I’m probably a year below you just FYI, but we share the same goals: Work in Big Law and receive an admission from UofT, and also the same predicament: Prestige over Pleasure (of having a relaxing college experience lol).
Congrats about UofT admission! It’s a great school, you should be proud for working hard enough to get in!
My Answer is really dependent on 3 things: Do you want to work big law in Canada or the US? How strong are you academically ? How much will you be willing to push yourself in college?
First, I’m going to describe UofT: Its considered to be the best in Canada, and is probably equivalent to a school (guesstimating here) like Emory or University of Washington in terms of prestige. Both are competitive and great schools, but your reputation won’t really precede you in the US. If you choose to work/attend law school in Canada, everyone will have heard of UofT, but from what my (Canadian) mum told me, the prestige of your alma matter isn’t that important, it’s more of the department within a university that’s famous (like university of Queens’s Business, UBC forestry, are supposedly the best in Canada in their perspective fields). If you choose to work in Canada and pursue a degree in IR though, (I haven’t researched Econ, I strongly suggest you do some research!) awesome, because the Munk School of International Affairs is the best in Canada (though it’s unknown outside of Canada). I myself was thinking about choosing IR at Toronto if I got in, and did a lot of research on the school.
IR at Toronto mainly focuses on Economics, History, and Political science, plus required the IR classes. I’d suggest you compare and contrast courses for their academic appeal between UofT and your Connecticut schools, I for one am really impressed with UofT course selection options! (At least for the history, my intended major).
One of the Cons you listed was that lectures at UofT are huge and you would receive little support. While this is true for the 100 level courses, if you choose to enter the Trinity One program, or another First Year Foundation program you would be able to have a discussion/project oriented based class with no more than 35 students with a professor that “knows your name” according to one account I read. Students typically make a lot of friends in one programs, I’d definitely apply to one if accepted at UofT! I think they are relatively competing though, just so you know.
The IR program at UofT (especially if you take a lot of Econ classes in it) is really mathematically rigorous. Since you’re considering economics this shouldn’t be a problem, but I’d suggest coming in with at least an A grade in the class or a 5 the AP AB calculus test in consideration how tough Canadian maths tend to be. Also, at UofT you aren’t accepted into your major until second year, and to do so you need to at least met the minimum freshmen GPA requirements though doing so doesn’t guarantee acceptance. For IR I’m pretty sure minimum is a 72%…might be different though (also that’s a B in Canada, not a C). Based off of students accounts, you need to WORK to do this, though it is doable. Just be you are strong in your subject!
Now we get to the law part.
If your goal is to work in big law in US, then your best bet is to attend T14 school, though it’s possible to break into big law attending a top 50 school as well (say if you’d rather take a full ride to Boston University vs acceptance to UChicago with no scholarships) if you’re at the top of your class. Scholarship or UChicago though, you NEED an exceptional GPA and LSAT score to be admitted (and for Harvard, Stanford, and Yale, you need good softs too). If you’re going to be competitive, I’d say you’d need at least a 3.9 and a 170+ LSAT score, sometimes more depending on the school (some favor test over GPA and vise versa). If you’re a minority it might be a bit easier (not to be rude, but minorities are favored in admissions process) but not by much. A good reference website for all of this is lawschool numbers .com (sorry I guess I can’t post links here).
In all honesty, I think it’s pretty difficult to get a 3.7 at UofT, regardless of major. The glade deflation you’ve mentioned is a serious issue-students say that the average grade is a C- (60), and 90s are unheard of (that’s an A+ in Canada). If you took a ton of APs, Had a High GPA and are a very self motivated individual, you might totally be able to get past a 3.8, and from what I heard T14 admissions officers typically know the rigor of UofT. Overall though, I”m going to say that attending UofT is probably not going to be good for your GPA, a critical aspect of the law school admissions process. However this is just my opinion. The best thing to do would be to ask 3rd and 4th year students about their experiences/GPAs are, and how college prepared they were coming into UofT (figure out if they have the same academic background as you do).
Ok. So your other two options are the Connecticut schools. I don’t know anything about them, so I’m going to compare them to York University (another school in Toronto). No prestige, but guess what? Your Undergrad Alma matter is irrelevant to law school admissions. Period. Now, if your school is notorious for grade inflation, then it might be a problem, or let’s say you went to Princeton, you might have a slight advantage, but overall, they don’t care; only so much as you were a high achiever at your perspective school. Ok, so comparing the Connecticut universities to York-On the link above I once found a guy who attended York as an Econ or engineering major, dude had a 4.0 and a stellar LSAT score. There was a girl who attended one of the top three Canadian schools, (UofT is topmost of which) and had a 3.5 GPA and a good test score (168-171 LSAT), but I know it was marginally less than the York graduate’s score (in all honesty though it’s practically the same thing). Also though, she was East Asian and he was White, which is also a difference. The results: she was rejected by all of the T14 schools she applied too, and he ended up at Yale (#1). While I didn’t read their essays or see any softs, to me this is proof that GPA is critical, and not being able to crack 3.8 is detrimental to your application, and no one gives a rip about undergrad.
To sum it up, if you’re looking into US big law you need to be T14 material, and your GPA, irrespective of alma matter, is integral to receiving that admission offer.
Those are the stats. Here is my personal take: I would rather attend the more competitive and academically fulfilling school over a less competitive one, even if that means risking GPA. For one, comparing the courses at, say, York and McGill (my #1 pick), McGill has way more interesting options, minors, and research material. The difficulty of the work serves as excellent preparation for the rigors and stress of graduate school and Big Law (expect to work 60 hours a week!). You are typically surrounded by more academically oriented students at a competitive school, and is altogether a better place to network (a HUGE part of being a big law lawyer!). These factors are more important to me, especially the part about receiving a better education, than maintaining a perfect GPA. However, the perks of a less competitive school should also be noted, of which include being cheaper and receiving more scholarships, (but I guess the Connecticut schools are cheaper for you) and ensuring one to have more of a balanced university experience, allowing for participation in extracurriculars and a great social life (or maybe a job).
Now if you want to practice law in Canada, big law or not, I’d suggest going to a Canadian university to drastically cut down on expenses. In this case, attend Toronto. I’m pretty sure your reputation will precede you attending UToronto in the sense that it’s really difficult to get a 3.8+, so getting into top Canadian law schools (I think UofT is the best one anyhow) shouldn’t be a problem.
Yeish I’m surprised I was able to write an entire essay on this (my apologies for poor grammar usage!) Thanks for reading to the end! My goal here was to present a few differing perspectives on these topics, that’s all. I urge you to do more research and think about what best suits you and your family! Ask me any questions if you have any!
I have 2 questions for you: where did you hear about it being better to do undergrad in Us if you want to do J.D in the states? I’ve done a lot of research and haven’t heard that before.
Also, I myself am stressing out about the academic requirements for UofT Arts, could you tell me your stats? (Test score if you submitted it, course rigor, GPA, ect.)
P.S. Thank you so much for asking this question; I’ve finally been able to use all this useless knowledge for something purposeful!