Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Saturday's New York Times story ran a story called "Law Students Lose the Grant Game as Law Schools Win" that's getting a lot of play in the blogosphere (here, here, here and here). It's about law students who say they feel duped for matriculating based on merit scholarship awards that are later lost due to law school grading curves that ensure not every student who gets a scholarship can keep it. Students are upset because they claim lost scholarships force them to either drop out after a year's sacrifice or go forward by paying a huge tuition bill.
The ABA has already responded, according to this article from the National Law Journal, by suggesting that it may require law schools to disclose to applicants what percentage of merit scholarships are lost after the first year.
The committee reviewing the American Bar Association's law school accreditation standards is considering requiring schools to disclose the percentage of students who lose merit scholarships following their first year. David Yellen, dean of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law and a member of the ABA's Standards Review Committee, said panel members agree that students need better information about their odds of retaining scholarships.
"It's a pretty easy case to make," he said. "I think that schools ought to be disclosing how many students keep their scholarships, so they can make informed decisions."
The committee likely will take up the matter during a meeting scheduled in July, he said.
Law schools should be required to disclose this data because it's the right thing to do. But I'm skeptical whether it will make much of a difference to prospective law students in light of the very human tendency to inflate the belief in one's own success while presuming one's peers will falter (as born out by studies like this one which happens to involve law students).
You can read more about the ABA's latest proposal to require more law school transparency by clicking here. You can also check out what the Law School Transparency Project has to say about requiring law schools to disclose scholarship retention rates by clicking here.
Hat tip to Above the Law.