September 29, 2008
Has Michigan Law Invented a New Gaming Technique for US News Rankings?
Apparently so, the recently announced Wolverine Scholars Program allows Michigan undergrads with a minimum 3.80 GPA to apply to Michigan's law school without taking the LSAT. What's the benefit? No LSAT scores to report to US News while the minimum 3.8 GPA could boost Michigan's median 3.64 GPA.
Bill Henderson (Indiana-Bloomington) writes, "I cannot overcome the perception that Michigan is really just upping the U.S. News gamesmanship. ... In my opinion, the only rational explanation is that Michigan seeks a rankings payoff. Here, an elite law school sets a new low in our obsession of form over substances--once again, we legal educators are setting a poor example for our students."
So if the Wolverine Scholars Program admits a lot of students, the Law School can game its median GPA score which counts for 10% of their US News ranking score. The problem is that Michigan isn't contemplating admitting more than 5-10 students in the School's usual first-year class of 360. See Dan Slater's interview of Michigan's Dean of Admission, Sarah Zearfoss on WSJ's Law Blog.
Where's the beef? It's one of those "damn, why didn't we think of this!" moments in law school administration circles. My crystal ball says other law schools will adopt similar programs. Some of the more ranking-obsessed ones will be tempted to admit enough students (20%?) with lower GPAs (3.0?) that are still higher than their school's reported median GPA data to really game the US News rankings system. Watch these ranking factors become as fraudulent as unaudited law school employment data.
What does a "low pass" grade mean? Meanwhile on the law school grading system front, Harvard has eliminated its incomprehensible 15-point grading system for one that is more Yale-esque: Honors-Pass-Low Pass-Fail. Obviously this was in response to the Greta Van Susteren expose that law school grades are frauds. [JH]
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