« on: May 01, 2007, 11:48:11 AM »
Got this in a vault newsletter today - thought I'd share:
By Blueprint Test Preparation
Blueprint Test Preparation, unites the finest instructors with the most extensive, detailed and up-to-date LSAT course available.
Applicants seeking admission to law school for the fall of 2007 are each unique, but as a group they share a universal, and somewhat unusual, characteristic. They are the first applicant pool in five years to see the number of overall applicants decrease, based on the February data. After 2001 (perhaps due to the dot-com bust), the number of applicants to U.S. law schools increased steadily, leveling out around 2005. 2006 is the first year to see a dramatic decrease in the overall numbers.
The decrease in applicants has affected nearly every school. The New York Times recently reported that, as a whole, law school applications are down 9.5 percent from last year. And while some have speculated that the decrease is most pronounced for schools in the second and third tier, the Times reported that many top schools had been heavily impacted by the decline. Harvard, which typically has one of the largest applicant pools of any law school, saw numbers drop from 7,386 last year to 7,127 this year. Similarly, Stanford saw applicants slip from 5,040 to 4,863, and Columbia showed one of the largest decreases with numbers falling from 8,355 to 8,020.
But does a decrease in overall applicants mean that the admissions process is changing? One sign that the applicant pool is experiencing ripples includes Yale Law School's recently relaxed rules regarding LSAT test dates. Yale typically does not consider test scores from administrations after December for fall admissions, but this year the consistently top-ranked school altered its policy to allow February test takers to apply for the fall of 2007. Perhaps because of the change, Yale is the only school whose number of overall applicants has only been slighted affected, down just five students from 2005.
The numbers are certainly falling, but it is difficult to determine why or what this means for applicants. With national unemployment at just 4.7 percent, (a four-year low), some speculate that the strong economy is luring more young people to the workforce before pursuing advanced degrees.
Another factor may be the increased cost of attending law school. Even at UCLA, a public school subsidized by tax dollars, tuition has doubled over the last several years and now hovers around $24,000. Even so, the cost of attending UCLA is still significantly less than the cost of attending a private school. (Stanford Law School's tuition for the 2007/2008 school year was just under $40,000). With tuition increasing, prospective students may be taking more time to consider the financial implications of assuming hefty student loans.
It is also possible that the increased competitiveness of the admissions game has discouraged some students from applying. With a tightening LSAT curve and increasing GPA demands, the process itself may have become so difficult that people who would have applied cavalierly before are now rethinking the process until they can be sure that applying to law school is the right decision.
Still another theory is that, like the real estate market, the law school applicant pool is experiencing a normal correction, balancing itself out after the spike in applicants over the last five years.
Whatever the reason, there is no proof that the decrease in applicants is making it any less difficult to obtain admission at competitive schools. In fact, the tightening LSAT curve and the stability of Yale's applicant pool suggests that the most competitive candidates, those who are targeting elite schools and competitive firm jobs, are still applying in large numbers.
If the applicant pool is shrinking, but overall competition is not slackening, the LSAT is as important than ever. And in light of the applicant boom and the fierce competition in law school admissions over the last decade, even a 10 percent decrease in applicants is unlikely to make the application process significantly easier. Obtaining admission to law school is still a tough and competitive process. Whatever the applicant pool numbers, an outstanding LSAT score continues to be essential to ensure your place in a law school class.