree with bagel about what else you have to do to make that application competitive.

And it’s great that you were able to publish while clerking and biglawing - obviously people manage it, but it’s going to depend on your judge and how successful you are at keeping your biglaw work to the “normal” 2000 hours. (And it is true that there are restrictions on what you can publish as a clerk/fedgov lawyer.)

All true. There may even be restrictions on what you can publish while in biglaw. But what led us on this tangent was jbagel saying:
jbagelboy wrote:applying to fellowships and taking time to produce viable scholRship is basically impossible with heavy student loan debt.
That's just not the case. All of this stuff we're discussing goes to how difficult it is to get into academia and it is all equally true whether the OP has 300k in debt + PI/gov + IBR, or 0k in debt + PI/gov, or 300k in debt + biglaw, or 0k in debt + biglaw. OP needs to publish, establish a research agenda, work faculty connections, apply for fellowships/VAPs, etc., etc. Could IBR/PSLF be eliminated? Sure, and that would obviously change things. Is it better to do PI/gov with no debt than with minimal capped payments on 300k debt? Of course. My point was simply that, as things stand now, "applying to fellowships and taking time to produce viable scholarship" is not "basically impossible with heavy student loan debt". But, again, nobody ITT is saying to pay sticker instead of taking the Dillard anyway.


Hey thanks for the input. Your points are well-taken; still, the debt is of course a factor, and I do believe it would make things more difficult in some important ways. I am also pretty debt averse as a matter of preference. FWIW, I am roughly middle class. I guess, somewhere between middle class and upper middle class. Hence the assumption about not getting all that much need-based aid.



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