In response to criticism about its 2021 admission process, which has been dubbed by one social media user as the “seat deposit scandal,” Notre Dame Law School Dean G. Marcus Cole is calling the approach a success and praising the process as yielding an incoming class that is strongly committed to the institution.
“This was so successful and worked so well, we’re going to maintain this exact same approach to our admissions from now on,” Cole told Indiana Lawyer.
According to the dean, the class of 2024 will be the most diverse in the law school’s history with about a third being students of color. Also, the class has a median LSAT score of 168, which is three points higher than the median 165 recorded just two years ago.
Describing the admission process as a “roaring success,” Cole said, “We are very pleased with the composition of the incoming class.”
However, the approach created a stir on social media. Applicants vented their dismay when they discovered the deadline for submitting their deposits had passed and despite having been admitted with scholarship offers, they found themselves on the wait list.
In turn, Kyle McEntee, executive direct of Law School Transparency, wrote about the situation for Above the Law in an article entitled “Chaos Reigns.” Other articles followed in Inside Higher Ed and on Law.com.
Cole asserted the articles are “completely inaccurate.”
As with other law schools, Notre Dame requires its admittees to pay a nonrefundable deposit in order to hold their seats for the fall semester. The school had set an April 15 deadline for the $600 to be paid but the school reached its enrollment limit ahead of the deadline and closed the deposit portal April 6. ...
According to Cole, the admittance letter sent to successful applicants included language explaining Notre Dame Law School would stop taking deposits either on April 15 or when the target enrollment of 180 was reached. Admittees were reminded March 9 of the expiring offer and additional notifications were also sent when capacity hit 67% and 80%.
“No one should be surprised and no one should be excited,” Cole said. “Absolutely no single person can justifiably and fairly claim they didn’t know about the closure of the deposit portal.”
Still, the process did turn heads in the admissions offices at other law schools. University of Michigan senior assistant dean Sarah Zearfoss said she initially did not believe the story of the expiring offer was true. Before she learned which school had taken such an approach, she posted a video online calling the practice “insane” and “unhinged.” ...
Cole believes his law school’s approach was beneficial to the applicants and the school.
“I embrace the process,” he said, asserting the applicants who met the deposit deadline really want to study at Notre Dame and were not interested in seeing if they could get into a higher ranked law school. “They chose us first. They see us as the place they want to be and the place where they want to learn.”