Does prestige of undergrad help law school admission?
Like the title says, does it matter much? I am a senior in high school and I'm trying to decide between going out of state to a more prestigious and well known school or staying in-state for undergrad because of significant cost savings?
I am a lawyer, who graduated from a top law school, and who went to an Ivy undergraduate.
A lot of people will be faced with your dilemma, especially in these tough economic times, including my own son.
This question has been asked before on CC, and the "answer" people usually give is that the prestige of the undergraduate school doesn't matter, for law school, or for med school.
I don't fully agree with this view.
In general, I would say that it is indeed somewhat "better" to graduate from a prestigious Ivy level undergraduate than your local flagship university, in most cases.
For example, if you have a 3.5 college gpa at Brown, and your twin brother has a 3.5 gpa at your local flagship, I believe the Brown kid would indeed have some advantage. But the salient question is, "is it worth spending an extra FORTY THOUSAND a year, to achieve this advantage"? Further, if under my example, the kid who goes to the State University gets a 3.8 gpa, and the kid at Brown gets a 3.5 gpa, they might be considered equal, and presumably, but not necessarily, the 3.8 gpa is easier to achieve at the State University than at Brown.
I know a kid who went to University of Florida, and then got into University of Pennsylvania Law School. If he had gone to Brown for undergraduate, he may well have wound up at the same exact law school. Perhaps he might have done a little better than Penn, perhaps not. Perhaps he might have gotten only a 3.0 gpa at Brown undergraduate, as opposed to the 3.8 gpa he got at University of Florida. But on the other hand, perhaps he might have actually had a higher gpa at Brown. It is impossible to predict with certainty.
There is no "right" answer to this issue. On the one hand, it is hard to take a pass on a prestigious Ivy level school. On the other hand, does it make sense to bankrupt yourself to attend it? Further, if you spend the money on the Ivy level undergraduate, then you might not even have money to go to law school.
Also, if you plan on remaining in your home state, then going to your flagship may be just about as good as going to the Ivy for undergraduate.
I have worked in Florida for many years, and the guys who graduated from University of Florida often strut around like they went to Harvard, and they all kind of convince themselves that you can do no better in life than University of Florida (kind of "group think"), so if you graduate from University of Florida, you might actually be better accepted than if you went to Brown.
Now, all that being said, I often question the wisdom of even going to law school, because of the vast oversupply of lawyers. But that is an issue for a different day.
So in sum, I think top law schools, and employers, know that many top kids for financial reasons have to go the state university route, so as long as you do well at the State University, you should still do fine. If you have the money to do so, it would be "better" to go to the Ivy level undergraduate, but it is not a necessary ingredient of success.
minimal effect on admission, which is very numbers-based, but i would argue a somewhat sizable affect on performance and recruiting.
people from top ugrads come into law school more confident, more "scholarly", and with much larger social networks (ex at HLS, around 10% of the class is from Harvard undergrad alone). So they get tips from upperclassmen, get outlines, stuff like that.
For something like 1L internship when there are hardly any grades out, the only criteria employers can use is what you did before law school. Which undergrad, which internships, etc. so here a top-name school will help out alot. For 2L recruiting the effect certainly goes down, but firms are still happy to go for people with better pedigree and likely more impressive 1L internships. that said, a 2L from a state school with rockstar grades will great recruiting-wise.
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