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University of Edinburgh vs American Universities?

whimsicalwhimswhimsicalwhims 661 replies22 threads Member

I just got an unconditional offer from UoE and I’m absolutely thrilled. I love course structure and the city and the overall vibe of the university. I was just wondering how it compared to American universities- would you say it is as reputed as Emory and USC (which are my top choices here)? Or McGill? Oxford is still my absolute first choice for my course (English and Classics), but Edinburgh is becoming a very close second, so if it is a better university for my subject and will offer me better chances for the future (plan on going to law school) then I’d much rather save the application fees for the US universities and spend that elsewhere.

TL;DR: How does UoE compare with American universities? Is it comparable to a T-20 prestige wise (Cornell, Emory, UCBerkeley, Georgetown)? Or would it be closer to T-40 (Boston University, NYU, UMich)?
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Replies to: University of Edinburgh vs American Universities?

  • elguapo1elguapo1 441 replies3 threads Member
    Edinburgh is one of the premier research universities in the UK, the comparison with McGill is a good one. I think the comparison you are looking for in the US is the larger state research universities. Georgia Tech, UIUC, UW Madison although I am sure some folks will have a different opinion.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 8023 replies85 threads Senior Member
    Edinburgh can be a *fabulous* college experience! Super strong academically, with a US rep that is definitely in the T-20 level.

    Will it offer you *better* chances than Emory? eh- who knows? At some point, you make your own chances- there is no meaningful difference between the T20 & T40 in terms of law school admissions. T14 law schools look at LSAT, marks and work experience, in that order. The relative prestige of your undergraduate (bar a few, eg Harvard, Yale, who like their own) really isn't a deciding factor*.

    Some pros:

    Edinburgh is a great city for students, with a ton to do and easy to navigate. And thanks to flybe, ryanair, easyjet, etc. you can get to dozens of European cities for buttons. As a full-time UK student, you can apply for (well-paid) summer internships at a London law firm (you don't have to be doing law, but the applications are competitive, but Edi is one of the unis that they recruit from).

    Some cons:

    *the days are very very very short in the winter (not light much before 9 and dark around 3), and the weather is not as kind as Atlanta (but better than Boston!)
    *Edi is a big uni, and there are differences in the UK system. It will take you a little time to find your feet. You need to assume that you will have to solve your problems yourself (the solution btw is to look for help from your peers- British students watch out for each other and are your best allies)

    *I know a current L1 at a top 3 who had offers from 5 of the 6 T14s she applied to, with a degree in Spanish from a B level LAC
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    GTech offers very little in the humanities and social sciences but yes, Edinburgh for English is probably comparable to UCLA/UMich/Toronto/McGill in prestige. Also note that law schools wouldn't go off of USNews rankings for prestige. Cornell, Emory, UCBerkeley, Georgetown, NYU, UMich, Toronto, McGill would all be seen as about the same and what you do would matter far more than which of these schools you went to.

    In any case, prestige really isn't what you should be looking at when the grading and teaching style will make a far greater difference for your law school chances. The way they mark and determine marks is quite different in the UK vs. the US.

    Are you comfortable with your marks for your uni career coming down to almost entirely a few big (essay) tests at the end of each year?

    BTW, do UK law firms recruit English students? Not just law students?
    edited October 2018
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 8023 replies85 threads Senior Member
    Yes, UK law firms recruit from all subjects, and particularly like English and History (though I know students who did Classics, Theology, Philosophy, Italian, Biochemistry, etc who went through to Magic Circle firms with no trouble) .

    The path is either law undergrad + the LPC (legal practice course) or non-law undergrad + GDL (the graduate diploma in law, aka 'conversion course') + the LPC

    If you go the GDL route you usually have essentially a gap year, during which the law firm you have contracted with gives you a just-about liveable stipend while you do the GDL.

    Whichever way you get there the LPC is done during your first year of full-time work for the law firm that you have contracted with.

    As a full-time student, the OP would be eligible for the summer internships, and in theory the GDL, but I'm not sure that a UK law firm would contract with a non-citizen.

    Imo, the undergraduate experience at Edi will be closer to a law school experience (few & large assessments). I think a bigger one for the OP is do you lovelovelove your subject enough to do it all the time? What if- as happens- you decide not to go to law school? (it happens, even to people who have known since they were toddlers that this was the One True Path for them)
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    BTW, when it comes to how law schools look at prestige, it would be closer to the USNews peer assessment rankings: https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/college-rankings-blog/2013/02/28/which-universities-are-ranked-highest-by-college-officials

    But again, for law school, that's just not a big deal. Finding a setup and environment where you will excel is most important.
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  • whimsicalwhimswhimsicalwhims 661 replies22 threads Member
    @elguapo1 @collegemom3717 @PurpleTitan Thank you for your input, it was very helpful in letting me come to a decision!
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