Are Law Schools Misleading Their Potential Students About Job Prospects?

When I graduated from college, I strongly considered attending law school. I even studied for and took the LSAT. I ended up not going that route for a variety of reasons (cost being the primary one), but countless others have in the intervening years. Their experiences have not been uniformly positive. A new movement has sprung up to advocate for transparency in law school admissions. Specifically, people want law schools to give an accurate accounting of their graduates’ job prospects, a key statistic when you’re about to fork over $150,000 and three years of your life.

New York magazine has a great piece charting one team of lawyers who are determined to keep law schools honest:

[L]aw-school tuition rose 317 percent nationwide during the aughts, compared with a 71 percent spike for undergraduate tuition. At New York Law School, it now stands at $46,200 a year—comparable to Harvard Law’s. But neither the cost nor NYLS’s lowly ranking (it’s 135th on the U.S. News & World Report list) has deterred the students who fill classes that, according to the complaint filed against the school, are a fifth larger than in 2000. It may help that NYLS has consistently claimed what the lawsuit refers to as a “sterling” 90 percent placement rate, a rate that Anziska, Raimond, and Strauss argue simply does not compute.

The questions this case raises are difficult to answer, but whatever happens may have significant implications for the future of legal education in the U.S.

The Travesty of the NCAA

If you’ve ever purchased an NCAA video game, bought a college basketball player’s jersey as sports memorabilia, or watched a televised NCAA championship with commercials, it might have occurred to you that you’re paying for something that the players themselves (sometimes still teenagers) aren’t getting any compensation for. There’s a pretty striking level of injustice going on at the NCAA and Taylor Branch’s exhaustive feature in The Atlantic starts to get to the bottom of it.

The only consolation? Their tyrannical reign may soon be over.

Americans Now Owe More on Student Loans Than Credit Cards

USA Today has a sobering report on student loan debt in the U.S.:

The amount of student loans taken out last year crossed the $100 billion mark for the first time and total loans outstanding will exceed $1 trillion for the first time this year. Americans now owe more on student loans than on credit cards, reports the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Students are borrowing twice what they did a decade ago after adjusting for inflation, the College Board reports. Total outstanding debt has doubled in the past five years — a sharp contrast to consumers reducing what’s owed on home loans and credit cards.

Alex Pareene has some further perspective on it. In short: our generation is doomed.

College Graduation Rates Are Still Terrible

Some sobering statistics via the NYTimes:

Currently, federal education statistics generally focus on first-time full-time students. But according to the [Complete College] report, about 4 of every 10 public college students attend part time — and no more than a quarter of part-time students ever graduate.

As a part-time student myself, I’m determined to be one of the few that makes it to the finish line.

Teachers Are Quitting Because Parents Are a Huge Pain

Ron Clark breaks down why it’s so difficult to get teachers to enter the profession these days:

Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list “issues with parents” as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.

Four out of Five Community College Students Want a Transfer

Lily Altavena, detailing widespread dissatisfaction with community colleges (via Mike):

As many as four out of five community college students in the United States want to transfer to a four-year institution so they can obtain a bachelor’s degree, according to a report released Thursday by the College Board. The report, on the challenges facing students who transfer from two-year public colleges to four-year institutions, also found that two of every five undergraduates in the United States is enrolled in a community college.

To Catch a Plagiarizer

A fascinating dialogue between a professor who’s caught students plagiarizing and a person who gets paid to write papers for students (via Maud):

[In the case of grammatical errors,] I was alerted to plagiarism by the sudden appearance, in a paper that is otherwise a morass of grammatical errors, of a series of flawless sentences with complicated structures. The correct use of a semicolon is a big red flag for me. As is the use—and often misuse—of specialized jargon or technical language that I’ve not discussed with them in class. Then I type those sentences into Google, and they all wind up being smoking-gun cases of plagiarism. My favorite case this semester was plagiarism within plagiarism. When I informed this student that I suspected her paper was plagiarized, she said to me, “I got my paper from one of the students who was in your class last semester. How was I to know that she had plagiarized?” Which indicated to me, along with a number of the other email responses I got from students, that many of them don’t even know what plagiarism is.