Jennifer R. Kott
Jennifer Kott has been the Director of Admissions at UNC School of Law at Chapel Hill since October 2007. Prior to her role at UNC, Kott was the assistant director of admission and recruitment at Tulane University Law School and manager of the co-op MBA Program at Northeastern University in Boston. She earned her B.A. at Elon College in North Carolina.
I chose Ms. Kott for this interview because her experience in Greensboro, Boston, New Orleans pre- and post-Katrina, and Chapel Hill gives her a broad perspective of different living environments that may help applicants make choices about where to live.
Dean Kott, in addition to having attended college in a smaller city, you’ve recently had the privilege of representing both Tulane and Carolina. In many ways the quality of education and faculty are the same, yet the locales are extraordinarily different. What do you see as the pros and cons of a major city as versus the smaller “college town” environment in Chapel Hill as a place to attend law school?”
It becomes a Tale of Two Cities for Chapel Hill and New Orleans. Chapel Hill has been deemed home to our nation’s very first public state university, while New Orleans is deeply rooted in our nation’s history. Both schools, most esteemed in their own right (locally and nationally), are both nestled in vibrant and historical communities, offering differences in their locations from people to neighborhoods to public transportation to the surroundings to climate.
When taking locale into consideration, you’ll want to consider what kind of resources you’re looking for in an area – and what they have to offer your academic career. New Orleans and Chapel Hill are very different places, but they both offer excellent schools with community resources. Both are close to their state capitals, offering policy opportunities. New Orleans, one of the most historic cities in the country, is a short drive from the world renowned French Quarter and hosts as a major port of call in the United States, which provides access to international opportunities. Chapel Hill has the nearby communities of Durham, Raleigh and the Research Triangle Park, offering diversity in professional opportunities, recreation and neighborhoods – plus an ideal environment for outdoor recreation such as hiking, kayaking and camping to name a few.
So I'm hearing you say that location is important, and to some extent controls the opportunities you might have, but ultimately it's those opportunites and how they fit your personal goals that you should consider.
Yes; when deciding what type of environment you want for in law school, it’s important to have a good sense of your personal priorities on what each school offers in the way of academic offerings, size, debt-load, prestige, and other academic preferences and professional opportunities.
Many applicants from the largest urban areas feel that they just can't survive away from "the city." What advice would you give them?
The best way to alleviate this uncertainty would be to plan ahead. Do your research and visit as many law schools as you can to get a “feel” of the surrounding environments. If you make arrangements ahead of time, most law schools will allow you to attend a first year law class, schedule a tour with a currently enrolled law student and offer to put you in contact with alum. Depending where the applicant is in their stage of life, one might gravitate towards different locales, but with a little research, you can find the right one for you.
Thank you, Dean Kott!