Law School Enrollment Plummets

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First-year law school enrollment is down 11% this year

The American Bar Association reports that first-year law school enrollment dropped 11% this year, down 5,000 students to 39,675. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, this is the lowest first-enrollment has been since 1977 (when enrollment was 29,676 – just one student higher).

Here are some additional stats from the WSJ article:

• This is the third year of law school enrollment decline; in 2010, enrollment hit an all-time high with more than 52,000 students beginning law school.
• One of the biggest enrollment jumps occurred in 2002 with an increase in enrollment of 7.48%.
• About two-thirds of the 202 ABA accredited U.S. law schools reported enrollment declines this year. At 81 schools, the decline exceeded 10%.
• Not all law school news is negative, though – 27 law schools this year increased their first-year class enrollment by 10% or more.

With the decreased demand in law school comes a decrease in competition; so ask yourself – is now the time to apply? Good question. Don’t answer solely based on the decline in application volume and law school enrollment. You also need to look at cost and job opportunity.

Download 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Law School Personal Statement

Best B-Schools for Entrepreneurs

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There’s also prize money involved – about $200,000 to split among the 30 winners of the New Venture Challenge at Chicago Both.

A recent Wall Street Journal article discusses the difficult mission of finding the right b-school for entrepreneurs. It lists the different rankings sites and the variety of results they offer for top entrepreneur-focused b-school programs: Businessweek puts Stanford at the top of the list; Entrepreneur magazine gives top marks to Michigan Ross; and Poets & Quants gives Harvard Business School the #1 spot.

The article also points out how different schools showcase their entrepreneurial strengths in different ways: Stanford touts the most startups per student as well as its access to investors; HBS highlights that its student ventures attracted the most funding; and Booth measures its start-up success by the number of ventures purchased or merged. Other programs emphasize their efforts to mix with other school departments, like Penn with its entrepreneur and engineering/computer science programs and CMU Tepper with its business/computer science co-led Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Focus on Chicago Booth

In the last year, at least eight Chicago Booth student ventures acquired or merged, in part due to the school’s New Venture Challenge – a program in which students present business plans (about 100 total) from which investors choose the top 30. The selected students then enroll in a course that helps them prepare their plans for investor pitches. There’s also prize money involved – about $200,000 to split among the 30 winners.

Check out our recent podcast interview for the lowdown on •	A law degree as a path to the business world   •	When to get an MBA and a JD •	Advice for anyone considering a degree in law or business and more!

WSJ Law Blog Offers Most Recent Law Applicant Stats

Check out our recent podcast episode, "Business, Law, and Beyond."

Number of LSAT test takers is down, and that’s a good thing.

Highlights of the Wall Street Journal article, “Number of LSAT Test Takers Is Down 45% Since 2009,” include:

• The number of LSAT exams administered in October 2013 (33,673 exams) is 11% lower than in October 2012 (37,780 exams). This is the lowest test taker volume since 1998.

• The total number of LSAT test takers in June and October is down 38% from four years ago when test taker volume peaked. The number of test takers in October alone is down 45% compared to the 2009 high.

• The number of law school applicants dropped 12.3% compared to last year, and application volume dropped 17.9% this year.

My Take

This is good news.

There used to be a naïve belief that a legal degree was a “good thing to have.” That’s true if it’s also an inexpensive thing to have, which a law degree is not.

When the legal job market initially tanked, applicants were still applying to law school in droves. Apparently that madness has ended. These LSAT stats indicate that those serious about the law and using their legal education professionally are taking the LSAT and that far fewer applicants are defaulting to law from the social sciences and humanities than did so a few years ago.

People committed to a career that requires a legal degree and promises an income in excess of the cost of a legal education are the ones who should be taking the LSAT. And there are simply fewer people who believe they fit that description today than there were five years ago. Plus, more people today recognize both the high cost and the more limited opportunity associated with a J.D. than in years past.

They should have recognized it five years ago. The good news is that more do so today.

MBA Internship-to-Job Rate Rises as Employers Increasingly Pick from Summer Talent

MBA Internship-to-Job Rate is Up

69% of summer interns seeking full-time employment received job offers.

While the internship-to-job funnel has long existed in the banking and consulting industries, a Wall Street Journal article reports that more industries are filling full-time positions with their former MBA interns. And they’re not just increasing their internship-to-job rates, but some have started their hiring a year before the position start date, offering full-time positions to future MBAs while they’re still in their internship positions.

The result: Students have begun scrambling for top internship positions almost as soon as they begin their b-school studies. As the stakes rise and employers begin to rely on an internship as a sort of interview, the pressure builds to secure that coveted internship that may turn into a long-term position two or more years down the line.

Here are some stats from the WSJ article, and then a nice graphic that they posted:

• 40% of Darden’s class of 2012 accepted full-time job offers from their summer employers. In 2010 that percentage was only 25%.
• 31% of Columbia’s 2012 class accepted full-time positions from their summer internship employers. In 2010, less 20% of graduates made the internship-to-job jump.
• At Caesars Entertainment Corp., five out of six full-time MBA hires took full-time positions this year.
• 69% of summer interns seeking full-time employment received job offers.
• Each year Bain & Co. hires 400 full-time MBAs; 40% of them are former interns.
• 5 out of 18 interns at Enova have returned this year for full-time positions.

The Intern Advantage

Implications for MBA Applicants

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. And again: You need to have a clear goal when you apply to business school, certainly when you arrive at business school. The critical internship search starts within weeks of the start of classes. To make the most of your MBA investment, arrive with direction and focus so that you will know where to expend time and energy. If you see something while there that looks better than your original goal, go for it. But don’t arrive at b-school thinking you will have time to figure out what you want to do not only while you are there, but with the rest of your life. You won’t. Do that homework before classes start.

When You Receive College Rejection Letters

Don’t allow the colleges’ admission decisions to define you.

Don’t allow the colleges’ admission decisions to define you.

Accepted’s college admissions expert, Whitney Bruce, responds to Suzy Lee Weiss’s Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me.”

When I work with high achieving students, as I presume Suzy Lee Weiss to be, we talk about failure. To the straight-A, student leader, it’s often a foreign concept in 11th grade. Such students have worked hard and been justly rewarded for their intelligence and their efforts. When I worked in college admissions, I used to visit Taylor Allderdice High School; the school has many such motivated and talented students.

For these students, March can indeed be the cruelest month. The low acceptance rates to many of the most selective colleges are staggering. As a counselor, I’m finding it harder and harder to identify great colleges for my students who have everything going for them, but as Ms. Weiss essentially admits, don’t walk on water. They’ve excelled in the classroom and made a difference in their community. But in the age of increasing applications, there are simply too many of them, capable of succeeding on these highly sought after campuses for most to receive an offer of admission.

As awful as it seems, when faced with fewer options than one might hope, especially in comparison to peers, it’s important to put the disappointment behind you. For a day or two, cry, groan, and complain to your parents about what might have been. Then look to the future.

The college you choose to attend this month will become your home for the next four years and an affiliation for a lifetime. Six months ago, this college received your application because you, the student, felt like it was a good fit. It still is. Embrace your college choices, order the sweatshirt, and be proud of all you have accomplished in high school.

Don’t allow the colleges’ admission decisions to define you. Define yourself.

Whitney Bruce

By Whitney Bruce, who has worked in college admissions since 1996. She has served as a Senior Assistant Director of Admissions (Washington U), Application Reader (University of Michigan), Assistant Director of College Counseling (private prep school in St. Louis), and an independent college counselor. She is happy to advise you as you apply to college.

Does Interview Prep Make You Phony?

Wharton 8I was thrilled Thursday to be quoted in The Wall Street Journal’s “Frankly, Wharton Wants Candor,” which focused on Wharton’s Team Based Discussion (TBD) and Harvard’s interview reflections. I disagree, however, with disingenuous arguments in the article that applicants who seek to prepare beyond a school’s recommendation are intrinsically less than genuine.

I sat in on several of Accepted’s mock team-based discussions and was impressed with the evaluative power of the TBD. It is a great tool for discerning differences in interpersonal and communications skills.

I was also pleased with the feedback that we received from our mock TBD participants: 100% of those who provided feedback felt the mock interview to be a valuable practice. A dress rehearsal really. And professionals rehearse.

You can ad-lib a lie, prepare facts.

It is fallacious to think that practice leads to a lack of authenticity. You can ad-lib a lie and prepare facts. Winging it and honesty don’t correlate. In fact, one has nothing to do with the other.

However, practice and preparation do correlate with achievement. They contributed to bringing applicants to the point where schools like HBS and Wharton invite them to interview.

Should students not study or practice so they can be candidly ignorant when asked to give a class presentation? Take a test? Should they wear jeans and t-shirts so they can be more “authentic”?

Would Wharton or Harvard want their students to ad-lib and improvise for job interviews? Would they advise applicants to go to a job interview for, let’s say McKinsey or Goldman, and just “relax, be genuine,” and “enjoy the opportunity for [the prospective employer] to get to know you?”

Yeah, right.

And what about employers? Why aren’t they upset when MBAs, with the schools’ support and urging, spend hours prepping for interviews? As Accepted’s Todd King, author of Handling Wharton’s Team-Based Discussion, notes in an internal discussion:

“So, what do consulting and banking firms do in their hiring that allows them to bring on great people without complaining about ‘over-prepared’ recruits?  … they knew good and well that every candidate had thoroughly reviewed and practiced whatever big case-study book had been compiled by the school’s management consulting club.  Those firms found good people – and they didn’t complain about those people being extremely prepared; they expected it.”

Those elite firms want it. They seek employees who come to interviews practiced and prepared. They want employees who will check and double check their work. And they certainly demand that employees train and rehearse for roadshows and client presentations.

The ease of writing an email or carrying on a discussion isn’t the issue. Candor and honesty aren’t the question.

Applicants prepare, practice, and rehearse because they perceive the benefits of getting into a school like HBS or Wharton to be worth the effort and worth the $500 for Accepted’s Wharton Premium Interview Preparation. (This fee provides both a mock team and personal interview as well as written feedback and an individual post-interview consultation.)

Confusing winging it and wisdom

Perhaps, just maybe, as a result of the information freely given away by admissions consultants and applicants, as well as yes the increasing numbers of applicants seeking paid advising, admissions committees have a harder time differentiating between applicants. (See Looking Back on the Shrinking MBA Application)

Frankly, something is amiss when a business school confuses non-preparation and honesty, winging it and wisdom. Is that something a lack of candor on the school’s part?


(Please see a Wharton Follies video, The Evolution of an MBA for a student perspective. It predates this discussion, but it’s funnier and relevant. Do you think they rehearsed?)

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Top Feeder Schools to Big Law

Big Law Job

Which law school will lead you to a Big Law job?

Wondering which law school will lead you to that coveted Big Law job? Well, the WSJ Law Blog broke it down for you using newly released data from the ABA. This data involved employment summary reports for individual schools, revealing that only about 8% of 2011 grads found jobs at big law firms. Plus, “schools in the Northeast were twice as likely to place their graduates in Big Law jobs as schools in the South, Midwest or West.” Did your school make the cut?  The blog ranked the top 25 schools “based on the percentage of 2011 graduates that landed full-time, long-term gigs at firms with 250 attorneys or more.”

Here are the top ten:

  1. Columbia University
  2. University of Pennsylvania
  3. Northwestern University
  4. Harvard University
  5. University of Chicago
  6. Stanford University
  7. New York University
  8. Duke University
  9. University of California-Berkeley
  10. Cornell University ~ Helping You Write Your Best


New Ph.D.s Find Jobs Abroad

The Wall St. Journal reports that while U.S. universities are suffering from hiring freezes and shrinking budgets, schools in Asia and the Mideast are eager to recruit the holders of U.S. doctorates. For example, Frederick “Fritz” Monsma, earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston College in 2003. After applying for countless positions without success, he received an offer from the American University in Iraq-Sulaimani. “I stopped looking elsewhere,” says Mr. Monsma. “I knew it was going to be an adventure, both in life and pedagogy.”

Even in more promising economic times, many new Ph.D.s, particularly those in the humanities, experience difficulty landing jobs. “The supply-demand ratio is as bit out of whack” explains Jack Schuster, a professor emeritus at Claremont Graduate University in California and an expert on the academic labor market. In this kind of economy, he adds, “things are very, very tough.”

According to the Modern Language Association, hiring in English and foreign language departments fell more than 20% this year at U.S. universities. Similarly, job postings of the American Political Science Association were down by 14%.

Although teaching abroad offers new opportunities, there are some risks associated with it as well. In addition to limiting networking possibilities, an overseas job could harm academics’ job prospects when they seek to return to the U.S.

“From the U.S. vantage point,” says John Curtis of the American Association of University Professors, “there is that element of difference, newness and uncertainty about how universities operate abroad.”

How Business Schools Have Failed Business

Business school deans and educational thought leaders are doing a lot of soul-searching concerning the role and culpability of graduate business schools in the economic downturn.

Additionally, there are a slew of articles in the Harvard Business Review about the responsibility of MBA programs for the financial crisis. 

I would like to highlight today’s excellent piece on The Wall St. Journal editorial page by Dr. Michael Jacobs of UNC’s Kenan Flagler School of Business entitled “How Business Schools Have Failed Business.”

His main points: 

  1. Misaligned and dysfunctional incentive programs rewarded short-term gain instead of long-term value creation. Most business schools do not systematically address compensation systems.
  2. Corporate boards were “AWOL.” Schools don’t require courses in board structure, composition, and processes. Courses in “ethics”are not enough and are not the same as governance.
  3. The investment community failed to accurately evaluate risks. Jacobs argues that “as the gulf between the provider and the user of capital widens, the risks involved with selecting and monitoring the participants in the portfolio increase.”  

European B-Schools In Demand

This was a week for articles about the demand for European business schools like London Business School, INSEAD, and IMD among US applicants seeking both MBA and EMBA degrees. Here is a sample:

The WSJ’s ”Executive M.B.A. Programs Bulk Up Overseas” is not really about increased demand for European MBA’s. It focuses more on American business schools improving their global programs.

For those of you interested in learning more about one of Europe’s premier business schools, Accepted is hosting a chat with London Business School on Monday March 23, 2009 at 11:00 AM PT/2:00 PM ET/6:00 PM GMT.  Representatives from London’s MBA and Masters in Finance programs will be available to answer your questions. Please mark your calendar and join us in Accepted’s chat room.

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