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UofC vs UofA+money


GoatDuck

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GoatDuck
  • Law Student

I’m interested in working in Calgary, probably going into corporate law. If not in Calgary and if not in corporate law, then somewhere in the southern AB. I also have family reasons to prefer Calgary over Edmonton for the next three years, though Edmonton is a viable option. UofA's offer came with a $12,000 entrance scholarship. UofC won't tell me what I'm getting until a bit later, so there's uncertainty, though I think I have decent chances to get some $$$ from UofC. I'll be funding my JD mostly through loans. I have no AB connection. I think at this point I just want to rationalize accepting UofC’s offer, but I want to hold my horses and see if there are any major issues with picking UofC given my situation. 

So, suppose I don’t get any entrance scholarships from UofC. Given my goals, would going to UofC over UofA make any meaningful differences related to career prospects or the quality of life?  

I should add in case it's relevant, I have also been accepted at UofT and some senior partners at one of the big law firms on Bay St have told me that even that if I want to work in Calgary, I should strongly consider going to UofT because it would give me a meaningful edge. This being said, other lawyers from the Calgary market have suggested that their Bay St colleagues might be reading the Ontario school hierarchy into the Alberta market, and that it's unwarranted, advising me to consider a west coast school instead. Overall, I am not really considering UofT unless there are really significant advantages that I'd gain from attending there, so I'm just confining my choice to UofA and UofC.

Edited by GoatDuck
Correcting info about UofC's entrance scholarship info
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СлаваУкраїні
  • Articling Student

Do you know if there’s a specific date U of C will let you know if you’ve gotten an entrance scholarship? If so, and it’s before the deadline to accept the U of A offer, then it’s just a matter of waiting to see what U of C throws at you.

If not, and you are still dealing with uncertainty, then it just comes down to whether you think $12,000 is worth the advantages U of C offers over U of A. It’s true U of C does place more grads in the Calgary market than U of A (although this is bound to be at least partly due to self-selection), and being in the city will likely allow you to make more connections within the Calgary legal community and more easily attend interviews for Calgary firms (although given the proliferation of virtual interviews since COVID this is probably a less significant factor now). That said, there are plenty of U of A grads who find jobs in Calgary and I doubt employers would discriminate between a U of A and U of C grad who performed similarly on the basis of the schools they attended.

I guess my ultimate answer to your question would be it might make a difference, but not a significant one. I think it ultimately comes down to whether being in Calgary three years earlier for those family reasons you mentioned, establishing a connection to Calgary and southern Alberta specifically (which might be important given you’re not from Alberta to begin with, but I think merely coming to Alberta for law school at all regardless of the school would show you’re willingness to relocate), and those “soft” factors such as making connections with the Calgary legal community and the students you’ll probably end up working alongside, are worth $12,000 to you.

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CrimeAndPunishment
  • Applicant

Sorry to bump in at a much later date. I have already decided I don't want to go to Dal when I have U of C and U of A as my options. I've never been to Calgary or Edmonton but in my mind I have preconceptions that I would like living in Calgary better and finally be able to afford a house (impossible for me in Toronto). I have one nagging thought at the back of my head though.... would going to U of A give me better job prospects? I was talking to someone that went to U of C for law but our conversation got cut short, before we were interrupted he said that Alberta is more of an academic school and Calgary is more practical. My preference is strongly towards Calgary but if U of A gives me better prospects I might just go there. Any help would be greatly appreciated.  

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GoatDuck
  • Law Student
8 hours ago, CrimeAndPunishment said:

Sorry to bump in at a much later date. I have already decided I don't want to go to Dal when I have U of C and U of A as my options. I've never been to Calgary or Edmonton but in my mind I have preconceptions that I would like living in Calgary better and finally be able to afford a house (impossible for me in Toronto). I have one nagging thought at the back of my head though.... would going to U of A give me better job prospects? I was talking to someone that went to U of C for law but our conversation got cut short, before we were interrupted he said that Alberta is more of an academic school and Calgary is more practical. My preference is strongly towards Calgary but if U of A gives me better prospects I might just go there. Any help would be greatly appreciated.  

Both schools are great but I’d go with UCalgary. Neither school will hinder your chances for getting a job in Alberta in any substantial way. UCalgary is often said to have a somewhat experimental program where you get more hands-on experience, but it’s a good thing — I’ve spoken to a few recruitment directors at national firms in Calgary, and several of them noted that compared to grads of other institutions, UCalgary grads tend to have noticeably better legal writing skills straight out law school. I also haven’t heard anything negative about the quality or employability of UCalgary’s JD, at least in the context of Alberta.

As cities, Calgary is a worse Toronto, and Edmonton is a better Winnipeg. Calgary is more urban, though quite a lot of it feels like a small town. Edmonton just feels like a big small town. Calgary is also much closer to the Rockies, which is a great quality of life bonus in my mind. I know I’d enjoy living in Calgary for the next three years much more than I’d enjoy living in Edmonton. If you feel a similar way, go with UCalgary; you won’t make a mistake. 

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Whist
  • Articling Student
17 hours ago, CrimeAndPunishment said:

Sorry to bump in at a much later date. I have already decided I don't want to go to Dal when I have U of C and U of A as my options. I've never been to Calgary or Edmonton but in my mind I have preconceptions that I would like living in Calgary better and finally be able to afford a house (impossible for me in Toronto). I have one nagging thought at the back of my head though.... would going to U of A give me better job prospects? I was talking to someone that went to U of C for law but our conversation got cut short, before we were interrupted he said that Alberta is more of an academic school and Calgary is more practical. My preference is strongly towards Calgary but if U of A gives me better prospects I might just go there. Any help would be greatly appreciated.  

You can’t go wrong with either school if you want to practice in AB. It’ll just come down to your personal preference. Calgary is closer to the mountains, Edmonton has a nicer river valley. Your job prospects are pretty solid in this province at either school, even though UofA’s moot teams are better. 😉 Purely anecdotal, had I gotten offers from both schools at the same time, I probably would’ve picked UofC at the time (although have no regrets about attending UofA). 

It may not stay this way, but the cost of housing in Calgary has gone up recently. A detached home in Calgary is something like $700k right now. That’s obviously less than Toronto, but it’s something to keep in mind. 

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CrimeAndPunishment
  • Applicant

Thank you so much for the replies, you helped put my mind at ease. In that case I will be choosing Calgary.

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