Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

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conflictedNashville

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Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby conflictedNashville » Sat Apr 06, 2019 4:32 pm

Before anyone skips over my whole post to just say "Vandy, no question", please take a minute to read the actual context of my situation and points I've already considered. I am super conflicted and could use any advice possible.

Belmont - 100% tuition
Vanderbilt - 58% tuition (around $75K over 3 years because Vandy is EXPENSIVE)

Is it worth it to pass up a free ride at Belmont to go to Vanderbilt because it's a "better" school?

Job Market
I know I want to move to Nashville permanently for personal reasons. I don't want to go to law school and then get a job in New York, DC, California, Chicago, etc. While Vanderbilt is ranked higher and is more well-known nationally/internationally, both Belmont and Vandy have strong connections with lots of Nashville firms. Belmont in particular has great connections in the music industry, and Vandy has great connections in health care and big law firms. I also have some personal connections I've made while living in Nashville for the past 4 years that I could leverage when looking for summer jobs and full-time employment.

Career Expectations
I'm not sure exactly what I want to do with my law degree, though I know for sure I want to have a career centered around helping people. I would potentially like to do something in the intersection of tech and law (other than patent law), but I don't know exactly what that looks like. As of now, I see myself practicing law for a few years and then transitioning to do something else, and I can't help but think that investing almost $100K in a law degree from Vandy just to end up not a lawyer after a few years would be silly. But on the flip side, I can't say where my head will be at in 5 years, and maybe I'll love practicing law and the investment in a law degree from Vanderbilt would be worth it.

Finances
Obviously, a free law degree would be great! Free undergrad and free law school sounds like a smokin' hot deal. I'd have more options to pursue lower-income opportunities upon graduation, and I wouldn't feel the pressure to take a high-paying big law job. Going to Belmont and graduating debt-free would put less pressure on my fiance to support me and it would set us up both for a better future financially. I won't have any financial support from my family, so that means I will probably be taking out the full $75-80K in loans.

Big fish-small pond or medium fish-big pond?
Based on my LSAT scores and scholarship offers compared to other students who would be attending each of these schools, I think it's reasonable to assume I would be among the top students at Belmont and somewhere in the middle at Vandy. I could really stand out at Belmont if I worked hard, whereas I would need to really REALLY work my butt off to shine at Vandy. I've had some conversations with students at both schools, and it seems like I would have more opportunities to pursue extracurricular activities and excel in those while at Belmont. In the eyes of employers, would a student who was in the top 5% at Belmont and also did W, X, Y, and Z stand out more than a Vandy student who was top 50% and did A and B? Also, in Nashville, if I went to Belmont I'd be competing with most of my classmates for jobs, whereas at Vandy I think 50+% of students go for jobs out of state and there would be less in-house competition.

At this point, I have talked to my family, friends, and students from both schools, but I'm still stuck and not leaning towards either school. Any insight or advice would be much appreciated.

objctnyrhnr

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby objctnyrhnr » Sat Apr 06, 2019 4:45 pm

Either Vandy or not going is TCR.

Your final subbullet misses the mark entirely. In other words, your intuitions there about the type of correlation you describe are completely wrong...and to the extent that there might be any truth behind them, it certainly is not something that should be banked on in any way shape or form.

There’s something to be said about shooting for PI/govt and choosing a law school at minimal debt for that reason...but Belmont is just too horrible and 80k total for a Vandy degree, on its face, really isn’t a bad outcome.

That all being said, regardless of your options, you should only go to LS if everything in your soul tells you that you want to be a lawyer. Otherwise you’ll have problems down the road. I’m not judging you or making your decision for you or anything. I am just observing that your post sounds like there’s a degree of doubt behind your desire to be a lawyer.

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby AdieuCali » Sat Apr 06, 2019 5:12 pm

I read your post, so I’m not going to say “Vandy, no question.”
Congratulations on your scholarship and admission to Vandy!
1) you should only go to law school if you want to spend your career as a lawyer. Sinking 3 years and 6 figures plus into something that you’ll do “for a few years” is a bad idea. Not only do you have to consider the expense of law school, but the opportunity cost of doing literally anything else that makes money. If you’re not sure about whether you want to be a lawyer, maybe try taking a gig as a paralegal somewhere for a year. Law school will always be there for you.
2) you’re not fully accounting for cost of attendance. Once you include living expenses, student fees, student loan interest etc. the full COA (including your scholarships) would be ~$120k for Belmont and ~$225k for Vandy. https://www.lstreports.com/compare/vanderbilt/belmont/
3) you should not be seriously considering Belmont - even on a full ride. Basically no Belmont students will get a Biglaw job that allows them to repay the COL loans you’d need to take out. You are likely to be emplo
4) the big fish/little pond is the wrong way of looking at these things. You should always assume you’ll be the median student. Law school grades have a high degree of randomness and students at Belmont will be desperate to get top grades as it will be their only option to get an acceptable legal job. Meanwhile the median student at Vandy gets a biglaw job (though that may change in a down economy)
5) TCR is to sit out a year and figure out if you want to go to law school. Retake to get a better aid package at Vandy. However, if you’re dead set on matriculating Vandy is the obvious choice. It’s a great school - maybe not worth $200k, but you’ll be able to get a job that can pay that off. It’s better to pay off $200k debt on a $190k salary than $120k debt on a $55k salary.

conflictedNashville

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby conflictedNashville » Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:40 pm

Thanks for the input! I find it helps to get input from all different perspectives.

objctnyrhnr wrote:but Belmont is just too horrible and 80k total for a Vandy degree, on its face, really isn’t a bad outcome.

That all being said, regardless of your options, you should only go to LS if everything in your soul tells you that you want to be a lawyer. Otherwise you’ll have problems down the road.


What do you mean by Belmont being horrible? What do you think is so horrible about it?

And what kind of problems down the road are you talking about?

conflictedNashville

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby conflictedNashville » Sat Apr 06, 2019 8:03 pm

AdieuCali wrote:2) you’re not fully accounting for cost of attendance. Once you include living expenses, student fees, student loan interest etc. the full COA (including your scholarships) would be ~$120k for Belmont and ~$225k for Vandy. https://www.lstreports.com/compare/vanderbilt/belmont/
3) you should not be seriously considering Belmont - even on a full ride. Basically no Belmont students will get a Biglaw job that allows them to repay the COL loans you’d need to take out.


First of all, thank you!

I did leave one point out: I'll be living with my SO who is working full-time and will be able to cover living expenses for the both of us. So any loans taken out will solely be for tuition expenses, and it really is a no debt vs. reasonable amount of debt debate.

Just wanted to counter your third point - I know three Belmont grads who all got a job at a big law firm in Nashville right after graduation/passing the bar this past year, so I have some confidence that Belmont's reputation is growing in a good way.

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby objctnyrhnr » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:21 pm

conflictedNashville wrote:Thanks for the input! I find it helps to get input from all different perspectives.

objctnyrhnr wrote:but Belmont is just too horrible and 80k total for a Vandy degree, on its face, really isn’t a bad outcome.

That all being said, regardless of your options, you should only go to LS if everything in your soul tells you that you want to be a lawyer. Otherwise you’ll have problems down the road.


What do you mean by Belmont being horrible? What do you think is so horrible about it?

And what kind of problems down the road are you talking about?


Problems down the road = realizing you’ve put a ton of time, money, and effort into something you don’t like. I mean I know a number of people who have come to that realization and it just sounds brutal.

Re Belmont just being an objectively horrific law school, I’m going to call on one of those other posters who have all the stats at their fingertips, but it’s really bad. And you knowing a handful of people who have landed biglaw can’t really compare to aggregate statistics that show very bad outcomes on the whole. Can somebody back this with numbers?

If you’re married to law school next year, IMO, Vandy is the obvious play. 80k debt difference between a t20/t30 and a tier 2 school is, in my opinion, a legit debate (though id lean towards more debt at better school). So comparing a t20 to a fourth tier and asking is it worth the debt to go to the better school that dominates the market in which you want to practice seems to me to be a no brained.

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby AdieuCali » Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:43 pm

conflictedNashville wrote:
AdieuCali wrote:2) you’re not fully accounting for cost of attendance. Once you include living expenses, student fees, student loan interest etc. the full COA (including your scholarships) would be ~$120k for Belmont and ~$225k for Vandy. https://www.lstreports.com/compare/vanderbilt/belmont/
3) you should not be seriously considering Belmont - even on a full ride. Basically no Belmont students will get a Biglaw job that allows them to repay the COL loans you’d need to take out.


First of all, thank you!

I did leave one point out: I'll be living with my SO who is working full-time and will be able to cover living expenses for the both of us. So any loans taken out will solely be for tuition expenses, and it really is a no debt vs. reasonable amount of debt debate.

Just wanted to counter your third point - I know three Belmont grads who all got a job at a big law firm in Nashville right after graduation/passing the bar this past year, so I have some confidence that Belmont's reputation is growing in a good way.


If you’re living with your SO, then Vandy has an even more enormous advantage.

As for Belmont, you might have met one of the 2(!!!!!) Belmont grads who got Biglaw in their respective classes. Check out Belmont’s ABA-required 509 report. Even in a booming legal economy, only 2 members of the class of ‘17 made it into firms of 100 or more (and none to firms of 500+) 9 months after grad. http://www.abarequireddisclosures.org/EmploymentOutcomes.aspx. Meanwhile the median Vandy student got Biglaw.

Legal hiring is different than it was 20-30 years ago. To counter your anecdote with my anecdote, I was a SA at a medium-sized office of a V30. The managing partner, admin partner, and hiring partner all graduated from T4 law schools in the 80s and 90s. They could have hired alums to fill SA positions. However, there were 10 summer associates. 7 of us went to T13, 3 of us went to the local T20.

Please don’t go to Belmont. You will make up whatever difference in cost in your first six months of Biglaw!

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby QContinuum » Sat Apr 06, 2019 11:05 pm

objctnyrhnr wrote:Re Belmont just being an objectively horrific law school, I’m going to call on one of those other posters who have all the stats at their fingertips, but it’s really bad. And you knowing a handful of people who have landed biglaw can’t really compare to aggregate statistics that show very bad outcomes on the whole. Can somebody back this with numbers?

Sure. Belmont placed literally 2.5% of its class of 2017 - a whopping two total graduates - into BigLaw. Meanwhile Vandy has a BigLaw placement rate of 67%. So the average Vandy student easily lands BigLaw, but you gotta really be one of the two special snowflakes at Belmont to do so. Vandy's placement rate is 27 times Belmont's.

It's been a long time since I've seen such a lopsided comparison, but of course it's not surprising given that we're comparing the strongest T20 (even stronger than Georgetown) with a T4 law school.

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:46 am

conflictedNashville wrote:Just wanted to counter your third point - I know three Belmont grads who all got a job at a big law firm in Nashville right after graduation/passing the bar this past year, so I have some confidence that Belmont's reputation is growing in a good way.


I know three people who won money at the slots in Vegas.

Don't look at anecdotes. Look at data. Belmont graduates need to worry about getting jobs as lawyers, period. Biglaw is only a possibility for the top few students.

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Ohiobumpkin

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:34 pm

Dude... Vanderbilt. Congratulations!

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Sls17

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby Sls17 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:45 am

conflictedNashville wrote:As of now, I see myself practicing law for a few years and then transitioning to do something else, and I can't help but think that investing almost $100K in a law degree from Vandy just to end up not a lawyer after a few years would be silly.


Belmont’s LST statistics give me the willies. Vanderbilt for $75k debt is a solid choice — *if and only if you decide you do in fact want to be a lawyer.*

Law school is a significant investment of not only $$ but also time and energy. This would be true whether you chose Vandy or Belmont. While I agree that it’s a little silly to go to law school only to foreseeably pursue something other than law after a few years, I don’t think that’s any more or less silly based on which school / scholarship you choose. Considering both opportunity cost and your resources beyond the scope of just money, law school is never free.

So your first step is to decide if you really want to be a lawyer and if you’re ready to invest in that goal. If so, your second step is to pick a school that can get you to a job as a lawyer without unreasonably burdensome debt: in your case, Vandy.

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby ChangeGoinCome » Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:47 pm

What about UTK?

cavalier1138

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:22 pm

ChangeGoinCome wrote:What about UTK?


Better than Belmont, but that's not saying a lot. If you want to work in a large firm, it's not a good choice.

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby AdieuCali » Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:26 pm

ChangeGoinCome wrote:What about UTK?


UTK can't place 70% of its graduates into full-time legal work. OP has free housing in Nashville so s/he is probably looking at sub-$100k total COA for Vandy. That is a great outcome. With average grades at Vandy, OP has a good chance to land Biglaw. This is a really easy choice. https://www.lstreports.com/schools/tennessee/

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jeeptiger09

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby jeeptiger09 » Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:58 am

Don't go to Belmont.

Maybe go to Vandy. If you are sold on Nashville, see if you can get a full ride to UTK, that's the best answer.

-someone intimately familiar with Nashville legal market

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Re: Vandy vs. Belmont for Nashville career

Postby icansortofmath » Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:50 am

Your situation makes Vandy even more compelling, not less.

Living costs covered? Vandy.
Not 100% sold on law? Vandy and network with business school kids and use career services to explore other options.
Want biglaw? Vandy. Don’t count on being top of Belmont to get biglaw.

Vandy and it’s not close at all.



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