(Originally published on Scrineblog. Reprinted by kind permission of Keith, the architect of the PTMYB template and all-around swell guy.)
In the great “Bay Area v. Boston” geographic smackdown, I do not intend to fight fair.—‘mouse
So noted, sir…
1. Tuition, room/board, expenses.
Bay Area and Beantown charge approximately the same tuition and on-campus room/board. Living expenses are also approximately the same. Draw.
2. Financial aid.
Beantown has awarded me a scholarship that will cover approximately 22% of my tuition costs over three years. Bay Area has sent me paperwork to apply for a scholarship that will cover about 15% of my tuition costs over three years—assuming that I am one of the lucky scholarship recipients in the first place. Advantage: Beantown.
3. Job opportunities.
Bay Area does not allow first-year students to work. [Edit: ‘mouse, who is a Bay Area alum, has questioned this. I am reinvestigating. It’s possible that first-year students are merely discouraged from working, in accordance with the American Bar Association recommendations.] However, Bay Area’s campus is close to the office of an attorney who has suggested that there might be work available for me in the area. Beantown has a co-op program embedded in its curriculum: students attend classes for 11 weeks, then work for the co-op for 11 weeks. Depending on where the co-op places the student, pay ranges from fairly low (for public service work such as with the public defender’s or district attorney’s offices) to almost livable (for big corporate Satan-on-a-retainer firms). Draw.
4. Accessibility to off-campus amenities.
Bay Area has a public transit system, but so far it is an unknown quantity; the school literature says only that it’s *possible* to attend school for three years without requiring a car. Beantown has the T. Draw, with possible advantage to Beantown.
Okay, on this there’s no contest. Advantage: Bay Area.
Both Bay Area and Beantown have abundance of swell places to eat. Grocery situation uncertain without further study. Rumors abound of swell roadside produce stands in Bay Area. Draw, with possible advantage to Bay Area.
Bay Area and Beantown both have huge, sexalicious fitness centers and swimming pools, all free for enrolled students. Draw.
8. Curricula, clinics, special programs.
This is where the choice can really make a body’s head hurt. Bay Area has a community law center, an institute for redress and recovery for the victims of torture and other human rights abuses, the Northern California Innocence Project and several clinics and programs on sustainability. Beantown has clinical courses on criminal advocacy, domestic violence and public health; a program on civil rights and restorative justice, and a project that sends students into Beantown-area public schools to teach constitutional literacy to high school students. I am only scratching the surface of what both schools offer. Draw, dammit, a complete and utter draw.
9. Going home.
Going to Beantown will allow me to come home and see Lloyd at least once or twice a month. Coming home from Bay Area will be considerably more expensive and difficult. On the other hand, one could argue that being 3,300 miles away from home will force me to focus on my coursework, with no distraction. Advantage: Beantown, but since I have no idea whether I’ll be too embedded in first-year boot camp to enjoy any time at home, this might be a draw, too.
10. Future practice, a/k/a Where do you want to be when you grow up?
I have been advised that the place where you pursue your education generally determines where you build your career (or did I get that backwards?) If I go to Beantown, the odds are good that I will work in Beantown or points nearby—or possibly as far south as Washington. If I go to Bay Area, it would not be a stretch to consider one day living and working in San Francisco. Draw, draw, draw.
But wait, there’s a wild card! I have yet to hear from two schools in New York City, one in Pittsburgh and one in Boulder. If any one of those schools offers me a superior financial aid package, all of the previous considerations are hereby rendered null and void.
Edit: Yes, there are open-house days for admitted students at both schools. Yes, I plan on attending both, which should either cement a decision or just make the whole damn decision that much more difficult to make.