Survey: Students Satisfied With Law School Support
You probably assume no one is happy at law school these days. Forget about overworked and stressed-out students: Graduates are facing six figure debts, high unemployment, and moribund starting salaries. And schools themselves are assessing every line item, trying to close the gap between declining enrollments and rising expectations.
With students clamoring for less theory and more practical experience, you’d think mutiny was afoot. Surprisingly, students are relatively satisfied with their law schools. Those were the results of the annual Law School Survey of Student Engagement, which is conducted by the Center for Post-Secondary Research at the University of Indiana. According to the study, 65% of students agreed that they received the resources needed to succeed academically.
The study, which surveyed over 26,000 students at 86 American law schools, focused on student satisfaction in areas like financial aid, career counseling and faculty interaction. Along with two-thirds of respondents being satisfied with the academic support, another 68% were happy with their schools’ financial aid.
However, students expressed far less confidence in career services. While 70% of 1Ls were satisfied with job search services and career counseling, that number dropped to 45% for 3Ls. What’s more, the divide between faculty and students seemingly remains, with only 25% of 3Ls answering that they interacted with faculty outside of coursework.
Despite clamors for experiential learning, 57% of 3Ls admitted that they hadn’t taken part in a clinic or pro bono service. This lag may stem from both students and institutions. According to the study, 35% of respondents couldn’t read a financial statement, and only 40% regularly read a business or financial publication. Then again, such skills weren’t emphasized in law schools, as barely half of respondents answered that their coursework required them to learn financial and business concepts.
Still, a 65% satisfaction rate, particularly in the era of flat hiring and “do more with less,” strikes an optimistic tone. And that might stem from where students are in the professional lives. According to Jack Beermann, a law professor at the Boston University School of Law, law students have already “…decided after four years of undergrad or maybe after working that they want to go on to law school. It’s much more clear why they’re there and what their goals are.”
As a result, their expectations are more in line with their aspirations. Now, if they could only land jobs…
Sources: LSSSE, Wall Street Journal, The Daily Free Press (Boston University)
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