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You can't say we didn't warn them.
How many times have we spent warning about the dire statistics regarding employment opportunities for law school graduates? How much additional breath has been spent on the need for transparency of law schools to let prospective students know about fewer jobs and high debt?
And yet, it is all seems to be wasted breath. Some would have already reached that conclusion, but this story brings it home. According to a story on BusinessWire, a recent survey by Kaplan shows that the main issue, make that really the only issue, potential law students consider when picking a school is its place in the U.S. News and World Report Rankings. Not the employment rate, not the geographic location, not whether tuition will be more than a new BMW.
No, the only thing 1L wannabes want to know: where is the school ranked? BusinessWire reports that of those surveyed, 86% say a school's ranking is "very important" or "somewhat important" in their decision making criteria. In contrast, only 12% ranked affordability as the most critical factor and a mere 8% said a school's job placement statistics were the most important factor in choosing a potential school.
There is, of course, the argument that graduates of the most highly ranked schools are more likely to find employment and employment that pays more. But, the rankings of a school don't provide the whole picture, Howard Bell, executive director of pre-law programs at Kaplan Test Prep told BusinessWire. "In fact, many law schools themselves don't think the rankings process is generally fair."
A telling statistic picked up by an additional survey may show why the soon-to-be legal beagles have little concern for the actual employment statistic of their prospective alma maters. In a breathtaking display of the "it only happens to other people" school of thought, an earlier Kaplan survey found 52% of those surveyed said they were "very confident" in finding a job in the legal field after graduating, but only 16% said they were "very confident" that the majority of their fellow students would do likewise.
A final thought. Choosing a school simply based on its rankings is like picking a car just because it's fast. Yes, you'll go faster, but you might get a few tickets or blow a tire or two on the way. Plus, the car payments are a bitch.