Columbia vs. Duke

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Bestes

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Columbia vs. Duke

Postby Bestes » Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:24 pm

My cycle is almost over now and I have a difficult decision to make. I'm waitlisted at Harvard and U.Chicago but not counting on getting off either waitlist. My long term career goals are to work in the federal government perhaps at DOJ. The offers I have in hand now that I am trying to decide between are Duke (where my cost of attendance all in would be about $35K/year) or Columbia. Maybe I have a nice merit/need scholarship letter in the mail from Columbia and maybe I don't, not clear. My family can fund about $200K of my law school education and I'm leaving undergraduate with no debt. Attended Duke ASW and will visit Columbia in a few weeks but I missed ASW. Basically then my options are Duke at no personal cost vs. Columbia with about $100K in debt. Are there opportunities that will be open to me coming out of Columbia that will not be open to me if I go to Duke? In the grand scheme of a future legal career is it worth taking on $100K in debt?

meat tornado

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby meat tornado » Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:19 pm

Columbia is not worth $100k more than Duke. That’s something like $900 a month for 10 years in student loans for a negligible boost at OCI

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby QContinuum » Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:53 pm

meat tornado wrote:Columbia is not worth $100k more than Duke. That’s something like $900 a month for 10 years in student loans for a negligible boost at OCI

Agree with the above. Go to Duke! And congrats on your terrific offers. 8)

Have you tried checking in with Columbia admissions to ask about your financial aid status?

Bestes

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby Bestes » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:23 pm

Is it appropriate to contact Columbia and ask them directly if merit/financial aid is forthcoming?

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BansheeScream

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby BansheeScream » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:39 pm

Shameless Duke plug but I agree with the above posters. When you consider living costs in NYC versus Durham the difference may even be far greater than you think. In terms of career options, I don't think there will be a noticeable difference if you perform well at either school. You'd likely need perfect grades from Duke to get Wacthell or an elite boutique but you'd need amazing grades at Columbia for those to be on the table. It's very rare for someone at Duke to strike out if they bid NYC big law.

Also, likely self selection to some extent but if you want to do DOJ, Duke seems to have better DC placement or at least a larger representation of associates in DC summer classes when you consider both schools size.

Make sure you negotiate aid with both schools though. No reason to leave money on the table.

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby QContinuum » Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:53 pm

Bestes wrote:Is it appropriate to contact Columbia and ask them directly if merit/financial aid is forthcoming?

Yes, absolutely. Just be courteous and professional. They will understand that 4/15 is rapidly approaching and you need to make a decision with all the facts on the table.

BansheeScream wrote:It's very rare for someone at Duke to strike out if they bid NYC big law.

This is correct. Duke has a BigLaw placement rate of 81%, vs. Columbia at 83%. That's effectively the same (I wouldn't read anything into that exceedingly minor 2% difference), and at both schools BigLaw is about as guaranteed as it can get (generally ~90% of students participate in 2L OCI (the remaining ~10% are "hardcore" PI), and >90% of participants secure offers).

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby LBJ's Hair » Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:42 pm

A frequent admissions question the comes up on this board is full ride at CCN vs substantial cost at Harvard, and there I think the answer is easy: Go to CCN. The only time when the brand difference matters (for Harvard, not Yale - Yale is suis generis) is for top-end clerkships when you need like top 10-15% grades at Harvard and CCN to be in the running anyway. So, you should always the money at CCN, and if you get top grades 1L year, and this brand distinction suddenly becomes important, you can just transfer to H, and maybe YS. If your grades are meh, well, this is why you took the full ride. Williams & Connolly isn't hiring average Harvard students any more than it's hiring average CCN students. The same opportunity set of firms is available to you anyway. In payoff terms, you're getting a free option.

So I'm tempted to say you just do this here, too - take the full ride at Duke, and if the brand difference matters to you in a year, you can transfer. But I'm not completely sure the logic holds.

Here's the argument, basically: The opportunity set available to the median Columbia student vs the median Duke student isn't really the same. And BigLaw jobs aren't completely fungible. There's a difference between doing M&A at Cravath or Kirkland or w/e and doing it at generic firm paying market for the first year. Your compensation over ~5 years is going to be higher (bonuses diverge, as do salaries), you'll learn more, your exit opportunities will be better, the firms are more stable, etc. You don't need top grades to get a V10 offer at Columbia. You need to be in the top third to be extremely comfortable, and there are plenty of people at or below median you pick one up. Not true at Duke - check the summer classes threads over the years. Paul, Weiss gave out like 80 offers at CLS/NYU last year. Not at Duke.

Now...does that matter? Like is the quality of your first BigLaw job worth IDK, $100-$200K? I dunno, probably not? But maybe.

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby jsnow212 » Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:48 pm

LBJ's Hair wrote:
Here's the argument, basically: The opportunity set available to the median Columbia student vs the median Duke student isn't really the same. And BigLaw jobs aren't completely fungible. There's a difference between doing M&A at Cravath or Kirkland or w/e and doing it at generic firm paying market for the first year. Your compensation over ~5 years is going to be higher (bonuses diverge, as do salaries), you'll learn more, your exit opportunities will be better, the firms are more stable, etc. You don't need top grades to get a V10 offer at Columbia. You need to be in the top third to be extremely comfortable, and there are plenty of people at or below median you pick one up. Not true at Duke - check the summer classes threads over the years. Paul, Weiss gave out like 80 offers at CLS/NYU last year. Not at Duke.

Now...does that matter? Like is the quality of your first BigLaw job worth IDK, $100-$200K? I dunno, probably not? But maybe.


I've thought about this as well. I think this argument makes sense for folks who are weighing CCN vs. MVPBD at similar costs but are leaning toward the latter for "fit" or another soft reason. At that point, this line of reasoning is strong because the overall quality in similar employment has value that the incoming student should consider.

In this case, since cost is a big difference, I would be tempted to survey MVBPD grads who are going into biglaw and ask the question: "Would you pay $100k extra knowing that you would likely be working Paul Weiss/Polk/Weil/etc. (but still probably not CSM/WLRK/etc.) instead of DLA/Baker Mackenzie?" --- I just don't know if we'd get too many affirmatives to that question.

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby BrainsyK » Tue Apr 02, 2019 8:31 pm

jsnow212 wrote:In this case, since cost is a big difference, I would be tempted to survey MVBPD grads who are going into biglaw and ask the question: "Would you pay $100k extra knowing that you would likely be working Paul Weiss/Polk/Weil/etc. (but still probably not CSM/WLRK/etc.) instead of DLA/Baker Mackenzie?" --- I just don't know if we'd get too many affirmatives to that question.


Heh? The different between The difference between CSM and PW is way smaller than that PW and DLA/BM. It's not just prestige, which is pretty significant especially given that PW lit. is a better pipeline into the federal government which OP wants. DLA & co. are known either not paying market or screwing people out of bonuses. The former group is also significantly more profitable and therefore better able to weather the next recession and stay relevant as the AMLaw 100 becomes AMLaw 50 becomes AMLaw 20. I'm not sure that that's definitely true for the latter group. WLRK is in a class of its own.

None of this means OP should necessarily go to Columbia. IDK if median Duke grads necessarily end up at DLA/BM. There are highly-profitable generic V100s that treat their associates well out there, but DLA/BM/JD/NRF are an especially shaky subset that should be avoided if possible.

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby QContinuum » Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:52 pm

jsnow212 wrote:
LBJ's Hair wrote:
Here's the argument, basically: The opportunity set available to the median Columbia student vs the median Duke student isn't really the same. And BigLaw jobs aren't completely fungible. There's a difference between doing M&A at Cravath or Kirkland or w/e and doing it at generic firm paying market for the first year. Your compensation over ~5 years is going to be higher (bonuses diverge, as do salaries), you'll learn more, your exit opportunities will be better, the firms are more stable, etc. You don't need top grades to get a V10 offer at Columbia. You need to be in the top third to be extremely comfortable, and there are plenty of people at or below median you pick one up. Not true at Duke - check the summer classes threads over the years. Paul, Weiss gave out like 80 offers at CLS/NYU last year. Not at Duke.

Now...does that matter? Like is the quality of your first BigLaw job worth IDK, $100-$200K? I dunno, probably not? But maybe.


I've thought about this as well. I think this argument makes sense for folks who are weighing CCN vs. MVPBD at similar costs but are leaning toward the latter for "fit" or another soft reason. At that point, this line of reasoning is strong because the overall quality in similar employment has value that the incoming student should consider.

In this case, since cost is a big difference, I would be tempted to survey MVBPD grads who are going into biglaw and ask the question: "Would you pay $100k extra knowing that you would likely be working Paul Weiss/Polk/Weil/etc. (but still probably not CSM/WLRK/etc.) instead of DLA/Baker Mackenzie?" --- I just don't know if we'd get too many affirmatives to that question.

I agree with jsnow's summation above. Perhaps my earlier post simply comparing Columbia and Duke's respective BigLaw placement rates was too glib. It's true that the typical Duke grad will go into a "lower-ranked" BigLaw firm than the typical CCN grad. So there is a difference, and I certainly agree that at similar COA, it doesn't make sense to choose a "lower T13" over CCN.

But in this case, we're talking about what is likely to be a $100k difference. I don't think the difference in outcomes between Columbia and Duke is worth $100k.

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby ithrowds » Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:05 am

LBJ's Hair wrote:A frequent admissions question the comes up on this board is full ride at CCN vs substantial cost at Harvard, and there I think the answer is easy: Go to CCN. The only time when the brand difference matters (for Harvard, not Yale - Yale is suis generis) is for top-end clerkships when you need like top 10-15% grades at Harvard and CCN to be in the running anyway. So, you should always the money at CCN, and if you get top grades 1L year, and this brand distinction suddenly becomes important, you can just transfer to H, and maybe YS. If your grades are meh, well, this is why you took the full ride. Williams & Connolly isn't hiring average Harvard students any more than it's hiring average CCN students. The same opportunity set of firms is available to you anyway. In payoff terms, you're getting a free option.

So I'm tempted to say you just do this here, too - take the full ride at Duke, and if the brand difference matters to you in a year, you can transfer. But I'm not completely sure the logic holds.

Here's the argument, basically: The opportunity set available to the median Columbia student vs the median Duke student isn't really the same. And BigLaw jobs aren't completely fungible. There's a difference between doing M&A at Cravath or Kirkland or w/e and doing it at generic firm paying market for the first year. Your compensation over ~5 years is going to be higher (bonuses diverge, as do salaries), you'll learn more, your exit opportunities will be better, the firms are more stable, etc. You don't need top grades to get a V10 offer at Columbia. You need to be in the top third to be extremely comfortable, and there are plenty of people at or below median you pick one up. Not true at Duke - check the summer classes threads over the years. Paul, Weiss gave out like 80 offers at CLS/NYU last year. Not at Duke.

Now...does that matter? Like is the quality of your first BigLaw job worth IDK, $100-$200K? I dunno, probably not? But maybe.


Fwiw, I know of a number of classmates who received V10 (even v5) NYC offers at Duke with median grades - myself included Dukes class is ~230 students, of which maybe 80-100 are gunning for New York. you're not going to see 80 kids getting offers from any particular firm.

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby LBJ's Hair » Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:24 am

ithrowds wrote:
LBJ's Hair wrote:A frequent admissions question the comes up on this board is full ride at CCN vs substantial cost at Harvard, and there I think the answer is easy: Go to CCN. The only time when the brand difference matters (for Harvard, not Yale - Yale is suis generis) is for top-end clerkships when you need like top 10-15% grades at Harvard and CCN to be in the running anyway. So, you should always the money at CCN, and if you get top grades 1L year, and this brand distinction suddenly becomes important, you can just transfer to H, and maybe YS. If your grades are meh, well, this is why you took the full ride. Williams & Connolly isn't hiring average Harvard students any more than it's hiring average CCN students. The same opportunity set of firms is available to you anyway. In payoff terms, you're getting a free option.

So I'm tempted to say you just do this here, too - take the full ride at Duke, and if the brand difference matters to you in a year, you can transfer. But I'm not completely sure the logic holds.

Here's the argument, basically: The opportunity set available to the median Columbia student vs the median Duke student isn't really the same. And BigLaw jobs aren't completely fungible. There's a difference between doing M&A at Cravath or Kirkland or w/e and doing it at generic firm paying market for the first year. Your compensation over ~5 years is going to be higher (bonuses diverge, as do salaries), you'll learn more, your exit opportunities will be better, the firms are more stable, etc. You don't need top grades to get a V10 offer at Columbia. You need to be in the top third to be extremely comfortable, and there are plenty of people at or below median you pick one up. Not true at Duke - check the summer classes threads over the years. Paul, Weiss gave out like 80 offers at CLS/NYU last year. Not at Duke.

Now...does that matter? Like is the quality of your first BigLaw job worth IDK, $100-$200K? I dunno, probably not? But maybe.


Fwiw, I know of a number of classmates who received V10 (even v5) NYC offers at Duke with median grades - myself included Dukes class is ~230 students, of which maybe 80-100 are gunning for New York. you're not going to see 80 kids getting offers from any particular firm.


Sure, empirically Duke students get generally have great outcomes, there's some self-selection out of NY, etc.

But here's my point, basically: If OP had equal money from Columbia and Duke, people would say go to Columbia. Why? Because of the brand. What's the difference between the Columbia brand and the Duke brand? I think the answer is in these summer class threads.

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=273353

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=285590&start=25

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=298869

Again, I am *not* saying that this brand difference is worth $100K+. But it's something more than $0?

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby dabigchina » Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:15 pm

It's so important to avoid debt. I know it doesnt seem that important right now, but not having debt makes biglaw (which seems to be your short term goal) so much easier to handle. Knowing that you can say "fuck this" and quit tomorrow without ruining your life is a pretty great feeling. You can't do that when you have 6 digits of student loans.

Also, Duke does fine. Columbia seems to place a little better in V10 in NYC, but that's about it. Nobody should pay an extra 100k just so they have the privilege of throwing away their 20's at Cleary instead of Wilkie.

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby Bestes » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:08 pm

Just to close this out if anyone is interested. I thought long and hard about the advantages of Columbia vs. Duke. NYU admitted me 2 days before visiting Columbia so I was able to visit both NYU and Columbia in one day and consider two T6 schools. Duke increased their scholarship offer to $120K. Columbia offered me $65K - NYU did not offer me a scholarship and I did not have enough time to negotiate with NYU - $300K is a big hurdle to overcome so NYU was out

So, the differences between COA of Columbia and Duke was very close to $100K. My family has committed to contributing a minimum of $150K towards Law School regardless of where I go or what merit money I'm awarded. Taking this into account, I would graduate from Duke with no debt (I'll call $20K no debt given how large some of these numbers are) and from Columbia with something like $100K. I know that Columbia's program for loan forgiveness for public interest graduates is very generous but did not feel comfortable counting on it. In the final analysis I did not feel that the difference in opportunities or career trajectory between Duke and Columbia is worth $100K

I chose to go to Duke and have made my seat deposit. For now I am remaining on the Harvard and U.Chicago wait lists. U.Chicago is probably not appreciably different than Columbia in terms of opportunities so I should probably drop off that wait list. For now I plan on staying on the Harvard wait list but not counting on or thinking about a phone call from Harvard.

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby Wubbles » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:30 pm

No reason to drop off the Chicago waitlist. They've been known to give major scholarships off the waitlist. But congrats on the decision!

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Re: Columbia vs. Duke

Postby AdieuCali » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:47 pm

Great choice! Congratulations!



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