Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Law Schools' Efforts to Aid Students

The New York Times covered various law schools' efforts to aid their students in these difficult times in this article by Catherine Rampell dated June 21, 2010. It begins with the various schools that have inflated students' grades: Loyola Los Angeles, NYU, Georgetown, Golden Gate and Tulane, according to the article. Other strategies to help student include stipends to students in unpaid public interest internships. Schools offering such stipends include Duke, and University of Texas, Austin. And according to the article Southern Methodist University has taken that plan a step farther and begun offering to pay for-profit firms to employ their students.

A variation of the grade inflation method, is to move from grades to pass-fail options. Harvard and Stanford have recently moved from traditional grades to pass-fail, joining schools like Yale and University of California Berkeley, which have long offered that arrangement. Another option is to soften the grade curve. Schools that have followed that route include a raft of California schools: UCLA, USC, and UC Hastings, as well as Vanderbilt.

As ever, Above the Law is quick to poke fun at the schools adjusting the GPA. For instance, read this post about Tulane, where ATL poster notes that the decision is driven by the embarrassment of the school in the job market, so the decision is made to make the students look better on paper, more competitive with other schools' students. But then, what will the effect be on students' scholarships? Students with scholarships will be more likely to retain their scholarship dollars with the higher GPA, costing Tulane more money. ATL predicts that the GPA required to retain scholarship money will be raised as soon as the dust settles from the first memo. How did they become so cynical?

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