The Top Law Schools for a Social Life
20 Law Schools Where You’ll (Probably) Have A Good Time
As undergraduates, many of us equated a school’s “social life” with its party reputation. Sure, culture and extracurriculars were important… just less so than weekend binging. Of course, that mentality didn’t last long. It only takes a failed midterm, a hospital visit, or a bad hookup to re-set one’s priorities. While you’ll still find a hearty party culture at some law schools, many students are looking for something greater: Supportive friendships that can dull the all-consuming stress that’s intrinsic to law school.
Whether you’re seeking outside activities to build friendships and networks or hoping to avoid a foam-at-the-mouth competitive culture, there are some schools that are better than others when it comes to social life.
This week, Graduateprograms.com ranked law schools based on social life. The survey, which was conducted from September 1, 2012 to April 15, 2014, relied on a 10-star rubric, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best. Drawing from a 60,000 student sample in 1,500 graduate programs, graduateprograms.com found the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law to be the best law school for social life, with respondents giving it an average of 9.65 stars.
Mind you, the score differential between law schools was relatively nominal. For example, the University of Florida’s score was only a .52 point better than No. 10 University of San Francisco and 1.0 point better than No. 20 University of Southern California. Despite incessant complaining from law students about their workloads, they’re actually quite satisfied with their social lives (can you say, “paradox?”). In fact, law students ranked most categories high. For example, 7 stars was the lowest mark Levin received in any question (and those were for “Diversity” and “Surrounding Area”).
Even more, the survey is unclear on what constitutes a “social life.” Is it free time? Student groups? Inclusiveness? Fewer gunners? While the survey notes that it requires a minimum number of respondents, it also doesn’t specify what that baseline is.
So take the survey for what it is… a flawed attempt to rank a mushy notion. That said, here are the top 20 schools for social life, according to graduateprograms.com:
1.) University of Florida (9.65 stars)
2.) University of Colorado at Boulder (9.49 stars)
3.) The University of Texas at Austin (9.46 stars)
4.) University of Georgia (9.33 stars)
5.) University of Alabama (9.24 stars)
6.) Washington University in St. Louis (9.23 stars)
7.) University of Virginia (9.19 stars)
8.) Northwestern University (9.17 stars)
9.) University of Miami (9.15 stars)
10.) University of San Francisco (9.14 stars)
11.) Southern Methodist University (9.04 stars)
12.) University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (9.01 stars)
13.) Stanford University (8.96 stars)
14.) Duke University (8.91 stars)
15.) New York University (8.88 stars)
16.) Boston College (8.77 stars)
17.) Boston University (8.76 stars)
18.) University of California-Berkeley (8.75 stars)
19.) Rutgers University-Newark (8.67 stars)
20.) University of Southern California (8.65 stars)
Yale Law, ranked #1 overall by U.S. News and World Report, came in at No. 25 (8.45 stars).
So what do respondents actually say about their law schools? Here are some students’ thoughts on their schools’ social lives:
“Law school is difficult, but the students, professors, and administrators at UT Law make law school an enjoyable experience. The social experience is great; the school makes the 300-400 person class seem smaller by putting students in two 25-person classes in the first semester, and one in the second. Additionally, the school organizes social events throughout the first year so that the students can get to know each other better, and professors also invite students to get-togethers at their homes. The students that go to UT Law are not the cutthroat type. Overall, it has been a great experience.”
– Crc8921, University of Texas School of Law
“…Socially, the school is wonderful. Wash U is competitive, but not cutthroat. I have never had someone refuse to share their notes for a class. The students have a communitarian, we’re-all-in-this-together kind of approach. We don’t go out of our way to compare grades and tend to shun those people who enjoy bragging about them. There are at least two SBA-sponsored social events a week that support this culture.”
– Dpivn, Washington University School of Law (St. Louis)
“The professors provide an intellectually stimulating and challenging environment, and the students demonstrate their determination by working with fellow classmates to attain a thorough understanding of each subject. It is not at all uncommon to see students working in groups, in a collaborative effort to succeed.”
– Clthurmond, University of San Francisco School of Law
”The social life is essentially divided between the married crowd and the straight through/wish you were still in college crew – they get drunk three nights per week.”
– PublicIntereststudent, University of Michigan Law School
“Finding a supportive, like-minded community is the key to surviving law school, and I have been blown away by some of the people I’ve met here.”
– AniG, University of California at Berkeley School of Law
“There is always something to do, whether a purely social gathering or an enlightening debate on some political controversy.”
– Vcshore, Rutgers School of Law – Newark
“…it is still a very friendly campus and because of how small our class size is everyone knows each other and you can form close friendships with many people. After all, you will most likely stay in the Los Angeles area and you will interact with them in real life practice.”
– Klaudytta, USC Gould School of Law