September 22, 2012
Carnage in 1L Law School Enrollments
Paul Campos (Colorado) blogs preliminary Fall 2012 enrollment statistics from 40 law schools. Here are the law schools with declining 1L enrollments, ranked by the percentage decline from 2011:
Charleston -34.4% Hamline -33.0% Wake Forest -31.4% Valapraiso -25.2% Gonzaga -25.0% Penn State -22.7% George Mason -21.0% Arizona -20.9% Texas -20.0% UC-Hastings -20.0% Oregon -19.7% William Mitchell -19.1% Houston -18.2% Wayne State -18.2% Case Western -17.9% Connecticut -16.6% Washington U. -16.1% Georgia -16.0% Indiana -15.8% Geo. Washington -15.6% Albany -14.0% Boston U. -12.8% Seattle -11.1% Vanderbilt -10.4% Minnesota -10.2% William & Mary -9.7% Columbia -7.3% Colorado -6.7% Alabama -6.1% USC -5.5% Michigan -3.9% Michigan State -2.9% Notre Dame -2.7% Yale -1.0% UC-Davis -0.5% St. Thomas -0.0%
Update: The chart below includes additional schools added by Paul Campos and corrects the data for Charleston (provided by Dean Andrew Abrams):
Hamline -33.0% Wake Forest -31.4% Hawaii -25.9% Valapraiso -25.2% Gonzaga -25.0% Penn State -22.7% Seton Hall -22.6% Charleston -21.1% George Mason -21.0% Arizona -20.9% Texas -20.0% UC-Hastings -20.0% Oregon -19.7% William Mitchell -19.1% Houston -18.2% Wayne State -18.2% Case Western -17.9% Connecticut -16.6% Washington U. -16.1% Georgia -16.0% Indiana -15.8% Geo. Washington -15.6% Santa Clara -15.3% Albany -14.0% Hofstra -13.6% Boston U. -12.8% Stetson -12.8% Oklahoma City -11.9% Seattle -11.1% Vanderbilt -10.4% Minnesota -10.2% William & Mary -9.7% St. John's -9.6% Columbia -7.3% Colorado -6.7% Florida State -6.5% Alabama -6.1% USC -5.5% Michigan -3.9% Michigan State -2.9% Notre Dame -2.7% Yale -1.0% UC-Davis -0.5% St. Thomas -0.0%
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Only 35 schools (did not count 0.0%) had lower enrollment out of 200-ish? Roughly 170 schools increased matriculation?!?
Now, I can believe that a college student has no idea what is going on out there and wants to be a lawyer. So he/she takes the LSAT and applies to law school. Odds are (with decent LSAT and GPA and increased enrollment) he/she will get in. The ugly truth will only set in once they get there.
So who is responsible? Should the college students be reading all the blogs about law school and the legal profession? That sure would be a good idea. Talk to friends and family in the business (it ain't a profession no more people)? Yep. Absolutely. But they are 19 to 21-ish (LSAT, to application, to acceptance, to enrollment) and are likely to believe that by the time they graduate things will ave changed. LSAT to graduation is 4 years. That is an eternity to a college kid.
Why in the world are law schools increasing their enrollment when there are no jobs for their graduates (from 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, dare I say 2008?)? Because law students are cash cows. There borrow money with flick of a wrist. Tens of thousands of dollars. Year after year. More students. More money, more money, more money.
If the Department of Education eliminated the loans, or similar to the NCAA limited the loans and the total amount, boy would class sizes shrink. People actually would get real financial aid rather than just a taste of it to lure you into taking out the loans. Is the Dept. of Ed. culpable, no. Could they help fix the problem, yes.
The law schools (combined with the ABA who doled out quite a few "Welcome to McDonald's School of Law. Would you like Con law or Contracts today?") are at fault. Forget the class action stuff. The law schools took more and more and more and more students because it meant more green. And money makes people do strangle things, most of all want more of it.
Posted by: tax guy | Sep 22, 2012 9:16:27 AM
The decline in law school enrollment is not carnage. It is progress.
Posted by: Recent Law School Graduate | Sep 22, 2012 5:35:06 PM
More schools had lower numbers I am certain (mine for instance which is not listed), this is just all the data he must have had at the time. The question is, how will the academy respond? I hope it won't follow the PPPFP model (past performance predicts future performance - i.e. do nothing and assume things will turn around on its own as they always do). Time will tell...
Posted by: Kendall Isaac | Sep 22, 2012 8:02:34 PM
In fairness to Wake Forest, it did significantly over-enroll the year before. It increased enrollment unintentionally to 200 from 160. This decrease probably reflects it getting back to standard numbers. Also note, it had nearly a 30% application increase this year.
Posted by: Justin | Sep 23, 2012 3:14:59 PM
These are striking numbers, but they reveal the fact that people are finally coming to terms with reality. Thank goodness.
When people recognize the human cost of other massively over-enrolled postgraduate degree programs, we will (hopefully) see numbers like this across higher education. For the time being, "100 reasons NOT to go to grad school" (http://100rsns.blogspot.com/) is one of a few lonely voices in the wilderness.
What is bad news for law schools in the short term is great news for countless thousands who avoid a lifetime of debt and disappointment.
Posted by: WG | Sep 24, 2012 8:45:52 AM