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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, February 19, 2016

Cooley Craters:  Enrollment, Faculty Down 60%, Tuition Up 40%

Thomas Cooley Logo (2014)Lansing State Journal, Enrollment Up, Scores Down at Cooley:

After five years of declining enrollment, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School brought in more first-year students last year than it did the year before, according to American Bar Association data.

But only by three students.

And halting the slide seems to have come at the expense of selectivity.

Cooley has long been one of the least selective law schools in the country, but the average GPA and LSAT scores of its most recent entering class are the lower than any class at Cooley in at least a decade.

The median GPA and LSAT scores for new Cooley students last year were 2.85 and 141, respectively. Students in the 25th percentile had an average LSAT score of 138. LSAT scores range from 120 to 180. A score of 138 falls in the bottom 11 percent of scores from recent years.

Thomas Cooley

Cooley has not lowered its admissions standards, said Jim Robb, associate dean of external affairs. Students are evaluated using a complex admission formula that weighs an applicant’s LSAT scores and GPA, Robb said. In recent years, the school has placed more value on GPAs. ...

The Lansing-based law school has cut its number of full-time faculty in half since 2011. ...

Cooley students have struggled on the Michigan bar exam in recent years. Slightly more than half of Cooley graduates taking the exam for the first time passed in in July, compared to 72 percent of all first-time test takers. MSU and U of M graduates fared better, with 80 percent and 97 percent pass rates among first-time test takers, respectively. ...

Fewer than one out of every three 2014 Cooley graduates found full-time work that required them to pass the bar in the months after graduation, according to ABA data. Placement rates for MSU and U of M graduates were 59 percent and 92 percent, respectively.

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Comments

"In recent years, the school has placed more value on GPAs. ..."

Which have also fallen, a remarkable feat in this age of grade inflation. A lot of law schools have had falling LSATs to keep enrollment up. Very few have had the median GPA drop by any measure, let alone by nearly .2 on the 4.0 scale.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Feb 19, 2016 1:49:52 PM

Either my computer is dumb or the marketing director for Cooley is dumber. When I clicked on this post. a Cooley banner ad pops up on my screen. Actually, their pop ups are all over this site....Their like Sears and K-Mart....a dying company desperately trying to stay afloat with ads popping up even on negative content sites.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Feb 19, 2016 2:44:05 PM

As bad as Cooley's numbers are, the crown for the largest enrollment decline goes to the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia. It's 509 reports - available at www.abarequireddisclosures.org, indicate that it had 147 1Ls in 2011, and only 33 1Ls in 2015, a 77% decline. And in only one year - from 2014 with 48 matriculants to 2015 with 33 matriculants - it had a 31% enrollment decline.

It also places among the bottom 10 of the 200+ U.S. law schools for 1L attrition, with 32.7% of its 2014 matriculants having left the school. Only 31 out of the 48 2014 matriculants remain.

The bottom line is that students do not want to attend ASL, and those who make the mistake of doing so do not want to stay and leave in droves.

A look at ASL's website using the Internet Archive indicates that from 2013 to 2015 the law school has gone from about 20 full-time professors down to about 6. So it's not just students - the faculty don't want to be there either.

The ABA should put this dying law school - which now has a total enrollment of around 100 students and only 6 full-time faculty - out of its misery.

Posted by: Barnstorm | Feb 19, 2016 3:02:20 PM

Wow. O.k., I'm going to give this Robb guy the benefit of the doubt and assume that he concedes that Cooley's numerical admissions standards (both LSAT and GPA) have declined significantly. The numbers are the numbers, and even the slickest snake oil salesman couldn't get around that fact.

Is his argument that the "quality" of student, defined as intangibles other than LSAT/GPA, has not gone down, despite those students comparatively lower numerical credentials?

Are we to understand that Cooley has found some novel way to evaluate students and has concluded that those with lower numbers are equivalent to or better than those in prior years with better numbers, thus Cooley's admissions "standards" have not declined because the quality of the students being admitted now (which stood less chance of being admitted 5 years ago, mind you), are the same or better???

Why the poor bar passage and high attrition, then? Would Cooley care to share its magical assessment formula, and can it truly be said to be working???

Posted by: Anon | Feb 19, 2016 4:29:43 PM

If one guy/gal passes the bar at this joint, isn't Cooley High Phoenix Law School a success? What do they call the guy who graduates last in his class from a medical school in the Reagan Republic of Grenada? Doctor.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Feb 19, 2016 6:00:26 PM

"Cooley has not lowered its admission standards"

Years ago, when America still was run by honorable leaders, we would have called such assertion a "lie." The baby boomers have shown us that we were too blunt, and what really matters is self-interest. When asserted from a self-serving position we now recognize such utter untruths to be mere "bull s$&@," which somehow makes them more acceptable.

Thank you, baby boomers, for creating a world where motives and intentions displace truth and honor. Well done.

Posted by: Jojo | Feb 20, 2016 5:38:26 AM

Jojo,

I am not happy either about doublespeak either. I.E. Patriot Act or Help America Vote Act or Kim Daviis asserting that her personal religious liberties were violated. All relevant examples along with Cooley High Phoenix Marshall Law School. However, I would not call Richard Nixon, Joseph McCarthy, Andrew Jackson and others, honorable leaders.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Feb 20, 2016 12:35:34 PM