Need Advice on Big Decisions

<p>Hi everybody. I'm currently a junior in high school and I've been looking into what would be best for me college wise. I have a somewhat complex situation and plenty of questions, so stick with me here and hopefully we can get some good conversation going on.</p>

<p>I suppose my first question is this: how important is the prestige of the undergrad when applying to top tier law schools? My big goal in all of this is to go to Yale, Harvard, Stanford, or Columbia law school. This also ties into the question of how prestigious of an undergrad can I even get into? Currently I have a 3.95 GPA and 34 on the ACT (even though I'm still taking it as well as the SAT), as well as great extra curriculars. This is awesome and I'm happy to be blessed enough to have this, but I'm not sure how far it will get me because I am a white male from a public school in the midwest. I am the most typical majority student in America and unfortunately it greatly reduces my chances of getting in the Ivy League.</p>

<p>Anyway, I've researched a lot and I figure that if I were to early decision to Columbia University, I'd have at least a decent chance. I'm just really not sure if I should, for several reasons. First, it would cost me 80K more (after need-based financial aid) than just taking a full ride to a public school. Second, I'd have to work so much harder to get the 3.9 GPA I'm going to need for a top tier law school. Finally, it would leave me little time to do extra curriculars along with my undergrad because I'd have to work so hard studying. One thing I need to note here is that I'm not worried about working my butt off; I simply want to know if all that would even help my chances of getting into a top tier law school.</p>

<p>I know law schools mostly look at GPA and LSAT, so does it really matter if I get a 3.9 from U of A instead of Columbia? This leads me into my next question: how hard would it be to earn like a 3.9 from Columbia (or other Ivy Leagues)? I know it depends a lot on major and mine is going to be Computer Science. I'm sure it's going to be harder, but my brother thinks it's relatively impossible.</p>

<p>My next question is somewhat unrelated to the previous ones; my apologies. I got my 34 on the ACT without the writing section. If I were to take it again WITH the writing section and get like a 33, could I couple my separate writing score with my 34 instead of the lower score? I know the writing and regular portions are separate, but do the Ivy League schools that require the writing portion not even look at that score since I didn't take the writing portion with it? I'm hoping I can get a 34 again with the writing, or even better, but I don't know for sure that I can.</p>

<p>My last question I just thought of recently and it's made me rethink all of my previous research and things. I know lots of people get masters before going to Harvard Law or the equivalents. I was wondering if I should get a masters in Forensic Science or something instead of just a bachelors in Computer Science, because the former is more of what I'm interested in. So, do you think getting a masters would be worth the extra money and time?</p>

<p>I suppose that this post is already too long. If you bothered enough to read my whole story, then know that I really appreciate it. I will be checking this thread every day so please give me some good advice and help me out a little because I feel really overwhelmed. Again, thank you all for your time and Consideration.</p>

<p>This reply is for a bump and to add something I thought of after the post. I just feel like if I attend a public university on a full ride, it's like all my hard work was for nothing except to save some money. If I were to go to Columbia or something, then it would show that I had worked hard and done well in high school.</p>

<p>^ What field of law do you want to go to?</p>

<p>I advise you to go with Columbia. It's not just because of the "prestige". It's because there are many more career and networking opportunities there. PLUS, more and better recruiters! </p>

<p>Regarding the ACT, I'm not sure. I would advise you to post that on the SAT/ACT forum.</p>

<p>If you major in computer science, be aware that the "top" schools for computer science are not necessarily the same as the highest prestige schools in general. Stanford and MIT overlap, but several of the midwestern state flagships have a better reputation in computer science than the Ivy League schools, which may be worth considering if you complete a major in computer science but do not go to law school. Ivy League would still be better for being recruited into investment banking jobs, but actual computer software employers outside of investment banking are more likely to be at several of the midwestern state flagships.</p>

<p>Remember that law school is expensive, so you do not want to bring a lot of undergraduate debt along. Good law jobs are thought to be very conscious of the prestige of your law school, so going to a low ranking law school may not be worth it.</p>

<p>I would say it really depends on what you want to do, since as you said before, it is a big decision. Personally, I wouldn't go to some brand-name school just for the title, because you can wind up in terrible debts and, while I'm sure you would end up getting a great job, what if you didn't for 5 years? How would you pay for the accumulating cost? </p>

<p>I really really want to go to a school like UPenn or NYU, but my happiness would suffer because of debt. And if you are on the fence, think about this: It's not what you get out of the nice school with the nice name and prestige, it's what you get out of it by making the most out of your college experience :) </p>

<p>(This is assuming you will be taking out student loans if you do go to an Ivy or someplace similar...)</p>

<p>Thank you guys for the responses I've gotten. Let me address you individually.</p>

<p>xlightmeup: I'm not sure what law I'd like to go into yet. Criminal and patent are my current top prospects. Also, I realize Columbia would be better for networking and things, but could I get a good GPA there for law school?</p>

<p>ucbalumnus: You make a great point about the prestige of the Computer Science program at the schools. I will definitely look into that. However, I'm not real worried about the debt aspect. My current plan is to go from law school to being one of the associates at a big law firm. I will make six figures, but I will work over 60 hours a week so I will have not time to spend it.</p>

<p>Archite: Yes, I would have loans after going to an Ivy or prestigious place. Except for UPenn since they no longer have their students take student loans. Also, I completely agree that the college will be what I make out of it! I plan on making the most of my college no matter where I go; I just have to figure out where that would be best for me first.</p>