Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Nadir of Rankings Puffery: Quinnipiac's WSJ Ad

In our Moneyball article, we note several glaring of examples of deans who have signed the LSAC letter urging law school applicants to ignore the U.S. News rankings who nevertheless issue glowing press releases when their schools advance in the rankings. What Law Schools Can Learn from Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, 82 Texas L. Rev. 1483 (2004).  I have chronicled more recent examples here.  (For some tongue in check advice, see here.)

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal contained a jarring half-page ad from the Board of Trustees at Quinnipiac University congratulating "The Dean and the Faculty of the School of Law for their most recent U.S. News & World Report ranking among law schools nationally."  Although Quinnipiac is ranked in the Third Tier (which places it somewhere between 105-141 (although this source says its actual ranking is 108)), the ad goes on to state that "[b]ased on objective criteria alone, the Law School is well within the Top 100 law schools in America with the following rankings ...:

  • Student:Faculty Ratio (14th)
  • Median LSAT (85th)
  • Average Exepnditures per Student (63rd)
  • Acceptance Rate (56th)
  • Volumes in Libraries (87th)
  • Employment 9 Months After Graduation (90th)"

Qunnipiac appears to have cherry picked its data, since it does not include other objective categories such as Median GPA, Acceptance Rate, Employment at Graduation, and Bar Passage Rate.  (It it also curious that Quinnipiac included its Average Expenditures per Student ranking, since U.S. News does not publicly reveal its rankings in this category.)

By all accounts, Quinnipiac is a fine school with a strong faculty (as evidenced in this study of faculty productivity (criteria here)).  But one wonders whether the school could have found better uses for the money it spent on yesterday's ad.  (The rack rate for such an ad appears to be over $100,000.)  As Brian Leiter has noted, schools that emphasize the U.S. News overall ranking are on a fool's errand.  But at a minimum, If the school wants to make hay out of its U.S. News ranking, it should at least be more forthright in the data it publicizes.  And it should join Northwestern in refusing to sign the deans' anti-U.S. News letter.

Update:  I am told that the same ad ran in the national edition of the New York Times on May 22.  (The rack rate for such an ad appears to be over $100,000.)

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Or the school could have used that money for full scholarships for 6 students for the year . . .

Posted by: AS | Jun 5, 2008 8:21:31 AM

I agree... with tuition (including fees) for the 2008-2009 year set at $38,830... and total student enrollment of 396, $200,000 worth of ads cost each student approximately $505. I wonder if the school administration asked every student... hey... would everyone mind contributing an extra $505 to run an ad with loaded statistics?

Student enrollment:

Posted by: QU Law Alumnus | Jun 5, 2008 7:07:22 AM