Yeah. My hobby lately has been stessing-out about law school.
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Florida Coastal. I submitted the app on 2/15 (evening), the LSDAS report was sent on 2/17, and the date on my decision letter was 2/17. Same day service, baby.
You fail to take into account one large piece of information...economic models assume rational choices by individuals.
Here is an example of a massive assumption you make:
"How can the schools increase the chances that they will reach their goal? The best way is to increase the number of applications that they receive. With more people to rank, the average quality of admitted students will increase. The only time it will not increase is if all of the new applications are worse than the lowest rank applicant that they had planned to admit. We can see that schools send out fee waivers not to decrease their percentage of admits/applications, but to increase the quality of their student body."
You have no clue why fee waivers are sent out at all, yet you use it to justify your conclusion. It is commonly held that schools send out fee waivers to increase yield. Many top applicants do not receive fee waivers to many schools while lesser applicants do. These fee waiver applicants are largely rejected which serves to lower admit rates(US News Strategy).
You also pointed out the zero-sum effect of multiple applications on the market. Again this is false. While the number of seats hold fairly constant the yield does not. Schools like the lower T14 assume a 1 in 5 yield of accepted students. When the market is flooded with applications that will both be rejected and accepted where the applicant had no intention of attending, we have a situation where the predicted yeild no longer holds true. Schools are unable to calculate, for the current cycle, data on yields that will allow them to make reasonable decisions regarding class size. Thus you end up with situations like Penn last year where the class is so horribly over-enrolled that seats normally available for applicants are no longer there. And to go a step further these same schools are forced to under-enroll over the next couple years to balance out the class--again robbing available seats.
So while it may be economically in an applicants best interest to throw in 10 apps to a school ranked way lower or 10 apps to all schools they have zero shot at, it does have an effect on current and future yields and available seats.
I started the 'plague' thread so obviously I am biased.
I only applied to 2 (Temple & Rutgers) because I am trapped regionally since I work full time during the day.
However, if I were free lancing as most of you are I would have applied to exactly 8 schools. 1 super reach, 2 moderate reaches, 3 schools I should get into, and 2 safeties.
If you did the research on the schools and your numbers & then thought about your soft factors - you really wouldn't need to apply to any more than that.
If an admissions office has to handle 10,000 applications as opposed to 2,000 they will obviously not be able to give the 10,000 applicants as much attention. That is a simple fact.
The question I would ask is why are people applying to 20+ schools when they absolutely did not do so 10-15 years ago?
I think the answer is becoming clearer as I have watched postings. It is too easy to apply to schools. The LSAC and the Internet make it too damn easy. If it took more effort like at the undergraduate level (ie specific essays for specific schools) it would probably not be as big an issue.
It isn't game theory, it isn't capitalism, and it isn't supply & demand forces.
It is gluttony and it makes the entire process tougher on us all.