XP: Balancing personal grad school goals with FI's

I wanted to hear your thoughts and ideas on my situation.  My FI is a grad student at Harvard Business School (first year), and I'm applying to law school.  I live in Washington, DC, and he lives up in Boston.  We're getting married in May.  Originally, I was planning on moving up to Boston and going to Boston College or Boston University Law if I can get accepted there, but I think I'm about to be accepted at Georgetown Law, a much higher ranked school. 

I'm feeling down about the idea of potentially giving up Georgetown Law for a lesser ranked school, even though I was originally happy with that idea.  I'm thinking about the economy, and they say you should go to the best law school possible to be considered for a job.  I'm also a rather ambitious individual, and the thought of not living up to my full potential makes me a little sad.  

On the other hand, my FI made huge professional sacrifices earlier to live closer to me (he's foreign), and he is turning down recruiters for top jobs abroad so we could live together in the U.S.  But he doesn't want to live in DC after he graduates, as there are fewer business oportunities in DC (he's thinking big, like McKinsey or Goldman Sachs).  I'd like to make sacrifices for him like he did for me, but I also have that nagging desire to be successful.

Has anyone gone through this?  How do you balance your professional goals as a wife with that of your husband, especially when your professional goals don't exactly line up?  Do you take turns?  This is our biggest disagreement, but on everything else in life we're perfect for each other.  Thanks!

Re: XP: Balancing personal grad school goals with FI's

  • Well, not the same experience perhaps, but a similar one. I am definitely considering my FI in my grad school choices for next fall. That sounds like a really tough spot, and I don't have much "advice" other than maybe a pro/cons list and REALLY talk this out with him.

    Either way you decide, you don't want to be bitter towards him. 5 years from now if you don't have a job, you don't want the ammo to say "well I could have gone to Georgetown...." It's a very gray area.

    I think I would consider the sacrifices he has made for you as well, though that would not be the entire determing factor. How different, rank-wise, are Boston University and Georgetown? I'm guessing more prestigious vs state school? I guess I'm asking how big the difference is in quality of the program.
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  • All three are good schools, but there is a difference in quality.  Georgetown is in the top 15 schools, and their graduates have more access to great jobs, especially in the government, where I would like to work.  Boston Unversity ranks 22nd.  It has good job placement on the East Coast and California, the two places I'm interested in, but I think it has suffered a setback with the economy.  I think Boston College, another private school, is ranked in the top 30 schools.  A famous letter has recently circulate from a Boston College Law student to the Dean of the school, asking that they let him leave the school without a degree and cancel his debt.  Apparently, his wife is pregnant, and he can't afford to graduate and have no job.  He's in his third year.

    I sat down to talk about this with my fiance last night.  We talked about an hour.  I half joked that deciding between Boston University and Georgetown would be a tough choice, and he was hurt by the idea that I wouldn't move up to Boston.  I ended up reassuring him that I would choose BU, but still deep down inside I'll feel some regret.  I love my FI, and I want to be with him.  I think I just have to talk to BU students and see if I can still achieve my professional dreams by going there. 
  • Honestly (at least in Canada where I live) going to a more "prestigious" law school doesn't actually guarantee you a better job than the rankings suggest. There are some schools that have better access to better professors and resources, and others that don't have that access and that could make a bit of a different about your education and your knowledge, but less about jobs.

    I do however think that you need to talk to him about the regret you feel about going to BU. Otherwise, that resentment is only going to build up. And that could very easily cause problems, particularly when he's expecting you to go to BU.

    Rankings truly do not give you a good feel of what the school is like and how attending that school will affect your future.
  • edited November 2010
    I've been told that Georgetown Law has a 100% job placement rate.  So while I normally don't put a lot of stock into going to more 'prestigious' schools, it's something I would consider, especially right now.

    I agree with PP, you have to do what's right for both of you, and you as a couple - you don't want to make a decision that will cause you to resent the relationship.  There's the possibility of you doing a LDR(M?) for three years while you're at law school - a friend of mine is doing it right now, his GF flies down pretty freuently on weekends from Boston to visit him because the flight is like $49.  You have to think long-term here.

    I don't envy you this decision, and I wish you the best of luck with whatever you do.  I know that if I were your FI, I would encourage you to go to Georgetown.  I also think it's kind of crappy of you to keep reassuring him that you'll pick Boston when you're still very much up in the air about the decision, because if you wind up choosing Georgetown your FI will feel very hurt and lied to (because you did, in fact, lie to him). 

    You need to be open and honest about the fact that you're not sure, and sit down and have a long talk about the pros and cons, and what each of you is willing to put up with (i.e. LDR, choosing a less ood school, moving, etc).  Learning how to work through tough choices like this is important to do early on in a relationship, because it's entirely possible that something like this will come up in your marriage at some point.
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  • Adding this:

    While I understand the importance of the rank of a school, I also understand the importance of compromise. I agree with LauraT that you should definitely NOT be assuring him you will choose BU if you are not entirely sure of this. It's really not fair to either of you.

    I also researched it a little bit and found out that while job placement is high, only about 25% even got "big law" when graduating from Georgetown. The reality is that it's not that likely you or your FI will be getting your absolute "dream jobs" upon graduation. It's possible, yes, but not all that likely considering HOW competitive the market is anyway. I think it will essentially come down to how well you did and your resume and personality, and not just about where you went. But I digress.

    I don't envy your decision at all, but I do think you need to be honest with your FI and with YOURSELF at this point. What do you really want? And why?
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  • If you are honestly just choosing Georgetown for the extra 7 places in rankings, I personally think that is a really silly reason to not be with your FI for another 3 years. If it were more of a difference, it would definitely be a harder decision for me, but from 15 to 22, it would absolutely not be worth it for me. 

    If it is a place that you love, and you think that you would be a lot happier there and receive that much better of an education, then it would be worth thinking about in my book. I am in medical school, and I didn't even apply to schools in Boston or NYC because I knew my FI did not want to live there. Sure, it took a lot of top-ranked schools out of the running, but we both love where we are now (together), and I highly doubt that going to a top 25 school rather than a top 15 school will affect my future at all.

    There are several studies showing that it is not actually the school that you end up going to that predicts your success, but actually the schools that you were accepted to that better predict it. This is because anyone ACCEPTED to Georgetown, not only the people who actually go there, are all capable and hardworking, regardless of where they end up going. Thus, the people at BU who bring the job rate below that of Georgetown, probably couldn't have gotten in Georgetown in the first place.

    Sorry, that was kind of long, but my point was if you go to Georgetown, do it because you love it and will be happy there, not because you think it being ranked higher will make all the difference in your future. Just work hard wherever you end up going, and you will be fine. And hey, even if you don't get a job right away, at least you will still have your FI to take care of you (I'm sort of kidding haha).
  • I want to clarify: I don't think ranking or even job placement should necessarily make the decision for you.  I was more saying that if you like Georgetown a lot better than BU, then it's worth having a discussion.  I have no clue what BU's job placement is, but if it's significantly different it might give me pause.

    I get what PP is saying about 'if you're good enough to get accepted, you're good enough to get a job', but unfortunately sometimes the name on the degree does actually make a difference.
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  • In Response to <a href="">Re: XP: Balancing personal grad school goals with FI's</a>:
    [QUOTE]I want to clarify: I don't think ranking or even job placement should necessarily make the decision for you.  I was more saying that if you like Georgetown a lot better than BU, then it's worth having a discussion.  I have no clue what BU's job placement is, but if it's significantly different it might give me pause. I get what PP is saying about 'if you're good enough to get accepted, you're good enough to get a job', but <strong>unfortunately sometimes the name on the degree does actually make a difference</strong>.
    Posted by LauraT25[/QUOTE]

    <div>I agree that this can be true. To me, the difference here doesn't seem big enough that it would really have that much of an impact. If the school rankings were more significantly different, I would be a little more concerned about it. Of course, I am going off my opinions of schooling in general, and I do realize it is more difficult to find a job after law school than in many other fields, so maybe it is an important difference.</div><div>
    </div><div>Either way, I agree with PP's that it is really important that you stop misleading your FI. At the rate you are going, it looks like at least one of you is going to be pretty upset, whatever you decide. You should start getting on the same  page now.</div>
  • Oh, I also wanted to add that I would give this advice to anyone, regardless of the situation with your FI. Going somewhere where you are happy and excited to be (even if this means Georgetown for you) will motivate you and make you more productive/successful, and I think that serves you far better than a higher ranked school where you are unhappy.
  • Do you know what kind of law you're going into?  Are you going to need to do a clerkship after you finish law school?  If so, it's going to be harder to get a clerkship in Boston if you didn't go to school in Boston (since you and your profs prob won't have as many connections).  So if you are going into a type of law where you need a clerkship (like tax law), you may end up being in the Georgetown area for 4 years instead of 3.

    Anyways, it's just a thought.  My roommate got his law degree at NESL (another Boston area school) and had trouble finding a clerkship in NJ (although he eventually did).  He is an extremely smart guy, and it seems the biggest setback with him was that he wasn't looking for a clerkship in the area of his law school.
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  • GJones27GJones27 member
    edited November 2010
    Thanks for your feedback.  It's all good ideas.  Here are some clarifications.

    I'm not interested in a school only for the ranking, even though every law student says you should try to go to the best law school possible because of job placement.  The law market has been devastated by the economy, and if you're an employer, you tend to limit where you recruit.  Sadly, legal employers are "prestige whores," even though a student might not be. 

    Yes, the educational experience matters, but I don't see each law school varying significantly in that regard because they all have to teach the same laws.  You have to pay $200,000 no matter where you go, and to make a return on investment, you have to go a school that will prepare you for finding work.  Higher ranked schools additionally offer more loan forgiveness programs for taking on government work, since they have larger endowments.  

    Personally, I think Georgetown would open more doors for me since I'd like to take on government work, and Boston schools don't focus on that as much.  Also, Georgetown has one of the top environmental law programs in the country, and that's what I want to do.  I think Georgetown is #3 or something for environmental law, and I don't think any schools in Boston offer much of a courseload in those areas.  I also went to Georgetown for undergrad, and I absolutely loved the experience and my classmates.  I just think I would fit it. 

    There are other schools in Boston, but BU and BC are the best schools I can realistically get into.  I applied to Harvard, but there's no way I'm going to get in. 

    Yeah, I do think I'll have to talk about it with my FI.  I think we just have to take turns compromising, but it's tough.  Marriage takes work, as they say.  It's about give and take.
  • Yeah, those are definitely more legitimate reasons for wanting to choose Georgetown. If I were your FI, I would have definitely called BS on the rankings argument (which I guess did anyway haha), but the fact that it offers much more based on what you want to do and where you want to be definitely deserves a conversation. I am sure he wants you to succeed as much as you want him to. I hope you guys can figure out something that works for you! 

    I am curious say you are interested in  government work after you graduate. Wouldn't that keep you living in D.C. even after law school?
  • Yeah, my preference is work in DC, but I fear that won't happen.  I want to work for the Envrironmental Protection Agency, but they also have regional offices in states around the country.  Eventually, I'd like to return to my home state of California, and there's a huge environmental policy and law market there.  The problem with the private sector with environmental law is you start to represent the big polluters and sometimes you have to do stuff against your beliefs.  Government work also has greater work-life balance for women.  Yeah, the rankings aren't the whole story, and I guess I made assumptions what others know about the meaning behind those rankings.

    My FI wants me to be successful, too, but I think he just wants to has his time to shine professionally, as he hasn't had an opportunity to yet.  He turned down McKinsey in Brazil where he is from so he could live near me in the U.S.  I have to give him a chance, too.  I've shared all of my concerns, but he also has his needs.
  • That def sounds like a really tough situation on both of your parts.  McKinsey is an amazing opportunity.  I guess the moral to the story is this:  if you love each other enough to make reasonable compromises, then your love is going to be  more fulfilling than any professional gains.  But funny things can happen when you least expect it, and you may be surprised at the amazing opportunities that may come your way in your professional lives even after you've made such compromises.

    So best of luck with your decisions.  They are certainly hard ones, but it sounds like you guys are both extremely talented and capable and will make the best of the situation in which you find yourselves.

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